The UK wine trade is used to having the opportunity to take part in special wine tasting events. The world of wine is always keen to show what it can do to some of the planet’s most influential buyers. On November 1 the opportunity falls on Napa Valley to demonstrate how the style and diversity of Cabernet Sauvignon has evolved over the last 30 years with a special Perspective tasting that will allow producers to show how one wine has changed and adapted over three vintages. Here’s what you can look forward to.
Thankfully Liam Hirt and Danny Walker are not only close friends, but have become successful business partners in not one but two craft spirits businesses based in Bristol. First the Psychopomp Distillery, which is the result of what happens when you take a hobby that started out in a basement and open it up to the public. Its limited edition craft gins now sell out on demand. It is now looking to do the same with its grain and whisky concept, the Circumstance Distillery which is as much about combining flavours and ferments as it is about craft distilling. Richard Siddle caught up with this fascinating duo who have also created their own craft spirit cryptocurrency…as you do.
Famous for its historic Port production, it’s hard to believe that the Douro didn’t really make still wine until the end of the last century. Five producers changed all that – Quinta Vale D. Maria, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale Meão and Niepoort – and together they make up The Douro Boys. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, flew to Porto to meet each of them as they get together to celebrate their 15th anniversary with a fund-raising auction which, this year, broke all records. He meets the characters, all of them very different, who have done so much to raise the profile of their region and highlights a few of his favourite wines.
If generic bodies like Wines of Argentina are going to get the message across to buyers and sommeliers across the country about how far their wines and styles are changing then it means putting the hard yards in. Which is what the autumn series of Barullo Sessions from Wines of Argentina is all about. The chance to take Argentine producers on the road and introduce them to key players both in and around London, but also in Scotland with a special event next week in Edinburgh. UK ambassador for Wines of Argentina, Phil Crozier, explains what they have in store.
Since acclaimed Austrian winemaker Lenz Moser accepted the role of chief winemaker at Château Changyu Moser XV in 2014, he has developed a range of wines that is sold in 40 markets around the world, including his barrel-fermented white Cabernet Sauvignon that has become the most successful Chinese wine ever, winning three major gold medals in Europe. His latest project is a super-premium Chinese wine to be launched in Marrakech, Morocco next spring, a Cabernet Sauvignon that will cost a hefty €150 a bottle. Louise Hurren caught up with him in Yinchuan and discusses his successes, mistakes and ambitions with bringing Chinese wine to the West.
They’re like buses and policemen… you wait an eternity to hear about a wine from Luberon, as we did with Les Quelles de la Coste, and then a week later everyone’s talking about them. Geoffrey Dean travels to this sunny corner of France made famous by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and discovers why the wines of AOC Luberon have got everything going for them. Dean visits Château La Canorgue, which inspired the film A Good Year and also the domains of two individuals responsible for raising the profile of the area – Fabrice Monod at Château Fontvert and Paul Dubrule at La Cavale.
Ahead of this month’s Wines of Georgia trade tastings in London (October 2) and Manchester (October 8), Peter Ranscombe highlights six wineries that stood out for him on a visit last week to the former Soviet state. With a two-year waiting list for winemakers wanting to buy the nation’s iconic qvevri clay vessels for fermentation and ageing, production of higher-quality wines is poised to expand, creating more opportunities for UK merchants and restaurants looking to tap into the growing consumer curiosity surrounding amber wines.
Go on a wine tour of Australia and meet dozens of winemakers and you can be guaranteed that you will remember Brad Hickey over the majority of them. He has a personality, and warmth to match the quality of his wines. A fascinating character who clearly loves making the wines he does and pushing the envelope a little in terms of using amphora pots and and edgier varieties like Zibbibo to made skin contact wines that are fruity, refreshing and as bright as their labels all under his wine alter ego, Brash Higgins. You can come and meet him for yourself at Wine Australia’s Redefined tasting on September 17.
Now many people with a bit of character are often described as being ‘larger than life’. Well they have not met Australian winemaker Chester Osborn. He truly is a one off. A brilliant winemaker in his own right, but also a truly inspirational figure who has intertwined the worlds of conceptual and modern art with wine at his incredible Cube tasting facility – which is as much an art gallery as it is a place to discover d”Arenberg’s wines. Here we find out what we can expect when he takes part in the upcoming Wine Australia’s Redefined tasting in London on September 17.
For Gérard Bertrand, winning this year’s IWC ‘world’s best red wine’ award with his Château l’Hospitalet’s grand vin was further validation – if needed – of his entire winemaking philosophy. The largest and most influential independent winemaker in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Bertrand has always nailed his colours to the mast of biodynamics – convinced that this approach makes better wine, is better for the soil, the planet, and can help him when times are tough – like the massive heat wave the region experienced this summer. Peter Dean caught up with him to talk biodynamics, business strategy and whether the world is ready for a €190 Rosé from the Languedoc.
It’s a long way to come to London just to taste and share wines with your friends. But that is very much the spirit amongst South African winemakers, many of whom are close friends who love nothing more than just sitting back and enjoying each other’s wines. They also like showing them to buyers and sommeliers in the UK trade which is what Lukas Van Loggerenberg will be doing this week with a host of other winemakers at the third New Wave South Africa wine tasting.
When the first crew of Cotswolds Distillery showed up for work five years ago there were a few key things missing. Number one, apart from a couple, no-one had made whisky before. Number two, no distillery. And yet here we are five years down the line and this dynamic homegrown company has just picked up two IWSC gold medals for its Flagship and Founders Choice whiskies. Not only that but its gin has been building up a loyal following – on account of it going cloudy when you add tonic. For native New Yorker Daniel Szor, CEO of the company, it is the fulfilment of a dream – a dream that saw an ex-hedge fund manager who liked touring distilleries in Scotland set up his own in the Cotswolds. Geoffrey Dean visited Cotswolds Distillery and hears first hand how Szor and his team have managed such ‘overnight’ success.
Getting the chance to taste the wines of so many of the dynamic winemakers in South Africa in one place is why the New Wave tasting in London is such a draw. But it is also a huge opportunity for those winemakers to be able to showcase their wines to such an influential audience of buyers. Berene Sauls of Tesselaarsdal explains why she is so pleased to be able to come and show her wines as part of UK importer Swig’s portfolio.
The New Wave South Africa tasting may be organised by five leading UK importers, but it would not be possible without the quality of wines they have to offer from the dynamic South African wine scene. So all credit must go to the collective recruitment and buying talents at Swig, Dreyfus Ashby, Indigo Wine, New Generation Wines and Fields Morris & Verdin for finding the right producers to work with. Like Kiara Scott of Brookdale Estate who is working with Indigo Wine to promote and push her wines into the UK.
“Starting with no budget, I knew that the quality would be the only way of protecting the business as it grew.” That’s the approach that Hannah Rhodes has taken in starting her own craft brewery business from scratch. On her own. But with Hiver Beers she is also trying to have a distinctive voice of her own and push and promote a growing new category to the beer market – honey beers – made using urban and rural honey. Here she explains how she got into brewing and why she hopes Hiver Beers can make a difference.
Could the future of viticulture lay in the hands of robots? Piper Heidsieck thinks so; the ‘audacious’ Champagne estate has already invested in a start-up that makes Vitibots (viticultural robots to you and me) that will be able to add precision into vineyard management. It’s one of the many new ideas relayed by the company’s new 32 year-old chef-de-cave Émilien Boutillat, who has taken the reins from Régis Camus. Fresh from Champagne Cattier where he helped make Armand de Brignac, Boutillat met up with Anne Krebiehl MW on his first official visit to London since taking over to talk about the other changes in the pipeline.
Vignerons such as Gonon, Coursodon and Gripa have helped re-establish Saint-Joseph as one of the key appellations in the Northern Rhône, producing wines that are the match of many in more ‘esteemed’ neighbouring wine regions. Bart Feys travelled to Mauves, the village at the heart of the appellation, visited all three of these domaines and discovers how care in the vineyards, a desire to make terroir-driven wines and an avoidance of gimmicky in the winery is showcasing traditional winemaking in the very best sense.
The record breaking English wine harvest in 2018 was not just good news for the industry as a whole, but it also gave producers the opportunity to trial and experiment with new styles. Like the Albourne Estate in Sussex which has introduced what it claims is the first English Frizzante, another step in its own quest to innovate English winemaking. Here owner and founder Alison Nightingale explains why Frizzante and why now.
Given the paucity of true statesmen or stateswomen in the British political spectrum, it is hard to imagine a Champagne house wanting to name its top cuvée after one of our Prime Ministers, let alone whether any have got the palate to discern true greatness. Sir Winston Churchill did, of course, and his love affair with Pol Roger is the thing of wine legend. Churchill is reputed to have drunk 42,000 bottles of Pol Roger in his life and he only discovered it aged 34. David Kermode was granted a rare behind-the-scenes visit to the House where he saw first hand the extent of this great relationship as well as how it is still impacting Pol Roger’s sales and market share in the UK.
The wines of Domaine Francois Raveneau continue to be some of the most sought-after and highly prized in the world. The Buyer was granted a rare audience with Isabelle Raveneau in November 1996 at the Chablis domaine, a visit that money simply can’t buy. Today just as in the 1940s, when the domaine was established, the humble vision remains the same – work hard in the vineyard and everything else slots into place. It’s all a question of attitude. At the time it was the 2015 vintage in barrel.