What they teach you at college and what you do in real life are two completely different things – especially when you’re making wine. First-time winemaker Chris Wilson ponders this as he tries to work out how to get a tower of glass bottles into his tiny windmill basement, aka Gutter & Stars, Cambridge’s first ever winery. The excellent course he took at Plumpton College has taught him how to make wine, but what about the physical nuts-and-bolts and the workarounds? Part 6 of our continuing series on how a wine journalist puts his money where his mouth is and actually becomes a winemaker.
The Hospices de Nuits charity auction may not currently have the same status as the Hospices de Beaune, but for fifth generation Burgundy winemaker, Laurent Delaunay, it offers huge potential and opportunity for buyers to access some of the highest quality wines being made in this coveted wine region. Here he explains why he is hoping to promote not just the auction, which takes place on March 14 to a wider international audience, but give potential buyers the chance to buy his own pre-selected cuvées from the auction and age the wine in his Burgundy cellars.
The main theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8 is #ChooseToChallenge and to “help forge a gender equal world” by celebrating women’s achievements, which is very much the spirit The Buyer hopes to capture with a series of profiles of leading female wine producers and winemakers starting here today with Madeleine Premmereur who is now playing her part in helping Château Barbebelle, in Aix-en-Provence be one of the world’s most respected rosé producers.
To help celebrate its 150th anniversary, Flemish brewery Duvel Moortgat decided to pay homage to its ‘devilish’ past by releasing a new beer that carries the ‘number of the Beast.’ Duvel 666 is a gently-bitter brew that came about after last year’s collaboration with Belgian microbrewery IJ, and is aimed at a younger demographic and those who are daunted by high strength Belgian beers. Peter Dean got the full story.
As a bulk wine pioneer with an enviable reputation for thinking big on sustainability, Lanchester Wines has come a long way from its founder Tony Cleary’s living room 40 years ago, but its latest project is deliberately small-scale. Vintrigue Wines is a bespoke brand, focused exclusively at independents, with a determination to support the sector. David Kermode spoke to Steve Machin, its national account controller, to find out what makes it different.
When Wine Future last took place in Hong Kong 2011 you had to be there to hear what was said. This week the 2021 revamped online version of the four day conference is available to us all from the comfort of our own homes. Here Gonzalez Byass’ global marketing director, Eugeni Brotons, explains some of the branding and marketing challenges that he will be covering during today’s digital and social media session.
Hotfooting it back from South Africa before quarantine came into effect, Geoffrey Dean reflects on his experiences there. One winery he visited, Babylonstoren, in the Simonsberg-Paarl ward, represented some hope amongst the troubles in the country. Throughout the pandemic the estate has managed to keep all of its 300 staff, and sales are up 20-30%, despite the lack of international visitors to its acclaimed gardens. Dean talks to cellar master Charl Coetzee about how they have achieved this.
Holsten Pils, Radox bubble bath and Ski Yogurts don’t on the face of it have anything to do with each other. But they do for former Greene King pub chief, Euan Venters, who earlier in his career helped introduce and make them household brand names in the UK. Here he explains to Richard Siddle why he now wants to bring those big brands skills to help the new team behind the revamped Hofmeister, relaunched as an authentic Bavarian Helles lager.
“Crises bring the true nature of your environment and your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses into sharp relief.” That’s how Stephen Russell, one of the co-founders and also family members behind Kent’s Copper Rivet Distillery, reflects on how they as individuals, a family and a team responded to the Covid-19 crisis. A response that saw them become one of the emergency services key suppliers of hand sanitiser during the first months of the pandemic. In this fascinating, personal account he also looks back with pride on how its core business principles have been crucial in how it has been able to react and perform through the last few difficult months.
Every wine culture has its moments of magic, but few can eclipse the excitement of making Eiswein. Pickers must get to the vineyard in the middle of the night where, at temperatures no more than -7°C, frozen grapes are picked until the sun rises then rushed to the winery for a gentle press. This January, Markus Molitor made an Eiswein, one of 80 wines he produces, an event which is becoming more and more rare as climate change starts to take its toll. Peter Dean talks to him about this special event and whether the wine is worth all the hassle.
For any business that relies upon on-trade sales for most of its income, 2020 was a tough year. Bristol Beer Factory was forced to rethink its strategy last year to combat the onslaught of lockdowns and restrictions. Like many, it innovated and came out fighting, if rather bruised. It also came out campaigning for a good cause with a new product supporting men’s mental health: Clear Head. Jessica Broadbent caught up with sales and distribution director Sam Burrows to hear more about the brewery and its new project.
Whilst New Zealand’s success in the off-trade is predominantly driven by the power house that is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it is in the on-trade where the real flair and diversity of this premium wine country can really show its true colours. It’s why New Zealand Winegrowers was so keen to sign up as a partner for the inaugural UK Wine List of the Year awards joint hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List as part of its global wine list competition. Here Chris Stroud, UK and Europe manager for New Zealand Wine, explains how it hopes to work even closer with the on-trade once it can re-open.
“Nothing ever stays the same. Successful businesses are continually evolving their strategies and adapting to new realities.” This is a sentence that sums up the drive, vision and commercial nous that has made Mike Ratcliffe one of the most respected and inspirational leaders in both the South African and global wine industries. Here he assesses the long term impacts of Covid-19, how hard brand building is in the sector and why he is looking forward to sharing his views at Wine Future 2021.
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery Gutter & Stars in the heart of Cambridge. Before Christmas he was updating us on the wines he is making, including a foot-stomped field blend Rosé. In this latest instalment of his column for The Buyer, as the wines are literally chilling out, Chris is taking inspiration from his love of music and design to give him a steer on the winery’s brand image and what he is going to call his wines. Oh, and home-schooling his two daughters in the winery at the same time.
The Ribera del Duero has long been turning the heads of wine buyers across the UK wine trade for the sheer depth, diversity, quality and value for money wines its high altitude vineyards make, which seem to get better every year. But there are still huge opportunities for the region to grow its rightful market share of the overall Spanish wine category. It’s why Ribera del Duero is launching a new sampling initiative to give over 60 wineries the platform and the opportunity to showcase their wines to key UK buyers. Here’s how the campaign is going to work in the coming weeks.
Wines of Germany has worked closely with the UK on-trade over the last few years to help sommeliers and restaurateurs better understand the styles of wine and regions that can work so well with different types of cuisine. It’s why it is so keen to be part of the new UK Wine List of the Year awards, co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List, and play its part in helping to shine the light on restaurants and their wine offer when they finally get the chance to re-open in the coming months, explains Nicky Forrest, who heads up Wines of Germany in the UK.
Being a biodynamic winemaker in a cold climate is hard enough. Then to be certified as such is another big hurdle. But for the 25 members of respekt-BIODYN, however, they add another level of certification in order to enjoy the benefits of this exclusive association. Peter Dean joined them for a tasting of four wines, including a Sauvignon Blanc Trockenbeerenauslese, to mark the arrival of two new members to the group, Sattlerhof and Leiner.
As our attention starts to turn to our buying needs in 2021 the California Wine Institute in the UK has been quick to get on the front foot and plan a new form of virtual tasting that it believes can both break new ground for how generic wine bodies can put on major country tastings, but also provide a new highly effective tasting model that will still be suitable and relevant for post-Covid times. Here its two UK directors, Justine McGovern and Damien Jackman, explain to Richard Siddle just how its Essential California At Home tasting in March is going to work and how importers, buyers and press can get involved.
The growth of outstanding dry white wines from Tokaj has been just one of the many exciting developments from this Hungarian wine-producing region in the past two decades. But with it comes an agonising decision that has to be made in September by the winemaker – how much dry wine are they going to make and how much of the Furmint crop are they going to leave on the vine in the hope that botrytis will set in so they can produce Tokaji Aszu? Climate change means that the years where conditions are perfect for botrytis have been halved, which makes the decision even more of a gamble.
Two years ago Olivier Cuvelier, President of the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, told The Buyer of his plans to change key areas of the classification system – making the award stand for five years rather than one, and for three historical hierarchical levels: Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel to be introduced. The changes were part of a campaign to simplify and clarify the Bordeaux classification to consumers and trade alike. But, just as these measures were being implemented in 2020, the roll-out was scuppered by Covid. Peter Dean hears from Cuvelier about how the global pandemic affected the Alliance’s work on the 2018 vintage programme and what is in the pipeline for 2021.