Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge. In the latest instalment of his column for The Buyer he extols the virtues of doing the bare minimum in a white jacket and reveals the details of a guerrilla rosé that’s crept into his cellar. To geek or not to geek? That is the question he is asking himself this month as the cramped space limits what science he can apply on site, and the wines themselves start to take shape – in thrilling fashion.
There will be baited breath in the global wine community on November 18 when the winners of the Wine Producer Awards will be announced. The highest-achieving wine estates from the IWSC have made it into the shortlist across five categories: Sparkling Wine Producer, Fortified, Sweet, Red and White Wine Producer with English wineries well represented in the Sparkling Wine category. Unlike the Spirits awards where William Grant & Son could win for the third year in a row, the Wine Producer Awards will have a new winner as last year’s most Outstanding Wine Producer did not make the cut.
Now in its 29th year the ¡Salud! Oregon Pinot Noir Auction is a prime example of how a wine region can keep its key workers alive and well. Although the world sees many wine auctions, with exclusive cuvées and formats up for grabs in an auction setting, rarely is it tied into a free healthcare programme that is providing 2,500 vineyard workers and their families with the healthcare and outreach they need – especially important this year during the pandemic. LM Archer looks at this unique programme as well as picks out key wines from this year’s auction that is operating online until November 16 and gives a first look at the 2019 ‘throwback’ cool vintage.
November 18 is the date for this year’s IWSC Spirit Producer Awards, an entirely black tie or dressing gown affair. While Covid-19 has meant that the gala night has had to go online for the first time, there is no doubting the excitement of who will be crowned best producers across eight different spirits categories. Top spirits prize of the evening will be awarded to one company which will waltz off with the coveted title of Outstanding Spirits Producer – and for one company that could well be three years in a row…
If there was a competition for the most leftfield way someone has got themselves into making wine then Tim Ford would have a fighting chance of picking up a medal. For whilst he has more than made his home making wine at Domaine Gayda that he set up from scratch in the heart of the Languedoc Roussillon, it is a long way from where he first started his career as a horticulturist running what turned into a multinational flower business from the heart of Africa. It’s already been quite an adventure but, when it comes to wine, Ford believes he is only now ready to really capitalise on the strong reputation he has built up and take Domaine Gayda to the next level, as he explains to Richard Siddle.
The pivotal World Bulk Wine Exhibition is the key time of the year for global wine producers and their most important international wine buyers to come together and do business. But with Covid-19 still preventing major trade fairs to take place this month’s show is going online with a new format – WBWE Connect – that will still allow producers to trade their bulk wine with the world’s most influential retail and on-trade wine buyers. Here’s how it is all going to work.
While winemakers the world over plant on higher ground for insurance against climate-change, Le Soula already made that move 20 years ago. The mixture of old vines grown at altitude on poor granitic soil in the harsh climate of the foothills of the Pyrenees was irresistible to Gérard Gauby, the Roussillon’s most respected vigneron; he suggested to his importers Roy Richards and Mark Walford that they farm it and in 2001 Le Soula was born. Peter Dean paid them a visit last month, met up with Wendy Paillé, the new (ish) estate manager and tasted through the new wines, just taken on by Thorman Hunt, a range with remarkable freshness and vitality.
The wine regions of New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Colorado are the real frontier of American winemaking and a sommelier’s perfect new hunting ground. Although it wasn’t until the 1970s that the modern wine industry of the American Southwest was born it was in New Mexico that the first Vitis vinifera vines in the United States were planted. Talking about her latest book The Wines of Southwest USA, Jessica Dupuy tells Peter Dean about a fascinating region full of diverse terroirs, wines from over 700 wineries and indigenous grape varieties …Blanc Du Bois from Texas, or Chambourcin from Colorado anyone?
If there is a more respected and liked figure in the global wine industry than Laura Catena then I am yet to meet them. If her father, Nicolás, is widely regarded for putting Argentine wine on the world map, then Dr Laura Catena is more than ready to take it to the next generation. She has already established herself as a leading voice not just on Bodega Catena Zapata wines, but on exploring, investigating and finding the most sustainable and climate proof places to make wine for all producers across Argentina. Here in this wide ranging video interview Richard Siddle talks to her about her vision and plans for Catena, helping to raise the quality and prestige of Argentine wines internationally and managing a business through Covid-19.
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge this autumn called Gutter & Stars. In the third instalment of his column for The Buyer the Pinot Noir and Bacchus have arrived at the windmill-based winery, Chris puts his DIY cellar tools to the test and the stereo is turned up to 11.
Whether he’s plunging his arm into a just-fermenting open barrel of bubbling Grenache, bounding across the arid La Roque vineyard where his beloved 80 year-old Carignan vines grow, or pouring samples of the seven wines he produces under the Domaine of the Bee label, Justin Howard-Sneyd is a man with boundless enthusiasm – a Master of Wine who’s found his ultimate vocation. Peter Dean popped down to meet him for lunch in the Roussillon town of Maury to find out how the year’s been and how he’s getting ready for harvest.
“We refer to our wines as ‘Next World’ as they are somewhere in between the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ world in style with tremendous elegance and distinctiveness.” That’s how Paul Beavis the new head of Iconic Wineries of British Columbia describes the unique styles of wine being made by the shores of the lake that dominates Canada’s Okanagan Valley. Beavis will be well known to the wine trade for the 20 years he spent steering Champagne Lanson’s success in the UK and internationally, but, as he explains, the draw of this wonderful, and largely undiscovered, part of the world was a new challenge he is so excited to take on.
As if this year could not get any worse we have all been shocked to see the fires that have struck right through the heart of the wine communities in California’s famous Napa and Sonoma Valleys over the last couple of weeks. For those outside the US it is hard to know how to respond to such an emergency other than to continue to support by promoting and selling Californian wine. This weekend The California Wine Institute UK is urging us all to do just that and is also broadcasting a special ‘California Calling’ lifestyle show featuring Oz Clarke and TV chef, James Martin.
Gigglewater has become a fascinating brand to watch. Launched initially to tap into the phenomenal success of Prosecco, it has carefully moved and adapted to position itself as an umbrella brand that carries the principles of authenticity, wellness, ethics, yet it is also looking to have fun, inspire and raise our spirits at the same time. Attributes that tick a lot of boxes for a lot of people. Here Catherine Monahan, founder of Gigglewater, sets out in detail how she has developed the brand, on her own, with no sales teams, by using social media, experiential marketing and following a direct to consumer strategy that dove tails with her grocery and trade distribution model.
Since its launch 100 years ago Delamain Pale & Dry XO has become a classic cognac for the on trade as well as aficionados worldwide. Its conception and success owed as much to the horrors of the First World War that preceded its launch as it did to the creative explosion of the Roaring Twenties that followed. To celebrate its first century and to reinterpret Pale & Dry for another 100 years meant changing very little. But what Delamain has changed says a lot about how the house sees the development of the cognac market.
You could probably make a team out of the number of former English cricketers who now have their own wine brands, but Darren Gough’s wine project is a little different. For a start his name does not appear on the label, and he does not claim to be involved in any part of the winemaking. But he 100% believes in what it stands for. As the the new Care for Wild wine range, launched last week by Freixenet Copestick, shares the name of the South African rhino sanctuary that Gough has been involved with since his playing days. Here Geoffrey Dean shares the story of how Care for Wild wine came about and how it hopes to boost sales of South African wine and help save and protect its endangered rhinos at the same time.
Romanian wine producer, Cramele Recas, stands out from its competition for a number of reasons. Most notably for being its country’s largest wine exporter. It can also lay claim to be a vegan wine producer, on the verge of becoming organic and capable of making a vast swathe of different styles of wine from orange to natural wines, through to supermarket best sellers and Gold medal winning wines in the major international wine competitions. But as we discover, in the latest The Buyer video interview, its owner Philip Cox, has a 100% market-driven focus that allows him to keep at least one or two steps ahead of what its customers might ask for next. He is joined by Matt Johnson, head of his UK team, who explains how going direct to consumer is one of the biggest lessons they have both learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. Together they are prepared to take on the Covid-19 and Brexit challenges that lie ahead, as Richard Siddle reports.
South Africa has been hit particularly badly by the Covid-19 crisis with a series of lockdowns and bans on alcohol putting many wine companies out of business and the loss of many jobs. Including some of the most prominent winemakers in the country. Here the highly respected Johan Delport shares his story and why he is now looking for a new winery or winemaking role, both in South Africa and around the world, having lost his job at Waverley Hills in the latest in our Onwards & Upwards series.
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge this autumn. In this instalment of his column for The Buyer he goes into more detail about the type of wines he’d like to make this year and unravels some of the red tape involved in setting up a winery from scratch.
Two of the big breakthroughs we have seen during the Covid-19 crisis have been the big swing by businesses to digital and the need for companies, and individuals, to collaborate more effectively with each other. Both of which were exemplified by the recent Le Grand Voyage project that saw Bordeaux producer, Château Malartic-Lagravière, team up with wine and brand communicators, Robert Joseph and Polly Hammond and the new The Wine Show Creative team, to create a series of three minute YouTube vignettes that each tell a different story about the history, culture, art, politics and food and drink of Bordeaux, hosted by Joe Fattorini. Here, in the latest The Buyer video interview, Richard Siddle talks to them all, including Severine Bonnie from Malartic-Lagravière, about how the project came together, what it wanted to achieve and why it potentially offers so much for other drinks producers and businesses to learn from, and why a creative team all pulling in the right direction can produce genuinely ground-breaking work.