Regulars at The Birley Group, The Ivy Collection, Chiltern Firehouse, Park Chinois and Aqua Shard are amongst the growing number of premium on-trade customers turning to CBDs and other wellbeing products that offer just a little something more than an average glass of Sauvignon Blanc or gin and tonic. Adam Feldheim is one of a number of new players in the drinks market that are bringing business and finance skills, as well as the ability to create new health and wellness products, to a fast growing community of consumers, as he explains to Richard Siddle.
Eighteen months since the devastating blast in Beirut harbour, Lebanon is still reeling from crisis after crisis. That hasn’t dampened enthusiasm within the country’s wine industry, however, argues Etienne Debbane, head of IXSIR, the company whose winery was named as one of the greenest buildings in the world – in fact wine is one of the few industries that is helping people make ends meet. In a revealing interview with Justin Keay, Debbane explains why he has halved the price of his wines to the domestic market and has focussed his energies on planting more hectares of vines including Pinot Noir and Assyrtiko. Keay also picks out three IXSIR wines that he recommends for quality and value.
A wine producer is nothing without great quality wines. That’s a given. But having great wines is not going to make you a successful wine producer. For that you need brands. But what comes first? Here Tim Ford, co-owner of Domaine Gayda, the independent winery in the heart of the Languedoc Roussillon, talks to Richard Siddle about how having a carefully thought-through brand strategy has allowed it to make wines that reflect and tell stories of the land it makes wine from – spread across four distinct terroirs in this diverse, wine-producing region.
At a tasting to highlight top end Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon, Christo Le Riche, chair of the Cabernet Collective explains how the historical wine producers of the Cape are trying to focus worldwide media attention on South African Cabernet Sauvignon in order to underline the region’s ability to make premium and ultra-premium red wine. Le Riche and his fellow members of the Cabernet Collective believe that Cabernet is the grape for South Africa to hang its hat on – that the message from the industry should be specialisation rather than diversification, and that big brands should carry this message to the outside world to allow South Africa to ride bumps in the road more smoothly.
When Italian wine ‘Bible’ Gambero Rosso announced Gianni Doglia as its winemaker of the year for 2022, there were many in the wine trade who were delighted that this visionary winemaker from Piemonte was finally getting the critical acclaim he has deserved. Doglia’s wines, including the game-changing Moscato D’Asti Casa Di Bianca, have won the prestigious Tre Bicchieri awards in the past, but being made Italy’s winemaker of the year also takes into account his commitment to sustainability as both a founding member of The Green Experience and as a follower of Italy’s SQNPI protocol. For wine expert Mike Turner it was an added bonus – Doglia was the person who converted him from drinking ‘snakebite’ into appreciating great wine, and is now a personal friend.
Tim Adams is not the only Australian wine producer to be chomping at the bit. Stuck in Australia, unable to travel for months on end, but keener than ever to do business and open up new markets around the world. He is particularly keen to widen his existing business in the UK, a market he loves and knows well, particularly for the new Mr. Mick wine brand that has done so well in Australia and other key export markets around the world. Here he is joined by his business development director, Andrew De Zolt, as they talk about their international plans and in particular the opportunities for its Mr. Mick brand.
Mirabeau Gin started with a Eureka moment in a car park after de-alcoholising a low abv rosé, and it has gone on to become one of the fastest-growing premium gins on the planet. Now the focus is on expanding into the premium on-trade with ex-Seedlip COO Emma Wykes leading the charge. Co-owner, Stephen Cronk, explains how his Provence-based rosé winery has managed to find a gap in the market and why the world actually does need another gin… just don’t call it ‘pink’ OK.
Lyme Bay Winery is one of the emerging number of English wine producers that are making their name making still rather than sparkling wines and by sourcing grapes from five different sites across the south of England it is well placed to provide a consistent, quality supply to the premium on-trade and specialist retail sectors. Here we talk to managing director and winemaker, James Lambert, and head of sales and marketing, Paul Sullivan, about their growth plans and how they hope a new distribution deal with Bancroft Wines will help take them to the next level.
For his latest wine project the award-winning winemaker, Lenz Moser has returned to Austria to team up with one of the country’s fastest rising stars, Markus Huber, to create a new wine they believe will help re-invent Grüner Veltliner, one of Austria’s most important grape varieties, and potentially introduce it to new drinkers all over the world. Richard Siddle caught up with Moser to understand just why he is so excited about New Chapter Grüner Veltliner and what makes it so different.
To be named Outstanding Wine Producer in the world is an achievement any producer must aspire to, but for the team behind premium South African wine brand, Vilafonté, it is the culmination of 25 years work that has seen some of the finest talent from two countries – the United States and South Africa – come together with one dream: to make a wine that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. Today’s IWSC accolade shows it has gone one step further. Richard Siddle talks to Vilafonté co-founder, Mike Ratcliffe, about why this is an award that is also testimony to the huge advances there have been in South Africa as a whole that have made it an equal to any other world class wine producing country.
We continue our series looking at the next generation of winemakers that are taking Bordeaux forward with their own visions and innovations with an interview with David Faure of Château Mille Roses in the Medoc by breakthrough wine writer Sophia Longhi. Here he explains how the decision to go organic has helped him bring his own ideas to the vines and wines and break away from the text book winemaking he was taught at university and how he hopes farming sustainably will leave a healthy winery for his children.
If you want to know how to really tackle your carbon impact then spend some time analysing the efforts that Australia’s Wakefield Wines has taken over the last 15 or so years. It claims to have been the first producer back in 2009 to introduce a carbon neutral wine range and is now on course to be what it says will be the first independent Australian winery to commit to the terms laid down in 2015’s Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions by 50% by 2030, and a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Here Clinton Taylor, general manager, explains why it is so committed to leading the way on climate action and the immediate steps other wineries can take.
Sugar levels are down and acidity levels are up in Britain’s 2021 grape harvest, which is fine if you’re making sparkling wine but not such good news if you are making still wine like Chris Wilson. Wine scribe turned winemaker, Wilson runs Gutter&Stars, Cambridge’s first urban winery and his nerves are jangling as the still wine harvest is running four weeks later than 2020. Will the grapes ripen in time? Will rot set in? And how will this change the style of wines he will be making in 2021? More news from the front in our continuing series on how one wine writer has put his money where his mouth is and started making wine… in a windmill.
Hubert de Boüard is best known for being the co-owner of Château Angélus, where he was born and famously given a pair of secateurs on his seventh birthday. Always destined to be a winemaker, de Boüard also runs Château La Fleur de Boüard and Hubert de Boüard Consulting, his company consulting for 80 wineries, primarily in the Bordeaux region, making him a key player there. As part of The Buyer’s ongoing series on bouncing back from the pandemic, Peter Dean hears from him as to how life has changed post-COVID.
Such has been the pace of growth at Cramele Recas, now by far Romania’s largest exporter of wine, that co-founder Phillip Cox says it is struggling to keep up with demand and is having to turn back buyers and limit supply to some customers such has been the increase in demand for its wines. It is also a sign of just how tapped in Cox and the winemaking team at Cramele Recas are to the in demand styles of wine that are the most sought after amongst buyers, across all channels, around the world. Richard Siddle flew to Romania to see the Cramele Recas operation for himself.
“Brixton is a million things to a million people. That’s what makes it special.” So says Andrew Murray-Watson and Calandra Smith, the partners and team behind Brixton’s very own gin brand. Appropriately named Brixton Gin. It is also a brave call to be the ones to try and encapsulate all that Brixton stands for in your own gin brand. But Murray-Watson is as well placed as anyone to give it a go having lived in Brixton since 2004 and started his own deli and drinks shop, Guzzl, in 2017. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about what why he thinks Brixton Gin truly captures the spirit of this unique part of London.
Mateja Gravner and her son Gregor have taken over the running of the Gravner estate, split across Italy’s Northeastern border with Slovenia, after the tragic death of her brother 12 years ago. Mateja’s father Josko is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of Orange wine in Western winemaking, continuing the Collio/Brda tradition of skin contact Ribolla wines, and pushing it further with months-long macerations, fermenting in qvevri, biodynamic viticulture and, most recently, with a total conversion to whole bunch fermentation in 2017. Mateja spoke to the Buyer in the summer about how she has been coping during the pandemic.
As life starts to return to normal for many countries, and the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, The Buyer is running a series of interviews with key, influential winemakers about the impact of Covid-19 on making wine. Most of the wine news in the past 18 months has been about output, distribution and consumption trends during the pandemic. We want to know from the people who actually make the wine how has their life been? what challenges they’ve faced as winemakers? and how they are having to adapt moving forwards? In this latest piece we talk to Ornelaia estate director Axel Heinz.
“I often refer to our division of Les Grands Chais de France as our best kept secret, hopefully that’s about to change.” That’s how Chris Davies, head of Famille Helfrich in the UK describes a business that can exclusively supply on-trade buyers and independent wine merchants an extensive range of wines from all from France and increasingly the rest of the world. Here Davies explains the important role that Famille Helfrich plays within the wider Les Grands Chais group and what buyers can expect from the two portfolio tastings it is hosting in Manchester and London in October.
To reflect the big changes that are taking place in Bordeaux The Buyer has teamed up with Les Vins du Médoc to introduce a new series of articles – Medoc: The Next Generation Interviews – where we highlight the work being done by new, exciting, innovative winemakers and producers in the region and invite a breakout young wine writer to talk to them about their life in wine, their winemaking philosophy and why they think the Médoc is such a special place to make wine. First up we shine the light on Anaïs Bernard of Château Gadet-Terrefort who shares her story with Jess Lamb.