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.
Five years ago when Silicon Valley billionaire Michael Baum expressed an interest in buying Château de Pommard, his lawyers advised against it. But Baum liked the direct-to-consumer business model, the cellar master Emmanuel Sala and took quite a shine to this historic Burgundy estate. 90% of the current 100,000 bottle annual output is sold direct to consumer, but Baum is putting the building blocks in place to quadruple that. Geoffrey Dean travelled to Burgundy to meet Baum and his team, see their plans and, of course, to taste the wines.
When the Languedoc’s Domaine Gayda got some of the world’s top wine critics to blind-taste Syrah matured in 9 different vessels in London last month, it was a ground-breaking exercise in sharing a key facet of the winemaker’s craft – how does elevage in completely different vessels alter the wine? And which is more palatable? The results were as surprising as they were useful to winemaker Vincent Chansault and winery chief Tim Ford. So what effect will the learnings have on how they are going to blend future vintages of their flagship wine, the Syrah-based Chemin de Moscou, and how will it affect sales?
As Europe reels from some of the highest temperatures it has seen in recorded history, so the impact of climate change moves higher and higher up everybody’s agenda. Familia Torres, which is 150 years old next year, has already been setting and meeting some ambitious targets in terms of reducing CO2 commissions and investing in alternative energies to help try and play a part in combatting climate change. Part of this strategy is also to start planting vines on higher ground – its latest acquired sites in Catalonia are at least five degrees cooler at 500-750m high as Miguel Torres Maczassek explains to Peter Dean.
Unless you are part of the close knit South African wine community you may not know Professor Eben Archer. But if you have enjoyed watching and experiencing how South African wines have emerged and developed over the last 20 years then you will have experienced the impact that he has had on new generation of South African winemakers during his nearly 20 years teaching wine and viticulture at the Stellenbosch University. Following his death this week we pay tribute to Professor Archer with his thoughts on South African wine that he shared with Richard Siddle during a dinner last September. Our very best go to his family, friend and the South African wine community.
With a history dating back to 1270, Frapin Cognac might not seem the most obvious candidate for a cutting edge re-invention of the cocktail but, thanks to a pioneering partnership with an importer of fine teas, that’s just what’s taking shape at the world-famous Brown’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair. ‘Aperi-TEAvo’ is a new initiative from Frapin’s importer Louis Latour Agencies with Lalani and Co, supported by an elegant tasting menu. Cognac fan and cocktail lover David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, took a tea for the team.
Business entrepreneur Jackie Fast has a strong track record on working with major brands to get their key messages across and open up new markets for their products. Particularly in her days running an international sponsorship business. She is now looking to apply those same skills to her own new brand. REBEL Pi. A premium Canadian ice wine made from Roussanne. Here she explains the steps any brand, or business, should look to take when looking to open up new markets.
When Peckham-based duo Tom Bishop and Jack Vereker decided to launch their new tequila El Rayo in May it was to occupy the middle ground of the market. The UK is the fifth largest importer of tequila and yet they believe the drink is either positioned as a quick way to get drunk or else so aloof as to feel unobtainable. El Rayo’s positioning is to be an alternative to gin, based on a belief that with gin market saturation will come drinkers looking for new experiences. Bettina Hepburn caught up with them to find out whether they can seriously challenge the G&T with their T&T?
The UK wine market has long been trying to push the average price of major wine brands up and away from the £5 to £6 price bracket. E&J Gallo went further than most when in 2010 it introduced Dark Horse to push £10. Nearly 10 years on Helen Arnold talks to head winemaker behind the brand, Beth Liston, about how it has grown, what she has brought to the label and how Gallo hopes new varieties such as Malbec can help grow not only Dark Horse’s own position, but branded wines in general.
Now there are enough famous faces that have turned their skills to winemaking to run a major event just with their wines. There are also some household names that have made a nice tidy sum from the world of spirits too. Here’s the latest. Adam Woodyatt. Better known to the public as Ian Beale, one of the original cast members in BBC’s long running soap opera, Eastenders. Here he explains to Alistair Morrell how he decided to go into the drinks industry and the ultra competitive world of gin.
“It’s fantastic. What I am living now is like a dream.” That’s how Laurent Delaunay describes the opportunity he has had to buy back his family’s estate in the heart of Burgundy and to once again make fine Burgundian wine under the Edouard Delaunay name. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about why he has decided to return to Burgundy and what he hopes to achieve now that he has his father’s estate back under family control.
Entrepreneurs Henry Connell and Alex Thraves shook up the English wine industry when in 2018 they launched The Uncommon, the first ever English sparkling wine in a can. Their Bacchus, with grapes sourced from Denbies in Surrey, sold out at Selfridges within six months. The Uncommon has this year landed a distribution deal with Jascots Wine Merchants, shifting the focus to the on-trade. Here, as English Wine Week begins, The Buyer speaks with co-founder Henry Connell about how The Uncommon is opening up new audiences for English sparkling wines, and premium canned wines.
Robert Wessman was once dubbed the Viking Boss for how he transformed the pharmaceutical business in Iceland. Now he has his sights set on the premium end of the wine business, buying Bergerac estate Château Saint-Cernin, and employing global wine consultant Michel Rolland and his team to oversee the cellar and winemaking. He is already making waves with the red Château Saint-Cernin already outscoring Cheval Blanc and Harlan Estate in a critics’ blind tasting. Geoffrey Dean was whisked to Bergerac in a private jet, tasted the wines and quizzed Wessman about his best route to market in the UK.
At the launch of #SauvBlancDay Dr Jamie Goode included one of the Sauvignon Blancs of Denis Jamain from Domaine de Reuilly in a blind tasting, extolling the virtues of both the wine as great value, and of the winemaker as one of the grape’s early pioneers. Reuilly ofter gets overlooked in favour of its more illustrious Central Loire neighbours Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé and yet it is producing world class wines at amazingly good value. Peter Dean visited Denis Jamain and was equally impressed by what he tasted.
No matter how crowded the spirits market is there is always room for true innovation to find its place on the back bar. Which is what the founders of Aluna Coconut rum hope they have achieved with what they claim is one of the first authentic, all-natural toasted coconut blended rums, in this case sourced from Guatemala and the Caribbean. The Buyer catches up with one of the brains behind the new rum, Guy Ritchie, who explains why he thinks this can be a new breakthrough brand.
For the past 12 years Rollo Gabb has been running the 100 hectare Stellenbosch winery Journey’s End with innovation as one of the key drivers. As Rollo sets about rethinking his three tiers of wines – to make them reflect better the quirkiness of the brand – he talks to Peter Dean about how the 2019 vintage is shaping up after years of drought, how the weather in South Africa is challenging the winemaker in unexpected ways, how South African wine can take its place alongside other international premium wines, and why Journey’s End is still, in his mind, one of the most experimental wineries in South Africa today.
We’ve all watched Dragon’s Den and wondered quite what the businesses that win the backing do with their money. For Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood, founders of local craft gin producers, Didsbury Gin, it has helped them push a brand that was only launched in January 2017 onto the next level with listings first in Harvey Nichols and then a partnership with the UK’s biggest pub chain Wetherspoons. Helen Arnold talks to the duo about how they have managed to make such a success of their gin brand in less than two and a half years.