As a former managing director of Bargain Booze Keith Webb knows how to promote and sell beer. He also knows a good business opportunity when he sees one. So when he had the chance to ask a question at a Q&A session with his favourite band, Wolf Alice, he asked if they would like to come on a tour of the local Manchester craft brewery, Seven Bro7hers that he is helping to advise. When they said they “yes” it was the start of a relationship that has seen the launch of Wolf Alice’s very own craft lager – Yuk Brew. Here Keith explains how it all came together…
For the UK wine trade, January marks not only the start of a new year, but when all our attention turns to Bourgogne Week and the chance for buyers, merchants, sommeliers and retailers to discover and taste the latest vintage available on the market. After a disappointing 2016 harvest in volume, the double good news for all buyers is that production levels for 2017 were much better and, just as importantly, quality levels are good, says the Bourgogne Wine Board’s (BIVB) François Labet.
2017 was a year to forget for most wine producing countries, but particularly in Italy where frosts and rain did so much damage to many of its iconic regions. Like Soave. But thankfully conditions are back to normal in 2018 and the region is back on the front foot driving not only a quality agenda, but putting the focus firmly on biodiversity and working on the long term future of its vines, as Aldo Lorenzoni, director of the Consorzio di Soave explains.
If you are going to invest in a winery in Hungary then you are giving yourself every chance of success by doing so in Eger, widely recognised as one of the country’s most premium winemaking regions. It is known locally as the ‘Hungarian Burgundy’ and even has its own Grand Cru and Premier Cru classification vineyards producing a range of international and local varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and Furmint and Kékfrankos. The Buyer talks to Nimród Kovács, owner of the Kovács Nimród Winery.
For his first ever job in wine, Orin Swift’s Dave Phinney turned up for the interview for the position of ‘Temporary harvest worker’ in a suit and tie. He can still hear the laughter many years on. Phinney has never looked back, however. A true iconoclast, Phinney went about setting up Orin Swift, one of the most exciting new wave wineries in California and has been making wine in a style entirely of his own making – dividing the critics with his striking Californian blends that can have controversial images on their ‘surfer dude’ labels. Chris Wilson hooked up with him in London for an in-depth chat about where American winemaking style is at right now, how he fits into the business of wine and how the E&J Gallo buyout got him out of a very tight corner.
Allan Sichel, head of Bordeaux’s Wine Bureau Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) admits he is a “relieved” man after the region’s 2018 harvest has returned to near normality after last year’s horror show when yields across France plummeted to their lowest levels for 50 years, thanks to a late spring frost which saw Bordeaux’s yields drop by nearly 40%. Helen Arnold caught up with him on one of his flying visits to London to talk about the 2018 vintage and Bordeaux’s export markets.
Santa Rita Estates is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure its brands and wines are relevant for its customers. Even if it means making over 20 videos with its winemakers for just one Irish convenience store chain. Its consumer and market driven strategy actually starts in the vineyard and adapting the styles of wine it is making to ensure they are right for whichever international market they are being made for. Richard Siddle talks to Santa Rita’s marketing chief, Jaime de la Barra, to assess just how a market first wine strategy actually works.
Rueda has been undergoing massive change for the past decade as major producers such as Ramon Bilbao set up shop – finding the right soil for the right clone of Verdejo and increasingly Sauvignon Blanc. Victor Smart took to the road to visit Ramon Bilbao as well as a number of other producers to see first hand what changes are happening as well as tasting some of the exciting new styles of Verdejo along the way.
We might like the idea of lower alcohol wines, but few, if any, have really cracked the challenge of naturally lowering abv levels whilst maintaining the quality of the wine. New Zealand winemaker, Dr John Forrest, believes he has found a way. Over the last 10 years and more he has been carefully developing techniques in the vineyard that allows him to control the alcohol levels in the grapes ensuring they are picked at just the right time to make his range of Doctor’s wines that only have an alcohol level of 9.5% – and crucially still taste like wine. Richard Siddle finds out how…
Hampshire-based wine producers Hattingley Valley has just secured a deal with the multiple grocery retailer Wholefoods, making it the first English sparkling wine to be available nationwide in the US, as one of only nine wines selected to be part of its Holiday Wine Programme. Helen Arnold caught up with commercial director, Gareth Maxwell, to talk about his plans for building up the Hattingley brand at a time when its production has almost tripled in only 12 months, from 180,000 bottles in 2017 to 500,000 this year.
Inspired by an episode of A Place in the Sun, Jayne and Paul Bayliss decided to jack in their media jobs in the UK and head to the Languedoc where they set up a craft beer brewery in the heart of wine country… not knowing a thing about making beer. Brasserie du Quercorb is almost 10 years old and has reached capacity – supplying the French on-trade with a range of award-winning ales, through their on-site brasserie and also off sales. Peter Dean met up with them just as they opened a new brewery that will triple production and see them able to supply a range of new export markets – including the UK.
The Bock winery from Villany in Hungary has many stories to tell, none more so than how, like so many Hungarian hard-working families, it has prospered in the wake of the Communist regime. It all started when the Bock family, with only half a hectare of vines, was able to kickstart and restore viticulture to the Villany region. Today the Bock winery has expanded to 80 hectares and its wines are known across the country. Its next challenge is to build its profile and reputation overseas at trade and consumer tastings and hopefully on restaurant wine lists.
The wines of Dönnhoff hold a special place in the hearts and minds of great wine lovers worldwide. This 20-hectare estate in Germany’s Nahe wine region has been making wine since the mid-18th century but it wasn’t until 1971 when Helmut Dönnhoff took over the helm that the winery took on superstar status thanks to Helmut’s commitment to quality and skill as a winemaker. With Helmut now passing much of the day-to-day running of the estate to his son Cornelius, Helmut spent a warm summer’s evening with Christina Rasmussen to explain why he thinks ‘higher’ can be good with global warming, how the rise of dry Riesling is a sommelier-driven thing and why every vineyard has a special ‘natural talent.’ The winemaker’s job is to harness it.
In order to get under the skin of how Riesling is changing in the major wine regions of Germany, Christina Rasmussen spent a week in the summer visiting some of the major players in the Mosel and Pfalz, discovering differing philosophies, planting and winemaking experiments. She also stumbles on a major gap in her wine knowledge about why the age of some vines in the Mosel are over 140 years old… in fact, we wonder if you knew….
It all started as a brainwave that Miguel Torres had – was it possible to save all the grape varieties that were becoming extinct in Catalonia? The answer was yes, after they managed to identify 54 different varieties that were shortly due to disappear completely. A lengthy, expensive and arduous process then followed where the most suitable varieties have been replanted with climate change in mind. Marina Ray travelled to the stunning setting of Montserrat to visit Purgatori, Torres’ latest winery that has just started releasing the wines from this fascinating project.
If you want to see the impact of climate change then you only need to take a short hop to Champagne to see how vintage after vintage the harvest is getting earlier and earlier. Here Christian Holthausen of AR Lenoble explains how the Champagne house has produced the first of its new “mag” premium Champagne series that has looked at new viticulture and production techniques to help keep and drive freshness in its Champagnes.
Tuesday 9th October marks a very special occasion for Ray Signorello and his wife Tanya, for it was exactly a year ago to the day that their home and much of the properties on their wine estate were razed to the ground by the wildfires that swept through Napa and Sonoma, claiming many lives and devastating the Californian wine community. It could have been worse, as David Kermode discovers when he meets the team as they prepare to ‘break ground’ on a new winery that starts building on the one year anniversary. The razing of Signorello Estate became the iconic image of the devastating fires and Kermode hears an inspiring story of bravery, determination, resilience and recovery.
At first sight the bodega of Fernando Remirez de Ganuza looks like any number of small to middling wineries in Rioja, step inside, however, and the differences start to become very apparent. In every corner is evidence of Fernando’s vision and quest for quality – from Spain’s first ever mechanised sorting table – which he invented himself – to the range of wines that are spectacularly beautiful and individual.
Miguel Torres and the wider Torres family have been at the forefront of innovations, developments and research into how the global wine industry can do all it can to play its part in combating climate change. One of its key new projects is the role it can play in helping to plant and manage forests in the regions and countries where it makes its wine in order to help offset the impact its wine operations might have on the local environment. Here he explains the impact he hopes they can have.
Like all Hungarian wineries, Gere Attila Winery suffered from the deportations and confiscations that followed the Second World War. A winery with seven generations of winemakers, Gere has slowly but surely grown back to a size where it is now recognised as one of the top wine producers in Hungary, and one that is rightly putting the region of Villány back on the map as the region producing, arguably, the finest red wines. We talked to Andrea Gere about what Gere’s winemaking philosophy is, which varietals they use and what sales strategies they adopt to get into world export markets.