South Africa is winning plaudits left, right and centre for the quality of its wines, from reds, to whites, to sparkling and anything in between. But for Ross Sleet and the new Rascallion wine brand it is the country’s blended wines that are truly world class. It’s why the Rascallion wine range has been created using only blends, using both traditional combinations and more left field option from across South Africa. Richard Siddle went on a road trip with him to track down the right ‘ingredients’ for his next blends.
The world of wine is full of conundrums. Just how do you define natural wine? What exactly is minerality, why do Americans love Yellow Tail so much and just who is Peter Stafford-Bow? Yes, this mysterious figure suddenly appeared out of nowhere with a top selling book, Corkscrew, detailing the apparently fictitious, yet also so very accurate, lives of supermarket wine buyers and the producers and distributors that supply them. He is now back with his second book, Brut Force, that picks up the adventures of his hero Felix Hart. The Buyer managed to track him down – admittedly via email and not face to face – to try and reveal just a little more about who the real Peter Stafford-Bow really is.
Even a wine region as established and as well known as Rioja needs new, different and imaginative ways to keep its wines fresh, alive and interesting to busy trade buyers. Which is why Wines of Rioja’s 10×10 tasting has proved so popular. In a nutshell it allows visitors the chance to taste 10 pre-selected wines by an expert panel across 10 key wine styles and categories. The two co-chairs of those judges, Tim Atkin MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW, explain how the process works and why they think Rioja has more to offer and talk about every year.
It’s been a year of firsts for wine writer Elizabeth Gabay MW. 2018 was the year that she turned her knowledge and expertise in rosé wines into her first published book, resulting in a subsequent whirlwind of events, talks and visits. She and her husband have also become empty nesters for the first time and are enjoying the opportunity to travel and discover new places. Here she shares the mostly highs from 2018 and what she got up to during the summer.
As producers all over Europe start to pick grapes and ready themselves for the 2018 harvest, buyers wait impatiently on the sidelines to see which regions will have the best quality and most affordable grapes to buy. Here, ahead of this year’s World Bulk Wine Exhibition, Juraj Hanuš of European bulk wine brokers, Eurotrade Business Services, explains why its new E-Vino platform can offer buyers a new e-commerce solution for sourcing wine from right across central and Eastern Europe.
This week anxious teenagers will be ripping open their A Level results fearing the worst, and hoping their dreams might actually come true. The choices for further eduction are endless and there are far more routes to take than ever before. Including a qualification in viticulture, winemaking and the wine industry. Here, in the first of two articles, we catch up with two students from the Plumpton College about what a course in wine has meant for them.
Has Sir Ian Botham ever done anything half-heartedly? In some ways it is not a surprise that the first range of wines he has produced under his own name are already selling out on allocation. But then this is not a celebrity putting their name to a collection of pre-ordained wines. It’s a hobby that has potentially morphed into what he hopes could be a career that he becomes equally if not more well known and respected for what he did with a cricket bat and ball. In part one of our two part in-depth interview, Richard Siddle talks to Botham about his passion for wine that has seen 40 years of friendships and relationships with winemakers turn into what he can proudly call the Botham Wines series.
Adios Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short and welcome to Harry Hunt, Robert Hunter and Simon Tyrrell, the wine industry’s very own Three Amigos who hope to offer less of the laughs (although they are available if you want them) for serious Spanish wines sourced from all regions of the country. All three are running their own successful Spanish winemaking and export businesses who have teamed up to create their own one stop shop for Spain.
Here’s a question for you. What kind of life motto do you try and follow? You know, the set of values that are most important to you that you trot out when asked at a serious job interview? For Ken Grier, the legendary whisky figure who for the last 20 years has helped transform The Macallan single malt whisky brand into an iconic global luxury tour de force, it all comes down to “dedication, hard work, delivery and virtue”. Four values he has not only tried to live up to personally, but deliver for the whiskies he has looked after. Here’s how he thinks he has got on…
Here’s a novelty for you. A wine tasting competition that asks average wine drinkers who keep wine sales flowing across the country to do the actual judging of which wines should be chosen for an award. OK they also get a bit of a hand from some wine trade folk too, but the principles of the People’s Choice Wine Awards are exactly what they say on the tin. The winning wines have chosen by those who pay to drink them. Founder Janet Harrison explains how it works.
Having an idea to write a book is one thing, being able to do so is quite another, particularly if you are trying to fit in the research and writing whilst holding down a day job too. So being given a hefty cheque to help bring it all together can certainly help things along, as it did for US wine writer, Miquel Hudin, when he won a bursary in memory of wine importer Geoffrey Roberts that gave him the opportunity to go ahead and complete his own book on the history of winemaking in Georgia.
Former leading restaurateur and now wine critic and publisher, Neville Blech, has decades of experience of working with, supplying and writing about wine in restaurants that he encapsulates each year in his guide, Wine Behind The Label. He has now taken all that knowledge, including reviews of over 25,000 wines, to create a new wine app – Value For Money Wines Pro – that offers every day wine drinkers the chance to assess a wine for its quality and the value for money it is being listed at in a restaurant or wine merchants.
There must be times working for a major wine merchants when you feel you’ve left the core job you started out with well behind you and turned into all singing, dancing events organiser such are the opportunities now to get involved in sourcing and providing wine from everything from rock concerts, major sporting events, to finding the right wines for an around the world cruise. Welcome to the world of Olivia Marsh, catering and hospitality sales manager at Corney & Barrow.
The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships claims to be the only one of its kind in the world which puts every type of fizz to the test. It’s also the only judging event where all wines entered are tasted blind by the same three judges. Founder Tom Stevenson and co-judges Essi Avellan MW and Dr Tom Jordan. Helping them as order of ceremonies is Champagne expert himself, Simon Stockton. Here’s his ringside account of how the judging takes place…
Italy is blessed with both a bewildering array of indigenous grape varieties suitable for wine production and a vast number of local climates and soil types to provide specific terroirs’, each capable of influencing the taste and quality of the wines. But should it focus more on those unique grapes or, instead go for a region, terroir-first strategy? Gordon Stuteley of GS Wines sets out the arguments for each approach as he prepares for a tasting that hopes to address that exact issue in London on July 4.
Being successful in the modern wine industry is becoming more about the kind of business you run, the connections you have, the doors you can open up and opportunities you can create as well as having wines that consumers actually want to buy. In World Cup footballing terms it’s being that elusive Number 10, the creative, talented, all-seeing player that can play “between the lines” of the opposition’s defence and midfield, to carve open winning goal scoring opportunities for your team. It’s an approach that’s not lost on Paul Schaafsma and his new wine business, Benchmark Drinks.
There seems to be constant attempts to re-invent Rioja by breaking it down into a number of different parts. If the efforts of its Haro Railway District region are anything to go by then it is following the right strategy as it allows producers to shine both individually, but also as part of collective efforts to shine different lights on what innovations are taking place to bring fresh life to Spain’s most famous wine region, reports David Kermode.
It might be the biggest success story the UK wine industry has seen in a generation, but is there a more misunderstood wine category than Prosecco? For all the restaurants, bars and hotels that thrive on the back of Prosecco there are still many professional buyers in the trade who question its quality and value to the wine industry as a whole. So where better to go to challenge those perceptions than Venice and the surrounding Valdobbiadene wine region where Prosecco heralds from. Over the rest of this week The Buyer will be teaming up with leading premium Prosecco producer, Mionetto, and its UK partner, Copestick Murray to take a group of leading buyers and influencers and show them how local Venetians enjoy their greatest ever export.
By its very nature the craft brewing business attracts people who have followed very different careers before turning to beer. Few, though, can match the back story of trained marine biologist Greg Pilley who had spent most of his career in remote parts of Africa working as a conservationist trying to protect elephants, before turning to brewing. It’s a fascinating story that culminates in his Stroud Brewery becoming one of only five organic craft brewers in the country.
Now we might all like the idea of ordering an unusual aperitif on a night out, but how often does our mind go blank when we are asked what we want and we just go for a standard gin and tonic? Then when the bill turns up at the end of the meal £20 more than we were expecting, we blame it on the G&Ts and not the extra cheese or half bottle of wine we had. Kate Hawkings believes the time is right to honour, praise and celebrate aperitifs as a very special drink occasion in their own right.