If you were blown away by the excitement, dynamism, and buzz of the first two New Wave tastings, highlighting and celebrating some of the best winemaking talent in South Africa quality, then you really are in for a treat with its return to London on September 3. Robin Davis, co-founder of the New Wave tasting, explains why his own distribution business, Swig, is so keen to be involved again and why he believes it is going to be “easily be the best tasting yet”. In the first of a series of articles with each of the five importers involved, and some of their key winemakers, Richard Siddle talks to Davis about what we can expect. (Main picture: BlankBottle’s Pieter Weiser competing in the Vintners Surf Classic, picture by Thys Lombard).
With so many wine competitions and award initiatives around the world it can be hard for any event to stand out even if, like the International Wine & Spirit Competition, you are celebrating your 50th anniversary. Christelle Guibert, the new chief executive of for fine wines and spirits at The Conversion Group, owners of the IWSC, explains some of the radical steps she has taken to shake up the event and make it as relevant as possible to wine producers around the world and buyers in different channels of the professional wine industry.
‘Think small but act big!’ is the philosophy behind newly-formed Graft Wine, the UK importer formed by the merging together of two of our most innovative specialist importers, Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine. In an exclusive Buyer interview Graft’s two chiefs, Nik Darlington and David Knott, talked to Chris Wilson about the reasons behind the move, where the efficiencies lie, what new wine producers they will be taking on, and also why the current economic climate both in the wine trade and broader UK economy demanded a bold step. From the off new producers will include Matthew van Heerden, Polperro, Bodegas Nekeas, Andreas Gsellmann, Domaine du Vieux Pressoir, Corvers-Kauter and Vigneti Cenci.
Before Michael Saunders goes on to explain what steps he has taken to help turnaround the Bibendum drinks distribution business, he was keen to set out exactly what he was not there to do and that’s become “a pastiche of what it was before”. “I am not here to re-write history, but do something great to help this business,” he says. Just over 12 months on from returning to the company he had spent the previous 35 years at, it looks like he is well on course to do just that. But most of all he has been able to restore the company’s reputation and win back the support of its suppliers and all important customers. Richard Siddle sat down with him to see where he now wants to take the business in the future.
Liam Manton, one of the founders of Didsbury Gin, has a key bit of advice for any other brand owner or entrepreneur looking to break through in their respective channel of the drinks industry. Yes, you need to have a unique product and be 100% passionate about it, but you also need to be willing and able to walk up what he calls the “financial staircase” in order to attract the right level of investment for your business at each stage of its growth. As he explains it can, at times, be quite a steep staircase to climb.
Valentin Radosav at Gymkhana, Ana Maria Martinez Terol of TerraVina, Tamas Czinki and Adam Pawlowski MS of The Northcote, Lionel Periner at La Trompette, Stefan Neumann MS then at The Fat Duck, Sara Bachiorri of The Glasshouse and Romain Henry of Hibiscus all have one thing in common. They are past winners of the Sud de France Sommelier Competition. If you think you have what it take to be this year’s UK winner and go on to take part in the global competition next year, then here’s what you have to do to take part.
If there was a competition for the happiest person in the wine trade then Thibaut Mathieu would have to be contender. For after 17 years living and working in Asia he says he has fallen on his feet heading up the Asian business for Corney & Barrow. As he says himself, “he is on the right side of the world” selling fine wines to a dynamic private customer base and the premium on-trade market. Here he explains just what life is like in the fine wine world in Hong Kong and beyond.
Jonothan Davey might still be relatively new to the wine industry, but he is making the most of his management consultancy training to make the biggest impact for his specialist wine importing business, Nekter Wines. Here the focus is on working with a small community of mostly minimal intervention winemakers which has seen him target in on California as one of the most exciting, and dynamic winemaking regions for producers with the wines to shake up the premium and independent on-trade.
It might seem a bit upside down to be introducing a new major Champagne tasting event in the UK that is actually an Australia affair, organised by the Australian double act of leading wine critic, Tyson Stelzer and events organiser, Jody Rolfe. Together they have been hosting a series of successful Champagne events in Australia and Hong Kong for the last six years through their Wine Press business that has helped bring a new, look and feel to Champagne Down Under. They are now looking to do the same in Europe with their first event in London on June 12. Here’s what to expect.
It is an indication of how big the turnaround in Californian wine has been over the last few years that a number of the dynamic, disruptive and award winning wine importers that have come into the market over the last three to four years have identified California as a key area to go and source exciting, cutting edge wines that can help give them a point of difference. Like Wanderlust Wine. Its founder, Richard Ellison, explains why California has become such an important country in his search for esoteric and different wines from around the world.
From scrubbing fellow wine critic Charles Metcalfe naked in the showers at Oxford University, to still being the most respected, loved, and recognised person talking about wine on our TV screens – Oz Clarke is a one off. A personality of the highest order, always a regular at every major, and minor trade wine tasting, still eager to learn, share and talk about his passion for wine – or beer, or music, or Gillingham Football Club. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about his life in wine and why like Peter Pan he has no intention of growing up and taking the world too seriously.
“This is very different to the other awards, there is an informality and a sort of ‘joy’ about it.” That’s how the Wine Society’s Ewan Murray described last year’s awards ceremony for the People’s Choice Wine Awards which has just kicked off the entry process for this year’s competition. Now Murray had just won a boot full of awards, but it very much sums up the trade’s reaction to this new breakthrough awards. Here founder, Janet Harrison, explains why she was so keen to get everyday wine drinkers involved in her new competition.
Such has been the surge in demand for imported wine in China, thanks to highly significant free trade deals with key countries such as Australia and Chile, it has also opened the doors wide open for the global bulk wine market. So much so that the World Bulk Wine Exhibition, that hosts the sector’s biggest and most important trade fair in Amsterdam every November, is now about to hold its first event in China. Here’s why and what we can expect.
The wine industry is often criticised for working inside its own bubble, only ever taking influences and inspiration from within the industry rather than naturally looking outside to other consumer food and drink sectors for ideas and a new perspective. It’s why the appointment of Rodolphe Lameyse as the new chief executive of Vinexpo is potentially so exciting. It is the first time the international exhibition business has gone outside the wine industry for its leader. Here Lameyse talks to The Buyer about how he hopes his experience as a specialist in organising leading trade shows around the world will help bring new ideas, and a fresh strategy for the group at a vital time in its history.
They say in the world of journalism that a photograph is worth a 1,000 words and here’s a story to prove it. Clean and simple. This is the winning photograph taken by Jon Wyand which has earned him the prize of Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year, part of the overall Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2019 competition. What’s more it is the second time that UK photographer Wyand has picked up the award. A picture that tells its own story…
We’ve all heard the comparison that passing the Masters of Wine exam is the wine industry’s equivalent to climbing Everest. But it is one thing knowing everything about what goes into making a glass of wine, that all falls by the wayside if you don’t then have the personal and commercial skills to go out and make the most of having those two big letters after your name. That’s where MW Access comes in. A new match making service if you like that hopes to give wine businesses the world over the chance to tap into the international MW talent pool and be potentially connected with the right MW who can help them fix a particular problem or come up with a new way of working for their company. It has been set up by three MWs, Tim Wildman, Barry Dick and Michael Palij, to find the right MW, with the most relevant commercial and technical experience who is tailor made for whatever business challenge or opportunity a particular business might have. Here Richard Siddle catches up with the founders of MW Access.
The Benevolent is making big strides to widen both its awareness as the drinks charity for those in the industry who fall on hard times, but also as a support association for those who have issues with their physical or mental health, championed by its award winning #notalone campaign and its new It Could Be Me initiative. But such efforts take up a lot of its resources which is why The Benevolent’s new chairman, Michael Saunders of Bibendum PLB, has made fundraising a key part of his two year tenure and, in particular, quick, practical and simple steps that everyone and anyone in the trade can do to donate small amounts, like the equivalent of a drink a month. Here he explains why.
The Lanchester Group has long been at the forefront of running its bottling, packing and wine development businesses on a strict sustainability agenda – like the wind turbines and solar panels that produce enough energy to power its site as well as supply electricity for thousands of home through the National Grid. It is now unveiling pioneering, heat pump technology, that will allow it to generate more energy by pumping flood water out of disused coal mines on its sites in the north east to power its new bottling site facilities that will double its capacity and, it believes, puts it at least 10 years ahead of its competition.
If you are heading to Prowein next week then you might want to get yourself there on time on the last day in order to hear leading wine critic and commentator, Tim Atkin MW, revisit for the first time the subject that helped him become a Master of Wine, and his dissertation on the intricacies of Hungary’s iconic wine region, Tokaj. Here Atkin shares just what it was – and is – that has enchanted him so much over the years.
Bibendum and its independents division, Walker & Wodehouse, might be about to unveil its latest wine ranges to customers and buyers at a series of regional tastings this week, but the real work for what we are about to see actually started way back last summer when buying director, Andrew Shaw and his team first started going through where it needed to strengthen, adapt and extend its range in order to keep up with the latest drinking trends and demands from customers and buyers about which wines they would like to see them carry. Richard Siddle talks to Shaw about the series of steps he and his buyers go through.