Lee Evans and Condor Wines sees the wine industry very differently from everyone else. Rather than worry about what is happening with producers and wine styles in all areas of the world he only has eyes for South America. But his dedicated focus is paying off with a wine import and distribution business that is bringing new, niche, interesting and independent wine producers to the premium on-trade.
Premium Belgium beer has long been a go to category for beer aficionados, in fact, they have arguably played an important role in creating demand for the boom in craft beers that we have seen from so many different countries. But for Duvel Moortgat the challenge is to keep pushing the boundaries on what Belgium beer can offer, and in particular for its two flagship brands, Duvel and Vedett. Here John Wood, UK managing director, assesses the premium beer opportunity.
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. As its the New Year we thought we would revisit this interview Richard Siddle had with Botham where he shares 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.
It has been an eventful year for wine writer and communicator Sorcha Holloway. Her breakthrough Twitter forum #ukwinehour has gone from strength to strength and has brought wine conversation and debate to a huge international audience. Hear she shares the highs and lows of the last 12 months and also looks back on an important week for her close family and how they all spent Christmas together.
Giles Cooke has had a busy 2018, dividing his time between his growing Australian wine business, Thistledown Wines, and the UK wine importing and distribution business, Alliance Wine, that he is probably more well known in the drinks trade for. So spending time at home in Edinburgh with his family is even more special, particularly for Christmas. Here he shares what he got up to this year as well as looking back on what has been an eventful 2018.
There are many ways to spend Christmas Day, we will all have our own traditions and ways of doing things and our own personal guilty pleasures, but most of all it is a time to hopefully take a collective deep breath and enjoy great food, wine, spirits and friends and family. In the first of our festive Q&As we ask Richard Ellison, founder of Wanderlust Wine, to share what he will be up to on Christmas Day, and some of his own personal festive favourites, which means spending time with an alternative Royal family.
Step forward anyone who can give a two minute talk on exactly what blockchain technology is all about, and why it has been heralded as the next big thing in business? Thankfully there are specialist blockchain experts out there to do that for us. Like the new team behind start up blockchain business, Chac, that believes blockchain technology could have major benefits for the drinks industry. James Aufenast, one of the four partners in the business, and a former drinks journalist with his own specialist knowledge of the drinks industry, explains why we should all take notice of what blockchains can do for our own companies.
In the first of a series of quick fire Q&A interviews with leading wine buyers, sommeliers, importers and distributors on how they work, what sort of wines they are looking to buy and the opportunities and challenges they face in their respective businesses we start with Nik Darlington, founder of Red Squirrel Wine, that even in its short time of importing wine has built up a strong reputation for being one of the most astute and innovative distributors in the UK where alternative varieties are very much to the fore. Here’s how he sees the world through Red Squirrel’s eyes.
The alternative and natural wine scene in Australia is not just for cool cat hipsters, it’s good news for the country’s overall wine industry. Not in terms of the overall sales, share of the total market and putting money in the bank. Far from it. But in terms of how the drive to make wines that are as true to the place they come from, with as little intervention from the winemaker as possible, using different grape varieties that are more suited to the hot, harsh or cool climate growing conditions where they are made and then drunk. That’s the view of leading Australian wine writer, critic and wine merchant, Mike Bennie as he helps set the scene for the key trends driving the Australian wine sector and what we can increasingly expect to see in the coming years in the UK.
There are now so many routes to market for wines from around the world that it is becoming an increasing challenge for major distributors to know which one is right for their business. But increasingly shipping in bulk and bottling in market, or as close to your market as you can get, is making more sense. Not only is cheaper, but for more volume, entry to mid tier wines there is little, or no, difference in quality, so why don’t you? It’s why Hallgarten & Novum wines is investing more in bulk wine, particularly for its competitive house wine and own label offer, says managing director, Andrew Bewes, who also looks at the steps it is taking to prepare for whatever sort of Brexit awaits us.
“Sake is a rich seam of liquid enjoyment that’s virtually untapped with a woeful lack of information on it in the English language.” That’s quite a sentence to read, never mind write. But it is just a flavour of the passion, gusto and commitment that acclaimed national wine writer, Anthony Rose, has put into writing his own dedicated book on sake. A book that he hopes will not only introduce people to Japan’s fascinating national drink, but also give them fresh insights into the history and culture of the country of Japan and the many wine styles it produces.
It does not seem to fit South Africa’s image as a still young, emerging wine country when you get the opportunity to go and celebrate the 100 year anniversary of one of its oldest and still most influential wine companies – KWV. This is a business that has helped create and develop the South African wine industry for the rest of the world to enjoy. But as Harry Crowther discovered, during a special night to mark its 100 year anniversary, its best years probably still lie ahead.
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.
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…