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    Australian wine writer MiIke Bennie admits he was bored by Australian wines until the recent transformation took place

    Mike Bennie: alternative wines re-focusing Australian wine

    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.

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    Hallgarten Druitt - Annual Tasting 2016 at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Vincent Square, London - 8th and 9th February 2016

    Hallgarten’s Andrew Bewes: why bulk wine makes more sense

    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.

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    Anthony Rose: how to bring sake to a wider audience

    “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.

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    Wim Truter. Photo: wine.co.za

    KWV marks 100 years by looking at innovations for the future

    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.

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    Rascallion: why blended wines are the stars of South Africa

    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.

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    Here's what to expect in Peter Stafford-Bow's second book, Brut Force

    Who does the fictional author Peter Stafford-Bow think he is?

    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.

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    Rioja Alta, Cenicero, Valpiedra, Valdelana

    Tim Atkin & Sarah Jane Evans MWs on why Rioja is on a roll

    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.

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    Touring and talking are very much the skillsets of wine writer Elizabeth Gabay MW

    2018: a year of firsts for rosé specialist Elizabeth Gabay MW

    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.

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    How E-Vino uses e-commerce to connect buyers & bulk producers

    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.

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    What wine students think of the Plumpton College experience

    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.

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    The Three Amigos are the combined strength of three UK winemakers and operators in Spain that can help source and bring any volume of wine to the UK at any given price

    How ‘Three Amigos’ believe they have a 1 stop shop for Spain

    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.

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    Grier at home in the new Macallan distillery

    Ken Grier: how The Macallan has let me live a life less ordinary

    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…

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    People’s Choice Wine Awards does exactly what it claims to do

    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.

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    How Geoffrey Roberts’ bursary opened my eyes to Georgia

    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.

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    Neville Blech hopes new app can identify value for money wines

    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.

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    Olivia Marsh: why Corney & Barrow is so eventful to work at

    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.

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    Simon Stockton’s independent view on judging for CSWWC 2018

    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…

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    Should Italy focus on its unique varieties or terroirs?

    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.

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    Paul Schaafsma will be sharing his experience working with both branded and exclusive wines at the show

    Paul Schaafsma’s new brand, insight and sourcing strategy

    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.

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    Sarah Jane Evans MW was in charge of hosting the inspiring masterclasses

    The ‘Rioja revolution’ whistling through Haro’s Railway Station

    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.

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