It’s one thing tasting wine professionally it is quite another to go on an eating and tasting tour of top London restaurants to experience food and wine in the same way your customers do. Which is what The Buyer’s most recent restaurant tour was all about as we were able to introduce different styles of Vouvray wine to a tour of buyers covering wine merchants, sommeliers, importers, consultants and journalists. As we publish our full report from the event, Richard Siddle picks out the highlights.
Here’s your chance to put your travelcard in your pocket and go on a whistle stop tour of London restaurants to meet different Vouvray producers and find out what your fellow travelling buyers think of them in the latest The Buyer Restaurant Tour.
Let’s face it the average restaurant wine buyer, sommelier, importer, or wine merchant is spoilt when it comes to the choice of different tastings and events that they can attend virtually every day of the year.
With so much competition for their time wine bodies, countries, regions and producers have to think differently to stand out. Which is what The Buyer and Vouvray London Restaurant Tour was all about.
Vouvray’s generic body, the Syndicat des Vignerons de l’AOC Vouvray, wanted the opportunity to show as many of its different styles of Vouvray – from sec, demi sec to sparkling – to key influential buyers in the super competitive premium on-trade. But the challenge for such a well known, traditional region of France is to keep yourself fresh, alive and relevant to buyers who may well have an opinion of your wines, they may well be listing some now, or have done so in the past, but may not be as up to date with what is happening in the re-gion as the generic would like them to be.
Which is where The Buyer’s Restaurant Tour concept comes into play. The chance for like minded buyers from similar background to come together and enjoy a very different kind of wine tasting experience. One that involves getting them fully immersed in the occasion, where there are as many taxis, bus, and traffic lights to navigate themselves through as there are flights of wine and spittoons.
Most of all it is an opportunity to put yourselves into the shoes of the wine buying public and share the experience they have when visiting different types of restaurant and then drinking their chosen wine with a wide selection of starters, main courses and desserts. Yes, we all go out to eat and drink, but rarely when we are professionally assessing the wines in front of us. That’s normally done in the confines of a sanitised tasting room.
The Buyer Restaurant Tour is designed to take you, and your tasting skills, out of your comfort zone and taste and drink wine with all the normal noise, distractions and atmosphere of a busy London restaurant. Which is exactly what the Vouvray Restaurant Tour was all about.
To do so meant bringing together our A team of tasters made up of wine merchants, sommeliers, wine importers, consultants and journalists.
• Olivier Gasselin, wine manager operations, Hakkasan
• John Chapman, operations director, Oxford Wine Company
• John Graves, on-trade channel director, Bibendum
• Martin Lam, restaurant and wine consultant
• Paola Tich, founder, Vindinista (formerly Park+Bridge wine merchants)
• Joe Wadsack, wine consultant and broadcaster (ITV’s This Morning and James Martin’s Saturday Morning)
• Harry Crowther, restaurant and wine consultant including Living Ventures and The Alchemist and runs his own blog at grapetimes.co.uk.
• Andrew Johnson, managing director, Woodwinters
• Jonathan Kleeman, sommelier and “director of hydration” at Twisted Cellar, a new wine merchants in Bishop Stortford
• Raul Diaz, wine consultant who runs his own training and education business, winetraining.co.uk
• Jonathan Davey, Nekter Wines
They were able to enjoy a selection of over 20 wines from key producers, and their UK importers, split between sec, demi sec and sparkling.
Taking part from the producer side was: Francois Bouteille, head of the Syndicat des Vignerons de l’AOC Vouvray; Ingrid Petrus of Domaine Damien Pinon; Guillaume Paris of Domaine Paris Père et Fils; Benoît Gautier Domaine de la Châtaigneraie, represented on the day by its UK agent, Thibault Lavergne; and Vigneau Chevreau, whose wines were presented by Alastair Llewellyn-Smith of Thorman Hunt.
Francois Bouteille, head of the Syndicat des Vignerons de l’AOC Vouvray said of the event: “We wanted to be able to demonstrate how our terroir shows different facets and characteristics of the area.
“One of the key reasons any business wants to meet buyers is to promote its products, so of course we were keen to ensure our buyers knew all about our still wines. But equally, it’s important for us to learn about the market in more detail, and key buyers and influencers are the perfect people to teach us. We wanted this to be a two-way discussion, so we could get practical feedback on the type of strategy we need to adopt in the UK.”
He added: “The tour went well; the format worked just the way we had planned, and the locations we’d chosen for our buyer meeting were absolutely perfect. The participants themselves were focused and very professional. There was a nicely varied cross-section of participants, and between them they had an impressive range of international experience.”
“There were a lot of positives, not least that our guests really enjoyed the restaurants we’d chosen for our tasting. The participants were very open about their needs, and we’re happy to now be in a position where we can go back to our winegrowers in France and pass on what we’ve learned.
“It’s all been a huge asset for our winegrowers. All in all, it’s been a very positive exercise. Every discussion, in every restaurant, brought something new and constructive to the table; and our participants have learned to look at Vouvray wines from a different angle.”
- If you were interested in organising a restaurant tour for your wine business, producers or generic body then contact Richard Siddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.