It was an advert for a cleaning product that ‘kills 99% of all known living germs’ that led former drinks inventor David Gluckman to come up with the idea of Red Chardonnay. He asked himself what happens to the other 1% ? Because, if wine law stipulates that only 75% of a wine has to be Chardonnay to be called Chardonnay then what about the other 25% ? So Gluckman decided to add 25% of a red wine to Chardonnay and call it Red Chardonnay. The year was 2001 and (unbelievably) this actually happened. Read on to find out what came next.
Here’s a conundrum for you. How do you get nine of the UK’s leading wine buyers to meet 18 winemakers in four restaurants in different parts of London in under five hours? Well, throw two Land Rovers into the mix and you are half way home. It’s certainly how The Buyer teamed up with Wines of South Africa to take a group of top buyers on a tour of London restaurants, and the chance to meet some of South Africa’s best winemakers at the same time. Eating, tasting, chatting along the way. Buckle up and join us on the ride…
British wine consumers and buyers are a tad obsessed with the ageability of wines – Cabernet Sauvignon in particular – a hangover perhaps from all that collecting Claret. But while tasting aged Bordeaux is not uncommon in the trade, getting the opportunity to see how well Napa Cabernet ages is a much rarer beast. This much was in evidence as Napa Valley Vintners’ annual ’A Perspective on Vintages’ tasting made its London debut to a packed crowd of wine experts, including our very own David Kermode. The tasting showed off 16 different vintages, allowing Kermode to assess the part played by vintage variation and the consistency of style of the winemakers present.
With so many different parts and aspects of the wine and spirits industry it’s only right we should grasp the opportunity to reward and shine the light on those individuals who are going the extra mile in whatever sector they are in. Which is what the Julian Brind MW trophy at the International Wine & Spirit Competition looks to do. Here we profile two more of the finalists for this year’s prize: PR manager, Sula Richardson of Phipps Relations and wine educator from Tasmania, Curly Haslam-Coates.
Phylloxera. Just saying the word out loud will send winemakers running to the hills. Whilst it might be a thing of the past in Europe, phylloxera is a clear and present danger in Australia with every region fearful of an outbreak. The tiny insect that devastated Europe’s vineyards in the 19th century, reached, for example, the Yarra Valley in Australia in 2006. The only way of beating the plant-killing louse is to graft European vines onto resistant American rootstock, an expensive solution but one that presents opportunities for grape growers, as Peter Ranscombe found out during a recent visit.
Ruinart was the first Champagne house to make a rosé way back in 1764 and they are still going strong. Correction. They are going from strength to strength argues Anne Krebiehl MW who confesses to being taken aback at how good the new vintage Dom Ruinart Rosé 2007 is, as well as the wines shown alongside it – the 2007 Blanc de Blancs and two other vintage Rosés. Ruinart has always made Chardonnay the backbone of its wines, a philosophy that helps achieve one of its prime goals – to be able to drink it from 9am one day to 9am the next.
The success that the craft beer scene has had in the last few years in nothing short of remarkable, not just in terms of the number of brands now available, but the impact it has had on the overall drinks category and number of average drinkers who now think craft beer first when out for a drink. So what do competing drinks do about it? Here brand consultant, Neil Anderson, former marketing director at Kingsland Drinks, sets out five key lessons any wine producer, supplier or retailer can learn from craft beer.
After the success of Trilogy 2015 which was Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, Warwick Wine Estate’s new cellar master JD Pretorius decided to make Warwick Estate Trilogy 2016 Cabernet Franc dominant, making it one of the very few Bordeaux blends in the Cape to have this style of blend. Geoffrey Dean caught up with Pretorius at the launch of the 2016 to find out the challenges of growing Cab Franc in the Cape, why the blend is as it is and to taste the previous vintages of 2012, 2008, 2005 and 1997 to compare and contrast the new wine.
It’s a little unusual to find yourself being constantly stopped by fellow visitors at a wine trade show and being asked why you are asking questions to the producers showing their wines. When you reply you are a journalist wanting to find out why and how they are working in China, the same visitors are only then too keen to share their experiences, explain how they buy and sell wine and exactly what they think of the wines they are tasting. It is just like nowhere else you might visit. It is the Chinese wine market that, for my first visit, was exciting, dynamic and a breath of fresh air. In the first of two reports from the inaugural Vinexpo Shanghai, The Buyer examines the key trends, opportunities and challenges facing producers looking to succeed in the Chinese wine industry.
In just over a decade Elephant Hill has become one of Hawke’s Bay’s most prestigious estates, situated as it is on the coast at Te Awanga that, even by New Zealand standards, is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The winery has vineyards in three distinct districts: Te Awanga, Bridge Pa and Gimblett Gravels each of which have their own microclimate and soils and, together, make Elephant Hill a ‘complete’ Hawke’s Bay producer. For head winemaker Steve Skinner the challenge is to create wines that convey their sense of place and which can deliver even when the climate conspires against them. Skinner was in London to showcase his new ‘Element’ single vineyard wine series and ‘Icon’ blends – and to reflect on how far the winery has come in the 12 years that he has been making wines there.
Always asking questions, always pushing boundaries, that’s the philosophy of Daniel Sorrell who has been the winemaker at Cloudy Bay for the past four years. As the winery celebrates its 35th anniversary Chris Wilson met up with Sorrell to taste the new vintage Cloudy Bay 2019, where he also found out what made 2019 a nerve-wracking season, why Sorrell thinks Cloudy Bay has become one of the iconic white wines of the world, how the estate is seeking a ‘nervous’ quality in the wine and how it is trying to avoid the thiol-heavy style that seems to be going out of fashion.
“Keeping a family business together is not easy. The Harvard Business School estimates 70% of family businesses are sold or taken over before the second generation and only 12% survives the third.” Which makes the large number of multi-generation family businesses within the wine industry even more remarkable. But what makes these legendary wine families stand the test of time and continue to make world class wines generation after generation? In her new book – ’10 Great Wine Families’ – Fiona Morrison MW gets to the heart of what makes each of these families tick.
‘It’s not so hard making wine – the real difficulty is selling it,’ goes the wine industry adage. There’s a lot of truth in that statement, of course, which is why the ‘Get It On’ tasting is so important for German wine producers without a UK importer. Wines seeking distribution are paired with importers who are looking for a German wine and the hope is that they end up ‘Makin’ Whoopee’. Since Wines of Germany has been running this wine tasting version of Blind Date, there have been 45 unrepresented German wine distributors who have found a UK importer. David Kermode was at the latest tasting and picks out the wines that he thought should no longer ‘be single’.
“It’s not a world we know – it’s unchartered territory”. But that does not mean the team at Origin Wine is not determined to make a success of their new venture into the premium on-trade with Origin Vineyards. An opportunity for Origin’s founder, Bernard Fontannaz, to take his considerable commercial experience working with the world’s biggest supermarkets and bring a more market, consumer-focused approach to his range of initially South African and Argentine wines for premium quality restaurants.
During 2018 Enotria&Coe introduced 150 new wines, 70 of which are from France. The strategy was aimed at filling some missing gaps in the portfolio, to add interesting boutique wines to their existing anchor producers, and to offer a range of price points to its growing customer base. Drafted in to oversee the change was Rebecca Gergely, formerly of La Marchande, who showed a selection of the wines to Peter Dean at Enotria&Coe’s swanky new tasting suite at Park Royal.
If you have ever done a business management course then you would probably have been asked to complete some team bonding task that involves building something out using nothing more than string and a few basic items. Upgrade to an MBA course it becomes known as the ‘Marshmallow Challenge’. Either way it is all about testing our ability to think laterally and be creative. An exercise everyone in the wine industry should be asked to do says MBA graduate himself Alistair Morrell.
The exquisite wines of Alois Lageder have for long been a favourite of sommeliers the world over – an early convert to biodynamics, his wines bristle with a life of their own. But visiting Lageder in his home town of Magre, in Alto Adige, the most northern part of Italy, is a truly unforgettable experience, writes Justin Keay. Not only is the setting breathtaking but tasting through a 30-wine strong portfolio, grouped into four main sections, is an eye-opening discovery of many cuvées that rarely see the light of day. This, all accompanied by the great man’s philosophising on varietals, agriculture and “cultivating nature as a habitat for life.”
The English wine industry continues to surprise and surpass all expectations as production, quality and respect all around the world increases with every vintage. One of the leading players responsible for those changes is Ridgeview in East Sussex. It therefore feels very timely that a key member of its team, Tom Surgey, who heads up its sales and business development, should be shortlisted for this year’s IWSC Julian Brand Memorial Trophy to recognise one of the rising new talents of the wine industry.
As many of the wine industry’s leaders in sustainable winemaking and distribution gather in London for the Future of Wine event, organised by Sustainable Wine, we turn to arguably wine’s most authoritative and respected figure on the subject. Miguel Torres, president of Familia Torres, who has spent most of his distinguished career not only championing the need for the wine industry to do more to tackle climate change, but pioneering new viticultural methods in his own vineyards to do exactly that. Here in this typically succinct and forthright thought piece, produced for the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, he sets out his hopes for the sector going forward.
Send top chef and wine expert Roger Jones to pick a handful of his favourite Alsatian wines from the Alsace Rocks! tasting and what do you get? 1600 words on 27 wines, tasting notes, food-matching suggestions, two special producer profiles and more enthusiasm than is all together comfortable in a diminutive Welshman. Jones is a massive fan of Alsace and one of the world’s experts on its wines – both as a wine lover and, most importantly, understanding how they work in the context of his top restaurant.