As he waits for his Irish passport application to be considered, and works on his Australian accent, a Brexit-battered Justin Keay crawled out from under his sofa to visit the Wine GB tasting last week. At first scoffing on how we can promote ourselves as ‘Unapologetically British’ Keay spent the day at the tasting and came round to the belief that this was a watershed tasting – that the breadth and depth of English and Welsh wine had never before been showing so strongly. Keay picks out six wineries that he thought stood out particularly well at the tasting and gives his reasons why, as well as giving special mention to the other wines that he felt were just starting to bring back some British pride to his deflated self.
Last time Richelle van Gemert travelled to South Africa it was with a group of fellow sommeliers in the search for good food, great wine and to discover for themselves what the fuss is all about South African wines. She has this weekend come out top in the latest Wines of South Africa Sommelier Cup competition that has been taking place this week in Cape Wine. Having won the UK competition she was there to represent the country against other finalists from around the world. Here we look back on this interview we ran in the summer where she explains what she was most looking forward to returning to South Africa and taking part in the Sommelier Cup.
The Caley is only into its third vintage but with the launch of The Caley 2014, Yalumba is proving that it justifies rubbing shoulders with Grange and the other new super-premium Aussie blends that have recently taken the stage. To launch the wine, Yalumba boss Robert Hill Smith drafted in pal Bruce Tyrrell, booked a Royal Family hangout, shipped over a load of new and old beauties – including a Maurice O’Shea Hermitage 1942, amongst many others. Jancis Robinson MW, Steven Spurrier, Matthew Jukes and our man at the table Roger Jones were suitably wowed. Warning – this feature contains a fair degree of smugness.
Considering the world of winemaking has a gravitational pull towards France it’s a wonder that Paris has not been seen as the ideal host for wine events and exhibitions. OK, it does not make wine itself, but it is one of the most important and influential markets and who does not like the opportunity to go to Paris? It was therefore no surprise that when Wine Paris was launched earlier this year it was an immediate success. The time has come to start to prepare for the second Wine Paris that takes place in February 2020 with an even bigger focus on organic and environmental wines. Here’s what to expect.
Arguably the biggest achilles heel of the drinks industry, and particularly the complex category of wine, is keeping on top of consumer trends, changes in behaviour and the power of the new technologies that are driving them. Today The Buyer is linking up with the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and Jump Start to launch a new conference that will focus on the disruptive and essential trends, innovations and technology that the drinks industry needs to be on top of for future sales, marketing, branding and communications. The 2020 – One Step Beyond conference will look to provide a platform for trends and technology experts outside the industry to share their insights with key decision makers across beers, wines and spirits. The event, which takes place in March 2020, will also give drinks businesses, retailers, and on-trade operators of all sizes practical steps and ideas they can introduce in their own businesses. Here’s what to expect.
The crusty old farts in red trousers are a dying breed, argues Kate Hawkings, who welcomes the smart, engaging wine merchants who have replaced them and are keen to interact in the wine marketplace with different formats, new style events and who are even, God forbid, willing to take a wine tasting down the M4 to Bristol. Such was the case with Berkmann’s ‘Wine Lab’ event which had innovative themes to mix up the styles of wine, keep everyone on their toes and look at well known labels with an entirely new perspective. There was a much sought-after Tignanello-vertical masterclass in which Hawkings learned that our PM is a big fan, although he wasn’t there – he seemed to have a little bit of business elsewhere.
The canned wine market has been jumping up and down on the fringes of the mainstream wine market for some time. Never really getting the attention it thinks it deserves. But now with a combination of consumers and the drinks industry alike looking again at what packaging formats they want, and a step change in the quality of wine being put in a can then it looks like this could become a new category that all channels of the wine market are going to have to take seriously.
The seventh 1er Cru, or Erste Lagen, tasting of Austria’s finest wines took place earlier this month, as part of an overall drive to get a proper appellation system working in the country. Journalists such as our very own David Kermode travel to Grafenegg Castle, in Austria’s Danube Valley, to sample the new vintage releases and award scores from a giant ‘silent’ tasting that helps classify the wines as 1er Cru. This year there were more wines from the newly-expanded Österreichische Traditionsweingüter (ÖTW) whose chairman Michael Moosbrugger gave Kermode some insight into how the association’s expansion is progressing as well as an on-the-ground assessment of the 2018 vintage – one that Kermode selects 10 of the best from.
Anyone lucky enough to have chosen Italy for their summer holiday this year has probably come back home thwarted and frustrated that you can’t re-create the quality of the food and wine you can find in every nook and cranny of the country. Which is where Bellavita Expo comes. A trade show dedicated to showcasing the best importers in the UK of the finest Italian produce and wines that can make those holiday dreams come true back here in the UK. It’s a show that started life in London, but is now hosted in 10 countries around the world. Here’s what you can expect from this November’s show.
Australia has traditionally had a dearth of premium and super-premium wines, Penfolds Grange being the exception to the rule. Now a whole clutch of estates are releasing top dollar cuvees destined for the luxury end of the market. Clare Valley winery Taylors – known as Wakefield in the UK – was always inspired by the 1966 vintage of Mouton-Rothschild when it established 50 years ago. Now, to celebrate that landmark anniversary the winery is launching Wakefield The Legacy, a $1000 wine, launched in London last night by Wakefield’s Neil Hadley MW. Peter Dean got a ringside seat.
The London Wine Competition looks to assess and reward wines based on how consumers judge them. What they look like, how much they cost and what they taste like. Now into its third year of competition the event has proven to be a new platform for producers all over the world to show their wines not just to the trade, but to use any medals and awards won to then promote their wines direct to their customers and consumers. If you want to take part in this year’s competition you can register before September 30 and save £30 on the entrance fee. Here’s how…
It seems every forward looking, on trend restaurant now has sustainability at the core of its business with well publicised commitments about why, where and how it sources all its produce, meat and fish in its kitchen. But when it comes to the drinks list and, in particular, wines that are being shipped from all over the world, how important or relevant is sustainability to the restaurateurs, operators, F&B managers and sommeliers buying them? Do their customers care more about the traceability of the food they eat, than the wines they drink? Jascots Wine Merchants believes it is time that buying and sourcing wine should also be part of the on-trade’s sustainability agenda. In the first of a two part report, Richard Siddle looks back on a recent debate Jascots held with a number of its on-trade customers to see how it can help them put together more sustainable wine lists.
The boring old journalists who trot out the line “Only the trade likes Riesling” really have met their match with Liberty Wines, argues top chef and wine expert Roger Jones. A Liberty customer for over 20 years, Jones has its annual Portfolio Tasting inked into his diary before many importers’ events. And it is their championing of Riesling that Jones believes is the company’s greatest achievement – something that has played all the way to consumers who have grown to better understand and love the grape. Jones picks out 10 of the 30 on show and gives full tasting notes as well as being wowed by the wines of Steven Spurrier’s estate, Bride Valley.
Matching wine with barbeque is never the easiest task. But then add in a bit of kudu or Braaibroodie and you could be forgiven for throwing in the towel. So it was at the WOSA Winemaker Braai in London when, after a long day at the New Wave South Africa tasting, winemakers showed how their wines could match their national ‘dish’ – barbequed meat, and lots of it. Toothpick in hand, Chris Wilson went along for the ride and picked his 6 best Braai-matching wines as well as listened to the winemakers hopes and fears – that largely were based around the Rugby World Cup. (Do they play rugby over there? – Ed)
If you are a sommelier or work in the hospitality sector and are keen to find out how to make your German wine offer really sing, then the Wines of Germany Somm sessions will definitely be of interest. After the success of its inaugural event at Hide restaurant in London and second session at Silo in Brighton, Wines of Germany is holding its third Somm Sessions at 20 Stories in Manchester on September 25. Hosted by award-winning sommelier Jan Konetzki, director of wine at Ten Trinity Square, and all round go-to expert when it comes to German wines, Helen Arnold caught up with him before the next event to talk about what’s happening in German wines.
With eyes shut you would have thought for all the world that you were tasting Hunter Valley Semillon. Except you weren’t. Welcome to the rare and wonderful Semillons of Rikus Neethling from the western Cape – a real eye-opener at a fascinating masterclass that was one of the many highlights at the Davy’s New World tasting last week. There were more wines from Australia, Kiwi wines including some from Little Beauty, Robert Sinskey’s idiosyncratic but wonderful Napa wines, Ventisquero, Gouguenheim and many more as Geoffrey Dean discovered.
The latest CGA on-trade report, published in association with The Buyer, goes to parts of the world wine industry that individual businesses cannot reach. For as well as you might be looking at your own sales data, and that of your customers, it only tells you your side of the story. CGA’s new ‘Global Origins and Price Polarisation’ report is a deep dive into which countries are the most popular – with the Old World still coming out top over the New World – and the fact consumers are now growing in confidence enough to spend more on wines they know are going to be of better quality.
It’s not every day you get to be driven around some of London’s finest dining venues in specially hired Land Rovers, meeting different South African winemakers in each restaurant, getting the chance to not only taste their wines, but have them matched with food from that particular outlet. Welcome to The Buyer and Wines of South Africa’s restaurant safari which took a team of restaurateurs, wine merchants and sommeliers on a tasting tour of four London restaurants.
As the September tastings calendar goes into overdrive and drinks buyers go into meltdown – trying to cover all bases – so the Bibendum autumn portfolio tasting was a breath of fresh air. Just by its title alone ‘Not another bl**dy tasting!’ was always going to be a drinks event with a knowing wink and so it proved. Daring, different, unusual, our man at the scene David Kermode loved its change of pace and style, although he would have preferred a few more spittoons, that were clearly scarce on purpose. He did, however, manage to find plenty of exciting wines, spirits, stickies and fortifieds that you should be taking a note of.
Go on a wine tour of Australia and meet dozens of winemakers and you can be guaranteed that you will remember Brad Hickey over the majority of them. He has a personality, and warmth to match the quality of his wines. A fascinating character who clearly loves making the wines he does and pushing the envelope a little in terms of using amphora pots and and edgier varieties like Zibbibo to made skin contact wines that are fruity, refreshing and as bright as their labels all under his wine alter ego, Brash Higgins. You can come and meet him for yourself at Wine Australia’s Redefined tasting on September 17.