It all started as a brainwave that Miguel Torres had – was it possible to save all the grape varieties that were becoming extinct in Catalonia? The answer was yes, after they managed to identify 54 different varieties that were shortly due to disappear completely. A lengthy, expensive and arduous process then followed where the most suitable varieties have been replanted with climate change in mind. Marina Ray travelled to the stunning setting of Montserrat to visit Purgatori, Torres’ latest winery that has just started releasing the wines from this fascinating project.
Whisper it quietly but German wines are very much back in vogue, or at least they are amongst the cooler, hip and happening ends of the wine market, particularly amongst younger wine drinkers not exposed to some of Germany’s less flattering exports in the 1970s and 1980s. In fact Germany is enjoying such a renaissance that it can put on a tasting featuring 51 producers (and their 150 plus wines) that are not currently represented in the UK. Producers that have been selected by a pre-tasting panel made up of UK buyers, merchants and sommeliers, some of whom have kindly shared what we can expect at next week’s Get It On tasting on October 25.
2018 was a great vintage in Chile with winemakers reporting plenty of bright, ripe fruit and a lack of any weather issues. As a result, anything with a 2018 vintage attached to it was singing in the Wines of Chile tasting, held this year at London’s OXO Tower. There were plenty of older vintages too to get excited about from the 350 wines presented by 37 wineries. Chris Wilson worked his way through them and recommends 5 classics and 5 that are more ‘out there’.
Japan may have been making wine for nearly a 100 years, but unlike so many of its other home grown products, very little of it has ever had much success in potential key export markets. But with the number of serious, premium wine producers now reaching critical mass the time has come for Wines of Japan to have a concerted effort in bringing its wines to key markets like the UK. Like its main London tasting taking place next week on October 23. To help set the scene The Buyer joined the recent benchmark tasting session, led by Wines of Japan’s UK ambassador, Sarah Abbott MW, to assess what key restaurant wine buyers think of the wines and the best ways they might succeed in the premium on-trade.
A man walks into a bar…. and when that man is author and drinks specialist Henry Jeffreys you know that a good time is guaranteed – the booze will be plentiful, of fine pedigree and the repartee, second to none. His just-published second book, The Home Bar, explores the history of bars, how they were shaped by various socio-politico and economic events and how we all started to love drinking at home. A lot. In conversation with Peter Dean, Jeffreys covers a lot of ground from the Gin craze, pre-mixed cocktails, Christmas TV-advertised fruit liqueurs and his favourite ‘Man walks into a bar’ joke.
For decades the international wine buying market has been pretty straightforward. The major wine consuming markets have by and large been able to pick and choose which countries they source their wines from, largely based on how expensive they might be depending on currency exchange rates at the time. Not any more. China, and its enormous rise in demand for imported wine, has turned the world on its head to such an extent that what China wants, it gets, and the rest of the world is now playing catch up, says Richard Siddle.
Here’s a novel idea. Recruit a group of leading sommeliers and buyers around the world to come and visit your country and go on a tour that has been devised and planned by local wineries. Only it’s not such a novel idea. This weekend marks the 12th James Busby travel tour experience of Australia, that to date has seen 135 intrepid wine souls board the tour bus (and plane) to criss cross their way across all the happening areas of Australia. Here chief organiser, Tim Wildman MW, and the brains behind the James Busby experience, sets the scene for this year’s tour.
It wasn’t until the 2000 vintage of his Nec Plus Ultra cuvée that Bruno Paillard started to realise a dream he had from the 1980s, namely making a zero dosage cuvée. His first experiments had ended up producing ‘aggressive’ Champagnes and he dropped the idea until he decided not to release this cuvée from the 2000 vintage and instead use it as reserve wine for the Dosage Zero project. Anne Krebiehl MW met Paillard to get the full story and to taste this extraordinary cuvée.
If you want to see the impact of climate change then you only need to take a short hop to Champagne to see how vintage after vintage the harvest is getting earlier and earlier. Here Christian Holthausen of AR Lenoble explains how the Champagne house has produced the first of its new “mag” premium Champagne series that has looked at new viticulture and production techniques to help keep and drive freshness in its Champagnes.
The Dirty Dozen tasting – a collective tasting featuring 12 fine indie portfolios – is usually an uber-cool affair in a basement in London’s Soho… tats and Shoreditch beards obligatory. So, it was some surprise when the 12 announced they were heading to Glaziers Hall for this year’s tasting, a venue normally associated with en primeur campaigns and the pin-stripe brigade. Chris Wilson was relieved to find the usual fine selection of interesting and sometimes challenging wines – even if that was just that they were challenging to pronounce!
Sales are up, wine tourists are increasing, new international markets are being tapped into, Rioja is on a roll right now. But what’s behind the sudden increase? Is it the changes in regulations governing barrel ageing? Single vineyard wines? Using almost extinct grape varieties? They all help for sure, in streamlining and clarifying Rioja’s message to the world but when it comes down to making a major impact on a targeted mainstream wine consumer you have to doff your cap to the marketing team at Rioja’s governing body, the Consejo Regulador, for sponsoring a Blind Date-style US reality TV show.
Describing someone as a ‘maverick’ is not normally something you would do to their face. It might be used to describe someone in a flattering way, but it essentially means someone who sits outside the ordinary and does everything but follow the norm, which can sometimes be misconstrued. But describe a winemaker as a maverick and they’ll probably be pretty pleased as it is more about the wines they make, than how they conduct themselves as a person. Which brings us to Wines of Argentina’s approach to wine events, which appropriately enough recently shone the light on its own country’s generation of maverick winemakers. Harry Crowther went along for the ride.
The process of choosing what wines end up on the list of a top London establishment can often look like a dark art. How do those brands, products and special wines end up there? Alistair Morrell lifts the lid on the Hakkasan Group’s, one of not just the city’s but world’s most high profile restaurant group’s, selection process, and talks to Christine Parkinson, its longstanding director of wine about how she goes about it and the role of her all important tasting panel.
Tuesday 9th October marks a very special occasion for Ray Signorello and his wife Tanya, for it was exactly a year ago to the day that their home and much of the properties on their wine estate were razed to the ground by the wildfires that swept through Napa and Sonoma, claiming many lives and devastating the Californian wine community. It could have been worse, as David Kermode discovers when he meets the team as they prepare to ‘break ground’ on a new winery that starts building on the one year anniversary. The razing of Signorello Estate became the iconic image of the devastating fires and Kermode hears an inspiring story of bravery, determination, resilience and recovery.
It’s a well known saying in business – and in life – that you can only really appreciate success when you have been through disappointments and knock backs along the way. For Roger and Sue Jones, and their award winning team at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, this week has been one of those that certainly fit into the knock back category. For after 12 years they lost their Michelin star. After the initial disappointment, Roger Jones reflects on what might have been the reasons for Michelin’s decision, and, in this frank, honest and brave account, looks ahead for what could be in store for him, his wife and business partner, Sue, and their team as they looks to expand and grow into new areas, take on different projects and prove there is very much life without a Michelin star.
Is there a more misunderstood wine category than Prosecco? It might top all the best selling charts, but it is too often dismissed or taken seriously by some professional wine buyers. To help get to know not only the beautiful region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but to explore the different quality tiers of Prosecco and the potential they have in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with leading Prosecco brand, Mionetto, and its UK partner Copestick Murray, to host a study tour with key buyers and influencers of the area and the city where Prosecco truly comes to life – Venice.
At first sight the bodega of Fernando Remirez de Ganuza looks like any number of small to middling wineries in Rioja, step inside, however, and the differences start to become very apparent. In every corner is evidence of Fernando’s vision and quest for quality – from Spain’s first ever mechanised sorting table – which he invented himself – to the range of wines that are spectacularly beautiful and individual.
Miguel Torres and the wider Torres family have been at the forefront of innovations, developments and research into how the global wine industry can do all it can to play its part in combating climate change. One of its key new projects is the role it can play in helping to plant and manage forests in the regions and countries where it makes its wine in order to help offset the impact its wine operations might have on the local environment. Here he explains the impact he hopes they can have.
Like all Hungarian wineries, Gere Attila Winery suffered from the deportations and confiscations that followed the Second World War. A winery with seven generations of winemakers, Gere has slowly but surely grown back to a size where it is now recognised as one of the top wine producers in Hungary, and one that is rightly putting the region of Villány back on the map as the region producing, arguably, the finest red wines. We talked to Andrea Gere about what Gere’s winemaking philosophy is, which varietals they use and what sales strategies they adopt to get into world export markets.
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.