Harry Crowther is ideally placed to know what sort of general wine training works for restaurant and bar staff as he has had to manage and provide training for a wide range of teams during his own time working in senior roles in hospitality. He has now developed his own wine training company and programme – Grain to Grape – that is designed to give staff the confidence to understand and sell the wine lists in their outlet, increase average spend per head and have a direct impact on an operator’s bottom line.
Penfolds has never sat still. Since the mid Nineteenth Century they have moved from the Magill Estate vineyards, from the viticultural region, the domain, the state and now, with the release of Penfolds California, they have left Australia. The bedrock of Penfolds House Style has always been pushing boundaries with an open mind and a top-down approach, but is making a Wine of the World that is £545 a bottle and involves shipping Aussie Shiraz 1000s of miles to Napa a step too far? Peter Dean talks to Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago, gets the lowdown and tastes the wines.
The Hospices de Nuits charity auction may not currently have the same status as the Hospices de Beaune, but for fifth generation Burgundy winemaker, Laurent Delaunay, it offers huge potential and opportunity for buyers to access some of the highest quality wines being made in this coveted wine region. Here he explains why he is hoping to promote not just the auction, which takes place on March 14 to a wider international audience, but give potential buyers the chance to buy his own pre-selected cuvées from the auction and age the wine in his Burgundy cellars.
The main theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8 is #ChooseToChallenge and to “help forge a gender equal world” by celebrating women’s achievements, which is very much the spirit The Buyer hopes to capture with a series of profiles of leading female wine producers and winemakers starting here today with Madeleine Premmereur who is now playing her part in helping Château Barbebelle, in Aix-en-Provence be one of the world’s most respected rosé producers.
The One Step Beyond initiative, introduced last year in a joint partnership between The Buyer and Sophie Jump, is back. Its aim is to give the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors insights into the latest trends in technology and innovation and how they impact on consumer behaviour and expectations. This is your chance to keep up to speed through quarterly online webinars starting on April 14. Here’s what to expect.
“Everybody has a role to play – step by step, day by day. Don’t let the haters get to you, just keep on going. Keep on supporting people, keep on asking people how they are. Keep on sharing, and keep pushing the message out there.” This was the inspirational parting message from Kirsten MacLeod in her illuminating talk on diversity and what the drinks industry can do more to promote and tackle it that she gave to the Circle of Wine Writers last month.
The cooling influence of the Southern Oceans on the New World Chardonnay of Australia and New Zealand – this was the subject of last week’s fascinating tasting pitting three wines from each country. Natasha Hughes MW and Ronan Sayburn MS introduced wines from Black Estate, Bannockburn, Kooyong, Villa Maria, Neudorf and Ghost Rock while New World wine expert Roger Jones tasted all six wines and gave his verdict.
Paul Mabray, chief executive
There was much to learn, contemplate and take away from the Wine Future 2021 conference. The most overriding conclusion being how effective and efficient hosting a global event online now is. This was probably the most ambitious virtual event there has been to date in wine, featuring over 90 speakers across four days of content. As always with events with such grand intentions it is often hard to really pin point and go into great detail of any of the topics covered, but what Wine Future importantly did is raise key issues – such as climate change, environment, economic impact of covid and diversity – and give them a platform which allowed as many people around the world to take part. Here Richard Siddle shares what he most got out of Wine Future 2021.
To help celebrate its 150th anniversary, Flemish brewery Duvel Moortgat decided to pay homage to its ‘devilish’ past by releasing a new beer that carries the ‘number of the Beast.’ Duvel 666 is a gently-bitter brew that came about after last year’s collaboration with Belgian microbrewery IJ, and is aimed at a younger demographic and those who are daunted by high strength Belgian beers. Peter Dean got the full story.
When you read this Giles Cooke MW would have hopped and skipped his way out of the hotel room that has been his home for the last 14 days as he escapes from quarantine to finally head to his beloved McLaren Vale to start harvest on the wines that will make up the 2021 vintage for Thistledown Wines. In his final quarantine diary he reflects on the last two weeks and just what being confined to one room has really been like.
As a bulk wine pioneer with an enviable reputation for thinking big on sustainability, Lanchester Wines has come a long way from its founder Tony Cleary’s living room 40 years ago, but its latest project is deliberately small-scale. Vintrigue Wines is a bespoke brand, focused exclusively at independents, with a determination to support the sector. David Kermode spoke to Steve Machin, its national account controller, to find out what makes it different.
Face it, Lockdown has been shit in so many ways, but if you’re a keen cook like La Trompette’s head sommelier Donald Edwards then it has been a rewarding time in the kitchen. Not only has he been experimenting away with cooking food but he’s also been into ‘radical wine pairings’, his new food-and-wine project that is captured on his personal blog. Here we re-post an excellent piece he’s written about that curious root vegetable, salsify.
The end is in sight for Giles Cooke MW as he is about to enter his last weekend in quarantine in a hotel room in Adelaide as he awaits to be released so that he can rush to go and help take part in the vintage and harvest at Thistledown Wines. But meanwhile it is a few more seemingly endless days when one hour blurs into another, the food does not get any better and those remote Spanish lessons are not getting any easier.
When he is not fielding off calls from the national press bogged down in trying to understand Brexit red tape, Daniel Lambert is busy running his successful wine agency and distribution business. Over nearly the last 20 years he has built up a strong network of customers, particularly amongst independent wine merchants, who have been drawn to his work ethic of seeking out the kinds of producers and their wines that work so well on premium wine lists and for consumers looking for something new and exciting to drink. Richard Siddle talks to him about how he has pulled it all together.
For chef and wine consultant Roger Jones, visiting A.A.Badenhorst back in 2014 was the first South African winery he and his wife Sue had ever visited. The Joneses were bowled over by Adi Badenhorst’s 2012 White Blend, despite having showed up unannounced in a ‘limo’ and dressed in Henley Regatta finery. Seven years later and Jones is tasting the same wine again, but this time in chilly Wiltshire, alongside a sumptuous selection of Adi’s new wines. After the tasting Jones sits down with Robin Davis, head of importer SWIG, to ask him about the value of these Zoom tastings.
“It is clear we are all sick of hierarchical, traditional, old-style (read: pale, male, stale) leaders who haven’t done much for pushing the needle forward for everyone… ‘Rule Breaker’ is a manifesto for how to lead now.” That’s how Jackie Fast introduces her new book that claims any successful business leader needs to be willing to break the rules, rip up the old ways of doing things and truly lead with a spirit that anything is possible and I’m here to help us make change happen.
8 has always been Sassicaia’s lucky number and so it has proved once again with the spectacular 2018 vintage, writes Peter Dean. To make it even better Sassicaia 2018 is the 50th anniversary release. But although 2018 was a cool ‘classic’ vintage in Bolgheri it was by no means easy, as Tenuta San Guido’s Priscilla Incisa della Rochetta explains live and direct from Tuscany. Full tasting notes plus Guidalberto 2019 and Le Difese 2019.
When Wine Future last took place in Hong Kong 2011 you had to be there to hear what was said. This week the 2021 revamped online version of the four day conference is available to us all from the comfort of our own homes. Here Gonzalez Byass’ global marketing director, Eugeni Brotons, explains some of the branding and marketing challenges that he will be covering during today’s digital and social media session.
“My reflection, as an outsider who has struggled hard to find a suitable role in this industry…is it is too white, too male oriented and males who look, act and behave exactly like one another. Where do the rest, a huge chunk of us fit in? We are like little flies trying to find an anchor to rest. And if we do find a spot, we are shooed off.” This is the damning conclusion that Sumita Sarma has felt after eight years trying to make a career in the wine industry. But she is not giving up. Far from it. As she explains in this hard hitting, challenging, deeply personal, but also inspirational article, she is determined to play her part in getting the industry to open up to people of all backgrounds so that it can be proud, rather than ashamed of how diverse and inclusive it is.