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    People People: Producer
    bouchard

    Bouchard Finlayson’s Judy Bakker on life in lockdown

    As we all come together today to celebrate South African wine and the #SpectacularSouthAfrica initiative organised by Wines of South Africa, it is also timely to reflect on the scale of the impact the country’s lockdown, to try and contain the spread of Covid-19, is having on its wine industry. Here Judy Bakker, general and financial manager at Bouchard Finlayson, one of the country’s most historic estates, assesses the steps it has taken to adapt to life during Covid-19.

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    People: Producer
    73CC1418-66A6-43CE-976A-EB8AC8DB9889

    Late English frost: how Ambriel, Flint and Harrow & Hope coped

    May 13 was unlucky for some English winemakers. That was the stark reality of a late frost last week that saw 25 vineyards suffer frost damage across 90-100% of its vines. The effect of the frost was also seemingly arbitrary – Breaky Bottom which is close to the sea in Sussex had almost total damage, while Rathfinny which is also close had none. Our ‘retired’ Michelin Star restaurateur Roger Jones reports back from Harrow & Hope, Flint Vineyard and Ambriel to see how it affected them and also to see how they prepare themselves for the worst.

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    Insight
    Another of the social media adverts that have been created to encourage #safedistancing

    Covid-19 Hub Part 1: Drinks trade reaction to crisis & UK lockdown

    The situation surrounding the impact and spread of Covid-19 in the UK and around the world is changing so fast The Buyer has set up this rolling updates service to keep you abreast of the latest official guidelines and recommendations from the government, but also the individual steps that businesses are taking to keep trading and help their customers do the same. This is Part One of our Covid-19 blog that records the events and trade reaction over the days in March leading up to the closing of all bars and restaurants and subsequent national lockdown in the UK

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bellevue Domaine de Valmoissine

    Latour’s Pinot-in-Provence hits new heights with Bellevue

    A communal shrugging of shoulders and scratching of heads must have been the order of the day when 30 year ago Maison Latour bought delapidated vineyards half an hour’s drive from St Tropez to plant… Pinot Noir of all things. Surely this most fickle of grapes would never be able to stand the baking Provencal sun? But yesterday saw the apotheosis of Latour’s vision with the launch of Bellevue Domaine de Valmoissine 2017, the first vintage of a ‘Grand Vin’ after three decades of investment, trial and error. This new top cuvée was tasted alongside the fourth vintage of Les Pierres Dorées, Latour’s ‘entry level’ Pinot from Beaujolais that has also been undergoing some fine tuning.

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    People People: Supplier
    Helping merchants work with their customers to make the most of their fine wine collections is key to Wineowners strategy

    Nick Martin: how Wine Owners can support fine wine merchants

    You might not know Wine Owners, but you will be familiar with all the prestigious wine names, merchants and fine wine brokers that it works with, beavering away behind the scenes providing the type of software and the management systems that have quietly, but crucially had a near revolutionary impact on how fine wine can now be traded instantaneously between companies and customers anywhere in the world. Nick Martin, co-founder of Wine Owners, explains what it is actually doing behind those scenes and what potential businesses benefits, synergies and efficiencies it can bring any wine business.

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    Insight
    new york keith kirkpatrick

    Buyer Debate Pt 2: How will New York State wines stand out in UK?

    In the first part of our report on the debate we held – pre lockdown – with leading importers and buyers on the prospects of New York State wines in the UK, we took an overview of the region and what makes its wines potentially unique, before assessing what the UK panel’s initial impressions were of the state’s wines. In this second part we look at the recommendations they would give producers on how best to promote their wines here, as well as hear their thoughts on the styles of wines that they think are most likely to make it big in the UK as well as back home in New York and the US.

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    People: Producer
    Zeitgeist Union

    Zeitgeist Ünion: ‘the moment is now’ for Grüner Veltliner in a can

    Craft beer drinkers have had it their own way for too long. That’s the view of drinks industry veteran Karen Hardwick who believes that the moment in time for quality wine in a can has finally arrived. Zeitgeist Ünion – or ZÜ for short – is her company and its debut wine is Grüner Veltliner, a wine that is loved by Anne Krebiehl MW, who caught up with Hardwick to find out more about ZÜ and how the project came about and why we will all be drinking wine from a can in the not too distant future.

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    People: Producer
    Maltus

    Le Dôme’s Jonathan Maltus talks ‘uncut’ about his 2019 vintage

    Always outspoken, the maverick winemaker that is Jonathan Maltus gives his verdict on Bordeaux 2019 and much more besides. Since 2004 Maltus has championed single vineyard winemaking in Bordeaux, imitating the Napa direct-to-consumer wine club model, and pulling back from 200% oak as a winemaking style. With ambitions to get Le Dôme classified status in 2022 he was in top candid form, speaking direct from his chateau in St-Emilion.

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    People People: Supplier
    Miles MacInnes, right, and John Charnock says Jascots remains determined to keep on all its staff through the crisis

    Miles McInnes: Why Jascots has switched from on-trade to DTC

    The last two months has seen a whole range of businesses from across the drinks and hospitality sectors having to rip up what were successful business models to find new ways just to trade and stay in business. For some drinks suppliers that relied 100% on the on-trade for its sales it has meant transforming themselves into completely different companies overnight. Like Jascots Wine Merchants. But before we get into the ins and outs of how and why Jascots has become an online direct to consumer operator during Covid-19, its managing partner, Miles MacInnes, is keen to stress this is a move it had to take in order to return at full strength as a key London on-trade supplier once restaurants start to re-open. Its new e-commerce arm, he says, can only make it a stronger, better and more efficient on-trade supplier in the future.

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    Opinion
    nik darlington braai

    How Great British Braai Off can help South African wine

    As the lockdown continues in South Africa, that prohibits the sale of any wine domestically, the impact on the country’s wine industry worsens by the day to the extent that 10s of producers are said to be close to collapse. But now that exports are allowed we can all do our bit to support South Africa at this time by simply drinking and promoting its wine. Next weekend sees two interlinked campaigns. On March 22 Wines of South Africa is urging us to get involved with its Spectacular South Africa campaign and then over the weekend Nik Darlington explains why he has created the ‘Great British Braai Off’ to help celebrate all that South Africa means to us, by doing what they do best – coming together over a braai with beers and bottles of wine.

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    People People: Supplier
    sam hill grapes

    Plumpton College’s Sam Hill on what he can offer the wine trade

    There are many weird and wonderful ways that people get into the wine and drinks industry but being a specialist in radiochemistry for medical imaging research must be somewhat different. But it seems there is only so much radiochemistry you can take and Sam Hill was more than happy to combine his day job learning about wine doing WSET courses, before deciding to throw himself into a MSc course in viticulture and oenology at Plumpton College. Now he is ready to use all his skills and experience and find a career in the wine and drinks industry.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Cepparello

    Unpicking the closure dilemma of Isole e Olena’s Cepparello

    Tuscany’s iconic producer Paolo De Marchi has famously had to classify his top end Isole e Olena Chianti as an IGT wine because he uses 100% Sangiovese. But the other reason he has fallen foul of the Consorzio is that, since 2005, he has been putting an increasing amount of this super premium wine under screw cap. So why has he done this and what difference does it make to the finished wine? Justin Keay talks to De Marchi about his controversial decision and tastes both versions of the Cepparello 2016 to see if a professional palate can tell which is which?

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    People People: Supplier
    Firing Blancs is the third in the series about Felix Hart

    Peter Stafford-Bow: the next vinous adventure for Felix Hart

    The wine trade’s very own wine buying super hero Felix Hart is back. Yes, the alter ego of the mysterious, fictitious Peter Stafford-Bow has returned for his third adventure following the success of the debut novel, Corkscrew, and the follow up, Brut Force. Now the story switches to South Africa where Hart has found himself in very hot waters indeed, forced to go undercover to protect himself. Here’s an extract just to get you all excited ahead of its publication on June 1.

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    People: On-Trade
    Armit

    Armit’s Nicolas Clerc MS on connecting with somms online

    “You may be closed but you are not forgotten”. That is the key message behind a series of A-list producer webinars set up by Armit’s buyer Nicolas Clerc MS aimed exclusively at sommeliers and those in the on-trade. The six events feature rarely-accessed wine estates such as Sassicaia, Chateau Latour and today’s destination Chateau Lafleur. Peter Dean caught up with Clerc to find out more.

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    People People: Supplier
    rpt

    Tiger Vines’ James Thomas: DTC is helping to fill on-trade loss

    When James Thomas left the reasonably safe world of working for a major Champagne house in 2017, he certainly dived into the deep end starting up his own specialist wine importer business focused on supplying niche, minimum intervention wines for the discerning on-trade. Three years on and everything was starting to come together with a good, solid and loyal customer base. And then came Covid-19. Two months later he has been able to change his business into a 100% online and delivery wine retailer. Here he explains how.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Rathfinny Long Read

    Rathfinny pushes restraint in its new English sparkling wines

    Despite a mere decade in the business and young vines, Rathfinny is already making restraint its house style. Tempted to release some as zero dosage, the estate has instead been conducting dosage trials with the wines to ensure that they have commercial appeal. That said the new Classic Cuvée 2016, which is the ‘house style’ sparkling clocks in with just 5 grams per litre residual sugar. Sarah and Mark Driver launched their new Rathfinny Sussex Sparkling Wines from their kitchen this year via Zoom, Anne Krebiehl MW had the wines at home, tasted and listened intently. As she always does.

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    People People: Supplier
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    Tim Wildman MW helping MW students study with WineTutor.tv

    Whatever you are doing at the moment, the chances are Tim Wildman MW is somewhere, filming himself talking about wine. Well, perhaps not ‘somewhere’ at the moment, other than his home, but in normal circumstances he is travelling the world, either making his own wine in the McLaren Vale, Australia, or filming yet another module of fun, but also super geeky content for Master of Wine students covering every bit of their MW syllabus as part of his WineTutor.tv channel. Playing a crucial role in potentially helping the next generation of students pass the notoriously difficult exam. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about what he has been able to do in lockdown and how WineTutor.tv has really come into its own at this time.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Chêne Bleu

    Why for Chêne Bleu it’s the best of times and worst of times

    Getting the UK’s first taste of the new wines from Chêne Bleu would normally be an occasion for unbridled joy, especially with the Southern Rhône estate having just won the 2020 Terre de Vins trophy for best wine tourism in  France. But Geoffrey Dean hears first hand from owner Nicole Rolet of the stark reality that small wineries face during Lockdown and coming into the recession that awaits – and all that she and her winery are doing to help those most in need in the hospitality sector.

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    Insight
    Richard Ellison

    Top UK importers assess New York State’s export opportunities

    Now New Yorkers are hardly renown for their quiet and unassuming manner. You can normally hear one coming from a block or two away. But its winemakers, up until very recently, have been particularly shy compared to their counterparts on the West Coast. That’s all about to change as New York State becomes one of the most coveted regions in the US for aspiring winemakers to make wine. The next step is telling buyers outside the US about the wines they are missing out on, which is what the latest The Buyer’s debate with key importers was all about.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bordeaux 2016 Long Read

    Joss Fowler: Is 2016 Bordeaux’s greatest vintage of the century?

    Because the First Growths didn’t knock his socks off in 2016, Bordeaux expert Joss Fowler didn’t initially think that 2016 was as great a vintage as, say, 2005, 2009 and 2010. But what is interesting in returning to the vintage some years on, and re-tasting 267 wines, is how close are the ‘chasing pack’ of Second Growths; St Julien and Pauillac in particular were standout in 2016 with many estates producing their most memorable wine ever, which is surely a mark of a great vintage. Of all of these it was the Grand-Puy-Lacoste which was the wine that continued to haunt Fowler, weeks after the tasting in February. So how does it rate alongside the other 20 or so vintages?

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