As the entry process for the 2023 London Wine Competition gets underway we look back at the best performing wines from the 2022 awards by picking out the wines that scored the most points, and came top in the individual quality, value and packaging and design categories. The London Wine Competition prides itself on judging wines in the same way that consumer do – what they taste like, how much they cost and what they look like.
Sake is not just a drink, it’s a world all of its own. For wine and spirits lovers, especially in recent years as exports have increased, it is providing another frontier of production techniques, styles, history, and culture for us to all to “geek out on” whilst enjoying a truly iconic set of products. We sent sake newbie, Mike Turner, to a recent Gunma Sake event in London to find out for himself.
Has the wine industry ever had so many entrepreneurs come in from other sectors looking to find their niche and route to market that has not been done before? The team behind When in Rome is certainly trying to do that with a business model based first on only bag-in-box wines and now a breakthrough paper-based bottle that takes its sustainability credentials to another level. Rob Malin, one of When in Rome’s three co-founders, has given up a lucrative career trading currencies in the hope of making a market for sustainably packaged wines. He explains why to Richard Siddle.
Industry icon Tor Kenward has been making wine in Napa since the early days when the valley was filled with just cowboys, dreamers and a handful of vines. After 27 years working for Beringer, learning from some of the biggest names in wine and setting up TOR Wines, Kenward has opened up in his memoir Reflections of a Vintner. Victor Smart met him in Quo Vadis where he tasted the latest vintages of Tor’s boutique brand of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends and gassed about the effects of Parker, Bottle Shock and much more.
Magali Bernard talks to Libby Zietsman-Brodie about how Domaine du Clos du Roi benefits from the unique wine growing and climate conditions of Coulanges-la-Vineuse as part of our Hidden Gems series with the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) to look at the role its different AOCs play in producing a diverse range of wines from Bourgogne. She also explains how she works with old indigenous varietals such as César.
Sophia Longhi travels to Sopron, Hungary’s oldest wine region, a place that shares a border, language, culture and key grape variety with Austria – Blaufränkisch or Kékfrankos, which accounts for two thirds of Sopron’s plantings. The region used to be used exclusively for making white wines but now there is a growing tradition of sparkling, rosé and reds of which Kékfrankos is one of many. Longhi discovers how it is the sub-Alpine climate and unique schist-based soils that make the wines worth seeking out and gives pointers as which wineries you should start with.
Sales director UK on-trade and independents
“Crete has grape varieties that nowhere else on Earth has. It has altitude and it has great limestone soils. This is a fantastic combination that gives the island such unique characteristics.” That’s the view of Steve Daniel, head wine buyer at Hallgarten & Novum Wines, who has arguably been the UK’s biggest champion, supporter, buyer and importer of Greek, as well as Crete wines. Here Justin Keay gives his take on an island that is attracting serious wine buyers as well as thousands of tourists.
As our tagline says The Buyer is very much about “connecting the premium on-trade” and sharing stories and insights on how producers and buyers are working together to sell wines into busy sommeliers and wine merchants. Here we tell the story of how Richard Ellison, founder & managing director of Wanderlust Wine, was able to use a California Wine Institute buying trip to tie a new distribution partnership to bring in some of the late Jim Clendenen’s rarest wines from Santa Barbara into the UK.
Crowned Best Sommelier of the World, aged just 27, Marc Almert could easily have rested on his laurels. But his desire to learn and help others in the profession, plus the impact of Covid on both his job as chief sommelier at Zurich’s Baur au Lac and his tenure as world’s best, have seen his career take some unusual turns. Peter Dean caught up with him in Vienna to talk Austrian wine, life as the world’s best sommelier, the need to compete and how Covid has unexpectedly allowed him to be king for another year.
“It’s no longer all about the product – this is what my customers want, this is where I’ll grow brands, be different and be proud to be a retailer; rather buyers are challenged to get a return per square metre of shelf, and with the opportunity of substantial listing fees, the choice on which brands are stocked is a pure commercial choice.” That’s just one of the consequences of what Nick Gillett, managing director of leading spirits distributor, Mangrove Global, sees as the result of increasing consolidation across the drinks industry that is allowing big drinks producers and major retailers to get bigger, but at what cost to the sector’s imagination and innovation?
To what extent is the Loire a cohesive wine region? This was one of the key questions Justin Keay kept asking himself on his very first visit to the region. A blindspot in terms of actually visiting the area, Keay was armed with some knowledge and preconceptions when he travelled through the region earlier this year, but found plenty new to discover in terms of appellations, grapes and wine styles. Click here for his first impressions.
AB InBev produces over 500 drinks products. None of which are wine. Until now. It has for the first time put its considerable toes into the wine market by embarking on a new winemaking operation in Argentina. All of which is being done pretty much under the radar for a drinks multinational with worldwide famous brands such as Becks, Budweiser, Corona and Leffe. So just what it is up to? Richard Siddle talks to Paulina Tomasin, international business development manager at AB Inbev’s new Dante Robino Winery in Argentina.
Jamie Goode corking every bottle of the orange Bacchus; why bottling a wine favours the boutique winery; an Open Day with customers bringing picnics; the state of the 2022 English harvest; what to do with 100s of kilos of Ortega; a special reserve version of his much-lauded Chardonnay – all this and more has been happening since Chris Wilson last brought us up to speed with what’s been happening at his boutique winery, Gutter & Stars which is Cambridge’s first urban winery… and housed in the bottom of a windmill.
The Buyer has teamed up with Business France to help promote the work being done across France to introduce organic and biodynamic practices in different regions of the country. Earlier in the week we published a debate held during a trade tasting of French organic producers and today we profile each of the winemakers that took part in the event who are all looking for distribution of their wines in the UK.
When an email from Soho House Global popped into Alistair Frost’s inbox that led to his Pentire non-alcoholic spirit becoming the group’s preferred No & Low partner, he could have sat on his laurels. Since then, however, Cornish-based Pentire Drinks has been on a roll with every week news dropping of major new listings combined with ‘We’re Hiring!’ ads. Peter Dean tested the two variants and talks with Frost about how a brainwave on a Cornish headland has led to the emergence of an exciting new British brand.
Last month The Buyer teamed up with Business France to host a special tasting showcasing what is happening right across France in terms of switching winemaking over to organics and what steps, challenges, opportunities producers are seeing as a result. The event also featured a debate featuring leading UK wine industry experts on what they see as the potential for organic wines in the competitive UK market and whether the commitment to produce wines organically also needs to be matched with a move towards more overall sustainable wine practices that cover all aspects of how wine is being made, bought and distributed.
Launching a new English wine brand in a can sounds like a good idea considering the demand there now is for English wine and the interest in more convenient alternative packaging formats. But this is 2022. Back in 2017 the idea of putting all your hopes in people drinking English sparkling wine out of a can was a lot more fanciful. But that is what the team behind The Uncommon brand did and they have made remarkable progress since. Richard Siddle sits sown with co-founder Henry Connell and head of production, Phil Norman, to find out just what The Uncommon is all about.
Alto Adige is one of Italy’s most unique wine regions and a real ‘must visit’ for any adventurous wine lover. We sent Mike Turner to discover just why that’s the case, to visit the region and, in particular, the hugely influential cooperative Cantina Tramin. It is a trip that took him, quite literally, into the heart of the mountains where Tramin’s 100-point scoring Epokale Gewürztraminer is stored 6km under rock for six years.
“It truly is a travel show for foodies with a drinks hook rather than a niche show about one particular drink.” That’s how Helena Nicklin describes the marked difference and approach to how she and her presenting partner, Aidy Smith, have pulled together the content and tone for ‘The Three Drinkers in Ireland’ TV series that is now airing on Amazon Prime. As they film their third Amazon series (this time focusing on what France has to offer) we revisit this article from earlier in the year when Nicklin and Smith also give their advice to drinks brands about how best to present themselves on film and how the more you can tone down the corporate and company line the better.