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    Opinion
    It's not hard to sell the Californian dream around Europe, says Cramer

    How Oddbins’ is working with Gallo & premium brands to drive up California

    Whilst most major wine producing countries or regions would be more than happy to have an average price point of around £10 to £15 a bottle, never mind the giddy heights of £20 plus. But for premium Californian wineries, £20 is not to far off what they might see as being their entry price positioning. Which is good news for major retailers such as Oddbins who are now working closely with major branded players, particularly E&J Gallo and its new, extended Californian and US premium wine range, to bring both excitement and new wines to its portfolio which is helping it see real growth between £20 to £40.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Cuvée Hemera

    The DNA of Henriot – launch of the new prestige Cuvée Hemera 2005

    In July, The Buyer’s Victor Smart travelled to Champagne Henriot to get the thinking behind the house’s eagerly-anticipated new Cuvée Hemera 2005. This month saw the UK launch in London and our resident Queen of the Bubbles, Anne Krebiehl MW, met up with chef de cave Laurent Fresnet and his team to taste the new Cuvée and give us her verdict.

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    Opinion
    verdicchio-3-group

    Anton Moiseenko is blown away by quality of old Italian Verdicchios

    Italian whites might well be creeping onto more wine lists, but they tend to be more for your everyday favourite selections rather than for their premium, ageing quality. Those spaces are reserved for Italy’s far more prestigious reds. But as Anton Moiseenko discovered during a recent tasting of 10 year old and plus Verdicchios that there is some stunning quality to be found if you are prepared to look.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Cloudy Bay

    Daniel Sorrell on the story behind Cloudy Bay 2018 Sauvignon Blanc

    The lack of wind was a problem with the 2018 harvest, especially when the rains came. It was a case of all hands on deck with six helicopters, at one stage, being used to dry the vines. The end result is a good one, though, with the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay as vivacious and succulent as you’d expect. Operations winemaker Daniel Sorrell was at the LVMH headquarters in London for the UK launch to give Sarah McCleery the full SP on the story behind the vintage.

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    Opinion People: On-Trade
    Made in Chelsea reality TV stars Hugo Taylor and Millie Mackintosh are just two of the high profile names who are often seen frequenting the Coral Room

    Why Bloomsbury’s Coral Room is a champion of English sparkling wine

    If you want to be taken seriously as a premium spirit brand then you have to be listed in all the key style bars in the country, that’s when you know you have a critical mass to take to the next stage. It’s so much harder in wine as there are simply too many alternatives in your category to choose from. But for English sparkling wine, which very much wants to play in those premium circles, being listed in all the right bars and restaurants is now very much a given, but few outlets take English wine quite as seriously as the Coral Room at the Bloomsbury hotel which, as Helen Arnold discovers, claims to have one of the largest – if not the largest – selection in the country, both by the glass and the bottle.

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    People: Producer
    Purgatori

    How Torres’ Purgatori invested in ‘lost’ grapes to reinvent the future

    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.

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    People People: On-Trade
    mosel

    Buyers give inside line on Wines of Germany’s Get It On tasting

    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.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Chile

    5 classics and 5 leftfield wines from Wines of Chile 2018

    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’.

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    Insight
    roka

    Top buyers make the case for quality, premium Japanese wines

    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.

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    People
    Home Bar

    Bringing it all back home: Henry Jeffreys on the Home Bar

    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.

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    Opinion
    china-wine

    The impact of China “soaking up wine like blotting paper”

    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.

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    Opinion
    james-busby

    Tim Wildman MW: ready to roll with 2018’s James Busby Oz tour

    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.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Dosage Zero

    Anne Krebiehl MW: less is more with Bruno Paillard Dosage Zero

    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.

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    People People: Producer
    lenoble-2

    AR Lenoble’s drive for freshness with new “mag 14” Champagne

    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.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Dirty Dozen

    Chris Wilson picks the top 18 wines from Dirty Dozen tasting

    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!

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    Insight
    Rioja

    Rioja gets smart with ‘love in the vines’ US TV stealth marketing

    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.

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    People People: On-Trade
    maverick-4

    Harry Crowther enjoys a night with the ‘mavericks’ of Argentina

    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.

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    People People: On-Trade
    Christine Parkinson has been heading up Hakkasan's wine offer since its launch in 2001

    Christine Parkinson on the wines for Hakkasan’s global empire

    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.

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    People: Producer
    Signorello

    Napa fires one year on and what happened to Signorello

    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.

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    People People: On-Trade
    Roger and Sue Jones

    Roger Jones on proving there’s life beyond a Michelin star

    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.

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