Innovation in Spanish winemaking is not just reserved for the new wave of artisan winemakers. Ramón Bilbao proves once again with its new Rueda Sauvignon Blanc that a big player can just as easily throw away the rulebook. Hailing from its shiny new winery La Finca Las Medias, winemaker Sara Bañuelos, has been given licence to thrill with an SB/ Verdejo blend but even more interestingly a 100% single varietal Sauvignon Blanc. David Kermode picks up the story.
The opportunity to buy quality, but also value for money wines from the US has never been greater. Not only do producers have plenty of wine to sell, and an over supplied US market to trade in, they are actively looking to export. Combine that with the ambition of a major US distributor – T Edward Wines & Spirits – that also makes wines from all over the world and is actively looking to export and work in the UK, with wines at the price points buyers are looking for, then you have a very winning combination. Here’s international export sales manager, David Hautzig to explain more.
When was the last time you went out of your way to order, buy or drink a Dolcetto wine? With so much competition from other Italian classic grape varieties it has plummeted down the popularity stakes for many years, overtaken in its homeland of Piedmonte by Nebbiolo, in particular, and the Barolo and Barbaresco wines it makes. But sommelier Mattia Scarpazza believes the best quality Dolcetto wines, made from the DOCG vines, are very much worth a second look.
Australia was the toast of the 2020 London Wine Competition awards both in terms of the number of wines entered and the best achieving results with d’Arenberg in the McLaren Vale picking up both the Winery of the Year award and Wine Of The Year for its The Dead Arm Shiraz 2017. In all over 1,000 wines were entered from a record 43 countries. The competition is unique in that wines are based on their quality, price and design and packaging.
Sun is good for grapes but bad for wine – the effect of sunlight on wine, particularly those in clear glass bottles, has been under-estimated for too long. Preventing this with a revolutionary new ‘second skin’ case is one of the drivers behind Maison Ruinart’s decision to ditch its gift boxes and replace it with paper maché-like packaging. Anne Krebiehl MW hears from Frédéric Panaïotis, Ruinart’s chef de cave, about the additional ecological and cost benefits.
Wine faults in clear glass bottles are 20 times more prevalent than cork taint, says Nyetimber winemaker Brad Greatrix, and yet producers who fill into clear glass seem to be oblivious to the harms of lightstrike or are purposely putting their head in the sand. The greatest losers are consumers, however, who have no idea about the potential harm of lightstrike when they buy a bottle of sparkling or rosé wine – the categories most affected. In this thorough and hard-hitting opinion piece, Greatrix explains how lightstrike works and what must be done to prevent it, all the way through the supply chain.
The Covid-19 pandemic has for so many people around the world been the most challenging and damaging time both in their working and their personal lives. But it has also been a uniquely inspiring few months as individuals and businesses have stepped up to the mark and gone way and beyond to help others in their industry get through this extraordinary period. Those are the people The Buyer wants to highlight and show our appreciation for in our new ‘Raise a Glass To’ series where we can all collectively stop and pay our respects to their achievements and actions during the pandemic. Starting here today with Rico Basson, managing director of Vinpro, who has led the South African wine industry through its huge difficulties during the lockdown.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has hit the drinks and wine industry the world over. None more so than in South Africa which is again going through a national lockdown of all domestic wine sales with potentially a devastating impact on the country’s wine network. It has also made wine businesses think and act differently, particularly with the boom in online sales. In keeping with that new spirit of innovation, creativity and collaboration, three South African wine producers – Bruce Jack of Bruce Jack Wines, Ross Sleet of Rascallion Wine and De Villiers Graaff of De Grendel wines – have come together to launch a new, and potentially unique direct to consumer concept for the wine industry. Together they have set up a non-for-profit platform called Mind Map Wine Company that they are launching in the UK to act not as a competitor to their usual retail and on-trade channels to market, but to be an active partner to them, helping to raise the awareness of their brands and connect directly and with consumers. They hope to sign up more like-minded producers from around the world to join them in the months ahead. In our latest The Buyer video interview Richard Siddle caught up with Bruce Jack and Ross Sleet to talk through the new DTC platform, but also assess the current state and impact of the South African domestic wine lockdown.
Bernhard Bredell was named Young Winemaker of the Year in Tim Atkin’s South Africa 2019 Special Report, a reflection of the amount of heads he’s turned since 2016 when he set up the Scions of Sinai label, and also down to the quality of the wines, in particular the single vineyard Swanesang which is made from the last standing bushvines of Syrah in the Helderberg district of Stellenbosch. Emerging Wine Writer of the Year, Malu Lambert, visited him after Lockdown and tasted through the range.
Greta Thunberg is too young to drink, of course, but when she does she’ll probably reach for a bottle of Portuguese wine imported by Xisto Wines. For while reducing carbon emissions is high on the agenda of most respecting drinks companies, Bristol-based Xisto has taken it one step further. Part of its Circle of Zero Waste philosophy is to sail artisanal wines in traditional cargo ships from Porto to Bristol in barrels, bottle them using re-purposed Espumante bottles and deliver without using plastic or fossil fuel. Peter Dean caught up with Xisto after its first voyage into London Docks.
As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Seven of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog kicking off all the activity in what is going to be a vital month for the UK drinks and hospitality sectors.
If you’ve ventured out into social media this week then there’s really only been one wine story to bother yourself with. No, not how the wine industry is tackling this global pandemic, but rather the Twitter furore there has been over Hollywood A lister Cameron Diaz deciding this is the moment the world needs to know all about her new ‘clean wine’ brand – Avaline. Here Joe Fattorini – in his typically brilliant, biting and witty way – takes the Diaz naysayers to task and makes the case for why Diaz and her ‘clean wine’ is actually marketing genius.
We continue our series of profiles of key New York State wine producers with a behind the scenes tour of Dr Konstantin Frank Winery by Meaghan Frank, the fourth generation of the Frank family that first came to the United States from Ukraine in 1951. Over the years the family has been at the centre of the ‘Vinifera Revolution’ that has taken place in the state as producers trialled and tested which grape varieties were best suited to the harsh growing conditions of the Finger Lakes.
We might not be collectively travelling to many of the world’s most famous cities and eating and dining out in their finest restaurants at the moment, but that does not mean we can’t highlight the great talent that work in the kinds of outlet that allow the best wine producers and their wines to shine. Which is why it’s so timely that Star Wine List is taking its awards around the world to shine the spotlight on the best wine restaurants in key cities around the world. The Buyer is also delighted to be partnering with Star Wine List to establish a new Wine List awards in London. Here Krister Bengtsson, founder of Star Wine List, explains how it is going to work.
The Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards took its final bow after 15 years yesterday with Liberty Wines winning Best All-Time Importer and Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Best Australian wine in a Grand Awards event at the Harrow at Little Bedwyn. The event was a ‘Champion of Champions’ affair with all of the day’s finalists previously being award winners, since the event started in 2006.
As much as the fine wine market was gradually going digital, Covid-19 has made all businesses realise they need to adopt new technology with some urgency if they are to take any advantage of the boom there has been in e-commerce wine sales during lockdown. The pace of change has been so fast that some large wine businesses have been able to implement two year software plans in as little as two months, says Nick Martin, co-founder of Wine Owners, the fine wine sector-specific business software platform. Here he examines what thinking companies should be bringing into their business software investment decision making to improve their back office, business management, and sales.
Those of a certain age with a long memory will recall Reggie Perrin conjuring up an image of a prancing hippopotamus every time there’s mention of his mother-in-law (they were different times). There will be many ambitious members of the drinks trade who will probably sympathise, after being faced with a boss who claims to “not get digital” or “social media” and prefers to carry on with the way things have always been done. Thanks to Covid-19 even these so called “Hippo” bosses have had to wake up to digital and finally start investing in an online strategy. Richard Siddle analyses what this might mean for the drinks and hospitality sectors.
Fresh from its success at this year’s Mundus Vini Biofach international organic wine fair, where it picked up the Best Organic Red Wine of France gong for its flagship wine Chemin de Moscou, Domaine Gayda is launching its Figure Libre range of wines in the UK with fresh distribution deals in place. Peter Dean picks up the story and tastes through the new wines.
Sparkling wine has enjoyed unprecedented success in the UK over the last 10 years, but where does French sparkling sit alongside the two powerhouses of everyday sparkling wine – Prosecco and Cava? To find out, The Buyer teamed up with Business France, to host an online Zoom panel debate with leading UK wine buyers of independent importers and merchants, who had the chance to chat live with three very different representatives of the French wine market covering sparkling, Champagne and Crémant.
It’s been 10 months since 18 year-old Yasmin Dean has had an alcoholic drink, before then she was rarely seen without one. Too many parties later she decided to quit, has never looked back and was a natural to taste through the range of Lyre’s non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ when they got sent to The Buyer. But drunk neat and in mocktails do they match up to the real thing? How do they compare to Seedlip? And which would she pick and feel happy drinking when she was out partying?