As Australia looks back on one of the hottest summers in its history, Giles Cooke MW says it should be a clarion call to all of the country’s wine industry to seriously wake up to the climate change challenge. Whilst he and other smaller winemakers are busy introducing more climate-friendly, robust grape varieties, like Nero d’Avolo at Thistledown Wines he set up with Alliance Wine’s Fergal Tynan MW in the Riverland, most of the major producers are burying their heads in the sands and carrying on regardless with water guzzling varieties like Chardonnay and Shiraz. The time, he says, for action and change has come.
The Languedoc means many things to different people. One of the world’s largest wine regions, with 23 different appellations and 19 PGIs, the Languedoc has been questioning its own identity of late. Two years ago it was changing its name to Occitanie, but that hasn’t taken root, instead some of the appellations such as Sommières are going the opposite direction and lobbying hard to remove the word Languedoc completely – in much the same way that Coteaux du Languedoc changed itself to AOC Terrasses Du Larzac, and managed to start increasing its prices. Victor Smart, travelled the region and discovered success stories and improving quality, with the Far East picking up on Languedoc’s strengths, and a heavy emphasis on more sustainable viticulture.
In part one of The Buyer’s debate, alongside Business France, between leading importers, merchants, restaurants and wine producers from most regions of France, we focused on the rise in and importance of organic wines. The tasting and discussion also looked at how different styles of sparkling wine are now really coming to the fore, and how Crémant, in particular, is presenting a real premium alternative, ideal for promoting and driving in the premium on-trade.
When Peckham-based duo Tom Bishop and Jack Vereker decided to launch their new tequila El Rayo in May it was to occupy the middle ground of the market. The UK is the fifth largest importer of tequila and yet they believe the drink is either positioned as a quick way to get drunk or else so aloof as to feel unobtainable. El Rayo’s positioning is to be an alternative to gin, based on a belief that with gin market saturation will come drinkers looking for new experiences. Bettina Hepburn caught up with them to find out whether they can seriously challenge the G&T with their T&T?
Yesterday’s memorial for Gerard Basset was a fitting tribute to one of the most legendary figures in the world of wine. It was a day of great sadness, but also an outpouring of admiration, memories and tributes to one of the most respected, influential and clearly loved wine figures in the world, with over 600 people flying in from all over the world to pay their respects. He was also one of the most decorated and unique in being able to have MW, MS, MBA and even an OBE after his name. Here, in our own personal tribute, we share the interview we did with him in the late summer of 2017 that at the time marked 10 years since he and his wife, Nina, opened Hotel TerraVina. We also looked back over such a memorable life that touched and influenced so many people. Here’s to you Gerard…You’ll Never Walk Alone.
If you are looking to enter the London Wine Competition 2020 then you can make big savings by putting your wines in now and take advantage of super early bird rates. But you will need to act quickly as the deadline for these rates runs out on June 20. The LWC is now into its third year and looks to reward wines that everyday wine drinkers can relate to as they are assessed not just on their quality, but what they look like, how much they cost, and what value they offer. Here’s how to enter the 2020 competition.
June 15 marks the annual #DrinkChenin day where producers, retailers, restaurants and wine drinkers alike unite to celebrate all things Chenin. None more so than in South Africa where the white grape variety has had such success and is now recognised as producing some of the finest Chenin Blancs in the world. Wine merchants, restaurants and bars are being encouraged to back #DrinkChenin day by hosting their own tastings or simply opening up a few bottles of Chenin to share with their customers. To help kick things off this weekend we revisit Roger Jones’ trip to Cape Wine 2018 where he was able to pick out his own Chenin Blanc favourites from South Africa.
Having your own bespoke cuvée of champagne elevates your ‘House’ fizz to something altogether more special. Louis Latour Agencies has been offering this service to the premium on-trade as witnessed when it launched Marcus Wareing’s own cuvée of Gosset last October to much fanfare. Champagne Duval-Leroy has also been producing bespoke labels or ‘sur measure’ and it was Mere Restaurant’s bespoke cuvée that Victor Smart sampled at a tasting lunch along with the house’s other top wines, including a rare outing for its top of the range Femme de Champagne – Brut 1996.
It might sound counter productive, but one of the biggest opportunities there now is in the drinks industry is not actually making products with any alcohol in them. Or if you do, make sure it has the lowest abv possible. Yes, the rise in low and non-alcohol drinks has gone from the fringes of the sector, to being arguably one of the most dynamic, fast changing and important of all the new beers, wines and spirits we see on back bars and on drinks lists. Richard Siddle analyses what this means for the traditional drinks categories and how wine, in particular, is in danger of falling behind.
Premium Greek wine is in a good place right now – championed for some time by the likes of critic Julia Harding MW and Steve Daniel at Hallgarten, the trade has taken note and is now responding. Berkmann, for one, has just taken on its first Greek estate, the prestigious T-Oinos, whose chief oenologist is none other than Bordeaux-based flying winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt. He tells Justin Keay that, apart from enjoying working with the estate’s four varieties – Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Mavrotragano and Avgoustiatis – he just loves the beauty of the place, even though the continual wind and granitic soil have their unique challenges. Keay tastes through all the wines, is impressed by the whites, but singles out the reds as his favourites.
The UK wine market has long been trying to push the average price of major wine brands up and away from the £5 to £6 price bracket. E&J Gallo went further than most when in 2010 it introduced Dark Horse to push £10. Nearly 10 years on Helen Arnold talks to head winemaker behind the brand, Beth Liston, about how it has grown, what she has brought to the label and how Gallo hopes new varieties such as Malbec can help grow not only Dark Horse’s own position, but branded wines in general.
It’s official! Beaujolais is cool, in fact it is almost becoming too cool. With the official release of Beaujolais 2018 on Monday at Inter Beaujolais’ annual tasting jamboree, all of the promise that was there in barrel and with what the Nouveau was telling us has been delivered. The vintage is ripe, fruity and yet the wines have terrific balance. “There has never been a better time to get people to drink Beaujolais,” said Joe Wadsack at the bash, alluding to the fact that with 2018 there is quantity as well as quality. Peter Dean agrees and picks out 10 hits from the tasting.
For his swansong, the outgoing chief of Austria’s wine board Willi Klinger decided to realise a life’s ambition, leading a tour to tell the extraordinary story of the country’s border wine regions – with Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia – torn apart by conflict, but now working together in quite remarkable ways. David Kermode sees first hand how the Second World War, the Iron Curtain and the growth of the European Union has affected Austrian winemaking and what is being done now to encourage the regeneration of ‘winemaking without borders’ in these areas.
Now there are enough famous faces that have turned their skills to winemaking to run a major event just with their wines. There are also some household names that have made a nice tidy sum from the world of spirits too. Here’s the latest. Adam Woodyatt. Better known to the public as Ian Beale, one of the original cast members in BBC’s long running soap opera, Eastenders. Here he explains to Alistair Morrell how he decided to go into the drinks industry and the ultra competitive world of gin.
For the latest The Buyer Debate we teamed up with Business France to bring producers from different regions of France together with key buyers from across the premium on-trade to look at two key growth areas not only for French wine, but the premium wine category as a whole: organics and sparkling wine. It was an opportunity to meet, taste the wines and then explore why French winemakers are increasingly turning to organics and sparkling wine production. Whilst assessing just what it is leading UK wine distributors, merchants and restaurant and bar owners are looking for when taking on a new French wine supplier. There was a lot to cover. So much so that we have broken down the report into two parts. First up we look at the rise in organics and both the opportunities and the challenges there are in making and selling organic wine.
Created in 1987 IGP Pays d’Oc has become regarded as the New World winemaking region of France, with single varietal wines its calling card. But the denomination is not always associated with rosé, especially when its near neighbours are the three appellations of Provence, which is odd given that it produces almost half a million hectolitres every year. In a ‘tasting special’ The Buyer asked leading rosé expert Elizabeth Gabay MW to taste-test 97 Pays d’Oc rosé, to pick out the best according to varietal and style and advise us on which ones we should put our money behind.
Anyone who has ever met Mike Turner will know he is no stranger to using three words when one will do. When it comes to his passion for sustainable, organic, and biodynamic winemaking, however, he’s more than happy for the on-trade to group these together with terms that show off an ethos to the wine buyers of the UK. Bibendum’s “Mindful Winemaking” push is welcome and timely and, he argues, makes our lives so much easier in promoting a more ethically sound product that there are no excuses not to get involved anymore.
Valentin Radosav at Gymkhana, Ana Maria Martinez Terol of TerraVina, Tamas Czinki and Adam Pawlowski MS of The Northcote, Lionel Periner at La Trompette, Stefan Neumann MS then at The Fat Duck, Sara Bachiorri of The Glasshouse and Romain Henry of Hibiscus all have one thing in common. They are past winners of the Sud de France Sommelier Competition. If you think you have what it take to be this year’s UK winner and go on to take part in the global competition next year, then here’s what you have to do to take part.
Of all the 1,000s of new drinkers products that are launched into the market every year, what is it about the ones that catch the eye of buyers and end up on retail shelves or drinks lists in restaurants? To find out we talked to some of the leading drinks buyers who helped judge the recent London Wine, Beer and Spirit Competitions about what they look for in a new product and how important price, value, packaging and design is in their final decision making.