Last Thursday saw the first Collectible California wine tasting at the new US Embassy that combined a trade and press tasting event followed by a black tie gala dinner to which 150 of London’s biggest California wine collectors were invited. For organisers the California Wine Institute the event marks a move away from the major generic tastings and more towards smaller, focussed events that will combine consumers and also business/ motivational content.
Over the last 18 months wine harvests has been in the news for all the wrong reasons as newspaper headlines seized on the worst grape harvest in Europe since the early 1960s with headlines of “devastation” and “disaster” for all involved. There was even concerns there would not be enough wine to fill our supermarket shelves. The reality saw buyers switch their areas of supply and turn to those who had got grapes, which meant a big boost for East European wine producers who for some time have been knocking on the door for their wines to be taken more seriously. But with major European harvests on course to return to average what will happen to the wineries that helped plug the gaps?
There really is no other wine producing country like South Africa. Its unique political and recent social history means this is not a country that makes wine just because it can. It does so to also help the viability, the prosperity and the future of all those who work in it with a series of world leading sustainability and ethical trading codes that truly sets its apart. Richard Siddle reports back from last week’s Cape Wine where that message sang out loud and clear.
In 21 years Blair Walter and Nigel Greening have taken Felton Road, the Bannockburn-based winery in New Zealand, on an impressive journey from working with five year-old vines to being recognised as one of the best if not the best producer of Pinot Noir in New Zealand. To celebrate and to launch the new 2017 vintage, they held a remarkable tasting at London’s 67 Pall Mall club in which they showcased a pick of the vintages from yesteryear. Roger Jones, who has over 80 Felton Road wines on his award-winning list, was there to taste and meet up with old friends.
The wine purist might not like to admit it, but the wine industry would not be an industry at all if it was not for bulk wine. Be it moving grapes from growers to producers, or between wineries in the same country, or shipping vast containers to all corners of the world, bulk wine is the blood supply that keeps the wine sector alive. Here Helen Arnold explores the global bulk wine trends that will set the agenda for this November’s 10th World Bulk Wine Exhibition.
Joe Fattorini argues that Palomino is an unique grape because of the way it can be moulded into a wide variety of styles – from quaffable white wine through to aged Oloroso Sherry – in much the same way that the shape-shifting metallic robot in Terminator 2 can become whatever it wants to. Fattorini was speaking at the Great Sherry Tasting 2018 and brought some razamataz to a Masterclass aimed at drinks buyers, sommeliers and wine educators.
For years China has been a country wine producers the world over have wanted to do business in, but have been put off by the bureaucracy and impenetrable supply chains that have made it so hard to do business there. All that is now set to change thanks to the scale, power and reach of the country’s major online retail giants, like Alibaba and JD.com that can source, sell and distribute producers’ wines to all corners of the country. Their influence is so large that they are also now attracting the world’s biggest international retailers looking to sell their products in China as well, reports Richard Siddle.
After a week in South Africa as a guest of Cape Wine 2018, Michelin star chef and roving editor for The Buyer, Roger Jones, sums up the week of events. Having been heavily involved in selling and promoting South African wines for a number of years, Jones still firmly believes that the increase in customer awareness, quality sourced, and consumer expectation is at an all-time high for South African wines and growing faster than many in the on-trade can keep up with.
Whatever industry you focus on it’s the same old story. Women are paid less than men, their bonuses are smaller, their career prospects are more limited, they are less likely to get promoted, and have less faith in their abilities to reach the top. Which is why Helen Arnold was intrigued to find out what steps could be taken in the wine and spirits sector, and to hear directly from business leaders looking to improve matters and directly address gender equality at work, at the recent Women of the Vine & Spirits conference held in London.
Any Bibendum tasting tends to attract a large crowd of sommeliers and indie wine buyers. So it was with its latest #Tasting Notes bash, held again in the basement of London’s Phonica Records – an interesting space that oozes with cool vibes. There were plenty of fascinating wines, fortifieds and spirits on show plus a massive range of new wines being introduced to the portfolio for the first time. Peter Dean had his tasting glass at the ready.