It takes a brave step to give up a well paid job in finance to throw your hat into a sector where you don’t have any contacts or experience. But such is Vidya Narasimhan’s passion for wine she has been prepared to do that and make a fresh start in the wine industry. Here she sets out why she thinks her background in private equity can be particularly useful for wine companies looking to grow and how she hopes she can bring the worlds of finance and wine closer together in the latest in our Onwards & Upwards series.
Production of both Lake Garda wine and the amount of growers has quadrupled over the past five years. The area is led by a bullish Garda DOC that wants to up production to 40 million bottles per annum, and promote its 10 appellations and range of wines to the outside world. Geoffrey Dean visited the region and samples the impressive wines of Vigneti Villabella, Pratello, Santa Sofia, Ricchi, Perla del Garda and Tommasi and tries to get under the skin of what makes this region so unique.
In part one of our buyers debate with the Bordeaux Wines we focused on what different operators felt the opportunities and challenges were for Bordeaux Wines overall in the UK. In part two we look at three case studies from producers operating in different appellations – Médoc, Côtes de Bordeaux and Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur – who are looking to embrace the modern Bordeaux and look at their vines through fresh eyes. The buyers had the chance to taste their wines and assess the styles they felt are the most suitable and relevant for the UK market.
Armed with the newly crowned Hot 50 Selection and a host of wines from across the region looking for distribution, Bordeaux Wines return to the UK this week for Bordeaux Day in Manchester and London. The Buyer’s Mike Turner attended the Manchester tasting on Monday 11th July and gives his top tips for those heading to the London event this Wednesday.
Eat & Drink Spain was back with a bang this year with 900 wines from 240 producers representing 60 DOs. David Kermode attended the London event and picks a fascinating selection that will work particularly well in premium on-trade – from old vine Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero, a new, high altitude Rioja from the envelope-pushing Ramón Bilbao, to a Brut Nature biodynamic sparkler that is a blend of Xarel-lo, Sumoll and the little-seen grape, Bastard Negre.
Behind the scenes in Bordeaux there are huge changes taking place as producers, particularly new generation winemakers, look to introduce new ideas that are potentially more in keeping with the styles of wine that the modern wine consumer wants to drink, as well as to adhere to consumer’s interest in sustainable winemaking methods. To get a better understanding of what is really taking place across the region, The Buyer teamed up with Bordeaux Wines to host a debate between leading UK wine buyers, merchants and importers and representative producers from the Médoc, Côtes de Bordeaux and Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur AOPs so they could show their wines and demonstrate what is happening in this still hugely influential and important French wine region.
“Wine lovers sometimes dismiss DOCG as ‘just another Prosecco’. They are very wrong to do so,” says Matteo Montone, Master Sommelier and one of the five IWSC judges who travelled to Veneto, Italy to help taste, assess and come up with the winning line up of DOCG Proseccos for the 2022 awards from across the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG. Here we reveal the results, plus the producers that scored over 93 points.
Cartuxa’s Pêra-Manca Tinto, which Vivino’s 54 million users last year voted the best wine in the world, is a truly legendary Portuguese wine. Dating back to the Sixteenth Century, owned by a non-profit making foundation, vinified in a monastery and only made three times a decade, it is rare, expensive and completely unique. In a rare tasting event Peter Dean sampled six vintages from the past two decades and discovered from Cartuxa winemaker Pedro Baptista the thinking that goes into this masterpiece of winemaking.
“If you ever needed one, Chablis is the almost perfect manifestation, and proof, of terroir itself.” This is how The Buyer’s Peter Dean described the appellation as a whole and what differentiates Petit Chablis from Chablis, Premier and Grand Cru Chablis in one of The Buyer’s most popular articles we have published. Here we look at Petit Chablis in particular and how its unique terroir helps producers like Domaine Yvon & Laurent Vocoret make the quality wines they do as part of the Hidden Gems series with the Bourgogne Wine Board.
One of the original, pioneering wine producers in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collavini has been the first in the area to introduce many different styles and techniques to the region, including reviving the fortunes of Ribolla Gialla, creating the first sparkling wine from this autochthonous grape variety and partially drying grapes in order to concentrate the flavours. Justin Keay caught up with Luigi Collavini and tastes through the range.
This week’s One Step Beyond webinar is the chance to once again step outside the day-to-day of running of drinks companies and look for some inspiration from others. Be it other leaders in beers, wines or spirits, or voices and influences from other sectors that can help us look at our own companies in a different way. The theme for July 6’s One Step Beyond is ‘How to be loved online’ and what brands, businesses and individuals can do to tell their stories, build their profiles and create their own communities using all the various digital tools available to us. It also features an interview with Luke Boase, the charismatic founder of Lucky Saint, the fastest growing alcohol-free beer brand in the UK, about how he has built the brand from scratch, transformed it in lockdown from an on-trade brand to a massive success online and now has major distribution across multiple retailers.
Earlier in the year, when he was visiting Haro to find out more about the relationship that exists between Rioja and Bordeaux, wine expert and chef Roger Jones visited six of the top bodegas in the region – La Rioja Alta, C.V.N.E, Bodegas Muga, Bodegas Roda, Bodegas Bilbainas and Bodegas Gomez Cruzado– over the course of three days. At each estate he tasted through the entire range of wines, many of which were paired with local delicacies.
As preparations are finalised for the Bordeaux Day trade tastings taking place in Manchester (July 11) and London (July 13), we take a close look at what modern Bordeaux means to a new generation of winemakers that are introducing their own ideas to create different styles of wine that will all be on show in the UK this month, by interviewing Geoff Cook who has moved from Western Australia to become the winemaker at Château Maine Gazin in Plassac in northern Bordeaux.
As many of our thoughts might be turning to our summer holidays the major drinks competitions are all gearing up their 2023 awards by opening up their entry process. Here Janet Harrison explains why she thinks the People’s Choice Drinks Awards stand out for attention as one of the rare awards that allow the average wine drinker and consumer to take part in the judging. She also explains some of the new categories and features for an awards that grows in significance and stature every year.
Paul Schaafsma likes being in the wine limelight. But in his new role as head of Benchmark Drinks he has had to get used to sharing the centre stage with a roll call of major international stars that know far more about how to get our attention. Here, in this extensive interview with Richard Siddle, he shares what it has been like setting up a new wine business from scratch and how he has made celebrity wine brands not only highly fashionable, but enormously successful with Kylie Minogue hitting number one again, this time for her rosé wine brand which is part of a range that has sold over 5 million bottles in just two years. He also takes on some of the major issues facing the wine industry, how wine suppliers need to start finding better solutions for the customers they work with and why being relevant to an ever changing and demanding consumer is what drives him and his team every day.
The UK is already the region’s most important foreign market for Gavi DOCG with an amazing 40% of Piedmont’s great white wine exported to these shores. In its first ever generic tasting in London, the Consorzio was clear in its message – that it is focused on quality not quantity and keen to build on this success by educating particularly on-trade buyers on the wine’s complexity and little-known ability to age into a wine with many hidden depths.
The 2023 London Wine Competition is open for entries with any producer, importer, wine supplier or retailer entering their wines before August 31 able to qualify for Super Early Bird pricing. This remains one of the only global wine competitions that looks to identify the wines that consumers will most want to pick up off a shelf as they are judged on what they taste like, how much they cost and crucially what they look like.
Over the last few years Pol Roger Portfolio has quietly, carefully, and diligently built up an impressive portfolio of premium Californian wine producers that means it now has one of the most comprehensive offers available in the UK. Richard Siddle sits down with Will Dennison, Pol Roger’s head of fine wine, to talk through its range, how it has selected the producers it is now working with and what potential it sees for Californian wine in the premium on-trade and specialist retail sectors.
When wine expert and winemaker Chris Wilson was invited to taste through a decade’s worth of Château du Moulin-à-Vent he jumped at the chance. Not just because it’s a rare occasion to sample a vertical of top Beaujolais, but also because it is an opportunity to see a progression in the wines, a story being told of a period of time, with every vintage adding something to the overall story… in much the same way as listening to a music album from start to finish.
On the one hand the wine industry is, arguably quite rightly, falling over itself to become more sustainable, both in the vineyard and also at the point of sale with more environmentally friendly packaging, yet it’s also clear the consumer is not as ready to buy into alternative packaging, or even see heavy glass bottles on shelf and on restaurant lists as being a problem. That was the conundrum being discussed at the recent Vinexposium ‘Act For Change’ Symposium in Bordeaux, as Richard Siddle reports.