In the first of a new series on how leading wine buyers discovered a wine or a winery for the first time, we talk to Corney & Barrow’s head wine buyer, Rebecca Palmer on how she was able to track down, with the help of Wines of Hungary, a winery that she believes captures the very best of what Hungary can currently offer buyers. Here she introduces her Hungarian discovery: the Barta winery on the steep slope of the Oreg Kiraly (Kings Hill) vineyard outside Budapest.
With so many wines to taste, so many producers to shift through, we are all looking for shortcuts to find the wineries that are most likely to be able to serve our buying and sourcing needs. Which potentially makes the Premium Wines of Romania organisation a very useful body to know if you are looking to get a head start on the diversity and quality of wine now being produced in the country. Local Romanian wine consultant, Rob Marshall, explains how it works.
If you are looking to freshen up your wine list with wines from off Hungary’s beaten track then here we ask three MWs, Peter McCombie, Elizabeth Gabay and Caroline Gilby, to pick out a winery each they believe deserves wider recognition. Producers that each in their own way have their own story to tell about the new winemaking talent that is emerging across Hungary.
So what do you think are the most skills to have as a wine buyer? A great palate, years of experience? A strong constitution? Well for Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene it’s a whole number of factors you have to get right, starting with planning and preparation. But don’t ignore your gut instincts or get carried away by the romance of being out in an exotic winery. The wine you’re buying still has to sell on a cold, foggy night in February.
What could be more of the moment than 100% old vine Cinsault, grown at altitude, vinified with minimal intervention in 150 year old cement tanks with natural yeast and filtered with dried thistles – thereby making it vegan-friendly? The twist is that this is how the wines of Domaine des Tourelles have always been made. Superbly-made wines at fantastic value prices. Peter Dean taste-tests them with Faouzi Issa, winemaker and co-owner on the winery’s 150th birthday.
The world of wine is getting an increasingly smaller place and wine businesses are no longer just happy or able to make ends meet by operating in the country they are from. Export is very much now the name of the game. But it’s not as easy as it might sound. Here’s wine consultant, Alistair Morrell, and his checklist for exporters to follow. Or as he also says: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
After tasting his way through the Wines From Spain event, Justin Keay was surprised to find a number of his favourite Iberian wines missing from the event. Here he talks about the wines he keeps returning to from Spain’s ‘holiday islands’ of Majorca, Lanzarote and Tenerife that he feels have one foot in ‘new Spain’ as well as another foot firmly rooted in Spain’s older viticultural traditions.
They might make a lot of their wine underground, but at long last the Georgian wine scene is no longer buried away known only to a few intrepid travellers. No, Georgian wines are now hot property and those importers, distributors and restaurants that have got behind Georgia in recent years are really now paying dividends. Sarah Abbott MW, who is helping to runs the campaign to promote Georgian wine in the UK, explains why she thinks wine buyers should all be taking Georgia seriously.
It is a direct link to the consumer through its retail outfit that gives Lea & Sandeman insight into what wines do and do not work, says co-owner Charles Lea. Celebrating 30 years in June this year, and just receiving a Royal Warrant from HM Queen Elizabeth 2 last week, Lea explains to David Kermode that it is this insight that has allowed Lea & Sandeman to see, for example, that millennials are finally waking up to German Riesling and realising it isn’t at all bad.
Richard Bigg is such a larger than life character that even his name could have been dreamt up by some Hollywood talent agency. Which is quite appropriate as his life would make for one of those cracking biopics, such are the wide and varied things he has done in what is still only a relatively short career. We might all know him as arguably kicking into life the whole Spanish and tapas dining scene in the UK, with his Camino group of restaurants, but, as Richard Siddle discovers there is so much more to who on the surface seems so quiet and unassuming.