With lockdown measures easing, and secondary vine growth making up for some of the frost damage that hit just four weeks ago, it finally looks like there are some things to raise a glass of bubbly to. But it is not just English Sparkling wine that is being celebrated and consumed in this week’s re-scheduled English Wine Week, writes Sophie McLean, but a whole host of wines that include red, white and rosé still wines with an increasing array of styles.
“There are no right or wrong answers for us when it comes to wine.” That’s the refreshing attitude that Mike Boyne has brought to his BinTwo wine bar and merchants business in Padstow, Cornwall that has made it such a success over a small period of time both with his customers and the suppliers who are happy to travel to meet him and show him ever more adventurous wines. Here he talks about what life has been like in lockdown in one of Cornwall’s most famous tourist towns, but most of all he shares his uplifting views on what wine means to him and the kind of service he wants to give his customers.
When Adam Tolmach left Au Bon Climat, just nine years after having founded it with Jim Clendenen, to the Californian wine community it seemed a curious decision. But, with Ojai Vineyard now over 30 years old, Tolmach has totally vindicated that decision. He is still the consummate craftsman, keeps a hands-on vigneron approach, and continues to craft world class wines that speak of his passion for the wines of Burgundy and the Rhône. David Kermode attends this first in a weekly Sommelier Sessions series run by the California Wine Institute, and tastes three of Tolmach’s wines.
Spending any time with Oz Clarke is valuable, but being able to share an hour on Zoom chatting about our respective lives in lockdown before diving into the new book he has written on English wine was particularly special. In this wide ranging conversation we also talk about what motivates him still to discover new wine regions, different producers and their wines, and then have the energy to write about them all. Most of all, though, as we move into English Wine Week, it shows the love and passion he has for English wine and how much he has enjoyed being able to tell the stories about the people as much as the individual wines that are now becoming the envy of so much of the rest of the world.
Lockdown has been a busy time for wine consultant and writer Harry Crowther: first he ran a series of Instagram Live sessions on ‘Tasting Skills’ then came his ‘Supermarket Series’ picking out the best value wines from the top supermarket chains. Crowther also managed to hook up with Tom Hanson-Smith from Stellenbosch’s Journey’s End to hear how Rollo Gabb’s winery has fun, sustainability and local community as key drivers; and also to work his way through three of their wine ranges ‘Tails’, ‘V’ and ‘Precision’ to pick out the wines that you should have on your buying radar.
Pubs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can cater for all our needs on a night out. From the good ol local that is the hub of the community, to destination gourmet pubs that are more like fine dining restaurants. The Red Lion & Sun in Highgate village, north London, probably sits somewhere in the middle. A pub that has a wine list that would be the envy of any master sommelier, and you’re likely to bump into Liam Gallagher ordering another pint of Guinness. Whilst 1000s of pubs have been shut over the last three moths, the Red Lion & Sun has really come into its own thanks to the drive and imagination of its larger than life owner, Heath Ball, who has made it the go to place for Highgate locals looking for fine food and wine to deliver or collect and enjoy an escape from lockdown.
Jame Goode first visited New York State’s wine regions in 2018, and he was also able to go back again the following year. He quickly became impressed with the range and diversity of wines being made across its two main wine growing regions of the Finger Lakes and Long Island. It’s time, he says, that the evolution of these two regions needs to be told to a wider audience. So here are the 10 things that he thinks you should know about New York State wine.
As the price of Provence rosé wines increases and as demand outstrips supply, so canny buyers should be looking to the Southern French wine region of IGP Pays d’Oc, for value, variety and quality, writes Elizabeth Gabay MW. Here she picks out her Top 20 rosés starting with the most popular variety – Grenache-based wines – then Cinsault, unusual varieties, and more gastronomic wines featuring darker grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon.
As we all look at how we call slowly emerge from the other side of Covid-19 The Buyer continues to update its rolling updates service with a new Hub covering the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as the momentum shifts towards how businesses can now look to regroup, relaunch and come out of this crisis with the tools and knowledge to grow. This is Part Five of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog that starts on June 9.
It was a belief in British still wine and the potential of the variety Bacchus within that which spurred Tom Denning on during his MSc in Viticulture & Oenology at Plumpton College. In order to assist winemakers in really poor years, and also to help winemakers produce wines with a lower ABV, Denning investigated whether the addition of an enzyme to juice pre-inoculation can increase the volatile thiol aromatic profile of early harvested Bacchus.
The clock is well and truly ticking for the on-trade and the possibility pubs, bars and restaurants might be able to open their doors again in the coming weeks. As the wrangling continues over whether outlets will have to do so within 2 metres or less social distancing rules, all on-trade owners can do is plan for what they do know. Which will probably mean introducing some sort of contactless ordering and payment system. Here Richard Siddle explores some of the options and makes the claim that some of the new safety measures might actually help outlets offer a more personalised service than they have been able to do so in the past.
Australia’s wine-producing regions may be spread across an area larger than Europe, but some common themes still emerged from the winemakers who took part in industry body Wine Australia’s maiden international webinar. Winemakers at Vasse Felix, Yalumba and Yarra Yering explain how lower yields were the story of the day, leading to more gentle winemaking techniques and the use of less new oak, as Peter Ranscombe reports.
As the UK and the world slowly starts to look at how it can emerge from the other side of Covid-19 The Buyer has scaled up its rolling Hub and updates service to keep the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors up to date with what steps are being taken to help businesses not just survive, but regroup, relaunch and come out of this crisis with the tools and knowledge to grow. This is Part Four of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog that starts on May 28 with all the latest insights, stats, and drinks trade reaction.
In what was surely one of the final portfolio tastings in Beaune before the virus closed everything down, Burgundy expert LM Archer visited Maison Joseph Drouhin for a full portfolio tasting of the impressive 2018 vintage. In the company of Frédéric Drouin 10 whites and 11 reds were tasted showing an impressive array of terroir, deft winemaking skills, consistency of quality and surprising affordability.
Being in charge of a national drinks distributor over the last three months must be like trying to steer a container ship through a combination of out of control storms one minute, and perfect sailing conditions the next. For whilst the on-trade side of your business is causing nothing but stress and sleepless nights, your retail division has never done better. That’s very much the split world that Andrew Bewes has been trying to guide Hallgarten & Novum Wines through over the last few weeks. In The Buyer’s latest video interview with key figures in the drinks and hospitality sectors, Richard Siddle talks to Bewes about how the business has been able to adapt and respond to the Covid-19 lockdown, and what he sees as being the main challenges – and opportunities – in the months ahead.
Italy has re-opened its borders and permitted travel after a restrictive lockdown. So what has it meant for Italian wineries across the country – how have they coped and what hopes and prospects do they have as the country enters Phase Two of battling the pandemic? Sommelier Mattia Scarpazza talks to six winemakers from Principiano, Piero Busso, Adami Spumanti, Tenuta La Torretta, Gianni Masciarelli and Tenuta di Fessina to see where the greatest challenges lie and what they will be doing differently going forwards.
The situation surrounding the impact and spread of Covid-19 in the UK and around the world is changing so fast The Buyer has set up this rolling updates service to keep you abreast of the latest official guidelines and recommendations from the government, but also the individual steps that businesses are taking to keep trading and help their customers do the same. This is Part Three of our Covid-19 blog that starts on May 1 with latest insights, stats, and drinks trade reaction.
You can’t get much more of a New York State producer than Red Hook Winery. It’s situated in the heart of Brooklyn, across the bay from Statue of Liberty, and buys in grapes from every region in the state capable of growing them. It then has three experienced winemakers to craft their styles of wine from a wide range of white and red grape varietals that are true to the plots of land where they came from. Here owner, Mark Snyder, explains what New York wines mean to him.
For the first time this year the Sonoma County Barrel Auction is going to be held online (June 16-18) giving wine buyers the opportunity to buy totally unique lots of wine from some of the county’s foremost winemakers. These wines are made specially for the auction, have never been seen before and will never be seen again. Three years ago The Buyer sent Christina Rasmussen to the auction where she previewed the lots, fell in love with a Syrah/ Grenache blend from Westwood, and sat enthralled as auctioneer John Curley showed off the skills that have seen him raise $85m for charity. We’re re-posting this excellent piece that captures the excitement of the live event which will hopefully be played out in the flesh in 2021. Full details of how to take part this year, and what wines are up for grabs, can be found at the end of this piece.
2012 was an unlikely and surprising success in Champagne, of course, with a chaotic year looking like it was heading for disastrous proportions like 1984. Then came August and the rest is history. Anne Krebiehl MW talks with Heidsieck’s cellar master Cyril Brun about why the house decided to disgorge its new vintage Charles Heidsieck 2012 Brut Millésimé in April 2019, and why they have introduced two new processes with this bottling – the use of Diam’s Mytik cork closures and the practice of jetting. Full tasting notes included.