There must have been some nerves behind the scenes when the powers that be opened the doors for the inaugural joint Wine Paris and Vinexpo trade fair in Paris earlier this month. In the end they need not have worried as exhibitors and buyers alike embraced the two shows and gave them their solid approval. Clearly there is a long way to go before this exhibition becomes more than essentially a French wine event with bits and bobs from other counties bolted on, but it’s the corporate power behind Wine Paris/Vinexpo that really makes the future look very exciting…and might eventually get ProWein looking over its shoulder as well.
It is not so long ago that Caroline Gilby MW got onto a coach load of wine journalists, all in blazers, to visit a number of Bordeaux chateaux, only to be greeted with the comment “Oh look totty!” It is an example of the sexism that women have continually had to come up against with when pursuing a career in wine. Thankfully things have progressed in the UK wine business but for women winemakers in Central & Eastern Europe the glass ceiling and coping with macho culture is still a very real hurdle to overcome. Gilby has organised a trade tasting event with Wines of Hungary UK in London at the end of March called CEE Women Winemakers at The Heart of Europe which celebrates women winemakers not as women per se but as winemakers with very personal stories to tell of their experiences working in their respective countries. In this insightful piece Gilby previews the tasting and looks at the some key women winemakers in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Moldova and Croatia.
Focus. That’s the key word when it comes to describing the California Wine Institute’s approach to representing and promoting its producers wines to the most influential wine buyers in the premium on-trade. It’s ditched the one size fits all large annual generic tasting and replaced it with smaller, bespoke, and, yes, highly focused events that it believes gives busy buyers a far more effective way to discover what the region has to offer. So that’s the concept but what are its upcoming ‘Essential’ and ‘Seeking’ tastings actually all about?
January is increasingly becoming Dry for many binge drinkers – keen to give their livers a rest after the festivities – and a time of fasting. But there’s a new craze becoming just as commonplace… Veganuary. But as more and more people turn their backs on all things related to animal products, is wine getting a let-off? Why is wine often not vegan? and can it ever truly be vegan? Armit Wines brand manager Alex Hill explains the background to this conundrum and also asks – do vegans actually care one way or the other?
There are now many countries and regions that can lay claim to producing some of the best Syrah in the world. For the most part the influence of the Rhône, can be found at the heart of so many of the styles being produced, like in Washington State where Syrah has truly found its home. It’s certainly what has inspired Matt Reynvaan to make the wines he does in the Walla Walla region.
International vineyard visits and wine tastings – which involve winemakers flying halfway around the world – come with a hefty carbon footprint, and more besides, if we look at the restrictions currently being placed on travel in and out of countries affected by Coronavirus. Besides, sometimes vignerons just need to be at the winery or amongst the vines. Which is why Mike Turner decided to conduct a virtual wine tasting with KWV winemaker Izele Van Blerk and viticulturalist Marco Ventrella through Facebook Live. He was in Lincoln, they were in South Africa, and a bunch of wine enthusiasts joined in from all over the globe. Here’s how it went…
As we named this platform The Buyer, clearly what goes into being a good drinks buyer is a topic very close to our hearts. Which is why we not only welcomed the new Wine Buyers Awards from the London Wine Fair but were very pleased to be the media partner for its Restaurant and Wine Bar category. Now the judging has been completed it’s time to announce the shortlist in each of the categories. The winners will be announced on May 19 at a special session at the London Wine Fair itself.
Just four years ago it was hard to tell most Japanese Koshu wine apart, writes Peter Dean. Subtle, sublime, delicate and highly uniform, Koshu could easily have become simply a category of curiosity. But this month’s Koshu of Japan trade tasting displayed how the wines are changing for the better. The increase in vine age and improvement in winemaking technique are resulting in seriously good wines – still, sparkling, orange and now reds – which are perhaps the most exciting development of them all.
Famille Helfrich is as well placed as anyone to know what wines are best suited for premium restaurants and bars as it was set up to do exactly that as the dedicated premium on-trade and independent wine merchants’ arm of Les Grands Chais de France (GCF). Next week buyers from all over the country are invited to come to Birmingham and take part in its two-day annual portfolio tasting and the chance to taste over 300 wines from across France, but also GCF’s growing international range. Here Chris Davies, Famille Helfrich’s head of sales in the UK, marks your card for what to expect.
There is so much research and analysis into the opportunities, but also the perils of creating a brand that is aimed directly at appealing to millennials. But it is a tightrope that Ross Sleet has been prepared to walk across by creating the Rascallion wine brand that deliberately looks to not only get millennials on board, but also connect with Generation X. In this fascinating piece he talks openly about the thought process involved and how travelling the world and talking, listening and seeing how people, young and old, connect with wine and brands in general has helped Rascallion become an international success.
It was just under two years ago that Tamra Kelly-Washington, former winemaker at Yealands, took over the reins at Seresin Estate – the Marlborough-based winery run by famed cinematographer Michael Seresin. With the wines now being distributed in the UK by Enotria&Coe, David Kermode aka Mr Vinosaurus, thought it was time to give the new vintages the once-over to see how they have progressed, looking at Leah Pinot Noir 2017, 2014, 2007 and 2004 as well as the 2018 whites.
“It feels like we are working together as one business. Not like they are a supplier or operator working for us.” As compliments go for a national drinks distributor working with a new customer they don’t get much better than that. But that’s how Jayson Perfect, managing director for pubs and inns at the Liberation Group, particularly strong in the Channel Islands and the West Country through the Butcombe Brewing Co, describes its relationship with Bibendum since they first started working together in June last year.
Although the Prime Minister boasts that he has ‘Got Brexit Done’, the hard work has only really just begun as the UK attempts to secure a trade deal with the European Union before its self-imposed deadline of December 31, 2020. As a director and co-owner of Cramele Recas, Romania’s largest exporter of bottled wine, Philip Cox has an unique perspective on these trade negotiations in a post-Brexit world. Given that Romania only joined the European Union in 2007, Cox has first hand practical experience of exporting wine to the UK both as a member of the EU and as a non-member. He is also English, understands the British psyche, and fears that the nation is sleepwalking into a restrictive trading environment that will severely hinder trade. In this insightful piece Cox details the many steps that Brexit will add to wine import and export – with VAT, customs declarations, labelling, Preferential origin certificates, VI1 forms – and which ones he believes the UK wine trade needs to actively lobby against now, or face a nightmare of added administration and costs.
For all those that have travelled to Umbria, either to taste and buy wine or just to go on holiday, cannot have failed to have been captured by its sweeping hills and stunning scenery. The Lungarotti family has been at the heart of its fine wine scene thanks to the quality of the wines it produces at its Torgiano and Montefalco estates. Now the winemaking rests in the hands of Chiara Lungarotti, who works alongside her sister, Teresa, who handles the marketing and PR.
Director of European Sales
Washington State might be a long way from the Rhône Valley, but winemaker Kevin White is doing all he can to bring it as close to what he sees as being his inspiration for making wine. Which is why he makes wine with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre and does it with a minimalist approach as he wants the fruit to shine rather than anything he does in the winery. You can taste his wines for yourself at next month’s Washington State Wine tasting.
It is a year since Champagne Bollinger launched the monumental La Grande Année 2008 and between that vintage and La Grande Année 2012 it has bottled no other La Grande Année wines. The 2012 more than lives up to expectations, Anne Krebiehl MW writes, with the 2012s being hedonistic from the get-go in contrast to the 2008’s understated appeal. Iconic English St JOHN Restaurant was chosen for the UK launch because of its focus on craft, simplicity and the essence of ingredients – key tenets shared with Bollinger and the construction of these stunning wines.
“It’s not a career I ever sat down and chose, but it’s certainly a unique and exciting one to have ended up in. Particularly as I started out as a van driver in Majestic Swindon.” Now that could be a sentence to introduce any number of people in the wine trade, who have stumbled into the career they now have in wine. But this one belongs to Jack Merrylees who heads up the PR for Majestic Wine. Which is a job title that, as he explains, covers a lot of remits, from emptying spittoons at press tastings to handling urgent calls from the national press.
To celebrate 150 years of business in the wine trade James Davy uncorked an 1870 Madeira and an 1870 Port at its Old World Portfolio Tasting. Treating on-trade, consumers and the wine bars as one integrated business unit is one of the secrets of its success, says Davy. But so is its portfolio that covers all bases, argues Justin Keay. Davy’s focuses on small, almost boutique producers and has an impressive 90% exclusivity on its wines. Keay focuses on three producers in particular that highlight the direction Davy’s is headed in.