The London Wine Competition looks to assess and reward wines based on how consumers judge them. What they look like, how much they cost and what they taste like. Now into its third year of competition the event has proven to be a new platform for producers all over the world to show their wines not just to the trade, but to use any medals and awards won to then promote their wines direct to their customers and consumers. If you want to take part in this year’s competition you can register before September 30 and save £30 on the entrance fee. Here’s how…
It seems every forward looking, on trend restaurant now has sustainability at the core of its business with well publicised commitments about why, where and how it sources all its produce, meat and fish in its kitchen. But when it comes to the drinks list and, in particular, wines that are being shipped from all over the world, how important or relevant is sustainability to the restaurateurs, operators, F&B managers and sommeliers buying them? Do their customers care more about the traceability of the food they eat, than the wines they drink? Jascots Wine Merchants believes it is time that buying and sourcing wine should also be part of the on-trade’s sustainability agenda. In the first of a two part report, Richard Siddle looks back on a recent debate Jascots held with a number of its on-trade customers to see how it can help them put together more sustainable wine lists.
The boring old journalists who trot out the line “Only the trade likes Riesling” really have met their match with Liberty Wines, argues top chef and wine expert Roger Jones. A Liberty customer for over 20 years, Jones has its annual Portfolio Tasting inked into his diary before many importers’ events. And it is their championing of Riesling that Jones believes is the company’s greatest achievement – something that has played all the way to consumers who have grown to better understand and love the grape. Jones picks out 10 of the 30 on show and gives full tasting notes as well as being wowed by the wines of Steven Spurrier’s estate, Bride Valley.
Matching wine with barbeque is never the easiest task. But then add in a bit of kudu or Braaibroodie and you could be forgiven for throwing in the towel. So it was at the WOSA Winemaker Braai in London when, after a long day at the New Wave South Africa tasting, winemakers showed how their wines could match their national ‘dish’ – barbequed meat, and lots of it. Toothpick in hand, Chris Wilson went along for the ride and picked his 6 best Braai-matching wines as well as listened to the winemakers hopes and fears – that largely were based around the Rugby World Cup. (Do they play rugby over there? – Ed)
If you are a sommelier or work in the hospitality sector and are keen to find out how to make your German wine offer really sing, then the Wines of Germany Somm sessions will definitely be of interest. After the success of its inaugural event at Hide restaurant in London and second session at Silo in Brighton, Wines of Germany is holding its third Somm Sessions at 20 Stories in Manchester on September 25. Hosted by award-winning sommelier Jan Konetzki, director of wine at Ten Trinity Square, and all round go-to expert when it comes to German wines, Helen Arnold caught up with him before the next event to talk about what’s happening in German wines.
With eyes shut you would have thought for all the world that you were tasting Hunter Valley Semillon. Except you weren’t. Welcome to the rare and wonderful Semillons of Rikus Neethling from the western Cape – a real eye-opener at a fascinating masterclass that was one of the many highlights at the Davy’s New World tasting last week. There were more wines from Australia, Kiwi wines including some from Little Beauty, Robert Sinskey’s idiosyncratic but wonderful Napa wines, Ventisquero, Gouguenheim and many more as Geoffrey Dean discovered.
The latest CGA on-trade report, published in association with The Buyer, goes to parts of the world wine industry that individual businesses cannot reach. For as well as you might be looking at your own sales data, and that of your customers, it only tells you your side of the story. CGA’s new ‘Global Origins and Price Polarisation’ report is a deep dive into which countries are the most popular – with the Old World still coming out top over the New World – and the fact consumers are now growing in confidence enough to spend more on wines they know are going to be of better quality.
It’s not every day you get to be driven around some of London’s finest dining venues in specially hired Land Rovers, meeting different South African winemakers in each restaurant, getting the chance to not only taste their wines, but have them matched with food from that particular outlet. Welcome to The Buyer and Wines of South Africa’s restaurant safari which took a team of restaurateurs, wine merchants and sommeliers on a tasting tour of four London restaurants.
As the September tastings calendar goes into overdrive and drinks buyers go into meltdown – trying to cover all bases – so the Bibendum autumn portfolio tasting was a breath of fresh air. Just by its title alone ‘Not another bl**dy tasting!’ was always going to be a drinks event with a knowing wink and so it proved. Daring, different, unusual, our man at the scene David Kermode loved its change of pace and style, although he would have preferred a few more spittoons, that were clearly scarce on purpose. He did, however, manage to find plenty of exciting wines, spirits, stickies and fortifieds that you should be taking a note of.
Go on a wine tour of Australia and meet dozens of winemakers and you can be guaranteed that you will remember Brad Hickey over the majority of them. He has a personality, and warmth to match the quality of his wines. A fascinating character who clearly loves making the wines he does and pushing the envelope a little in terms of using amphora pots and and edgier varieties like Zibbibo to made skin contact wines that are fruity, refreshing and as bright as their labels all under his wine alter ego, Brash Higgins. You can come and meet him for yourself at Wine Australia’s Redefined tasting on September 17.
One of the most exciting things about a wine region ‘on a roll’ is the sheer explosion of talent. We were just getting used to the wines from winemaker stars at the vanguard of South Africa’s new wave – Mullineux, Sadie, Walser, Savage, O’Keefe etc – when a whole raft of new exciting winemakers comes onto the scene. Always canny at spotting new wines that will work for the on-trade, Chris Wilson clutched his hot ticket to New Wave South Africa, beat the queues (there was a way people!) and turns a spotlight on the fresh blood that is entering the scene. Read on for his Top 10 rising stars.
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It’s like a magic wand has been waved across the Californian wine industry. If you had held a debate with buyers, importers and sommeliers even five years ago about the opportunities for California in the premium on-trade then it would have been all about the reasons why they are not looking to bring those wines into the UK. Now it is a completely different story. Which was very much the tone of the recent debate hosted by The Buyer and California Wine Institute with key figures from across the importer, buyer, sommelier scene in the premium on-trade.
John Malkovich has worked across a number of different industries – film, theatre, fashion, restaurants, clubs – and brought to each his singular vision and modus operandi. At the UK launch of his new wine label Les Quelles de la Coste, it was clear that this idiosyncratic approach is also being applied to winemaking, planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir in the Luberon and blending the two grapes together – both varieties coming from the same five hectares. Peter Dean met Malkovich for a long lunch at which he didn’t eat or drink a thing but waxed lyrical about why this latest project is so close to his heart.
It’s not easy setting up a winemakers event at the best of times. But if you are based at the very tip of Cornwall, persuading a group of winemakers with busy schedules to make time for an entire weekend of events, and to get there in the first place, takes a very special kind of dedication. But for Ben Prior, whose restaurant Ben’s Cornish Kitchen is in Marazion and Portminster, the two events he’s organised this weekend – Riding the Third Wave and a winemakers dinner featuring five star chefs – are all part of his passion for South African wines. Fellow chef and wine expert Roger Jones talks to him about the weekend and how he has gone about expanding into online sales.
Now many people with a bit of character are often described as being ‘larger than life’. Well they have not met Australian winemaker Chester Osborn. He truly is a one off. A brilliant winemaker in his own right, but also a truly inspirational figure who has intertwined the worlds of conceptual and modern art with wine at his incredible Cube tasting facility – which is as much an art gallery as it is a place to discover d”Arenberg’s wines. Here we find out what we can expect when he takes part in the upcoming Wine Australia’s Redefined tasting in London on September 17.
The Central Otago ‘fruit bomb’ style of Pinot Noir has been largely replaced by wines of more elegance and restraint. That said, the differences between fruit-forward New Zealand Pinot and ones that are more about acidity and tannin structure is what informs A1 and A2, the two wines from Akitu. In only six vintages Akitu winemaker PJ Charteris and winery owner Andrew Donaldson have managed to fashion two completely different wines from the same 12 hectare vineyard that can only be described as “marginal”, writes Anne Krebiehl MW who met up with Donaldson at London’s Institute of Masters of Wine to taste the new 2017 vintage and get more detail on what sets these two remarkable wines apart.
Ranald Macdonald must be one of the best customers a wine or drinks supplier could have. For he is always looking to do something new and different at any of his four Boisdale restaurants across London. So if you are equally ambitious, creative and have a good idea to share then his door is always open. Which is how E&J Gallo has started to work with him and his restaurant group by introducing its super premium Californian Collection of producers and winemakers. Wines that are particularly well placed to not only work well with the classic British and Scottish Boisdale cuisine, but fit in so well with the adventurous spirit that Macdonald and his Boisdale group is all about.
For Gérard Bertrand, winning this year’s IWC ‘world’s best red wine’ award with his Château l’Hospitalet’s grand vin was further validation – if needed – of his entire winemaking philosophy. The largest and most influential independent winemaker in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Bertrand has always nailed his colours to the mast of biodynamics – convinced that this approach makes better wine, is better for the soil, the planet, and can help him when times are tough – like the massive heat wave the region experienced this summer. Peter Dean caught up with him to talk biodynamics, business strategy and whether the world is ready for a €190 Rosé from the Languedoc.
There are a whole stack of reasons why a by the glass range is now crucial for premium on-trade operators. They allow restaurants and sommeliers the chance to offer their customers different and more ambitious, interesting wines, they can help drive better margins and growth and they fit far more with our lifestyles where people are looking to drinks less and better, be it at lunchtime or the evening. Here John Graves, Bibendum’s on-trade channel director, explains why it has been running a by the glass promotion throughout the summer and into September.