Direct On-Trade Controller
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It was two years ago in February 2018 when we first met Rascallion. The brand that demanded to be taken differently, for, as it said at its launch: “This Is Not Wine”. Instead it was about creating a personality, a character, Rascallion, that was interested in you as a consumer and the wines you like to drink, when and with whom. It was most certainly not about terroir, history and pH levels. It’s now launching a new varietal range – ‘With Love From The Cape – that hopes to capture new drinkers by promoting the wonders of South Africa in every bottle.
The rise in biodynamics and the ‘slow wine’ movement in Austria is making it one of the world’s most exciting wine regions. As Wines of Austria holds its much-anticipated annual tasting in London on February 3, critics and sommeliers are expected in their droves to discover for themselves this new-found creativity and diverse range of styles. ‘But don’t overlook Austrian rosé’ is the message from world expert Elizabeth Gabay MW who gives The Buyer an exclusive insight into the varying styles of Austrian rosé as well as the best of 80 wines she tried and tasted.
Whisper it gently but Koshu wines are no longer just a niche to appear on the most avant-garde restaurant or Asian wine lists, but are now a regular feature on classic and traditional lists too – like at the Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. If you have yet to discover or want to find out more about Koshu wines then keep February 5 free for what is going to be the biggest tasting of Koshu wines held in the UK. Here’s Yuka Ogasawara from Koshu of Japan to tell us all about it.
Rather than get stuck into Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines, this year The Buyer’s drinks editor, Peter Dean, focussed on entry level wines and shares his top 10 value-for-money red and whites from Bourgogne Week 2020. After a dozen or more tastings it was clear that 2018 is a vintage where you do not have to buy from the upper tiers. The quality, quantity and new quality control for wines from ‘lesser known’ appellations means there are great bargains to be had from the lowest tier wines.
Luigi and Antonella Villa are restaurateurs turned winemakers in the heartland of northern Italy who have found their desire to seek out the best quality ingredients for the food they make is closely aligned to the skill you need to be an honest winemaker, committed to making wines that are true to the soils, the land and the place they come from. They are looking forward to showing their wines in the UK for the first time as part of the inaugural Sangiovese RESET tasting being held on March 3 in London.
Armed with a map of Occitanie, a tasting booklet and glass, David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus ventured into the unknown with last week’s French Wine Discoveries tasting. Luckily TV’s Joe Wadsack was on hand to guide Kermode and any other unsuspecting wine buyer through the mass of interesting wines from the South of France. As if to emphasise how Wadsack is one to snuffle out a gem of a wine and indeed a bargain, he was operating a novel ‘lucky dip’ the prizes being foie gras and fresh truffle (well it is Wadsack we’re talking about).
If there’s a bigger (and more friendly) personality in the drinks industry than Illy Jaffar then I’ve yet to meet them. Even people who don’t know Illy Jaffar think he’s one of the biggest characters the sector is lucky to have. That’s the influence and impact he has. But with very good reason. For this is the man who can lay claim to bringing the phrase “experiential” to drinks before anyone knew what it meant. He even convinced his then employers, Pernod Ricard, to make him its Head of Experiential Marketing. A lot of experiences have passed by since then and he is now running his own drinks, management and brand consultancy, Kinetic Creative Communications, helping the likes of Iron Maiden along the way. But then he was once in his own rock band. He’s also one of our key panelists at March’s breakthrough One Step Beyond conference. Here’s the world of marketing according to Illy Jaffar and why we should never forget that if you work in drinks you are also in the entertainment industry.
Ever since his first bottle of Grange in 1985, Roger Jones has been a huge advocate of Australian wine. A third of the wines on Joness 1000-strong bin wine list at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn are Australian wines, some dating back to the 1990s and beyond. But it is with Chardonnay that Jones believes that Australia competes on the world stage best – so with tasting glass in hand he dived into the whites at the Australia Trade Tasting with his customary gusto and has come up with a selection that he thought shone the brightest on the day.
Six weeks ago a bushfire devastated Lismore Estate, the South African winery owned by Samantha O’Keefe – destroying the winery, her home and a large part of the vineyards. For the first time since the tragedy she opens up to Geoffrey Dean about how the global wine community has helped her, the practical steps she is taking to make a vintage in 2020, and the many worries she has in not only rebuilding the estate but also in maintaining the momentum of a wine business that had just started to turn the corner.
“No French wine region has been revolutionised over the past two decades as dramatically as Champagne. And no appellation has needed it more desperately. Champagne is a very different place to what it was 20 years ago, or even five years ago.” That’s the view of Champagne expert, Tyson Stelzer, author of The Champagne Guide, and co-organiser of Taste Champagne, the international trade and consumer event that looks to bring the very best of what Champagne is doing to influential buyers at key events and tastings around the world. Which is good news for the UK as Taste Champagne is returning to London on March 25 for for what will be its second year. Here Stelzer explains, in depth, the challenges and opportunities he still sees for Champagne in what is such an important market.
“We have to evolve every year. If you are not developing, you’re in danger of being left behind. Having heritage doesn’t give you a licence to sit back…in fact you have to work even harder.” That’s very much the motto of James Davy, chairman of the now 150 year-old, and still family-owned, Davy’s Wine Merchants, that it is his turn to be in charge of. He talks to Richard Siddle why he is so proud to be leading the business through what is such a clearly important milestone for the company and how, in particular, its wholesale and distribution division has now grown in recent years to be on an equal footing to the wine bars and restaurants it has become so well known for. Sourcing and distributing the right wines for its growing customer base whilst gaining a reputation for efficiency, consistency and reliability is what still drives Davy and his team forward.
The wine trade descends upon Montpellier today as it plays host to the 27th edition of Millésime Bio, the world’s largest organic wine fair. The Buyer’s Mike Turner headed down earlier this month to judge the gold, silver, and bronze medals and to find out what’s in store for Europe’s wine buyers. As Turner discovered, where being organic was almost a handicap two to three decades ago, organic certification is fast becoming expected by the consumer as the new norm.
Hartley Smithers (Australia)
Nora Iriarte (Spain)
Florin Voloaca (Romania)
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If you had told Rodolphe Lameyse at the end of Vinexpo Bordeaux in mid May 2019 that he could proudly claim to a press conference in January 2020 that he was now part responsible for steering what could be the biggest trade exhibition organiser for wine and spirits in the world then he probably would not have believed you. Vinexpo, as a trade event, was probably at its lowest ebb. But now thanks to a new joint venture with Comexposium, one of the world’s biggest exhibition companies, he can now lead his team into next month’s first Vinexpo Paris event full of renewed vigour and confidence.
Even with a multitude of Burgundy en primeur tastings across the capital, last week’s annual New Zealand trade tasting was a pretty busy rave – set overlooking the Thames at the OXO 2 in South London. Roger Jones, our soon-to-be-retired former Michelin star chef but even-more-roving reporter for The Buyer, has a look at the New Zealand in a Glass tasting and picks out the wines he thinks will do best in the premium on-trade.
When new fine wine merchants, OenoTrade, is looking to work with a new premium on-trade customer it will ask them for their “wish list” of wines and then go out and try and source them. It’s a business model that is already enjoying breakthrough in what is already a fiercely competitive market place. Here head of wine for OenoTrade, Olivier Gasselin, explains the company’s strategy and also what we can expect at its inaugural trade tasting on February 26.
Ask Ronan Sayburn MS where the most interesting country for making wine is right now and his answer will be Australia. Sayburn is one of the most influential wine buyers in the world and, after a military-style two week tour of Australia’s wine-making regions, he came back with a long list of wines which will challenge most people’s preconceptions about what the country is capable of making. At a special tasting event he talked through the eight wines that inspired him the most. Spoiler alert: the list may include some very unexpected bottles…