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    Opinion
    Jones picks out Martin Lam as one of few fellow chefs who take their wine very seriously

    LWF Wine Buyers Awards: Martin Lam on what makes a good buyer

    There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to buying wine for a restaurant wine list, but there are arguably more ways in which you can get it wrong, than if you play it safe with well known varieties from established regions and countries. To stand out in the new London Wine Fair Wine Buyers Awards you are going to have to do a lot more than that. One of the judges for the Restaurant and Wine Bar category, Martin Lam, explains what he thinks makes a good wine buyer.

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    Tasting: Wine
    St. JOHN

    Taking a pilgrimage to St. JOHN to taste the new 2020 wine range

    The Vignerons’ Lunch at St. JOHN Restaurant is an annual tasting of the group’s wine range – available to trade and consumer – including its own label wines blended by the wine team, its own Languedoc winery Boulevard Napoléon, and a group of vignerons that St. JOHN works with, either on its own label wines or with specific and bespoke cuvées. It is also an excuse to praise at the high altar of British cooking, with St. JOHN co-founders Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver. In a somewhat messy fashion.

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    Insight
    The rise in craft beer is part of the reason why wine is struggling in the on-trade

    CGA Report: Where the biggest threats to wine are coming from

    Well, that’s a headline to get the heart rate going, particularly in a market that is already having to come to terms with a steady decline. But forewarned is forearmed which makes the latest CGA report such an important and fascinating read. It looks to dig behind the headlines and crunch the numbers to identify what are the other drinks categories that are the real clear and present dangers to overall wine sales in the on-trade. Here are the top line findings.

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    Opinion
    Hawes

    Côte de Beaune shines in 2018 says Mentzendorff: Bourgogne Week 2020

    The Côte de Beaune is still relatively under-rated compared to the Côte de Nuits, says Mentzendorff managing director Andrew Hawes, who argues that it is still possible to find great and specific terroir, coupled to availability, at prices that have not yet experienced the dramatic escalations experienced in the Côte de Nuits. Key signature wines continue to be in short supply, however, which forces buyers to explore the region looking for an alternative which, in turn, leads to lesser known appellations deservedly receiving more attention.

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    Insight
    There is huge demand for fine dining and fine wines in Hong Kong

    The top global restaurant wine list trends from Wine Business Solutions

    It’s hard enough knowing what is going on in one on-trade market, never mind being able to assess wider trends across different countries around the world, but once you can it opens up a whole new way of looking at what styles of wine are selling in serious numbers and the impact that is going to have on wine sales in the future. That’s where Wine Business Solutions comes in and its ability to be able to analyse wine lists and restaurant wine sales across the main global wine markets. Here the head of WBS, Peter McAtamney, shares some of the worldwide trends it sees developing that are going to dictate what are going to be on our wine lists in the future. 

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    Opinion
    Armit

    Bourgogne Week 2020: Cutting the cloth to fit with Armit

    In advance of Armit’s en primeur tasting on January 15th Burgundy buyer Nicolas Clerc MS explains how a range rationalisation was an important part of increasing sales of Burgundy 2017 – concentrating efforts on the producers that they think are a better fit for their customers. Wines will be positioned in the market differently according to producer, price point, scarcity, vintage quality, as well as the wider conversations Armit has with their suppliers.

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    People People: On-Trade
    christine parkinson smaller

    LWF Wine Buyers Awards: Christine Parkinson on buying

    As there is no formal training or professional qualification for wine buying it can be hard to know if you are actually any good at it. Yes, you might have a wine list that seems to do the business, but how good are you compared to the wine buyer working for the restaurant group, wholesaler or wine merchant across the road. That’s what the new London Wine Fair Wine Buyer Awards are all about. The chance to go toe to toe with your peers to find out who actually is tippety top of the wine buying world. Christine Parkinson, so long the head of wine at the worldwide Hakkasan restaurant group, is pretty well placed to know what makes a good wine buyer or not. It’s why she is one of the judges in the Restaurant and Wine Bar category, sponsored by The Buyer. Here she explains what she thinks it takes to be a good – and award-winning wine buyer.

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    People People: Supplier
    Mathias

    How Burgundy by-the-glass plays a leading role for Bibendum

    While demand for the classics and the upper tier of Burgundy remains as strong as ever – often outstripping supply – it is the bread-and-butter wines that consumers open every day that is key to the region’s success argues Bibendum Burgundy buyer Robert Mathias. In the on-trade the by-the-glass offering is key with top quality Bourgogne Aligoté or Mâcon Villages from serious addresses being behind this success. Bibendum is concentrating its tasting efforts on its on-trade customers this year which is why it will also be showing 2017s at events.

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    Opinion
    A top line up of bartenders and bar managers took part in the judging.

    London Wine Beer & Spirits Competitions promoted globally

    When the London Wine Competition launched in 2017 it was the first global event of its kind to not just judge the wines on their quality, but also how much they cost, and what they looked like. It was soon followed by similar events to cover beers and spirits to create a full drinks awards programme. Here’s details on how to enter the separate competitions for this year and the added benefits for doing so with publicity, partnerships and coverage at major trade fairs in Europe and the US. 

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    People People: Supplier
    Hautes Côtes de Nuits - Marey les Fussey48 Credit - Michel JOLY

    Bourgogne Week 2020: FM&V on Bourgogne Hautes Côtes

    A little bit of stardust at an affordable price, an entry point to a quite prestigious domaine, a little extra ‘plus’ if the wines are hand-sold to an engaged customer – these are just some of the benefits of buying Bourgogne wines from Bourgogne and Mâcon appellations plus a Geographical Denomination – in this case the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits. Many more good tips from Fields Morris & Verdin in this fifth part of a series in which The Buyer is interviewing a number of leading fine wine merchants to get their feel on how this vital region is doing and what the 2018 vintage has in store when the annual Bourgogne campaign comes to a head with Bourgogne Week.

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    Insight
    nekter jonothan

    Jonothan Davey: Risk-averse buyers are depriving the on-trade

    “The recent explosion of small importers is being met with increasing suspicion and weariness by many – but our study shows that buyers would actually be better advised to try more adventurously and embrace this embarrassment of riches while they still can.” That’s the overall summary from a recent empirical study carried out by Jonothan Davey of Nekter Wines during a tasting he hosted with Modal and Roland Wines. Being new to the sector many of the behaviours of the trade’s leading wine buyers he has experienced, which seasoned industry observers might take for granted, were a puzzle to him. Especially what he sees as the “apparently haphazard nature of wine scores and the inherently subjective element of tasting”. To try to better understand just how wine buyers make the decisions they do, he conducted a survey at the three importers combined tasting, not to see what buyers thought of the wines, but to try to understand more about the “dark art of tasting”. The results threw up even more questions for Davey to grapple with.

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    Opinion
    2018

    Guy Seddon: OK so what was the 2018 vintage like in Burgundy?

    Bourgogne Week is now in full flow with almost 20 tastings taking place in London this week, but how well do you know what the 2018 vintage is actually like? In this season-by-season snapshot Corney & Barrow’s Burgundy buyer Guy Seddon explains why the 2018 vintage is starting to reveal itself as one where “ripeness meets precision”. It was a warm vintage for sure – just for fun, Domaine Pierre Morey made a sweet late harvest Chardonnay from its Bourgogne Blanc parcels, picked on 25th October! – but Seddon explains why the heat does not necessarily equate to it being a ‘low acidity’ year across the board.

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    Opinion
    Wine Paris attracted buyers from all over the world with 30% coming from outside France

    Pascale Ferranti on Wine Paris 2020 and working with Vinexpo

    When Wine Paris opened its doors for the first time last February there must have been a mixture of excitement and apprehension about whether launching a new major wine show was what the trade wanted. The overwhelmingly positive response means there is real momentum going into the second Wine Paris event this year, particularly on the back of the news that its owners, Comexposium, has signed a new joint venture with Vinexpo, that is also launching its first Paris show alongside Wine Paris this February, to host future events together. So what can we expect from Wine Paris second time around? Here’s managing director, Pascale Ferranti, to tell us…

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    Tasting: Wine
    2019

    Around the world in wine 2019: Geoffrey Dean’s 10 favourites

    No surprise to find that eight of Geoffrey Dean’s Top 10 Wines from his travels last year come from the New World. As both a cricket correspondent for The Times and a wine expert Geoffrey spends a lot of his time in South Africa and Australia, enjoying the two main passions of his life. 2019 has been a year with many exciting discoveries including a Cabernet Franc from Uruguay and a Rosé from Paarl in South Africa plus he did make room for a deliciously old Lynch-Bages and a top Burgundy.

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    People People: Supplier
    Howard Ripley

    Howard Ripley: How to tap into Bourgogne Régionale+ wines

    Better quality and consistency, great QPR, an introduction to a grower’s style… a bottle at this level will encourage customers to try wines further up the scale; these are the wines to be drunk while waiting for the grander ones to come round says Sebastian Thomas at Howard Ripley. This, and many more good tips about Régionales wines + a Geographical Denomination in this fourth part of a series in which The Buyer is interviewing a number of leading fine wine merchants to get their take on how this vital region is doing and what the 2018 vintage has in store when the annual Bourgogne campaign comes to a head this week with Bourgogne Week.

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    People People: On-Trade
    roger-and-sue-jones

    Roger and Sue Jones to close The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

    Roger and Sue Jones are always full of surprises with their latest amazing scheme to wow the trade and guests alike with another wonderful food and wine experience at their multi-award winning restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn. But they have kept their biggest surprise for the end, at least for the future of The Harrow, as they have announced they are to close their much-loved, and highly respected restaurant in order to move into the slightly less stressful world of consultancy, wine judging – and (hopefully) writing for The Buyer.

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    People People: Supplier
    adam marshall kingsland drinks

    My Buying year for Kingsland Drinks with Adam Marshall

    Kingsland Drinks has been willing to cast its wine buying net out far and wide over the last 12 months in order to find wines it believes can have genuine stand out on shelf or on a back bar. It has taken its buying controller, Adam Marshall, as far as India and Moldova as he has looked to add even more value and interest to the range of European wines he mostly looks after. Here in our latest look back on 2019 we ask him to share his Buying Year.

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    Opinion Tasting
    Sparkling

    Best wines of 2019: Roger Jones on his Sparkling New Year

    Just as the last drops of bubbles were drained from a zillion bottles of Champagne on New Years Eve, our roving reporter and sparkling wine expert Roger Jones unsheathed his laptop and sent in this report on the global rise and changing face of the sparkling wine industry and which are the names we should all be keeping an eye on as we head into 2020 proper. As ambassador to the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), and founder of Sparkling Sundays (held in Cape Town and Little Bedwyn) he gets his fair share of bubbles.

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    Opinion
    Moreau Long Read

    What to expect from Bourgogne Week 2020: BIVB’s Anne Moreau

    For the UK wine trade, January marks not only the start of a new year, but also when all our attention turns to Bourgogne Week and the chance for buyers, merchants, sommeliers and retailers to discover and taste the latest vintage available on the market. The encouraging news is that the 2018 vintage is one of those rare beasts in Bourgogne – good in both quality and quantity – which will allow the trade and consumers to experiment more with the ‘in-between’ appellations that offer great value for money but don’t always get the attention they deserve says Anne Moreau, Co-President of the communications commission for the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB).

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    People People: Supplier
    danny spencer simon rimmer

    My Buying Year with Danny Spencer of East Street Wine Co

    “Innovation, and pushing boundaries, asking different questions of both the buyer and consumer is what we need. Standing still is walking backwards and I find that tricky at my age.” As a business strategy it’s hard to argue with such a straightforward approach as Danny Spencer has for his growing East Street Wine Co distribution business. Well known in the trade for his many years with Boutinot, Spencer is now well on the way to establishing a wine import business that is 100% a reflection of his friendly, infectious personality. Here he looks back on his buying year for 2019 and what he expects to happen in 2020.

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