For years China has been a country wine producers the world over have wanted to do business in, but have been put off by the bureaucracy and impenetrable supply chains that have made it so hard to do business there. All that is now set to change thanks to the scale, power and reach of the country’s major online retail giants, like Alibaba and JD.com that can source, sell and distribute producers’ wines to all corners of the country. Their influence is so large that they are also now attracting the world’s biggest international retailers looking to sell their products in China as well, reports Richard Siddle.
After a week in South Africa as a guest of Cape Wine 2018, Michelin star chef and roving editor for The Buyer, Roger Jones, sums up the week of events. Having been heavily involved in selling and promoting South African wines for a number of years, Jones still firmly believes that the increase in customer awareness, quality sourced, and consumer expectation is at an all-time high for South African wines and growing faster than many in the on-trade can keep up with.
Whatever industry you focus on it’s the same old story. Women are paid less than men, their bonuses are smaller, their career prospects are more limited, they are less likely to get promoted, and have less faith in their abilities to reach the top. Which is why Helen Arnold was intrigued to find out what steps could be taken in the wine and spirits sector, and to hear directly from business leaders looking to improve matters and directly address gender equality at work, at the recent Women of the Vine & Spirits conference held in London.
Any Bibendum tasting tends to attract a large crowd of sommeliers and indie wine buyers. So it was with its latest #Tasting Notes bash, held again in the basement of London’s Phonica Records – an interesting space that oozes with cool vibes. There were plenty of fascinating wines, fortifieds and spirits on show plus a massive range of new wines being introduced to the portfolio for the first time. Peter Dean had his tasting glass at the ready.
Nic Peterkin is very sure about the wines he wants to make he does not want to be restricted by owning his own vines. Instead he relies on his close relationships with producers and winemakers in Margaret River in Australia to be able to source the right fruit, and styles to make wines for his own winery business, L.A.S. (Luck Art Science) Vino. It is a strategy that appears to be working…
Can Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon challenge France let alone the rest of the world? That was the question a select group of key wine experts were tasked with as they met in one of Cape Wine 2018’s hottest tickets to taste their way through eight of the world’s top Cabernets – five from Stellenbosch. But is benchmarking against the French not a bit old hat? asks Roger Jones, questioning why there were no Cabernets from Australia or New Zealand on show.
John McCarthy is clearly not happy sitting still. Having trained as an electrical engineer he has moved careers to work first in the brewing sector with Adnams, and then now he has re-trained as the company’s chief distiller as the esteemed brewery looks to branch out and tap into the burgeoning world of craft and premium spirits.
Hot off the plane from Heathrow our roving Michelin Star Editor landed in Cape Town mid-morning but, due to unforeseen circumstances his luxury suite was not ready at his hotel so he Ubered straight to the Chenin Blanc Beach Party, hosted on the Cape Town seaside, with the sun shining and the top Cape Chenin Blanc flowing.
UK wine buyers were back in the capital in full swing last week for the start of the September tasting season when budgets will be allocated and wine lists devised for 2019. First out of the blocks is Armit Wines which is celebrating 30 years of doing business. Despite recent changes to the business, the marquee names are still in place, particularly from Italy, with many household names staying with the company since its inception. Justin Keay was there with his tasting glass in one hand and his notebook in the other.
After a year in which producers were in the unusual position of giving ‘take it or leave it prices’ for their grapes on the back of 2017’s bad European harvest, the roles are once again reversed as buyers find themselves once again calling all the shots as forecasts predict strong crops across the main wine producing powerhouses of Europe. Richard Siddle examines what that means for grape prices.