With a background that covers diversity and inclusion, behaviour change and various forms of regulation, chartered accountant and chief financial officer Tom Lewis, who also writes about wine as The Cambridge Wine Blogger, outlines how to take the discussion around industry representation and behaviour standards forward with some practical steps, particularly around sanction and reward, that have worked in other sectors.
2020 will not go down as a year for anyone to be doing much celebrating, but it has not dampened the spirits of the Champagne and sparkling wine world with a record number of entries into this year’s Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships with producers from up to 30 countries competing for the event’s top awards. Today The Buyer reveals the winners of what are a total of 128 Gold and 237 Silver medal winners with the trophy results to be released next month.
Greece, Spain, New Zealand and England are just some of the countries that are producing sparkling wines that match, if not beat, the wines from Champagne on quality and undercut them on price every time. That’s the view of wine consultant Robert Mason who highlights seven wines that he believes will work well in the on-trade (when it gets back up to speed). He also investigates the use of bentonite, the artificially reduced yields during 2020, vintage wine release patterns and price and wonders whether status is over-playing its part in the Valée de la Marne.
When Roger and Sue Jones announced they were to close their much loved and celebrated restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, there was a rush to book a table before their final service in March. In the end the outbreak of Covid-19 meant they had to close their doors before their final date. Rather than enjoy an early retirement, the couple have never been busier launching a series of initiatives to first cook and feed hundreds of vulnerable people in their local community, before switching to running a gourmet takeaway service which it is now using to raise money for a series of charities in December. For all their efforts during Covid-19 The Buyer salutes Roger and Sue and we’re sure you will join us in Raising A Glass to them.
Fiona McLaughlin has enjoyed a wide and impressive career that has seen her rise through the ranks at Majestic before switching over to the on-trade to head up sales in the south west for Enotria&Coe. She is now looking for her next role in the wine industry and hopes to be able to find the right company to share her experience, and passion for working with and developing teams.
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Bay used to be regularly consumed in the Dean household, with a 12-bottle case bought every vintage. But in 15 years not a bottle has been purchased. So what changed? And what would the new vintage Cloudy Bay 2020 taste like in the company of winemaker Daniel Sorrell? Despite the problems associated with running a winery in a pandemic, the harvest was thankfully spectacularly good and all the signs pointed to the new wine being a corker, but would that end up in the glass?
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge. In the latest instalment of his column for The Buyer he extols the virtues of doing the bare minimum in a white jacket and reveals the details of a guerrilla rosé that’s crept into his cellar. To geek or not to geek? That is the question he is asking himself this month as the cramped space limits what science he can apply on site, and the wines themselves start to take shape – in thrilling fashion.
As the closing credits on the first online ceremony for the IWSC awards have just finished The Buyer releases the results of the 20 most coveted trophies in its 2020 competition. Producers, distillers, suppliers, retailers and leading figures across the wine and spirit sectors have all had the chance to watch the first virtual pre-recorded awards ceremony – hosted by David Kermode and Joel Harrison from the Ridgeview winery in East Sussex. Here’s who the trophies were awarded to…
If you want to keep on top of the latest global trends in wine and the digital community that supports it, then you might want to cancel any Zoom calls next Monday and Tuesday. Unless they happen to be part of the wine2wine event that is going online between November 23-24 to give anyone in the world the chance to watch and take part in what will be over 50 sessions all beamed out online. Two of the key themes this year are diversity and inclusion with a number or keynote speakers from around the world. Here are some of the highlights.
The Champagnes of Billecart-Salmon have always been a connoisseur’s favourite, but the reputation of one of its top two wines Cuvée Nicolas François was sealed in 1999 when the 1959 vintage was declared to be ‘Champagne of the Millennium’. As if that wasn’t enough the same wine in the 1961 vintage was declared the runner-up! Anne Krebiehl MW talks to CEO Mathieu Roland-Billecart and cellar master Florent Nys about this extraordinary cuvée, why 2007 is such an energetic vintage and, of course, tastes Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François 2007 with full tasting notes.
Tomorrow’s IWSC awards ceremony will be like nothing we have seen, or experienced, before. Rather than put on our Sunday best and head to London’s grand Guildhall we are all invited to instead slip into something a bit more comfortable and enjoy the presentation online. The Buyer’s David Kermode – aka Mr Vinosaurus – was chosen to co-present the ceremony alongside spirits writer Joel Harrison, with the ambitious virtual ceremony directed by experienced film and documentary maker, Matt Longfellow, with a full film crew, at Ridgeview, the acclaimed English winery in East Sussex. Here Kermode gives us a tour behind the scenes of what the filming was like and what we can expect.
English and Welsh sparkling wines that are fermented in bottle now have a new official hallmark, Classic Method. But what does this new initiative from Wine GB mean for the future of our sparkling wines? Will it increase exports, be understood by customers abroad and even be understood by customers on home soils? Justin Keay ponders all of the above while tasting eight top examples of Classic Method – some well known and some new to him – and providing an update on how the 2020 harvest has gone in relation to the previous two vintages.
We might have spent a lot of the last eight months at home, sitting still, but all around us the world has been moving at record pace. All the trends we were struggling to keep up with going into Covid-19 have all been on fast forward as we have, as a global population, had to get used to a completely different way of living…and doing business. It has meant we have all had to go online like never before. How you adapt your company to meet the challenges of a digital age is what the One Step Beyond initiative, introduced by The Buyer and Sophie Jump earlier this year, is all about. Following an inaugural conference held just before the first UK national lockdown, here is the first part of an analysis of a follow up webinar, held last month, featuring the same expert speakers who were able to share their insights into the impact Covid-19 has had on consumer behaviour and expectations. First up Naji El-Arifi of Wunderman Thompson Commerce sets out the rights and wrongs of running a successful DTC and e-commerce website.
Spirit producers and distillers the world over are fixated on creating the best styles and blends of gins, vodkas, rums, whiskies or whatever. But however hard they work to get their products right it will all come to nothing unless they can find bar tenders and bar managers who can equally believe in what they are making in order to use and sell them in their outlets. It’s that connection between award winning spirits and the bar community that the London Spirits Competition works so hard to foster, as Richard Siddle explains.
There will be baited breath in the global wine community on November 18 when the winners of the Wine Producer Awards will be announced. The highest-achieving wine estates from the IWSC have made it into the shortlist across five categories: Sparkling Wine Producer, Fortified, Sweet, Red and White Wine Producer with English wineries well represented in the Sparkling Wine category. Unlike the Spirits awards where William Grant & Son could win for the third year in a row, the Wine Producer Awards will have a new winner as last year’s most Outstanding Wine Producer did not make the cut.
Now in its 29th year the ¡Salud! Oregon Pinot Noir Auction is a prime example of how a wine region can keep its key workers alive and well. Although the world sees many wine auctions, with exclusive cuvées and formats up for grabs in an auction setting, rarely is it tied into a free healthcare programme that is providing 2,500 vineyard workers and their families with the healthcare and outreach they need – especially important this year during the pandemic. LM Archer looks at this unique programme as well as picks out key wines from this year’s auction that is operating online until November 16 and gives a first look at the 2019 ‘throwback’ cool vintage.
The current high standard of wine communication has been made evident with the announcement of the 2020 shortlist of IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year. The four contenders – Nina Caplan, Elaine Chukan Brown, Anne Krebiehl MW and Melissa Monosoff MS – are wine professionals who, between them, have achieved an enviable array of achievements and qualifications that put them at the top of their game. Ahead of the announcement of the winner at the IWSC awards on November 18, we take a look at each of the contenders and discover what wine communication means to them.
Despite all the problems that Covid-19 has created for the usual smooth running of the wine supply chain, there are huge efforts being made by generic and trade bodies to give producers and buyers as much of a chance as possible to still show, taste and select wines. This was typified last week with Business France’s Val de Loire Unlocked session that gave buyers and the press the chance to taste in person a selection of 70 AOC wines from producers looking for distribution in the UK. Geoffrey Dean was there for The Buyer to pick out his highlights.
“In the auction business we talk about the drivers for supply being death, debt, divorce,” so it’s not surprising for James Ritchie, head of wine and spirits auctions for Sotheby’s, to use that phrase when assessing the global auction market in 2020. But in this fascinating insight into what really goes on behind the scenes at the world’s famous auction house, Ritchie also shares who and where the biggest wine collectors are and how even Sotheby’s is having to break with traditions and go as digital and online as it can.
Covid-19 has tested the agility of many industries this year, none more so than hospitality. But through innovation and hard work hotel groups and restaurants have been experiencing a number of fillips, says Alan Montague-Dennis, director of prestige sales at Mentzendorff. Staycations, a new al fresco, fine dining at home and trading up on the wine list (when possible) have brought about some unexpected returns. In this insightful piece Alan explains how his role allows him to flex with changing needs and to stay nimble – literally – on his Brompton bike, a key part of the company’s approach to sustainability and mental wellbeing, and helping him keep a positive spin on things.