The Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards took its final bow after 15 years yesterday with Liberty Wines winning Best All-Time Importer and Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Best Australian wine in a Grand Awards event at the Harrow at Little Bedwyn. The event was a ‘Champion of Champions’ affair with all of the day’s finalists previously being award winners, since the event started in 2006.
As much as the fine wine market was gradually going digital, Covid-19 has made all businesses realise they need to adopt new technology with some urgency if they are to take any advantage of the boom there has been in e-commerce wine sales during lockdown. The pace of change has been so fast that some large wine businesses have been able to implement two year software plans in as little as two months, says Nick Martin, co-founder of Wine Owners, the fine wine sector-specific business software platform. Here he examines what thinking companies should be bringing into their business software investment decision making to improve their back office, business management, and sales.
Those of a certain age with a long memory will recall Reggie Perrin conjuring up an image of a prancing hippopotamus every time there’s mention of his mother-in-law (they were different times). There will be many ambitious members of the drinks trade who will probably sympathise, after being faced with a boss who claims to “not get digital” or “social media” and prefers to carry on with the way things have always been done. Thanks to Covid-19 even these so called “Hippo” bosses have had to wake up to digital and finally start investing in an online strategy. Richard Siddle analyses what this might mean for the drinks and hospitality sectors.
Fresh from its success at this year’s Mundus Vini Biofach international organic wine fair, where it picked up the Best Organic Red Wine of France gong for its flagship wine Chemin de Moscou, Domaine Gayda is launching its Figure Libre range of wines in the UK with fresh distribution deals in place. Peter Dean picks up the story and tastes through the new wines.
Sparkling wine has enjoyed unprecedented success in the UK over the last 10 years, but where does French sparkling sit alongside the two powerhouses of everyday sparkling wine – Prosecco and Cava? To find out, The Buyer teamed up with Business France, to host an online Zoom panel debate with leading UK wine buyers of independent importers and merchants, who had the chance to chat live with three very different representatives of the French wine market covering sparkling, Champagne and Crémant.
It’s been 10 months since 18 year-old Yasmin Dean has had an alcoholic drink, before then she was rarely seen without one. Too many parties later she decided to quit, has never looked back and was a natural to taste through the range of Lyre’s non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ when they got sent to The Buyer. But drunk neat and in mocktails do they match up to the real thing? How do they compare to Seedlip? And which would she pick and feel happy drinking when she was out partying?
As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Seven of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog kicking off all the activity in what is going to be a vital month for the UK drinks and hospitality sectors.
There are a fair few wine producers around the world who can lay claim to be the oldest in their respective country. In the United States, the Brotherhood Winery in New York State, can make that claim as it dates back to 1839. So it has had a fair bit of time to work out what sort of wines it should make, and the grape varieties to make them with. Here we look at how the winery works and why the UK is still a key target market for the business
The Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur campaign ticked many boxes: first, that it took place at all; second, that prices were down by an average of 21%; the critics loved it; and it developed an active secondary market. But 2019 EP was not all good news. In its latest extended report, Bordeaux 2019: The Magic is Back, Liv-ex also details a narrow campaign that was frustrating for buyers, with reduced volumes, and tactics that favoured the big cats and the top end wines. So, despite the magic, did the Bordelais miss a trick with buyers?
At one end of the retail spectrum we’re told the major supermarkets are not interested in any new product development as they are too busy making sure they get the day job right. Fair enough. Then at the other end of the drinks spectrum you have David Rowledge and Alchemy Wines who won’t take no for any sort of answer. He has not stopped thinking, innovating and creating in the lockdown to such an extent he has created a new charity drinks brand – Community.co – to stretch from waters, beers, wines and spirits. He’s also only managed to sign up cricket legend, Phil Tufnell, to be the brand ambassador.
Every sector of the drinks industry has had to face up to unique challenges during the Covid-19 lockdown around the world. The worlds of PR, tastings, conferences and live events were also all thrown up in the air when we could no longer meet up face to face. Here Katie Canfield of US PR and events business, O’Donnell Lane, explains how it has quickly adapted to such an extent that is now running a wide range of conferences, webinars, tastings via Zoom, not just to its usual audience in the US, but is able to connect the industry all over the world.
The new Bollinger PN VZ 15 was born from a challenge to his fellow three winemakers, when chef de cave Gilles Descôtes asked them to make a Blanc de Noirs across vintages and villages. The wine had to have affordability and as much volume as Grande Année so that keen consumers can actually get some. The result is “exquisitely beautiful” writes Anne Krebiehl MW, a real deep-dive into Champagne’s terroirs with Pinot Noir coming (interestingly) from Verzanay rather than Aÿ and 20% of the reserve wines coming from Bollinger’s réserves de magnum from 2009 and 2010.
Anne Burchett did not know Gerard Basset OBE MW MS very well, but as a fellow French citizen who had chosen not just to live in the UK, but the wine trade as a career, she certainly felt an attachment through their shared experiences of being on this side of the Channel. Which is why she was so keen to read his life story that he was able to capture in his book, Tasting Victory, that has been published a few months after his death last year.
In France 2010 is a vintage that produced so many sensational wines – Bordeaux, Burgundy, even North and South Rhône were on the same page, but in Champagne very few houses declared a vintage. The reason was that on August 15 and 16 the region had the equivalent of two months of rain. In a fascinating masterclass to mark the launch of Dom Pérignon 2010 chef de cave Vincent Chaperon explains how they took a massive gamble with the Pinot Noir – leaving 20% of their plots to ripen knowing they would lose most of it to botrytis.
The UK regained some of its independence on Saturday, July 4, as bars and restaurants re-opened but how is it going in Italy? Italy eased out of Lockdown seven weeks ago and is now slowly counting the cost of the pandemic. The drop in restaurant turnover this year is €34 billion, and Italy’s wine tourism business worth €2.4 billion has been severely hit. Just as tourists start returning and many businesses put a brave face on proceedings, Italian food and wine expert Michèle Shah talks to producers in Lombardy, Tuscany, Sardinia, Veneto and Sicily to find out what the ‘new normal’ means to them.
The 4th July has taken on a new meaning in 2020. The on-trade and the vast supply chain that supports it have spent the past few weeks all gearing up for how they can re-open their doors to a new ‘normal’ of eating and drinking out. The hit during Covid-19 has been sudden and upsetting. Sadly, for some, it has been devastating and they won’t be able to join the rest of the trade in even trying to re-open. But for those who are bouncing back, what measures and protocols are being put in place to ensure they are on the right side of the ever changing government guidelines. Here Harry Crowther talks to Martin Williams, chief executive of Rare Restaurants (Gaucho and M Restaurants) to find out what he and his team have been up to behind the scenes during lockdown, and Andrew Maidment, the man who is heading up the exciting changes that have taken place to Gaucho’s new-look wine list, which were very much at the heart of its pre-lockdown re-launch and will be key to how it returns from July 4.
Ben Riccardi was born and raised in the Finger Lakes, the heartland of winemaking in New York State. Whilst he is quickly making his own name for himself in the state as a cutting edge winemaker, producing low intervention, terroir-driven wines, it’s his experiences travelling the world in working with prestigious winemakers in France (Domaine Blancardy), New Zealand (Craggy Range and Muddy Water) and Sonoma County (Williams-Selyem) that has helped shape the winemaker he has now become.
Running a business through Lockdown is hard enough in the UK but how does it work if you are an Englishman running a large wine business in France? Tim Ford, managing director of Languedoc estate Domaine Gayda explains how he has handled télétravail (working from home) and Chômage Partiel (furlough), keeping his export markets open and working on the new harvest. And also how impressive and fast the help has been from the French government.
The UK wine industry is in danger of sleep walking into what could be a “disaster” if it does not come together now to shout, lobby and force the government to rip up the current trading practices it is set to introduce when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year. That was the stark – if not frightening – message from a joint webinar this week held by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and Liv-ex, the global marketplace for wine. Richard Siddle assesses why the introduction of a series of complex and hugely expensive new ways of trading with the EU could result in a massive loss in business, and some sectors – noticeably fine wine – drying up completely due to the red tape and costs involved.
As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Six of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog for the week June 21 to June 28.