Robert Wessman was once dubbed the Viking Boss for how he transformed the pharmaceutical business in Iceland. Now he has his sights set on the premium end of the wine business, buying Bergerac estate Château Saint-Cernin, and employing global wine consultant Michel Rolland and his team to oversee the cellar and winemaking. He is already making waves with the red Château Saint-Cernin already outscoring Cheval Blanc and Harlan Estate in a critics’ blind tasting. Geoffrey Dean was whisked to Bergerac in a private jet, tasted the wines and quizzed Wessman about his best route to market in the UK.
While Aussie winemaker Larry McKenna waits for the New Zealand government to rubber-stamp the sale of his Escarpment winery to Torbreck owner Pete Kight, he is still passionately showing off the quality of his Pinot Noir to wine buyers and critics worldwide. Larry McPinot, as he is affectionately known, was in London last week to hold a masterclass on the single vineyard Pinots – Kiwa, Kupe and Te Rehua – and to let Anne Krebiehl MW taste both new and back vintages, as well as give her an insight into their unique profiles. As the vines get older so the wines seem to express their specific Martinborough terroir more acutely, a wine region that Krebiehl has some powerful memories of.
It might seem a bit upside down to be introducing a new major Champagne tasting event in the UK that is actually an Australia affair, organised by the Australian double act of leading wine critic, Tyson Stelzer and events organiser, Jody Rolfe. Together they have been hosting a series of successful Champagne events in Australia and Hong Kong for the last six years through their Wine Press business that has helped bring a new, look and feel to Champagne Down Under. They are now looking to do the same in Europe with their first event in London on June 12. Here’s what to expect.
It is an indication of how big the turnaround in Californian wine has been over the last few years that a number of the dynamic, disruptive and award winning wine importers that have come into the market over the last three to four years have identified California as a key area to go and source exciting, cutting edge wines that can help give them a point of difference. Like Wanderlust Wine. Its founder, Richard Ellison, explains why California has become such an important country in his search for esoteric and different wines from around the world.
In the 17 years since Sauvignon Blanc became New Zealand’s number one wine and helped facilitate a worldwide love-in for the grape, things have been changing back at its spiritual home in Central-Loire. It is not just the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé that are producing better quality Sauvignon in a variety of styles – Menetou-Salon, Coteaux du Giennois and Reuilly are appellations that can produce outstanding Sauvignon as well be amazing good value for wine buyers. In a tour of the region and 10 different domaines, Peter Dean discovers great Gamay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir as well as catches up with how the region is projecting its image on the outside world, the 2018 harvest, exports and more.
Talk to a major drinks buyer, be it for a big supermarket chain, restaurant group or pub chain, and ask them what the biggest bugbear they have about their suppliers and the chances are they will talk about the skills of some of the account managers they have to work with and, in particular, how good they are at getting the right deal and contract for their business. It might seem a strange thing to actually complain about, but for any partnership or contract to work then you need both sides to be working together for mutual benefit, according to business training expert, Nicole Soames. Here’s her top seven tips on how to improve your negotiating skills.
The great and the good assembled in London last Wednesday for the 25th anniversary of UK wine importer Hatch Mansfield. Winery chiefs and winemakers flew in from far and wide to raise a glass to Patrick McGrath MW and his team. Our roving reporter and chef-at-large Roger Jones joined a select crew that included Sir George Fistonich, Pierre Henry Gagey, Eduardo Chadwick, Catherine Corbeau-Mellot, Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger and Giovanni Gaja amongst others. Jones tasted many of the special bottles brought in for the night including many rare cuvées and gives full tasting notes.
After a further decade and eight years more pre-disgorgement ageing, Dom Pérignon 2002 P2 was launched in London last Friday, and tasted alongside its non-identical twin Dom Pérignon 2002. Anne Krebiehl MW talks to Vincent Chaperon, chef de cave at Dom Pérignon, about the wine and what Dom Pérignon P2 teaches us about the effect of oxidation and the use of time as a creative tool – all said at a table covered in black sand and volcanic basalt against the backdrop of a running video loop of flowing lava, crashing waves, rising bubbles and clouds moving to cover a full moon.
There has been countless words and reports already written about the 2018 harvest in Bordeaux and what wines we can expect from this vintage. But if you really want to know what is going on then go and ask an independent winemaker producing his own wine in Bordeaux, with no axes to grind or PR to spin. Like Gavin Quinney of Château Bauduc who also happens to be one of the leading and most respected commentators on the overall Bordeaux wine scene. Here are his main takeaways from what looks like being a very good year.
From scrubbing fellow wine critic Charles Metcalfe naked in the showers at Oxford University, to still being the most respected, loved, and recognised person talking about wine on our TV screens – Oz Clarke is a one off. A personality of the highest order, always a regular at every major, and minor trade wine tasting, still eager to learn, share and talk about his passion for wine – or beer, or music, or Gillingham Football Club. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about his life in wine and why like Peter Pan he has no intention of growing up and taking the world too seriously.
Forget the Summer of Love, as far as the Soave Consorzio is concerned they want UK importers and restaurants to be celebrating a Summer of Soave. In a bid to do for the Garganega wines what 31 Days of Riesling has done to the awareness of Riesling, the organisation has launched this year’s three-month campaign that sees extensive promotion in the on-trade. To see what all the fuss is about Peter Dean headed to the press launch in central London, tasted through the new 2018 vintage plus a selection of back vintages from the 20 Soave producers who are taking part, and came up with a shortlist that shows the range of styles that continues to make this a region to get excited about.
“This is very different to the other awards, there is an informality and a sort of ‘joy’ about it.” That’s how the Wine Society’s Ewan Murray described last year’s awards ceremony for the People’s Choice Wine Awards which has just kicked off the entry process for this year’s competition. Now Murray had just won a boot full of awards, but it very much sums up the trade’s reaction to this new breakthrough awards. Here founder, Janet Harrison, explains why she was so keen to get everyday wine drinkers involved in her new competition.
UB40’s song ‘Red, Red Wine’ has been a part of all our lives since 1983 – whether we wanted it or not. Played at discos, parties, weddings, conferences, and even funerals. It’s the song that made the band world famous. Fast forward to 2019 and the original UB40 has split up but lives on with two of its original members, UB40 with Ali (Campbell) and Astro. So when the chance came for them to turn what had always been an interest in wine into actually making a wine, they jumped at the chance. Alistair Morrell explains how it happened and why it is far more than just a celebrity wine brand.
Argentinian Malbec is the type of wine that if you pick it from a wine list the sommelier may well suggest you try something else. A victim of its own success? Perhaps. Suffering from an outdated perception? Very possibly. It is with these thoughts in mind that Justin Keay attended the Malbec Day tasting at the Argentinian Embassy in London and discovered first hand just how innovative the wines have become in a remarkably short space of time. No real fan of Malbec before the event, Keay comes away suitably impressed and picks out seven that you should try before you buy.
Such has been the surge in demand for imported wine in China, thanks to highly significant free trade deals with key countries such as Australia and Chile, it has also opened the doors wide open for the global bulk wine market. So much so that the World Bulk Wine Exhibition, that hosts the sector’s biggest and most important trade fair in Amsterdam every November, is now about to hold its first event in China. Here’s why and what we can expect.
Pinot Noir may have been the grape that helped Oregon gain international recognition, attract large scale investment and, arguably, punch well above its weight. But almost half of the state’s output are from 71 other different varieties. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, travelled to Portland, Oregon and discovered a thriving ‘garagiste’ winemaker scene, intent on proving that Oregon is no varietal monoculture – making small batch cuvées from dry farmed, own rooted, hand harvested ancestral varieties that trace back to the state’s earliest viticultural pioneers.
Over the coming weeks The Buyer will be running a series of articles, insights, profiles, and interviews on different aspects of the Californian wine scene in a new link-up with the Wine Institute of California. You can find out more about what the Institute is doing to promote Californian wines around the world as well […]
There was one very noticeable absence on the recent Wine Institute of California’s UK trade trip. Robert Parker. Not the great man himself. He wouldn’t have qualified. But his all pervading influence which normally dominates any debate about premium Californian wine. On my last trade trip to California some years ago much of the conversation amongst the UK visitors was about alcohol levels and wood. Not this time. California has moved on. This time the key theme was all around sustainability and the many initiatives, programmes and guidelines there are now to help growers and producers certify their vines and make wine in a sustainable way. Which, in turn, has encouraged, if not forced, producers to turn their focus away from their shiny wineries to what is happening in the vineyards.
Breathing new life into annual generic tastings is not an easy game, as anyone who organises these events knows all too well. With last Thursday’s The Big G tasting, Wines of Germany made it all look so simple, with an event that showed an entirely new perspective on German wine – and so very different from the oh-so-cool Vinyl Factory-staged G-String event last year. There were some great flashes of innovation and inspiration as well as a lot of talk about… Sekt. Peter Dean reports entirely without the use of double entendres.
The wine industry is often criticised for working inside its own bubble, only ever taking influences and inspiration from within the industry rather than naturally looking outside to other consumer food and drink sectors for ideas and a new perspective. It’s why the appointment of Rodolphe Lameyse as the new chief executive of Vinexpo is potentially so exciting. It is the first time the international exhibition business has gone outside the wine industry for its leader. Here Lameyse talks to The Buyer about how he hopes his experience as a specialist in organising leading trade shows around the world will help bring new ideas, and a fresh strategy for the group at a vital time in its history.