A local neighbourhood is not the same without a good, friendly Italian restaurant with a long list of classic, well priced wines to choose from, but how popular are Italian wines across the premium on-trade as a whole? To find out The Buyer teamed up with traditional Italian producer, Banfi, to host a debate between leading UK on-trade buyers and sommeliers to assess their views on which styles of Italian wine are making it on to their lists, what they would like to see more of and also the chance to taste though a range of Banfi red and white wines to showcase what different regions can now offer UK restaurants and their customers. In part one of our debate we concentrate on Italian whites and opportunities for the country’s indigenous varieties. In part two, later in the week, we shine the light on Brunello and Super Tuscans.
Aussie Grenache is on the rebound, as it is across much of the rest of the globe. Exploited for so long as a workhorse grape for fortified wines and as a blending partner, it is now beginning to be better understood as a variety. In Australia, particularly in Barossa and McLaren Vale, it is being re-planted in profusion with crush prices reaching an all-time high. Grenache is simply on-trend and to prove it Wine Australia asked Sarah Ahmed and Mark Pygott MW to each pick three wines from Barossa and McLaren Vale to better understand how Grenache is experiencing premiumisation. Justin Keay brings his own views to the table and confesses to being very impressed by the wines and also the standard of the presentation.
Agustin Trapero has enjoyed a wide and varied career as a sommelier that has taken him from three star Michelin restaurants to running the entire beverage offer at the new Four Seasons Hotel in Madrid. Here he looks back on his career and reflects on what he thinks it takes to be a top sommelier and what are the vital ingredients needed in order to create the right wine list for the right venue.
October’s launch of Exton Park RB45 is the completion of the new quartet of wines from this influential English estate – joining a trio of reserve-based wines that were launched this April. To achieve a House style and avoid the vagaries of the sometimes inclement Hampshire weather, Exton Park’s new range of English Sparkling Wines owes more than a passing nod to Champagne. Exton Park RB, or Reserve Blend, is a range of four wines that are all multi-vintage and made from up-to 45 different base wines. David Kermode had an audience with winemaker Corinne Seely to find out how she is aiming to make Exton Park “an English Bollinger” and to taste and rate the new wines. Peter Dean visits the virtual launch of the RB45 and provides full tasting notes.
Born to be on stage Tom Sandham and Ben McFarland – aka The Thinking Drinkers – have been twirling rather more of their thumbs than they would have liked over the last 18 months. But it has also given them time to write. A lot. They have pulled together a new live show – the Thinking Drinkers Quiz Show – that kicks off tonight in Lincoln and will travel around the country for the next eight months. They have also written The Thinking Drinkers Almanac, their own tribute to the wonderful world and history of alcoholic drinks, which also shows they do do actually know quite a lot about the drinks they have fun with on stage. Here Tom Sandham explains what it is all about.
It was one of the hottest days of the year and it was hotly anticipated – the day WineGB held its first showcase trade and press tasting since you-know-what. Chef and sparkling wine expert Roger Jones went to catch up with some old faces and to see how the British wine industry is continuing to evolve and excel, but it was also an opportunity to discover some new wineries and plenty of new cuvées. Whitehall Vineyard was a new producer, specialising in still wines, sparkling champ Dermot Sugrue had some impressive new cuvées, and Hattingley’s still wines were just some of Roger’s many highlights. And how about Multi-Vintage as a more positive way of describing Non Vintage?
The first face-to-face international wine fair organised in Europe and the United States in 2021 will take pace between November 22 and 23 in Amsterdam as the World Bulk Wine Exhibition returns for what will be an even more important show as it will be the first time that producers and key wine buyers will have had to get together, taste wines and get down to the business of buying and selling wine. Here is what to expect at this year’s event.
Fischer’s at Baslow Hall in Derbyshire won yesterday’s Gosset Matchmakers Final 2021, with its young sommelier and chef team judged to have made the perfect two dishes to match Gosset’s Grande Blanc de Blancs and Grande Reserve. Our drinks editor Peter Dean had a ringside seat to capture the rising tension as five of the UK’s best up-coming teams battled it out to see who had the chops when it came to pairing with Champagne. And who knew that caramelised celeriac was the perfect foil for a Blanc de Blancs?
Setting up a winery in Romania after the fall of the Ceausescu regime was a masterstroke for Cramele Recas co-founder Philip Cox and his fellow directors. It has allowed him to build a winery of scale with state-of-the-art equipment, using a mix of bought-in and estate fruit, with more and more hectares of vine planted with indigenous and international grape varieties. The wines are quality and value-driven and with the eight that Cox has selected to represent the 2020 vintage, there is a wide mix of fascinating blends and winemaking techniques that play to a mainstream audience, at the same time as pushing the envelope in key areas.
When it comes to managing costs and stock levels in a busy restaurant or bar then keeping on top of your wine wastage is paramount as sommeliers and managers battle with ways of keeping opened bottles of wine fresh between service. Well here’s a new idea that, for less than £5, claims it can potentially transform how you manage your wine programme. Sayv is a new wine preservation system that uses argon gas to keep wine fresh. Here its founder David Parrot explains how it works and why he hopes it can make a big difference to on-trade operators.
For a business executive who cut her teeth, and made her reputation, working for internet start ups, deciding to join Lay & Wheeler, one of the UK’s oldest and most traditional wine merchants, would not have been the most obvious career choice. But for Katy Keating it was a unique opportunity to help re-set an established, successful business with some of the energy and new ways of teamwork and thinking she had learnt whilst working with digital start ups in the United States and the UK. In this wide ranging interview she explains her management philosophy that is focused on creating a working environment and culture that hopefully fosters a strong team spirit and togetherness whilst giving individuals the opportunity to reach their full potential.
London’s annual Washington State Wine tasting was one of the last ‘live’ events to be held in March 2020, before the pandemic struck. 16 months later and Geoffrey Dean attended this year’s event which showcased 91 wines from 13 producers. The well known names of Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Reynvaan, Gramercy Cellars, Betz and L’Ecole No 41 were all there but what made this event even more fascinating was the sheer amount of wines coming from lesser known estates and ones which are seeking representation in the UK.
To reflect the big changes that are taking place in Bordeaux The Buyer has teamed up with Les Vins du Médoc to introduce a new series of articles – Medoc: The Next Generation Interviews – where we highlight the work being done by new, exciting, innovative winemakers and producers in the region and invite a breakout young wine writer to talk to them about their life in wine, their winemaking philosophy and why they think the Médoc is such a special place to make wine. First up we shine the light on Anaïs Bernard of Château Gadet-Terrefort who shares her story with Jess Lamb.
As the grapes go through veraison in Chianti-shire, we find Querciabella’s South African winemaker Manfred Ing in contemplative mode – looking back at the pandemic that devastated Tuscany and looking forwards at what the future holds for one of Italy’s leading wine estates. The 2021 harvest looks like being of very high quality although springtime frosts means that quantities will be down for the second time in five years. Ing is upbeat, however, about how his wines are being handled in the UK and about future investments.
With a legacy of quality wine production in the region dating back centuries, it’s unsurprising the Bordelais like to take their time when it comes to making big strategic changes in the way their wines are made and brought to market. In the second part of The Buyer’s online debate between Bordeaux producers and key UK importers, buyers and independent wine merchants, in partnership with the CIVB, we continue our exploration of Bordeaux’s modern reds, where these fit into the region’s long-term strategy and why the panel are particularly excited to see the emergence of so many quality, commercially focused single varietal wines and where they might work best in the premium UK on and off-trade.
In a brave about-face, Louis Roederer has ditched its best-selling Brut Premier NV cuvée and replaced it with the new Louis Roederer Collection 242, a multi-vintage blend that uses both a string of reserve wines and a high proportion of a solera-style Perpetual Reserve – created in 2012 and topped up after subsequent harvests. Underlying the move is cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon’s vision to cope with warming temperatures in the region and to create an unique NV that gets increasingly complex with each subsequent harvest.
“The pandemic has switched all our client external comms dials from important to critical. We are now a more valued part of their teams than before with one client telling us that our work had not only been critical in increasing sales but was responsible for saving jobs. That’s different from before.” This is how Nicky Forrest, managing director of leading drinks PR company, Phipps Relations, describes the impact that Covid-19 has had on its business and how it now works with its clients. She also explains why she is so pleased to be one of the Drinks Trust’s new trustees.
On the face of it Bordeaux has everything going for it. It is one of the most famous, respected and influential wine regions in the world. Yet when it comes to debates around modern winemaking, new viticultural techniques and what’s new in the world of wine, due to its classic reputation, it is often overlooked as a place you look for innovation. But that is not the real picture of what is actually happening in the region. Far from it. To help analyse the emerging trends in Bordeaux, The Buyer teamed up with the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council) to bring together key trade players, including UK buyers, importers and sommeliers, and Bordeaux producers to examine just what “Modern Bordeaux” is, how well understood it is and what aspects are best communicated to the wider trade and wine consumers at large.
Portugal was considered safe to travel to and then almost overnight was put on Britain’s amber list, a problem compounded by the added cost and bureaucracy of Brexit. For Sandra Tavares who, with her husband Jorge Serôdio Borges runs Wine & Soul in the Duoro, these are just some of the issues facing a small, independent wine producer as they enter the ‘new normal’ of a post-pandemic world. Peter Dean got the lowdown.
Bordeaux Day 2021 has been organised by Vins de Bordeaux to give UK buyers as big a chance as possible to taste the modern styles of wine now being made in the region with two standalone tastings taking place next week – in London on September 8 and Manchester on September 9. Here we turn the spotlight on one of the producers – Chateau du Seuil – whose wines will be available to taste as Nicola Allison explains why she gave up a career as a doctor to take over the family’s property in Graves with her husband Sean to make modern-style organic Bordeaux wines.