If you were blown away by the excitement, dynamism, and buzz of the first two New Wave tastings, highlighting and celebrating some of the best winemaking talent in South Africa quality, then you really are in for a treat with its return to London on September 3. Robin Davis, co-founder of the New Wave tasting, explains why his own distribution business, Swig, is so keen to be involved again and why he believes it is going to be “easily be the best tasting yet”. In the first of a series of articles with each of the five importers involved, and some of their key winemakers, Richard Siddle talks to Davis about what we can expect. (Main picture: BlankBottle’s Pieter Weiser competing in the Vintners Surf Classic, picture by Thys Lombard).
Five years ago when Silicon Valley billionaire Michael Baum expressed an interest in buying Château de Pommard, his lawyers advised against it. But Baum liked the direct-to-consumer business model, the cellar master Emmanuel Sala and took quite a shine to this historic Burgundy estate. 90% of the current 250,000 bottle annual output is sold direct to consumer, but Baum is putting the building blocks in place to quadruple that. Geoffrey Dean travelled to Burgundy to meet Baum and his team, see their plans and, of course, to taste the wines.
Can the English wine industry do no wrong? The growth figures for the last few years have been staggering with 3m extra vines expected be planted in 2019, on top of the 1.6m in 2018 and 1m in 2017. This is on top of the boom in the number of bottles of English wine being sold, with a record 15.6m in 2018. But as well as the huge opportunities there are also a number of challenges for the industry as well. All of which came up for discussion at a recent trade panel debate organised by Bibendum. Richard Siddle was there to report on a discussion between major English industry wine figures that looked at what steps are being taken to widen the category to bring in the scale of customer the sector will need if it is to have a market for all the wine being produced.
Chile is now one of the two most innovative winemaking countries in the world, reckons Alistair Cooper MW, who delivered a perceptive, focussed masterclass at a recent Wines of Chile tasting – backed up by a tasting of 45 wines that Cooper picked to reflect Chile’s movement towards sommelier-driven styles. It is innovation, risk-taking, old vines and the resurgence of traditional varieties (made with a modern twist) that are working so well and Chris Wilson was there for The Buyer to further whittle these down to 10 that every sommelier should have on their radar.
When the Languedoc’s Domaine Gayda got some of the world’s top wine critics to blind-taste Syrah matured in 9 different vessels in London last month, it was a ground-breaking exercise in sharing a key facet of the winemaker’s craft – how does elevage in completely different vessels alter the wine? And which is more palatable? The results were as surprising as they were useful to winemaker Vincent Chansault and winery chief Tim Ford. So what effect will the learnings have on how they are going to blend future vintages of their flagship wine, the Syrah-based Chemin de Moscou, and how will it affect sales?
It’s the way they tell ’em! You don’t need to be a stand up comedian to tell a good story about your business, but you need to learn how to capture your audience and talk to them in ways they are going to respond to on emotional and personal basis if they are going to remember you beyond the time you spend together. Here business coach and executive training expert, Nicole Soames, chief executive of Diadem Performance gives her top five tips on storytelling.
If you have a good idea once, then there’s no harm in repeating it. Which is why we are pleased to take this week’s trip down memory lane to when we asked different leading figures in the wine PR industry to name the campaign they were most of, and the PR campaign they wish they had done. Here Rosamund (known as ‘Roza’ to one and all) Barton of R&R Teamwork looked back on the launch of Champagne Taittinger’s first foray into English wine and the announcement it has bought a vineyard in Kent and was going to make its own English sparkling wine. It ended up being a PR triumph. She also singled out Hazel Murphy for her groundbreaking Australian UK trade trip as the campaign she wished she’d done.
As the great carnival that is the Tour de France continues its trundle around Belgium and France so we turn back the clock to reprise a feature that shows how for the past six years Castelnau has been the official Champagne for the Tour de France, and why it decided to launch a new range of fizz called Hors Catégorie – that celebrates almost impossible mountain climbs that literally makes you reach for the skies. The second of the HC Champagnes is called CCF 2067 after the 2067 metre high Col de la Croix de Fer, so who better to review it and attend the launch than Stephen Vey a member of the Buyer team who has actually cycled the mountain and lived to tell the tale.
Considering how much of the wine market natural wines actually account for then they arguably get more than their fair share of air time. But for those that make, support and promote natural wine that is well, only, natural as these are the wines that allow winemakers to make wine in the most responsible, environmentally-friendly way possible. Factors that now mean so much more to consumers. At least that was the argument made at the recent MUST Fermenting Wine conference in Portugal, as Richard Siddle reports.
A man of many hats, The Buyer contributing editor and chef at large, Roger Jones was once again a judge at the Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2019 finals. Jones was sitting on a panel that included previous winners of the award such as Clement Robert MS, Kathrine Larsen, Laura Rhys MS, Xavier Rousset MS and Ronan Rayburn MS, and saw Vineyard Hotel head sommelier Romain Bourger deliver a faultless display to land himself the crown of Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year award on his sixth time of asking. For the Vineyard Hotel this is the fourth winner that they have nurtured.
With so many wine competitions and award initiatives around the world it can be hard for any event to stand out even if, like the International Wine & Spirit Competition, you are celebrating your 50th anniversary. Christelle Guibert, the new chief executive of for fine wines and spirits at The Conversion Group, owners of the IWSC, explains some of the radical steps she has taken to shake up the event and make it as relevant as possible to wine producers around the world and buyers in different channels of the professional wine industry.
If you thought that all Albariño is pretty much the same and that nothing much changes in Rias Baixas then you haven’t met Paula Fandiño, chief winemaker at Mar de Frades. Her innovations include the region’s first sparkling Albariño, a successful three vintages of Godello, not forgetting the estate’s blue bottles with temperature-sensitive labels. While tasting through the new range, David Kermode also hears about a granite tank and a new scheme to pay grape growers according to the level of acidity in the grapes – all to keep things nice and fresh.
With so many websites, magazines, newsletters and daily emails it can be more of a case of news overload when it comes to keeping up with what is happening in the world of wine. But how much of it is relevant or interesting to you? Inspired by weekly wrap-style podcasts from other sectors, MW students, Katie Canfield and Matthew Gaughan, have decided to offer a similar service for the wine industry with their new Wined Up Weekly podcast which is a short 10 to 15 minute round up of the stories, issues and debates they think are the most important. Here’s how they bring it all together.
‘Think small but act big!’ is the philosophy behind newly-formed Graft Wine, the UK importer formed by the merging together of two of our most innovative specialist importers, Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine. In an exclusive Buyer interview Graft’s two chiefs, Nik Darlington and David Knott, talked to Chris Wilson about the reasons behind the move, where the efficiencies lie, what new wine producers they will be taking on, and also why the current economic climate both in the wine trade and broader UK economy demanded a bold step. From the off new producers will include Matthew van Heerden, Polperro, Bodegas Nekeas, Andreas Gsellmann, Domaine du Vieux Pressoir, Corvers-Kauter and Vigneti Cenci.
Fresh from delivering his ‘100 best Australian Wines’ report, wine critic Matthew Jukes put on another tasting, this time with author Tyson Stelzer called the Great Australian Red. This event, held at London’s 67 Pall Mall, focussed on Aussie Cabernet-Shiraz blends. Harry Crowther was there and picked out his favourite seven wines, some of them the latest releases and others from library stock.
As we prepare for the last week of the ICC Cricket World Cup and England’s first semi-final appearance since 1992, we get you in the mood with this trip down our very own cricketing memory lane when legendary English cricketer, turned Sky TV commentator, David Gower, shared his love for wine with The Buyer. With the launch of ‘My Perfect 6’ through Perfect Cellar in 2016 where he looked to put his name to wines that try to break new boundaries.
Arguably one of the most dynamic and exciting trends happening in the global wine market is the emergence, or the re-emergence, of indigenous varieties from traditional winemaking regions and countries. It is a trend the International Wine & Spirit Competition wants to promote by holding specific tastings and panels for wines from these countries. Here we share some of the highlights from the judging carried out just looking at wines from Eastern Europe.
The Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards is a decidedly different wine awards ceremony, writes David Kermode, and one that resembles a friend’s summer nuptials more than it does one of the industry’s many black tie events. Now into its 14th year the awards focussed on Australian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with newly re-configured importer Liberty Wines winning both categories as well as Best Importer. For a full list of winners and more besides read on….
If you work in the wine industry then Twitter has become the go to social media platform for lively debates, discussions and tos and fros about all things that are going on in wine on a daily basis. But if you are a regular Twitter user then you will have seen how some of that debate has turned somewhat in recent months into more than just a passionate sharing of views. Sorcha Holloway, who has built her own Twitter community through her weekly @ukwinehour, believes it is time we all take a collective look at ourselves and how we are behaving on social media and remember that Twitter is there to communicate rather than lecture, harass or worse.
When he’s not making wines for Sting, flying winemaker Daniel O’Donnell can be found in Turkey at Kayra, the only wine producer in the Diageo portfolio, reintroducing and refining wines made with indigenous Turkish varietals from Anatolia. For O’Donnell grapes such as Narince, Kalecik Karası, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere are nothing short of a national treasure and ‘colours worth nailing to his mast.’ On a rare visit to London he brought a stack of back vintages of his wines ‘with a touch of grey’ to show us how well they could age.