A few years ago, the esteemed Leclerc Briant looked destined to disappear. An organic trailblazer in the Champagne region, its best days were behind it. That was until passionate new owners hired one of the region’s biodynamic veterans, Hervé Jestin. Now, the house is bang on trend with its range of low to zero dosage Champagnes, which are being launched into the UK market by Berry Brothers and Rudd and its on-trade division Fields, Morris and Verdin, as David Kermode reports for The Buyer.
The Australian wine market may not be quite as hot as the incessant summer the country is currently suffering from, but it is in a far better place than it was five years ago when all the indicators and rates of growth were all heading in the wrong direction. But thanks to a sector changing free trade agreement signed with China and an industry-wide wake-up call that it needed to stop flooding the market with cheap wine and turn up the dial on its premium wines then it goes into another Ashes year in a very different place to where it was even four years ago.
Sales director UK on-trade and independents
Siège Groupe GCF
Les Grands Chais de France
1, rue de la division Leclerc
Furmint, the grape most widely known for producing the prized sweet wine Tokaji Aszu, has got a healthy and prosperous future ahead of it as a dry wine if the wines that were on show at Wines of Hungary’s Furmint February tasting were anything to go by. In the same space as Chablis, Albarino, Grüner and some dry Rieslings, Furmint has an ability to transmit terroir well, leading to racy acidity and minerality in some of the wines. Furmint has been increasing in popularity in London over the past two decades, is currently on trend, but is currently inconsistent in style. A bad thing? Not a word, argues Justin Keay who raves about one of his favourite tastings in a long while.
If you didn’t know that Burnley Miners’ Social Club is the world’s largest consumer of Bénédictine, then you obviously haven’t read That’s the Spirit! the latest book by Jonathan Ray, the drinks editor for The Spectator. In the book Ray looks at how some of the world’s most famous spirits brands came into being but also sheds some light on some of the more obscure beverages such as Tuaca, Bobby’s Schiedam Jenever, Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin and Spirit of Hven Organic Summer Spirit – and also throws in some obscure morsels like the ‘Burnley Benedictine conundrum’ and how it came into being.
If the drinks sector really is the people industry that everyone says it is then Enotria&Coe has been on the front foot over the last 18 months on a major recruitment drive to attract and bring in some of the best talent there is, particularly at sales, buying and now senior management level. Last autumn it hired two new managing directors for its on-trade division, Ant Rixon and Sam Thackeray, poached from arch competitor Bibendum. In the first of a two part interview Richard Siddle caught up with them to assess just what they have in-store for the company and its customers.
Sorry to labour the point but tomorrow the UK wine industry will wake up having to deal with yet another duty rise. It might have been a while since the last increase due to the change in when the Budget is held, but the increase could not come at a worse time as buyers, importers and the drinks and hospitality industries gird themselves for whatever Brexit we end up having. Here Bordeaux wine producer Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc has crunched the numbers not only of this duty rise, but at the wider tax implications across Europe to produce this invaluable guide to what this duty hike really means and the vital messages we should be telling our customers about why it makes sense for them to spend a little more to get a much more value for money and quality wine.
Royal Horticultural Halls
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s co-owner and co-director Aubert de Villaine has said of the 2016 vintage that it was a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. But, although it was a difficult vintage to work, the estate is hailing it as ‘perfect’. Chris Wilson held his golden ticket to this most exclusive of wine tastings to go and try the Romanée-Conti wines for the very first time.
Paris might not be famous for producing any wines of its own, but it has always been a magnet for wine lovers all over the world looking to experience the best French wine in some of the most iconic and romantic brasseries, bars and restaurants in the world. It’s appropriate, therefore, it should have a major wine fair of its own. Building on the success of last year’s VinoVision is February’s inaugural Wine Paris event. Show organiser Pascale Ferranti explains what international buyers can expect.
Hundreds of delegates gathered in Marseille for the 5th annual International Rosé Symposium. Celebrating sales success, the industry is dominated by Provence with its world-famous light pink wines, but there are clouds on the horizon, with climate change and water shortages forcing producers to embrace change, as David Kermode reports.
One of the keynote talks at last year’s first IBWSS London event saw Morrisons’ Clive Donaldson set out quite clearly how the major multiples now think private label and exclusive brands first when they come to deciding what wines to list. They give them the opportunity to be different and offer something new to their customers. It’s why the growth and importance of private label, and the bulk wine that supplies it, will be a key feature of the second IBWSS London event in March, as Helen Arnold explains.
Three years after its inaugural international conference to celebrate its staple grape, Sauvignon Blanc, the New Zealand Wine initiative Sauvignon 2019 opened yesterday in Blenheim with two contrasting views as to the direction of its future – should it ape the Champagne model of blending with added single site expressions or look to Rioja or the Rhône for its inspiration?
Lee Evans and Condor Wines sees the wine industry very differently from everyone else. Rather than worry about what is happening with producers and wine styles in all areas of the world he only has eyes for South America. But his dedicated focus is paying off with a wine import and distribution business that is bringing new, niche, interesting and independent wine producers to the premium on-trade.
After the success of the inaugural Nebbiolo Day in 2018, it’s back in 2019 with a bigger tasting and focus on these ever intriguing and popular styles of Italian wine that are the beating heart of the Barolos and Barbarescos so loved by buyers and sommeliers alike. Who better to explain what is in store for this year’s event, and to give his own personal take on why he thinks Nebbiolo deserves such focused attention, than Italian wine specialist and founder of Nebbiolo Day, Walter Speller.
As a younger wine drinking generation starts to move away from the wines their parents used to drink – in the search for quality and value – so the wines of the New Old World like Hungary and Bulgaria, plus wines from new emerging regions such as India and Uruguay, are ready to take up the slack. Justin Keay, a specialist in these ‘Grape Unknown’ wines, argues that it is not only the UK on-trade that is already benefitting but also the larger importers who are muscling in on the trend – indicating that this is going to be more than just a passing fad.
2018 was an incredibly busy year for Ben Walgate, winemaker and co-founder of Tillingham. They launched their first wines onto the UK market, planted 10,000 vines by hand at their farm in Peasmarsh near Rye in East Sussex (the fruits of which will see the light of day in 2021), took part in the biggest and best harvest probably in UK history, and began work on converting the farm outbuildings into a fully functioning winery, rooms, restaurant and shop (amongst other things). Here Doug Wregg from its UK distributor, Les Caves de Pyrene, reports from his latest visit to the winery.
The whole movement towards premium Prosecco got a shot in the arm three years ago when Canevel Spumanti sold 60% of the company to Valpolicella giants Masi Agricola. The joint venture is a smart commercial move in that it enables useful synergies for both parties but it has also led to an impressive array of innovative production techniques from two companies that are renowned for making quality wines with maximum respect for the land the grapes come from. With the release of three of Canevel’s wines into the market three months ago, Peter Dean caught up with Carlo Caramel, chief executive of Canevel, and Andrea Dal Cin, technical director and winemaker of Masi, to find out what’s happening in the hills of Valdobbiadene and how the JV is faring now it’s had time to bed down.
Even for a wine region that is as relatively small as Spain’s Ribera del Duero it’s important to taste as many wines as possible if you are going to truly understand, experience and enjoy its enormous diversity, says wine writer and critic, Tim Atkin MW. To help do just that, but also debate and share what leading UK buyers think of Ribera del Duero, The Buyer teamed up with the region’s generic body, a panel of top wine merchants and Atkin himself to see what opportunities there are in the burgeoning independent retail and wholesale sector.
Flavours of New Zealand, the trade and consumer showcase for New Zealand wine, picked Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago as three key focal regions – with organisers New Zealand Winegrowers keen to stress that New Zealand wine is no ‘one-trick’ pony. The events held in both London and Dublin demonstrated that New Zealand is a wine-producing country that is both diverse in region and varietal – and is capable of far more than producing one style of Sauvignon Blanc. Peter Dean reports.