With an absence of a generic Champagne tasting event in the UK this year, the gap is being filled by a variety of privately-run events. Cue The Wine Gang’s Champagne and Sparkling Wine Festival which takes place on April 25 in Central London in which, for the first time, the four wine experts will be pitting Champagne against all manner of other sparklers – including fizz from Croatia and Japan. Anthony Rose, one of the original members of The Wine Gang, explains the thinking behind the event and what makes these four ‘Mousse-keteers’ such a special group of wine experts.
What happens when you take heat-loving grapes and plant them somewhere cool? Or when cool-climate regions start to get warmer? Christina Rasmussen takes us on a tour of rotundone in cool-climate pockets around the world, and delves into the wine growing and winemaking techniques that could help us combat the effects of global warming.
If you take a walk down the average supermarket aisle then you will easily recognise all the household brands we have grown up with from Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Heinz Tomato Ketchup to Persil washing up powder, but what you probably won’t realise is the vast majority of those brands are all owned by an increasingly smaller group of giant, all encompassing brand owners. It is also slowly happening, but to much less of a degree, in wine. Like the recent takeover of Spain’s Freixenet by Germany’s Henkell & Co to create at a stroke the world’s biggest producer of sparkling wine. Richard Siddle looks at why the deal came together and what it means in the UK for Henkell’s UK business, Copestick Murray and the newly formed Freixenet Copestick.
The premium on-trade will have a field day with the latest wines from Oregon and Washington states be they a pet-nat sparkler, an orange Gewurzt or a ‘cab-mac’ Pinot. Pinot Noir dominated the reds as you might have expected, but there were some interesting Cab Francs and Bordeaux varietal/ blends from Washington as well as some top Pinot Gris and Blancs, made in a fascinating variety of styles. The eleventh hour addition of wines from New York State only added to the eclectic nature of the tasting with the whites particularly strong. Chris Wilson picks the wines that should be on your buying radar.
Getting to know and understand any style of wine or spirits takes dedication and commitment. But if Katie Canfield was to really get to grips with mezcal and find out what makes it tick she was going to have to find out the hard way – and that meant long, hard, off road drives into the heart of Mexico. But it was clearly well worth it as she reports directly back from visiting some of the most influential mezcaleros at their palenques (distilleries) who are producing some the mezcals we can find on the back bars of the most stylish cocktails bars in the world.
Remember the closing scene from Rocky? When he has his showdown with Apollo? As humans we love stories, especially ones with symbolic meanings like Rocky. Stories don’t just activate the “language processing” left side of our brain, but the right side too, which triggers feelings and emotions. Sudhir Kumar, marketing director from Origin, discusses why storytelling is important in brand marketing, and what drinks businesses can learn from the cult boxing film Rocky.
Burgundy’s Arnoux-Lachaux (and Robert Arnoux as the estate was called previously) has always had a reputation of making very good, solid, dependable fruit-driven Pinot. But since Charles Lachaux took over the reins in 2015 the recent vintages have soared out of sight. With massive changes in the vineyard and winery Charles is now delivering first class, hedonistic wines with real focus and precision – so much so that Corney & Barrow are singling the estate out for special focus. The 2017 vintage is the closest yet to Charles’s vision and are wines that almost all now use 100% whole bunch and restrained use of new oak – wines that are putting the winery on the cusp of true greatness.
BRXTN GREEN, England’s first cannabis-infused sparkling wine gets launched today at the Harrow, Little Bedwyn, the Wiltshire-based restaurant run by Sue and Roger Jones, which is introducing it initially as part of a new sharing menu, before rolling it out to more on-trade venues. Controversially using THC rather than CBD, Jones claims that BRXTN GREEN is also the world’s first Blanc de Verts.
Following the success of last year’s series of on-trade reports The Buyer is once again working in partnership with hospitality and drinks research specialists, CGA, to produce four more reports on key aspects of the restaurant, pub and bar sectors over the rest of the year. What makes these reports stand out is that they have been specifically tailored to tackle and analyse four of the key areas of growth and opportunity for the drinks and hospitality sector, with a particular focus on the wine category. The series starts with casual dining and what impact changes in the dynamics of the high street is having on this vital area of growth. This will be followed by further reports analysing changing consumer demand for different styles of wines, countries and price points; the biggest threats to wine from other drinks categories; and what are the key future trends that the industry needs to be on top of. The first report is available to buy now and the following editions will be released over the next three quarters of 2019. These can either be bought individually or as a money saving subscription bundle of two, three or all four. Here Richard Siddle explains what you can expect.
Disruptive technology is increasingly ripping up the traditional rule books of how companies across all sectors do business. And the wine industry is no different. In the years to come it is going to be paramount for everyone, no matter your line of work, to be on top of the latest technological changes and what they mean for you and your business. Future Wine Expo is a new, breakthrough US trade show that looks to bring together the most innovative, dynamic and disruptive technology companies with some of the most influential and leading players in the global wine industry. Richard Siddle explains what it is about, how you can get involved and why The Buyer has signed up as the UK’s exclusive media partner.
For Silvano Brescianini, head of the Franciacorta Consortium, the rise of Prosecco has been a good thing because it has introduced a whole new demographic to Italian sparkling wine. But quality will out, he believes, and that can only be good news for Franciacorta and its quest to firmly establish itself in the premium on-trade. Victor Smart tasted the bubbles at London’s HIDE restaurant.
With over 60,000 visitors squeezed into 16 halls and three days there is nothing quite like ProWein in the global wine calendar. But whilst it might be tough on the feet and constitution, it is also a unique melting pot to get on top of what are the key trends, issues and driving forces that are dictating how wine is being bought and sold around the world. Richard Siddle reports back on what was being discussed both inside the exhibition halls and outside.
Echoing the two main on-trade trends highlighted in its Trends Report, Bibendum’s new series of tastings called ‘Made in…’ focused on “diversity” and “indigenous”. It is the people, the place and the craft that went into creating this broad selection of wines that Bibendum really wanted to emphasise and Justin Keay found plenty to get excited about with the 17 new producers on show amongst a total of 194 wines.
Over the last five years Vinexpo has worked hard to re-invent itself as a brand that covers not just trade shows, but can also be very much part of the industry it serves through a series of new initiatives like specialist buying trips to key parts of the world. But essentially it is judged on how good it is at running wine and spirits exhibitions which is why all eyes will be on how well it does with its new revamped show that is moving from its traditional home in June, to, hopefully, a more temperate May in Bordeaux.
Nicolás Catena Zapata has done more than most for the reputation of Argentinian wine. Inspired by the achievements of the Napa Valley pioneers, he went on to prove that anything they could do, he could do too, with the wines judged favourably alongside their Californian rivals and the finest First Growths. Having experimented successfully with altitude winemaking, he is now handing over the reigns to daughter Laura, who shares his obsession with Grand Cru standards. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, attended a masterclass to meet the woman stepping into those big shoes (and a beret) with aplomb.
In the first part of our report from Margaret River we looked at how well not only is the whole region doing in terms of producing quality, premium wines, but how it has become one of Australia’s key calling cards for Cabernet Sauvignon. But it does have another hand to play with its slow ripening, luscious Chardonnays also picking up more than their fair share of global awards. Richard Siddle looks at just what makes Margaret River Chardonnay so distinctive from the rest of the country.
Chile has historically only had a small number of iconic wines but that is all set to change argues Geoffrey Dean. Fresh from two weeks of travelling through the country, he reports that there is a second tier of wine producers who are all vying for the equivalent of a ‘Champion’s League’ spot and making legitimate claims to be the ‘next big thing’. Dean meets the winemakers and tastes the wines – highlighting those that he thinks should be on every sommelier’s radar.
Marketing can be a big scary beast, especially if you haven’t had much success with it before. You will have to spend time and invest money to get it right. But before you commit to anything, it’s best to do your research first to put yourself on the best footing possible. What is often missed as the first step of any marketing is working out who you should target and what you want to get out of it, but this can be easily fixed by creating some target personas and proper goal setting. Jeremy Thomson, the founder of Common Collective, takes us through how to define your audience and setting marketing goals.
Tastings of Californian wine have changed out of sight in the past three years. Egged on by the likes of New Wave South Africa, the venues are imaginative and sometimes edgy, the organisation is top tier, there is food, music, some life and – dare we say it – a bit of fun. None of this would mean a thing, of course, if the wines were still just those ripe old powerhouses. Peter Dean went along to Essential California to test out the new ‘low price’ format and came back literally raving about what he tasted.
The wine industry takes all sorts to make it work. If it was all about fine wines, terroir and vintage tastings then it would not be the global industry it is. For that we have the bulk wine sector to thank. That’s what really makes the international wine market tick. At the same time bulk wine is also helping to drive the demand in and success off private label which is now becoming such an important part of any wine retailer, supermarket or restaurants’ offer. As Richard Siddle discovered at the second IBWSS conference and exhibition held in London last week.