It can be a daunting prospect putting on a trade tasting. It’s the ultimate test in how popular your wines really are and how much your customers want to spend time with you. So why do it yourself when you can spread the pain, and share the love with others. Which is what the New Wave South Africa tasting is all about. In fact it is has proven so popular that September 3 will be the third time the event has happened. To tell us what to expect we talk to one of the five specialist importers that have come together to host the event, Matt Smith, South African wine buyer at Fields Morris & Verdin.
“Starting with no budget, I knew that the quality would be the only way of protecting the business as it grew.” That’s the approach that Hannah Rhodes has taken in starting her own craft brewery business from scratch. On her own. But with Hiver Beers she is also trying to have a distinctive voice of her own and push and promote a growing new category to the beer market – honey beers – made using urban and rural honey. Here she explains how she got into brewing and why she hopes Hiver Beers can make a difference.
Most Champagne houses release a Non-Vintage Champagne alongside their various cuvées but not Krug. Then again Krug is not like ‘most’ Champagne houses. Krug releases numbered editions and this year sees the release of the Krug Grande Cuvée 167th Edition – a blend of 191 wines from 13 vintages dating from 1995 to 2011. Anne Krebiehl MW tastes the new wine with Krug’s Jérome Jacoillot, alongside the 166th Edition and the Krug Rosé 23rd Edition.
It’s one thing entering a cocktail competition when you know the spirits involved inside out. It’s quite a challenge when you only have really heard of the hero product in question. But for Andrea Dionori, head mixologist at Crazy Bear in London, the first UK baijiu competition, organised by Fenjiu, was also an opportunity to discover the style of drink as well as compete. Whatever his approach it worked as he was the stand out winner in the event. Here he explains his winning cocktail and what he has learnt about premium Chinese baijiu.
If you think all the fanfare and noise about the rise in direct to consumer brands and marketing is over the top then try this exercise. Take a look at your last bank statement and count up the number of subscription services you have signed up to. Be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Hello Fresh, your favourite wine merchant, football or rugby team, local florist…the list goes on. All of these brands and services have a direct, personal relationship with you, online. Need more convincing? Then allow Richard Siddle to take you into the world of DTC.
Fresh from a visit to Saint-Joseph in the Northern Rhône and having attended the trade show Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône in April, Rhône expert Bart Feys reviews the Saint-Joseph wines you need to be thinking of buying from the most recent, excellent vintages of 2016 and 2017. Since its extension in 1969 the Saint-Joseph appellation now covers 1200 hectares from Cornas in the South to Condrieu in the North. As a result, styles can vary but overall Saint-Joseph provides top quality reds and whites that can be drunk earlier than Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie but can also benefit from cellaring.
Could the future of viticulture lay in the hands of robots? Piper Heidsieck thinks so; the ‘audacious’ Champagne estate has already invested in a start-up that makes Vitibots (viticultural robots to you and me) that will be able to add precision into vineyard management. It’s one of the many new ideas relayed by the company’s new 32 year-old chef-de-cave Émilien Boutillat, who has taken the reins from Régis Camus. Fresh from Champagne Cattier where he helped make Armand de Brignac, Boutillat met up with Anne Krebiehl MW on his first official visit to London since taking over to talk about the other changes in the pipeline.
Last time Richelle van Gemert travelled to South Africa it was with a group of fellow sommeliers in the search for good food, great wine and to discover for themselves what the fuss is all about South African wines. When she returns in September it will be for an all more serious reason. She will be there to compete. For having won the UK competition of Wines of South Africa’s international Sommelier Cup she will now be taking part in the finals. Here she explains to The Buyer how and why she became a sommelier and how she is preparing for the Sommelier Cup final.
For all the hype, pomp and circumstance there has been around South African wines over the last three to four years, there are still parts of the premium on-trade that has yet to feel its magic. At least in terms of listings and getting more of these breakthrough wines into the hands of sommeliers and their customers. The third New Wave South African tasting hopes to change that and once again provide a springboard for so many of the country’s exciting, dynamic winemakers to come to London and show what they can do. Here James Booth of New Generation Wines explains what we can expect.
Every year the Pays D’Oc IGP wine body releases a Collection of wines that displays the very best wines from the region as judged by an international panel of sommeliers, journalists and consultants. Peter Dean travels to Pays d’Oc country and tastes through the 19-strong 2018 range, whittling them down to 10 wines that best show off the quality, creativity and diversity in a region that allows a mind-boggling 58 grape varieties.
Whilst the classic spirits categories are more than standing up for themselves, with ever more innovative and crafted products in their own right, what the 2019 IWSC Spirits Awards demonstrated was just how global the spirits world has become. This year’s competition proved to be a breakthrough, at least in terms of trophies and medals, for growing spirits categories such as pisco, mezcal, baiju and shochu. Richard Siddle takes a look at the awards and picks out the key trends all spirits buyers need to be on top of.
Xinomavro might not be the grape variety that’s the easiest to pronounce, but it is the one that has clearly got the X factor in the continuing renaissance of the Greek wine industry. Described as ‘the bastard son of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir’ Xinomavro wines have been showing double digit growth with some importers, as much as a 100% year-on-year increase in one case. In the second part of a special focus on the Greek wine renaissance, Justin Keay examines what it is about the wine that makes it so appealing and such good value and recommends five (plus one Mavrotragano) that serious buyers should have on their radar.
Ask 10 people in the wine trade where they are spending their summer holiday and chances are at least one or two will be heading to Croatia. It is one of the most sought-after holiday destinations of the year. Chances are they will also come back raving about the wines… as well as the food, scenery and historic towns and cities. For those in the know are quietly securing their allocations of Croatian wine – they really do taste just as good at home as they do in your holiday villa. Kate Hawkings was certainly blown away on a recent visit.
The market for legalised CBD cannabis products in the UK has an estimated 1.3m users, and could be worth £1bn by 2025. New products across the health and beauty sectors have caught on to the trend, and the drinks industry is not far behind. The Buyer sat down with OTO CBD, one of the many new companies that have been set up to launch their own range of CBD products, or in its case non-alcoholic CBD infused bitters which it hopes opens up a new avenue for consumers to enjoy the increasingly popular cannabis compound.
Vignerons such as Gonon, Coursodon and Gripa have helped re-establish Saint-Joseph as one of the key appellations in the Northern Rhône, producing wines that are the match of many in more ‘esteemed’ neighbouring wine regions. Bart Feys travelled to Mauves, the village at the heart of the appellation, visited all three of these domaines and discovers how care in the vineyards, a desire to make terroir-driven wines and an avoidance of gimmicky in the winery is showcasing traditional winemaking in the very best sense.
Simon Woolf first fell in love with orange wines in 2011 and has since then become one of the biggest voices and evangelists for this fast growing wine style. So much so that he has given up his previous career in IT to start a new one in wine writing, culminating in the publication last year of his breakthrough book on orange wine, The Amber Revolution. He told his story to the recent MUST conference in Portugal and explained why the momentum behind orange wine will not be stopped as it continues to grow and be one of the most influential wine categories in the world.
With the Tour de France concluded today and millions of cycling fans going into withdrawal, we re-post this tale of cycling to a very special wine tasting. Our drinks editor and cycling bore Peter Dean recounts an eventful day when the only way to get to a top notch tasting was by getting on his bike for four hours…. luckily a breakfast of champions greeted him at a South African wine tasting event held at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn. What follows is a tasting report that contains no tasting notes, and a South African event that has more to do with the Welsh than it does the South Africans.
If you want to enter this year’s Sud de France Sommelier Competition then the time has come. This week marks the end of the entry process and all forms need to be in by July 31 if you want to follow in the footsteps of Valentin Radosav at Gymkhana, Ana Maria Martinez Terol of TerraVina, Tamas Czinki and Adam Pawlowski MS of The Northcote, Lionel Periner at La Trompette, Stefan Neumann MS then at The Fat Duck, Sara Bachiorri of The Glasshouse and Romain Henry of Hibiscus as previous winners. If you think you have what it take to be this year’s UK winner and go on to take part in the global competition next year, then here’s what you have to do to take part.
For everyone in the wine trade it is your worst nightmare come true – the doctor tells you to give up alcohol for good. Sure, you can still smell, swirl and taste but drinking wine is strictly verboten. This is exactly what happened to Nekter Wine’s Imogen Taylor six months ago – one minute she was pouring wine at a tasting event the next minute she was in A&E with sepsis affecting her liver so badly it was touch and go. It doesn’t matter that the condition was not caused by alcohol, but alcohol cannot be part of her foreseeable future. So what does Taylor do with all those bottles in her flat, her wine friends and a life centred around alcohol? In this personal piece she looks at how she is going to cope living without alcohol in the wine trade.
If you look back at all the articles and bits of content, Tweets, Instagram posts and videos you have seen on social media over the last week then chances are a large number of them will have come from brands or drinks companies looking to promote themselves in ever more innovative ways. The days of just taking out an advert are long gone, now drinks brands have to act and behave like publishers in their own right. Richard Siddle looks at the different steps being taken and what opportunities there are now for brands to stand out.