Burgundy 2020 is a unique vintage with hot and dry weather producing wines of exceptional freshness and balance – not normally what you would expect to come out of those challenging conditions. How this was achieved is a fascinating story in itself and part of a detailed report from Guy Seddon, senior fine wine buyer for Corney & Barrow, who went first hand to Burgundy, tasted a wide range of wines, and got detailed insight from the many producers that they represent in the UK including Guillaume d’Angerville, Michel Lafarge, Jacques Prieur, Charles Lachaux, Leflaive and Aubert de Villaine amongst others.
One of the key trends to emerge from 2021 was not just the interest in more esoteric wines, but customers, across all channels, be it online, in specialist retail or the premium on-trade, willing to trade up to buy them. Here Italian wine consultant and writer, Paul Caputo, shines the light on the wines made in the foothills of Monte Vulture, the extinct volcano in the Basilicata region of southern Italy and the Aglianico del Vulture DOC by profiling one of its key producers, the Mastrodomenico family.
In just the same way that brands and products move on from one year to the next the pressure is also on our major drinks competitions to do the same. Which is what the London Drinks Competitions hope to do each year with new initiatives as part of its separate awards for spirits, wine and beers. It’s why it has introduced a new marketing and communications tool for its London Spirits Competition that allows anyone entering a product to also include a cocktail suggestion to go with it. Here’s how it works.
Most of us in the wine trade can safely say that we have a reasonable stash of bottles. For Roger Jones, however, when he nips down to his cellar he’s going into an Aladdin’s cave of vinous delights that, when it was part of his now-closed Michelin-starred restaurant, won him the AA’s best wine list in the UK for a number of years. So, in Roger’s best wines of 2021 review, expect some rare treats alongside more recent wine releases that he has tasted wearing his various hats for Decanter, The Buyer, IWSC and the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships.
As we gear up for the 2022 UK Wine List of the Year awards, co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List, we take the opportunity to look back at some of the winners from the inaugural awards held in January 2021. It was at the time a chance to reward and hopefully raise spirits for key players in the premium on-trade at a time when we were in the middle of the winter lockdown. We start by looking at the finalists in the German Wine List of the year category, sponsored by Wines of Germany, that saw Vineyard at Stockcross being named the overall winner.
It comes as little surprise that five of Geoffrey Dean’s Top wines of 2021 are from South African estates. Dean is a massive fan of South African wine and, in a window of opportunity, he managed to get to SA in 2021 for a blissful five weeks of catching up with old friends and discovering new wines. These are the wines that stood out and which he would recommend, plus five more from across the globe.
In our final analysis of what we can expect more of in 2022 we look at the bigger societal, cultural and world issues that we will all have to address – and not just in the coming year either. Richard Siddle examines how diversity and inclusion have become key issues for the drinks and hospitality sectors in 2021 and why in 2022 we all need to look at the personal actions we take. Similarly with the collective steps we can take to tackle climate change and the lessons we have learned from taking trading and education online during Covid-19.
Making the shortlist for the IWSC’s Wine Communicator of the Year was just one of the many highlights of 2021 for David Kermode. His podcast The Drinking Hour has been drawing in listeners far and wide and, given that travel was still exceedingly restricted throughout most of the year, he did manage to make it to a large number of events many of them detailed here in his review of the top drinks of 2021 seen through the lens of 10 very different glasses.
In part two of The Buyer’s analysis into what we can expect to most influence the premium drinks, retail and hospitality sectors in 2022, we turn the spotlight on the actual sourcing, buying, selling of the wines and sprits that help keep the whole supply chain going. In particular, Richard Siddle analyses just how well equipped we all are to keep up with the change in demands of drinks producers and brand owners at one end of the market and the ever changing consumer at the other end.
With a nose to sniff out some of the most interesting wines on the planet, and with an eye for a bargain, wine expert Justin Keay’s review of the top wines of the year is always a must-read. Of the 10 wines that floated his boat this year Keay includes a red from Crete, a super-premium Carmenere from Chile and a single vineyard Assyrtiko that retails for £6.99. There’s space for a West Coast Chardonnay (remember those?), an English fizz featuring a blend of 28 back vintages and, like our drinks editor Peter Dean yesterday, reserves special mention for the wines of Spain that are really going places.
As we turn our attention to the new year and what me might receive in 2022 The Buyer’s Richard Siddle looks outside the drinks industry for inspiration and what is going to influence the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors in the year ahead. Here he assesses the virtual digital world of the metaverse, a term you may not be that familiar with now, but one that will firmly be on our collective agenda in the 12 months and years to come.
Every year our drinks editor and the tasting team choose the wines that stood out above the many others. 2021 was no exception although it was another ‘year of tasting differently’ with Covid-19 affecting opportunities to taste wines physically alongside winemakers and importers. There were, however, more real life tastings to enjoy in the UK than in 2020 and the online experience was improving all the time, witness Wine Australia’s superb Connect website. For Peter Dean it was also the first year for covering premium Champagne and sparkling wine on The Buyer with two making it to his final list and an impressive five still wines coming from Spain and Portugal. All the wines listed are new releases and not taken from library stock, including the one wine that was made in the Nineteenth Century.
“Hold the Front Page!” As The Buyer team looks to take a few festive days off we would like to thank you all, wherever you are, for all your support and time reading and sharing our articles over the last 12 months. It’s been another rollercoaster year for everyone in the drinks, hospitality and retail sectors around the world and the tireless producers and supply chain that supports them. We hope we have been able to help make some sense of it all and can only sit back and applaud how every sector in this amazing industry has once again responded with the ultimate professionalism to every hurdle thrown its way. We hope you now have some time to stop, relax and enjoy a festive time with your family and friends. We raise a glass to you all! Happy Christmas and here’s to a great 2022 for us all. All the best Richard and Peter.
100,000 meals delivered to children in need was the serious purpose of a once-in-a-lifetime charity dinner at The Birley Wine Club last week. The frivolous side was drinking Krug, Cheval Blanc 2005 and 2009 as well as rounding the evening off with Yquem 2011. For Geoffrey Dean it was a rare opportunity to see how the vintages are evolving, with the ‘vintage of the millennium’, the 2005, possessing the structure and freshness to take it easily into the 2030s and beyond.
The Hardy name is as synonymous with Australian wine as the Bradman family is with its cricket. So for Bec Hardy a career in wine was mapped out for her from birth. But when in 2020 she took over the Pertaringa wine brand business from her parents, Geoff and Fiona Hardy, she notched up a first even in her esteemed wine family by becoming the first female vineyard owner and wine producer in six generations. Here she is joined by her husband, and business partner, Richard Dolan, as they explain how they plan to bring new generation thinking to their Bec Hardy Wines and Pertaringa range of premium wines.
Bairrada is one of those Portuguese wine regions that could well be unfamiliar to you but, once sampled, will not easily be forgotten. It’s what keeps ‘discovering wine’ such a fascinating subject – just when you think you’ve got a complete handle on a country’s wine output along comes a selection of wines from a ‘new’ region that offers an entirely new perspective. Peter Dean tastes seven wines from a region, previously unfamiliar to him.
The Buyer is once again teaming up with Star Wine List to co-host the UK Wine List Awards to congratulate and reward those restaurants, bars and venues that are putting wine at the heart of their offer. The 2022 awards will once again be judged by leading panel of award-winning sommeliers who will pick out our shortlists and finalists from outlets that enter and those already listed on the Star Wine List for the UK. Here we talk to New Zealand Winegrowers and Wines of Germany about why they want to be part of the 2022 event.
Over three days in September British wine writer Dr Jamie Goode was one of 10 journalists invited to be part of the inaugural session of the Languedoc Wine Camp. The idea was to give leading opinion formers an immersion into where this important wine region stands today. What is the spirit of the Languedoc? How does it make us feel? How do the wines reflect this? Goode reflects on what he learned at Camp, discusses the novel format, and picks out 14 of the many wines he tasted along the way.
If you are an ambitious, adventurous wine buyer you would do well to concentrate your efforts on what some of the lesser known regions of Portugal are up to – a constant hive of new wines often made from native, indigenous grapes with unique styles. Which is very much what Bairrada, in the Beiras region of northern Portugal, nestled in just below Porto has to offer. As part of our link up with the region The Buyer today shines the light on seven producers that are already in the UK and makes the case for why they might be worth putting on your shopping list for the new year.
As the clock ticks down to the all important Burgundy campaign in January there is still much speculation about how the trade and fine wine customers are going to respond to the new vintage, but, crucially, what prices are buyers going to be expected to pay for what is set to be one of the most in demand campaigns in recent years. To get a first hand grip on what Burgundy producers themselves are saying about the 2020 wines, and their immediate reaction to the devastating 2021 harvest, Sophia Longhi travelled to the region to talk directly to a wide range of winemakers, across some of the smaller and emerging appellations, who are making a wide variety of wines to hear their hopes, fears, and concerns for the months and year ahead.