Launching a new English wine brand in a can sounds like a good idea considering the demand there now is for English wine and the interest in more convenient alternative packaging formats. But this is 2022. Back in 2017 the idea of putting all your hopes in people drinking English sparkling wine out of a can was a lot more fanciful. But that is what the team behind The Uncommon brand did and they have made remarkable progress since. Richard Siddle sits sown with co-founder Henry Connell and head of production, Phil Norman, to find out just what The Uncommon is all about.
Alto Adige is one of Italy’s most unique wine regions and a real ‘must visit’ for any adventurous wine lover. We sent Mike Turner to discover just why that’s the case, to visit the region and, in particular, the hugely influential cooperative Cantina Tramin. It is a trip that took him, quite literally, into the heart of the mountains where Tramin’s 100-point scoring Epokale Gewürztraminer is stored 6km under rock for six years.
“It truly is a travel show for foodies with a drinks hook rather than a niche show about one particular drink.” That’s how Helena Nicklin describes the marked difference and approach to how she and her presenting partner, Aidy Smith, have pulled together the content and tone for ‘The Three Drinkers in Ireland’ TV series that is now airing on Amazon Prime. As they film their third Amazon series (this time focusing on what France has to offer) we revisit this article from earlier in the year when Nicklin and Smith also give their advice to drinks brands about how best to present themselves on film and how the more you can tone down the corporate and company line the better.
When the Zamora group bought Ramōn Bilbao in 1999 it owned just two hectares of vines, now that figure is over 200 with estates in Rueda, Ribera del Duero and Rías Baixas. From its hometown of Haro in Rioja, and under the direction of chief winemaker Rodolfo Bastida, Ramōn Bilbao has been pushing the envelope of what is possible with Rioja wines. Two of its new cuvées Límite Norte and Límite Sur are made at the outer extremes of the region. To explain the concept and how the wines are constructed Bastida held an ingenious webinar during which each participant could taste through the various components of the wines.
Once you have worked out to say it (and spell it) Strykk is a brand that stands out. Even the name does not look like anything else down the drinks aisle. Which is very much in the spirit of what founder Alex Carlton wanted to achieve when he came up with the idea of creating a new style of no alcohol spirit that would appeal to the growing number of people looking for more discerning no & low alternatives to their usual drink of choice. Here he explains the gap in the market he believes Strykk was created to step into.
Two new Penfolds French still wines are the exciting additions to the Penfolds Collection 2022, released this August. Both Penfolds II and Penfolds FWT 585 join Penfolds’ Australian and Californian wines, meaning that for the first time the Penfolds Collection will comprise wines from three countries of origin. To launch the new wines and explain the thinking behind the concept, Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago treated The Buyer’s Roger Jones to lunch at Trivet which also included some truly spectacular and historical library wines.
As part of our on-going Hidden Gems series with the Bourgogne Wine Board we turn our attention to the Mâcon-Azé, in the heart of the Mâconnais, and look at what makes this particular AOC so distinctive and offers so much more future potential. Helen Arnold also talks to Pierre-Jérôme Beretti, export manager at Cave d’Azé who says the appellation is key in helping it make consistently quality wine.
Some of the most impressive value for money wines coming out of Sicily in recent years have been those made by Stefano Girelli at his two wine estates Santa Tresa and Cortese. This summer he launched three premium wines that are all from low-yielding, single vineyards and made in achingly small quantities. Justin Keay caught up with Girelli at wine industry hangout Theo Randall to hear the story behind Orisi, Avulisi and Boscopiano, and be one of the first in the UK to taste these rare beauties.
Thinking and acting sustainably has always been a key part of how Kingsland Drinks operates, but with a business of its scale and depth, there was a need to keep on top of initiatives and give this area its own trajectory within the company operation. Which is why it has introduced its Thirsty Earth programme to help manage, co-ordinate and also track and record what steps the company is taking to implement sustainable measures right across its business. Richard Siddle finds out more.
It was a big step in 2014 for Jon Lister to swap sides and move from being one of the most respected bar figures in the country, with a pile of awards to show for it, and take on a new role at Speciality Brands, and look to work with bartenders rather than be one. But, as he explains to Richard Siddle, he could not be happier in a specially created position as head of creativity and drinks which gives him the freedom to really bring Speciality Brands’ highly respected portfolio of premium brands alive in the right bars and outlets across the country.
The Languedoc-Roussillon Sud de France / Sud-Ouest Top 100 celebrates the best wines from Languedoc, Roussillon & South-West France. The area is so vast it would take you five hours driving on good French roads to get from one end to the other. Earlier in the year, wine critic Tim Atkin MW and his team, blind-tasted their way through the region’s wines – with the aim of getting to the Sud De France Top 100. Our Justin Keay tasted this selection and produced his own list – whittling 100 wines down to just 12.
The overall winning spirit in the 2022 London Spirits Competition scored 98 points – for Bareksten Navy Strength Gin, produced by the Oss Craft Distillery in Norway. If you think your spirit brand is the best, or can at least hold it its own in its category, then the entry process for the 2023 London Spirits Competition is now open and anyone entering before the end of August. Here’s what you need to know.
Mahala Botanical first hit the UK market in March as the latest addition to the burgeoning no & low alcohol spirits category. It has since gone on to win the trophy for Best No/Low Alcohol Spirits at the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards. So what makes this new South African brand stand out and demand to be taken seriously? Natalie Wilson talks to the master distiller behind the triple-distilled botanical blend, Danielle Schoeman, and co-founder and brand director Paul Scanlon, about how it all came together.
Are Edwards 1902 Rhubarb Vodka and its new potato vodka perfect examples of terroir-driven spirits? Drinks expert Mike Turner thinks so. Mike gets lost in the Rhubarb Triangle of Yorkshire and the potato fields of Lincolnshire as he road-tests these new spirits and puts a case for more British spirits’ Protected Denomination of Origins – in the same way that Sussex is doing with English sparkling wine.
It takes a brave step to give up a well paid job in finance to throw your hat into a sector where you don’t have any contacts or experience. But such is Vidya Narasimhan’s passion for wine she has been prepared to do that and make a fresh start in the wine industry. Here she sets out why she thinks her background in private equity can be particularly useful for wine companies looking to grow and how she hopes she can bring the worlds of finance and wine closer together in the latest in our Onwards & Upwards series.
Production of both Lake Garda wine and the amount of growers has quadrupled over the past five years. The area is led by a bullish Garda DOC that wants to up production to 40 million bottles per annum, and promote its 10 appellations and range of wines to the outside world. Geoffrey Dean visited the region and samples the impressive wines of Vigneti Villabella, Pratello, Santa Sofia, Ricchi, Perla del Garda and Tommasi and tries to get under the skin of what makes this region so unique.
In part one of our buyers debate with the Bordeaux Wines we focused on what different operators felt the opportunities and challenges were for Bordeaux Wines overall in the UK. In part two we look at three case studies from producers operating in different appellations – Médoc, Côtes de Bordeaux and Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur – who are looking to embrace the modern Bordeaux and look at their vines through fresh eyes. The buyers had the chance to taste their wines and assess the styles they felt are the most suitable and relevant for the UK market.
Armed with the newly crowned Hot 50 Selection and a host of wines from across the region looking for distribution, Bordeaux Wines return to the UK this week for Bordeaux Day in Manchester and London. The Buyer’s Mike Turner attended the Manchester tasting on Monday 11th July and gives his top tips for those heading to the London event this Wednesday.
Eat & Drink Spain was back with a bang this year with 900 wines from 240 producers representing 60 DOs. David Kermode attended the London event and picks a fascinating selection that will work particularly well in premium on-trade – from old vine Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero, a new, high altitude Rioja from the envelope-pushing Ramón Bilbao, to a Brut Nature biodynamic sparkler that is a blend of Xarel-lo, Sumoll and the little-seen grape, Bastard Negre.
Behind the scenes in Bordeaux there are huge changes taking place as producers, particularly new generation winemakers, look to introduce new ideas that are potentially more in keeping with the styles of wine that the modern wine consumer wants to drink, as well as to adhere to consumer’s interest in sustainable winemaking methods. To get a better understanding of what is really taking place across the region, The Buyer teamed up with Bordeaux Wines to host a debate between leading UK wine buyers, merchants and importers and representative producers from the Médoc, Côtes de Bordeaux and Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur AOPs so they could show their wines and demonstrate what is happening in this still hugely influential and important French wine region.