If a boxing referee was looking into the eyes of punch drunk Conviviality then this week’s Prowein could be seen as the round in which it started to find its legs again and fight off financial meltdown. At least in terms of getting back on the front foot and using the world’s leading trade fair to talk to suppliers and producers and try and reassure them it does have the answers to its woes and that the wine sourcing, buying and selling part of the business is where its future still lies. Richard Siddle talks to senior members of the Conviviality team about how it hopes to get itself off the ropes.
Another week and another round of vital meetings with EU leaders over the future negotiations on how the UK is to leave the European Union. Only this week’s summit is being seen as particularly crucial in deciding how those negotiations are going to be carried out. In the first of a new series of regular “Beale on Brexit” columns, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, reflects on the Brexit progress to date the major challenges that lie ahead.
“Education, education, education” is a mantra that has passed in to political speak, but it is also just as valid and relevant to the world of wine, particularly for a region that can appear as baffling as Bordeaux. It’s one of the key challenges and opportunities that Allan Sichel, president of the Bordeaux Wine Council, believes it has to help make Bordeaux more relevant and appealing to both the trade and consumers alike.
Can the spirit of a Catalonian Vermouth bar ever be recreated in North London? That’s the question wine expert Mike Turner asks. He recalls his first experience of a Vermouth bar in Barcelona, gets enthusiastic about it in his customary way, then wonders whether he can recreate the drink and the atmosphere in La Ferme, a new restaurant he has opened in North London’s Primrose Hill district.
The last 12 months have brought some unique challenges for the wine industry, from currency fluctuations due to the uncertainties of Brexit, to frosts, drought and storms, resulting in severe grape shortages worldwide. It’s time to rip up the rulebook on how to sell wine, so we asked James Franklin, head of merchant and on-trade sales at Corney & Barrow to share his advice on how best to keep on top of your sales in the year ahead.
Plumpton College has been offering wine degree courses for over 20 years. But what are the benefits of having a degree in wine, and what advantage does it bestow on those with ambitions to forge ahead in the wine industry? Helen Arnold met Chris Foss, head of wine at the college, to find out more and to get his take on how the College is being affected by the uncertainties of Brexit.
The Berkmann 2018 London Portfolio Tasting was an impressive event. Slick, well-designed, housed in a beautiful, easy-to-get-to venue and, above all, really well organised. Chris Wilson went along, tasting glass in hand, to pick out 20 wines that you really should be thinking of putting on your wine list.
There are nearly 1,400 known varieties of wine grapes in the world – from Altesse to Zierfandler – but 80% of the wine we drink is made from only 20 grapes. Stemming from his own growing obsession with obscure and underappreciated grapes, US writer, Jason Wilson has pulled that obsession into a new book, Godforsaken Grapes, that moves far beyond the “noble grapes,” hunting down unique wines from Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, France, Italy, the United States, and beyond. Here he shares part of that journey with us.
They say you only get to really know who your friends are when the chips are down, which has been very much the case for those working within the Conviviality Group over the last couple of weeks, where a series of increasingly serious financial announcements have shocked the industry. On the face of it none of this is good news for its suppliers and customers but, rather than grumble, suppliers are coming together to galvanise support across the trade to help Conviviality get itself back on track.
Getting to grips with a frost-ravaged vintage is becoming a more regular occurrence. In January it was the turn of Burgundy to show off the fine but diminutive 2016 vintage. As the Bordeaux Primeurs start in earnest, Bordeaux is telling a similar story with its 2017 wines – good quality but vastly reduced amounts. Peter Dean gets a first look at Bordeaux 2017 through the 142 châteaux that make up the Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux with an exclusive tasting in London.