2021 will be remembered for a host of negative reasons, but the shining positive has been the way the drinks industry as a whole has risen to the challenge of addressing diversity and inclusion in a sector that had traditionally not even discussed the issue publicly. Even though there was clearly a major problem to address. But just as the country as a whole has started to open up and have a national debate on diversity and inclusion, the drinks industry has started to take steps of its own through a combination of official sector-wide responses and individual initiatives like Equal Measures. Here Richard Siddle talks to Equal Measures founder, Deano Moncrieffe, about what it is doing to provide a platform to help drive D&I through the sector and how he has linked up with Hannah Lanfear, founder of Mixing Class , the dedicated provider of WSET spirits education, and The Drinks Trust to give more people from different backgrounds the opportunity to start a career in the bar, hospitality and wider drinks industry through carefully structured and targeted education and mentorship programmes.
With fingers in so many pies – wine consultant, importer, online retailer, writer and restaurateur – Mike Turner can always be relied on to come up with some fascinating choices of wine to put on your radar. Looking back at the wines that moved him over the past 12 months, he is recommending you catch up with them over the next 12 months – not so much a Best Of 2021 as a What’s Hot In 2022. Take it away Mike.
All week The Buyer and Bourgogne Wines have been highlighting how different UK specialist Bourgogne wine importers work with their Bourgogne partners, particularly for emerging and lesser-known appellations, as part of #BourgogneWeek 2022 that runs until January 16. Today we turn the spotlight on Flint Wines, one of the UK’s most influential Bourgogne suppliers, and its relationship with Domaine Lorenzon in the Côte Chalonnaise with Flint’s Bourgogne buyer and director, Jason Haynes, and the domaine’s founder Bruno Lorenzon.
To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Penfolds held a special dinner for the Grange with vintages dating back to 1979. Our man at the tasting, David Kermode, reports back on the event and talks to head winemaker Peter Gago about what makes the wine so special. Kermode also hears a rare recording of Grange creator Max Schubert talking about Grange and about how this most iconic of Australian wines could have been a stillborn project from the outset.
New Zealand wines in the off-trade have succeeded in achieving a premium price position way ahead of their peers in Australia, South Africa or South America. The challenge is now to push more of its wines onto the top wine lists in leading restaurants. Here we look at the finalists in the New Zealand category in the 2021 UK Wine List of the Year awards, sponsored by New Zealand Winegrowers, to see which outlets are championing Kiwi wines the most as we build up to the 2022 awards co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List.
The 2020 vintage was the hottest year ever in Burgundy – beating even 2003 and previous hottest vintage 2018 – and there were also drought issues. Miraculously, however, there are no signs in the wines of over-ripeness or cooked characters and, writes Geoffrey Dean, there is the right amount of structure and substance to allow these wines to age for a considerable length of time. Dean hears from Albert Bichot’s team of the technical adjustments they made to cope with the challenges and recommends six of the wines from its extensive range that you need to have on your buying radar.
As we get into the heart of Bourgogne Week we continue our series talking to leading UK importers and wine merchants about how they are working with their Bourgogne producers to promote and bring their wines to their customers. Today we talk to Adam Bruntlett, senior buyer at Berry Bros & Rudd about its long-term partnership with Domaine Follin-Arbelet in Aloxe-Corton and what they hope and expect from the much awaited 2020 Bourgogne vintage. (Main picture features Franck Follin-Arbelet and his wife Christine).
A vintage that ended on December 30… welcome to winemaking in England and one of the most challenging vintages in history. For Chris Wilson, wine scribe turned winemaker and owner of Cambridge’s first urban winery Gutter&Stars, 2021 was a vintage which threw everything possible at winemakers; he did, however, get some decent juice out of the year along with plaudits for his inaugural wines, including from Roger Jones who made Gutter&Stars’ first Chardonnay his Christmas pour.
It was in Paris that the international wine industry last had the chance to meet face to face to do business and it will be in Paris that it will have the opportunity to do so again. The fact there have been two long hard years in-between will hopefully be quickly forgotten when Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris opens their doors between February 14 to 16. Richard Siddle spoke to Rodolphe Lameyse, chief executive of Vinexposium – the overall events business that owns the combined show – to get his immediate reaction to the news the show will officially go ahead.
While some producers and importers have shied away from saying whether Burgundy 2020 is a ‘white vintage’ or a ‘red vintage’, Armit Wines’ brand manager Nicolas Clerc MS has come down firmly on the side of the white wines. The whites he says have “tension and precision balanced by generosity. Many will be delicious in their youth, especially across the Bourgogne and Village appellations.” The reds will need to have more time in the bottle for a proper evaluation. Here he gives us his insight with contributions from Christophe Roumier, Domaine de Montille and Domaine Bart.
There is nothing quite like the UK wine market in terms of the choice, range and diversity of wines on offer. Name a wine producing country anywhere in the world and there will be an importer, a retailer or a restaurant somewhere selling it. But with such an open market how easy is it for producers to get their wines taken on by first the distributors and suppliers and then the gatekeepers who guard the all important most coveted retail and restaurant wine lists? To find out The Buyer, in partnership with the inaugural Bloody Big Drinks Summit in Australia, brought together buyers from four key suppliers – Seckford Agencies, North South Wines, Beyond Wines and Propeller – to look at how they decide what producers to work with and their list of dos and don’ts for producers to follow.
The Buyer has this month teamed up with Bourgogne Wines to help shine the light on how UK importers specialising in Bourgogne wines are working with local producers to promote wines from different and lesser-known appellations as part of Bourgogne Week that runs from January 10 to 14. We start with an interview between Louisa de Faye Perkins, managing director of Charles Taylor Wines, and its partnership with Florent Rouve, which is making quality wines from Mâcon-Lugny, including its much coveted ‘Les Crays vers Vaux’ plot.
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.