It says a lot about the ascending status of Château Lafleur that to date it is the only Bordeaux château to release 2019 en primeur wines at the same price as 2018. So why is it the exception to the rule? With the release of the six new wines of Lafleur and sister estate Grand Village, winemaker Omri Ram takes time out to discuss the turning point of the Pomerol estate’s 3-terroir Grand Vin project, how to make a great white wine on the Right Bank, why droughts make for top vintages, the inside track on Bordeaux 2019 and how Lafleur, Cheval Blanc and Ausone are the only three estates with ‘the magic ingredient’ that makes the finest Pomerol.
“Our main strength is the on-trade, so we have been through the wringer,” is how Giles Cooke MW, wine development director of Alliance Wine, looks back on the last three months of lockdown. But like so much of the wine industry it has been quick to adapt and push the majority of its resources into working with the strong independent wine merchant sector at this time. He also talks about how its diverse business model, that involves making wine and distributing it all around the world, is also proving invaluable in how it copes with Covid-19.
As the clock ticks down to July 4 and the date when the on-trade can officially re-open and welcome guests back into pubs, bars and restaurants, operators are going to need all the help they can get to do so safely and in a way that potential customers feel comfortable with. At the start of the lockdown C&C, owners of drinks distributors Bibendum and Matthew Clark, released an app – Local – designed to help any on-trade business doing delivery or collection. It is now ready to help them re-open by also becoming a contactless payment and ordering solution too. James Scott, C&C’s group insights director, explains what difference it can make.
The wines of Pouilly and Fuissé have long been recognised as “first class,” in fact at the start of the Nineteenth Century scholars put the wines on a par with other great wine regions like Meursault and Montrachet. But the Mâconnais is still the only region in Burgundy that does not have vineyard hierarchy. Before lockdown LM Archer travelled to the region to find out how the thirteen-year application for Premier Cru status was progressing for a number of climats, a process that has been temporarily closed down because of the virus.
As we continue our new ways of working in lockdown The Buyer has decided to get as face to face as we can in the coming weeks with a series of interviews with key figures across the drinks, hospitality and retail sectors. First up Richard Siddle has a chat with Jason Haynes, co-founder of wine importer Flint Wines that has been able to keep its sales strong over the last three months, thanks to its multi-channel strategy. Here’s the full video of what he had to say.
Until Covid-19 hit Lombardy, with its 16,000 victims, things had been going pretty well in the region. For Franciacorta, its key premium wine, exports had been doubling year by year to the point that 20% was being exported to key markets such as the US and UK. It had also slowly built up a reputation for quality and consistency, governed as it is by some of the strictest winemaking rules in Italy. As the region starts to recover from the devastating effects of the virus Justin Keay talks to key players Bellavista, Ca del Bosco and Ferghettina, along with Consorzio President Silvano Brescianini about where the region goes from here.
All over Europe wineries are slowly coming out of lockdown, relieved they can finally start getting back to some sort of normal business, but with the reality of having thousands of litres of wine sitting in tanks to sell. Like Pier Sfriso and Reka Haros of the Sfriso Winery in Treviso, northern Italy. They, though, have come up with a novel way of making the most of a bad situation by starting a competition, open to all designers, to help create a new wine label from scratch for up to 6,000 bottles of unsold Prosecco. Here’s what they have in mind…
Releasing a futures campaign when the world economy is in deep purdah seems like a strange move, writes Nick Martin, founder of Wine Owners. The boss of the wine inventory management company believes that the Bordeaux 2019 en primeur campaign should have been put off until October, especially when there are other recent vintages that are still justifiably attracting interest and investment. For those chateaux that need to sell a large part of their harvest now, success, or otherwise, is going to come down to just one of the four marketing Ps… Price.
We have been spoilt for choice over the last three months with the number of new ideas and innovations that have been introduced in response to Covid-19. Here David Rowledge, founder of Alchemy Wines, talks to Richard Siddle about a new community drinks brand that he believes has the potential to work across all drinks categories from wine, beers, spirits to soft drinks and water and raise money for drinks charities both during the crisis and for the long term.
The situation surrounding the impact and spread of Covid-19 in the UK and around the world is changing so fast The Buyer has set up this rolling updates service to keep you abreast of the latest official guidelines and recommendations from the government, but also the individual steps that businesses are taking to keep trading and help their customers do the same. This is Part Two of our Covid-19 blog that starts on April 8 with latest insights, stats, and drinks trade reaction.
This Finger Lakes winery has been recognised for the last nine years as one of the world’s Top 100 Estates by Wine & Spirits Magazine; Wine Spectator listed the winery on the top 100 Wines in the world in 2010; and critics and connoisseurs such as Robert Parker and Eric Asimov, consistently mention Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard as the top Riesling producer in the US. Here Jennifer Menges, director of operations for Hermann J Wiemer Vineyard and Standing Stone Vineyards looks at the reasons behind its on-going success and why it’s still keen to grow its exports in our on-going series profiling different New York producers.
The release this week of new vintages of Kali Hart and Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot, marks five years since E&J Gallo bought Talbott Vineyards with the aim of broadening the regional diversity of its burgeoning premium portfolio. Instead of parachuting in a Napa hotshot, Gallo made the wise move of giving David Coventry the chief winemaker job – a man who had made wine in Monterey County for over 20 years and has his very own way of doing things. David Kermode met up with him and Gallo’s Edouard Baijot MW to hear how Talbott’s cool climate style wines offer on-trade and off-trade a real point of difference.
As the mindset across the on-trade and hospitality sectors changes from bunker and survival mode, to recovery and potential re-launch it’s even more important that bars, pub groups and restaurant operators are up to speed with the latest insights, trends and consumer research during the Covid-19 lockdown. That’s why The Buyer has teamed up with on-trade drinks analysts, CGA, to provide a new monthly, free Wine Trade Bulletin to help you keep on top of the situation.
We might not be able to travel to Sonoma County at the moment, but that does not mean you can’t access some of the most exclusive wines available in the county. For the first time the annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction is going online this year to allow wine buyers to bid from anywhere in the world for never to be seen again wines from the region’s top producers. The auction takes place between June 16 to June 18 and the chance to bid for “Never Before, Never Again”. Here’s how it’s going to work…
For most of us 2020 will go down in history as our annus horribilis. For Bernard Retornaz, who has been heading up Louis Latour’s operation in California for almost three decades, this year is one he really wants to see the back of. Quite apart from Covid which has hit 48% of his business, Trump’s tariffs on French wine have meant price hikes of 30-34%. Then there are the differing lockdown-easing scenarios which means it is like doing business with 50 different countries. In a sobering and insightful discussion, Retornaz tells David Kermode how he has boxed clever this year, unable to deal direct with the consumer and seeing a future where he predicts 30-40% of the on-trade will not reopen.
As a top designer of wine bottles and spirits Kevin Shaw gets more than his fair share of samples to keep him going, but up to recently there has been a gap not only in his drinking but in the projects that his agency, Stranger & Stranger, has pitched to work on. Until he rediscovered his love and interest in beer. He had for years fallen out of love with what he felt was all uninspiring lager. But now he has once again seen the light. Here’s why…
Bordeaux En Primeur, arguably the most important date in the global fine wine calendar, should be postponed for the 2019 harvest, according to Liv-ex. Failing that, or only a dramatic move price-wise will be enough to justify it, according to the latest report from the global marketplace for the wine trade. Peter Dean highlights some of the key findings from Bordeaux 2019 – The Value of Time as the first chateaux release their 2019 En Primeur prices.
Whatever social distancing rules are put in place, bars, pubs and restaurants won’t be able to return unless they have a contactless ordering and payment process in place that consumers can understand and easily use. The founders of Mimu believe they have not only got that, but can offer so much more by providing drinks brands and on-trade operators data and insights not available to them before by analysing what customers are buying, when, and what persuades them to change drink and food choices. The app is already proving a success in Australia and now hopes to find drinks and on-trade partners to work with in the UK, says founder Andrew Jones.
If you are going to win an award for being the best at what you do it might seem a bit bizarre to receive it at a time when you can’t actually do the job you are being congratulated for doing. It that at all makes sense. But that’s the situation that Mark Quick, head of wine at Hawksmoor, found himself in last month on finding out he had been named Restaurant Buyer of the Year in the inaugural London Wine Fair Wine Buyers Awards. It was, though, a massive boost for him whilst he tries to keep himself busy whilst, like thousands of others, he is currently on furlough due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Here he explains to Richard Siddle some of the ideas that helped him come away with the top prize.