“Keeping a family business together is not easy. The Harvard Business School estimates 70% of family businesses are sold or taken over before the second generation and only 12% survives the third.” Which makes the large number of multi-generation family businesses within the wine industry even more remarkable. But what makes these legendary wine families stand the test of time and continue to make world class wines generation after generation? In her new book – ’10 Great Wine Families’ – Fiona Morrison MW gets to the heart of what makes each of these families tick.
‘It’s not so hard making wine – the real difficulty is selling it,’ goes the wine industry adage. There’s a lot of truth in that statement, of course, which is why the ‘Get It On’ tasting is so important for German wine producers without a UK importer. Wines seeking distribution are paired with importers who are looking for a German wine and the hope is that they end up ‘Makin’ Whoopee’. Since Wines of Germany has been running this wine tasting version of Blind Date, there have been 45 unrepresented German wine distributors who have found a UK importer. David Kermode was at the latest tasting and picks out the wines that he thought should no longer ‘be single’.
“It’s not a world we know – it’s unchartered territory”. But that does not mean the team at Origin Wine is not determined to make a success of their new venture into the premium on-trade with Origin Vineyards. An opportunity for Origin’s founder, Bernard Fontannaz, to take his considerable commercial experience working with the world’s biggest supermarkets and bring a more market, consumer-focused approach to his range of initially South African and Argentine wines for premium quality restaurants.
During 2018 Enotria&Coe introduced 150 new wines, 70 of which are from France. The strategy was aimed at filling some missing gaps in the portfolio, to add interesting boutique wines to their existing anchor producers, and to offer a range of price points to its growing customer base. Drafted in to oversee the change was Rebecca Gergely, formerly of La Marchande, who showed a selection of the wines to Peter Dean at Enotria&Coe’s swanky new tasting suite at Park Royal.
If you have ever done a business management course then you would probably have been asked to complete some team bonding task that involves building something out using nothing more than string and a few basic items. Upgrade to an MBA course it becomes known as the ‘Marshmallow Challenge’. Either way it is all about testing our ability to think laterally and be creative. An exercise everyone in the wine industry should be asked to do says MBA graduate himself Alistair Morrell.
The exquisite wines of Alois Lageder have for long been a favourite of sommeliers the world over – an early convert to biodynamics, his wines bristle with a life of their own. But visiting Lageder in his home town of Magre, in Alto Adige, the most northern part of Italy, is a truly unforgettable experience, writes Justin Keay. Not only is the setting breathtaking but tasting through a 30-wine strong portfolio, grouped into four main sections, is an eye-opening discovery of many cuvées that rarely see the light of day. This, all accompanied by the great man’s philosophising on varietals, agriculture and “cultivating nature as a habitat for life.”
The English wine industry continues to surprise and surpass all expectations as production, quality and respect all around the world increases with every vintage. One of the leading players responsible for those changes is Ridgeview in East Sussex. It therefore feels very timely that a key member of its team, Tom Surgey, who heads up its sales and business development, should be shortlisted for this year’s IWSC Julian Brand Memorial Trophy to recognise one of the rising new talents of the wine industry.
As many of the wine industry’s leaders in sustainable winemaking and distribution gather in London for the Future of Wine event, organised by Sustainable Wine, we turn to arguably wine’s most authoritative and respected figure on the subject. Miguel Torres, president of Familia Torres, who has spent most of his distinguished career not only championing the need for the wine industry to do more to tackle climate change, but pioneering new viticultural methods in his own vineyards to do exactly that. Here in this typically succinct and forthright thought piece, produced for the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, he sets out his hopes for the sector going forward.
Send top chef and wine expert Roger Jones to pick a handful of his favourite Alsatian wines from the Alsace Rocks! tasting and what do you get? 1600 words on 27 wines, tasting notes, food-matching suggestions, two special producer profiles and more enthusiasm than is all together comfortable in a diminutive Welshman. Jones is a massive fan of Alsace and one of the world’s experts on its wines – both as a wine lover and, most importantly, understanding how they work in the context of his top restaurant.
From Greek Civ O Level to extensive studies in Cretian wine, Kate Hawkings has always had a passion for Greece, its culture and its wines. Here she travels to Crete and visits Lyrarakis, a wine estate that underwent major rebranding and redefinition of its strategy in 2016, focussing on their pioneering work with native varietals – Dafni, Plyto, Melissaki, Vilana and Kotsifali – and emphasis on Crete’s distinctive terroirs. Hawkings hears how difficult these grapes are to work with as well as gives full tasting notes on the latest vintage.
There are a select, and shortening list of wine regions and styles that are a must for any wine list. A list that has Rioja firmly placed on it. One of the Old World’s most traditional wine regions, it has been able to reach parts of consumers wine psyche that other regions can only dream of. But how does it keep its place in the sun? Will the new relaxed regulations to allow producers to make wines from specific sub-areas add or subtract to Rioja’s appeal? To find out Richard Siddle helped host two panels featuring leading buyers from across the on and off-trades at the recent Wines from Rioja 10×10 tasting.
Simon Robinson has an unique perspective on the British wine industry. He has fingers in a lot of pies – as chairman of both Hampshire-based winery Hattingley Valley and industry association WineGB. And he is bullish about the future of both. He has grown his estate from empty chalk hills to being one of the UK’s biggest wine exporters, his award-winning winemaker Emma Rice is set to make their first still Chardonnay and he believes that Brexit and a weaker pound will help the maturing industry secure distribution abroad. Justin Keay talks to the Hattingley team as well as tastes through their new releases.
Talk to a wine producer from most of the major New World countries, be it New Zealand, Australia, Argentina or South Africa, about where they see as being their key target markets for the years ahead and the majority will pick out China and the US. Which is not surprising considering the huge growth potential there is in these fast emerging and vast wine markets for imported wine. But how do you go about making a success in what are both effectively three tier markets where having the right importer and then distributor is crucial? Here in the first of a new series of articles exploring how producers and importers work together we talk to Ross Sleet of South African blended wine brand, Rascallion Wines, about how he is trying to crack the US market, and also his new US importer, Paul Clear of the Terroir Wine Group, about why he has decided to take Rascallion on and how he hopes to build the brand in the States.
As far as challenges go, Maison Bruno Paillard’s N.P.U. Champagnes are as formidable as they are delicious. The Buyer reported before on the seven-point-manifesto that was dreamed up years ago in London and resulted in the creation of this unusual cuvée. Now it was time to present another vintage of this wine which has only been made seven times since it was conceived in the mid-1980s. Alice Paillard, daughter of founder Bruno Paillard, was in London to present the N.P.U., or Nec Plus Ultra 2004. Anne Krebiehl MW reports
Ask any business in the wine industry what their attitude and approach to sustainability is and you are likely to get a different response every time based on their understanding of what sustainability means to their company and line of work. Which makes it such an ever changing topic for discussion and debate. But it is important that as an industry as a whole we continue to come together and determine what sustainable steps we can all be taking. Which is very much what next week’s new Sustainable Wine Forum is all about. A one-day conference on November 4 designed to be bring producers, importers, consultants, retailers and merchants together in London to openly debate sustainability in wine. Organiser of the event and founder of Sustainable Wine, Tobias Webb, explains what to expect.
“Sampling new, 2019 Hunter Valley Semillon feels like a form of vinous infanticide,” writes David Kermode, after tasting through the latest vintages of white and red with Iain Riggs, chief winemaker at Brokenwood. Having just completed his 48th vintage, Riggs can rightly be called one of the forefathers of Hunter Valley, taking a small scale winery in 1982 and turning it into one of the most highly regarded estates in Australia today. Riggs discusses Semillon, screw cap, Graveyard Shiraz (the 2017 has just been awarded a Best in Show at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards), climate and Dolly Parton styles of Chardonnay.
“I am looking for identity, not perfection.” That just about sums up perfectly the winemaking approach of Sebastian Zucccardi who is more than just following in his father’s footsteps in helping to make and take premium, minimal intervention wines from Argentina around the world. Here Harry Crowther joins Zuccardi for an evening examining his approach to terroir and how Zuccardi’s focus on sense of place, and finding the right sites for its grapes, is what is ultimately behind this range of benchmark Argentine wines.
Simpsons Wine Estate was set up in Barham, Kent six years ago with the intention of making English sparkling wine. The news that its Chalklands Classic Cuvee has just won a major gong at the CSWW awards with its first ever release is an indication that their young operation is producing sparkling wine at the right level of quality. But a third of its output is English still wine, a category that they believe holds the secret to their long term success. Peter Dean met them on the eve of their 2019 harvest to find out how they intend to take English still wine into quality levels it has so far failed to reach.
It was a day of firsts. It was the first time that the VDP Grosses Gewächs 2019 tasting had been held outside Germany. It was the first time that this ‘Sneak Preview’ of the dry wines of the new vintage had been hosted by the Institute of Masters of Wine. But, most importantly, it was the first time that us British wine hacks had been subjected on our home turf to the process and efficiency of the VDP’s brilliant tasting procedures. Peter Dean was there to experience a little welcome Vorsprung Durch Technik being injected into the wine tasting system and gives a few pointers as to which wines were firing on all cylinders.
Double the number of entries, over 70 judges, the majority of which are average wine drinkers and a bigger number of shortlisted wines. The People’s Choice Wine Awards are on a march. Now into its third year, the competition that literally lives up to its name, shows there is plenty of excitement and enthusiasm amongst everyday wine drinkers to get involved in an event that is all about championing wines the average consumers want to drink. Richard Siddle assesses the ins and outs of the shortlist for the 2020 People’s Choice Wine Awards.