Look for a good grower, look for a top vintage and look out especially for Bourgogne Côte d’Or and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits as they offer impressive value for money, says Flint Wines. Many more good tipsin this second part of a series in which The Buyer is interviewing a number of leading fine wine merchants to get their feel on how this vital region is doing and what the 2020 has in store when the annual Bourgogne campaign comes to a head with Bourgogne Week.
If you have never been to the World Bulk Wine Exhibition then you should. Particularly if you are involved in buying and selling wine at any level. This is where the world’s biggest and most influential buyers and producers get down to the business. It’s where the talk is of dollars, euros and the price per litre, rather than terroir and a sense of place. But country and region is still essential, particularly if you have wine to sell at a price buyers want. Richard Siddle had a ringside seat to see which wines and countries were most in demand.
The rare opportunity of tasting the 1974 Bodega Norton Malbec, one of the few bottles left in existence, was one of the many draws to a tasting lunch hosted by Norton winemaker David Bonomi. A wine older than scribe Chris Wilson – but had it aged as well? Also on offer was the new 2017 vintages of the Finca Perdriel and Altura but it was the 2015 Privada and Lote Agrelo wines that really turned Wilson’s head – that, and a chance to enter the Hogwarts-like Gothic St Pancras Tower.
Here’s a wine fact for you: the grape variety, Furmint, is actually the half-sibling of Riesling and Chardonnay via its parent Gouais Blanc (aka Heunisch Weiss). Well it is according to Master of Wine Caroline Gilby who also just happens to be not only a big fan, but one of the world’s leading expert on how and why Furmint is becoming a real quality benchmark for Hungarian wine. You can find out for yourself at the second Furmint February tasting being held on January 29 2020. Before then here’s Gilby’s personal assessment of why we should be paying more attention to Furmint.
For the past two decades German wine has been on a roll with the country housing one of Europe’s most vibrant, creative and progressive wine industries. And yet the wines of Germany are some of the most misunderstood on the planet. In an in-depth and wide-ranging interview German wine expert Anne Krebiehl MW explains about the full trajectory of the German wine industry – early success, then doldrums, its current state of health and its direction – and why now is the right time for re-evaluation. She explains why there is currently an unprecedented density of quality production and a new generation of winemakers who are re-defining what German wine can be in the 21st century. Grape varieties have changed as have wine styles – with grace and elegance favoured over power – all the result of a new-found, more self-confident identity that was almost obliterated by two world wars and the disastrous legal framework of the 1970s.
In the lead up to Hallgarten & Novum’s 2019 portfolio tasting, portfolio director Jim Wilson kindly granted a brief interview to the annoying oeno-eco-warrior that is Mike Turner. Turner was keen to understand more about the changing shape of Hallgarten & Novum’s portfolio, and whether the move towards a more sustainable future was central to their plans. Turner also wanted to know what, if anything, was being done with the company’s 190 wine producers to offer more eco-friendly products.
One of the hottest tickets for a tasting this week was a relatively modest affair in Charing Cross’s Terroirs restaurant. The reason? Here was an opportunity to taste some 30 wines from the Savoie, Bugey, Isère, Hautes-Alpes and the Clairette de Die wine regions. With grapes used such as Mondeuse, Mollard, Persan and Etraire de la Dhui it was a sommeliers’ dream and a rare opportunity to taste a collection of these wines under one roof. Wink Lorch, who has just written a book on the subject called Wines of the French Alps orchestrated the event and here tells Peter Dean how you should go about discovering the wines of the region.
The pace of change within the drinks industry is now so fast it can be hard to predict what is going to be on back bars and on wine lists next month never mind for the next 12 months. But if anyone can then it is national drinks distributor Bibendum which has been brave enough to stick its neck out and pick out the Top 10 drinks trends it believes we will all be talking about, buying and selling in 2020.
When Brut Elite Cuvee 1501 was adjudged to be Australia’s finest sparkling wine at this year’s Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, it was yet another gong in a long list of awards that Tasmania-based winery House of Arras has racked up in the past 25 years. Arras winemaker Ed Carr could be forgiven for resting on his laurels, but far from it, as Geoffrey Dean found out when he met up with him for a one-on-one tasting in London. Since Carlyle Group’s purchase of Accolade Wines last year, the moves are being made for Arras to become a truly global brand, with production to increase by as much as 50% in the mid-term future.
On the face of it organic wines can do no wrong. They tick all the environmental, sustainable and health boxes that we are told that consumers are looking for. Or do they? Miles MacInnes of Jascots Wine Merchants, which is committed to listing sustainable wines, believes anyone listing organic wines needs to have a clear reason and purpose for doing so and that often it is not the environmental credentials of organics that consumers are interested in. Here he explains the background to the boom in organic wines and how to make the most out of listing them.
If you have just commissioned some research to only look at how you can attract more and engage with millennial consumers then you might want to look away now. For, according to Joe Fattorini you’re wasting your money. Here, with highlights from his insightful and entertaining talk at last week’s wine2wine event in Verona, Richard Siddle explains why pooling consumers together just by their age is not the way to understand how they might behave, least of all what sort of wines they might want to buy.
We all have our views about wine from the USA – but are they accurate and are they based on a wide base of research? This was the premise of a fascinating wine tasting event sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture called From Sea to Shining Sea which was a series of three ‘seminars’ themed as ‘Journey through the regions’, ‘Uncovering value’ and ‘Sustainability’ all hosted by Victoria Stephens-Clarkson MW – accompanied by tastings encompassing the top four of the USA’s wine regions. David Kermode was our man at the event and here he sets the scene and picks 10 of the 24 wines on show as wines which may well challenge your preconceptions about American wine.
Mike Turner sat down with fellow wine writer and all round drinks industry rising star, Harry Crowther to ask him about Buckingham Schenk, which has recently acquired Crowther’s services to help launch its new look portfolio for next year. With Buckingham Schenk opting for a Taste of the Mediterranean-style tasting Turner wanted to know the inside track on which were the essential three wines from the portfolio…
There may well be the vital festive trading period ahead of us, but for those in the fine wine world, there is arguably an even bigger yearly event just a few weeks away and the annual Bourgogne campaign, which comes to a head with Bourgogne Week. Over the next few weeks The Buyer will be interviewing a number of leading fine wine merchants to get their feel on how this vital region is doing and what the 2020 campaign has in store. First up is Montrachet Fine Wine Merchants.
It seems everyone you meet in the wine industry has an opinion about Vinexpo. And these opinions vary considerably – often down to the experience they have just had at one of the many other international wine fairs being held globally. Vinexpo has a legacy and an international footprint, however, its image over the last couple of years has taken a bit of a battering, particularly around last year’s show in Bordeaux. Which is around the time that its new chief executive, Rodolphe Lameyse, joined the business. Seven months on and he is more than ready to meet the challenge of turning around this global brand. Here he shares his new vision for Vinexpo with Richard Siddle, which is effectively going back to its roots by offering leading buyers the best quality, most effective trade exhibition for premium wine and spirits, with an experience they will look forward to going back to the following year.
As well as celebrating some of the world’s current leading players in wine and spirits at last night’s International Wine & Spirit Competition awards night it was also an opportunity to look to the next generation of business talent with the announcement of the IWSC’s first Future 50 Awards list, in partnership with the WSET, to recognise those individuals around the world that they believe will be helping to shape the drinks industry in the years to come. Here are the highlights from both the IWSC awards and the Future 50 list.
It’s easy to forget how recent a wine Amarone is; there are currently 350 producers of Amarone in Italy, but just 60 years ago there were seven, in fact the category didn’t officially start until 1989. Although climate change is now making it increasingly hard for these estates to keep the alcohol levels down, Justin Keay found many examples of both commercial Amarone and Valpolicella at the Le Famiglie Storiche di Amarone e Valpolicella tasting that show how producers are following a course that will make for better wines both now and in the future. Keay also picks out the top wines that should be on your buying radar.
It’s a case of ‘one step forward two steps back’ for Bulgaria and its wine producers, believes Justin Keay. After the huge success of the previous two years, this year’s new vintage tasting in London was lacking some of the best producers, many of the indigenous varieties and a lot of the imaginative winemaking so evident in 2018. Talking to key buyers, Keay discovers that price is an issue, consumers’ lack of knowledge and also an inward-looking focus that smacks of a lack of understanding of the global wine market.
Tasting the new releases from Vega-Sicilia is up there with ‘DRC day’ in January. But when that tasting is behind the hallowed doors of the wine estate itself then tasting Unico 2010, Valbuena 5° 2015, Alion 2016 and Unico, Reserva Especial 2020 takes on an added frisson of excitement. Spain’s ‘first growth’ and arguably its most prestigious winery is notoriously difficult to gain access to, but Peter Dean did and posts this account of what it’s like to sample Unico 2010 in the hushed drawing room of the Nineteenth Century villa that serves as its headquarters.
Having the opportunity to go to California and meet over 100 producers in an intense five days of tasting doesn’t come around too often. But it proved to be an invaluable exercise for the group of leading wine buyers from both the UK and Irish on and off-trade markets. In Part One of our report we looked at their general feedback on why they wanted to go on such a trip. Here in Part Two we drill down into what they really thought of the wines and the opportunities of giving them a chance in the markets over here.