There have been two distinct ways the majority of companies have responded to the Covid-19 crisis. Batten down the hatches as best they can in order to safeguard their business for the long term, or flip the situation on its head and put the throttle down on innovation and marketing. Reka Haros believes the second approach is going to pay big dividends to those companies that use this time to raise their share of voice.
While most of us in Lockdown are using our Coravin less and less and finishing the bottles to the very last drop, drinks expert Henry Jeffreys is finding the opposite to be true. A second child on the way and no guests to share his wine with means he’s rekindled the Coravin habit, so much so that he road-tested the new models for us – Models Three, Five and Six – to see where the improvements lie. During lunch with founder Greg Lambrecht, Jeffreys also hears about a personal need to tackle sparkling wines, and how screw top seals have opened up the Australian market.
The world of wine has a lot to owe Lebanon and its winemaking history. Intertwined within that is the story of Chateau Musar which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary. Sadly its legendary winemaker, Serge Hochar, is not with us to share and lead the celebrations, but his memory and the history of this unique wine producer is captured in a new book, Chateau Musar, The Story of a Wine Icon, the latest publication from The Académie du Vin Library. Here Marc Hochar and Susan Keevil explain how this new book came about.
A lack of wine and vineyards “committed to naturalness” is what is keeping Washington State wines from really gathering worldwide attention. This is the view of Hedges Family Estate general manager Christophe Hedges whose family has been making wine in Red Mountain AVA for over 30 years, certified biodynamic for the past nine. For Hedges the sooner winemakers stop chasing scores the better, and concentrate on producing wines that have depth and meaning. “It’s not about whether wine is good or bad, it’s about whether your wines can express time and place,” says Hedges.
In early January, when the world was a very different place, Mattia Scarpazza, head sommelier at Petersham Nurseries, spent a week in Chile with fellow sommeliers, Sara Rossi head sommelier at Trinity and Noemi Farvart, sommelier at Le Gavroche, who were also his team mates who helped them win the Wine Bar War competition, hosted by Wines of Chile, that allowed them to go on the trip in the first place. Here he looks back on a week that took in 13 wineries, the chance to taste just under 200 wines, whilst travelling over 700km of this ever changing country.
We don’t need Charles Dickens to tell us we are all living through the “worst of times” but equally we can only do what is possible in our own personal and business lives to make the most of this extraordinary situation we all find ourselves in. It’s an approach, that typically, Robin Copestick is taking as he and the rest of the Freixenet Copestick team are using this moment to get on the front foot, be creative, act differently and actually turn what we can into the “best of times” when it comes to new product development, ideas and team building.
When you visit Pedro Parra at his disheveled winery in the South Chilean region of Itata, do not be surprised to see him emerge from out of the ground with a pickaxe in his hand. And don’t be alarmed if you hear the Indiana Jones theme tune in your head. The oenologist dubbed ‘Dr Terroir’ has also been compared to Indy – for his helter skelter career, and his penchant for digging large grave-like holes to inspect the granitic soils his 100 year old-plus bush vines excel in. David Kermode takes up the story.
It’s been just over two weeks since the formal lockdown in the UK to help stop the spread of Covid-19. In other countries it is a month or closer to two – like Italy. But it feels far longer such has been the dramatic change to all our lives. So much so that our old way of doing things, be it in business or socially with friends, is likely to have changed forever, says brand consultant Ross Sleet. He says we need to be thinking positively now about how we are going to run and change our businesses in the future in order to be not just relevant and profitable, but be a place where people actually want to work.
As countries all over the world go into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, wine producers are having to turn to social media and online even more than normal in order to talk and tell their stories to their customers, both in the trade and their end consumers. It’s giving those winemakers who have already built up a strong social media profile a head start, like Derek Mossman of Garage Wine Company in Chile, who has more people following him on Instagram than the cases of wine he sells.
With the cancellation of the En Primeur campaign and a recent cold snap that included snow, Bordeaux is having its fair share of issues right now, quite apart from the Covid-19 tragedy being played out across France. From her Lockdowned base, world Bordeaux expert Jane Anson speaks to The Buyer at length about the current climate as well as the scope of her new, eagerly-awaited book Inside Bordeaux which, clocking in at 700 pages with 60-plus maps, many of them gate-fold, is one of the most comprehensive books ever written on the region. What makes Bordeaux tick; the under-the-radar estates that sommeliers should make a beeline for … plenty of terrific insight in this revealing, in-depth interview.
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Hands up who comes out in a cold sweat every time the phrase ‘bulk wine’ is mentioned, but immediately perks up when they hear about wines being made with basket presses and open top fermenters? Well, have we got news for you. The two worlds are actually intertwined with each other, particularly for those who know what they are doing, and where to get their hands on the sort of high volume, low priced grapes that they know are going to be ideal to help them embark on the kind of winemaking experiments they simply could not afford to do with their main, primary fruit. Winemaker Oliver Styles lifts the lid on bulk wine, but not as we know it – the other secondary market.
If ProWein had gone ahead this year one of the many highlights would have been the presentation of the 12 most exceptional wines from Alsace as judged by an august group of experts, Steven Spurrier, Rebecca Palmer, Kelly Stevenson and our own roving editor in chief Roger Jones. 120 wines were tasted over the course of two days in Alsace, the focus being on Crémant, Gewurtztraminer and Riesling – the style and varieties which are currently the focus of the Alsace wine body’s marketing campaign for 2020. In this, the first of two parts, Jones sets up the tasting and reveals which 12 wines were unanimously judged to be Alsace’s finest.
There are many circuitous routes into the wine trade, many of which include a stint working at either Majestic or Oddbins. It was during her time working in a Majestic store that convinced Lauren Brewer that wine could be the career for her. In the first of a series of articles profiling students from Plumpton College, the UK’s main viticultural and wine business education centre, she explains what her course entailed and how it has set her on the way as a winemaker.
It is reassuring to hear someone say “we can see the light at the end of the tunnel” during the Coronavirus catastrophe, especially when they are based in Italy. Jgor Marini, regional manager for Castello Banfi says that unofficially the government is saying that lockdown will be partially lifted there on May 4. So how has Banfi been operating under strict lockdown, how will it continue to do so and what lessons has it learned about making and selling wine during a pandemic?
It does not matter how many “How to succeed in…business…or life” books you’ve read, no one knows what is going to happen to the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors we all rely on for our careers and livelihoods in the weeks and months that lie ahead of us. But what we can do is try and remain positive and, according to brand consultant Illy Jaffar, make sure any new habits, changes in behaviour and ways of working all prepare us for how to do business when we come out the other side.
The actions you take now as a brand, retailer or drinks business will have a long term impact on how you are regarded as a company to trust by your customers, according to the latest findings in the highly respected global Edelman Trust Barometer report. It asked 12,000 consumers in 12 key markets to assess their attitudes and responses to what steps brands and companies are taking to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. It makes for fascinating reading. How does your business stand up to what consumers might expect from you?
The on-trade is in a cash flow crisis right now and banks and insurance companies need to alleviate the pressure by turning on the taps immediately, writes restaurateur Mike Turner. A co-owner of French restaurant La Ferme in London’s Primrose Hill, Turner shows how the devil is in the detail of recent financial promises – both by the government and by financial institutions. Although he is optimistic that his business is eligible for financial aid, there is plenty of room for pessimism – the rateable value ceiling of £51k, banks looking for personal guarantees, and insurance companies trying to default on technicalities, is detracting from where our real focus should be, which is on helping people cope with the virus.
The impact of the Covid-19 virus continues to wreak havoc across the drinks and hospitality sectors as 1000s of individuals and 100s of companies have seen their world turned upside down in a matter of weeks, if not days. To help those most in financial need The Drinks Trust has set up an emergency Covid-19 relief fund. Here’s how you can help by donating money, how the scheme is going to work and what individuals can do to apply to receive grants from April 6.
Held in London just as the travel ban started to take effect in Northern Italy, but just prior to full lockdown, Armit’s Italian tasting displayed many of the crown jewels of the Italian wine scene, even though many winemakers could not make the trip. Armit’s new managing director Brett Fleming is bullish about the company’s future, aiming to take it from £20m to £30m turnover over the next few years, and he sees the Italian wines as key to this growth along with boosting the importer’s profitability. As well as the on-trade, Fleming will be looking to prioritise the private client and off-trade side of the business, seeing opportunities for some of Armit’s premium producers. Justin Keay was there for The Buyer who tasted his way round the room and picked eight producers that shone on the day.