As the drinks supply chain looks at how it can start to bring its people back together again Richard Siddle talks to Craig Durham, head of Buckingham Schenk, about how it has managed to keep the majority of its team working through Covid-19, and how, as the UK arm of the Schenk Group, the major international producer, it has worked with the company’s teams across Europe to give its customers the best service it can and is very much on the front foot coming out of lockdown.
The dearth of quality still wines made in England, compared to sparkling wine, is down to which varieties were planted early on and which clones, argues Lyme Bay Winery’s managing director James Lambert. There are signs that is changing with winemakers looking much closer at clone selection, however, with the cost of making all English wines so expensive, the industry needs to work together to ensure that the end product is priced sustainably and able to offer genuine value in the marketplace.
When the invite came through to help take part in the judging and blending of the new La Única project from Felix Solis I took a double take. The time and date was for an actual venue alongside other people, rather than sit in on a Zoom tasting. But when I nervously arrived at Camino in Kings Cross to take part there, as well as my fellow real life tasters, was a large screen with not just one Zoom tasting taking place, but five others simultaneously happening in China, Germany and Spain. Welcome to the new normal of virtual, and actual wine tastings. Here Richard Cochrane, head of Félix Solís in the UK, explains how La Única concept works and why it wanted to make it a global online event.
Too many people pigeonhole Argentinian wines as being just about Malbec and Torontes, says Matias Riccitelli, who tells Justin Keay that his winemaking philosophy is driven by the need to show off a different face of his country’s viticulture. Through the 25 wines he makes in Mendoza and the few in Patagonia, including a superb old vine Semillon, Riccitelli is being recognised as a great alchemist, working with a wide range of varietals, vessels and techniques to make some of Argentina’s most exciting new wines.
Winemakers, producers, importers, retailers and restaurateurs have all had to step out from behind the curtain during Covid-19 to take their turn to go online, turn on Zoom or go live on Instagram in order to be able to keep telling their stories during lockdown. But none have been quite so prolific as Katie Jones who has created her own version of a breakfast TV show with her daily walks through the small plots of land that make up Domaine Jones in the heart of the Languedoc – taking a loyal and growing community of trade customers and consumers with her. Here she talks to Richard Siddle, in the latest video interview on The Buyer, about why and how she has turned so much to social media during the crisis, and how it is now going to be very much part of how she does business post lockdown too. In so doing she has also shown the way forward for other producers and drinks businesses to use social media, and Instagram Live in particular. Which makes her a very worthy second recipient of The Buyer’s ‘Raise a Glass To’ award to highlight people who have gone way beyond the norm during Covid-19…here’s her story.
Regardless of what part of the world and sector of the drinks, retail or hospitality industries you work in, we’ve all had to find ways to adapt and self motivate ourselves to get through the Covid-19 lockdown. For Pier Sfriso and Reka Haros, the winemaking couple who run a small family winery in Treviso, northern Italy, it meant they were faced with 1,000s of bottles of unsold wine. So what did they do? They started a competition calling on designers to come up with label they could use to help promote and sell 6,000 bottles of Prosecco. It has resulted in hundreds of entries. Now they are calling on anyone in the trade to cast their vote for the designs they have shortlisted. Here Reka Haros shares their story and how the reaction to the competition has helped raise their spirits at such a difficult time.
As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Eight of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog kicking off all the activity in what is going to be a vital month for the UK drinks and hospitality sectors.
Innovation in Spanish winemaking is not just reserved for the new wave of artisan winemakers. Ramón Bilbao proves once again with its new Rueda Sauvignon Blanc that a big player can just as easily throw away the rulebook. Hailing from its shiny new winery La Finca Las Medias, winemaker Sara Bañuelos, has been given licence to thrill with an SB/ Verdejo blend but even more interestingly a 100% single varietal Sauvignon Blanc. David Kermode picks up the story.
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The opportunity to buy quality, but also value for money wines from the US has never been greater. Not only do producers have plenty of wine to sell, and an over supplied US market to trade in, they are actively looking to export. Combine that with the ambition of a major US distributor – T Edward Wines & Spirits – that also makes wines from all over the world and is actively looking to export and work in the UK, with wines at the price points buyers are looking for, then you have a very winning combination. Here’s international export sales manager, David Hautzig to explain more.
When was the last time you went out of your way to order, buy or drink a Dolcetto wine? With so much competition from other Italian classic grape varieties it has plummeted down the popularity stakes for many years, overtaken in its homeland of Piedmonte by Nebbiolo, in particular, and the Barolo and Barbaresco wines it makes. But sommelier Mattia Scarpazza believes the best quality Dolcetto wines, made from the DOCG vines, are very much worth a second look.
Australia was the toast of the 2020 London Wine Competition awards both in terms of the number of wines entered and the best achieving results with d’Arenberg in the McLaren Vale picking up both the Winery of the Year award and Wine Of The Year for its The Dead Arm Shiraz 2017. In all over 1,000 wines were entered from a record 43 countries. The competition is unique in that wines are based on their quality, price and design and packaging.
Sun is good for grapes but bad for wine – the effect of sunlight on wine, particularly those in clear glass bottles, has been under-estimated for too long. Preventing this with a revolutionary new ‘second skin’ case is one of the drivers behind Maison Ruinart’s decision to ditch its gift boxes and replace it with paper maché-like packaging. Anne Krebiehl MW hears from Frédéric Panaïotis, Ruinart’s chef de cave, about the additional ecological and cost benefits.
Wine faults in clear glass bottles are 20 times more prevalent than cork taint, says Nyetimber winemaker Brad Greatrix, and yet producers who fill into clear glass seem to be oblivious to the harms of lightstrike or are purposely putting their head in the sand. The greatest losers are consumers, however, who have no idea about the potential harm of lightstrike when they buy a bottle of sparkling or rosé wine – the categories most affected. In this thorough and hard-hitting opinion piece, Greatrix explains how lightstrike works and what must be done to prevent it, all the way through the supply chain.
The Covid-19 pandemic has for so many people around the world been the most challenging and damaging time both in their working and their personal lives. But it has also been a uniquely inspiring few months as individuals and businesses have stepped up to the mark and gone way and beyond to help others in their industry get through this extraordinary period. Those are the people The Buyer wants to highlight and show our appreciation for in our new ‘Raise a Glass To’ series where we can all collectively stop and pay our respects to their achievements and actions during the pandemic. Starting here today with Rico Basson, managing director of Vinpro, who has led the South African wine industry through its huge difficulties during the lockdown.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has hit the drinks and wine industry the world over. None more so than in South Africa which is again going through a national lockdown of all domestic wine sales with potentially a devastating impact on the country’s wine network. It has also made wine businesses think and act differently, particularly with the boom in online sales. In keeping with that new spirit of innovation, creativity and collaboration, three South African wine producers – Bruce Jack of Bruce Jack Wines, Ross Sleet of Rascallion Wine and De Villiers Graaff of De Grendel wines – have come together to launch a new, and potentially unique direct to consumer concept for the wine industry. Together they have set up a non-for-profit platform called Mind Map Wine Company that they are launching in the UK to act not as a competitor to their usual retail and on-trade channels to market, but to be an active partner to them, helping to raise the awareness of their brands and connect directly and with consumers. They hope to sign up more like-minded producers from around the world to join them in the months ahead. In our latest The Buyer video interview Richard Siddle caught up with Bruce Jack and Ross Sleet to talk through the new DTC platform, but also assess the current state and impact of the South African domestic wine lockdown.
Bernhard Bredell was named Young Winemaker of the Year in Tim Atkin’s South Africa 2019 Special Report, a reflection of the amount of heads he’s turned since 2016 when he set up the Scions of Sinai label, and also down to the quality of the wines, in particular the single vineyard Swanesang which is made from the last standing bushvines of Syrah in the Helderberg district of Stellenbosch. Emerging Wine Writer of the Year, Malu Lambert, visited him after Lockdown and tasted through the range.
Greta Thunberg is too young to drink, of course, but when she does she’ll probably reach for a bottle of Portuguese wine imported by Xisto Wines. For while reducing carbon emissions is high on the agenda of most respecting drinks companies, Bristol-based Xisto has taken it one step further. Part of its Circle of Zero Waste philosophy is to sail artisanal wines in traditional cargo ships from Porto to Bristol in barrels, bottle them using re-purposed Espumante bottles and deliver without using plastic or fossil fuel. Peter Dean caught up with Xisto after its first voyage into London Docks.
As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Seven of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog kicking off all the activity in what is going to be a vital month for the UK drinks and hospitality sectors.
If you’ve ventured out into social media this week then there’s really only been one wine story to bother yourself with. No, not how the wine industry is tackling this global pandemic, but rather the Twitter furore there has been over Hollywood A lister Cameron Diaz deciding this is the moment the world needs to know all about her new ‘clean wine’ brand – Avaline. Here Joe Fattorini – in his typically brilliant, biting and witty way – takes the Diaz naysayers to task and makes the case for why Diaz and her ‘clean wine’ is actually marketing genius.