It’s a nice problem to have. Too many people, countries, importers, restaurants and sommeliers want to get more than the fair share of your wines. So how do you juggle who gets what in a situation where you are running out of land to make a lot more wine. That’s the situation that New Zealand now finds itself in as global demand is increasing so fast it is starting to struggle to keep up. Richard Siddle assesses the opportunities and challenges the country faces in the coming years.
Over the last few weeks The Buyer has been looking at what steps restaurants, wine buyers and sommeliers are taking to make their wine lists more sustainable. Be it the actual wines they are buying, through to the producers they work, the regions they come from. Is it time for the premium on-trade to be taking sustainable wine far more seriously? James Nathan at Pull The Cork certainly thinks so. In fact the business has been set up just to trade in sustainable wine. Here he explains what he means by sustainable wine and offers some advice and tips to buyers on how they might want to adapt how they source wine to put sustainability further up the buying agenda.
Setting aside its considerable range of Italian agencies was a bold move for Armit Wines at last week’s Autumn Portfolio tasting – and it worked, very well indeed. Showing just 80 wines the tasting was focused, showed off Armit’s international estates and also proved how contemporary many of the wines are. With new agencies Terroir Sense Fronteres and Château Maris present; new wines such as La Rioja Alta’s Viña Arana Gran Reserva there; and some interesting curios, this was a tasting where it was hard to overlook the strength and depth of the range. Peter Dean highlights a dozen wines that sommeliers should look out for.
One grape many aliases. In fact Kékfrankos or Blaufränkish goes by more names than a secret agent – in Germany it goes by the name Lemberger, in Austria Blaufränkisch, in Hungary Kékfrankos, then Frankovka Modrá, Burgund Mare and Modra Frankinia – the name changing with almost every bend of the Danube as it swings through Central and Eastern Europe. Elizabeth Gabay MW explores why this is one of Europe’s most important grapes and flags up Wines of Hungary’s Blue of the Danube tasting where you can discover first hand the quality and diversity of this ever-changing grape.
The latest round of medals to be released by the International Wine & Spirit Competition shows, once again, just how diverse and wide ranging the event has become with Kenya, Bolivia and India amongst those picking up medals in the Southern Hemisphere part of the competition. Which is very much part of the wider IWSC strategy to open the awards and make it relevant and important to emerging as well as traditional wine producing countries. Here we pick out the highlights from the New World medal winners in the 2019 competition.
With mounting pressure across all retail and on-trade groups to be able to manage rising costs better it is not surprising to hear of so many moves to collaborate and consolidate resources. Be it joint alliances to help with buying in non-competing areas, like we see amongst independent merchants and the Vindependents and other wine buying groups across the country, through to much bigger collaborations between multinational retailers and groups. It’s why we are seeing so many bigger, centralised buying functions emerging, like the recent news that Aldi is making wine a key part of its new, enhanced global group buying function. But what does that all mean to the wine fixture and what choice is ultimately available to the end consumer? Richard Siddle delves into the world of “streamline buying” and retailer and brand collaboration that is all meant to help us buy and sell better.
The summer of 2015 was not spectacular in Hampshire, but it was long and dry and the Chardonnay it produced was out of this world. Anne Krebiehl MW hears first hand from Jenkyn Place’s Camilla Jennings how this led the English winery to make its first ever Blanc de Blancs, under the watchful eye, as always, of consultant winemaker Dermot Sugrue. Jennings explains how the brief was to make a wine that had great elegance but also approachability – being able to be drunk in all manner of situations.
Since acclaimed Austrian winemaker Lenz Moser accepted the role of chief winemaker at Château Changyu Moser XV in 2014, he has developed a range of wines that is sold in 40 markets around the world, including his barrel-fermented white Cabernet Sauvignon that has become the most successful Chinese wine ever, winning three major gold medals in Europe. His latest project is a super-premium Chinese wine to be launched in Marrakech, Morocco next spring, a Cabernet Sauvignon that will cost a hefty €150 a bottle. Louise Hurren caught up with him in Yinchuan and discusses his successes, mistakes and ambitions with bringing Chinese wine to the West.
“It is a celebration, a chance for every sommelier at different stages of their career to show their appreciation and knowledge of wines from the Occitanie region”. This is how Sud de France’s executive director, Isabelle Kanaan, describes the challenge of taking part in what was the 10th edition of the Sud de France Sommelier Competition. Richard Siddle was also there not just to report, but act as one of the judges in this prestigious event. He was also in the ideal place to feel the tension, appreciate the talents of the finalists and join in the congratulations to the overall winner, Andrés Rangel, assistant head sommelier at Gymkhana.
They’re like buses and policemen… you wait an eternity to hear about a wine from Luberon, as we did with Les Quelles de la Coste, and then a week later everyone’s talking about them. Geoffrey Dean travels to this sunny corner of France made famous by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and discovers why the wines of AOC Luberon have got everything going for them. Dean visits Château La Canorgue, which inspired the film A Good Year and also the domains of two individuals responsible for raising the profile of the area – Fabrice Monod at Château Fontvert and Paul Dubrule at La Cavale.
Beaujolais might appear at first to be a strange choice for Vinexpo to host its third Explorer event, inviting up to 100 buyers from all over the world to discover and explore a wine region that up to now has not had the international focus. But whilst Beaujolais might be so well known, how relevant and important has it been to major international buyers over the last five to 10 years? This was a chance to help them see a new, rejuvenated Beaujolais, with so many new wines and styles to show. David Kermode was there for The Buyer, equally inquisitive to see how this new Beaujolais would perform.
When a country or wine region is renowned for doing something well, there is often very little motivation to do things differently. The consistent and value-driven wines were out in force at the 2019 Wines of Chile tasting in London last week. There was also a fair smattering of the premium-led wines that have been grabbing headlines of late. But in terms of envelope pushing, for Sarah McCleery, the wines from Loncomilla, La Ronciere and Viña Laurent were the ones that piqued her interest most. Using a range of ancient varietals, vinification formats and techniques these estates are currently pushing the limits of what is possible in the country, both philosophically and geographically.
This month’s Bellavita exhibition gives UK wine buyers the chance to explore and discover wines and food from across Italy and the Mediterranean at an event dedicated to bringing the full restaurant experience together under one roof. So rather than just have an event purely for wine, and another for food, Bellavita is very much about bringing the two sides together. The Buyer will be hoping to do that too as part of a wine trade debate on November 7 that will ask major importers and merchants to assess where Italian and Mediterranean wines are going in the premium on-trade.
Ahead of this month’s Wines of Georgia trade tastings in London (October 2) and Manchester (October 8), Peter Ranscombe highlights six wineries that stood out for him on a visit last week to the former Soviet state. With a two-year waiting list for winemakers wanting to buy the nation’s iconic qvevri clay vessels for fermentation and ageing, production of higher-quality wines is poised to expand, creating more opportunities for UK merchants and restaurants looking to tap into the growing consumer curiosity surrounding amber wines.
Crémant de Loire goes from strength to strength, quadrupling sales to the UK in just four years. Saumur Brut, on the other hand, is treading water largely held afloat by a small number of massive sellers on the French supermarket scene. Peter Dean travels to Saumur and visits Ackerman and Langlois-Chateau, the biggest players in the Crémant de Loire scene, and discovers why they still have a strong presence in the market two hundred years on from first producing ‘Saumur Champagne’ – and how their rich heritage bodes well for their increasingly firm footing in exports.
For understandable reasons the majority of drinks companies, particularly those producing household wine brands, like to keep their political feelings to themselves and instead rely on their respective trade association bodies to do any direct lobbying for them. Until now. The seemingly endless strategy of any government to continue to increase duty on alcohol is forcing drinks companies to take action. When the wine industry was singled out for a tax increase in last year’s Budget it was seen as a bridge too far. It resulted in the launch of the Wine Drinkers UK campaign, a wine industry-backed campaign, that calls for wine to be treated the same as any other drinks category. Richard Siddle talks to two of its biggest members, Michelle Brampton of Treasury Wine Estates and Simon Doyle of Concha y Toro about what they hope it can achieve.
Having dispatched the USA rugby team in the morning at the Rugby World Cup, it was England’s turn in the afternoon to be shown the sheer power and majesty of the US – or the Californian wine scene to be more precise. Two of the hottest wine tasting events in London were being held at the US Embassy – Collectible California and Covetable Napa – and our man with the ‘golden tickets’, David Kermode, braved apocalyptic weather conditions to get there. Once inside he discovered a treasure trove of wines, including 14 of Napa’s most iconic wine estates each showing two vintages, a decade apart.
In the first part of our review of the recent debate held by Jascots Wine Merchants into how restaurants can run more sustainable wine lists we looked at the different ways operators are looking to tackle sustainability in their venues and how open they were to extending successful existing schemes into wine. Here in our second part we look at some of the more practical steps that restaurants are taking and, in particular, which sustainable packaging formats are most suitable and most likely to succeed in the on-trade.
Arguably the biggest achilles heel of the drinks industry, and particularly the complex category of wine, is keeping on top of consumer trends, changes in behaviour and the power of the new technologies that are driving them. Today The Buyer is linking up with the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and Jump Start to launch a new conference that will focus on the disruptive and essential trends, innovations and technology that the drinks industry needs to be on top of for future sales, marketing, branding and communications. The 2020 – One Step Beyond conference will look to provide a platform for trends and technology experts outside the industry to share their insights with key decision makers across beers, wines and spirits. The event, which takes place in March 2020, will also give drinks businesses, retailers, and on-trade operators of all sizes practical steps and ideas they can introduce in their own businesses. Here’s what to expect.
Anthazographobia is the fear of being left behind, ignored or forgotten. Martin Scorsese’s anti-hero Travis Bickle had it in Taxi Driver and Justin Keay reckons he’s a sufferer too. Aussie maverick winemaker Chester Osborn had a cat that was exactly the same which is why he named a wine after it called The Anthazographobic Cat. But there is no chance that the iconic wines from the other of Australia’s First Families of Wine will suffer this fate. At a monumental tasting called AFFW Unlocked, which was a highlight of last week’s Australia Redefined event, an embarrassment of riches from Australia’s finest winemakers had a point to prove – and that was that ‘Australia does premium wine’ – ones that really will leave a legacy on the world of fine wine.