English saignée rosé is tipped to be a major new category for the English and Welsh wine industry – a more gastronomic pour than traditionally-assembled pink fizz. To put six of our finest to the test (with two ringers from Champagne) wine expert Douglas Blyde chaired a fascinating blind-tasting session last Friday to which our own Stephen Vey was one of the judges. Much was learned by everyone present although the jury is still out from the winemakers themselves – some think it the purest terroir-driven expression of Pinot Noir we can achieve in England while one is unsure they will be repeating the ‘experiment’.
To continue farming in Britain it is becoming increasingly important to ‘think outside of the box’ in order to survive, which is why Tim and Tan Spittle, sheep farmers in the Cotswolds, have been shortlisted as finalists in the Farmers Weekly Awards 2022 for Diversification Farmer of the Year. Not only did they convert disused cattle sheds into a successful gym but with Blacklion Vodka they have launched an internationally recognised and lauded new premium spirits brand… and it all comes from a waste product from cheese production – Europe’s first vodka to be made from sheep’s milk. Peter Dean talks to the Spittles and tastes the vodka.
“We need to be pro-active and be continuously re-inventing ourselves.” Elmarie Rabe, manager of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, perfectly sums up the spirit of innovation and the willingness to test, trial and experiment to make better quality wines that is currently taking place in Stellenbosch, not just by individual winemakers, but as a region as a whole. That is also the message that came across during a session hosted by Richard Siddle of leading Stellenbosch producers looking at what steps different wineries are taking to push the envelope and make wines that are true to the soils and climate where they come from.
If you thought that Australia’s greatest ever show wine was Grange, think again. It is, in fact another Penfolds wine, the 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A, which is a Shiraz Cabernet blend and a style of wine that Australia does better than anyone else… even though it has been slowly going out of fashion. Showcasing this unique Australian icon is the key driver behind The Great Australian Red 2022 competition which was hosted yesterday in London for the first time in its 16 year history. Our editor-at-large and Australian specialist, Roger Jones was asked to join Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer to judge this year’s awards at 67 Pall Mall, from where he gives all the results as well as explains in depth the thinking behind this flagship Australian wine event.
It’s a busy time for trade tastings and Davy’s Wine Merchants has certainly gone the extra mile in what it has planned for its special New World wine event on September 7 that it is hosting at its head office in Greenwich, London. James Davy, chairman and the fifth generation of the Davy family to run the business, says the team has worked hard to give buyers a fully immersive tasting that will use food pairings and bespoke music matches to heighten their tasting experience of wines from all its New World wine producers.
“Increases in dry goods and shipping have a much greater effect at the bottom end of the market, however this segment has never been important to our business, so is less of a problem for us from that perspective.” That’s how Lucie Parker, trade director of Jeroboams, sets the scene for the London wine merchant’s annual tasting that takes place on September 7. It will once again be the opportunity of the year for buyers and the UK wine trade to meet 40 producers pouring over 300 wines and sample many of the new and old estates featured in the Jeroboams portfolio. Here, Parker and wine director, Peter Mitchell MW give us a sneak preview of what to expect.
“Attica, defined by the commanding presence of Athens, has always been a huge wine market and one with great opportunities for the growers. Attica is not only blessed with ideal climatic conditions, perfect vineyard sites and distinctive soils, but has also significant commercial advantages.” That statement helps set the scene for a special series of articles looking at different aspects of what makes this region of Greece such an important part not only of the country’s winemaking industry, but also its influence on the traditions, culture and history of the country as a whole.
In our special series of articles on Attica Wines we have highlighted the transformation of the age-old winemaking tradition of Attica to a top-of-the league wine producing region which boasts of the most exquisite wines of Greece. Below we discuss the renewal of the vineyards of Attica and we shed some light on the region’s flagship native variety – Savatiano.
Retsina, one of the most well-known wine styles in Greece, with Attica as the centre of its production, is experiencing a complete makeover. PGI Retsina of Attiki produces these iconic wines that have re-invented themselves, with new elegant styles, based on quality grapes and moderate resin flavours. In the third and last of our Attica Special features we look at why Retsina is a style of wine that demands to be better known and why Attica has such an important role in the Attica Renaissance.
If you wanted to write a book on the best way to launch a new drinks brand then get top bartenders to help create the drinks with you and then recruit some of the best, most respected and connected talent to help lead the business and you’ve got more than half your book written. Which is exactly what the founders of Mocktails did when they came up with the idea of creating authentic, naturally made alcohol-free ready-to-drink cocktails that top venues and bars would happily have in their venues from day one. Richard Siddle sits down with two of the ‘talents’ behind Mocktails, Ed Gerard, chief commercial officer and Chris Rowe, head of UK sales, to help write the rest of that book.
Although still somewhat immature as a wine category, German rosé has almost doubled in production over the past decade – up to 12% of all German wine production. Because German Pinot Noir is the third highest planting of the variety worldwide we can expect to see a lot more of German rosé, writes Simon Field MW, especially with so many quality winemakers making both high-end and commercial, populist styles. On a press trip entitled Think Pink! Field was introduced to a plethora of wines that showed many of the issues facing German rosé – most notably name and style – as it strives to forge its own identity in this fascinating category.
“The amount of change and development is sometimes hard to assess from an insider’s point of view, but really there is so much happening in the UK wine scene and we hope to convey that notion to visitors.” That’s how Simon Thorpe MW, chief executive of WineGB, sets the scene for the body’s annual tasting that takes place at London’s Lindley Hall on September 6. It will once again be the opportunity of the year for buyers and the UK wine trade to see for themselves what is happening in the fast changing UK wine scene.
Rosé is a wine category that is much-maligned, according to world expert Elizabeth Gabay MW, who says that even erudite critics fall into the trap of labelling it ‘sexy’ or ‘seductive’. Many buyers don’t taste but make decisions based on colour alone, while the on-trade is missing a massive opportunity by only listing one or two choices compared to a long list of reds and whites. Gabay has made it her mission to set the record straight by applying the same set of critical criteria as she would to any other wine. On the eve of the publication of her new book, which takes an unprecedented approach to the pink wine across Provence, Bandol, the Rhône valley and Languedoc-Roussillon, she opens out to The Buyer about why she is ‘still banging on about rosé’.
The key challenge – and opportunity – for any leading wine importer and agency business is to ensure the range of producers it is working with are relevant for the needs and demands of their customers. It’s why Louis Latour Agencies has been able to build its impressive portfolio of producers from around the world. Here managing director, Will Oatley, gives an update on the company’s performance and why he is so pleased to welcome two premium Provence producers – Chateau des Demoiselles and Chateau Sainte-Roseline – to its growing stable.
August 2022 will go down as the earliest grape harvest in Spanish history. Sarah McCleery was there, in Pastrana, a 14-hectare vineyard close to the sea in Miraflores, watching Palomino Fino picked by the team at Bodegas Hidalgo. She was there to witness an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this sherry producer, most famous for its Manzanilla La Gitana, but also a much larger range of sherries, still wines and vermouth. A guest of Fermin Hidalgo, McCleery witnesses an historic horse race on the beach, gets converted to sherry-pairing throughout a meal and sees how Hidalgo has kept on top by keeping things fresh from the barrel.
The adage that we are stronger together very much applies to the decision to bring the tourism and wine sides of Stellenbosch together under one organisational and promotional body – Visit Stellenbosch. Richard Siddle examines how it potentially provides the perfect platform on which to tell the many stories of Stellenbosch through the prism of its wineries, vineyards and winemakers and the spectacular scenery and tourism experiences they offer.
Five new Italian wine estates and three Spanish have been added by Carson & Carnevale to its portfolio in a September refresh. The multi-channel importer and distributor is now working with Kellerei St Paul’s, Marchesi di Barolo, Tenuta Scuotto, Assuli and San Giusto a Rentennano from Italy and Bodegas y Viñedos Monteabellón, Navascués Enología and Viñedos de Sonsierra from Spain. Peter Dean tasted through the range, introduces each estate and picks out his key highlights.
Talk to multi-generational family wine producers and many will say the most difficult time comes when passing the business on between the third and fourth generation, as that is when there are so many moving parts to keep the company and family together. Well, they must be doing things differently at Maisons & Domaines Henriot as Gilles de Larouzière Henriot, is the eighth generation to head up the family business. Here he explains to Richard Siddle his approach and how the family is still firmly involved in its future strategy.
Paz Levinson might have made her name and reputation as a world leading sommelier working outside her home country of Argentina, but she has always remained close to the wine scene there and how she can help promote the best wines that Argentina is producing. Which is why she has launched her new ‘Argentina Reloaded’ programme that hopes to showcase in key cities around the world the most exciting developments in Argentina’s burgeoning wine industry. Here she explains to Richard Siddle just what ‘Argentina Reloaded’ is all about.
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. A Buyer Rewind feature – re-posted from its 2020 ‘publication’.