“Sampling new, 2019 Hunter Valley Semillon feels like a form of vinous infanticide,” writes David Kermode, after tasting through the latest vintages of white and red with Iain Riggs, chief winemaker at Brokenwood. Having just completed his 48th vintage, Riggs can rightly be called one of the forefathers of Hunter Valley, taking a small scale winery in 1982 and turning it into one of the most highly regarded estates in Australia today. Riggs discusses Semillon, screw cap, Graveyard Shiraz (the 2017 has just been awarded a Best in Show at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards), climate and Dolly Parton styles of Chardonnay.
“I am looking for identity, not perfection.” That just about sums up perfectly the winemaking approach of Sebastian Zucccardi who is more than just following in his father’s footsteps in helping to make and take premium, minimal intervention wines from Argentina around the world. Here Harry Crowther joins Zuccardi for an evening examining his approach to terroir and how Zuccardi’s focus on sense of place, and finding the right sites for its grapes, is what is ultimately behind this range of benchmark Argentine wines.
Simpsons Wine Estate was set up in Barham, Kent six years ago with the intention of making English sparkling wine. The news that its Chalklands Classic Cuvee has just won a major gong at the CSWW awards with its first ever release is an indication that their young operation is producing sparkling wine at the right level of quality. But a third of its output is English still wine, a category that they believe holds the secret to their long term success. Peter Dean met them on the eve of their 2019 harvest to find out how they intend to take English still wine into quality levels it has so far failed to reach.
It was a day of firsts. It was the first time that the VDP Grosses Gewächs 2019 tasting had been held outside Germany. It was the first time that this ‘Sneak Preview’ of the dry wines of the new vintage had been hosted by the Institute of Masters of Wine. But, most importantly, it was the first time that us British wine hacks had been subjected on our home turf to the process and efficiency of the VDP’s brilliant tasting procedures. Peter Dean was there to experience a little welcome Vorsprung Durch Technik being injected into the wine tasting system and gives a few pointers as to which wines were firing on all cylinders.
Double the number of entries, over 70 judges, the majority of which are average wine drinkers and a bigger number of shortlisted wines. The People’s Choice Wine Awards are on a march. Now into its third year, the competition that literally lives up to its name, shows there is plenty of excitement and enthusiasm amongst everyday wine drinkers to get involved in an event that is all about championing wines the average consumers want to drink. Richard Siddle assesses the ins and outs of the shortlist for the 2020 People’s Choice Wine Awards.
Forget New York, Shanghai or Dubai. If you are looking to build your business around the world then it is time to change your perspective away from the fastest growing cities of the past and instead take a serious look at the various economies across the continent of Africa. At least according to the latest financial assessments from leading bank, Standard Chartered that singles out the Ivory Coast as the country and economy to watch. Richard Siddle explains why.
We hear a lot about the importance of long term relationships when it comes to restaurants, hotels, bars and their drinks suppliers. Which is why it is particularly refreshing to see one such partnership blossoming as well as the one between Corney & Barrow and premium Lake District hotel, The Forest Side, thanks, in part, to the close personal relations its general manager Alasdair Elwick has forged with C&B over his career. Here Richard Siddle talks to Elwick to find out what aspects of that relationship are so important.
Two worlds collided at the London launch of two new Champagnes from Louis Roederer – that of winemaking and also artistic expression. Held at the Royal Academy, in the company of Philippe Starck amongst others, Anne Krebiehl MW found the setting incongruous at first but then warmed to the concept, showcasing as it did what happens when a consummate, daring and imaginative artisan-scientist abandons the conventional and co-harvests grape varieties, co-ferments juices, and champions a clay-rich hillside by putting site, not process in the foreground. Krebiehl explains how both Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2012 Blanc and Rosé manage to ‘catch the light’ of a particular hillside in Cumières.
The demographics and psychographics of the Low & No-alcohol market were the main focus of the world’s first Lo and No Beverage Summit held in London last week, which was attended by most of the major players in this fast-growing drinks sector – Diageo’s Distill Ventures group, Pernod-Ricard, Fever-Tree and AB InBev amongst others. Former drinks inventor and author, David Gluckman, was there for The Buyer to pick up on the ideas from some of the ‘early adopters’ who were presented at the summit, hear about legal definitions, CBD and why 29% more is spent at Wetherspoon’s on coffee than at Pret-A-Manger. But was there enough on the actual products themselves?
Roger Jones’ relationship with Krug stretches back over the decades not just years – his restaurant was the first in Britain to serve Krug Grand Cuvée and Krug Vintage by the glass, and he is also known to open a bottle when the Welsh narrowly scrape through a rugby match. Jones was a natural, then, to meet up with Krug chef de cave Eric Lebel who was in London last week to launch new vintage Krug 2006 and the 162nd edition of Krug Grand Cuvée. Krug’s nickname for the 2006 – ‘Capricious Indulgence’ – Jones was not sure about, but he did like the wine and found the idea of matching it with a private gig from a South African loop artist interesting, giving as it did a new meaning to the term ‘House music’.
The UK wine trade is used to having the opportunity to take part in special wine tasting events. The world of wine is always keen to show what it can do to some of the planet’s most influential buyers. On November 1 the opportunity falls on Napa Valley to demonstrate how the style and diversity of Cabernet Sauvignon has evolved over the last 30 years with a special Perspective tasting that will allow producers to show how one wine has changed and adapted over three vintages. Here’s what you can look forward to.
Thankfully Liam Hirt and Danny Walker are not only close friends, but have become successful business partners in not one but two craft spirits businesses based in Bristol. First the Psychopomp Distillery, which is the result of what happens when you take a hobby that started out in a basement and open it up to the public. Its limited edition craft gins now sell out on demand. It is now looking to do the same with its grain and whisky concept, the Circumstance Distillery which is as much about combining flavours and ferments as it is about craft distilling. Richard Siddle caught up with this fascinating duo who have also created their own craft spirit cryptocurrency…as you do.
Fresh from a trip to Rioja, ex-Berry Bros buyer Simon Field MW had the right context in which to cast a critical eye over the latest 10X10 Rioja tasting. With new classifications being used, the ‘Saber quién eres’ generic streamline still in place and Tim Atkin MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW still curating a wonderful selection of 100 Riojas, there was plenty for Field to get his teeth into. Now into its fifth year, 10X10 had successfully moved across the river to the Tate Modern, where the latest wines were being shown across 10 categories. Field tasted through the range and also recommends 10 Riojas that you should be looking at getting on your list.
There are not many – if any – wine events like wine2wine. That’s the point. Now into its sixth year this two-day event in Verona, Italy has become a key event in the calendar for those serious about getting on top of the key business issues facing the global wine industry, looking specifically at the influence and importance of technology and communications. Described as a cross between a conference and a think-tank it attracts top speakers from around the world. This year The Buyer will be on hand as a media partner sharing the highlights and insights. Here’s what to expect.
Winemaking the world over is currently in a ‘less is more’ phase, where it is often more important what is being left out of the process than what is being left in. So, out goes trophy-hunting, overworked wines with high degrees of polish and in comes wines made with organic, biodynamic, minimal intervention and ‘natural’ winemaking principles – whatever that means. For Chakana winemaker Gabriel Bloise, the past seven years has been one of experimentation, as he has led the mission to improve the soils of his estate through biodynamics and also testing the waters with what is achievable in his bold portfolio of wines.
“The books that taught me about wine were as much about places and people as they were about the wines themselves, and those were the stories that stuck in my mind.” They are also the stories that acclaimed wine critic and writer himself, Steven Spurrier, wants to capture and celebrate with his new venture the Académie du Vin Library that will give the opportunity for journalists and writers to have new wine books published, as well as the chance to delve back in time and help re-publish old classics.
Not having gone to a Corney & Barrow tasting for a while, Justin Keay was expecting to find wines mainly from France and the wine buyers to be mainly wearing pin stripes. How wrong you can be. In selecting his ‘Seven Magnificent’ wines from the Autumn Portfolio tasting held at Mayfair’s Nobu restaurant, Keay found that none actually came from France instead they are from South Africa, Chile, Greece, Argentina, Portugal, Germany and Italy – reflecting the massive strides that the buying team at Corney & Barrow has made in diversifying its portfolio.
Famous for its historic Port production, it’s hard to believe that the Douro didn’t really make still wine until the end of the last century. Five producers changed all that – Quinta Vale D. Maria, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale Meão and Niepoort – and together they make up The Douro Boys. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, flew to Porto to meet each of them as they get together to celebrate their 15th anniversary with a fund-raising auction which, this year, broke all records. He meets the characters, all of them very different, who have done so much to raise the profile of their region and highlights a few of his favourite wines.
If you are keen to learn more about the latest styles of Italian and Mediterranean wine and how they can particularly work with different types of cuisine in the premium on-trade then next month’s Bellavita Expo really is a must. For the two day show has put together a highly impressive range of wine seminars, masterclasses and panel debates featuring a roll call of top experts and Masters of Wine. Here’s our highlights of what is a packed agenda of talks.
If generic bodies like Wines of Argentina are going to get the message across to buyers and sommeliers across the country about how far their wines and styles are changing then it means putting the hard yards in. Which is what the autumn series of Barullo Sessions from Wines of Argentina is all about. The chance to take Argentine producers on the road and introduce them to key players both in and around London, but also in Scotland with a special event next week in Edinburgh. UK ambassador for Wines of Argentina, Phil Crozier, explains what they have in store.