Fresh from delivering his ‘100 best Australian Wines’ report, wine critic Matthew Jukes put on another tasting, this time with author Tyson Stelzer called the Great Australian Red. This event, held at London’s 67 Pall Mall, focussed on Aussie Cabernet-Shiraz blends. Harry Crowther was there and picked out his favourite seven wines, some of them the latest releases and others from library stock.
As we prepare for the last week of the ICC Cricket World Cup and England’s first semi-final appearance since 1992, we get you in the mood with this trip down our very own cricketing memory lane when legendary English cricketer, turned Sky TV commentator, David Gower, shared his love for wine with The Buyer. With the launch of ‘My Perfect 6’ through Perfect Cellar in 2016 where he looked to put his name to wines that try to break new boundaries.
Arguably one of the most dynamic and exciting trends happening in the global wine market is the emergence, or the re-emergence, of indigenous varieties from traditional winemaking regions and countries. It is a trend the International Wine & Spirit Competition wants to promote by holding specific tastings and panels for wines from these countries. Here we share some of the highlights from the judging carried out just looking at wines from Eastern Europe.
The Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards is a decidedly different wine awards ceremony, writes David Kermode, and one that resembles a friend’s summer nuptials more than it does one of the industry’s many black tie events. Now into its 14th year the awards focussed on Australian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with newly re-configured importer Liberty Wines winning both categories as well as Best Importer. For a full list of winners and more besides read on….
If you work in the wine industry then Twitter has become the go to social media platform for lively debates, discussions and tos and fros about all things that are going on in wine on a daily basis. But if you are a regular Twitter user then you will have seen how some of that debate has turned somewhat in recent months into more than just a passionate sharing of views. Sorcha Holloway, who has built her own Twitter community through her weekly @ukwinehour, believes it is time we all take a collective look at ourselves and how we are behaving on social media and remember that Twitter is there to communicate rather than lecture, harass or worse.
When he’s not making wines for Sting, flying winemaker Daniel O’Donnell can be found in Turkey at Kayra, the only wine producer in the Diageo portfolio, reintroducing and refining wines made with indigenous Turkish varietals from Anatolia. For O’Donnell grapes such as Narince, Kalecik Karası, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere are nothing short of a national treasure and ‘colours worth nailing to his mast.’ On a rare visit to London he brought a stack of back vintages of his wines ‘with a touch of grey’ to show us how well they could age.
As an industry we are never going to get very far if we simply operate within our own little bubbles and fight our own individual battles. Big change only comes if we can find common causes and issues that everyone in a sector can get behind. Which is what the MUST Fermenting Ideas conference is all about. In the first of a series of articles from the event, Richard Siddle explores the big themes that were discussed before going on to look at some of the more specific debates.
After a string of lesser vintages, 2015 Bordeaux was a vintage that needed to be a success. Three years on Joss Fowler re-visits 2015 Bordeaux and asks how good is this vintage really? What it has over 2014 is fruit but is it a brilliant vintage? Putting all the hype behind him, Fowler ‘blind-tastes’ 260 wines from the vintage and picks out the wines that you should be buying – across a variety of budgets – highlighting one wine that is a clear bargain of the vintage and you should be looking out for.
Before Michael Saunders goes on to explain what steps he has taken to help turnaround the Bibendum drinks distribution business, he was keen to set out exactly what he was not there to do and that’s become “a pastiche of what it was before”. “I am not here to re-write history, but do something great to help this business,” he says. Just over 12 months on from returning to the company he had spent the previous 35 years at, it looks like he is well on course to do just that. But most of all he has been able to restore the company’s reputation and win back the support of its suppliers and all important customers. Richard Siddle sat down with him to see where he now wants to take the business in the future.
As Europe reels from some of the highest temperatures it has seen in recorded history, so the impact of climate change moves higher and higher up everybody’s agenda. Familia Torres, which is 150 years old next year, has already been setting and meeting some ambitious targets in terms of reducing CO2 commissions and investing in alternative energies to help try and play a part in combatting climate change. Part of this strategy is also to start planting vines on higher ground – its latest acquired sites in Catalonia are at least five degrees cooler at 500-750m high as Miguel Torres Maczassek explains to Peter Dean.
While most festival goers at Glastonbury this year would be happy enough to find a drop of ice cold water, two years ago our intrepid contributor Chris Wilson went in search of a decent drop of wine (cue canned laughter). Chris set off, empty wine glass in hand, but the choice he found was mainly between Echo Falls and Pennard’s Organic English Wine from Somerset with very little else in-between. Surely a missed opportunity muses Chris. If you’re heading there this weekend, or if you’re watching it on telly with a crisp glass of Chablis in hand, read with mirth, Chris’s vain attempts to mix Glasto with nice vino.
Consumers are prepared to walk away from a brand unless it delivers the goods on going green – it may be expensive to be serious about sustainability but it will cost more in the long term if you get it wrong. So argues David Kermode who hears from Concha y Toro, the world’s fifth largest wine brand, on why it put sustainability at the very heart of its business and has a different outlook – it sees it as an opportunity not a cost. Kermode also talks to the company’s suppliers about how they go about meeting the ambitious targets set to help reduce the impact on the planet.
Unless you are part of the close knit South African wine community you may not know Professor Eben Archer. But if you have enjoyed watching and experiencing how South African wines have emerged and developed over the last 20 years then you will have experienced the impact that he has had on new generation of South African winemakers during his nearly 20 years teaching wine and viticulture at the Stellenbosch University. Following his death this week we pay tribute to Professor Archer with his thoughts on South African wine that he shared with Richard Siddle during a dinner last September. Our very best go to his family, friend and the South African wine community.
With a history dating back to 1270, Frapin Cognac might not seem the most obvious candidate for a cutting edge re-invention of the cocktail but, thanks to a pioneering partnership with an importer of fine teas, that’s just what’s taking shape at the world-famous Brown’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair. ‘Aperi-TEAvo’ is a new initiative from Frapin’s importer Louis Latour Agencies with Lalani and Co, supported by an elegant tasting menu. Cognac fan and cocktail lover David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, took a tea for the team.
Liam Manton, one of the founders of Didsbury Gin, has a key bit of advice for any other brand owner or entrepreneur looking to break through in their respective channel of the drinks industry. Yes, you need to have a unique product and be 100% passionate about it, but you also need to be willing and able to walk up what he calls the “financial staircase” in order to attract the right level of investment for your business at each stage of its growth. As he explains it can, at times, be quite a steep staircase to climb.
Buying smartly in Burgundy isn’t the easiest task these days but our contributing editor and chef at large, Roger Jones, thinks he’s found a real winner from Méo-Camuzet. And who would have thought that a winery based in Norfolk would be the latest addition to the Field Morris & Verdin portfolio – rubbing shoulders with the likes of Vega Sicilia, Au Bon Climat and R. Lopez de Heredia? – and not only that but really standing up to the task. For Jones’ FMV tips read on…
Whisper it gently but California has become “sexy” again for UK wine buyers. What’s more it is becoming particularly relevant for importers, distributors, merchants and sommeliers looking for something a little different, a bit more premium, but also with the bang for buck they need to make those wines work in premium restaurants, bars and hotels. Earlier this month The Buyer and the Wine Institute of California came together to hold a debate with leading buyers from across the on-trade. Here are the key highlights from this discussion.
If you asked a 100 UK wine experts to write down one grape variety that best demonstrates what English wine can do, then you would be guaranteed a wide range of answers. Probably the most divisive and Marmite of all varieties grown in the UK is Bacchus, with seemingly as many distractors as there are admirers. To try and get to know and understand what styles of English wine Bacchus is helping to produce, Richard Bampfield MW and Laura Clay put on what they believe was the biggest Bacchus-only tasting in London last week. Here Bampfield explains how the tasting was organised and what lessons and conclusions could be drawn from all the Bacchus wines on show.
For all those who have been either directly, or indirectly, involved in how the C&C Group has helped transform the fortunes of Bibendum and Matthew Clark over the last year would not be surprised to hear chief executive, Stephen Glancey, describe the last 12 months as “being very intense for all involved”. But he would also be quick to point to the work done by the respective teams and, in particular, the role of the senior executives who returned to the two companies to help spearhead the turnaround. Michael Saunders at Bibendum and Steve Thompson at Matthew Clark. Here in the first of a two part analysis, Richard Siddle looks at what steps were taken to get Bibendum back on track, much to the relief of their suppliers and customers.
While the younger generation of sommeliers are understandably getting excited about the Californian New Wave, it is easy to overlook one of the stalwarts of the West Coast wine scene – Zinfandel. This is a grape with a much-debated and controversial past and a bad reputation as either an over-extracted fruit bomb or a sweet blush. But the good red Zinfandel continues to be made by ‘old timers’ such as Ravenswood and Ridge and more recent converts like Broc Cellars whose take on Zin weighs in at a ‘lightweight’ 12.5% ABV. Peter Dean picks out 10 California Zinfandel you should be considering for your list.