We have all probably heard enough of our politicians talking about “taking back control” of our decision making power and factors that determine our economic futures. But when it comes to business, having complete control of all aspects of your supply chain and cost base is vitally important. As we sleepwalk towards Brexit, that need is going to be even more paramount. This March’s International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show hopes to provide the platform for the industry to come together and address both the challenges and opportunities ahead.
For the UK wine trade, January marks not only the start of a new year, but when all our attention turns to Bourgogne Week and the chance for buyers, merchants, sommeliers and retailers to discover and taste the latest vintage available on the market. After a disappointing 2016 harvest in volume, the double good news for all buyers is that production levels for 2017 were much better and, just as importantly, quality levels are good, says the Bourgogne Wine Board’s (BIVB) François Labet.
In picking his Top 10 wines of 2018, Geoffrey Dean concluded that the New World was where his favourite wines came from – mainly South Africa and Australia, two countries he visited during the year; Geoffrey has also slipped in a crafty Bordeaux sticky as well as a cracking old vine Malbec from Chile.
Premium Belgium beer has long been a go to category for beer aficionados, in fact, they have arguably played an important role in creating demand for the boom in craft beers that we have seen from so many different countries. But for Duvel Moortgat the challenge is to keep pushing the boundaries on what Belgium beer can offer, and in particular for its two flagship brands, Duvel and Vedett. Here John Wood, UK managing director, assesses the premium beer opportunity.
Pet Nat Retsina, a must-try Armenian wine made from Areni Noir and Yaras grapes, a 50-year-old aged white port and a Romanian blend that depends upon Muscat Ottonel for its distinctive taste are just some of the ‘wild and wonderful’ highlights of 2018 for Justin Keay as he picks his top 10 wines of the year. A big fan of Grape Unknown-style wines, unique cuvées and emerging regions, Keay is expert at picking out lesser known grape varieties and interesting producers that demand greater recognition.
Anne Krebiehl MW’s belief that wine connects and transcends was strengthened this year by a number of experiences including drinking ‘her vintage’ at Felton Road under the Southern stars while Nigel Greening cooked her goat; getting slowly sloshed on the Danube drinking 2001 Domäne Wachau and many more key events in this classic vintage of a year.
Has Sir Ian Botham ever done anything half-heartedly? In some ways it is not a surprise that the first range of wines he has produced under his own name are already selling out on allocation. But then this is not a celebrity putting their name to a collection of pre-ordained wines. It’s a hobby that has potentially morphed into what he hopes could be a career that he becomes equally if not more well known and respected for what he did with a cricket bat and ball. As its the New Year we thought we would revisit this interview Richard Siddle had with Botham where he shares his passion for wine that has seen 40 years of friendships and relationships with winemakers turn into what he can proudly call the Botham Wines series.
It’s been an exciting 2018 for Jonathan Kleeman. With already bags of sommelier experience under his belt working at The Ritz, Social Eating House and the two Michelin starred Quattro Passi, this was the year that Kleeman joined two start up business, initially at new Japanese fusion restaurant, Four Degree in London, before being signed up as head of buying for a new wine merchants business in Bishops Stortford, Twisted Cellar. It’s a wonder he found time to take a break for Christmas at all…
As a PR executive, writer, WSET student and contributor to The Buyer, Christina Rasmussen is exposed to a staggering array of wines in a diverse range of wine regions – from interesting cuvées made in barrels deep within the most cutting edge wineries to those more readily available from more established names. Her Top 10 Wines of the Year piece is always no such thing – an enthusiastic journey through a year in wine where she and we stop counting, but rather buckle in and enjoy the ride, full as it is with invaluable tips on which winemakers and wines to keep your buying eyes out for.
The ‘power of the press trip’ is an overriding theme of this list of Top 10 Wines of 2018 from David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus. Almost all of the wines were tasted and enjoyed in situ whether that was in the sunny foothills of Soave or further afield in New Zealand and Canada’s British Columbia. Oh, and David also found it very hard whittling his list down to 10 wines – which seems to be an overriding theme of this year’s Best Ofs…
It has been an eventful year for wine writer and communicator Sorcha Holloway. Her breakthrough Twitter forum #ukwinehour has gone from strength to strength and has brought wine conversation and debate to a huge international audience. Hear she shares the highs and lows of the last 12 months and also looks back on an important week for her close family and how they all spent Christmas together.
Having travelled to South Africa twice in the year there was no surprise that Chris Wilson’s Top 10 wines of 2018 would include a fair number from SA; half, in fact. Chris highlights a Pinotage that was served in magnum and double magnum – a decade apart in vintage – a Colheita from his birth year and a ‘low alcohol’ Riesling from New Zealand.
Giles Cooke has had a busy 2018, dividing his time between his growing Australian wine business, Thistledown Wines, and the UK wine importing and distribution business, Alliance Wine, that he is probably more well known in the drinks trade for. So spending time at home in Edinburgh with his family is even more special, particularly for Christmas. Here he shares what he got up to this year as well as looking back on what has been an eventful 2018.
If you suffer from FOMO then you might want to look away from Peter Dean’s Top 10 wines of 2018, one of which hails back to the Nineteenth Century. Whether they were drunk in the hallowed spaces of hard-to-reach wine estates, in tastings back in the UK or, indeed, at home – these wines represent the very pinnacle of wine experiences for Dean. The fact that this list could easily have run to 100 wines is testament to the richness of the wine world we all live in.
There are many ways to spend Christmas Day, we will all have our own traditions and ways of doing things and our own personal guilty pleasures, but most of all it is a time to hopefully take a collective deep breath and enjoy great food, wine, spirits and friends and family. In the first of our festive Q&As we ask Richard Ellison, founder of Wanderlust Wine, to share what he will be up to on Christmas Day, and some of his own personal festive favourites, which means spending time with an alternative Royal family.
Roger Jones is a man of many hats and a man used to spinning a large number of plates at any one time. A world class chef, a restaurateur with the AA’s Best English Wine List for 2018, an ambassador to the CSWWC, a Decanter panel judge, host to the Tri Nations Wine Championships and a contributing editor to The Buyer. No he’s not been knighted yet but in our books he will always be Sir Roger Jones, at least that’s the name he always gives when checking into First Class lounges.
Now if you ever succumb to the lure of stopping by the pie stand on the way home from work, you’ll probably feel a little guilty as you take your first bite. Naughty but nice. But, for Bruce Jack, his love of pies growing up also taught him arguably the most important business lesson he was ever going to learn. For, as in the wine industry, there are so many pies to choose from, but which one is going to catch your eye, and why? Understand that, he says, and you have got a good chance of understanding how to run your business. Here’s Bruce’s pie business sermon…
We can all appreciate a great wine list, or identify when the sommelier just isn’t firing on all cylinders. In the case of The Vineyard Hotel in Berkshire, their wine-pairing evenings take the wine list into unchartered territory, argues Mike Turner, who says that the way the Old World wines are matched in pairs against Californian wines is a lesson for all budding sommeliers to do something extra with a wine experience – and give customers something that will live long in the memory.
“There is a deliciousness to these red wines. I am hugely impressed by them. The quality has blown me away.” Just the kind of review any wine producer would want for their wines, particularly if it comes from such as senior a figure as John Graves, on-trade channel director at Bibendum Wine. But Graves was not the only UK panelist in our debate with the Douro Valley’s Soul Wine producers to be impressed with what they saw and tasted. In part two of our report on the wide ranging debate we assess the opportunity for Douro’s wines in the premium on-trade and what steps producers need to take to make the most of them.
Step forward anyone who can give a two minute talk on exactly what blockchain technology is all about, and why it has been heralded as the next big thing in business? Thankfully there are specialist blockchain experts out there to do that for us. Like the new team behind start up blockchain business, Chac, that believes blockchain technology could have major benefits for the drinks industry. James Aufenast, one of the four partners in the business, and a former drinks journalist with his own specialist knowledge of the drinks industry, explains why we should all take notice of what blockchains can do for our own companies.