As many of the wine industry’s leaders in sustainable winemaking and distribution gather in London for the Future of Wine event, organised by Sustainable Wine, we turn to arguably wine’s most authoritative and respected figure on the subject. Miguel Torres, president of Familia Torres, who has spent most of his distinguished career not only championing the need for the wine industry to do more to tackle climate change, but pioneering new viticultural methods in his own vineyards to do exactly that. Here in this typically succinct and forthright thought piece, produced for the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, he sets out his hopes for the sector going forward.
Send top chef and wine expert Roger Jones to pick a handful of his favourite Alsatian wines from the Alsace Rocks! tasting and what do you get? 1600 words on 27 wines, tasting notes, food-matching suggestions, two special producer profiles and more enthusiasm than is all together comfortable in a diminutive Welshman. Jones is a massive fan of Alsace and one of the world’s experts on its wines – both as a wine lover and, most importantly, understanding how they work in the context of his top restaurant.
From Greek Civ O Level to extensive studies in Cretian wine, Kate Hawkings has always had a passion for Greece, its culture and its wines. Here she travels to Crete and visits Lyrarakis, a wine estate that underwent major rebranding and redefinition of its strategy in 2016, focussing on their pioneering work with native varietals – Dafni, Plyto, Melissaki, Vilana and Kotsifali – and emphasis on Crete’s distinctive terroirs. Hawkins hears how difficult these grapes are to work with as well as gives full tasting notes on the latest vintage.
There are a select, and shortening list of wine regions and styles that are a must for any wine list. A list that has Rioja firmly placed on it. One of the Old World’s most traditional wine regions, it has been able to reach parts of consumers wine psyche that other regions can only dream of. But how does it keep its place in the sun? Will the new relaxed regulations to allow producers to make wines from specific sub-areas add or subtract to Rioja’s appeal? To find out Richard Siddle helped host two panels featuring leading buyers from across the on and off-trades at the recent Wines from Rioja 10×10 tasting.
Simon Robinson has an unique perspective on the British wine industry. He has fingers in a lot of pies – as chairman of both Hampshire-based winery Hattingley Valley and industry association WineGB. And he is bullish about the future of both. He has grown his estate from empty chalk hills to being one of the UK’s biggest wine exporters, his award-winning winemaker Emma Rice is set to make their first still Chardonnay and he believes that Brexit and a weaker pound will help the maturing industry secure distribution abroad. Justin Keay talks to the Hattingley team as well as tastes through their new releases.
Talk to a wine producer from most of the major New World countries, be it New Zealand, Australia, Argentina or South Africa, about where they see as being their key target markets for the years ahead and the majority will pick out China and the US. Which is not surprising considering the huge growth potential there is in these fast emerging and vast wine markets for imported wine. But how do you go about making a success in what are both effectively three tier markets where having the right importer and then distributor is crucial? Here in the first of a new series of articles exploring how producers and importers work together we talk to Ross Sleet of South African blended wine brand, Rascallion Wines, about how he is trying to crack the US market, and also his new US importer, Paul Clear of the Terroir Wine Group, about why he has decided to take Rascallion on and how he hopes to build the brand in the States.
As far as challenges go, Maison Bruno Paillard’s N.P.U. Champagnes are as formidable as they are delicious. The Buyer reported before on the seven-point-manifesto that was dreamed up years ago in London and resulted in the creation of this unusual cuvée. Now it was time to present another vintage of this wine which has only been made seven times since it was conceived in the mid-1980s. Alice Paillard, daughter of founder Bruno Paillard, was in London to present the N.P.U., or Nec Plus Ultra 2004. Anne Krebiehl MW reports
Ask any business in the wine industry what their attitude and approach to sustainability is and you are likely to get a different response every time based on their understanding of what sustainability means to their company and line of work. Which makes it such an ever changing topic for discussion and debate. But it is important that as an industry as a whole we continue to come together and determine what sustainable steps we can all be taking. Which is very much what next week’s new Sustainable Wine Forum is all about. A one-day conference on November 4 designed to be bring producers, importers, consultants, retailers and merchants together in London to openly debate sustainability in wine. Organiser of the event and founder of Sustainable Wine, Tobias Webb, explains what to expect.
“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.