So impressed was Roger Jones with the sparkling wines of Tasmania’s House of Arras that, when he ran a Michelin-starred restaurant, he had the Arras Grand Vintage as his house pour. Ed Carr, winemaker at Arras, was awarded a lifetime achievement award at last year’s CSWWC awards, for which Jones is a judge, and for the new releases it was only natural that Carr took Jones through the new wines including a 13 year-old Rosé and the Arras Late Disgorged.
We are all having to find new ways of working to fit in with the social distancing rules, including the usually very hands on business of judging for major wine competitions. It has certainly thrown up fresh challenges to those tasked with putting such events on. Here Belinda Mercer, competition manager for the WineGB Awards, takes us behind the scenes to explain for how she and her team were able to put on this year’s awards thanks to the efforts of just three judges – Susan Barrie MW, Oz Clarke and Rebecca Palmer. We have now updated this article to include the highlights of the winners of the 2020 WineGB Awards.
Unable this year to visit the far-flung wine-producing countries that tickle his palate, Justin Keay decided to set himself a challenge. Pick four different English wineries, that each have to be in different counties, and then pick one wine from each. And, rather than the larger estates and household names, he decided to visit the smaller wineries that may well be flying under your radar. Four Counties, Four Wineries, Four Wines Part 1 – Langham Wine Estate and Black Chalk Wine.
Entering major international drinks competitions is an important part of any producer, importer or retailer’s marketing budget. But it’s going to be harder than ever to find the resources to enter your products with all the other costs and issues that Covid-19 has thrown up. Which is why The People’s Choice Wine Awards has introduced new bursaries, with the support of Wines of Portugal and Smurfit Kappa, to help with entries to three of the categories in its 2021 competition.
Limited edition cuvées are all the rage these days in Champagne, the latest in the fold being Billecart-Salmon which has just launched a new series of ‘pop-up’ cuvées called Les Rendez-Vous de Billecart-Salmon; wines where ‘when they’re gone they’re gone’. First in this series is No.1 Meunier Extra Brut which is a 3-crus 100% Meunier that is largely from the 2014 vintage and has spent 52 months on its lees – a wine that has come straight out of the House’s penchant for experimentation.
22 climats in Pouilly-Fuissé have just been given Premier Cru status. The wines of Pouilly and Fuissé have long been recognised as “first class,” in fact at the start of the Nineteenth Century scholars put the wines on a par with other great wine regions like Meursault and Montrachet. But, until this week’s decision, the Mâconnais was still the only region in Burgundy that did not have vineyard hierarchy. Before lockdown LM Archer travelled to the region to find out how the thirteen-year application for Premier Cru status was progressing for a number of climats, a process that had been temporarily closed down because of the virus.
Doesn’t time fly. We are now two months on from when restaurants, bars and pubs were able to re-open and allow customers back into their outlets across England, with Scotland and Wales following a little while after. So how has it been like for those tasked with working on restaurant floors? Here Mattia Scarpazza, head sommelier at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, south London, shares not just his experiences over the last two months, but those of fellow sommeliers working at leading restaurants across London and the steps and changes they have had to make in order to keep everyone safe.
You don’t have to look very far to see what a difficult time this is for so many individuals, never mind businesses, in the hospitality sector and all the companies that supply it. There is an even bigger concern that the situation is going to get a whole lot worse once the stabilsers of the furlough system are taken away in the autumn. It’s why The Buyer is today starting a new series – ‘Onwards & Upwards’ – where we give a platform to those in the restaurant, bar, wine, and drinks industries, who are looking for a fresh start, to explain who they are, their background and what sort of opportunity they are looking for. First up is Jon Clement who is looking for a new challenge on leaving his position at The Big Table Group.
Following last month’s successful insight into the Czech wine revolution, Justin Keay here looks at how the Czech wine industry is at a fascinating crossroads – between catering largely for the home market and following Hungary and Austria’s example of successfully exporting to international markets. There is also a huge range of different styles of wine made from a very large number of grape varieties – both international and indigenous – that collectively reflect one of Czech wine’s main strengths, namely, producing highly drinkable wines with a high degree of freshness. Keay is a fan and picks out the wineries that you should be keeping an eye on.
When we held the first One Step Beyond event in early March to analyse the growing trends and advances in technology that were changing the way we as consumers behaved, the world was a very different place. Even though Covid-19 was rampaging across Europe, in the UK it still felt very much at arm’s length. Six months on and so many of those emerging, ‘about to happen’ trends discussed at the conference are now very much part of our daily lives shaping the way we live and dictating what businesses need to do to survive. To help assess what changes in consumer behaviour the drinks industry needs to be on top off now and in the months ahead, The Buyer is teaming up again with Sophie Jump to host a special free One Step Beyond webinar with the same experts and panelists from the inaugural conference. Here’s how you can take part.
Vinitaly is the key date in the diary for all those in the trade responsible for buying and selling Italian wine. But with the Verona-based fair cancelled this year, Enotria&Coe decided to celebrate La Dolce Vite in the only way it could – sending a case of their best Italian wines to key personnel with a mini film of each producer introducing their wines.
Of all the new entrants into the wine sector in recent years Wanderlust Wine has stood out as it came into the industry with a new business model. One focused on a technology and distribution solution that meant from day one it could offer same, or next day delivery, for direct to consumer, the off-trade and on-trade at the same time. It’s a model that has served it well during Covid-19 with a boom in online sales, where its range of eclectic and exclusive wines from experimental winemakers around the world, have been in high demand. For our latest video interview Richard Siddle talks to its founder Richard Ellison, and its new head of trade Françoise Mathis, who left Roberson Wine last month, about what they see as the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for smaller, niche importers, and how new equity funding raised during lockdown will help Wanderlust take its digital first – ‘Vintech’ – business model to the next level.
Zweigelt is Austria’s most widely planted red grape: famously fruity, seductively spicy, with a name that many find unsavoury because of who created it. Until now, the variety has been celebrated as a relatively simple, crowd-pleasing bistro wine, but if the producers from the Lower Austrian region of Carnuntum get their way, that perception is about to change, as we get to know the variety’s serious side.
As Grant Burge releases its new 2018 vintage wines, chief winemaker Craig Stansborough explains how the style of winemaking is evolving through the years, what recent vintages have been like, which are the ones to put on your buying radar and how Barossa Valley, in general, is moving with the times – in the use of oak, whole bunch, yeasts and vineyard management. Full tasting notes including a ‘ripper’ 2016 Meshach and a museum 2012 release.
From a business point of view 2020 will be remembered as the year that we all went online both to do business and stay in business. Regardless of how well you had invested in digital and online solutions before Covid-19, the global lockdown and continued fall out from the pandemic has meant we have all had to learn fast how best to use technology to buy, sell, and keep on top of what has been such a fast changing situation. Today The Buyer starts a new regular series of updates looking at the latest steps and initiatives companies are taking in digital and the online trends that are shaping how we need to do business in the future.
Week after week we have seen new initiatives launched by our major drinks wholesalers, and their producer partners, to help their on-trade customers, in particular, cope with the on-going fall out of Covid-19. One of the most eye catching has been the pledge by Hallgarten & Novum Wines to provide £700,000 of free glasses of wine to as many of its on-trade customers as it can during September. Here managing director, Andrew Bewes, explains how the scheme is going to work and what impact he hopes it can have on the wider hospitality sector.
Making a carbon-neutral winery from cannabis sativa, that has been recognised as one of the most environmentally-friendly wineries in the world, is just one of the many achievements of Robert ‘Bertie’ Eden. The godfather of organic and biodynamic winemaking in the Languedoc, Eden is a British ex-pat whose 45 hectare domaine Château Maris has been making exciting terroir-driven wines since 1997. He is overseeing Invivo’s aims to become the largest supplier of organic grapes in France, as well as being one of the greatest advocates of the need for the wine industry to reduce its impact on the environment.
Anne Krebiehl MW knows a thing or two about Spätburgunder. The Wines of Germany author simply adores Pinot Noir and when she met Sebastian Fürst and his father Paul from Weingut Rudolf Fürst for a tasting of their new 2018 vintage, she simply declared that she may have tried Germany’s finest. Well known in Germany, but under the radar in the UK, these wines are the purest elegance in a glass.
Since ‘retiring’ from running his Michelin Star restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, Roger and Sue Jones have been running a gastronomic ‘takeaway’ from their premises where customers can buy some of Jones’s signature dishes along with paired premium wines. Jones has also been a judge on three global wine competitions – judging wines from Alsace and three New World regions for the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), Australian wines for the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) and next month working with the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC). So what approach does a wine expert/ chef take to the judging process and how has the dreaded C-word affected things?
The impact of Covid-19 on the way the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors does business continues to be far reaching with a host of new initiatives and ways of working. Like this new approach by Wines of Germany to help support independent wine retailers, whilst also providing a new platform to promote and distribute its wines in the UK when retail buyers are less likely to be travelling and sourcing new wines for themselves. Nicky Forrest, head of Wines of Germany in the UK, explains how its new Retailer Partnership is going to work.