For any business that relies upon on-trade sales for most of its income, 2020 was a tough year. Bristol Beer Factory was forced to rethink its strategy last year to combat the onslaught of lockdowns and restrictions. Like many, it innovated and came out fighting, if rather bruised. It also came out campaigning for a good cause with a new product supporting men’s mental health: Clear Head. Jessica Broadbent caught up with sales and distribution director Sam Burrows to hear more about the brewery and its new project.
Every five years from 2000 to 2020 Chateau d’Issan has an outstanding vintage. At a Rule of Five tasting, which launched Wine Lister into chateau-specific marketing events, vintages 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 were tasted, while co-owner of this old Margaux estate, Emmanuel Cruse, predicted even greater things for the 2020 vintage. After acquiring seven hectares of vines last summer the Grand Vin of Chateau d’Issan will have Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in for the very first time.
Whilst New Zealand’s success in the off-trade is predominantly driven by the power house that is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it is in the on-trade where the real flair and diversity of this premium wine country can really show its true colours. It’s why New Zealand Winegrowers was so keen to sign up as a partner for the inaugural UK Wine List of the Year awards joint hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List as part of its global wine list competition. Here Chris Stroud, UK and Europe manager for New Zealand Wine, explains how it hopes to work even closer with the on-trade once it can re-open.
If a drinks competition is doing its job, it should be attracting the most exciting new launches as well as attracting the best established brands in that sector to judge. It’s why so many top bartenders and mixologists are keen to take part in the judging of the London Spirits Competition as it allows them to spot and keep on top of cocktail and drinking trends before they hit the market. Three of the best share their insights here…
“Nothing ever stays the same. Successful businesses are continually evolving their strategies and adapting to new realities.” This is a sentence that sums up the drive, vision and commercial nous that has made Mike Ratcliffe one of the most respected and inspirational leaders in both the South African and global wine industries. Here he assesses the long term impacts of Covid-19, how hard brand building is in the sector and why he is looking forward to sharing his views at Wine Future 2021.
So what have you got up to in lockdown? Started any new hobbies, learnt some new skills? Well Chuck Cramer, who by day heads up California’s Terlato Wines in the UK & Europe, has launched his own podcast series – On The Road, in partnership with The Buyer. Here he explains what it has been like, how he has attracted movie and rock stars to take part, as well as leading wine figures to talk about all things California and why he is particularly pleased this week to have spoken to Rex Pickett author of the iconic Sideways.
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery Gutter & Stars in the heart of Cambridge. Before Christmas he was updating us on the wines he is making, including a foot-stomped field blend Rosé. In this latest instalment of his column for The Buyer, as the wines are literally chilling out, Chris is taking inspiration from his love of music and design to give him a steer on the winery’s brand image and what he is going to call his wines. Oh, and home-schooling his two daughters in the winery at the same time.
Wine entrepreneur Jackie Fast gives this on the ground report from one of Canada’s most respected and premium wine regions – the Okanagan Valley – examining how its producers have not just responded to Covid-19, but are actually coming out of the pandemic stronger than before. She talks to a number of its key producers about the steps they have taken and the innovations they have made which she believes could act as an inspiration for other wineries and wine regions around the world.
Vite Colte, the upmarket Piedmontese co-operative winery, is hoping to make major inroads into the British on-trade, when it bounces back into action, with its competitively-priced Barbera d’Asti and impressive range of Nebbiolos. Ahead of the latest release of the new Barbera d’Asti in the New Year, The Buyer was given a sneak tasting along with some of Vite Colte’s Barolo and Barbaresco labels. They made a good impression not just on Geoffrey Dean but also on noted Italian wine experts, Stephen Brook and Andrew Jefford.
“The aftermath of Brexit will, for sure, produce a significant shift in the UK wine trade and make a big dent in consumer choice, raise price levels and make life very difficult, perhaps impossible, for all but the strongest companies.” So says Philip Cox, commercial director of Romania’s largest wine exporter, Cramele Recas. In this illuminating and practical guide Cox explains exactly what has changed for EU wine producers exporting to the UK, and what the effects are of post-Brexit trading on EU wineries like himself.
The Ribera del Duero has long been turning the heads of wine buyers across the UK wine trade for the sheer depth, diversity, quality and value for money wines its high altitude vineyards make, which seem to get better every year. But there are still huge opportunities for the region to grow its rightful market share of the overall Spanish wine category. It’s why Ribera del Duero is launching a new sampling initiative to give over 60 wineries the platform and the opportunity to showcase their wines to key UK buyers. Here’s how the campaign is going to work in the coming weeks.
Running a trade association is very much about dealing with whatever that particular industry’s most pressing issues are there and then, but it should also, says the WSTA’s chief executive, Miles Beale, be about looking ahead to the big defining factors that will determine your industry’s future for the years and decades ahead. Which is why he is keen to put the drinks industry’s role in driving the environmental and green debate, alongside promoting diversity and inclusion in the sector, high on the agenda in 2021 and the coming years.
Wines of Germany has worked closely with the UK on-trade over the last few years to help sommeliers and restaurateurs better understand the styles of wine and regions that can work so well with different types of cuisine. It’s why it is so keen to be part of the new UK Wine List of the Year awards, co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List, and play its part in helping to shine the light on restaurants and their wine offer when they finally get the chance to re-open in the coming months, explains Nicky Forrest, who heads up Wines of Germany in the UK.
When you search Google for images of a ‘whisky drinker’ you still see only men above the fold. That old archetype is still many whisky brands’ go-to market, but brands and advertisers are waking up to the fact they can no longer market so narrowly. Women make up 36% of whisky drinkers*, which makes them a hugely important and profitable consumer segment. It’s why Distill Ventures recently organised a panel discussion, led by whisky expert and journalist Becky Paskin who has done so much to raise the issue of diversity and inclusion in whisky, with five women leading the way in various fields of the whisky industry, to discuss how we can make positive change. Full analysis by Jessica Broadbent.
Being a biodynamic winemaker in a cold climate is hard enough. Then to be certified as such is another big hurdle. But for the 25 members of respekt-BIODYN, however, they add another level of certification in order to enjoy the benefits of this exclusive association. Peter Dean joined them for a tasting of four wines, including a Sauvignon Blanc Trockenbeerenauslese, to mark the arrival of two new members to the group, Sattlerhof and Leiner.
The doors of restaurants and bars up and down the UK might be closed due to Covid-19, but there is still much work going on behind the scenes to make sure they are ready to burst back into life as soon as they are allowed. That’s what the new ‘UK Wine List of the Year’ awards – co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List – are all about. The chance to to celebrate the best sommelier and wine buying talent in the UK and the work they continue to do with their suppliers to create and manage some of the best wine lists in the world. Here’s how you can enter the 2021 awards – including a special Lockdown Wine List of the Year category.
Last week we were able to share Bruce Jack’s personal and harrowing account of what the real impact of Covid-19, and the subsequent alcohol bans placed on South Africa by its government, has had on its drinks industry and the large community of towns and villages, and the people that rely on working in vineyards and for wine producers, has had. It generated an enormous response both in the UK, but also in South Africa itself and around the world. Today UK wine consultant Richard Bampfield MW calls on us all as individuals to do what we can to support South Africa by buying as much of its wine as we can. The only part of its industry that is still working. He also asks us to share our stories and the wines we like on social media under the hashtag #MyFavouriteSouthAfricanWines. Here he explains why.
“The last 10 months have not been the cocktail- and cigar-fuelled haven I had planned, but rather a psychological assault course that has left all of us in this industry battered…and some of us already broken.” This is the deeply personal, and at times harrowing account, of what it has been like as a South African winemaker, producer and employer of 100s of desperate employees during the Covid-19 pandemic in a country that continues to ban the sale of any alcohol to devastating effect. We implore you to read Bruce Jack’s unique take on not just the impact of Covid-19, but what it means for the long term future of our wine industry, and us as individuals and human beings.
Back in 2009 when Pancho Campo held the first Wine Future event in Rioja the world was a very different place. For a start hardly any of it was reported on social media. Some 14 years later he feels the time is more than right to bring the event back in a bid to shine the light brightly on the key global issues facing the world wine industry, from the impact of Covid-19, climate change, viticulture, international tariffs, and how we collectively engage with a fast changing consumer. Here Campo explains what we can expect at Wine Future 2021 in February.
It’s one thing having a particular liking for Rhône wines, but it’s quite another to move your family to the Rhône to live for two years so that you can really get under the skin of all 52 appellations and write a 300 page book on it. That’s what Matt Walls did, and on January 25th the fruits of his labours Wines of the Rhône is published. He tells The Buyer why the Rhône has such an appeal as well as gives us a few insider tips to the best wines, appellations and winemakers we should be keeping an eye on.