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    Tasting
    Classic Method

    What GB hallmark ‘Classic Method’ does for sparkling wine

    English and Welsh sparkling wines that are fermented in bottle now have a new official hallmark, Classic Method. But what does this new initiative from Wine GB mean for the future of our sparkling wines? Will it increase exports, be understood by customers abroad and even be understood by customers on home soils? Justin Keay ponders all of the above while tasting eight top examples of Classic Method – some well known and some new to him – and providing an update on how the 2020 harvest has gone in relation to the previous two vintages.

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    Conference
    one step beyond screenshot

    One Step Beyond: Dos and don’ts of ecommerce and DTC

    We might have spent a lot of the last eight months at home, sitting still, but all around us the world has been moving at record pace. All the trends we were struggling to keep up with going into Covid-19 have all been on fast forward as we have, as a global population, had to get used to a completely different way of living…and doing business. It has meant we have all had to go online like never before. How you adapt your company to meet the challenges of a digital age is what the One Step Beyond initiative, introduced by The Buyer and Sophie Jump earlier this year, is all about. Following an inaugural conference held just before the first UK national lockdown, here is the first part of an analysis of a follow up webinar, held last month, featuring the same expert speakers who were able to share their insights into the impact Covid-19 has had on consumer behaviour and expectations. First up Naji El-Arifi of Wunderman Thompson Commerce sets out the rights and wrongs of running a successful DTC and e-commerce website.

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    Awards
    78% of bars now have a cocktail list up from 66% the previous year

    London Spirits Competition looks to connect with bar community

    Spirit producers and distillers the world over are fixated on creating the best styles and blends of gins, vodkas, rums, whiskies or whatever. But however hard they work to get their products right it will all come to nothing unless they can find bar tenders and bar managers who can equally believe in what they are making in order to use and sell them in their outlets. It’s that connection between award winning spirits and the bar community that the London Spirits Competition works so hard to foster, as Richard Siddle explains.

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    People: Producer
    wine producer

    Who are IWSC’s outstanding wine producers in the world?

    There will be baited breath in the global wine community on November 18 when the winners of the Wine Producer Awards will be announced. The highest-achieving wine estates from the IWSC have made it into the shortlist across five categories: Sparkling Wine Producer, Fortified, Sweet, Red and White Wine Producer with English wineries well represented in the Sparkling Wine category. Unlike the Spirits awards where William Grant & Son could win for the third year in a row, the Wine Producer Awards will have a new winner as last year’s most Outstanding Wine Producer did not make the cut.

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    People: Producer
    ¡Salud! Long Read

    Importance of Oregon’s ¡Salud! Pinot Noir 2020 auction

    Now in its 29th year the ¡Salud! Oregon Pinot Noir Auction is a prime example of how a wine region can keep its key workers alive and well. Although the world sees many wine auctions, with exclusive cuvées and formats up for grabs in an auction setting, rarely is it tied into a free healthcare programme that is providing 2,500 vineyard workers and their families with the healthcare and outreach they need – especially important this year during the pandemic. LM Archer looks at this unique programme as well as picks out key wines from this year’s auction that is operating online until November 16 and gives a first look at the 2019 ‘throwback’ cool vintage.

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    People
    wine communicators

    Who will be this year’s IWSC wine communicator of the year?

    The current high standard of wine communication has been made evident with the announcement of the 2020 shortlist of IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year. The four contenders – Nina Caplan, Elaine Chukan Brown, Anne Krebiehl MW and Melissa Monosoff MS – are wine professionals who, between them, have achieved an enviable array of achievements and qualifications that put them at the top of their game. Ahead of the announcement of the winner at the IWSC awards on November 18, we take a look at each of the contenders and discover what wine communication means to them.

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    Tasting Tasting: Wine
    loire tasting

    Loire Valley gives producers new to the UK a London showcase  

    Despite all the problems that Covid-19 has created for the usual smooth running of the wine supply chain, there are huge efforts being made by generic and trade bodies to give producers and buyers as much of a chance as possible to still show, taste and select wines. This was typified last week with Business France’s Val de Loire Unlocked session that gave buyers and the press the chance to taste in person a selection of 70 AOC wines from producers looking for distribution in the UK. Geoffrey Dean was there for The Buyer to pick out his highlights.  

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    People People: Supplier
    james ritchie sothebys good

    Sotheby’s Jamie Ritchie: world’s wine & spirits markets & Covid-19

    “In the auction business we talk about the drivers for supply being death, debt, divorce,” so it’s not surprising for James Ritchie, head of wine and spirits auctions for Sotheby’s, to use that phrase when assessing the global auction market in 2020. But in this fascinating insight into what really goes on behind the scenes at the world’s famous auction house, Ritchie also shares who and where the biggest wine collectors are and how even Sotheby’s is having to break with traditions and go as digital and online as it can.

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    People: Supplier
    BD5932F8-B27E-4B02-8632-8DE0B0590FE3

    Bollinger, Brompton bikes and fine dining in the time of Covid-19

    Covid-19 has tested the agility of many industries this year, none more so than hospitality. But through innovation and hard work hotel groups and restaurants have been experiencing a number of fillips, says Alan Montague-Dennis, director of prestige sales at Mentzendorff. Staycations, a new al fresco, fine dining at home and trading up on the wine list (when possible) have brought about some unexpected returns. In this insightful piece Alan explains how his role allows him to flex with changing needs and to stay nimble – literally – on his Brompton bike, a key part of the company’s approach to sustainability and mental wellbeing, and helping him keep a positive spin on things.

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    Opinion
    Amelia Singer is keen to

    Singer: What are we going to do about Diversity & Inclusion?

    In this agenda setting thought piece Amelia Singer, wine educator and co-presenter of The Wine Show, examines some of the flaws lying at the heart of the drinks industry that have led to increasing calls for decisive action to be taken to improve both diversity and inclusion in the sector. When it comes to solutions, she highlights the need for organisations to work together, promote greater diversity in leadership roles within the industry, and for best practice ideas to be shared between drinks sectors around the world.

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    People: Producer
    IWSC_Spirits_Event_063_3797-675x540 (1)

    Who are IWSC’s outstanding spirits producers in the world?

    November 18 is the date for this year’s IWSC Spirit Producer Awards, an entirely black tie or dressing gown affair. While Covid-19 has meant that the gala night has had to go online for the first time, there is no doubting the excitement of who will be crowned best producers across eight different spirits categories. Top spirits prize of the evening will be awarded to one company which will waltz off with the coveted title of Outstanding Spirits Producer – and for one company that could well be three years in a row…

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    Awards
    simon field judge

    London Wine Competition: new judges & promotional tools

    The big lesson from 2020 is whilst we have mostly been restricted about what we can do, particularly in terms of travelling, and holding live events and tastings, it has not been an excuse to stand still. Here’s how the London Wine Competition has brushed itself down and come back for its 2021 awards with a host of new initiatives to take the event to the next level.

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    Tasting: Spirit
    Market Row

    Brixton Distillery Company launches with Market Row Rum

    Set up by former Chivas Brothers’ Laurent Lacassagne and Patrick Venning the Brixton Distillery Company is setting out to capture some of the boutique end of the premium spirits market. Its inaugural release is Market Row Rum which adds botanicals and spices to a Caribbean rum blend – all of which come from nearby Brixton Market. Victor Smart put on his most colourful shirt, adjusted his extensions and turned the Eddy Grant to 11.

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    People: Producer
    gayda team Long Read

    Domaine Gayda’s market first, sustainable business model

    If there was a competition for the most leftfield way someone has got themselves into making wine then Tim Ford would have a fighting chance of picking up a medal. For whilst he has more than made his home making wine at Domaine Gayda that he set up from scratch in the heart of the Languedoc Roussillon, it is a long way from where he first started his career as a horticulturist running what turned into a multinational flower business from the heart of Africa. It’s already been quite an adventure but, when it comes to wine, Ford believes he is only now ready to really capitalise on the strong reputation he has built up and take Domaine Gayda to the next level, as he explains to Richard Siddle.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Petaluma

    Roger Jones puts new Petaluma Yellow Label vintages to the test

    Petaluma showcased its new Yellow Label releases and a couple of older wines on a recent Zoom tasting and our Australian wine lover and editor at large Roger Jones takes time out of his culinary escapades to rule over these wines. Accolade eschewed the customary miniature sample bottles and instead sent Roger, and other wine experts, full bottles plus one magnum of an aged museum release. Petaluma chief winemaker Mike Mudge led proceedings with his usual banter and the wines themselves were on very fine form.

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    People People: Producer
    International wine buyers at last year's World Bulk Wine Exhibition turned in their droves to producers from Eastern Europe

    Global producers ready to do business at WBWE Connect

    The pivotal World Bulk Wine Exhibition is the key time of the year for global wine producers and their most important international wine buyers to come together and do business. But with Covid-19 still preventing major trade fairs to take place this month’s show is going online with a new format – WBWE Connect – that will still allow producers to trade their bulk wine with the world’s most influential retail and on-trade wine buyers. Here’s how it is all going to work.

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    Conference
    wine2wine hall

    How wine2wine is going online to share digital expertise globally

    If there is one wine event best suited to going online in 2020 it’s wine2wine, the annual show dedicated to sharing best practice around digital marketing and communications and how producers, distributors and operators alike can collectively raise their game when it comes to how they create and promote content online. So rather than head to Verona in north Italy later in November anyone interested in digital marketing can go online and join what is expected to be a global audience.

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    People: Producer
    Le Soula

    Why Le Soula is one of the most esoteric and daring wineries

    While winemakers the world over plant on higher ground for insurance against climate-change, Le Soula already made that move 20 years ago. The mixture of old vines grown at altitude on poor granitic soil in the harsh climate of the foothills of the Pyrenees was irresistible to Gérard Gauby, the Roussillon’s most respected vigneron; he suggested to his importers Roy Richards and Mark Walford that they farm it and in 2001 Le Soula was born. Peter Dean paid them a visit last month, met up with Wendy Paillé, the new (ish) estate manager and tasted through the new wines, just taken on by Thorman Hunt, a range with remarkable freshness and vitality.

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    Insight
    Closing its borders to international travel has not had too much effect on China thanks to the vast numbers of Chinese who have spent their holidays at home rather than travel overseas in 2020

    How Covid-19 has impacted Chinese imports and drinking

    If we did not appreciate China’s influence on the global wine market before 2020 then Covid-19 has changed all that. As it was the first country to be struck with the virus, it was also the first to close its borders and go into a nationwide lockdown sending ripples across the international wine trade as producers suddenly had mass volumes of wine they needed to find a home for. Thankfully China was also the first major nation to seemingly get a grip of Covid-19 and is now in a fast recovery mode. But what is the real situation on the ground and what impact has it had on imports? Jessica Broadbent tuned into the recent online Vinexpo Shanghai debates to find out.

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    Tasting: Spirit
    Ao

    Suntory’s new Ao spirit comes from 5 global distilleries

    Not one to shirk a challenge, Suntory decided to launch its new world travel retail brand Ao during a global pandemic, when international travel is at an all-time low. The spirit itself was also quite a feat, being a blend of whiskies from the five countries where Suntory owns distilleries – Scotland, Ireland, United States, Canada and Japan – with the concept behind it being a whisky that is all things to all whisky lovers the world over. How could it possibly succeed? Suntory’s Mike Miyamoto, whose brainchild Ao is, explained to Geoffrey Dean the thinking behind the brand which involved an ingenious tasting of different components to illustrate what each country’s whisky brings to the party.

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