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    Insight

    One Step Beyond: Download the full landmark conference report

    When The Buyer came together with Sophie Jump to organise and hold the inaugural One Step Beyond Conference in early March the focus was 100% on analysing the most disruptive changes in consumer behaviour and technology. Little did we know that just over two months on so many of those changes have now been put on fast forward because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Here is the full report from what was a breakthrough conference for the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors. A day that brought experts from outside the industry’s comfort zone and gave them the platform to set out what we can all expect from consumers and technology in the future. Predictions that are already being seen in how fast businesses and consumers alike are responding to the challenges of Covid-19.

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    Opinion

    South Africa Restaurant Safari – 9 buyers, 18 wineries, 2 Land Rovers

    Here’s a conundrum for you. How do you get nine of the UK’s leading wine buyers to meet 18 winemakers in four restaurants in different parts of London in under five hours? Well, throw two Land Rovers into the mix and you are half way home. It’s certainly how The Buyer teamed up with Wines of South Africa to take a group of top buyers on a tour of London restaurants, and the chance to meet some of South Africa’s best winemakers at the same time. Eating, tasting, chatting along the way. Buckle up and join us on the ride…

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    Insight

    Buyer French Debate: Rise of Crémant & other sparkling wines

    In part one of The Buyer’s debate, alongside Business France, between leading importers, merchants, restaurants and wine producers from most regions of France, we focused on the rise in and importance of organic wines. The tasting and discussion also looked at how different styles of sparkling wine are now really coming to the fore, and how Crémant, in particular, is presenting a real premium alternative, ideal for promoting and driving in the premium on-trade.

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    Insight

    Buyer Debate: the opportunity for French organic wine

    For the latest The Buyer Debate we teamed up with Business France to bring producers from different regions of France together with key buyers from across the premium on-trade to look at two key growth areas not only for French wine, but the premium wine category as a whole: organics and sparkling wine. It was an opportunity to meet, taste the wines and then explore why French winemakers are increasingly turning to organics and sparkling wine production. Whilst assessing just what it is leading UK wine distributors, merchants and restaurant and bar owners are looking for when taking on a new French wine supplier. There was a lot to cover. So much so that we have broken down the report into two parts. First up we look at the rise in organics and both the opportunities and the challenges there are in making and selling organic wine.

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    Insight

    Behind the scenes on The Buyer’s Vouvray Restaurant Tour

    It’s one thing tasting wine professionally it is quite another to go on an eating and tasting tour of top London restaurants to experience food and wine in the same way your customers do. Which is what The Buyer’s most recent restaurant tour was all about as we were able to introduce different styles of Vouvray wine to a tour of buyers covering wine merchants, sommeliers, importers, consultants and journalists. As we publish our full report from the event, Richard Siddle picks out the highlights.

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    Insight

    Buyer debate: Indies put Ribera del Duero through its paces

    Even for a wine region that is as relatively small as Spain’s Ribera del Duero it’s important to taste as many wines as possible if you are going to truly understand, experience and enjoy its enormous diversity, says wine writer and critic, Tim Atkin MW. To help do just that, but also debate and share what leading UK buyers think of Ribera del Duero, The Buyer teamed up with the region’s generic body, a panel of top wine merchants and Atkin himself to see what opportunities there are in the burgeoning independent retail and wholesale sector.

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    Insight

    Douro’s Soul Wines Debate: why the wines are ideal for the UK

    “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.

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    People People: On-Trade

    Sommeliers on Chile: The Buyer & Chono Wines debate

    To try to unravel and understand Chile’s position in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with Ellis Wines and its Chilean producer partner, Chono Wines, to bring
    together a group of senior wine trade professionals, buyers and sommeliers to debate what are the opportunities and challenges for Chile as a whole. It was the chance for these leading figures to share their experiences with Chilean wines in their restaurants and businesses and look at the kinds of wines from Chile that they are looking to source and select for their wine lists.

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    Insight

    Mionetto and The Buyer Prosecco study tour and report

    Is there a more misunderstood wine category than Prosecco? It might top all the best selling charts, but it is too often dismissed or taken seriously by some professional wine buyers. To help get to know not only the beautiful region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but to explore the different quality tiers of Prosecco and the potential they have in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with leading Prosecco brand, Mionetto, and its UK partner Copestick Murray, to host a study tour with key buyers and influencers of the area and the city where Prosecco truly comes to life – Venice.

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    Insight

    Jackson Family debate on Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

    It’s nice talking about and throwing the spotlight on new wine regions and emerging styles of wine and little known grape varieties, but at these times of the year restaurant and bar customers are looking for the classics and the tried and tested. Which is why for our latest major debate we teamed up with Jackson Family Wines to look at what leading wine buyers, sommeliers, distributors and merchants think about Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

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    Insight

    Special Report: Sonoma County Vintners London Wine Bar Tour

    Organising a wine tasting where all your guests are sitting in one place can prove to be a challenge at times, so you can imagine the potential for things to wrong if you then invited those guests to go on a tour of restaurants and bars around London, tasting different wines, matched to each outlet’s food along the way. It certainly made for a very different, fun, highly informative and memorable day for wineries from Sonoma County Vintners and our panel of “tour-ists” willing to go on the adventure with us.

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    Insight

    Closures Debate: what do you want to put in a bottle of wine?

    Outside of the natural wine debate is there a more contentious issue than the one that surrounds the type of closure you have in your bottle of wine? To assess what leading on-trade buyers and sommeliers now think about closures we teamed up with Vinventions, one of the biggest suppliers of all types of closure from cork to screwcap, to make the issue of closures the latest topic in our Buyer Debate series.

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    Insight

    The Buyer’s Case with Castelnau Wine Agencies

    Every wine as soon as it is made puts its self up for judgement. Be it the end consumer who wants to drink it with their dinner, or the trade buyers and wine critics looking to score, assess and adjudicate on whether it is suitable for listing in the first place. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and Castelnau Wine Agencies was happy to put its range of wines from producers all over the world up to the test in our latest Buyer’s Case project with leading on-trade buyers and influencers in the trade.

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    Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian wines

    The Buyer has been set up to help drinks producers and leading on-trade buyers better understand their needs and where possible work closer together. This is best demonstrated by The Buyer’s Case initiative where we link up with a wine producer or importer and ask leading buyers to taste, assess and offer professional feedback on their wines. Here we turn to the Languedoc-Roussillon and present wines from leading producer, Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian to leading on-trade decision makers.

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    Opinion

    The French debate: putting France under the spotlight with Foncalieu

    France might be the best selling country in the UK on-trade, but that does not mean it could not sell. To help better understand the opportunities and challenges facing French wine in the premium on-trade, The Buyer linked up with Les Vignobles Foncalieu and leading buyers from the different types of operator, including high end restaurants, independent wine merchants and national wholesalers all working the French category in the north west of the country.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    New Zealand Debate: the opportunities and challenges

    New Zealand’s enormous success in the UK off-trade, where its Sauvignon Blanc has created a category of its own, has not always been reflected in how many of its wines are on premium on-trade wine lists. The Buyer teamed up with Villa Maria, and its UK partners, Hatch Mansfield, to ask a panel of leading UK buyers to set out the challenges and opportunities for New Zealand in the premium on-trade

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Les Vignerons Foncalieu

    The Buyer’s Case is a new initiative that gives producers the chance to show specific drinks to key buyers in target channels of the on-trade. For our first Buyer’s Case we teamed up with Les Vignerons Foncalieu and selected key buyers in its main distribution areas in the UK on-trade to show their wines. Here are the results.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    Virginia Wine Project: bringing producers and buyers together

    The Buyer teamed up with Virginia Wine and some of its key producers to help them better understand the needs of the UK premium on-trade and how buyers might relate to their wines with both a business roundtable debate with key players and a study tour of leading London restaurants, wine bars and merchants to see the kind of offers they have and where their wines might fit in.

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • A dependable crowd pleaser of an estate-grown Chianti Classico that is constructed with early drinking in mind. Light, see-through ruby; aromas of bright red cherry, blackberry, violets, spice; on the palate the wine is youthful, crunchy but fresh and drinkable, the tannins well integrated especially so for such a young Chianti Classico, nice firm acidic structure. Immensely likeable and perfect for on-trade – by the glass or bottle. The blend is 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon with 9 months spent in barrel.
    • New on-off cuvée just released from Ayala, one of the original 26 Grandes Marques, now owned by Bollinger. The house style is to be Chardonnay driven with low dosage, and No.7 is, sure enough, 70% Chardonnay with Pinot Noir making up the difference. The Champagne, from the 2007 vintage, is shiny pale gold, medium mousse, fine bubbles; the nose is irresistible with notes of honeysuckle, white peach, lemon shortbread; the palate is dry, elegant, bright and clean, well balanced with some complexity – a lot of detail here, with pixilated flavours of orchard fruit, peach, Viennoise, hazelnut. The finish is long, refined with a twist of lemon sherbet. Impressive.
    • This elegant, highly-textured single varietal Tinta Cão Reserva Rosé 2019 is the second wine in this exciting new still table wine series from port house Kopke. The fruit comes from 30 year-old vines, 400m up, hand harvested, whole bunch, 80% in steel, 20% in two year-old French oak for six weeks. The result is a complex, thought-provoking wine that is also refreshing and easy to drink. Salmon pink with saffron highlights; the nose is floral with summer red berries; light-mid weight palate, fresh, bright acidity supporting redcurrant, wild strawberry, with a slight whiff of smoke and ripe tannin on the finish. The texture is one of the most distinguishing features – giving it gastronomic use as well as a delicious aperitif – with salted almonds, or sea food tapas.
    • Special parcel of 2017 Grenache Gris - still pretty rare as a 100% varietal but examples like this should hopefully change that. This thrilling Grenache Gris is from the 2017 harvest and bottled a year later. It is tense and nervy at its core, complex with a fresh almond, saline, slightly smoky aroma and a pink grapefruit zest twist with a fascinating bedrock of minerality on the palate – coming from pure Roussillon schist I imagine. Gayda always produces a Selection Parcellaire, (Jamie Goode was recently waxing lyrical about their most recent, a Mourverde), there are only 2800 bottles of this produced and it’s well worth seeking out.
    • Blaufränkisch, Mudd West Vineyard, 2016, from Channing Daughters in New York. Been most surprised with the wines I’ve been tasting from New York recently. This beauty is mid-to-deep ruby, with an opaque centre; fascinating aromatics, concentrated black cherry and mulberry with an striking gamey, spicy quality, dash of iodine in there as well; the mouthfeel is fresh with damson, white cherry, quite intense fruit but still light and precise – not flabby or over-ripe – with juicy acidity and a tight, long, dry finish. Great to see 11.5% ABV on a wine which has this amount of power. The wine benefits from 1-2 hours decanting. The blend is 75% Blaufrankisch and 25% Dornfelder all the fruit de-stemmed and foot pressed, with wild ferment in one ton bins. The wine spent eight months in older oak hogsheads and barrels.
    • Bright, clean, fresh, fruit-driven Pinot Grigio from Cramele Recas in Romania. Notes of white nectarine, lime and honeysuckle; the palate is refreshing, dry, red apple flavours with a touch of salinity and minerality coming through on the finish, which takes it a step above the more watery examples you can find. Well made, this is not meant to be over-thought, but enjoyed as a summer afternoon bottle with friends (now that they’re allowed to come over!)
    • The latest project from Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr is a wine that aims to be the purest expression of Pinot Noir possible - fruit coming from the same terroir as their single vineyard sites, with no sulphur added at bottling. It is so true of where it comes from - deep, rich, enticing, beautifully structured, with a green sappy edge to the rounded tannins which comes from this estate’s use of whole bunch. I was picking up aromas of raspberry, strawberry, iris; ripe, structured palate, touch of liquorice root, and a lift of powdered allspice on the long finish. Just got better and better all evening.
    • White Hermitage that’s affordable and of this quality is never that easy to find. Hugely developed - in a good way. Burnished copper, slightly cloudy poured from the bottle; tertiary aromas of marzipan, dried apricots, tinned peach, yellow flower pot pourri; rich mouthfeel with developed alcohol nuances, slightly oleaginous but not flabby as you get with some aged Condrieu, this is well balanced, with the acidity carrying the weight of the fruit. Last bottle of a case and I timed it right... if you have any I would drink now but still pretty stonking! There’s some hanging around on the UK market  @justerinis 
    • New organic Rosé from this AOP Faugères producer in the Langedoc. The wine is a blend of 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache Noir and 10% Mourvèdre, direct pressed, with the fruit grown in and around the giant crater that lends the domaine its name, and is behind the striking graphic on the label – the wine’s palest of pale pinks shining through the head of the meteor. The primary note I was getting was watermelon, although there is also summer red berries and a pepperiness on the nose; the mouthfeel is soft, round and fresh but with precision, focus and a good degree of texture that would give the wine gastronomic potential at various stages of a meal, or simply to be enjoyed by itself. The quality of the fruit shines through.
    • So impressed with Laderas de Leonila the Palomino/Godello blend from Spanish couple Maquina & Tabla that I reviewed two weeks ago that I bought a mixed case. This is El Oso Y La Alemana - mainly Garnacha with a splash of Tinta de Toro. It’s a great label but more importantly a great wine. Intense, powerful, rich, seductive but bright and focused too with a real bedrock of acidity, supporting the concentration. Blue plum, strawberry, fig; the nose makes you think the wine is going to be sweet and plump, but even though there’s a rounded front palate, with ripe black fruit, there’s a freshness, and sleek tannic grip, that finishes on an attractive dry note. We drank it slightly chilled with a Middle Eastern duck dish and it worked well. But doesn’t need food. £12.95 all in!
    • Just in time for English Wine Week which starts tomorrow (20th) comes this fine example of what a top Champagne house can do in England. Pommery, in fact, was the first Champagne house to release an English sparkling wine in 2018, which will no doubt increase in production after their new planting of a 40ha site in Hampshire. A traditional method blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it is instantly likeable - they seemed to have got the right dosage, as many English producers have (after those very austere years!). Light gold, fine bead, attractive nose of ripe Cox’s apples, white peach and honeycomb with a slight chalkiness; the palate is crisp, dry, with a smash of apple and lime zest. There’s a honeyed roundness to the mid-palate and a mineral edge to the finish. Delicious.
    • I love the way this company champions local grape varieties, and makes it a voyage of discovery for the consumer, rather than trying to disguise it behind a brand name. There are aromas of lemon zest, papaya and a green capsicum note; the palate is rounded, fruity (pink lady apples) with a crispness that keeps it nicely in balance. Refreshing to see the ABV at 11.5%. This is a hugely successful exclusive for Asda (£5.25 RRP).
    • Well this is a bit different. Looks like a classic French pale rose...tastes like a lovely dry cider. So refreshing. Vinified in amphora this is a Grenache Gris with plenty of fruit and bite from Chateau La Baronne imported by the ever innovative and surprising  @tigervines .official. Great stuff
    • Fascinating Tuscan rosé from top estate Fattoria Le Pupille made with Syrah. Very pale coral pink with saffron highlights; beautiful vinous nose - subtle summer berries, peach, grapefruit, slight spice/ savoury element - pink peppercorns; the palate is fresh, thirst quenching, ripe citrus framed by ripe tannins, every element perfectly balanced. Gastronomic, but works well as an aperitif- not to be served too cold so as to enjoy the full range of complexity and nuances.
    • Wow this is delicious! Spontaneous ferment, neutral oak aged for 14 months with fruit from the Macari vineyard that has been farmed biodynamically for the past 20 years, and yes that is Brooklyn, New York City – the winemaker for this urban winery being Abe Schoener. Light-mid gold; bright; inviting nose of hazelnuts, ripe golden delicious, acacia honey; such lovely clean flavours on the soft, rounded front palate, ripe orchard fruit, sweet orange, cantaloupe; fine-grained texture sitting stealthily underneath - it is drinking so we’ll now. Classic, clean, fresh and bright that speaks of the quality of the fruit. 12.4% ABV (quite exact there!)
    • Perfect pale pink and dry sparkling rose from  @sfrisowinery  Treviso in northern Italy. Giving their nearby Provence neighbours more than a run for their money. Lovely biscuity, strawberry and so dry you have to keep pouring another glass. Well played  @rekaharos  & Pier  #sparkling   #rose 
    • Terrific new 2018 vintage of this solid banker from Gayda in the Languedoc – 100% Cabernet Franc that owes a lot to winemaker Vincent Chansault’s Loire roots. Broody, spicy, complex nose of pink peppercorns, bell pepper, strawberry, bay leaf, violets; the palate, however, is medium weight, well judged, fresh as you like, with a delicious fresh black cherry juice quality (almost like biting into a fresh black cherry), and unmistakeable Cab Franc presence in the mouth - dry stone texture, bit of crunch – the balance is spot on. Figure Libre (Freestyle) is a reflection of the hands-off approach of the winemaking – letting the fruit and the sandstone terroir speak for itself – but it is also a reflection of the Pays d’Oc itself – in that there is a lot of freedom here for winemakers to follow their instincts. Chansault planted Cab Franc and Chenin here (amongst other
    • Smoke, salted shortbread and apple notes on the nose manage to convey briskness and creaminess at the same time. The palate seems like precision-engineered hedonism with a deep sense of ripe fruit, especially Mirabelle, firmly framed in freshness, totally cleansing yet emollient and always veiled with that brooding yet revealing smokiness. It is this series of contradictions that makes this wine so compelling, so life-like, so very refreshing and comforting, enlivening and soothing at the same time. The smoky, creamy length draws you in. More please. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, dosage 8g/l, disg. April 2019 (Anne Krebiehl MW)
    • 100% Cabernet Franc from 30 year old vines growing on shallow shale-based soils at Keuka Lake, which is one of the Finger Lakes in New York State. 2016 was one of the hottest, sunniest and driest vintages on record, as a result these grapes were picked earlier to retain freshness and aromatics. De-stemmed, gently pressed, cold soak and low temperature ferment then aged in European and American oak. 13% ABV Light in colour and style – almost see-through, light cherry red; Aromas of black cherry, cedar, violets; Light to medium bodied, deliciously vibrant and bright flavours of just-ripe red cherries, rasperries, cranberry coulis, black pepper, with a slight toastiness; ripe earthy tannins, vibrant acidity, nice persistence on the finish, great balance, nice and fresh. Really like this a lot.
    • “Prosecco Jim ... but not as we know it.” Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco is a whole different ball game - coming from impossibly steep slopes, fresh mountain air, poor soils - not to be confused with the cheap stuff that comes from the plains. This is gorgeous - a light straw colour; fine delicate bead; complex nose with notes of green apple, ripe pear, nectarine zest, sage; the palate is exquisitely judged, quite a rounded front palate, nice creaminess, flavours of yellow plum, nuts, patisserie, oyster shell, lemon curd. Crisp, tight and focussed and very dry. Really liked this.