A premium wine importer can have the best wine list in the land, with quality and value from all major wine producing countries, but that all fades into insignificance if its supply chain and logistics service is not equally as good – if not better. Now it’s pretty fair to say Corney & Barrow is widely respected for getting its wine range right, here associate director, Mark Baskett, explains how the business gets the delivery side of the company right in his role as supply chain manager – in charge of London and the South East, supported by Allison Few, commercial manager and associate director, based in East Kilbride, who manages the supply chain operations for the North and Scotland.
Gastronomic versatility is the name of the game when it comes to sweet Tokaji. As part of Wines of Hungary UK’s campaign to drive trade and consumer awareness about this fact, Caroline Gilby MW looks at the many diverse ways that restaurants in the UK are finding new and innovative ways to show off this sweet Hungarian wine to its best effect.
Whisper it gently but there is a wine revolution going on in Italy. A revolution that has the potential to radically change and elevate the perception of Calabria and, in particular the traditional winemaking DOC of Cirò that has recently gained DOCG status. A revolution that Andrew Johnson, managing director of premium wine importers, Woodwinters, is firmly behind as he explains in this in-depth report on why anyone interested in Italian wines needs to better understand what is happening in this exciting wine region.
In an era where the fervour for terroir-driven wines shows no signs of waning, the site-sensitive Nerello Mascalese, cultivated on the ever-changing terroir surrounding Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna, continues to captivate wine enthusiasts. With its somewhat challenging pronunciation and intricate terroirs, selling Nerello Mascalese to average consumers doesn’t appear to be a straightforward task. During a recent visit to Sicily for the ‘Etna Day 2023’ event, Leona De Pasquale spoke with Maurizio Lunetta, the director of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Etna DOC, to find out how it’s done.
The scores from the IWSC’s Austrian wine jury are in with an impressive 17 gold medals, 136 silver medals and 229 bronze awarded in what was the first time the competition has travelled to Austria to do the judging as part of a wider immersion into Austrian wine. It was also the latest country to join the list of those the IWSC is now judging in situ. David Kermode, part of the judging team, takes us behind the scenes.
Côtes du Rhône winemakers were enthusing about the ‘epic’ 2023 vintage at a recent London tasting of Rhône wines. The event was an opportunity to catch up with latest trends, see how wines at named village level are a great opportunity to pick up a bargain, and to hear how the appeal of the Gigondas appellation will be enhanced by the addition of the new Gigondas Blanc category from the 2023 vintage onwards. Heather Dougherty was there for The Buyer to pick out her favourite wines plus talk to Ann Vermeersch of Le Plan-Vermeersch and Vincent Boyer of Domaine de la Bastide to catch up with the challenges they face as Rhône winemakers.
Cava is on something of a roll right now, with sales in 2022 of over 249 million bottles, equating to growth of 4.6% year-on-year. It’s also become Spain’s most internationally successful wine export with nearly 70% of production being sold outside the country. The UK is now Cava’s fourth largest export market, behind Germany, US and Belgium. Here Heather Dougherty analyses the steps the Cava region is taking to not only maintain and grow its sales but also look at how it can continue to premiumise the image of Cava and focus even more on the quality wines being produced.
Although it was a long and bumpy road getting to the Cru Bourgeois 2020 Classification, it has successfully provided wine buyers with a benchmark for accessing Bordeaux wines with great value, character and quality – not just with the wines themselves but with the techniques used to get them there in the first place. Victoria Sharples talks to Franck Bijon about the Classification and what it means for wine drinkers, looks ahead to the 2025 Classification and future plans for the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, of which he is president.
Like the World Cup and the Olympics you have to wait your turn for the next Wine Future to happen. But when they do they are not only must attend events – for those in the know – they also act as good benchmarks for where the global wine industry finds itself and an opportunity to step out of the cut and thrust of everyday trading to see what the sector’s current and future challenges and opportunities are. Here Richard Siddle, who has attended and taken part in all of the Wine Future events dating back to the first in 2009, gives his personal take on what we can all take away from Wine Future 2023, and the importance of looking outside our own business needs for potential solutions and how coming together to share ideas, insights and experiences is the only way for the industry as a whole to move forward.
Sweet Tokaj wines are the best known in Hungary but they are not where they need to be in the international market where an overall decline in consumption of sweet wines has offset massive, sporadic growth in some areas of the US. The Buyer’s Geoffrey Dean visited Michelin-starred Trivet restaurant in London, speaks to the key movers and shakers in the Hungarian wine scene and picks 10 wines that every wine buyer should have on their radar.
London’s Brunello 2019 tasting was an opportunity to assess just how good the latest Brunello di Montalcino vintage is and whether it compares to the classic 2016s. Justin Keay sums up the vintage as one which is approachable now but also has great potential to age, and picks 12 wines from the 46 producers that were showing wines this year. He also looks at some of the issues facing this Southern part of Tuscany and talks to event organiser Walter Speller about how the region needs to change to stay ahead of the game.
Drum roll please…The finalists have been announced in both People’s Choice Wine Awards and the People’s Choice Spirits Awards across all categories in both competitions. In what are the seventh wine and fourth spirits awards they remain the only major UK competition that involves everyday drinkers as part of the judging process. Here Janet Harrison, founder of both competitions, explains the latest developments and the stand-out features of the 2024 edition.
The UK’s top sommeliers, restaurants and on-trade wine buyers will have the chance to put themselves forward and compete in what will be the fourth edition of the Star Wine List of the Year UK with The Buyer. Entries for the 2024 event are now open ahead of the awards ceremony to be held in London on March 4. Here we look at what categories are available for this year’s awards and how to enter.
With 65 appellations, diverse terroirs and more than 6,000 winegrowers, the sheer scale of the Bordeaux region can seem overwhelming for even wine professionals to get a handle on, let alone consumers. But however famous some of its producers might be there is a collective understanding that Bordeaux has to change to keep pace with huge advances in winemaking all over the world. Here, in her first article for The Buyer, Ellie Scott assesses the big challenges facing Bordeaux and how it is looking to address them.
“It’s like having the world’s best wine, beer and spirits expert in the palm of your hand.” That’s how Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer of The Fresh Market – the award-winning premium US grocery retailer – explains how Preferabli’s AI-driven discovery and recommendation platform gives on and off-trade operators the power to create personalised experiences for their customers, including through its new GenAI. Here’s how it all works.
Argentinian wine icon, Daniel Pi, recently visited London to help launch the new vintages of the luxury Bemberg Estate Wines project. For many years the wine-making guru behind the popular wines coming out of the hugely successful Grupo Peñaflor, Pi has returned to the cellar, this time to take charge of a range of premium Argentine wines under the Bemberg Estate label. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner along to meet the man himself for a guided tasting through the new releases.
Such is the competition in the premium on-trade wine market that even distributors of the scale and reputation as Enotria&Coe need to be changing, adapting and moving not just with the times, but ahead of it. Which is why it is keen to push the credentials of its fine wine portfolio and the fact it has promoted Kathrine Larsen-Robert MS from her premium wine ambassador role to the head of its new fine wine division. Here she sits down with Richard Siddle to explain what her new position entails and how Enotria&Coe wants to work closely with its producers and restaurant buyers to develop a fine wine offer that allows them to sell the finest wines to as many customers around the country as possible.
Following on from the success of its ‘100kms of Diversity’ marketing campaign, Team Rioja is back. This winter, selected off-trade retailers across the UK are running Feliz Rioja to promote the variety on offer across this most famous of Spanish wine regions. The Buyer’s Mike Turner attended this month’s launch tasting to find out more about the promotion and why the wines of Rioja are perfect for this winter’s sales campaigns.
Unless you are actively importing wine from Luberon, it is often an area that people have heard of, but can’t tell you much more than that – other than it is south of France somewhere near Provence. Which is very much where The Buyer’s Luberon Restaurant Tour comes in. A chance for the region to showcase its wines and what they stand for to a group of leading wine buyers, importers, distributors and restaurateurs. An opportunity to taste and discover Luberon wines in the way they were made to be enjoyed – with food. This was also the first Restaurant Tour to venture outside of London as The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Luberon to head to Manchester and assess what leading buyers and suppliers based in the north think of its wines. A tour that took in a range of different restaurants and styles of food from the steaks of Hawksmoor, to the Middle Eastern influence of Maray and the Brazilian pop up kitchen at Blossom Street Social. Here you can find out what happened and access the full downloadable report.
Indigenous, native or just simply local, winemakers now have a number of ways to talk about and celebrate the grapes they are increasingly using to make wines that are as true to the land they come from as possible. Whilst it clearly makes sense to work with the global success stories of the main international grape varieties where it is more commercially viable to do so, there is a very different story to be told – and wine to be made – from the vines and grapes that are unique to the area they are from. It is very much the approach that premium Italian producer, Scarpa, is taking in looking to revive the indigenous grape varieties true to the wine region of Monferrato in Piedmont. To assess the interest and appeal of wines made with local varieties, The Buyer teamed up with Scarpa to host a panel debate with leading wine buyers and importers and a chance to taste through a range of Scarpa’s wines made from Monferrato’s native varieties including Ruche, Timorasso, Pelaverga and Friesa. The buyers also share their views on what competitive edge listing wines made from native varieties can give them and look specifically at the role they play in bringing sommeliers, and their customers, back to Italian wines on a wine list.
“Every restaurant wants a Gavi on their list.” That quote from Holly Sharpe, head of London on-trade at Alliance Wine, pretty much summed up the overall feeling of the buyers, importers, sommeliers, wine merchants and restaurateurs who took part in The Buyer’s latest Restaurant Tour. This time the focus was on Gavi wine, thanks to a partnership with the Consorzio Tutela del Gavi, to showcase the potential of the region and its wines to senior players across the premium UK wine market. The opportunity for them to also spend time with their peers and fellow wine buyers to share their experiences and better understand what opportunities there are for Gavi wines in the UK. A tour that took in four venues across central London in a bid to show how Gavi wines perform against different styles of food. The four restaurants were: Vinoteca, Kings Cross; Arabica, Kings Cross; Gaucho, Charlotte Street; and Lucy Wong dim sum and cocktail bar in Fitzrovia. Here’s our behind the scenes report on the day.
You only have to walk down any aisle at a major international wine fair to see producer after producer showing the medals they have won in different wine competitions. But how important are they to wine buyers tasting their wines? Do they make a difference in what wines they list? What makes one wine competition stand out over another? To help find out The Buyer teamed up with the IWSC to ask major wine buyers, who also invest a lot of time judging competitions themselves, why it is they take part, what they are looking for in a medal winning wine and what producers should be doing with any medal they do win.
Bordeaux as a wine region is so integrated into the UK wine market that it would be hard to imagine a sector without it. But what is it about Bordeaux that UK wine buyers – and wine drinkers – keep going back for? What, in particular, does the Right Bank, and its Union of Syndicats of St Emilion which gathers 10 appellations: – Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Montagne Saint-Emilion, Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac and Canon Fronsac, offer that UK buyers can’t get anywhere else? That was the theme of the latest The Buyer debate, held in partnership with Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac which brought together leading trade figures, buyers, wine consultant, importers and merchants to get a cross industry feel on what it is about these landmark wine areas that capture their attention and what it needs to do in the future to keep their focus in the years ahead.
“If you go to the town of Setúbal it’s everywhere, and it’s in every thing. It’s in the soap. You name it. They know they have something special.” That’s how wine consultant and broadcaster, Joe Wadsack, explains just how important Moscatel, the fortified, sweet wine is to Portugal’s Setúbal wine region, located just south of Lisbon. In part two of our debate with leading wine importers, merchants and sommeliers on the opportunities for Setúbal in the UK we turn the spotlight on what Moscatel can potentially offer.
Situated just south of Lisbon it’s fair to say the Setúbal wine region has yet to really show its true colours to either the trade or UK wine drinkers. But that’s largely because so many of its producers have had great success at home in Portugal, making up a fifth of domestic wine sales. Now the focus is changing and Setúbal is looking to explore opportunities overseas, particularly in the premium on and off-trade, for its specialist, maritime influenced wines that can potentially offer a whole new spectrum of wines for buyers looking for fresh, fruit forward, gastronomic wines. To find out just where the gaps might be in the UK market, The Buyer teamed up with Setúbal Peninsula Wines to host a zoom debate with leading importers, wine merchants and sommeliers to get their take on the region, taste some classic examples of Setúbal wine and see where it might sit within the overall Portuguese wine category.
“Germany is the country that has diversified the most over the last eight years – it’s now a melting pot of styles and production methods.” That’s how Christina Rasmussen, co-founder of Little Wine, describes what is now widely seen as the new wave German wine scene that is helping to re-invent the German wine category, particularly at the premium end of the market, driven by organic, biodynamic, and low intervention, independent winemakers. To help explore what actually is happening across Germany, The Buyer hosted a debate, in partnership with Wines of Germany, with two of the producers hoping to make a difference and with buyers looking to introduce the new style of German wines to potential customers and consumers in the UK.
No matter how established your wine region is, every year is a battle not just to make the wines, but to then have your share of voice to sell them. For a region like Luberon, nestled in between the powerhouses of the Rhône to the north and Provence to the south, it can be hard to get the attention it deserves in France, never mind the UK. That was the challenge Wines of Luberon came to The Buyer with and, in particular, its desire to showcase its wines in an innovative and memorable way amongst key buyers, wine importers, merchants and sommeliers. It was proposed we did that by giving buyers the opportunity to taste, talk and discuss a wide number of Luberon wines together. But not just around one roundtable. But three of them. In different restaurants. Each with their own cuisine and food styles and flavours that would allow Luberon and its wines to show how they perform against a myriad of textures, spices, herbs and ingredients. Here is what the buyers discovered and got up to on The Buyer Luberon Restaurant Tour. Download the full PDF report below.
Such is its size and the huge diversity to be found in its wines, it is hard, if not foolish, to consider California as one wine producing region. Instead it is a myriad of districts, sub zones and AVAs each offering their own different styles of wine. Like Paso Robles. Home to a large number of premium producers making a wide range of quality wines. To find out what some of our top sommeliers, and importers think of the wines of Paso Robles in relation to California as a whole, The Buyer teamed up with local producer, Daou Family Estates, to host a debate, but also give our panel the chance to take part in their own Judgement of California and taste and assess wines from the entire state at three different price points. Richard Siddle was on hand to guide proceedings and give his take on what was discussed and how well different Californian wines performed in a comparative blind tasting.
No longer do sommeliers and on-trade teams have to rely on mark ups on bottles of wine to maximise their wine sales, they can now run extensive and innovative by the glass schemes that allow them to offer so much choice to their customers, and add a great deal to their bottom line too. For the latest The Buyer debate we teamed up with Coravin, that has done so much to revolutionise the way wine is now managed and served right across the on-trade with its various dispensing devices, to talk to a diverse panel of buyers, sommeliers and restaurant and pub group chiefs to see how they are looking to trade up their wines sales in their outlets.
In the first part of The Buyer’s D.O. Cava debate we asked leading importers, sommeliers, buyers and educators to give their verdict on where they think D.O. Cava now sits in the premium sparkling wine category and what it needs to do capture minds and interest of first the trade, and then move consumers’ perceptions away from it being a good value sparkling at the lower end of the market. It was also a chance for the panel to taste and assess a wide range of premium D.O. Cavas to see what is being produced under the new quality and ageing sub-zones that have been introduced to help raise the region’s overall quality.
It’s made in the same way as Champagne and is often aged and matured for as long, but sits a long way down the wine list when it comes to the price a restaurant or wine merchant could sell it for. So how does D.O. Cava re-position itself in the minds of wine buyers and gain a greater appreciation and reputation amongst consumers and, in particular, those who like sparkling wine? Those were just two of the issues that we asked our panel of buyers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, importers and educators to tackle for our latest The Buyer Zoom debate. We also gave them the opportunity to taste through a range of D.O. Cavas to see where they might sit in the premium wine market and the specialist on and off-trades.
In part one of our buyers debate with the Bordeaux Wines we focused on what different operators felt the opportunities and challenges were for Bordeaux Wines overall in the UK. In part two we look at three case studies from producers operating in different appellations – Médoc, Côtes de Bordeaux and Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur – who are looking to embrace the modern Bordeaux and look at their vines through fresh eyes. The buyers had the chance to taste their wines and assess the styles they felt are the most suitable and relevant for the UK market.
In part two of The Buyer’s debate, in partnership with Raventós Codorníu and Raimat, the panel of leading buyers had the opportunity to taste through a selection of Cavas to examine the quality and the step changes at differences price points and to examine where they might sit in the UK market. It was also an opportunity to examine the sustainability steps being taken with Cava and how important sustainability now is in the buying decisions being made by the panel of buyers.
So, how well do you know Cava? When was the last time you spent 90 minutes delving into every nook and cranny of what different styles of Cava can potentially offer the UK wine trade? That was the task – and opportunity – for our latest panel of leading UK wine buyers who teamed up with the team at Raventós Codorníu, and its Raimat wine brand, to explore what role modern, premium Cava styles have and, the growing importance of viticulture, organic and sustainable winemaking on the region. It was also the chance to taste through a number of different Cava styles to see what potential they have across the specialist on and off-trades. Here is the first of our two part report on the Codorniu Cava Debate.
In Part One of our sommelier panel debate with Wynns Coonawarra Estate it was clear there is a lot of love, respect and potential support for Coonawarra as a wine region. The challenge is getting enough wines in to the UK market for sommeliers to be able to list and support them and what efforts are being made to promote Coonawarra’s unique story to wine drinkers and enthusiasts. In Part Two the sommeliers share their views on the Wynns range of premium wines, assess their place in the UK market and also examine the opportunities and challenges for premium Australian wine in their restaurants and venues.
It has long been the mission for Australian wine producers to sell more of their premium wines in leading restaurants around the world. But are wine buyers and sommeliers listening? To assess the potential for premium Australia in the UK market, The Buyer teamed up with Wynns Coonawarra Estate, part of Treasury Wine Estates, to show a range of its wines, and ask leading sommeliers what they see as the key opportunities and challenges for premium Australian wines in their venues. It was also the chance to shine the spotlight on the region of Coonawarra, home for Wynns and other leading family producers in Australia, and explore the distinct styles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz it is producing, and the influence and impact of its unique terra rossa soils.
In the first part of our New York Pitch project in partnership with the New York Grape & Wine Foundation we helped to bring producers looking to export to the UK together with leading buyers from key importers and the chance to hear about their wines. Here we dig a little deeper into what New York State can offer by picking out the wine styles that the buyers think have the most potential to do well in the UK and why the region has so much to offer in terms of cool climate, fresh, pure fruit forward, acid driven wines with low alcohols.
The first part of our Ribera del Duero debate with a panel of influential buyers and wine consultants showed how much natural interest there is in the region, but also uncovered how fast its winemaking potential is growing and why it is a European wine region to watch and what opportunities there are for UK buyers to list more wines. In the second part of our report, we look at individual Ribera del Duero wines styles and ask our expert panel to give their assessment and pick out the wines best suited to the UK market.
On the face of it, Ribera del Duero is a largely straightforward wine region known for making high quality, full bodied red wines. But dig below the surface and you will discover a highly diverse landscape made up of multiple soil types, contrasting altitudes and a myriad of different wine styles, that make it a complex wine region to get to grips with. To help unpick some of its mysteries The Buyer teamed up with the Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Ribera del Duero to give a panel of leading buyers, wine merchants, importers and commentators the chance to discuss the region’s potential in the UK. It was also an opportunity to hear from Tim Atkin MW, who has fast become the UK’s leading independent critic on the region, and taste some of the wines from his recently unveiled Ribera Del Duero Top 100 2021/2022 Selection.
Part One of our special Campania report covered the thoughts of leading importers, merchants and sommeliers on the wines of southern Italy in general, and then specifically the white and red wines of Campania and why they are so different. Here we focus specifically in on the range of wines from our debate partners and independent local producer, Donna Elvira Wines, to highlight what our buyers think of the potential of Greco, Fiano, Falanghina, and Aglianico .
Campania may not have the profile and prestige as other wine regions in Italy but it can match, if not better, many of them when it comes to packing a punch in terms of wine, food and tourist appeal. For this stretch of south west Italy is famous for its stunning Amalfi coastline, bursting with pride for its amazing cuisine, and the beating heart of Naples that encapsulates the excitement of the region. But how well known are its wines amongst leading UK wine buyers? To find out The Buyer teamed up with local and fiercely independent wine producer, Donna Elvira Wines, to invite a panel of leading wine buyers, importers, wine merchants and sommeliers to talk through the region’s potential and taste wines that hopefully capture what Campania is all about.
With nine DOCs, each with their own unique climate and soil conditions, it is important to taste across a wide range of wines from Lisboa in order to fully understand its potential in the UK. Which is why in Part 2 of The Buyer report, in partnership with CVR Lisboa, we share the insights from our sommelier and importer panel as they taste and discuss wines that demonstrate the diversity of what Lisboa can offer and how it is using both international and indigenous grape varieties in an increasing number of blends.
There has never been greater interest and demand amongst world travellers to visit Portugal with the country named as the Best World Destination and Best Tourist Destination in Europe between 2017-2020 (World Travel Awards). High on the list of places is the capital city of Lisbon with its historic tram-filled streets packed with tourists. Yet the city’s wine region – Lisboa – is not as well-known as other Portuguese areas even though it covers nine quality DOCs. To help better understand the different styles of wine being made in Lisboa and their opportunities in the UK, The Buyer teamed up with CVR Lisboa, the region’s wine Regulatory Council, to host a panel debate with a leading panel of sommeliers and specialist UK wine importers who were able to share their insights on Lisboa, together with two of the region’s key producers, as well as taste a selection of wines that represent what the region can do.
With a legacy of quality wine production in the region dating back centuries, it’s unsurprising the Bordelais like to take their time when it comes to making big strategic changes in the way their wines are made and brought to market. In the second part of The Buyer’s online debate between Bordeaux producers and key UK importers, buyers and independent wine merchants, in partnership with the CIVB, we continue our exploration of Bordeaux’s modern reds, where these fit into the region’s long-term strategy and why the panel are particularly excited to see the emergence of so many quality, commercially focused single varietal wines and where they might work best in the premium UK on and off-trade.
On the face of it Bordeaux has everything going for it. It is one of the most famous, respected and influential wine regions in the world. Yet when it comes to debates around modern winemaking, new viticultural techniques and what’s new in the world of wine, due to its classic reputation, it is often overlooked as a place you look for innovation. But that is not the real picture of what is actually happening in the region. Far from it. To help analyse the emerging trends in Bordeaux, The Buyer teamed up with the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council) to bring together key trade players, including UK buyers, importers and sommeliers, and Bordeaux producers to examine just what “Modern Bordeaux” is, how well understood it is and what aspects are best communicated to the wider trade and wine consumers at large.
It is arguably in its white and red wines that the Luberon really starts to show its Rhône credentials with both wine styles made from a wide selection of varieties where the emphasis is very much on bringing out the freshness, acidity and balance in the wines. In part two of The Buyer debate, in partnership with Wines of Luberon, we ask wine buyers, sommeliers and importers to taste and assess a selection of white and red wines and give their overall impression of where they see the opportunities for Luberon in the UK.
Ask the average UK wine buyer to give their views on the Rhône and they could probably spend a couple of minutes talking about the region and why its various styles of wines taste the way they do. But could they do the same for the wines of Luberon, made in the south eastern extreme of the region? To help widen buyers’ knowledge of Luberon wines and what they could offer the UK, The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Luberon to bring together a panel of sommeliers, wine importers and merchants to taste and assess the opportunities for the region in the premium UK wine market. In part one of our two part report the buyer’s shared their first impressions of the region and then focused in on Luberon’s rosé wines and the opportunities for them in the UK. Part two will examine the region’s red and white wines.
Sparkling wine has enjoyed unprecedented success in the UK over the last 10 years, but where does French sparkling sit alongside the two powerhouses of everyday sparkling wine – Prosecco and Cava? To find out, The Buyer teamed up with Business France, to host an online Zoom panel debate with leading UK wine buyers of independent importers and merchants, who had the chance to chat live with three very different representatives of the French wine market covering sparkling, Champagne and Crémant.