The concessions made to demonstrating French farmers over ‘green regulations’ was a setback for biodiversity but a timely reminder during the second Vignoble & Biodiversité conference, of the need for strength in adversity. The French government backtracking on its Ecophyto programme which would have massively reduced the use of pesticides in French agriculture coincided with the conference getting underway in Avignon. Ben Bernheim was there for The Buyer to hear why biodiversity matters, particularly in viticulture, and what is being done in the field to promote it.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2021 is a magical set of wines of great beauty and a look back over the shoulder at the style of past decades before the power of the sun became such an issue. The weather was cruel, however, with the yields the lowest for 50 years – Corton and Montrachet down to just 10% of production – although that is not apparent in the wines. Peter Dean heard from DRC’s co-directors Perrine Fenal and Bertrand de Villaine about the soul-searching the team experienced during the April frosts and their use of ‘candles’ for the first time and tastes through the wines at Corney & Barrow, DRC’s UK distributor.
“Greek wine has come a long way over the past years. I believe that in today’s rapidly evolving global wine scene, an annually updated Greek wine report has become indispensable.” Which is why Yiannis Karakasis MW has pulled together arguably the most comprehensive guide to Greek wines in his new 116 page report – Greek Wine Explained. Here he sets out why he thinks Greek wines deserve their place in the premium and fine wine market and what to expect in his new report.
For 10 years Coravin has allowed ‘accessed’ wine to have a life above and beyond the limitations of its closure – whether that be cork or skrewcap. Since inventor and founder Greg Lambrecht introduced us to his revolutionary gadget quarter of a billion glasses of wine have been served with Coravin and extensions been developed for sparkling wines, Vinolok closures and 100ml sample bottles. Lambrecht was in London to show how the device can also be used for No/Lo, fruit juice and fortified wines – and put Victoria Sharples’ tasting to the test with a 15 year-old bottle of Barolo that has been ‘accessed’ multiple times over the past decade.
“It’s like doing a massive jigsaw puzzle, it’s frustrating at times but once completed it feels amazing.” That’s how Helen McGinn, wine buyer turned novelist, describes the experience of starting with a blank piece of paper and turning it into, hopefully, a best-selling novel. With her fourth book about to be published she explains the process she goes through of bringing an idea for a story to life and then committing it to page. She also gives a behind the scenes insight into her other career as a television wine pundit on BBC’s Saturday Morning Kitchen.
“Would you like your wine with or without alcohol?” is a glimpse into the future of selling wine in a restaurant, afforded by Oddbird. The latest entrant into the alcohol-free wine market, Oddbird wines have been made possible by an unique process of vacuum distillation which aims to keep the wine’s provenance and varietal obvious to the customer – at the same time as removing the alcohol. David Kermode gave Oddbird the taste test in one of London’s hottest new restaurants, Apricity.
The London Competitions for Beers, Wines and Spirits has introduced a new global ambassador programme where it is giving leading sommeliers and wine buyers around the world the chance to help promote the awards in their respective countries whilst also sharing their experiences of what drinks trends are driving their local markets and how medal winners in the London Competitions can look to target local listings. As the clock ticks down for entries into the 2024 London Competitions (February 22) we feature three of the ambassadors based in Bangkok, the UAE and the UK.
“You really have to come to the region to immerse yourself. I will go back to the UK and evangelise about the complexity and diversity of the region’s wines.” That’s how Del Crookes co-founder of Kerno Wines in Cornwall describes the experience he shared with a small group of fellow wine buyers and independent wine merchants during a trip to Portugal’s Vinho Verde, co-hosted by The Buyer and the region’s governing wine body, the Vinho Verde Wine Commission. It was an opportunity for them to see first hand the diversity of the wines now being made in Vinho Verde and discover both its white and red wine styles which Marianna Sivalli, operations manager at Vinoteca described as “a revelation”. The Buyer’s David Kermode was also on hand to help chair a filmed panel discussion between the merchants and Dora Simōes, president of the Vinho Verde Wine Commission, and explore the opportunities for Vinho Verde wines in the premium on and off-trade.
In order to get to the crux of the Frescobaldi family’s winemaking strategy, Justin Keay compares this great Italian dynasty’s philosophy with that of the Antinori family. He looks at how the two families’ approaches to winemaking have changed over the years and talks to Lamberto Frescobaldi about recent estate acquisitions, choice of grape varieties and the importance of Tuscany to Frescobaldi’s output. Keay also picks out five Frescobaldi wines that need to be on your wine list.
Pruning 4 million vines across 2,420 acres is the task set for the vignerons at Gérard Bertrand’s Languedoc empire. We travel to the city of Narbonne to see how they do it with the aid of seven mules, get the lowdown behind the world’s most expensive rosé and hear from the man himself, both his philosophy of winemaking and also why he had to tell rugby legend Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa, aka ‘The Beast’ to stop calling him on the phone.