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    Jeremy Thomson
    Awards
    Fine Wines Direct UK will be part of the online awards ceremony for the first UK Wine List of the Year awards on February 22 at 6om

    Finalists announced for Star Wine List of the Year UK with The Buyer

    This year’s finalists in the Star Wine List of the Year UK with The Buyer have been announced and includes the biggest selection of restaurants and bars to make it through to the awards shortlist. It will see some of the UK’s most prestigious restaurants and bars battling it out to see who comes out top in each category. The shortlisted venues can take pride in being selected by an esteemed judging panel that includes Piotr Pietras MS, Ronan Sayburn MS and Jan Konetzki.

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    Insight
    Wine Australia Trade Tasting

    How Sustainable Winegrowing Australia is becoming key to growth

    The annual Wine Australia trade tasting returned to its former glory in London last week, following Covid’s interruptions. Visitors to the Lindley Hall venue were welcomed by a huge array of the great and the good of Aussie wines from across all the major UK importers. Some producers had even braved the jet lag and the joys of a cold British winter to attend. While wine buyers tasted the latest vintages and cuvées Mike Turner used the event as an opportunity to catch up with a number of producers who have signed up to the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia initiative to see how this young program is progressing for them, and how it is fast becoming an integral part of the Australian winemaking scene, and a key part of growth. In just four years the number of members has swelled to 250 (with 1000 in the pipeline) in what is a major opportunity for Australia to prove its sustainability credentials to the world.

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    Insight
    The One Step Beyond events from The Buyer and Sophie Jump have looked to bring expertise in consumer insights, trends, innovation and technology to the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors

    One Step Beyond Webinar: Rewriting rules on trading & supplier contracts 

    There is no shortage in producers, importers and buyers wanting to do business with each other the problem is how they do it. The on-going supply chain issues and constant increases in dry good costs for packaging, and the huge shortages in glass, screwcaps and labels means negotiating contracts between drinks producers and buyers has become far more complicated than just agreeing the price on grapes, or a bottle of wine and spirits. That’s why the first One Step Beyond webinar of 2023, organised by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, will look to tackle just how producers, importers, retailers and buyers are having to rewrite the rules of trading. Here’s who is taking part and how you can sign up. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Villa Maria

    Anne Krebiehl MW: Four standout wines from Villa Maria’s new release

    Four wines, made from four grape varieties, show Villa Maria Wines at the top of its game. Usually, Villa Maria releases its Single Vineyard and Icon Wines in November but Anne Krebiehl MW was given a special taste of four wines in early 2023. Here she discovers the background to Villa Maria’s top wines and gives an in-depth tasting of Seaspray Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Keltern Chardonnay 2021, Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2019 and Ngakirikiri 2019.

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    People People: Producer
    xige bottles

    Xige Estate’s global ambitions for premium Chinese Ningxia wine    

    Chinese wine has had a number of false dawns in the UK and other key wine markets around the world. But just as it seems to be gaining some traction, interest wanes and producers have turned back to building domestic sales instead. But as the country finally emerges from its prolonged Covid lockdown, Christelle Chene, international affairs director at the Xige Estate in Ningxia – widely recognised as the premium winemaking region of China – makes the case for why this new ambitious, influential producer has its sights on making not just its name overseas, but for premium Chinese wine as a whole.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Romanée-Conti 2020

    How Romanée-Conti 2020 captures the ‘soul’ of the vintage

    The first unveiling of the finished Romanée-Conti 2020 wines took place in London last Thursday – an event that rivals Christmas for importance to most wine critics, and an event that engenders such FOMO that lucky invitees to Corney & Barrow HQ are forbidden to post images or mention the event before it happens. 2020 was the hottest vintage in Burgundy and the reds, in particular, can be hit and miss – so how did team Fenal and de Villaine do? Peter Dean went along to find out.

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    Awards
    london spirits judging taking place

    How to enter London Wine, Beer & Spirits Competitions 

    The clock is ticking for entries into the separate 2023 London Wine, London Beer and London Spirit Competitions. An opportunity for producers, brand owners, importers, wine merchants, retailers and on-trade operators to pick out the drinks in their ranges they think best represent what they do. The products they think best connect with their targets customers. Here Richard Siddle sets out how and why these competitions stand out – from their own competition.

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    Insight
    brave new wine

    The rise of Western Australia’s Sauv. Blanc & Semillon blends 

    We continue our series helping to promote new voices in the Australian wine scene with this fascinating examination by Max Brearley on the changing face of Western Australia’s ‘unassuming’ Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends and how producers are increasingly succeeding in making dynamic, age worthy and beguiling expressions not normally associated with the region. He also looks at how producers are now looking to make Semillon, in particular, “the star of the show” and not one of the supporting cast. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Colombo Cornas 2021

    How Domaine Colombo won in challenging Cornas 2021 vintage

    2021 may have been a challenging vintage for winemakers in Cornas but, on first tasting, the Domaine Colombo Cornas 2021 wines themselves have a fresh approachability that will be a hit with Rhône fans. Colombo’s Fanny Fouché showed Peter Dean the 2021 wines, explained the vintage and showed some older vintages over a classic French bistro lunch at legendary Soho drinking hole The French House.

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    People
    gerard basset picture for foundation

    Golden Vines & Wine Owners’ BAME off-trade scholarship

    A new Golden Vines® Scholarship has been set up in partnership with the Gérard Basset Foundation that offers a unique opportunity for a talented BAME/BIPOC entrepreneur to break into the wine trade. Sponsored by Wine Owners the Golden Vines® Off-Trade Startup Scholarship is looking to reward a new business looking to create a successful wine merchant, retailer, importer or distribution model. Here we talk to Romané Basset, co-founding trustee of the Gérard Basset Foundation and Wine Owners’ founder, Nick Martin, about how the scholarship is going to work. 

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