The big classic spirits categories become more international every year as the art and skill of distilling reaches all parts of the world. The London Spirits Competition has become a great test bed to see which distillers, producers and brand owners are making the best spirits in their country. Here we shine the light on the highest scoring spirit in each main spirit producing country.
Taking part in a global wine competition is a chance to benchmark your wines against the best wines being made around the world. But it is also a chance to see how you are doing in your own back yard, which is why winning the best wine from your country is one of the most sought after accolades in the London Wine Competition. Here’s the top rated wines from Australia to Georgia.
Michael Palij MW has been like a caged tiger for the last year chomping at the bit to get out and visit the producers across Europe that have grown to become personal friends during their time working together through Winetraders, the wine importer and distribution business he set up in 1997. The company is most associated with Italy, and Palij is widely respected as a leading voice on the country’s wine, but, as he explains to Richard Siddle, Winetraders is now taking its footprint around the world.
Clairin is the fifth-fastest trending rum brand in the world and yet it has only just recently been put into a bottle. Made for centuries in Haiti with traditions and techniques passed down from generation to generation it is a handcrafted, artisanal, small-batch spirit that embodies the local terroir and rural communities that produce it. Like Mescal was in the 1990s, Clairin is both very old and very new. As Spirit of Haiti releases its sixth in a series, Clairin Sonson, Peter Dean has an audience with Daniele Biondi, a spirits explorer, and the man responsible for bringing this ‘jewel’ away from its Caribbean home.
We have become used over the last year to have just about anything delivered to our doors. But a carefully crafted classic cocktail made by a top Italian mixologist? Well, why not thanks to the team behind NIO Cocktails that are not only pushing premium drinks through our letter box but have come up with unique packaging that makes it possible. Richard Siddle finds out how from founder Luca Quagliano
Often neglected because of Furmint, its more famous parent, Hárslevelű is due its ‘time in the sun’, argues Hungarian wine world expert Caroline Gilby MW. Hárslevelű is blended into acidic Furmint to build the mid-palate, making the wine longer and deeper, but curiously the other way round and just a small percentage of Furmint will overwhelm Hárslevelű’s unique varietal character. Tokaj’s high percentage of women winemakers are also playing a strong part in building back Hárslevelű’s reputation and are responsible for many of the grape’s most exciting interpretations.
Australia, along with neighbouring New Zealand, have arguably been the most successful countries in the world in being able to control, contain and keep its borders as safe as it can from Covid-19. But it also means its people are effectively grounded for the short to medium term at least. Which means no Australian winemakers roaming the world telling their stories for months to come. Which is why Wine Australia has set up Connect, a new platform to essentially take its producers, its stories and its wines around the globe through a new 12 month digital platform. It’s as ambitious as it sounds as Richard Siddle finds out from Stuart Barclay, general marketing manager.
The Bordeaux 2020 en primeur campaign is underway and comparisons are already being drawn between 2018-20 and that other excellent trilogy of vintages 1988-90. Early indications are that it is a Right Bank year with Merlot, and the soils that dealt with fluctuating water tables, helping to produce the best wines. Here Corney & Barrow’s Bordeaux buyer Guy Seddon looks at the quality of the wines, the growing season, anticipates the pricing and gives a nice bit of insight into the psychology of the Bordelais.
As the UK’s on-trade starts to put the final lick of paint on its preparations of finally re-opening bars, restaurants, pubs and hotels inside next week, industry leaders have shared both their excitement at the demand there is amongst customers to enjoy a night in hospitality from next Monday, but also their fears that for many it will only be putting some Polyfilla on cracks that are too big to fix overnight. Richard Siddle reports on the last month’s London Wine Fair on-trade debate.
Once famed purely for its high-toned, nervy Riesling, the Finger Lakes region of New York State has been branching out. Although the region is small by international standards, its many micro-climates are facilitating experimentation with Grenache, Syrah and even Rkatsiteli. Justin Keay had an audience with Christopher Bates from Element Winery, Meaghan Frank from Dr Konstantin Frank Winery and Oskar Bynke from Hermann J Wiemer who showed Keay their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürtztraminer respectively.