With little in-depth knowledge of the wines of Chile, Justin Keay went along to the thin country’s annual generic tasting with an open mind and a set of pre-conceptions. Were the wines going to be power houses made with international grape varieties and produced in staggeringly high volumes? Not a bit. What Keay discovered was a wine scene that is clearly evolving, focusing more on regionality, freshness and tilting away from the old dependence on Bordeaux varieties; although it can still produce these very well indeed, especially at the premium end.
Ben Franks is “a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit, which defines those who subscribe to the motto ‘Follow your dreams’.” That’s how Angela Mount describes the steps that Ben Franks, chief executive and founder of multi-award winning Novel Wines, and specialist importer of south and East European wines, has already achieved in such a short period of time. As he announces he is to step away from Novel Wines in the new year to concentrate full time on the Canned Wine Co, which he also co-founded, as chief commercial officer, Mount catches up with him to see where his wine dreams are going to take him next.
The Loire has been back with a bang this summer with its first Bloom Big tasting at London’s Southwark Quarter in June to help showcase all the styles of wines now being made in this key French region. To help mark the occasion and better understand what it is buyers and leading wine figures are looking for from the Loire, The Buyer teamed up with the event’s organisers, Loire Valley Wines, to host a special panel debate that looked at the challenges and opportunities the region faces and how its wines can continue to lead the world in producing lighter, fresh styles of wine that are now so in demand by wine buyers and wine drinkers alike. Helen Arnold reports back and picks out the buyers’ and producers’ key comments.
The Rioja wine board took its 100kms of Diversity tasting tour around the UK this month to help educate the trade about new developments within the Rioja region but also as part of a ‘levelling up’ process. Janet Harrison, founder of the People’s Choice Wine Awards, caught up with the Rioja tour on its Manchester leg, talked to importers, producers and wine buyers there, and discovered that there is an increasing need to tap into a wider wine-buying community – not just one that is centred around London. Top of the agenda was taking the focus away from ageing (Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva etc) and being able to discuss Rioja’s ‘terroir driven wines’.
Inspired by tasting Michel Chapoutier’s biodynamic wine at ProWein in 2019, Ukrainian winemaker Ihor Petrenko set out to make his own biodynamic wines at the Biologist winery close to Kyiv. He has followed a hard but hugely rewarding winemaking journey since. His conversion to biodynamics is a story that is also the inspiration for this award winning article by Victoria Makarova in the biodynamics category in the WebWineWriting competition organised by Hungarianwine.eu. A story we are pleased to share for you on The Buyer.
The worlds of bulk, branded, packaged and own label wines and spirits are becoming ever entwined as buyers and producers alike look at ever more efficient and sustainable ways to do business with each. Which is why in November the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show is returning to London with a new sister event, the UK Trade Tasting focused on promoting branded wines and spirits. The Buyer talks to events organiser Sid Patel, chief executive of the Beverage Trade Network, about what he hopes the two combined events can offer the UK and European wine industries.
The first taste of a new vintage of Celebris is always a big occasion and the launch of Gosset Celebris 2012 did not disappoint. Gosset chose Ekstedt at the Yard in London for imaginative food-pairing, contrasting the wine served straight from the bottle and also from carafe. Who better to taste and rate for The Buyer than Roger Jones, an expert in Champagne and sparkling wine and also a one-time Michelin Star chef himself who, bowled over so much by one sauce served with the fizz, declared it the best fish sauce he had ever tasted.
The UK’s fascination with wines from Portugal continues to rise. With exports to the UK already growing in the first half of 2023 by a confident 18% in volume and an impressive 44% in value, Portuguese wines are clearly showing their qualities and no longer stuck with the historic reputation of cheap and cheerful and made to a price point. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner to the Wines of Portugal tasting earlier this month in London to find out why so many are keen to add Portuguese wines to their shelves and wine lists.
The 2023 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction that takes place on October 6, will be the 39th since the cream of the South African wine industry decided to club together and make special, one-off wines that showcase the depth and breadth of Cape wines to an international audience. To date the auctioned wines have become collectors treasures and have also showed up on the secondary auction scene. To give potential bidders the inside track on this year’s event, South African wine expert Roger Jones flew back from his Rugby World Cup antics to London to join CWG chair Gordon Newton Johnson and others for an exclusive tasting of 40 of this year’s top wines.
The world over winemakers are increasingly turning to the benefits of working with old vines helped enormously by the research, insights and leadership of initiatives like the Old Vine Project in South Africa and the Old Vine Conference. One of these winemaking pioneers is Derek Mossman Knapp and his Garage Wine Co in Maule in Southern Chile who is taking the old vine movement one step further by not just reviving old vineyards, but doing so in a way that ensures the local rural community also has a long term source of sustainable income. He explains to Richard Siddle why working hand-in-hand with old vines and local communities are ineluctably entwined.