Month after month producers, distributors, importers, and operators across the on and off-trades have had to revise plans, rip up strategies just to keep pace with the ever evolving fall out from Covid-19. When the virus really took hold in February there was a hope the crisis would have been over by now. But we are all having to think again as a second wave spreads across the world. None more so than organisers of the major trade shows and exhibitions we take for granted. Like the pivotal World Bulk Wine Exhibition due to take place in late November. Here event organiser Otilia Romero de Condés explains the steps it has now taken to take the fair online and offer producers and buyers alike a new, dynamic platform where they can continue to do business in a breakthrough new format – WBWE Connect.
The big challenge put to international drinks competitions from the producers they want to enter is what do they do to help promote the products that pick up medals and trophies in their awards? With so many global drinks competitions how does my end consumer even know which products have done well? That is why the London Drinks Competition (covering wine, beers and spirits) has launched the online London Drinks Guide platform to help promote the drinks and producers that win and the venues selling them.
If there is a more respected and liked figure in the global wine industry than Laura Catena then I am yet to meet them. If her father, Nicolás, is widely regarded for putting Argentine wine on the world map, then Dr Laura Catena is more than ready to take it to the next generation. She has already established herself as a leading voice not just on Bodega Catena Zapata wines, but on exploring, investigating and finding the most sustainable and climate proof places to make wine for all producers across Argentina. Here in this wide ranging video interview Richard Siddle talks to her about her vision and plans for Catena, helping to raise the quality and prestige of Argentine wines internationally and managing a business through Covid-19.
Six Chardonnays from Western Australia’s Margaret River were presented to the UK press last week in a webinar entitled Margaret River World Class Chardonnay. For Roger Jones, retired Michelin star chef and editor at large for The Buyer, there was only one truly world class Chardonnay on show and that was the 2018 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Margaret River Chardonnay which Jones recently awarded a gold star Decanter award to. Jones reviews all six wines as well as details the mystery of the Gingin Chardonnay clone that was solved recently this year.
If there is any consolation from the fallout of Covid-19 across the hospitality sector is that we are all in this together – right around the world. Any experiences we have in any particular country can potentially be shared with other wine and drinks teams and restaurateurs in other cities. This was very much the spirit of the recent debates held by Areni Global with fine wine players from four different markets that saw them sharing their stories and solutions. Here Pauline Vicard, Areni’s executive director, summarises what was said.
The People’s Choice Drinks Awards prides itself on thinking and acting differently. Particularly in how it uses every day drinkers, alongside professional industry judges to help pick out the winning brands. Helena Nicklin is one of those trade judges who is uniquely positioned in that she is writing about wines and spirits predominantly for consumers through her Three Drinkers collaboration on Amazon Prime and regular newspaper columns. Here she explains why she thinks the awards stand out and tells us about her own background in the drinks industry.
At first it looks like an unlikely collaboration – between a wine company that started life as a market ‘stall’ in London’s Borough Market and the new generation of Bordeaux ‘aristocracy’. But that’s what makes Borough Market’s Refill Bottle scheme all the more interesting and, with Damien Barton’s input and connections, could give its Zero Waste strategy all the more impetus. Now in charge of the direction of Château Langoa Barton in Saint Julien, Damien Barton has a number of projects on the go, including his own wine sales and distribution company, 225, but what they all have in common though is a drive to put sustainability at the heart of each company’s modus operandi. Peter Dean talked to him about how the wine industry can take sustainability more seriously on the day that Borough Wines’ new Refill portfolio is launched.
At the launch of the new Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs 2012, Alice Paillard likened 2012 to the classic 2002 vintage, stressing that in 2012 the base wines (strangely) had both higher acidity and maturity. This Champagne is a ‘survivor’ of the weather that spring – the resulting wine ‘compact’ and with long-ageing potential. Anne Krebiehl MW talks to Paillard and is smitten with the wine.
Probably the most transformative change during Covid-19 has been how quickly people have gone online and embraced ecommerce. It has opened up huge new opportunities to those drinks and hospitality businesses able to capitalise with effective ecommerce platforms. Martin Litt is here to help companies make the most out of online with his new business – Quaff Digital – that he has set up on being made redundant during lockdown. He shares his story as part of The Buyer’s ongoing Onwards & Upwards series.
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge this autumn called Gutter & Stars. In the third instalment of his column for The Buyer the Pinot Noir and Bacchus have arrived at the windmill-based winery, Chris puts his DIY cellar tools to the test and the stereo is turned up to 11.