Even if Tom Cruise and his Mission Impossible team had been available I’m not sure even they could have solved the challenge of “How To Future Proof the South African Wine Industry” in the hour debate that was held online earlier this month as part of Wines of South Africa’s Insider Sessions designed to throw the spotlight on different challenges and opportunities facing its industry. Here Richard Siddle, who helped chair the session, summaries the key solutions of the panel of leading South African winemakers and producers.
While human intervention can correct all manner of issues in a vineyard, the one that is increasingly having the greatest impact is climate change. That cannot be combatted… or can it? Wine expert Michelle Williams spoke to growers in Australia, Spain, Austria, and the USA to learn about their efforts to do just that, through vineyard biodiversity. From grape variety selection, cover crop practices, biodynamic farming and encouraging Mycorrhizal fungi, winemakers are finding that when you are faced with a complex problem – using complexity does help.
The percentage of sustainable wineries in Bordeaux has nearly doubled in the last six years as more producers see both the environmental, but also commercial advantages in switching their production. The region is now on course to have 100% of its wineries running some sort of certified sustainable scheme by 2030. For a region that is so often celebrated more for how well its different appellations are performing this is a case of individual steps for collective gain, as Jessica Broadbent finds out in this analysis of what other steps Bordeaux is taking to safeguard and grow its future.
The world’s best spirits will once again be battling it out and vying for attention in the London Spirits Competition, which goes into its fourth year on the back of record entries for the 2020 event, increased recognition around the world and a new consumer website, The London Drinks Guide, that has been launched by its organisers to help promote the brands, distillers and their importers who pick up medals and trophies in the event.
The pace at which the wine industry has had to respond to seismic change during 2020 and get online just to do business has been unprecedented. It has also stretched to breaking point many of the existing legacy management computer systems out there that aren’t flexible nor built for a digital era. Here Nick Martin, co-founder of Wine Owners, sets out what he sees as being the sector’s biggest technical challenges and how having a wine industry specific digital operating system running everything from your ordering, stock management, brokering through to e-commerce and other sales channels can be a real game changer.
Bodegas Barbadillo is one of the founders of the modern sherry business, with important historical claims throughout history. It was the first producer to name a Manzanilla, the first to bottle it, and the first to pioneer ‘en rama’ as a modern sherry category. Jessica Broadbent heard from Barbadillo’s Tim Holt about the real importance of the bodega design, the stories behind five of its sherries plus a remarkable discovery that has led to a new sherry-based vermouth being released that is like a ready-made negroni.
With a background that covers diversity and inclusion, behaviour change and various forms of regulation, chartered accountant and chief financial officer Tom Lewis, who also writes about wine as The Cambridge Wine Blogger, outlines how to take the discussion around industry representation and behaviour standards forward with some practical steps, particularly around sanction and reward, that have worked in other sectors.
2020 will not go down as a year for anyone to be doing much celebrating, but it has not dampened the spirits of the Champagne and sparkling wine world with a record number of entries into this year’s Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships with producers from up to 30 countries competing for the event’s top awards. Today The Buyer reveals the winners of what are a total of 128 Gold and 237 Silver medal winners with the trophy results to be released next month.
Greece, Spain, New Zealand and England are just some of the countries that are producing sparkling wines that match, if not beat, the wines from Champagne on quality and undercut them on price every time. That’s the view of wine consultant Robert Mason who highlights seven wines that he believes will work well in the on-trade (when it gets back up to speed). He also investigates the use of bentonite, the artificially reduced yields during 2020, vintage wine release patterns and price and wonders whether status is over-playing its part in the Valée de la Marne.
When Roger and Sue Jones announced they were to close their much loved and celebrated restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, there was a rush to book a table before their final service in March. In the end the outbreak of Covid-19 meant they had to close their doors before their final date. Rather than enjoy an early retirement, the couple have never been busier launching a series of initiatives to first cook and feed hundreds of vulnerable people in their local community, before switching to running a gourmet takeaway service which it is now using to raise money for a series of charities in December. For all their efforts during Covid-19 The Buyer salutes Roger and Sue and we’re sure you will join us in Raising A Glass to them.