There’s nothing new about an April frost in France, but precocious ripening of vine buds earlier on in the growing cycle is becoming increasingly common due to global warming. Combined, the two have had a devastating effect on wine producers throughout France. From Bourgogne to the Sud de France, vine growers grapple with the catastrophic effects of this frost event which began on April 5 and lasted up to three days. LM Archer talks to winemakers through the country and gets a snapshot of how some of the major wine regions have been affected, as they count the cost.
“There is an unbelievable excitement amongst our customers. It’s gone completely nuts. I can feel the adrenaline surging through the industry again.” That’s how Michael Saunders, chief executive of Bibendum, the national on-trade distributor, describes the response it is seeing from its customers as we count down the days before the on-trade can finally re-open, initially outside on April 12. Here Richard Siddle talks to Saunders and members of the senior Bibendum management team – John Graves, on-trade channel director, and Richard Hayhoe, group head of marketing – about how excited they are in showing the new food and drink offers they have been developing with their customers during lockdown.
All three of the panelists that took part in the diversity debate at last month’s Wine Future said they wished there would be a time in the near future that holding such discussions would not be necessary as the wine industry would have lived up to its pledge of having a workforce that is truly wide and diverse. But they were equally sceptical of how fast that change will actually come. Richard Siddle reports on a wide ranging and much needed debate that really got to grips with what a truly inclusive wine sector might look like.
Azeri wines, like Azerbaijan itself, are a confluence of East and West – unique wines that use both indigenous varieties such as Madrasa and Bayan Shira, along with international grapes and knowhow. Although they do not come from the largest wine-producing country, Azeri wines are a serious proposition and warrant discovering, especially as the UK is one of the key markets targeted for expansion. Simon Field MW positions the wines within their historical, cultural and geopolitical context – all necessary to fully understand their unique characteristics – and tastes a selection.
With international travel banned major wine regions have had to rethink how they get their message out to their key audiences and markets around the world. Whilst online has been the saviour of wines sales during Covid it has also given wine bodies, such as the Washington State Wine Commission, the opportunity, and platform, to go out and tell the stories of its producers in different ways. Here’s how it has been able to tap into the enormous demand and growth in podcasts over the last year and reach out to a new audience.
So what sort of business world are we going to return to when we can? Will it mean going back to the office, or will we want to carry on travelling the world via video conference? In part two of our analysis of the Wine Future 2021 event held online at the end of last month, Richard Siddle examines just how different the wine industry is going to be in the months ahead and the positive lessons we have all learnt from the Covid pandemic.
The One Step Beyond initiative, introduced last year in a joint partnership between The Buyer and Sophie Jump, is back. Its aim is to give the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors insights into the latest trends in technology and innovation and how they impact on consumer behaviour and expectations. This is your chance to keep up to speed through quarterly online webinars starting on April 14. Here’s what to expect.
“Everybody has a role to play – step by step, day by day. Don’t let the haters get to you, just keep on going. Keep on supporting people, keep on asking people how they are. Keep on sharing, and keep pushing the message out there.” This was the inspirational parting message from Kirsten MacLeod in her illuminating talk on diversity and what the drinks industry can do more to promote and tackle it that she gave to the Circle of Wine Writers last month.
There was much to learn, contemplate and take away from the Wine Future 2021 conference. The most overriding conclusion being how effective and efficient hosting a global event online now is. This was probably the most ambitious virtual event there has been to date in wine, featuring over 90 speakers across four days of content. As always with events with such grand intentions it is often hard to really pin point and go into great detail of any of the topics covered, but what Wine Future importantly did is raise key issues – such as climate change, environment, economic impact of covid and diversity – and give them a platform which allowed as many people around the world to take part. Here Richard Siddle shares what he most got out of Wine Future 2021.
The one thing the UK has not lost its thirst for despite all the Covid-19 lockdowns is its passion for sparkling wine, in all its shapes and forms. Even with the on-trade closed for much of the last year, sales of Champagne, Prosecco and sparkling wine have continued to drive sales in the UK wine industry. But what can we expect in the future? How can the sparkling category maintain that momentum? For the answers you can turn to CGA’s latest Wine Insight Reports, in partnership with The Buyer, that looks at all aspects of ‘The Future for Fizz’.
The South of Chile is ‘where it’s all happening’ from a wine buyer’s point of view, according to Mattia Scarpazza, head sommelier at Petersham Nursery. Travelling to Chile last year he visited Garage Wine, Pedro Parra, Pisador and Viña Capitán Pantene and discovered an exciting new breed of winemaker finding complexity, freshness and drinkability in their wines, through old vines grown in a more temperate climate. These wines are a far cry from the heavy Cabernet Sauvignons that many people associate with Chile and have a far more European profile and appeal.
You might have an idea for a book on some aspect of wine that has not been covered before, and the dedication to sit down and write it, but you then have to work out a way to publish it that means people might actually go and buy it and the whole experience does not cost you a small fortune. Simon Woolf, the award winning writer of the breakthrough book on orange wine, Amber Revolution, shares his personal experiences of what it is like trying to get a book published and the myriad of different ways you can now go about doing so.
We might not be able to go much further than the local park at the moment, but thanks to the global wine industry we can travel all over the world thanks to the wines we buy. In fact the choice of wines now available to both trade buyers and consumers alike has never been greater. Just where we are buying our wines from is the subject of the second of four Wine Insights Reports produced by CGA, in partnership with The Buyer. Its ‘Emerging Worlds & Global Origins’ report shows how much demand there is now for both tried and tested and experimental wines.
Wine entrepreneur Jackie Fast gives this on the ground report from one of Canada’s most respected and premium wine regions – the Okanagan Valley – examining how its producers have not just responded to Covid-19, but are actually coming out of the pandemic stronger than before. She talks to a number of its key producers about the steps they have taken and the innovations they have made which she believes could act as an inspiration for other wineries and wine regions around the world.
When you search Google for images of a ‘whisky drinker’ you still see only men above the fold. That old archetype is still many whisky brands’ go-to market, but brands and advertisers are waking up to the fact they can no longer market so narrowly. Women make up 36% of whisky drinkers*, which makes them a hugely important and profitable consumer segment. It’s why Distill Ventures recently organised a panel discussion, led by whisky expert and journalist Becky Paskin who has done so much to raise the issue of diversity and inclusion in whisky, with five women leading the way in various fields of the whisky industry, to discuss how we can make positive change. Full analysis by Jessica Broadbent.
The on-trade being closed for such an extended period of time clearly brings no end of issues for restaurateurs, bar owners and pub chains. But it is also a unique time for operators and their suppliers to truly take stock, and re-assess the right range and offers they need to have in place for when the sector can re-open again in the coming months. That’s what the new set of reports from on-trade research specialists, CGA, in partnership with The Buyer hope to provide. The data, statistics, trends and information to help buyers and sellers plan what are the right drinks ranges and wine lists going to be for the rest of 2021. Here’s how you can get access to the four reports planned in the series, starting with a dedicated focus on wine menus.
“Bartenders probably have some of the best marketing and sales skills out there. They have highly sought-after skills that are transferable into other areas of the drinks industry. People who work in hospitality don’t always see their skills in that way.” That is why Deborah Brenner, founder of Women of the Vine & Spirits has started up a new Facebook support platform for female bartender staff to share experiences and look at ways they can find new roles within the drinks industry. It is one of a number of new initiatives that Women of the Vine & Spirits is offering the drinks and hospitality sectors through these times.
In the third of our debates, held in partnership with the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) to help mark Bourgogne Week, we look at the extraordinary rise in e-commerce during 2020 and how the impact of Covid-19 has been an opportunity like no other for independent merchants and wine producers to maximise their online sales. Richard Siddle helps chair a debate with John Townend, managing director of House of Townend, the Yorkshire based wine merchants, and Manoël Bouchet, director general of Maison Roche de Bellene the négociant business in the heart of Beaune, and vice president of marketing and development commission for the BIVB.
The second of our three debates, held in partnership with the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB), to help mark #BourgogneWeek examines the relationship between key specialist wine importers and the producers they work with in such an important region as Bourgogne. To help us we turned to Jason Haynes, co-founder of Flint Wines, widely regarded as one of the most important Bourgogne players in the UK market, and Thibaut Marion, owner of artisan producer, Domaine Seguin-Manuel, in Savigny-lès-Beaune.
We mark the start of Bourgogne Week with a key industry online debate hosted by The Buyer and the BIVB (Bourgogne Wine Board) with leading importers and key figures in the UK wine industry, who discuss the key issues facing Bourgogne going into 2021 with BIVB president and producer, Louis-Fabrice Latour. In this wide ranging discussion the panel looks at how they responded to the challenges of Covid-19, the steps they took to continue working with their key Bourgogne producers and how this classic French region goes into 2021 with the UK as once again its number one export market.