The annual Wine Australia trade tasting returned to its former glory in London last week, following Covid’s interruptions. Visitors to the Lindley Hall venue were welcomed by a huge array of the great and the good of Aussie wines from across all the major UK importers. Some producers had even braved the jet lag and the joys of a cold British winter to attend. While wine buyers tasted the latest vintages and cuvées Mike Turner used the event as an opportunity to catch up with a number of producers who have signed up to the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia initiative to see how this young program is progressing for them, and how it is fast becoming an integral part of the Australian winemaking scene, and a key part of growth. In just four years the number of members has swelled to 250 (with 1000 in the pipeline) in what is a major opportunity for Australia to prove its sustainability credentials to the world.
There is no shortage in producers, importers and buyers wanting to do business with each other the problem is how they do it. The on-going supply chain issues and constant increases in dry good costs for packaging, and the huge shortages in glass, screwcaps and labels means negotiating contracts between drinks producers and buyers has become far more complicated than just agreeing the price on grapes, or a bottle of wine and spirits. That’s why the first One Step Beyond webinar of 2023, organised by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, will look to tackle just how producers, importers, retailers and buyers are having to rewrite the rules of trading. Here’s who is taking part and how you can sign up.
We continue our series helping to promote new voices in the Australian wine scene with this fascinating examination by Max Brearley on the changing face of Western Australia’s ‘unassuming’ Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends and how producers are increasingly succeeding in making dynamic, age worthy and beguiling expressions not normally associated with the region. He also looks at how producers are now looking to make Semillon, in particular, “the star of the show” and not one of the supporting cast.
Whisper it quietly but the world of wine is waking up to the idea of doing business in Paris, in February thanks to the fast growth of Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris which goes into only its fourth show promising to be 25% bigger than 2022, of which 35% of visitors will come from outside France, up from a quarter last year. Here Helen Arnold assesses what it is that has made the trade fair connect so quickly with the global wine industry and what to expect at next month’s show.
We are not even at the end of January and the trading challenges facing the wine industry for the year ahead look like some of the hardest it has ever had to overcome. It feels like producers, buyers, importers, suppliers and retailers alike are standing in front of a croupier in a casino not sure whether to stick, twist or place another bet. Be it the problems up and down the supply chain getting wine from A to B, to the increased packaging, dry good and glass costs, through to the shortage of staff on the front line of hospitality and retail to sell it. Here Phoebe Phillips talks to major producers, suppliers, importers and buyers to understand the challenges they are facing and how they are innovating to stay relevant, competitive, solvent – and hopefully profitable.
“We have never been able to buy Bordeaux with the consistency of quality that we are doing at the moment…Bordeaux has never been so good.” That was the verdict of Bordeaux wine educator, Laura Clay, after taking part in a tasting of Right Bank Bordeaux wines that asked our panel of leading importers, wine merchants and educators to assess wines from 2018, 2010 and 2012 vintages to see what developments there have been across the region’s main appellation as part of a link up with Union of Syndicates of St Emilion which covers 10 appellations: Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Montagne Saint-Emilion, Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac and Canon Fronsac.
“Drinks producers, importers and buyers are having to work out new ways of trading that allows them to do business with each other. But they are having to do so in a real-life equivalent of a Twister game, where everyone’s position changes with every throw of the dice.” That’s how Richard Siddle sums up the unique challenges the drinks industry, and the retail and hospitality sectors it serves, faces going into 2023.
Burgundy Week kicks off in London today with a raft of tastings, although the number of events is down just over 50%, reflecting the overall reduction in wine stocks from the region. With so little wine available Corney & Barrow has decided not to hold its annual Burgundy tasting, arguing that it seemed unfair to expect their producers to go to the trouble of showing wines which few customers will be able to buy. In this fascinating insight Guy Seddon, head of fine wine buying at Corney & Barrow, explains the qualities of the vintage, where the many beauties lie, and why 2021 Burgundy is a vintage that very few young buyers will have experienced before.
Bordeaux as a wine region is so integrated into the UK wine market that it would be hard to imagine a sector without it. But what is it about Bordeaux that UK wine buyers – and wine drinkers – keep going back for? What, in particular, does the Right Bank, and its Union of Syndicats of St Emilion which gathers 10 appellations: – Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Montagne Saint-Emilion, Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac and Canon Fronsac, offer that UK buyers can’t get anywhere else? That was the theme of the latest The Buyer debate, held in partnership with Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac which brought together leading trade figures, buyers, wine consultant, importers and merchants to get a cross industry feel on what it is about these landmark wine areas that capture their attention and what it needs to do in the future to keep their focus in the years ahead.
Provence continues to be a go-to region for wine drinkers across the globe searching out premium rosé. Rosé dominates wine production in the southern French region, with around 90% of the wine produced as the iconic salmon-pink wine. But what is it about Provence rosé that seems to have captured, and continues to capture, the hearts of so many wine drinkers in the world? We asked The Buyer’s Mike Turner, a restaurateur and retailer himself, to taste through a selection of the 2021 vintage and give us his thoughts on the region.
“If you go to the town of Setúbal it’s everywhere, and it’s in every thing. It’s in the soap. You name it. They know they have something special.” That’s how wine consultant and broadcaster, Joe Wadsack, explains just how important Moscatel, the fortified, sweet wine is to Portugal’s Setúbal wine region, located just south of Lisbon. In part two of our debate with leading wine importers, merchants and sommeliers on the opportunities for Setúbal in the UK we turn the spotlight on what Moscatel can potentially offer.
Situated just south of Lisbon it’s fair to say the Setúbal wine region has yet to really show its true colours to either the trade or UK wine drinkers. But that’s largely because so many of its producers have had great success at home in Portugal, making up a fifth of domestic wine sales. Now the focus is changing and Setúbal is looking to explore opportunities overseas, particularly in the premium on and off-trade, for its specialist, maritime influenced wines that can potentially offer a whole new spectrum of wines for buyers looking for fresh, fruit forward, gastronomic wines. To find out just where the gaps might be in the UK market, The Buyer teamed up with Setúbal Peninsula Wines to host a zoom debate with leading importers, wine merchants and sommeliers to get their take on the region, taste some classic examples of Setúbal wine and see where it might sit within the overall Portuguese wine category.
Created in 1987, IGP Pays d’Oc is now France’s leading export designation by volume and it is hard to imagine the Languedoc-Roussillon without it. But when it was introduced there was uncertainty and caution about how well the wines would be received. Fast forward 35 years and the IGP Pays d’Oc has become a success story that other wine regions would love to emulate. Here we look at the big steps it has taken along the way.
It’s ironic considering its name and subject matter that the Old Vine Conference has made such an impact in such a short period of time and done so much to shine the light on the work being done the world over to not just preserve old vines but celebrate them. That was very much the theme of the first Old Vine Conference field trip for a group of leading wine professionals who travelled to Veneto to see and hear the influence that old vines can still have on modern viticulture, as Mattia Scarpazza reports.
World Cup beating players are one thing, world class sommeliers quite another and Argentina is producing both. CAVE in Buenos Aires is a school for sommeliers like no other, run by two resourceful women, the school delivers an Eton level education on a Grange Hill budget. Lisse Garnett asks co-founders, Flavia Rizzuto and Maria Barrutia, to divulge the secret of their success..
“Part of our mission is to help fine wine wineries, distributors, and retailers to understand how the world is changing, and how that creates opportunities to be seized and risks to be managed.” But that only tells part of the story of the ambition that drives the team at ARENI Global to help shape, influence and drive fine wine around the world. Here its co-founder and executive director, Pauline Vicard, explains what those ambitions are and sets out its plans for 2023 starting with its latest breakthrough fine wine research to be released in January.
“It’s a moral imperative for a business like ours, with our size and scale to take action on sustainability.” That was the clear message, but also challenge that Sam Thackeray, managing director of Enotria&Coe, wants the trade and its customers and suppliers to know about how seriously the business is now taking its sustainability responsibilities. Richard Siddle reports back from an open forum held by Enotria&Coe to both share its plans, but also get feedback and insights from its customers and leading trade figures on what a comprehensive sustainability strategy should look like.
Regardless of how well a business treats its staff and does all it can to be open, transparent and fair in how it deals with its employees there is one area where it is almost impossible to keep all your staff happy – how much they get paid. Which makes this new exclusive report from Vinokelly Drinks Recruitment, in partnership with The Buyer, such a breakthrough piece of research. It also claims to be the biggest study ever undertaken into the salary and recruitment trends in the UK wine industry. Giving the wine industry a breakdown in every sector of what average salaries are, or should be. Potentially vital research for hiring managers and HR teams looking to find the best talent out there and for those in the wine industry plotting their next move. Here we share some of the key findings.
“Germany is the country that has diversified the most over the last eight years – it’s now a melting pot of styles and production methods.” That’s how Christina Rasmussen, co-founder of Little Wine, describes what is now widely seen as the new wave German wine scene that is helping to re-invent the German wine category, particularly at the premium end of the market, driven by organic, biodynamic, and low intervention, independent winemakers. To help explore what actually is happening across Germany, The Buyer hosted a debate, in partnership with Wines of Germany, with two of the producers hoping to make a difference and with buyers looking to introduce the new style of German wines to potential customers and consumers in the UK.
For too long diners have been missing out on the pleasures of mature Bordeaux, a situation that Bibendum’s revolutionary Bordeaux Collection is fast rectifying. Almost three years since inception the scheme now has 110 accounts and is welcoming Lafite, Barons de Rothschild, Cantenac-Brown, Smith Haut Lafitte, Troplong-Mondot, Lynch-Bages and Figeac into the fold. Anne Krebiehl MW talks to the team behind Bordeaux Collection and argues that its approach could be seen as a total reset for the on-trade’s fine wine offering.