Rioja was officially split into three zones in 1976 but since then a number of law changes have affected these Vinos de Zona and how they can be produced and marketed. In the second part of this 4-part series, Rioja wine educator Mike Turner explains how a real terroir-led revolution has sprung from the DOCa’s introduction of new geographical wine categories in 2017. Wines can now officially be labelled as being from a specific zone, municipality, or even from a registered single vineyard. Here Turner investigates the idea of wines coming from one of the three specific zones and how robust the ‘borders’ are.
For many consumers, and even for many within the wine industry, 2017’s introduction of geographically specific categories within Rioja’s production laws might have gone under the radar. Fresh from his trip to participate in the Rioja Academy’s new educator programme, The Buyer’s Mike Turner explains why the laws allowing wines to be promoted as coming from a specific zone, village, or even single vineyard, could be one of the biggest revolutions to hit this wine region and has the possibility of catapulting Rioja’s already famed wines and winemakers to even more impressive heights. Part 1 of a 4-part series.
It’s not just tourists that pack the streets of Santorini, but grape growers, winemakers and wine producers also make up and contribute so much to this beguiling Greek island. In fact, an astonishing one in 10 people on the island belong to grape growing families and out of a population of 15,500, over 1,500 are grape growers all providing much sought after grapes to the 20 plus wineries that are fast making their names across Santorini. Here Andrew Johnson, managing director of Woodwinters, shares his love not just for the wines being produced, but also singles out Assyrtiko as being the driving force behind the surge in popularity for its wines.
How many Irish whiskeys do you list? Jameson, Bushmills, maybe relative new boys Teeling? You’re only scratching the surface. New distilleries have been sprouting up like mushrooms after rain in recent years as global sales rocket. In 2010 there were four distilleries and sales were about 5 million cases and in 2022 it was 15 million cases from over 40 distilleries. Martin Moran MW picks out the key trends he believes are driving the booming Irish whiskey market.
2022 Bordeaux is causing quite a stir with wine buyers. Out of the back of the hottest year in France has come wines that are truly magical and have a freshness and balance that seem to be at odds to the weather that produced them. How the Bordelais managed this, which are the appellations to make a bee-line for and some of the top estates are all part of this exclusive insight from Armit Wines’ brand manager Alex Aldersley-Hey, who was at this year’s en primeur tastings getting an in-depth feel for what’s in store for wine buyers of all persuasions.
Travelling around the wine regions of Central Greece and you are struck on the one hand by how much heritage and tradition there is in the vineyards and wines the region can make, but also how open its winemakers are to try new techniques, invest in modern viticulture and, crucially, look to celebrate and promote the area’s unique indigenous varieties whilst also embracing and seeing how well the world’s most international grapes can do in its soils. It is a modern approach to winemaking that is quietly, but quickly, making wines from Central Greece some of the most coveted, and yet to be fully discovered wines from the Mediterranean, if not around the world. Richard Siddle recently joined a UK trade trip including leading importers, merchants, restaurateurs and trade press to get to know what Central Greece is all about.
Wine producers the world over are bending over backwards to try and turn their wineries into hospitality and tourism destinations. But what are so called ‘wine tourists’ looking for from an actual winery visit? David Crowe is currently travelling around South America with his wife, Toni, as part of a pre-retirement trip taking in the food, culture and wines from their visits to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. Here he shares what their ‘wine tourism’ experiences have been like.
B Corp brands and businesses are gaining more recognition – and shelf space – as the movement moves into the mainstream. And, while some might question if it’s a passing fad, record numbers of companies are signing up. But what is a B Corp company and what are the steps you have to take to become one? What level of investment is needed both financially and from a resource point of view to switch your business model to B Corp status? Rosie Davenport, founder of sustainability and communication consultancy Impact Focus is well placed to know as she is also a trained B Leader, helping companies through the B Corp journey. Here she talks to retailers and wineries about why they are embracing the global non-profit organisation and how it’s transformed their businesses.
For all the swilling, tasting, talking and, hopefully, buying going on at this month’s London Wine Fair there is also a big elephant in the room for an event that has placed the environment and sustainability at the heart of its agenda. What happens to all the thousands of bottles that are needed to host such an event? Well the show’s organisers hope it has come up with an answer with a new bottle re-use scheme that will be in operation over its three days. We talk to Marta Mendonça and Cristina Crava, from the Porto Protocol and Muriel Chatel of Sustainable Wine Solutions who have devised the initiative and will be in charge of running it at the fair.
The Rhône is the second biggest appellation in France after Bordeaux and its wines are loved the world over for their signature Mediterranean warmth and generosity, but getting to know its many sub-regions can be somewhat daunting. So who better as a guide than renowned expert Matt Walls, who has hosted a series of masterclasses, to shine a light of some of the less well-known appellations that deserve to be on your Rhône radar. The Buyer’s Justin Keay – by his own admission a relative newcomer to the vast region – went along to find out more about two such areas, Lirac and Rasteau, and was impressed by what he discovered.
This spring, Matt Walls, the man who – literally – wrote the book on the wines of the Rhône Valley is conducting a series of masterclasses in the UK to shine a light on one of most fascinating, diverse and iconic wine regions in the world. Walls began his mission in Edinburgh, with a masterclass dedicated to the impressive range and value on offer, as well as the current trends emerging from the innovative Côtes du Rhône appellations. Mike Turner was there – and for this comprehensive and insightful report, the first in a series for The Buyer, he also brings the perspective of the Rhône Valley’s rich wine history to the fore.
Ribera Del Duero is one of Spain’s most exciting DOs. With the likes of Vega Sicilia and Dominio de Pingus, the reputation of its top wines is now well established, especially amongst the great and the good of Madrid’s fine dining establishments. Outside of the country, however, less is known about the complexity and range of terroirs on offer. The Buyer’s Mike Turner met up with two of the finest winemakers of the region to find out more.
Next time you venture into a vineyard, ask which grape clones are planted there and you’re bound to hear a series of unfamiliar codes that sound a bit too “sciencey” to be related to the romance of wine. Most wine lovers are content to have a solid grasp on what the main grape varieties are, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc, and so on. However, an understanding of grape clones and the important role they play towards wine style adds another intriguing dimension when considering the wine in your glass, says Leah Clearwater. Who analyses the clone wars taking place in Australia’s Margaret River.
From the revolution in styles coming out of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, to the rebirth of Cava on the UK sparkling scene or the stunning natural wines emerging from around Valencia, Spain is giving us so many reasons to be excited right now. So the eagerly-anticipated Wines from Spain tastings, with editions in both London and Leeds, offered the perfect opportunity to kick off 2023’s promotional activity for the team from Foods and Wines from Spain. The Buyer’s Mike Turner caught up with assistant director, Marianne Rodríguez, to see how the events had gone, from their perspective, and what else is in store this year for fans of the wonderful world of Spanish gastronomy.
With the knock-on effects of Covid and the on-going fallout from the Russian Ukraine war continuing to affect international trade and shipping, Phoebe Phillips speaks to trailblazers in the alternative packaging arena and asks them if the price hikes and shortages in glass bottles is finally causing real producer and retailer momentum behind non-glass options for wine be it down the supermarket aisle, or in restaurants, bars and pubs. She assesses what developments there have been in alternative packaging formats and looks at potential new innovative options that can take the sector to another level, both in terms of acceptance and awareness in the trade and with the wine consumer.
With production at now over 300,00 hectolitres a year, the AOP Languedoc has become one of the fastest growing and most influential wine appellations in France. It also arguably works closer to its international customers and markets than any other appellation in France and has placed a huge emphasis on driving change that has raised the quality of its wines, but made them more environmental and sustainable. Here we take a closer look at what it has to offer.
Australian winemakers have long had a reputation as being engaging, confident communicators and have arguably done more than any other southern hemisphere country to tell their stories, both collectively and individually and bring their wines to the wider world. So why, as the country’s Pinot Noirs begin to gain traction in all the key export markets, are producers suddenly becoming introspective? Guy Woodward took a trip down under to find out…
Such has been the surge in quality, innovation and all round drive to make better wines across South Africa over the last 10 to 15 years that it is the appropriately named New Generation Wines that has been so instrumental in bringing many of those wines to the UK and providing a platform and route to market for producers and winemakers alike to shine in this vital export market. Richard Siddle talks to New Generation about why South Africa has always been a key part of its success.
For the major New World producing countries Prowein 2023 was the chance to come back to the fair all guns blazing since Covid sent us all into lockdown. South Africa and Australia both had their biggest delegation of producers eager to get into the market en masse with Argentina and Chile not too far behind. In the second of his reports from the show Richard Siddle talks to southern hemisphere wineries about what ProWein means to them and what they were hoping to achieve.
Le Grand Chais de France says it offers a ‘one stop shop’ for France, and increasingly other parts of the world, for its many buyers across the premium on and off-trades and listens carefully to what its customers needs are and then sets out to meet them. But is that how independent retailers and specialist regional wholesalers see it? Shirley Kumar went to its recent trade tasting in Leeds to find out.