The Loire has been back with a bang this summer with its first Bloom Big tasting at London’s Southwark Quarter in June to help showcase all the styles of wines now being made in this key French region. To help mark the occasion and better understand what it is buyers and leading wine figures are looking for from the Loire, The Buyer teamed up with the event’s organisers, Loire Valley Wines, to host a special panel debate that looked at the challenges and opportunities the region faces and how its wines can continue to lead the world in producing lighter, fresh styles of wine that are now so in demand by wine buyers and wine drinkers alike. Helen Arnold reports back and picks out the buyers’ and producers’ key comments.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Distill Ventures. It is no exaggeration to call its inception, development and progress one of the more remarkable stories of the last 10 years in the drinks industry. Perhaps the reason it is remarkable is that at the heart of Distill Ventures you have a compelling idea: a partnership between non-corporate entrepreneurial minds and Diageo, the biggest drinks corporate of the lot; one side looking for funding to develop their ideas and create a brand – the other looking for the next big thing to fuel organic growth. And while a slow burn, there are signs of success. To assess how Distill Ventures builds on its first decade Adam Withrington sits down with its new chief executive, Heidi Dillon, who has been promoted after years with the business, to see what new drinks trends we can expect in the future.
For a region as big and as important to the overall French wine industry it is surprising the AOP Languedoc has not had a major generic trade and consumer advertising campaign to promote what it does. Until now. In fact it is about to move into the fast lane of wine communications with a comprehensive campaign that looks to capture the unique qualities of a region synonymous with making wines for all price points with large scale producers, working alongside smaller, niche, independent players. Richard Siddle talks to Olivier Legrand, director general of marketing at AOP Languedoc.
Garda DOC is one of the youngest, most ambitious and fastest-growing wine regions in Italy. In six years, production of its approachable, well-priced wines has increased four-fold with yet more growth targeted by the appellation’s 250 wine producers over the coming years. Kate Hawkings travelled to Italy’s largest lake to see what all the fuss is about, met up with the Consorzio’s key movers and shakers and witnessed first-hand how they are setting out to emulate Tuscany’s success in having wine and tourism equally respected and revered.
Following this year’s education campaign to bring wine buyers up to speed about the quality and value to be found in the Rhône valley, Rhône wine body Inter Rhône invited The Buyer’s Geoffrey Dean to discover first-hand what winemakers are achieving in the region. In an extensive tour of the lesser known appellations of Rasteau, Lirac, Costières de Nîmes and Saint-Joseph, plus tasting wines from Côtes du Rhône, Dean met a large number of winemakers who are matching the diversity of soils with a wide range of grape varieties, many of them from old vines that are producing wines of both power and elegance.
It’s not only the sheer beauty of the island of Santorini that lures the cruise ships and the Instagrammers in. Its wines are now very much in demand the world over as awareness of their quality increases, and negative stereotypes about Greek wine are turned on their head. In fact, PDO Santorini’s growing number of producers can proudly claim to be at the forefront of what has been something of a revolution in winemaking across Greece in the past few years. So much so that its wines are highly coveted by leading sommeliers with Santorini, in particularly high demand. To assess its potential and to look at how the island can make the most of this demand, The Buyer teamed up with the Wines of Santorini campaign to host a panel debate and tasting with leading wine buyers across the UK wine market.
Following the announcement by Chateau Ste Michelle that it is cutting its grape supply by 40%, many growers in Washington State are facing a dilemma – start winemaking themselves or turn to another crop. Given that Chateau Ste Michelle accounts for over half of Washington State’s production, the news has thrown into sharp relief some of the fundamental issues facing North America’s second largest wine region. In her first feature for The Buyer Heather Dougherty reports from a recent visit to the Evergreen State.
Anyone working in or around the hospitality sector in the last five years will be only too aware of how hard it has been hit by the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, with an estimated 250,000 people believed to be in need of financial support. Which is exactly what the Licensed Trade Charity (LTC) is there to provide. Yet despite its 230 year history there are many in the hospitality sector who are unaware of its existence, or its work. This is something that its new awareness-raising campaign aims to address. Helen Arnold met head of marketing Paula Smith to find out more.
Traditional grocery and drinks categories are dead. Instead we need to start thinking about connecting with an ever changing and demanding consumer by organising brands into ‘Arenas’ – products that connect with core human needs and desires. Get it right and brands can play in multiple ‘Arenas’ at once. This is all according to Interbrand’s new Breakthrough Brands report which identifies the products, retailers, services and brands that are shaking up and challenging category and cultural norms and pushing innovation to new and unexplored areas. Read on to find out which are the Breakthrough Brands to keep an eye on.
How does Chablis keep evolving to be a source of interest to consumers? That was one of the many questions asked by sommelier and writer Mattia Scarpazza on a recent trip to Chablis – to discover whether the wine region was just a ‘one-trick’ pony or not and whether there was any evidence of innovation finding its way into the final wines. Fascinating insight and a selection of wines that he felt stood out from the crowd.
Everywhere you look drinks, retail and hospitality businesses are devising and implementing ESG strategies to help make them sustainable companies doing what they can for the environment, supply chain and their people. But what does it take to have an Environmental, Social and Governance business model? The King’s Business School has linked up with the hospitality sector’s Energy and Environment Alliance (EEA) to produce a new executive education programme to help hospitality companies, in particular, be ESG compliant. An initiative that has been pulled together with the help of over 40 senior hospitality leaders. Here we talk to Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the EEA and Dr Marc Lepere of the King’s Business School ESG’s executive about what they hope the new education programme can achieve.
Cyril Brun’s high profile appointment at Ferrari Trento is a fitting one for the ex-chef des caves of Charles Heidsieck. The North Italian sparkling wine has always had a close relationship with Champagne – as an inspiration, as a competitor and as a doppelgänger. But Ferrari’s quintessentially Italian take on high-end luxury sparkling has defiantly ploughed its own furrow from the regional authenticity of the wine to the brilliant marketing strategy behind getting the bubbles into the hands of royalty, superstars and now onto the podium of Formula 1 racing. Lisse Garnett visited Ferrari in Trento, met with Matteo and Camilla Lunelli and talks to Cyril Brun about the significance of his move from Reims to Ravina.
“All these initiatives are aimed at helping people working in our industry to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.” That’s how Nicky Grandorge explains the steps New Zealand Winegrowers’ has introduced to help workers achieve both career success and personal fulfilment. Helen Arnold speaks to her in her role as the organisation’s leadership and communities manager, to find out what these initiatives are, and the impact they are having on both individuals and business.
It’s been two years since Harriet Kininmonth took on the wine trading director role at the C&C Group – effectively heading up the wine strategy for Bibendum, Matthew Clark, Walker & Wodehouse and Bibendum Off-trade covering all channels of the wine market outside direct to consumer. In that time she has been able to put in place both a group strategy aimed at better serving its producers and customers whilst also giving the individual businesses greater clarity over their own performance targets and responsibilities. A trading model that looks to maximise the strength and buying power the C&C Group has, without compromising the individual personalities of the separate business units. A challenging and demanding role that Kininmonth describes as “one of the best in the industry” and one she is enjoying hugely and thriving in. She sits down with Richard Siddle to look at how far the new wine strategy has come and what opportunities and potential lies ahead.
“It is time to do more than just talk about the struggles of working in wine and start providing a more positive mindset to create impact.” That’s the key reason why Queena Wong, founder of Curious Vines, has teamed up with C&C Group’s Proof Insight to put together what they claim is the first comprehensive survey to try and find out what life is like for women working in the wine industry. Here we talk to Wong about what she hopes the survey can achieve and how to take part.
Pale, pure-fruited Criollas, cloudy, skin-contact Torrontés, an explosion of micro-vinification and a very cool somm scene in Buenos Aires – this is what wine looks like today in Argentina. A winemaking scene that has “one foot in tradition and one foot in innovation” which is how Sophia Longhi describes what she was able to taste and experience on a recent comprehensive trip to the country.
Ask a winemaker anywhere in the world why they make their wine in the way they do and they will give you a whole myriad of answers. Be it the quality of their fruit and how they care for their vines and grapes. Or it could be their sense of place, and making a wine true to the soils, land, climate and where their vineyards are grown. They might even talk about the generations of winemakers that have come before them and making a wine true to their principles. The list goes on. But have you ever heard a winemaker say they make a wine just to make sure its alcohol level is below 11.5% abv? Well, thanks to the government’s so called ‘simpler, fairer’ new alcohol duty reforms wine – and spirit – ranges are going to start looking very different from August 1. Richard Siddle crunches the numbers and assesses what impact the change in the duty system will have on the UK wine and wider drinks industry.
“Every restaurant wants a Gavi on their list.” That quote from Holly Sharpe, head of London on-trade at Alliance Wine, pretty much summed up the overall feeling of the buyers, importers, sommeliers, wine merchants and restaurateurs who took part in The Buyer’s latest Restaurant Tour. This time the focus was on Gavi wine, thanks to a partnership with the Consorzio Tutela del Gavi, to showcase the potential of the region and its wines to senior players across the premium UK wine market. The opportunity for them to also spend time with their peers and fellow wine buyers to share their experiences and better understand what opportunities there are for Gavi wines in the UK. A tour that took in four venues across central London in a bid to show how Gavi wines perform against different styles of food. The four restaurants were: Vinoteca, Kings Cross; Arabica, Kings Cross; Gaucho, Charlotte Street; and Lucy Wong dim sum and cocktail bar in Fitzrovia. Here’s our behind the scenes report on the day.
More than 50% of the Douro’s vines are for Port production – which leaves the other half for still wines, where great strides are being made, especially in the highlands of the Douro Valley. On a recent visit to this World Heritage site, writer and winemaker Chris Wilson found a treasure trove of Douro still wine here on the high plateaus where the vineyards rise to 800m or more above sea level, there are 116 allowable grape varieties and a new breed of young winemaker with some itchy feet and points to prove. Oh, and they also make barbecues in a wheelbarrow.
The spotlight is very much set to be focused on Sherry in the second half of 2023 with a series of marketing, digital, trade and promotional events, led by ICEX, the Spanish government agency that promotes exports and investment, together with the Consejo Regulador D.O. Jerez, leading up to the all-important Sherry Week between November 6th and the 12th. The action all kicked off on June 26th with a new Fino 4 Foodies digital marketing consumer campaign that looks to promote Sherry wines to the British public, whilst also driving important new business to restaurants, wine merchants and retailers. Here’s how it is going to work.