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    What to know about Madeiran rum & what makes it so special

    Looking for something a little different to spice up your drinks cabinet this festive season? Well, here’s a style of drink you may not have come across before – agricole rum.  A style of rum that originates in the French Caribbean islands and is made from freshly squeezed sugarcane juice rather than molasses. But you don’t need to travel to the Caribbean to find it. It has more than made its home on the island of Madeira, as Harold Vieira, co-founder of Harold and Hanna, specialists in Madeiran rum, explains. 

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    Loire

    All change in the Loire! How this wine region is ‘upping the ante’

    Loire Valley Wines is on course to have 100% of winemakers organic or HVE in just six years’ time; it has invested heavily in an agroclimatic atlas to help; wants to up exports by 10% and has rolled out a new marketing campaign to drive it. And this on top of Anjou AOC which looks set to get cru status imminently and seven of the nominated 10 Muscadet crus communaux having been approved with the lees-aged quality of the wines going through the roof. The Buyer’s Geoffrey Dean hotfooted it on the Shuttle to get the lowdown on what’s going on in the region.

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    taylors port Long Read

    Fladgate and Mentzendorff on driving Port forwards

    The last thing any major Port producer would want is a big duty increase, but in some way the shake up of the UK alcohol duty regime in August, which has forced Port prices up by as much as £1.30 for a bottle at 20% abv, is long over due in terms of moving the entire category up the pricing ladder. Whilst deeply frustrated by this August’s 44% increase in duty on fortified wine, Adrian Bridge, chief executive of the Fladgate Partnership, that owns the Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft Port brands, also sees big opportunities for premium Port in the future. Here he joins Justin Liddle, managing director of its UK partner, Mentzendorff, in sharing their combined plans for Christmas, fighting duty increases heads on, and looking very much forward rather than back. 

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    sommelier lead Long Read

    Buyers On The Road: Sommeliers on potential of revamped Rioja

    For all the history and traditions of winemaking that Rioja undoubtedly has, it could be argued it is only now truly maximising the potential of its land and the huge diversity of wines that can be made in the region thanks to a series of recent breakthrough rule changes that have freed winemakers and producers to make wines that truly reflect where they are from, the quality of their vines and the unique nature of their soils and the towns they come from. In fact, such is the pace of change taking place across Rioja it is hard even for wine professionals to keep up. Which is why The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Rioja to co-host a recent trip to the region and give busy sommeliers and restaurateurs the chance to see what is happening in Rioja for themselves. Richard Siddle, who helped bring the sommeliers together, reports back on an illuminating and fascinating trip.

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    simon huntingdon main

    Simon Huntington: Essex is the go to county for the best grapes

    “There wasn’t talk about Essex wine or Essex grapes at all when we first planted. Then the 2020 vintage happened, and it just blew up ever since. It feels like it happened over night.” That’s how Essex grower, Umut Yesil, owner of Riverview Crouch Valley, captures what is happening in Essex that has fast become the go to place for quality, premium grapes. Simon Huntington, co-founder of Marasby, the specialist English wine retailer, talks to Yesil and other local Essex grape growers to try and understand just what it is that makes Essex so special. 

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    gen z crowd

    What Gen Z & millennials think about beers, wines & spirits? 

    Read any study into the drinking habits of young people and it makes for depressing reading for much of the drinks industry with declining consumption across most categories. But what are the factors driving these trends? To find out a new study was  carried out in October called “Millennials and Gen Z: A Comprehensive Study of Alcohol and Non-Alcohol Beverage Purchase and Consumption Behavior” thanks to a joint venture between San Francisco’s Research & Marketing Strategies and the Business of Drinks podcast, founded and hosted by journalists Erica Duecy and Felicity Carter. Here are their key findings. 

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    Vinchio Vaglio

    Old Vine Conference focuses on Barbera and Vinchio Vaglio wines

    The fifth Old Vine Conference took place in Nizza, Piedmont where delegates were treated to a deep dive into the world of old vine Barbera through the wines of one producer – quality-minded cooperative Vinchio Vaglio. Heather Dougherty attended for The Buyer, discovered how Barbera wines change with old vine fruit and asks the slightly vexed question… how old is an old vine wine?

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    wine future green panel

    Wine Future: We need to speak with one voice on sustainability 

    Implementing a sustainability strategy for your business has no longer been a choice that companies can either follow, or dip in, or out of. Being sustainable is now the price you pay for being in business at all. But how do you go about following a sustainability strategy that is right for your organisation and size of operation? How do you then effectively share the steps you are taking when talking to your customers, or the consumer? These were some of the issues under debate at last month’s WineFuture23 Conference in Coimbra, Portugal that brought together some of the industry’s leading sustainability experts. In the second of The Buyer reports from this agenda-setting event, Shirley Kumar picks out the key messages and highlights from a series of talks and panel debates on what being sustainable actually means.

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    ciro revolution winemakers

    Andrew Johnson: why we should be excited by the Cirò Revolution

    Whisper it gently but there is a wine revolution going on in Italy. A revolution that has the potential to radically change and elevate the perception of Calabria and, in particular the traditional winemaking DOC of Cirò that has recently gained DOCG status. A revolution that Andrew Johnson, managing director of premium wine importers, Woodwinters, is firmly behind as he explains in this in-depth report on why anyone interested in Italian wines needs to better understand what is happening in this exciting wine region. 

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    DO cava landscape

    Getting up to speed on DO Cava’s premiumisation initiatives

    Cava is on something of a roll right now, with sales in 2022 of over 249 million bottles, equating to growth of 4.6% year-on-year. It’s also become Spain’s most internationally successful wine export with nearly 70% of production being sold outside the country. The UK is now Cava’s fourth largest export market, behind Germany, US and Belgium. Here Heather Dougherty analyses the steps the Cava region is taking to not only maintain and grow its sales but also look at how it can continue to premiumise the image of Cava and focus even more on the quality wines being produced.  

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    Franck Bijon

    Franck Bijon: Cru Bourgeois, the new classification & future plans

    Although it was a long and bumpy road getting to the Cru Bourgeois 2020 Classification, it has successfully provided wine buyers with a benchmark for accessing Bordeaux wines with great value, character and quality – not just with the wines themselves but with the techniques used to get them there in the first place. Victoria Sharples talks to Franck Bijon about the Classification and what it means for wine drinkers, looks ahead to the 2025 Classification and future plans for the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, of which he is president.

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    wine future team

    Richard Siddle on solutions to be found at Wine Future 2023

    Like the World Cup and the Olympics you have to wait your turn for the next Wine Future to happen. But when they do they are not only must attend events – for those in the know – they also act as good benchmarks for where the global wine industry finds itself and an opportunity to step out of the cut and thrust of everyday trading to see what the sector’s current and future challenges and opportunities are. Here Richard Siddle, who has attended and taken part in all of the Wine Future events dating back to the first in 2009, gives his personal take on what we can all take away from Wine Future 2023, and the importance of looking outside our own business needs for potential solutions and how coming together to share ideas, insights and experiences is the only way for the industry as a whole to move forward.  

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    arrt in vineyards

    How Bordeaux is changing & modernising to secure its future

    With 65 appellations, diverse terroirs and more than 6,000 winegrowers, the sheer scale of the Bordeaux region can seem overwhelming for even wine professionals to get a handle on, let alone consumers. But however famous some of its producers might be there is a collective understanding that Bordeaux has to change to keep pace with huge advances in winemaking all over the world. Here, in her first article for The Buyer, Ellie Scott assesses the big challenges facing Bordeaux and how it is looking to address them. 

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    How Preferabli is using GenAI for personal wine recommendations

    “It’s like having the world’s best wine, beer and spirits expert in the palm of your hand.” That’s how Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer of The Fresh Market – the award-winning premium US grocery retailer – explains how Preferabli’s AI-driven discovery and recommendation platform gives on and off-trade operators the power to create personalised experiences for their customers, including through its new GenAI. Here’s how it all works. 

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    Feliz Rioja

    How Feliz Rioja is bringing new wave Rioja to the UK

    Following on from the success of its ‘100kms of Diversity’ marketing campaign, Team Rioja is back. This winter, selected off-trade retailers across the UK are running Feliz Rioja to promote the variety on offer across this most famous of Spanish wine regions. The Buyer’s Mike Turner attended this month’s launch tasting to find out more about the promotion and why the wines of Rioja are perfect for this winter’s sales campaigns.

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    andrew bewes portrait good

    Hallgarten’s distribution model can claim to be best in class  

    There can be no better way to mark a major anniversary for a business than being voted best in class by not just one major industry competition, but three of them. It really has been a special year for Hallgarten & Novum Wines. Not only is it celebrating its 90th birthday, it was named On-trade Supplier of the Year by the International Wine Challenge in the summer, quickly followed by becoming Drinks Business’ Drinks Company of the Year and then last month picked up the Wine Distributor of the Year at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. So what is it doing to keep itself so far ahead of its competition? Richard Siddle sits down with managing director, Andrew Bewes, and buyer and quality controller, Beverly Tabbron MW, to find out. 

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    ecoSip

    ecoSIP blind-tasting shows great things come in small packages

    The Online Tasting Company believes its high-tech wine pouches can now match the traditional cork and bottle for quality. Its ecoSIP 100 ml packaging is also a whole lot cheaper, greener and more transportable. This innovative tech’s most immediate impact is to make serving small portions of wine much more feasible, opening the way to get drinkers to sample more expensive wines. Naked Wines is already doing just that with the launch of a 24-wine Advent Calendar priced at £89.99. But can you tell the difference between a wine from a pouch and the same wine from a bottle? Victor Smart went along to an innovative blind-tasting to find out.

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    bulk wine around the world

    Angela Mount: How & why bulk wine is taking over the world

    Major wine buyers’ eyes will be either in, or on Amsterdam this week as the wine industry comes together for the 2023 World Bulk Wine Exhibition. A time of the year when so much of the mass volume of wine being traded around the world is being sold, negotiated and bought. This year’s event could not come at a more opportune time as producers the world over scratch their heads to see what they can make from what the OIV estimates is the lowest global harvest in 60 years. It has put even more focus and pressure on the bulk wine market as leading retailer, distributor and importer buyers look to secure not only their wine supply for the coming months, but pin down larger volumes of lower abv wines, particularly for buyers looking to service the all changing UK duty market. Former leading supermarket buyer, Angela Mount, talks to many of her peers in the sector to share their views on what they see are the big opportunities and challenges in the global bulk wine market.

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    K Long Read

    Julian Momen on ‘revitalising’ Enotria&Coe & getting it firing

    If you compared the competitive world of national wine and drink distributors to the grid of Formula 1 teams then Enotria&Coe, by its own admission, would not be in pole position. In fact, it could be said to be taking a quick pit stop, according to its new chief executive, Julian Momen, as it looks to regroup, retune, and upgrade its engine to help regain its leadership position. Here, in his first major set piece interview, he sits down alongside chief financial officer, Steven Lindsay, who joined the company in February, to set out their new vision for the business and how they hope to re-energise Enotria’s people, products and processes to ensure its customers and producers receive the level of service and support they need and deserve. It makes for a fascinating insight into the new strategy, driven by business management disciplines picked up from other FMCG and industry experiences, that they hope will positively enhance the way Enotria&Coe operates.

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    Fladgate Partnership

    UK duty hike a new hurdle in running of Fladgate Partnership

    Juggling a number of balls simultaneously comes naturally to Adrian Bridge, managing director of the Fladgate Partnership – responsible for Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft – Portugal’s third largest port producer. His military training has helped him run Fladgate as well as mastermind the building of the Yeatman hotel and the World of Wine museum in Porto, projects which have helped oil the cogs of the Douro’s all-important tourism industry, as well as earn him the city’s highest civic honour. Now a hike in UK import duties, which adversely affects fortified wines, is another hurdle in an already complex trading environment that Bridge must overcome. Geoffrey Dean travelled to the Douro, met up with Bridge and David Guimaraes, head technical director, to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of one of the world’s most respected producers.

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