If you really want to fast track your knowledge about the global wine industry and what is really going on then book yourselves into two days at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition. It’s like the wine fair equivalent of Tinder where buyers will swipe left, or right, depending on who they want to do business with. Across the two days of the show I was not offered one wine to try. My name badge may have had ‘The Buyer’ on it, but as soon as the producer realised I was not actually there to physically buy wine, but talk about it, they wanted to keep their limited tasting stocks back for the ‘buyers’ who really matter. Last week’s fair was like no other that has gone before it. The ramifications of Covid, problems in the supply chain and seemingly quarterly increases in dry good, packaging and bottling costs, along with a global shortage in glass bottles meant the actual price of wine was actually the last thing people needed to negotiate about. All of which is ripping up the traditional way that producers and buyers do business together with once sacrosanct yearly contracts being thrown up in the air. Richard Siddle was there to see the new rules of trading being written before his eyes.
If you asked 100 people in the wine trade if they have heard of Costières de Nîmes then the chances are the vast majority, if not all, would say they have. But if you then gave them a pin and asked them to place it somewhere in the AOC of Costières de Nîmes on a map of France that number might fall considerably. How many could then go and tell you what styles of wine the area is famous for? Those were some of the questions up for debate in the latest The Buyer panel session with leading buyers, importers and wine merchants who had the opportunity to come together, taste wines that best represent Costières de Nîmes and assess what opportunities there are for these Rhône Valley wines in the UK.
As the world’s leaders gathered at the COP27 conference this month, calls have grown louder for the wine industry to do their bit for climate change by tackling the elephant in the (tasting) room – the use of glass bottles. Last week more than 50 wine professionals from across the UK wine sector wrote an open letter to James Cartlidge MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, calling for tax breaks for non-glass packaging and offering support to the Wine Traders for Alternative Formats. Has the time for alternative packaging formats for wine come at last? Kate Hawkings examines the issue.
2022 will go down as a pivotal year for Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris in proving itself as a major international trade fair and is now ready to cement that position in 2023 with a big increase in the number of producers from outside France taking stands and visitors from around the world signing up to attend its next show in February. Event chief executive, Rodolphe Lameyse, explains why and how Wine Paris and Vinexpo Paris is ready to play its part on the world stage.
The London Madeira Wine Experience landed in London two weeks ago giving everyone in the UK wine scene an opportunity to brush up on the different styles of Madeira wine, find out which grapes they come from, what their key tasting characteristics are and what foods they pair with. Lisse Garnett, in her first article for The Buyer, attended the event, talks to the key players, discovered some outstanding wines and provides some historical perspective on how Madeira Wine came about in the first place. “Enthrallingly versatile, everlasting and bomb proof – Madeira should be the wine of our uncertain age,” writes Garnett.
Bulk wine is something the trade ignores at its peril, as the pressure for businesses to slash their carbon footprint and become more sustainable grows. To that end, bottling in destination, alternative packaging and low alcohol wines are all seeing increased demand each year, and bulk wine offers solutions for all of these. That’s why there’s never been a better time to attend the World Bulk Wine Exhibition which kicks off in Amsterdam next week. Helen Arnold reports.
No matter how established your wine region is, every year is a battle not just to make the wines, but to then have your share of voice to sell them. For a region like Luberon, nestled in between the powerhouses of the Rhône to the north and Provence to the south, it can be hard to get the attention it deserves in France, never mind the UK. That was the challenge Wines of Luberon came to The Buyer with and, in particular, its desire to showcase its wines in an innovative and memorable way amongst key buyers, wine importers, merchants and sommeliers. It was proposed we did that by giving buyers the opportunity to taste, talk and discuss a wide number of Luberon wines together. But not just around one roundtable. But three of them. In different restaurants. Each with their own cuisine and food styles and flavours that would allow Luberon and its wines to show how they perform against a myriad of textures, spices, herbs and ingredients. Here is what the buyers discovered and got up to on The Buyer Luberon Restaurant Tour. Download the full PDF report below.
You only have to spend half an hour on “wine Twitter’ to see there is a lot of “chattering” going on around a number of subjects. But for the most part that is where those debates stay – on social media. Not this week. A number of businesses working with alternative wine formats, along with leading figures and commentators across the wine industry have come together to publish an open letter to the government in The Times that calls for action to be taken on promoting non-glass wine packaging under the deliberately provocative collective name of WTAF – Wine Traders for Alternative Formats.
The UK can proudly boast to have some of the most innovative and leading bars in the world, led by super talented bartenders who, in many cases, have come from around the world to make the most of the opportunities there are in the UK bar scene. But would they be as successful without the efforts of leading spirits distributors such as Mangrove that have equally travelled the world to find the best spirits for those bars to sell? Here founder, and managing director, Nick Gillett explains what he thinks a good spirits distributor is all about, what makes Mangrove take on a new spirits brand and the efforts it is taking to offer as sustainable range of spirits as possible that both support those distillers and brand owners looking to make a difference with the products they make and help its customers offer more of the kind of products their consumers want to drink.
This week, Bordeaux Wines was in the UK showcasing the art of blending wines in a series of immersive sessions titled Bordeaux Blend. In this series of trade and consumer masterclasses, participants were guided through the basic premise of how and why the vignerons of Bordeaux blend their wines before they were unleashed on test tubes and pipettes to produce their own special cuvée. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner, himself a certified Bordeaux Educator, along to find out why blending is so key to the wines of Bordeaux and also if his own blending skills were up to scratch…
Such is its size and the huge diversity to be found in its wines, it is hard, if not foolish, to consider California as one wine producing region. Instead it is a myriad of districts, sub zones and AVAs each offering their own different styles of wine. Like Paso Robles. Home to a large number of premium producers making a wide range of quality wines. To find out what some of our top sommeliers, and importers think of the wines of Paso Robles in relation to California as a whole, The Buyer teamed up with local producer, Daou Family Estates, to host a debate, but also give our panel the chance to take part in their own Judgement of California and taste and assess wines from the entire state at three different price points. Richard Siddle was on hand to guide proceedings and give his take on what was discussed and how well different Californian wines performed in a comparative blind tasting.
With so much going on in this fast changing and moving country it is hard to sum up the wine scene in South Africa in one pithy sentence. One thing for sure, though, is the quality of its wines continues to go up as winemakers across the Cape look to share, learn and collectively raise their game. But there is a dilemma. The prices producers can realistically charge for those wines are not going up at anywhere near the same pace. Richard Siddle reports back from an intensive trip, raises his glass to the old guard of South African winemaking who have built the foundations for the new wave to blossom, and urges international buyers not to treat South Africa like every other wine producing country, but pay a premium for wines that are just the start of the story, helping to empower local communities and provide a future for all of South Africa and not just the goldfish world of wine.
No longer do sommeliers and on-trade teams have to rely on mark ups on bottles of wine to maximise their wine sales, they can now run extensive and innovative by the glass schemes that allow them to offer so much choice to their customers, and add a great deal to their bottom line too. For the latest The Buyer debate we teamed up with Coravin, that has done so much to revolutionise the way wine is now managed and served right across the on-trade with its various dispensing devices, to talk to a diverse panel of buyers, sommeliers and restaurant and pub group chiefs to see how they are looking to trade up their wines sales in their outlets.
Austria’s most planted red variety, Zweigelt, has really made its home in one of Europe’s newest wine regions – Neusiedlersee DAC. With just 10 years under its belt the area has become synonymous with elegant, nuanced styles of Zweigelt that are slowly gaining a strong reputation as one of Austria’s most exciting and consistent wine styles. Robert Mason joined a recent UK trade trip to the region to see what all the fuss was about and quickly found himself amongst vineyards that “wouldn’t look out of place in parts of Bordeaux’s historic Left Bank”. This is equally an area where terroir and climate combine to provide the platform to produce high-quality wines.
In the first part of The Buyer’s D.O. Cava debate we asked leading importers, sommeliers, buyers and educators to give their verdict on where they think D.O. Cava now sits in the premium sparkling wine category and what it needs to do capture minds and interest of first the trade, and then move consumers’ perceptions away from it being a good value sparkling at the lower end of the market. It was also a chance for the panel to taste and assess a wide range of premium D.O. Cavas to see what is being produced under the new quality and ageing sub-zones that have been introduced to help raise the region’s overall quality.
It’s made in the same way as Champagne and is often aged and matured for as long, but sits a long way down the wine list when it comes to the price a restaurant or wine merchant could sell it for. So how does D.O. Cava re-position itself in the minds of wine buyers and gain a greater appreciation and reputation amongst consumers and, in particular, those who like sparkling wine? Those were just two of the issues that we asked our panel of buyers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, importers and educators to tackle for our latest The Buyer Zoom debate. We also gave them the opportunity to taste through a range of D.O. Cavas to see where they might sit in the premium wine market and the specialist on and off-trades.
The wine regions across Bordeaux are increasingly keen to show off their diversity of styles and modernised approaches to re-engage with both the on-trade and off-trade across their key markets. Fresh from his recent appointment as one of Bordeaux Wines UK ambassadors, The Buyer’s own Mike Turner reports on his recent Les Vins du Médoc masterclass, and why he thinks these famous wine regions are much more than just a name on a label…
Ventoux is one of the most exciting and dynamic appellations in the Rhône Valley. Later this month, Ventoux AOC comes to the UK with a trade and press tasting in Moorgate, London. Hosted by the AOC president, Frédéric Chaudière, it will also include a masterclass by Matt Walls, author of the book “Wines of the Rhône” as he presents his thoughts behind what has made Ventoux such a success story in recent years and for those to come. In the lead up to the event, we asked Mike Turner to explore this unique Southern Rhône appellation.
“Journalists want to force Chenin into one style, but it is such a chameleon.” That’s the view of Heinrich Stipp, sales and marketing manager at Stellenrust Wine which has 15 different styles of wines from its range. As the wine world’s attention turns to the opening of Cape Wine in South Africa today we take a close look at Chenin Blanc, one of the country’s main calling cards and in particular what is happening in Stellenbosch and its influence on how Chenin Blanc is being produced across South Africa and arguably around the world. Here Richard Siddle talks to leading Chenin producers about what styles they think are going to succeed now and into the future.
“Pinotage is emblematic of our country and the region of Stellenbosch. As a variety it is also just at the beginning of its own journey.” That’s how South African wine academic Jonathan Steyn describes just how important Pinotage is not just to Stellenbosch but to the country as a whole. A grape variety that has long been misunderstood outside of South Africa, but is now gaining the respect it arguably deserves. Richard Siddle talks to some of the most influential Pinotage producers to find out just where they want to take Pinotage next.