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.
However much Stellenbosch wants to look forward, its future also lies in its past and the traditions and knowhow that enable so many of the innovations taking place in the region to happen. None more so than in the role of old vines in helping winemakers rediscover, and bring back to life varieties and plots of land that have gone unloved for many years. In the latest article from The Buyer’s Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle assesses just what impact old vines are having on modern winemaking in Stellenbosch.
Although it is only 10 years old the Austrian Single Vineyard Summit, held earlier this month in Grafenegg, has established itself as an epicentre for all that is good in Austrian Wine. The ÖTW, which runs the event, has designs on becoming a national body as it continues to expand with new regions signing up. Its painstaking, new classification system now covers 95 1er Cru sites with Grand Cru to come and, with Austria’s wine exports on a roll, there is still room for further expansion as Austria establishes itself with a younger generation of international wine lovers. David Kermode was one of 40 international journalists taking part in the event and reports from Grafenegg.
The sense of spirit and togetherness is there to be seen right across the winemaking community in Stellenbosch, and none more so than with the members of the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective – 35 producers who are all working individually and together to put Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon on the world map. For the latest article from his in-depth Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle, talks to leading members of the group about how Cabernet is evolving in the region and the drive to make even more quality wines.
If the wine industry had a collective Achilles heel it would be that category, market and consumer insights are not used to their full potential. But this is an area that Kingsland Drinks has looked to make one of its key points of difference – data and its insights team are at the heart of the company and it has invested in resource and increased its focus in this area to give the business a competitive edge. Here, Richard Siddle talks to Charles Overin, head of marketing, brand and insight and Jo Taylorson, head of marketing and product management, about the advantages this approach gives the company.
“An experienced and competent logistics specialist is the beating heart of a wine business, and like a mechanical watch movement, needs to coordinate a lot of interconnected tasks for the efficient operation of the overall business.” That’s how Nick Martin, founder of Wine Owners, describes the role and importance of logistics within any successful wine company. Here he sets out what you need to prioritise in order to run an effective logistics operation.
“We need to be pro-active and be continuously re-inventing ourselves.” Elmarie Rabe, manager of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, perfectly sums up the spirit of innovation and the willingness to test, trial and experiment to make better quality wines that is currently taking place in Stellenbosch, not just by individual winemakers, but as a region as a whole. That is also the message that came across during a session hosted by Richard Siddle of leading Stellenbosch producers looking at what steps different wineries are taking to push the envelope and make wines that are true to the soils and climate where they come from.
“Attica, defined by the commanding presence of Athens, has always been a huge wine market and one with great opportunities for the growers. Attica is not only blessed with ideal climatic conditions, perfect vineyard sites and distinctive soils, but has also significant commercial advantages.” That statement helps set the scene for a special series of articles looking at different aspects of what makes this region of Greece such an important part not only of the country’s winemaking industry, but also its influence on the traditions, culture and history of the country as a whole.
In our special series of articles on Attica Wines we have highlighted the transformation of the age-old winemaking tradition of Attica to a top-of-the league wine producing region which boasts of the most exquisite wines of Greece. Below we discuss the renewal of the vineyards of Attica and we shed some light on the region’s flagship native variety – Savatiano.
Retsina, one of the most well-known wine styles in Greece, with Attica as the centre of its production, is experiencing a complete makeover. PGI Retsina of Attiki produces these iconic wines that have re-invented themselves, with new elegant styles, based on quality grapes and moderate resin flavours. In the third and last of our Attica Special features we look at why Retsina is a style of wine that demands to be better known and why Attica has such an important role in the Attica Renaissance.