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    Key influencers from inside and outside the trade

    Opinion
    oldenburg mountains

    Why Oldenburg is one of South Africa’s top premium producers

    Despite its name, Oldenburg is actually one of South Africa’s new generation of wine producers having been in place from 2003, when it was taken over by Western Cape entrepreneur, Adrian Vanderspuy, who set the ground work for what has become one of the country’s fast emerging producers. Richard Siddle talks to head winemaker, Nic van Aarde, about how he is helping lead the direction of its range of premium wines that look to best reflect the stunning Banghoek Valley in Stellenbosch where the majority of its replanted vines are.

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    Opinion
    Logistics

    How to weather the supply storm: Flint’s logistics manager

    As buying co-ordinator and logistics manager for Flint Wines, Edward Beresford-Jones knows first-hand how hard the challenges of the past three years have been. In this thoughtful opinion piece he explores where the key challenges have been, how they have arisen and then looks at possible solutions – alternative shipping methods, consolidated buying and possibly changing freight forwarders and/ or partners.

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    Opinion
    penfolds shenzen supermarket

    Nimbility’s Ian Ford: the impact of Chinese tariffs on Australian wine

    It is two years since China imposed huge tariffs on Australian wines effectively ending what had been a boom period for Australian producers across the country. To mark the occasion Ian Ford, co-founder of Nimbility, the specialist Asian marketing, branding and trading agency, analyses just what impact the tariffs have had and says if you look hard enough there are still “abundant” volumes of Australian wine – particularly Penfolds – still on sale in China. But how can that be? Ford unravels the Australian, Chinese conundrum.

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    Opinion
    Feteasca Neagră

    Caroline Gilby on Feteasca Neagră Romania’s flagship grape

    Feteasca Neagră has had mixed fortunes in the past but its future as Romania’s leading grape variety looks assured, argues Caroline Gilby MW. Previewing a special upcoming masterclass into the unique qualities of the grape, Gilby demonstrates how Feteasca Neagră is showing exciting quality and a sense of place as winemakers have learned how to work with it.

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    Opinion
    beavertown cans

    Is grow-big-and-sell-fast dream still possible for craft beer?

    For every success there is in the craft beer market, there is a major multinational brewer out there watching that brand and its people very closely. The last decade has seen a number of high profile “craft” companies sell out to bigger players, or at least give them a slice of their pie, be it Brewdog, Camden Town or more recently Beavertown Brewery and its lucrative deal with Heineken. Drinks marketer, Dan Hooper, co-founder of the YesMore agency, questions whether tough trading conditions means we have seen the last of the big craft sell-offs for some time.

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    Opinion
    chinese natural wine drinkers

    Nimbility’s Nichole Mao on natural wine’s future in China

    Go to virtually any major city in the world and there will be a thriving, if small, natural wine scene going on. But what about China? Has natural wine been able to make its mark in such a vast, fragmented country where it’s hard for even multinational wine brands to make their mark? Nichole Mao, partner at Nimbility, the Asian-based drinks brand development agency, investigates the natural wine scene in China to see what sort of grip, if any, it has taken on the still growing overall wine market.

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    Opinion
    hofmeister lead schweiger man

    Richard Siddle and Hofmeister’s quest for quality Bavarian beer

    Some of the best and most evocative journalist stories come straight from the front line when intrepid reporters are willing to embed themselves in the military and head straight into a battle zone in order to tell it as it really is. Well, here’s a drinks journalist alternative to all that derring-do. Richard Siddle reports back from the heart of Bavaria where he has returned from a trade mission, embedded as part of the Hofmeister  team, to see for himself what the brewing heartland of Bavaria is really like and go behind the scenes at the traditional Bavarian brewery responsible for making the new revamped, multi award-winning Hofmeister Helles lager.  

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    Opinion
    Rosé

    Liz Gabay MW: why Rosé needs to be taken more seriously

    Rosé is a wine category that is much-maligned, according to world expert Elizabeth Gabay MW, who says that even erudite critics fall into the trap of labelling it ‘sexy’ or ‘seductive’. Many buyers don’t taste but make decisions based on colour alone, while the on-trade is missing a massive opportunity by only listing one or two choices compared to a long list of reds and whites. Gabay has made it her mission to set the record straight by applying the same set of critical criteria as she would to any other wine. On the eve of the publication of her new book, which takes an unprecedented approach to the pink wine across Provence, Bandol, the Rhône valley and Languedoc-Roussillon, she opens out to The Buyer about why she is ‘still banging on about rosé’.

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    Opinion
    edf Long Read

    Buyer Rewind: Anne Krebiehl MW on German wine’s exciting future

    For the past two decades German wine has been on a roll with the country housing one of Europe’s most vibrant, creative and progressive wine industries. And yet the wines of Germany are some of the most misunderstood on the planet. In an in-depth and wide-ranging interview German wine expert Anne Krebiehl MW explains about the full trajectory of the German wine industry – early success, then doldrums, its current state of health and its direction – and why now is the right time for re-evaluation. She explains why there is currently an unprecedented density of quality production and a new generation of winemakers who are re-defining what German wine can be in the 21st century. Grape varieties have changed as have wine styles – with grace and elegance favoured over power – all the result of a new-found, more self-confident identity that was almost obliterated by two world wars and the disastrous legal framework of the 1970s. A Buyer Rewind feature – re-posted from its 2020 ‘publication’.

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    Opinion
    tequila main

    YesMore’s Dan Hooper: Is the US tequila boom coming to the UK?

    “UK demand for tequila has recently grown at around 8%, but even more interesting is the growth for premium (21% growth) and super-premium (13% growth) brands. A lot of brands, ambassadors and bartenders have worked hard on tequila’s image in recent years to get to this point – and it’s clearly working. But what might lead to a bigger tipping point?” That’s the question that Dan Hooper, co-founder of the YesMore drinks marketing agency, looks to answer as he examines just what it is that has made tequila both the go to drink for A list movie stars and the great drinking public.

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    Opinion

    Mead: oldest alcoholic drink is muscling back into popularity

    In the US the growth of mead as a category is starting to resemble the craft beer market, with one of the world’s simplest and oldest alcoholic drinks diversifying into a wide range of styles. In the UK, mead is also undergoing a revolution with a new bar opening in London that aims to show the breadth and complexity of this honey-based drink by serving seven meads on draught and 20 different in can. We take a look at how mead is transforming itself with one foot in its legendary past and the other striving towards a thoroughly modern reinvention.

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    Opinion
    couple bored

    Mangrove’s Nick Gillett on the vagaries of drinks consolidation

    “It’s no longer all about the product – this is what my customers want, this is where I’ll grow brands, be different and be proud to be a retailer; rather buyers are challenged to get a return per square metre of shelf, and with the opportunity of substantial listing fees, the choice on which brands are stocked is a pure commercial choice.” That’s just one of the consequences of what Nick Gillett, managing director of leading spirits distributor, Mangrove Global, sees as the result of increasing consolidation across the drinks industry that is allowing big drinks producers and major retailers to get bigger, but at what cost to the sector’s imagination and innovation?

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    Opinion
    Farra di Soligo

    IWSC judges on the top DOCG Proseccos in 2022 awards

    “Wine lovers sometimes dismiss DOCG as ‘just another Prosecco’. They are very wrong to do so,” says Matteo Montone, Master Sommelier and one of the five IWSC judges who travelled to Veneto, Italy to help taste, assess and come up with the winning line up of DOCG Proseccos for the 2022 awards from across the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG. Here we reveal the results, plus the producers that scored over 93 points.

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    Opinion
    Dan Hoper from Yes More drinks marketing agency

    Yes More’s Dan Hooper on drinks brands & a refillable revolution

    “Packaging, branding, and design matter. Pouring a whisky – getting your favourite glass out…remembering who you last shared it with, or who bought it for you. The label, the selection. The clink of the bottle on the glass. They’re all part of the process,” says Dan Hooper, co-founder of Yes More the drinks brand marketing agency. So how do big brands take the plunge and switch to more sustainable packaging, and even introduce refillable schemes? Hooper looks at what attempts are being made to transform drinks packaging and whether consumers actually like what they are being offered.

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    Opinion
    Cava main screen grab

    Codorniu Cava Debate: UK buyers on potential of premium Cava 

    So, how well do you know Cava?  When was the last time you spent 90 minutes delving into every nook and cranny of what different styles of Cava can potentially offer the UK wine trade? That was the task – and opportunity – for our latest panel of leading UK wine buyers who teamed up with the team at Raventós Codorníu, and its Raimat wine brand, to explore what role modern, premium Cava styles have and, the growing importance of viticulture, organic and sustainable winemaking on the region. It was also the chance to taste through a number of different Cava styles to see what potential they have across the specialist on and off-trades. Here is the first of our two part report on the Codorniu Cava Debate.

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    Opinion
    london wine fair

    Why it’s great the London Wine Fair is back for business

    The London Wine Fair is back! After a three year forced absence the London Wine Fair team can finally re-open the doors to London Olympia and welcome the UK and international wine industry once again. Here Richard Siddle explains why it is so important for the UK drinks industry as a whole that we have a healthy and thriving trade fair that can provide the platform for us all to get back to doing business together face to face. Whether you are an exhibitor or a visitor let’s look forward to a great show.

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    Opinion
    women drinking wine

    Sophia Longhi: why we need more women working in wine

    There has been much debate in the wine industry in recent times about how it can become more diverse and inclusive. But what steps are really being taken to make sure every wine business, big or small, is doing what it can? As we get ready to come together as a sector after so long at next week’s London Wine Fair we go back to this article written in March 2021 by wine writer and commentator, Sophia Longhi, who looks to champion women through her Skin & Pulp brand, and her work across social media and in the trade. Here she sets out why having a more diverse and inclusive workplace would actually make for a stronger, more secure industry as a whole.

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    Opinion
    ibm advert

    Pix: How tech & humans together offer the best experience

    “The secret of great e-commerce is not technology. It’s not the best platform or even the most complex algorithms. The secret is ‘digitizing the human experience’.” At least that’s what the team at Pix, the new online wine discovery and search platform, is striving to achieve with its new platform that uses machine learning algorithms to give its customers an increasingly tailored and personalised experience. But it also uses humans too as there are just some things that computers – at least up to now – can’t do.

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    Opinion
    English wineries have had to respond to the growth in DtC by setting up their own e-commerce sites

    Simon Huntington: How to really understand your online customer

    The challenge during the pandemic was to have a website capable of keeping up with the surge in demand from people looking to buy what they might usually do in person online. Most websites did not have to work too hard to see a huge rise in sales. Now things are back to normal, all online players are seeing a dip in sales – including Amazon. So how do you keep the consumers who suddenly came to you during Covid? Online consultant and former wine merchant, Simon Huntington shares his advice and says it all comes down to understanding what it is they want and need.

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    Opinion
    eamon fitzgerald

    WineSpark’s FitzGerald: How to get 1,000 subscribers in 6 months

    It was Bordeaux winemaker Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc who once coined the phrase “Twitter is for show, but email is for dough,” when talking about how to build up an online wine retail business. It is very much the approach that Eamon FitzGerald has taken in setting up his own e-commerce platform, WineSpark, which has borrowed a few tips and techniques from his days at Naked Wines to build up a strong email database that is now driving his move into online wine retailing.

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