With the news that Gordon Ramsay laid off 500 staff this week, we thought it would be a good time to re-run this gem of a feature. Because he’s game for a laugh, our drinks editor Peter Dean decided to apply to be a contestant on ITV ‘s Culinary Genius, the new Gordon Ramsay cookery show. Six weeks after learning how to do almost anything with a knife, the big day arrived and our intrepid chef headed to ITV Studios for his chance to show he could do much more than just put a Pop Tart into the toaster. We couldn’t possibly comment on how Ramsay treats his staff but the way contestants on Culinary Genius were treated left a lot to be desired.
As Romania’s largest wine exporter Cramele Recas, with customers in most major wine markets around the world, is well placed to be able to assess what impact the Covid-19 outbreak is having on the global supply and movement of wine. Here its owner, Philip Cox, gives an open and frank account of how hard business has become and what it’s like just trying to get wine moved from what is a landlocked country to his key global customers.
As the Covid-19 situation escalates across the UK on-trade and hospitality sectors, and more restaurants and bars are forced to close, the industry’s senior figures are calling out for more urgent action to be taken by the government to protect jobs and help all businesses including the suppliers that help keep those outlets going. Here Enotria’s Troy Christensen and Hallgarten’s Andrew Bewes explain the measures they are taking and what support they want to see from the government.
“The global appetite for quality writing has probably never been higher than it is now and yet the vocation finds itself in a rut.” That’s the conundrum that faces Paul Caputo as he looks to make his mark as a wine writer at a time when the demand for quality writing is being challenged by the rush to follow the latest influencer on Instagram. It’s a delicate balancing act, particularly when it comes to making money from wine writing, but it’s a vocation he is determined to find his own way.
Very little is known of Slovakian wine in the West, although that looks set to change, argues Elizabeth Gabay MW, who describes it as one of the most exciting wine regions she is working with. The once-marginal climate led to a whole slew of crossed grape varieties including Alibernet, Dunaj, Devín and Svojsen being developed by vine breeders who have since achieved cult status for their work. Many of the wines are ‘on-trend’ featuring skin contact, high acidity, purity of fruit and experimentation with fermentation and ageing vessels. In this insightful piece Gabay looks at the producers of ‘authentic’ Slovakian wine, the varieties they are working with and highlights the wines that she thinks are worth seeking out.
It is not so long ago that Caroline Gilby MW got onto a coach load of wine journalists, all in blazers, to visit a number of Bordeaux chateaux, only to be greeted with the comment “Oh look totty!” It is an example of the sexism that women have continually had to come up against with when pursuing a career in wine. Thankfully things have progressed in the UK wine business but for women winemakers in Central & Eastern Europe the glass ceiling and coping with macho culture is still a very real hurdle to overcome. Gilby has organised a trade tasting event with Wines of Hungary UK in London at the end of March called CEE Women Winemakers at The Heart of Europe which celebrates women winemakers not as women per se but as winemakers with very personal stories to tell of their experiences working in their respective countries. In this insightful piece Gilby previews the tasting and looks at the some key women winemakers in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Moldova and Croatia.
January is increasingly becoming Dry for many binge drinkers – keen to give their livers a rest after the festivities – and a time of fasting. But there’s a new craze becoming just as commonplace… Veganuary. But as more and more people turn their backs on all things related to animal products, is wine getting a let-off? Why is wine often not vegan? and can it ever truly be vegan? Armit Wines brand manager Alex Hill explains the background to this conundrum and also asks – do vegans actually care one way or the other?
There is so much research and analysis into the opportunities, but also the perils of creating a brand that is aimed directly at appealing to millennials. But it is a tightrope that Ross Sleet has been prepared to walk across by creating the Rascallion wine brand that deliberately looks to not only get millennials on board, but also connect with Generation X. In this fascinating piece he talks openly about the thought process involved and how travelling the world and talking, listening and seeing how people, young and old, connect with wine and brands in general has helped Rascallion become an international success.
Although the Prime Minister boasts that he has ‘Got Brexit Done’, the hard work has only really just begun as the UK attempts to secure a trade deal with the European Union before its self-imposed deadline of December 31, 2020. As a director and co-owner of Cramele Recas, Romania’s largest exporter of bottled wine, Philip Cox has an unique perspective on these trade negotiations in a post-Brexit world. Given that Romania only joined the European Union in 2007, Cox has first hand practical experience of exporting wine to the UK both as a member of the EU and as a non-member. He is also English, understands the British psyche, and fears that the nation is sleepwalking into a restrictive trading environment that will severely hinder trade. In this insightful piece Cox details the many steps that Brexit will add to wine import and export – with VAT, customs declarations, labelling, Preferential origin certificates, VI1 forms – and which ones he believes the UK wine trade needs to actively lobby against now, or face a nightmare of added administration and costs.
“It’s not a career I ever sat down and chose, but it’s certainly a unique and exciting one to have ended up in. Particularly as I started out as a van driver in Majestic Swindon.” Now that could be a sentence to introduce any number of people in the wine trade, who have stumbled into the career they now have in wine. But this one belongs to Jack Merrylees who heads up the PR for Majestic Wine. Which is a job title that, as he explains, covers a lot of remits, from emptying spittoons at press tastings to handling urgent calls from the national press.
“Last year Yasmeen, Cathy, Brian, Imran and Sean had a wine tasting in Coronation Street. That didn’t make it to the papers. Because today wine is part of everyday life for people in every corner of the UK. What did make the papers was when Coronation Street’s script writers mistakenly suggested a large glass of red would cost just £3.00. Viewers knew that was a real piece of fiction.” Joe Fattorini on typically blistering form as he makes a passionate case for a cut in wine duties in the Budget.
First mentioned by the Bard, and shipped back to Blighty by the boatload in the 16th Century, the wines of Tenerife have long been admired for their quality and individuality. Geoffrey Dean went there to discover the island’s 6,500 hectares under own-rootstock vine, its dozen local grape varieties, five DOs, half a dozen wineries that are pushing the envelope, and tasted and recommends the wines that are worth seeking out. Dean also finds that wine tourism is alive and well, particularly in the European winter months.
The wine trade descends upon Montpellier today as it plays host to the 27th edition of Millésime Bio, the world’s largest organic wine fair. The Buyer’s Mike Turner headed down earlier this month to judge the gold, silver, and bronze medals and to find out what’s in store for Europe’s wine buyers. As Turner discovered, where being organic was almost a handicap two to three decades ago, organic certification is fast becoming expected by the consumer as the new norm.
In advance of Armit’s en primeur tasting on January 15th Burgundy buyer Nicolas Clerc MS explains how a range rationalisation was an important part of increasing sales of Burgundy 2017 – concentrating efforts on the producers that they think are a better fit for their customers. Wines will be positioned in the market differently according to producer, price point, scarcity, vintage quality, as well as the wider conversations Armit has with their suppliers.
When the London Wine Competition launched in 2017 it was the first global event of its kind to not just judge the wines on their quality, but also how much they cost, and what they looked like. It was soon followed by similar events to cover beers and spirits to create a full drinks awards programme. Here’s details on how to enter the separate competitions for this year and the added benefits for doing so with publicity, partnerships and coverage at major trade fairs in Europe and the US.
Bourgogne Week is now in full flow with almost 20 tastings taking place in London this week, but how well do you know what the 2018 vintage is actually like? In this season-by-season snapshot Corney & Barrow’s Burgundy buyer Guy Seddon explains why the 2018 vintage is starting to reveal itself as one where “ripeness meets precision”. It was a warm vintage for sure – just for fun, Domaine Pierre Morey made a sweet late harvest Chardonnay from its Bourgogne Blanc parcels, picked on 25th October! – but Seddon explains why the heat does not necessarily equate to it being a ‘low acidity’ year across the board.
When Wine Paris opened its doors for the first time last February there must have been a mixture of excitement and apprehension about whether launching a new major wine show was what the trade wanted. The overwhelmingly positive response means there is real momentum going into the second Wine Paris event this year, particularly on the back of the news that its owners, Comexposium, has signed a new joint venture with Vinexpo, that is also launching its first Paris show alongside Wine Paris this February, to host future events together. So what can we expect from Wine Paris second time around? Here’s managing director, Pascale Ferranti, to tell us…
Just as the last drops of bubbles were drained from a zillion bottles of Champagne on New Years Eve, our roving reporter and sparkling wine expert Roger Jones unsheathed his laptop and sent in this report on the global rise and changing face of the sparkling wine industry and which are the names we should all be keeping an eye on as we head into 2020 proper. As ambassador to the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), and founder of Sparkling Sundays (held in Cape Town and Little Bedwyn) he gets his fair share of bubbles.
For the UK wine trade, January marks not only the start of a new year, but also when all our attention turns to Bourgogne Week and the chance for buyers, merchants, sommeliers and retailers to discover and taste the latest vintage available on the market. The encouraging news is that the 2018 vintage is one of those rare beasts in Bourgogne – good in both quality and quantity – which will allow the trade and consumers to experiment more with the ‘in-between’ appellations that offer great value for money but don’t always get the attention they deserve says Anne Moreau, Co-President of the communications commission for the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB).
Business is good in Burgundy, the first nine months of 2019 saw volume and value increase by 11% and 12% respectively and the 2018 vintage has managed to replenish stocks in the region. But life is never straightforward, especially for Louis-Fabrice Latour, one of the most powerful men in Burgundy, owner of Maison Louis Latour, VP of the French wine export association and co-president of Burgundy trade body the BIVB. The 25% US tariffs are already having an impact on French still wine, there is the possibility of this increasing to 100%, Brexit is looming and the result of the 2019 crop that is the smallest since 2003, is that prices look set to rise next year by at least 20%. In a candid interview Latour tells Peter Dean that it is the uncertainty of the US tariffs that is the biggest challenge as he spins a number if plates, including the final merger of Burgundy with Beaujolais.