“We have become a net exporter of talent because the market here is so competitive.” That’s the view of Michelle Brampton, managing director of Treasury Wine Estates not just for the UK, but also for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Her predecessor, Tom King, is now heading up Treasury’s business in Asia. Here in the first part of an extensive interview, conducted before the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak hit Europe, Brampton explains to Richard Siddle the demands there are on her role to manage Treasury’s major power brands across multiple markets and how as a business it is also focused on improving, challenging and building the skills sets of its people.
We have heard a lot about the so-named New Old World in recent years. Which is usually used to talk about emerging wine countries from Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. But there are also good examples of ‘New” worlds being created in classic old wine countries like Spain. The New Spain movement being driven by charismatic and influential winemakers like Raúl Pérez who has made his home in Bierzo. Anton Moissenko travelled to meet and share his story.
In this first in a series of reports from Prague, drinks consultant Harry Crowther finds that if you scratch beneath the surface of ‘Stag Party central’ you will find a buzzing drinks scene with awesome bars and a new wine scene heavily influenced by Austrian and Hungarian vignerons. In this post, Crowther meets up with Milos Danihelka bartender from the L’Fleur whose love of Champagne has started his very own grower revolution. Listed as one of the world’s Top 50 Discovery bars, L’Fleur has an exciting range of cocktails but it is the wine list that now boasts 120 Champagnes with over 70 lines coming from the grower circuit, that has really got tongues wagging, and helped him set up his own on-trade importing business Terroirs Champagne.
Saturday night saw the final service at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, the Wiltshire-based restaurant run by Roger and Sue Jones for 21 years, which had become a favourite haunt for the wine industry – tickets for final sittings were selling faster than hand sanitiser. One of the final lunches was a classic, hosted by Vranken Pommery, keen to pair its top cuvées from the 2002 vintage with Jones’ faultless eye for culinary detail. David Kermode was there for The Buyer who reports that even with the disaster of the Coronavirus looming ever closer, it could not detract from a meal of truly epic proportions.
“The rituals of eating and drinking together are at the heart of our civilisation, of our very humanity, yet now they are what make us all most vulnerable.” In just one sentence Kate Hawkings, a former restaurant owner herself, captures the dilemma we are now faced with. The desire on one hand to support our local on-trade, but the knowledge we might be putting each other risk if we do go out eating and drinking. Here she shares her personal feelings towards coping with Covid-19 and talks to her contacts and friends in the restaurant trade about what impact it is having on their businesses.
As we all come to terms with what impact Covid-19 is going to have on our personal lives as much as our work and business, we can only learn from those who are already having to live directly with the outbreak of this virus. Like Reka Haros and her husband, Pier, and young children, who have been cut off from normal life at their Italian winery, Sfriso, in Veneto in northern Italy. Here she shares what life really is like when you have to go into lockdown.
We’ve all been there. You arrive in a foreign city for the first time on business and you are looking for somewhere to go for a drink and something good to eat. Ideally somewhere that has an interesting and good value wine list. But where do you start? Well, that’s where Star Wine List comes in. Devised by Krister Bengtsson it works with sommeliers and local wine trade experts to compile lists of the best places to go and enjoy wine in any particular city. Here he explains how it all works.
The cancellation of next week’s ProWein has thrown the international wine trade up in the air. Whilst the decision not to run the event due to the impact of the coronavirus was clearly the right one, it does not make it any easier for the wine producers and buyers who were relying on the show to do business. But where there is adversity, the wine trade so often finds a way to get things done. It is in that spirt that respected wine consultant, André Ribeirinho, is next week going to host a two day online Portugal Wine Week and give producers the chance to still pitch their wineries and their wines to buyers – through live streams on the internet. Here he explains how it is going to work.
This coming week’s launch of a new €150 red wine from China’s Château Change Moser XV shows just how far the Chinese wine industry has come, notwithstanding the direct and indirect impact of the coronavirus. Although the release of Purple Air Comes From the East has had to be scaled back in size it is still a significant moment in the history of Chinese wine, an industry that has been growing at a fantastic pace and improving in quality year-on-year. Mike Turner talks to Lenz Moser about his joint venture winery, about managing the tannins of the region, and coping with some of the quirks that inevitably come with making wine in such a distinctive and individual country.
Laura Clay jumped at the chance of attending a tasting – organised by Famille Helfrich the specialist on-trade arm of Les Grands Chais de France – that was just 10 minutes up the road from where she lives in Edgabaston in Birmingham. Even though she admits she went in two minds about how good the wines would be on show. A full day later she was blown away by the quality and diversity of wines not just from France but across Europe and around the world. Here’s why she would “clear her diary” for the next time Famille Helfrich is in town.
There has never been a better time for Washington State wines around the world with exports at a record high and a real and growing demand from the premium wine buying community in the UK. Ahead of next week’s ‘Unsung Heroes’ tasting we talk to Doug Marshall, senior international marketing manager, about Washington State Wine’s export strategy and the styles of wine that are now finding themselves onto lists in all the right restaurants and bars.
As we prepare for the One Step Beyond conference that takes in place in London on March 4 we turn to the event’s opening speaker, Wunderman Thompson’s Naji El-Arifi, to help set the scene and explain how it works with businesses of all sizes to help them create the right digital strategy that will help them grow, and target that growth in the right channels. The key, he says, is to commit fully to whatever digital strategy you decide on and help it drive the rest of your business forward.
The Apennine mountains are like the backbone of Italy running down the country, much loved by hikers, mountaineers and in the small region which separates Romagna from Tuscany in the north, winemakers are also using their unique slopes to plant vines and grow grapes. The Stella dell’Appennino is a group of 10 producers who have come together to help promote and celebrate what they can do both individually and together. Giorgio Melandri, “the mastermind behind the group” explains what it hopes to achieve.
Focus. That’s the key word when it comes to describing the California Wine Institute’s approach to representing and promoting its producers wines to the most influential wine buyers in the premium on-trade. It’s ditched the one size fits all large annual generic tasting and replaced it with smaller, bespoke, and, yes, highly focused events that it believes gives busy buyers a far more effective way to discover what the region has to offer. So that’s the concept but what are its upcoming ‘Essential’ and ‘Seeking’ tastings actually all about?
There are now many countries and regions that can lay claim to producing some of the best Syrah in the world. For the most part the influence of the Rhône, can be found at the heart of so many of the styles being produced, like in Washington State where Syrah has truly found its home. It’s certainly what has inspired Matt Reynvaan to make the wines he does in the Walla Walla region.
As we named this platform The Buyer, clearly what goes into being a good drinks buyer is a topic very close to our hearts. Which is why we not only welcomed the new Wine Buyers Awards from the London Wine Fair but were very pleased to be the media partner for its Restaurant and Wine Bar category. Now the judging has been completed it’s time to announce the shortlist in each of the categories. The winners will be announced on May 19 at a special session at the London Wine Fair itself.
Famille Helfrich is as well placed as anyone to know what wines are best suited for premium restaurants and bars as it was set up to do exactly that as the dedicated premium on-trade and independent wine merchants’ arm of Les Grands Chais de France (GCF). Next week buyers from all over the country are invited to come to Birmingham and take part in its two-day annual portfolio tasting and the chance to taste over 300 wines from across France, but also GCF’s growing international range. Here Chris Davies, Famille Helfrich’s head of sales in the UK, marks your card for what to expect.
For all those that have travelled to Umbria, either to taste and buy wine or just to go on holiday, cannot have failed to have been captured by its sweeping hills and stunning scenery. The Lungarotti family has been at the heart of its fine wine scene thanks to the quality of the wines it produces at its Torgiano and Montefalco estates. Now the winemaking rests in the hands of Chiara Lungarotti, who works alongside her sister, Teresa, who handles the marketing and PR.
Washington State might be a long way from the Rhône Valley, but winemaker Kevin White is doing all he can to bring it as close to what he sees as being his inspiration for making wine. Which is why he makes wine with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre and does it with a minimalist approach as he wants the fruit to shine rather than anything he does in the winery. You can taste his wines for yourself at next month’s Washington State Wine tasting.
Ten years ago Helen McGinn sat down to write her first blog as her alias ‘The Knackered Mother’ with no more intention of it being something to share with her family and some close friends. A decade later she is publishing the second edition of her award-winning Knackered Mother’s Wine Guide, that did so much to transform what wine means to so many everyday drinkers – both mums and dads – and is able to look back on countless TV appearances, being a regular on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, and having a long-standing column in the Daily Mail. Here she shares the highs of what it’s like being Helen McGinn and the ‘Knackered Mother’ at the same time.