What they teach you at college and what you do in real life are two completely different things – especially when you’re making wine. First-time winemaker Chris Wilson ponders this as he tries to work out how to get a tower of glass bottles into his tiny windmill basement, aka Gutter & Stars, Cambridge’s first ever winery. The excellent course he took at Plumpton College has taught him how to make wine, but what about the physical nuts-and-bolts and the workarounds? Part 6 of our continuing series on how a wine journalist puts his money where his mouth is and actually becomes a winemaker.
The Hospices de Nuits charity auction may not currently have the same status as the Hospices de Beaune, but for fifth generation Burgundy winemaker, Laurent Delaunay, it offers huge potential and opportunity for buyers to access some of the highest quality wines being made in this coveted wine region. Here he explains why he is hoping to promote not just the auction, which takes place on March 14 to a wider international audience, but give potential buyers the chance to buy his own pre-selected cuvées from the auction and age the wine in his Burgundy cellars.
The main theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8 is #ChooseToChallenge and to “help forge a gender equal world” by celebrating women’s achievements, which is very much the spirit The Buyer hopes to capture with a series of profiles of leading female wine producers and winemakers starting here today with Madeleine Premmereur who is now playing her part in helping Château Barbebelle, in Aix-en-Provence be one of the world’s most respected rosé producers.
To help celebrate its 150th anniversary, Flemish brewery Duvel Moortgat decided to pay homage to its ‘devilish’ past by releasing a new beer that carries the ‘number of the Beast.’ Duvel 666 is a gently-bitter brew that came about after last year’s collaboration with Belgian microbrewery IJ, and is aimed at a younger demographic and those who are daunted by high strength Belgian beers. Peter Dean got the full story.
As a bulk wine pioneer with an enviable reputation for thinking big on sustainability, Lanchester Wines has come a long way from its founder Tony Cleary’s living room 40 years ago, but its latest project is deliberately small-scale. Vintrigue Wines is a bespoke brand, focused exclusively at independents, with a determination to support the sector. David Kermode spoke to Steve Machin, its national account controller, to find out what makes it different.
When he is not fielding off calls from the national press bogged down in trying to understand Brexit red tape, Daniel Lambert is busy running his successful wine agency and distribution business. Over nearly the last 20 years he has built up a strong network of customers, particularly amongst independent wine merchants, who have been drawn to his work ethic of seeking out the kinds of producers and their wines that work so well on premium wine lists and for consumers looking for something new and exciting to drink. Richard Siddle talks to him about how he has pulled it all together.
When Wine Future last took place in Hong Kong 2011 you had to be there to hear what was said. This week the 2021 revamped online version of the four day conference is available to us all from the comfort of our own homes. Here Gonzalez Byass’ global marketing director, Eugeni Brotons, explains some of the branding and marketing challenges that he will be covering during today’s digital and social media session.
For a wine producer getting your wines into the ultra competitive UK market has been one of the hardest challenges they face around the world. Such is the sophisticated and long standing network of wine agencies, distributors and wholesalers it’s hard to know where to start. The pressure on those agencies and importers has never been greater such has been the impact of Covid-19 and all the subsequent lockdowns, closure of the on-trade and the knock-on effects they have had. Jamie Wynne-Griffiths believes he has come up with a new distribution model that really puts the needs of wine producers first and is ideal for the uncertain times we are living in. His new Propeller business allows producers to ship, store and only sell their wine on consignment in the UK, with a model that gives them control over the relationships they build up with UK retail and on-trade customers.
Hotfooting it back from South Africa before quarantine came into effect, Geoffrey Dean reflects on his experiences there. One winery he visited, Babylonstoren, in the Simonsberg-Paarl ward, represented some hope amongst the troubles in the country. Throughout the pandemic the estate has managed to keep all of its 300 staff, and sales are up 20-30%, despite the lack of international visitors to its acclaimed gardens. Dean talks to cellar master Charl Coetzee about how they have achieved this.
“We discovered stories that seem to be forgotten, not for lack of narrative, but for a lack of storytellers. I’m truly excited to have a chance to finally tell those stories.” That was the starting point for Simon Woolf and Ryan Opaz when they decided to join forces to produce a book that really gets to the heart of what it means to make wine in Portugal through the eyes of the people that make it. Here they both explain how the book has come together, but also how you can help bring it to life by taking part in a publishing crowdfunding campaign.
At home or at work, finding the perfect wine to match a dish is a fine art – in his latest book Wine & Recipes, wine consultant Raul Diaz uses his Chilean heritage and experience of visiting over 100 countries to inform a colourful and insightful look at wine-and-food matching. Apart from featuring some dazzling recipes the book attempts to lead you into making some smart pairing choices, advice which can be used as a basis for on-site training.
While we await to see what the new US administration will do with tariffs, Scotch whisky is counting the cost with export sales massively hit. So what does it mean for Berry Bros, which has a sizeable international clientele? And how has the company been coping with that ‘other thing’? Peter Dean caught up with BBR’s reserve spirits manager, Doug McIvor, on the eve of its Spirits Winter Release which includes a one-off Chinese New Year special to celebrate the Year of the Ox.
There is just over a week left to get entries in for the 2021 London Spirits Competition – the only event of its kind that judges drinks on their quality, their value for money and what they look like in their packaging and design. To help set the scene we talk to one the judges, Cristiana Pirinu, bartender at The Donovan Bar about why she takes part and thinks it is a competition to be taken seriously.
Holsten Pils, Radox bubble bath and Ski Yogurts don’t on the face of it have anything to do with each other. But they do for former Greene King pub chief, Euan Venters, who earlier in his career helped introduce and make them household brand names in the UK. Here he explains to Richard Siddle why he now wants to bring those big brands skills to help the new team behind the revamped Hofmeister, relaunched as an authentic Bavarian Helles lager.
Peter McAtamney might be based in Australia, but he’s got his finger on the pulse of the UK on-trade, particularly the fiercely competitive wine supply chain that supports it, thanks to the succession of reports he produces through his business Wine Business Solutions. Every year he also produces a league table of just how well wine distributors are doing in terms of their overall performance and competitive strategy. A table only those willing to pay for it can access. But here he shares his overall insights into just how well the wine distributor sector is doing, and reveals who is the number one importer in its just released UK Wine On-Premise 2021 report.
If this time last year we had started an article promising you the very latest on VI-1 forms then we probably would not have got many people past the first paragraph. Well, 12 months on and all the wine news is about Chief systems, EX1, and EAD forms, thanks largely to a Welsh-based wine importer, Daniel Lambert, who has been making national news on the trading complexities of Brexit. It’s been quite a few weeks for Lambert as he has been thrust into the public domain as the wine industry’s face and voice of dealing with Brexit. Richard Siddle managed to find a gap in his diary to hear first hand how he has coped being in the media spotlight…and importing wine from the EU.
China’s national drink has not gained the best international reputation. A clear liquor usually made from a Chinese grain called sorghum, many experience baijiu as a fiery shot thrust upon them at a business event. But there’s much more to the spirit than the bottom’s-up culture that’s gained such notoriety, says Qiqi Chen, managing director of UK-based baijiu importer Cheng International. She says we have a lot left to learn about this spirit, its diversity, and its place in Chinese culture and history.
As we close in on the final entry date for the 2021 London Wine Competition (February 22) we talk to more of the top line judges that will be deciding which wines pick up what medals and trophies in this year’s event. Only individuals with direct buying and senior levels of responsibility are invited to take part in the judging process as they have the experience of being able to pick out the extraordinary from the ordinary.
2020 will go down as the year when diversity and inclusion were not just a tick box on a HR employment form, but became arguably one of the most important issues the whole drinks and hospitality sectors could get behind. Driven by the momentum that has come out of the Black Lives Matter movement is Wine Unify, a new body set up in 2020 to provide a platform of support, education and mentoring for the black and BAME communities. Here Alicia Towns Franken, who heads up its mentorship programme, explains how she hopes her experiences as a leading sommelier in the US restaurant scene can help others and how she will be sharing that story at Wine Future 2021 later this month.
“Crises bring the true nature of your environment and your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses into sharp relief.” That’s how Stephen Russell, one of the co-founders and also family members behind Kent’s Copper Rivet Distillery, reflects on how they as individuals, a family and a team responded to the Covid-19 crisis. A response that saw them become one of the emergency services key suppliers of hand sanitiser during the first months of the pandemic. In this fascinating, personal account he also looks back with pride on how its core business principles have been crucial in how it has been able to react and perform through the last few difficult months.