The Jura is arguably one of the least well-known French wine regions, but independent restaurant Levan in London’s Peckham – winner of Special Jury prize in 2022 Star Wine List of the Year UK with The Buyer – is blazing a trail with a list which champions this largely overlooked area of the north-east of the country. Helen Arnold talks to co-owner and founder Mark Gurney.
South Africa might physically be on other side of the world from the UK, but its spirit is very much alive thanks to the efforts and support of key importers, suppliers, retailers and restaurants that have taken the country to their hearts. Perhaps none more so than Seckford Agencies that has arguably one of the most impressive premium South African ranges built up over the last 20 plus years. Here its sales director, David Cartwright, shares his personal as well as business reasons for wanting South Africa to do well in the UK wine market, and crucially looks at the huge untapped opportunities there are for its producers and brands to gain more market share and sales above £10 as he shares the highlights from a talk given to Vinpro and the South African wine industry in Cape Town last month.
London’s Lindley Hall has provided the backdrop for many national tastings in its times with most of the leading wine countries in the world hosting their generic events there. But rarely has it provided a platform just for one grape variety. But such is the interest in and demand for Italian wines made from Sangiovese that Walter Speller and Jane Hunt MW have once again joined forces to put on what will be the second Sangiovese RESET tastings on March 7.
“Old vines are a beacon for talented, committed individuals and organisations who understand their unique value to wine and have the tenacity and dedication to take on the challenges faced by old vines and heritage vineyards.” That’s the basis on which The Old Vine Conference has launched a new Old Vine Hero Award designed to recognise, respect and reward an individual, or winemaker, or producer that is going the extra mile in terms of promoting and protecting old vines. Here Belinda Stone, consultant head of marketing at the Old Vine Conference explains how the initiative is going to work.
Chinese wine has had a number of false dawns in the UK and other key wine markets around the world. But just as it seems to be gaining some traction, interest wanes and producers have turned back to building domestic sales instead. But as the country finally emerges from its prolonged Covid lockdown, Christelle Chene, international affairs director at the Xige Estate in Ningxia – widely recognised as the premium winemaking region of China – makes the case for why this new ambitious, influential producer has its sights on making not just its name overseas, but for premium Chinese wine as a whole.
A new Golden Vines® Scholarship has been set up in partnership with the Gérard Basset Foundation that offers a unique opportunity for a talented BAME/BIPOC entrepreneur to break into the wine trade. Sponsored by Wine Owners the Golden Vines® Off-Trade Startup Scholarship is looking to reward a new business looking to create a successful wine merchant, retailer, importer or distribution model. Here we talk to Romané Basset, co-founding trustee of the Gérard Basset Foundation and Wine Owners’ founder, Nick Martin, about how the scholarship is going to work.
2022 will go down as the year businesses, both big and small, up and down the supply chain, started to take their sustainability responsibilities seriously. 2023 now needs to be the year when drinks companies implement and take those sustainability strategies a step further. Which is where Jeremy Rockett hopes he can help with The Sustainability Partnership consultancy that has been set up to help businesses navigate the right way forward, as he explains to Richard Siddle.
“I’ve been lucky to join an industry and find a role which fits like a glove.” That’s how Stuart Porter, sales executive for Southern Home Counties, describes his position at Corney & Barrow and how the opportunity to work directly with restaurants, bars and pubs to find the right wines for their wine lists and their customers is what still excites him some 10 plus years working for the company. Richard Siddle talks to him about the skills needed to be a regional sales executive.
We continue our countdown to the ceremony of the Star Wine List UK of the Year with The Buyer by looking at one of the new international categories that has been introduced for the 2023 competition – most sustainable wine list. To help put on the award we have partnered with Spier, one of South Africa’s leading wineries when it comes to environmental farming with a whole host of initiatives in place that not only look after the vines and the grapes they produce, but also the soils and natural habitat all around them. Spier also works closely with local communities and promotes cultural and art initiatives as part of its commitment to be a sustainable business in all aspects of what it does.
To help mark Australia Day we turn our attention on Brown Brothers’ that has been making wine in Milawa in Victoria since 1889. The winery remains with the family all these years later and is now under the control of three sisters, Katherine, Caroline and Emma who have taken the helm of one of Australia’s first and leading family-owned wine companies. Libby Brodie talks to winemaker, Katherine Brown, about life on the estate, its future plans and how it is looking forwards to bringing Brown Brother’s sweet wine Orange Muscat and Flora back to the UK.
With so much competition amongst the wine importers that already exist, it’s quite a big step to launch a new business into such a crowded market place. But since Alex Green and Matthew Johnson started up Beyond Wines in the middle of Covid-19 they have not looked back with a business model that operates as a smaller, arguably more flexible alternative to the UK’s biggest distributors. It’s all based on striking strategic partnerships with key producers around the world. Here Alex Green explains how it is working with Overhex to source great value wines – and potentially breakthrough brands – from South Africa.
As the clock ticks down to the final days to enter the UK Wine List of the Year competition, run by Star Wine List in partnership with The Buyer, we look back at one of last year’s big winners – The Vineyard at Stockcross. In all it picked up three wine list awards for California, Germany and New Zealand in the 2022 awards. Here Helen Arnold analyses its success in the New Zealand category and talks to director of wine, Romain Bourger, about how he puts the overall wine list together.
Next month sees a new wine event launched in London as Business France brings winemakers and producers from all regions of France together for the first VIN event – billed as a one stop opportunity for buyers to see what trends and styles are now possible in still arguably the world’s most influential wine producing country. To help set the scene The Buyer talks to leading buyers and importers who will be taking part in VIN to ask them why France is such an important country for their businesses.
“Mature vineyards and talented, experienced winemakers have taken the expression of Riesling to another level, where the region’s examples sit comfortably as world-class interpretations of the variety.” That’s how David Stredwick explains the impact that Riesling has had in Western Australia and how winemakers, particularly in the Great Southern area, are working hard to understand and improve the unique quality Rielsings the area is now capable of producing.
“It is great to see what Steve and Jill Matthiasson are doing to fight the good fight for California as a whole,” is how Jon Davey of its UK wine importer, Nekter Wines, introduced the Matthiassons to a room of top sommeliers and wine merchants in London at the end of last year before giving the floor to the Matthiassons to explain their part in the new wave Californian wine scene and just what a ‘pursuit of balance’ means to them and why sustainable and organic winemaking has always been the way they have made wine since they started in 2003.
“Curious Vines’ approach to redressing the gender imbalance in the wine world is two-fold: not only do they provide high-quality education and academic support for women undertaking the highest level of wine qualifications; but they complement this by fostering a genuine community of women in wine.” Which is why The Gerard Bassett Foundation has just awarded Queena Wong, founder of Curious Vines, a Master of Wine support funding programme to help female candidates taking the exam. Here we talk to Queena Wong about the work Curious Vines does to bring women in wine together and how the new funding will help.
Created in 2005 and now led by 36-year old CEO Rodolphe Frerejean Taittinger, Frerejean Frères is one of the youngest houses in Champagne – allowing it to break free from convention. The company ethos sits somewhere between that of a typical maison and that of a grower as Victor Smart discovered when he visits for its inaugural maison cellar dinner. Smart meets the Frerejean Frères team and samples the wines including Cuvée des Hussards 2012 and VV26 Grand Cru, a blend of 2008, 2009 and 2016 harvests from vines dating back to 1926.
Slovak wines are unchartered territory for most, the country itself was only made an independent republic 30 years ago, and vineyards here were once regarded as being on the very edge of what is achievable viticulturally. That is sure to change, argues Elizabeth Gabay MW, who previews ‘World of Slovak Wine’ a first-ever Slovak wine tasting event in London that looks to show wines made from Dunaj, Alibernet, Devín, Milia, Hron, Rimava and Rudava amongst others.
James Van Tromp and Nathan Aylott have both spent their careers up to now advising big corporates, including major drinks brands, large retailers and flagship shopping centres on what they need to do to attract consumers to their products and sites. Now they have decided to take all those experiences and create a drinks brand for themselves. The result is Hitchhiker, a small batch botanical rum, they believe can sit at the forefront of where the rum category is going to next.
Margaret River is not only celebrated for its wines, but for the magnificent natural environment within which the vineyards nestle. Inspired by their relationships with this landscape, winemakers Vanya Cullen (Cullen Wines), Glenn Goodall (Xanadu), and Ian Batt (Small Things Wine) find common ground in their endeavours to preserve it. Here Angela Oemcke talks to them about the steps they are taking and what impact it is having on the land and the wines it is capable of producing.