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    xige bottles

    Xige Estate’s global ambitions for premium Chinese Ningxia wine    

    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.

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    Spier has built its reputation on its own sustainability credentials

    Spier on UK Wine List awards and its loyalty to sustainable farming

    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.

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    brown brothers sisters

    The 3 sisters making their mark on Brown Brothers’ legacy

    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.

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    frankland estate

    How Riesling is a treasure of Australia’s Great Southern region

    “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.

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    matthiassons

    Steve Matthiasson on new wave & farm to table Californian wines

    “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.

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    Frerejean Frère

    How Frerejean Frères is taking a fresh perspective on Champagne

    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.

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    Hitchhiker sicilian pine

    How Hitchhiker rum hopes to appeal to craft rum and gin fans

    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.

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    vanya cullen good

    How Margaret River winemakers are riding the sustainable wave

    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. 

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    asseily chateau

    How Château Biac has become a rising star of Côtes de Bordeaux

    The Asseily family may come from Lebanon, but since they took over Château Biac in 2006, in the heart of Côtes de Bordeaux, they have become very much part of the winemaking community not just in their area, but across Bordeaux. Bringing their own philosophy and ideas to a region that is still very much open to new ideas – and families. Here Gabriel Asseily explains the painstaking steps they have taken to build Château Biac up from scratch to become one of the new rising stars of Bordeaux.

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    Ekogea BioGas Brochure Pictures - Les Domaines Fabre's move to Bee Friendly has seen their biodiversity explode

    Medoc producers on protecting Bordeaux’s vineyards’ future

    With over 108,000 hectares of vines to manage and an estimated 60,000 wine industry workers across Aquitaine, you can appreciate why Bordeaux takes the idea of sustainability very seriously indeed. Early adopters of France’s HVE sustainability programme, over 75% of the vineyards now have at least one recognised environmental certification, with many others in conversion. Mike Turner interviewed a selection of Médoc producers involved to ask about their own strategies and motivations behind the various initiatives being trialled across the region.

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    Hundred Hills

    How Chilterns’ Hundred Hills has got wine critics purring

    Hundred Hills is a relative newcomer to the English sparkling wine revolution and yet its six wines are already making serious waves. The winery itself, nestled as it is in the Chilterns, has been rated by Jancis Robinson MW as one of the top English wineries, with its Blanc de Noirs 2019 rated as best English fizz and the new vintage of its Blanc de Blancs, as best English BdB. Geoffrey Dean went to see what all the fuss is about and to discover from owner/ winemaker Stephen Duckett, what he’s done differently to stand out from the crowd.

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    days founders

    How Days wants to bring personality to alcohol free beers

    “With lunch, after a run, before the gym, during work… there are so many occasions that beer is relevant but alcohol is not and that’s what excites me about this category.” So says Duncan Keith, co-founder, along with Mike Gammell, of Days a new alcohol free brand that wants to offer an alternative to those who like a beer as part of their daily routine, but not with all the side effects that come with it.

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    cramele recas PET bottles lots

    Cramele Recas’ Philip Cox: PET bottles are now a must for wine

    In April Cramele Recas’ Philip Cox warned us all about the “apocalyptic” packaging crisis that was coming the wine industry’s way due to the knock on effects of the Ukraine war on glass furnaces and the availability of glass for the world wine market. Eight months later and virtually all of Cox’s warnings have been played out before us as the industry has been rocked by a series of glass bottle shortages and price increases. Here he explains why he is now trailing an alternative to glass – a wine bottle made from recycled PET and why he thinks it could be the packaging answer for the global wine industry in the coming years.

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    edouard baijot

    E&J Gallo’s Edouard Baijot MW on wine as a luxury product

    In this fascinating interview Edouard Baijot MW explains why E&J Gallo has created a new role for him as director of luxury international and what he sees as premium wine’s role within the luxury goods sector, what defines a luxury brand, and what he sees as wine’s unique luxury characteristics that other product areas don’t have. He also shares what E&J Gallo will be doing with its premium brands to raise its luxury credentials and image.

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    Aerial view of campaign landscape in the French countryside, Rimons, Gironde, France © Favoreat design CIVB

    How female winemakers look to help re-invent Bordeaux wines

    Right across Bordeaux there are big changes taking place in vineyards, cellars and barrel rooms as winemakers look to re-assess how they are making wines that best reflect the terroir from which they come from, and the markets and end consumers they want to reach, and in Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur it’s no different. One of the big trends taking place in this sub-appellation is the new generation of female winemakers that are playing their part in re-inventing what we should expect from Bordeaux now and into the future. 

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    brendan hawker Long Read

    Yering Station’s Brendan Hawker shows the best of Yarra Valley

    “We look to Burgundy as the global benchmark of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we are not trying to replicate their wines.” Instead Brendan Hawker says he is looking to pin point which blocks and parcels of vines are going to make the right styles of wine that truly reflect the terroir of Australia’s Yarra Valley in his role as head winemaker at Yering Station. He also looks at how its winemaking has evolved to become focused on the fruit and bringing together complex blends of its key varieties.

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    not yet named founders

    Alex Brogan on Not Named Wine Co and community winemaking

    Winemakers are faced with making 100s of decisions every month about what they should be doing in the vineyard, with their vines and in the cellars. But how many would be brave enough to give the power for making those decisions over to their potential customers? Well that’s the exact concept behind the Not Named Wine Co and a new form of community winemaking which allows people to sign up to become members and then work with the winemakers to decide what wines to make. Co-founder Alex Brogan explains how it all works.

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    Doddle Weir

    Rewind: The inspirational story of Doddie Weir’s bespoke red blend

    To mark the sad passing of rugby legend Doddie Weir OBE yesterday we repost the inspirational story of Doddie’5 Red Blend 2019, a unique South African red blend which has many parts to it but one purpose – to raise money for Weir’s Motor Neurone Disease foundation. Weir wore the No.5 shirt for Scotland while Schalk Burger, who made the wine with his son Tiaan, wore the No.5 for the Springboks. In another homage to the wine’s sporting provenance the blend is made of five grape varieties with £5 from every bottle sale donated to Weir’s MND charity and Burger constructing the wine as if it were a team of legends. Wine and sports writer Geoffrey Dean got the story and the wine is still available to buy – details at the end of the article.

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    People: Producer
    Perelada

    How Perelada’s new winery is the future of winemaking

    Spain has led the way in building world class, high end-designed bodegas. With the unveiling of its new winery in Empordà, however, the Perelada Group has gone one better. Not only is the winery at the cutting edge of technological and functional advancements in winemaking, and sporting an avant-garde design, but it has also been driven from the very start by a total commitment to sustainability. So much so that it is the first European winery to be certified LEED Gold – the world’s highest sustainable building certificate. Largely built underground the winery mixes futuristic design, sustainability and oenotourism with winemaking. The Buyer’s Marina Ray was one of the first visitors, talked to winemaker Delphí Sanahuja about how it has affected his winemaking capabilities and tastes through a range of Perelada wines.

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    le grande domaine vineyards

    Le Grand Domaine on lifting Stellenbosch’s ‘chateau’ image

    If you examined the supplier list of South African producers that have had the biggest impact on the country’s sales around the world then Origin Wine would be amongst the biggest and most influential independent names on there. But up to now the majority of its wines have been aimed at the mass consumer, working with major retailers to make a case for South African wines. Now it is looking to take its commercial know how into the premium and specialist wine sectors through the Le Grand Domaine estate it now runs in the Devon Valley area of Stellenbosch.

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