Since its launch 100 years ago Delamain Pale & Dry XO has become a classic cognac for the on trade as well as aficionados worldwide. Its conception and success owed as much to the horrors of the First World War that preceded its launch as it did to the creative explosion of the Roaring Twenties that followed. To celebrate its first century and to reinterpret Pale & Dry for another 100 years meant changing very little. But what Delamain has changed says a lot about how the house sees the development of the cognac market.
You could probably make a team out of the number of former English cricketers who now have their own wine brands, but Darren Gough’s wine project is a little different. For a start his name does not appear on the label, and he does not claim to be involved in any part of the winemaking. But he 100% believes in what it stands for. As the the new Care for Wild wine range, launched last week by Freixenet Copestick, shares the name of the South African rhino sanctuary that Gough has been involved with since his playing days. Here Geoffrey Dean shares the story of how Care for Wild wine came about and how it hopes to boost sales of South African wine and help save and protect its endangered rhinos at the same time.
Romanian wine producer, Cramele Recas, stands out from its competition for a number of reasons. Most notably for being its country’s largest wine exporter. It can also lay claim to be a vegan wine producer, on the verge of becoming organic and capable of making a vast swathe of different styles of wine from orange to natural wines, through to supermarket best sellers and Gold medal winning wines in the major international wine competitions. But as we discover, in the latest The Buyer video interview, its owner Philip Cox, has a 100% market-driven focus that allows him to keep at least one or two steps ahead of what its customers might ask for next. He is joined by Matt Johnson, head of his UK team, who explains how going direct to consumer is one of the biggest lessons they have both learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. Together they are prepared to take on the Covid-19 and Brexit challenges that lie ahead, as Richard Siddle reports.
South Africa has been hit particularly badly by the Covid-19 crisis with a series of lockdowns and bans on alcohol putting many wine companies out of business and the loss of many jobs. Including some of the most prominent winemakers in the country. Here the highly respected Johan Delport shares his story and why he is now looking for a new winery or winemaking role, both in South Africa and around the world, having lost his job at Waverley Hills in the latest in our Onwards & Upwards series.
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge this autumn. In this instalment of his column for The Buyer he goes into more detail about the type of wines he’d like to make this year and unravels some of the red tape involved in setting up a winery from scratch.
Two of the big breakthroughs we have seen during the Covid-19 crisis have been the big swing by businesses to digital and the need for companies, and individuals, to collaborate more effectively with each other. Both of which were exemplified by the recent Le Grand Voyage project that saw Bordeaux producer, Château Malartic-Lagravière, team up with wine and brand communicators, Robert Joseph and Polly Hammond and the new The Wine Show Creative team, to create a series of three minute YouTube vignettes that each tell a different story about the history, culture, art, politics and food and drink of Bordeaux, hosted by Joe Fattorini. Here, in the latest The Buyer video interview, Richard Siddle talks to them all, including Severine Bonnie from Malartic-Lagravière, about how the project came together, what it wanted to achieve and why it potentially offers so much for other drinks producers and businesses to learn from, and why a creative team all pulling in the right direction can produce genuinely ground-breaking work.
As company statements go The Hidden Sea wine brand has got a lot to live up to: ‘One Wine. One Mission. To remove plastic from the oceans’. But by linking up with the ReSea environmental project, which was set up to trawl the oceans picking up plastic as it goes on behalf of sustainably focused businesses all over the world , it is helping to do exactly that. In 2019 Resea removed 426 ton of plastic from the sea and it has a goal to reach 3000 tons this year. Here Peter Fairclough and Jo Taylorson, of its UK importer Kingsland Drinks, explains how the brand lives up to its claims and also makes good quality, value Australian varietal wine.
2020 is the 40th vintage for Hamilton Russell Vineyards, the pioneers of the cool, maritime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in South Africa’s Cape. But there will hardly have been a more challenging year than this one. The pandemic and the government’s response to it have hit the hospitality and wine businesses hard. In an in-depth and revealing interview Anthony Hamilton Russell opens out about the impact on his business, what strategies he is employing to help speed his own and the on-trade’s recovery and what he believes the coming months will bring, in this, his 30th year at the helm.
We are all having to find new ways of working to fit in with the social distancing rules, including the usually very hands on business of judging for major wine competitions. It has certainly thrown up fresh challenges to those tasked with putting such events on. Here Belinda Mercer, competition manager for the WineGB Awards, takes us behind the scenes to explain for how she and her team were able to put on this year’s awards thanks to the efforts of just three judges – Susan Barrie MW, Oz Clarke and Rebecca Palmer. We have now updated this article to include the highlights of the winners of the 2020 WineGB Awards.
22 climats in Pouilly-Fuissé have just been given Premier Cru status. The wines of Pouilly and Fuissé have long been recognised as “first class,” in fact at the start of the Nineteenth Century scholars put the wines on a par with other great wine regions like Meursault and Montrachet. But, until this week’s decision, the Mâconnais was still the only region in Burgundy that did not have vineyard hierarchy. Before lockdown LM Archer travelled to the region to find out how the thirteen-year application for Premier Cru status was progressing for a number of climats, a process that had been temporarily closed down because of the virus.
Making a carbon-neutral winery from cannabis sativa, that has been recognised as one of the most environmentally-friendly wineries in the world, is just one of the many achievements of Robert ‘Bertie’ Eden. The godfather of organic and biodynamic winemaking in the Languedoc, Eden is a British ex-pat whose 45 hectare domaine Château Maris has been making exciting terroir-driven wines since 1997. He is overseeing Invivo’s aims to become the largest supplier of organic grapes in France, as well as being one of the greatest advocates of the need for the wine industry to reduce its impact on the environment.
There is always something a little more special about a drinks business when the people behind it have followed a dream to give up the day job, switch careers and dive head first into making it happen. Which is very much the case for James and Susanna Forbes. Both will be well known by many in the drinks trade for they both started out – and met each other – on the shop floor at Oddbins. James progressed to senior buyer before really making his mark as head of Wines of Argentina in the UK and introducing Malbec to the great British public. Susanna switched from Oddbins to become a long standing, highly respected drinks journalist. They also, though, both hankered after starting their own craft drinks company and after much deliberation and planning are now really making strides and winning awards and accolades for their Little Pomona orchard and craft cider business in the heart of Herefordshire. Here they explain how it has all come together to Richard Siddle.
Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge this autumn. With keys to the windmill-based winery received this week and equipment and grapes on their way he is penning an exclusive monthly column for The Buyer on the ups and downs of building a winery, and brand, from scratch. Part 1: what’s in a name?
Finally after weeks of turmoil and damage across the South African drinks and wine industries, and all the retail and hospitality sectors they support, the government’s domestic ban on all alcohol sales has been lifted. For the last few months all those outside the country could do was show their support by promoting, buying, and in The Buyer’s case write and talk about South African wine. Which is what this week’s video interview is all about and the chance to talk to Jean Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin, the charismatic and inspiring couple behind Creation Wines, who encapsulate the extraordinary efforts that producers have had to go to in order to keep innovating and selling their wines overseas, so that they could support their staff and local communities that rely on them for their livelihoods. In particular, they have shown the way forward with the number of virtual tastings and sampling packs they have created for their international markets. It’s why today The Buyer today ‘Raises a Glass To’ them – and all South African wine producers at this time.
If you like bone dry Riesling and cool climate Pinot Noir then head to Forge Cellars in New York States’ Seneca Lake. It’s so proud of those two styles of wine it makes that they are the main slogan on the company’s website. Forge Cellars is actually a Franco-American alliance between local New York winemaker, Rick Rainey and Louis Barruol of France, owner of Chateau de Saint Cosme and Chateau Rouanne. Here Rainey explains what it has been able to do in lockdown and its plans when restrictions ease.
West Country based winemaker, Daniel Ham, has recently launched his new Off Beat Wines label onto the market – to critical acclaim. His 2018 is already sold out, and his 2019 all but spoken for already. With a new winery to open later this year in readiness for the 2020 vintage, it’s been a whirlwind few months for Dan that has turned doubters into believers. Himself included.
Three years since Rioja introduced its Single Vineyard category, Ramon Bilbao unveils its long-anticipated Lalomba project – a series of Vinedos Singulares wines that set out to capture the individual character of each very special vineyard. The entirely new Finca Valhonta andLadero reds are the producer’s most expensive ever wines and the Finca Lalinde 2019 Rosado is a re-launched premium rosado, which all share an unprecedented degree of background research and development. Quite apart from the individual merits of each wine, collectively Lalomba shows how producers in Rioja are starting to believe that terroir character can be a better predictor of quality than the length of time that a wine spends maturing in a barrel.
The Covid-19 crisis has seen a number of major grocery and FMCG brands launch their own direct to consumer websites in a bid to stay close to their usual customer base who were stuck at home, not willing to venture out, who had switched in their millions to buying their favourite products online. Truth be told most had been planning and proposing setting up their DTC sites for some time. Like Treasury Wine Estates, which next week pulls back the curtain on its own first venture into DTC in the UK, aimed at promoting its premium and luxury wine brands. Richard Siddle talks to Ben Blake, Treasury’s European head of marketing, about why now and how it is going to work.
When the invite came through to help take part in the judging and blending of the new La Única project from Felix Solis I took a double take. The time and date was for an actual venue alongside other people, rather than sit in on a Zoom tasting. But when I nervously arrived at Camino in Kings Cross to take part there, as well as my fellow real life tasters, was a large screen with not just one Zoom tasting taking place, but five others simultaneously happening in China, Germany and Spain. Welcome to the new normal of virtual, and actual wine tastings. Here Richard Cochrane, head of Félix Solís in the UK, explains how La Única concept works and why it wanted to make it a global online event.
Winemakers, producers, importers, retailers and restaurateurs have all had to step out from behind the curtain during Covid-19 to take their turn to go online, turn on Zoom or go live on Instagram in order to be able to keep telling their stories during lockdown. But none have been quite so prolific as Katie Jones who has created her own version of a breakfast TV show with her daily walks through the small plots of land that make up Domaine Jones in the heart of the Languedoc – taking a loyal and growing community of trade customers and consumers with her. Here she talks to Richard Siddle, in the latest video interview on The Buyer, about why and how she has turned so much to social media during the crisis, and how it is now going to be very much part of how she does business post lockdown too. In so doing she has also shown the way forward for other producers and drinks businesses to use social media, and Instagram Live in particular. Which makes her a very worthy second recipient of The Buyer’s ‘Raise a Glass To’ award to highlight people who have gone way beyond the norm during Covid-19…here’s her story.