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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Circumstance Distillery has looked to push the boundaries of craft distilling ever since its co-founders Liam Hirt and Danny Walker first started investing in making their own craft spirits – they even sell their some of their brands through the blockchain with their own crypto currency. Now they want to address diversity and inclusion within the distilling sector by starting a female only work experience and intern programme. Here head of operations, Stephanie Peck, explains how it is going to work and how to apply.
“We’re focused on innovating across every step of the winemaking journey; from exploring new denominations of origin, to recovering diverse heritage varieties, introducing new formats and NPD, experimenting with non-traditional vinification methods, blending traditional techniques with the latest technology and experimenting with varietals in a way that show the truest Chilean terrior expression.” In a sentence Ricardo Baettig, chief winemaker at Viña Morandé, sums up the steps it is taking – and many of its peers – to elevate Chilean winemaking to new levels. ,
“It is a cuvée for connoisseurs, the absolute quintessence of Chardonnay.” That’s how Séverine Frerson, chief winemaker at Champagne Perrier-Jouët, describes the Champagne house’s Belle Époque which celebrated its 120th anniversary this week with a special lunch and launch in Paris of its limited edition Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2013. Christian Holthausen was on hand for The Buyer to talk to Frerson about her love for the Belle Époque style, her approach to winemaking and why nature and flowers are so important to her in the styles of Champagne she wants to make.
Winemakers across Argentina are working hard to find ever more innovative ways to work with their soils, terroir and micro climates to make wines that are true to their sense of place, but also meet the needs and demands of their International markets. It is particularly the case at Graffigna where head winemaker, Fernando Mengoni, is working hard to bring freshness and purity of fruit to its range of award winning wines across different price levels. Here he explains the opportunities and potential there now are for ambitious Argentinian winemakers and producers.
Thanks to European development funding Hilary Miller has been able to return to her home in the Isles of Scilly where multiple generations of her family have lived before to set up her own craft distilling business with her husband Arthur. After only a few years from launch the Scilly Spirit Distillery is winning a raft of awards in all the major international spirits competitions and gaining distribution around the country thanks to its initial listing with John Lewis. Richard Siddle finds out just what inspired the couple to start a distillery in Scilly.
Taking over as a chief winemaker for a major producer brings to mind the challenge – and opportunity – that awaits any new football manager, or rugby and cricket coach, taking over a top team. You might not be able to bark orders or move your vines around the vineyard, but the decisions you make will have a direct impact on how they perform. It’s the situation that Tomas Muñoz finds himself in as the new chief winemaker for Viña Errazuriz, in charge of its Estate Reserva, Aconcagua Costa and Max wine brands amongst others, and the responsibility of ensuring the high standards achieved in the past are carried forward.
New South Wales is pretty proud of the fact it is one and a half times bigger than France. A region that has 2,000m high snow-lined mountains and deserts that reach 50C. It also has seven major wine regions each with its own terroir, climatic characteristics and a diversity of wines its producers claim can also live up to the French too. You can find out for yourself at today’s New South Wales generic tasting taking place at 67 Pall Mall in London. Here respected Australian wine writer, Andrew Graham, helps explain what New South Wales is all about.
You don’t get to the size, scale and influence of Les Grands Chais de France (GCF) without knowing a thing or two about how to make wine for virtually every kind of wine consumer. Responsible for what it claims is around one in four bottles of French wine sold in the UK, and one in five of every bottle of wine exported from France, Les Grands Chais de France is hugely important to the overall French wine category. Ahead of its first all channel portfolio tasting in London on October 4 and 5, featuring all its international wines and spirits too, Chris Davies, UK sales director for on-trade and independents, explains how its premium wine strategy is driving the company forward with a new range of Signature wines representing the best of what France can do.
Featuring 68 wines from 17 producers and seven emerging and established regions, New South Wales (NSW) will hold its first live wine showcase since Covid at 67 Pall Mall in London on September 21. This is a unique opportunity for UK buyers to take a deep dive into this vast and diverse region with producers represented across the Hunter Valley, Hilltops, Orange, Central Ranges, Tumbarumba and Mudgee, featuring a wide range of wines that are both in the UK already and those looking for distribution.
Ana Paula Bartolucci is a winemaker used to making waves. Not only is she the first female winemaker in 60 years at Chandon Argentina but, as the youngest member of its innovation and research team, she has also successfully steered them for the first time into the apéritifs category and the UK market, by making a sparkling wine with oranges as well as grapes. The inspiration for Chandon Garden Spritz, a new ready-to-pour-spritz, was Bartolucci’s grandmother’s Orangecello recipe. Four years and 64 attempts in the making, she firmly believes that this time she has finally cracked it.
The wine trade is blessed with inspiring characters on both sides of the winemaking and buying fence. So when two of the most creative and innovative personalities come together on a new project it’s worth taking notice. Which is why The Buyer was intrigued to sit down with highly experienced wine buyer, Andrew Ingham, formerly of Morrisons, Coles and Greene King, and Rollo Gabb, wine producer and founder of Journeys End, the successful South African wine brand, to hear about the new wine brand – Interpunkt – created by Ingham that is now making wine with Gabb. A new wine brand that promises to shake things up, both with its branding, edgy attitude and sales strategy and its paper bottle packaging that it believes is the way forward for modern wine brands and the environment. Richard Siddle finds out what Interpunkt is all about.
To continue farming in Britain it is becoming increasingly important to ‘think outside of the box’ in order to survive, which is why Tim and Tan Spittle, sheep farmers in the Cotswolds, have been shortlisted as finalists in the Farmers Weekly Awards 2022 for Diversification Farmer of the Year. Not only did they convert disused cattle sheds into a successful gym but with Blacklion Vodka they have launched an internationally recognised and lauded new premium spirits brand… and it all comes from a waste product from cheese production – Europe’s first vodka to be made from sheep’s milk. Peter Dean talks to the Spittles and tastes the vodka.
If you wanted to write a book on the best way to launch a new drinks brand then get top bartenders to help create the drinks with you and then recruit some of the best, most respected and connected talent to help lead the business and you’ve got more than half your book written. Which is exactly what the founders of Mocktails did when they came up with the idea of creating authentic, naturally made alcohol-free ready-to-drink cocktails that top venues and bars would happily have in their venues from day one. Richard Siddle sits down with two of the ‘talents’ behind Mocktails, Ed Gerard, chief commercial officer and Chris Rowe, head of UK sales, to help write the rest of that book.
August 2022 will go down as the earliest grape harvest in Spanish history. Sarah McCleery was there, in Pastrana, a 14-hectare vineyard close to the sea in Miraflores, watching Palomino Fino picked by the team at Bodegas Hidalgo. She was there to witness an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this sherry producer, most famous for its Manzanilla La Gitana, but also a much larger range of sherries, still wines and vermouth. A guest of Fermin Hidalgo, McCleery witnesses an historic horse race on the beach, gets converted to sherry-pairing throughout a meal and sees how Hidalgo has kept on top by keeping things fresh from the barrel.