“We have to evolve every year. If you are not developing, you’re in danger of being left behind. Having heritage doesn’t give you a licence to sit back…in fact you have to work even harder.” That’s very much the motto of James Davy, chairman of the now 150 year-old, and still family-owned, Davy’s Wine Merchants, that it is his turn to be in charge of. He talks to Richard Siddle why he is so proud to be leading the business through what is such a clearly important milestone for the company and how, in particular, its wholesale and distribution division has now grown in recent years to be on an equal footing to the wine bars and restaurants it has become so well known for. Sourcing and distributing the right wines for its growing customer base whilst gaining a reputation for efficiency, consistency and reliability is what still drives Davy and his team forward.
If you had told Rodolphe Lameyse at the end of Vinexpo Bordeaux in mid May 2019 that he could proudly claim to a press conference in January 2020 that he was now part responsible for steering what could be the biggest trade exhibition organiser for wine and spirits in the world then he probably would not have believed you. Vinexpo, as a trade event, was probably at its lowest ebb. But now thanks to a new joint venture with Comexposium, one of the world’s biggest exhibition companies, he can now lead his team into next month’s first Vinexpo Paris event full of renewed vigour and confidence.
When new fine wine merchants, OenoTrade, is looking to work with a new premium on-trade customer it will ask them for their “wish list” of wines and then go out and try and source them. It’s a business model that is already enjoying breakthrough in what is already a fiercely competitive market place. Here head of wine for OenoTrade, Olivier Gasselin, explains the company’s strategy and also what we can expect at its inaugural trade tasting on February 26.
The Côte de Beaune is still relatively under-rated compared to the Côte de Nuits, says Mentzendorff managing director Andrew Hawes, who argues that it is still possible to find great and specific terroir, coupled to availability, at prices that have not yet experienced the dramatic escalations experienced in the Côte de Nuits. Key signature wines continue to be in short supply, however, which forces buyers to explore the region looking for an alternative which, in turn, leads to lesser known appellations deservedly receiving more attention.
While demand for the classics and the upper tier of Burgundy remains as strong as ever – often outstripping supply – it is the bread-and-butter wines that consumers open every day that is key to the region’s success argues Bibendum Burgundy buyer Robert Mathias. In the on-trade the by-the-glass offering is key with top quality Bourgogne Aligoté or Mâcon Villages from serious addresses being behind this success. Bibendum is concentrating its tasting efforts on its on-trade customers this year which is why it will also be showing 2017s at events.
A little bit of stardust at an affordable price, an entry point to a quite prestigious domaine, a little extra ‘plus’ if the wines are hand-sold to an engaged customer – these are just some of the benefits of buying Bourgogne wines from Bourgogne and Mâcon appellations plus a Geographical Denomination – in this case the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits. Many more good tips from Fields Morris & Verdin in this fifth part of a series in which The Buyer is interviewing a number of leading fine wine merchants to get their feel on how this vital region is doing and what the 2018 vintage has in store when the annual Bourgogne campaign comes to a head with Bourgogne Week.
Better quality and consistency, great QPR, an introduction to a grower’s style… a bottle at this level will encourage customers to try wines further up the scale; these are the wines to be drunk while waiting for the grander ones to come round says Sebastian Thomas at Howard Ripley. This, and many more good tips about Régionales wines + a Geographical Denomination in this fourth part of a series in which The Buyer is interviewing a number of leading fine wine merchants to get their take on how this vital region is doing and what the 2018 vintage has in store when the annual Bourgogne campaign comes to a head this week with Bourgogne Week.
Kingsland Drinks has been willing to cast its wine buying net out far and wide over the last 12 months in order to find wines it believes can have genuine stand out on shelf or on a back bar. It has taken its buying controller, Adam Marshall, as far as India and Moldova as he has looked to add even more value and interest to the range of European wines he mostly looks after. Here in our latest look back on 2019 we ask him to share his Buying Year.
“Innovation, and pushing boundaries, asking different questions of both the buyer and consumer is what we need. Standing still is walking backwards and I find that tricky at my age.” As a business strategy it’s hard to argue with such a straightforward approach as Danny Spencer has for his growing East Street Wine Co distribution business. Well known in the trade for his many years with Boutinot, Spencer is now well on the way to establishing a wine import business that is 100% a reflection of his friendly, infectious personality. Here he looks back on his buying year for 2019 and what he expects to happen in 2020.
We continue our series of articles interviewing leading buyers for key importers for the premium on-trade with a look behind the scenes at the buying criteria used by Matthew Cooper at Ellis Wines when taking on new producers. We also ask him to look back on 2019 and pick out his highs and lows from his Buying Year, which was a good one for regional Spain and Sicily, but less exciting for Chile. He also looks ahead to 2020 and why he has high hopes for Swartland-style wines from Australia and New Zealand.
Buying wine for the ever-growing Lanchester Wines is a little more complicated than the average wine supplier, for as well as looking to source the best quality wine at the right price, there is also a need to look at the type of packaging formats the wine could be used for, be it in a keg, bag in box, a can, or straightforward bottle. We continue our look back at 2019 by asking Lanchester’s director of purchasing, Lesley Cook, to share her buying year.
A fortnight on from its awards banquet at the Guildhall in London, the International Wine & Spirit competition is open for entries again for next year’s event as it announces a series of changes to its judging process and line-up of key judges, including the news that Steven Spurrier is to be honorary chair of the IWSC. Richard Siddle looks into what other big steps the IWSC is taking to shake up and improve further how it awards and picks out its winning wines and spirits.
Here’s a wine fact for you: the grape variety, Furmint, is actually the half-sibling of Riesling and Chardonnay via its parent Gouais Blanc (aka Heunisch Weiss). Well it is according to Master of Wine Caroline Gilby who also just happens to be not only a big fan, but one of the world’s leading expert on how and why Furmint is becoming a real quality benchmark for Hungarian wine. You can find out for yourself at the second Furmint February tasting being held on January 29 2020. Before then here’s Gilby’s personal assessment of why we should be paying more attention to Furmint.
In the lead up to Hallgarten & Novum’s 2019 portfolio tasting, portfolio director Jim Wilson kindly granted a brief interview to the annoying oeno-eco-warrior that is Mike Turner. Turner was keen to understand more about the changing shape of Hallgarten & Novum’s portfolio, and whether the move towards a more sustainable future was central to their plans. Turner also wanted to know what, if anything, was being done with the company’s 190 wine producers to offer more eco-friendly products.
Mike Turner sat down with fellow wine writer and all round drinks industry rising star, Harry Crowther to ask him about Buckingham Schenk, which has recently acquired Crowther’s services to help launch its new look portfolio for next year. With Buckingham Schenk opting for a Taste of the Mediterranean-style tasting Turner wanted to know the inside track on which were the essential three wines from the portfolio…
There may well be the vital festive trading period ahead of us, but for those in the fine wine world, there is arguably an even bigger yearly event just a few weeks away and the annual Bourgogne campaign, which comes to a head with Bourgogne Week. Over the next few weeks The Buyer will be interviewing a number of leading fine wine merchants to get their feel on how this vital region is doing and what the 2020 campaign has in store. First up is Montrachet Fine Wine Merchants.
With so many different parts and aspects of the wine and spirits industry it’s only right we should grasp the opportunity to reward and shine the light on those individuals who are going the extra mile in whatever sector they are in. Which is what the Julian Brind MW trophy at the International Wine & Spirit Competition looks to do. Here we profile two more of the finalists for this year’s prize: PR manager, Sula Richardson of Phipps Relations and wine educator from Tasmania, Curly Haslam-Coates.
“The books that taught me about wine were as much about places and people as they were about the wines themselves, and those were the stories that stuck in my mind.” They are also the stories that acclaimed wine critic and writer himself, Steven Spurrier, wants to capture and celebrate with his new venture the Académie du Vin Library that will give the opportunity for journalists and writers to have new wine books published, as well as the chance to delve back in time and help re-publish old classics.
We’ve all heard the talk about demand for wines in a can, but now that Greencroft Bottling, one of the UK’s biggest and most influential packing companies in the country has decided to invest over £2 million in installing the UK’s first canning line for wine, all that talk is turning into action. Greencroft has clearly seen and had enough demand from its customers, which stretch from major branded wine companies to the big supermarkets and on-trade groups, to take the step to have a dedicated canning facility. David Kermode looks at the opportunities that lie ahead for canned wine.
This month’s Bellavita exhibition gives UK wine buyers the chance to explore and discover wines and food from across Italy and the Mediterranean at an event dedicated to bringing the full restaurant experience together under one roof. So rather than just have an event purely for wine, and another for food, Bellavita is very much about bringing the two sides together. The Buyer will be hoping to do that too as part of a wine trade debate on November 7 that will ask major importers and merchants to assess where Italian and Mediterranean wines are going in the premium on-trade.