Sweet Tokaj wines are the best known in Hungary but they are not where they need to be in the international market where an overall decline in consumption of sweet wines has offset massive, sporadic growth in some areas of the US. The Buyer’s Geoffrey Dean visited Michelin-starred Trivet restaurant in London, speaks to the key movers and shakers in the Hungarian wine scene and picks 10 wines that every wine buyer should have on their radar.
London’s Brunello 2019 tasting was an opportunity to assess just how good the latest Brunello di Montalcino vintage is and whether it compares to the classic 2016s. Justin Keay sums up the vintage as one which is approachable now but also has great potential to age, and picks 12 wines from the 46 producers that were showing wines this year. He also looks at some of the issues facing this Southern part of Tuscany and talks to event organiser Walter Speller about how the region needs to change to stay ahead of the game.
Drum roll please…The finalists have been announced in both People’s Choice Wine Awards and the People’s Choice Spirits Awards across all categories in both competitions. In what are the seventh wine and fourth spirits awards they remain the only major UK competition that involves everyday drinkers as part of the judging process. Here Janet Harrison, founder of both competitions, explains the latest developments and the stand-out features of the 2024 edition.
The UK’s top sommeliers, restaurants and on-trade wine buyers will have the chance to put themselves forward and compete in what will be the fourth edition of the Star Wine List of the Year UK with The Buyer. Entries for the 2024 event are now open ahead of the awards ceremony to be held in London on March 4. Here we look at what categories are available for this year’s awards and how to enter.
With 65 appellations, diverse terroirs and more than 6,000 winegrowers, the sheer scale of the Bordeaux region can seem overwhelming for even wine professionals to get a handle on, let alone consumers. But however famous some of its producers might be there is a collective understanding that Bordeaux has to change to keep pace with huge advances in winemaking all over the world. Here, in her first article for The Buyer, Ellie Scott assesses the big challenges facing Bordeaux and how it is looking to address them.
“It’s like having the world’s best wine, beer and spirits expert in the palm of your hand.” That’s how Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer of The Fresh Market – the award-winning premium US grocery retailer – explains how Preferabli’s AI-driven discovery and recommendation platform gives on and off-trade operators the power to create personalised experiences for their customers, including through its new GenAI. Here’s how it all works.
Argentinian wine icon, Daniel Pi, recently visited London to help launch the new vintages of the luxury Bemberg Estate Wines project. For many years the wine-making guru behind the popular wines coming out of the hugely successful Grupo Peñaflor, Pi has returned to the cellar, this time to take charge of a range of premium Argentine wines under the Bemberg Estate label. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner along to meet the man himself for a guided tasting through the new releases.
Such is the competition in the premium on-trade wine market that even distributors of the scale and reputation as Enotria&Coe need to be changing, adapting and moving not just with the times, but ahead of it. Which is why it is keen to push the credentials of its fine wine portfolio and the fact it has promoted Kathrine Larsen-Robert MS from her premium wine ambassador role to the head of its new fine wine division. Here she sits down with Richard Siddle to explain what her new position entails and how Enotria&Coe wants to work closely with its producers and restaurant buyers to develop a fine wine offer that allows them to sell the finest wines to as many customers around the country as possible.
Following on from the success of its ‘100kms of Diversity’ marketing campaign, Team Rioja is back. This winter, selected off-trade retailers across the UK are running Feliz Rioja to promote the variety on offer across this most famous of Spanish wine regions. The Buyer’s Mike Turner attended this month’s launch tasting to find out more about the promotion and why the wines of Rioja are perfect for this winter’s sales campaigns.
There can be no better way to mark a major anniversary for a business than being voted best in class by not just one major industry competition, but three of them. It really has been a special year for Hallgarten & Novum Wines. Not only is it celebrating its 90th birthday, it was named On-trade Supplier of the Year by the International Wine Challenge in the summer, quickly followed by becoming Drinks Business’ Drinks Company of the Year and then last month picked up the Wine Distributor of the Year at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. So what is it doing to keep itself so far ahead of its competition? Richard Siddle sits down with managing director, Andrew Bewes, and buyer and quality controller, Beverly Tabbron MW, to find out.
Woodwinters the growing, premium on and off-trade wine distributor, with offices both in Scotland and London is looking to strengthen its London office with a vacancy for a new account manager. The position is available from now and would be ideal for a wine trade professional with current sales experience, although candidates looking to move into sales within the industry for the first time would be considered.
Rupert Millar confesses to coming away invigorated and inspired from the inaugural DO Penedès wine event in London last month. For too long in the shadow of mass market Cava producers this Catalan wine region has also not enjoyed the attention that its neighbour Priorat has in the past 20 years. But still wines featuring Xarel-lo and Sumoll, amongst other indigenous grape varieties, will hopefully correct that, argues Millar who hears from Álvaro Ribalta MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW about why these wines suit the on-trade so well. He also tastes and recommends six of the 60 wines on show that require immediate attention.
The London Spirits Competition has now established itself as one of the most important and relevant spirits competitions in the world. It attracts some of the best spirits judges in the world and rewards products that most appeal to potential consumers in how they taste, their value for money and what they look like. Here is how success in the London Spirits Competition has helped some brands grow and succeed in their target markets.
We continue our journey around the world with the IWSC’s panel of judges who have been visiting, tasting and assessing wines in their countries and regions where they come from by travelling to Margaret River, in the capable hands of Libby Brodie, who was part of the team of wine buyers, importers, merchants and consultants who were able to see for themselves just how far one of Australia’s increasingly premium wine regions has come in recent years.
When Pays d’Oc Chardonnay shot to prominence in the 1990s, it owed much of its recognition to the New World producers, particularly in California, who had spearheaded the concept of varietal wines, taking the native French grape and infusing it with a new level of extroversion. Key to this was the role played by oak, which became closely associated with Chardonnay in the public imagination – and followed the grape back to Pays d’Oc as it rode the waves of international market trends.
The Listrac-Medoc is one of the smaller and less renown Bordeaux appellations and home to Château Clarke that is celebrating its 50th birthday by having a €18 million facelift funded by its owners Baron Edmond de Rothschild and the Edmond de Rothschild Heritage group. The results speak for themselves and put the estate in a position to fully maximise the potential of its land and the Rothschild name, according to Boris Bréau, managing director of Edmond de Rothschild Heritage Wines, who tells Abbie Bennington the work being done at Château Clarke reflects the strategy of the group at all its estates around the world.
Viña Valdivieso’s flagship brand, Caballo Loco (meaning “Crazy Horse” in Spanish) has recently launched two new wines. Head winemaker Brett Jackson and Caballo Loco co-founder Christian Sotomayor were recently in London to unveil the brand new white wine Caballo Loco Blanco N°1 and Caballo Loco N°20, the celebrated multi-vintage red blends, now in its 20th edition. Leona De Pasquale met with Jackson to uncover the secrets behind the brand’s three-decade success and to delve into the creation of its inaugural white wine.
The Online Tasting Company believes its high-tech wine pouches can now match the traditional cork and bottle for quality. Its ecoSIP 100 ml packaging is also a whole lot cheaper, greener and more transportable. This innovative tech’s most immediate impact is to make serving small portions of wine much more feasible, opening the way to get drinkers to sample more expensive wines. Naked Wines is already doing just that with the launch of a 24-wine Advent Calendar priced at £89.99. But can you tell the difference between a wine from a pouch and the same wine from a bottle? Victor Smart went along to an innovative blind-tasting to find out.
Wine Scholar Guild is widely regarded as the pioneer in online wine education and the leading provider of specialised certification programs on the wines of France, Italy, and Spain. With a network of over 130 schools in 30 countries and an online community of over 10,000 alumni, it has set its bar to facilitate one of the highest qualified wine certifications in the world with an instructor/ contributor list that reads like a Who’s Who of wine educators. All the more impressive given Wine Scholar Guild has been going for less that 20 years after it was set up by a 23 year-old Frenchman, Julien Camus, living in the US. Despite this success, Camus has maintained a low profile, something Christian Holthausen wanted to set right when he sat down with him to discover more about the story of how it was set up, how it operates, the new website overhaul and where Camus sees wine education heading.
Major wine buyers’ eyes will be either in, or on Amsterdam this week as the wine industry comes together for the 2023 World Bulk Wine Exhibition. A time of the year when so much of the mass volume of wine being traded around the world is being sold, negotiated and bought. This year’s event could not come at a more opportune time as producers the world over scratch their heads to see what they can make from what the OIV estimates is the lowest global harvest in 60 years. It has put even more focus and pressure on the bulk wine market as leading retailer, distributor and importer buyers look to secure not only their wine supply for the coming months, but pin down larger volumes of lower abv wines, particularly for buyers looking to service the all changing UK duty market. Former leading supermarket buyer, Angela Mount, talks to many of her peers in the sector to share their views on what they see are the big opportunities and challenges in the global bulk wine market.