It might have taken a (very long) time for Georgian wines to really find their place in the UK wine market, but with sales booming year-on-year there is much to talk and get excited about. As well as showing a wide selection of its wines at this week’s London Wine Fair, Wines of Georgia is also holding a separate portfolio tasting in London on May 23. Here Sarah Abbott MW helps set the scene for both with her take on why she thinks serious wine lists should always have room for Georgian wines.
Was Bike to Care Bordeaux a ride or a race? No-one seemed quite sure but the lube was guaranteed to fly when you put 100 riders from hospitality worldwide on the back roads of Bordeaux – especially with the new arrival of a semi-pro team from the Low Countries. After Louis Jadot and fellow winemakers from Burgundy put charity ride Bike to Care on the map last year, it was up to the Bordelais to ‘go one better’ … or was it?
Travelling around the wine regions of Central Greece and you are struck on the one hand by how much heritage and tradition there is in the vineyards and wines the region can make, but also how open its winemakers are to try new techniques, invest in modern viticulture and, crucially, look to celebrate and promote the area’s unique indigenous varieties whilst also embracing and seeing how well the world’s most international grapes can do in its soils. It is a modern approach to winemaking that is quietly, but quickly, making wines from Central Greece some of the most coveted, and yet to be fully discovered wines from the Mediterranean, if not around the world. Richard Siddle recently joined a UK trade trip including leading importers, merchants, restaurateurs and trade press to get to know what Central Greece is all about.
The wines of Domaine des Tourelles can be seen as ‘off piste’ because of their limited use of oak and use of unusual varieties, but that’s one of their greatest strengths, argues Justin Keay who tastes through the range of this exciting Lebanese producer, alongside owner/ winemaker Faouzi Issa. New wines include an orange wine made with fruit from 150 year-old Merwah vines, fermented in terracotta; plus a tense, racy white made from Merwah and Obeidi – wines which Issa believes recalls Lebanon’s winemaking heyday of the 1940s and 50s.
Wine producers the world over are bending over backwards to try and turn their wineries into hospitality and tourism destinations. But what are so called ‘wine tourists’ looking for from an actual winery visit? David Crowe is currently travelling around South America with his wife, Toni, as part of a pre-retirement trip taking in the food, culture and wines from their visits to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. Here he shares what their ‘wine tourism’ experiences have been like.
Legend has it that the first sweet wines of Tokaj were created in the Thirteenth Century when a war delayed the harvest which ended up full of botrytised berries. True or not, Lisse Garnett was in Hungary to separate fact from fiction but also to make a fascinating personal discovery of dry Szamorodni which is a wine style here which uses botrytised fruit with the wine then fermented under flor and aged oxidatively. The results are spectacular and like an intellectual exploration in a glass, as Garnett reports
“Our work in the Aventura Winery will allow us to innovate at speed” and help it “be at the forefront of future trends.” It’s a bold statement and an impressive ambition but one that leading Chilean producer, Morandé Wine Group, has made possible by investing in and building a new state-of-the-art winery equipped with the latest vinification technology and ageing vessels – from concrete to qvevri – so that it can both develop its own ideas and brands, but also be a “one stop solution” for projects and opportunities for potential customers around the world.
Alain Ducasse’s three Michelin star restaurant at the Dorchester was the setting for the launch of Ca’ del Bosco Edizione 45 and a full range tasting of Maurizio Zanella’s other Franciacortas from this prestigious North Italian estate. Dodging the blue lobster risotto, ceviche, caviar and top cuvées from the Vintage Collection was our own Victor ‘take-one-for-the-team’ Smart who came away suitably impressed.
“Tejo produces some of the freshest, most vibrant and affordable wines in Portugal today.” That’s the view of wine consultant Dirceu Vianna Junior MW on a region that might be Portugal’s oldest but has still so much to offer and discover. Here ahead of Wines of Tejo showcasing its wines at next week’s London Wine Fair we also talk to Luís de Castro, president of the regional wine commission of Tejo and Wine Intelligence consultant, Brian Howard, about what makes the region so special and why buyers should check out its wines at the fair.
Producing wine in a world-famous region such as Barolo can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the prestige means that your bottles will always have a market, but all too often the personalities and individuality behind each label can take a back seat to the fame of the name. On a recent fact-finding trip to Piemonte, The Buyer’s Mike Turner found a Barolo producer whose wines, and the stories behind them, highlighted the quality, charm, and sense of fun that can be found all over North-West Italy’s most famous set of vineyards.
B Corp brands and businesses are gaining more recognition – and shelf space – as the movement moves into the mainstream. And, while some might question if it’s a passing fad, record numbers of companies are signing up. But what is a B Corp company and what are the steps you have to take to become one? What level of investment is needed both financially and from a resource point of view to switch your business model to B Corp status? Rosie Davenport, founder of sustainability and communication consultancy Impact Focus is well placed to know as she is also a trained B Leader, helping companies through the B Corp journey. Here she talks to retailers and wineries about why they are embracing the global non-profit organisation and how it’s transformed their businesses.
When Wiston Estate won WineGB’s best UK contract winery award last year it was the fourth time this West Sussex-based winery had received this prestigious accolade. Richard and Kirsty Goring, who run the estate, have been busy planting new vines and opening a swanky new cellar door shop, which joins the equally-swanky on-site restaurant, Chalk. Winemaking-wise Wiston has also seen changes with head winemaker Dermot Sugrue departing after 16 years, still wines now a definite thing and a change of distributor from Swig to Fells. Justin Keay popped over to Pulborough, met up with the team and tasted through the new wines.
For all the swilling, tasting, talking and, hopefully, buying going on at this month’s London Wine Fair there is also a big elephant in the room for an event that has placed the environment and sustainability at the heart of its agenda. What happens to all the thousands of bottles that are needed to host such an event? Well the show’s organisers hope it has come up with an answer with a new bottle re-use scheme that will be in operation over its three days. We talk to Marta Mendonça and Cristina Crava, from the Porto Protocol and Muriel Chatel of Sustainable Wine Solutions who have devised the initiative and will be in charge of running it at the fair.
Although sommeliers and consumers alike have become increasingly familiar with the individual qualities of wines from Georgia, Armenian wines are a lesser-known quantity. This is all the more reason for the on-trade to embrace the, argues Justin Keay, as they tick a variety of key boxes – they are gastronomic wines, made with autochtonous varieties, grown at high altitudes on ancient vines. In fact, there’s a good case for saying that these are the oldest wines on earth. Keay reports from the GInVino tasting and recommends a variety of wines to put on your buying radar.
The Rhône is the second biggest appellation in France after Bordeaux and its wines are loved the world over for their signature Mediterranean warmth and generosity, but getting to know its many sub-regions can be somewhat daunting. So who better as a guide than renowned expert Matt Walls, who has hosted a series of masterclasses, to shine a light of some of the less well-known appellations that deserve to be on your Rhône radar. The Buyer’s Justin Keay – by his own admission a relative newcomer to the vast region – went along to find out more about two such areas, Lirac and Rasteau, and was impressed by what he discovered.
Know your Albariño from your Alicante, Garnacha from Graciano and Verdejo from Viura? Ramón Bilbao is giving you the chance to prove it by entering the Spanish Wine Master, the latest initiative from its Spanish Wine Academy educational programme. The Spanish Wine Master is open to anyone who works in the UK trade and is pitched at the equivalent of WSET Level 3 (and above) knowledge. Here Rodolfo Bastida, chief winemaker and Kirsty Loftus, UK and Ireland area manager for Ramón Bilbao explain what the competition is all about and why education is such a key part of what the winery is about.
After almost three decades producing rum in Barbados, Foursqure is still considered a newcomer, but with Mount Gay no longer producing 1703 Master Select, this most enterprising distiller senses a gap in the market, says Geoffrey Dean. Reporting from the Caribbean, Dean tours the plant and tastes through Foursquare’s range whose premium rums have a distinctive second maturation in a variety of used casks.
Edinburgh-based subscription wine club Wine52 claims to be a cut above the competition, describing itself as the UK’s largest wine discovery club and offering its members wines from new, emerging regions and countries. Helen Arnold catches up with head wine buyer, Thomas Sanetra, and talks to him about how a business that started out in craft beer – with Beer52 – has taken the same concept into wine to great success.
Victor Smart tastes through the new whites, rosés and reds of Provence estate Château Sainte Roseline with owner Aurélie Bertin at Petersham Nurseries’ La Goccia restaurant in London. The challenge, Smart argues, is for this producer (who also owns and manages Château des Demoiselles) to keep moving with the times as well as keep one foot in its traditional past through which it has accomplished so much… especially with the pressures of drought, climate change and bureaucracy.