As the clock ticks down for the start of the 31 Days of Riesling campaign for 2022 in July, The Buyer looks back on last year’s competition that attracted over independent wine merchants, bars and restaurants to take part, who brought German Riesling to life in their outlets and venues. Here Helen Arnold talks to the overall on-trade winner, Tessa and Elliott Lidstone of the Box-E restaurant in Bristol.
Washington Wines prides itself on how it is breaking new ground. There are now 70 grape varieties planted, oak is on the retreat, new vinification vessels are de rigeur and there are three new AVAs to add to the 16 already mapped out across this second largest wine-producing region in the United States. Although his top 10 wines from the tasting reflects this diversity and innovation, Justin Keay had to seek these wines out from a tasting room that was Old World-centric, exhibiting perhaps too many examples of Bordeaux and Rhône wine styles.
Start-up wine importer business, Vida Wines & Spirits, has a very clear mission. To showcase lesser-known wines, producers and winemakers from countries across Central and Eastern Europe. With interest in the new, unusual and different at an all time high it arguably could not have chosen a better year to launch. Here breakthrough wine writer Natalie Wilson talks to Olivier Freymuth, Vida’s wine buyer and head of UK sales, about how it has built up a portfolio of wines it believes can start to fill a big gap in the UK wine market. Vida’s Olivier Freymuth explains what it is about wines from Bulgaria and Slovenia that excite him over wines from the all too familiar Old and New Worlds.
One of Robert Sinskey’s wines, an orange wine called Orgia, has a label design based on LSD blotters given out at Grateful Dead concerts. The wine was intended as a middle finger to the department of the US Treasury Department that looks after wine labels. This hip Californian’s white field blend, Abraxas, is named after the second album by Santana. So, it was only fitting that when Sinskey invited Victor Smart to try his wines the venue chosen was the London Electric Daisy Flower Farm – so that they could taste wines… at the same time as make bouquets of flowers together.
“Online shopping has its acronyms, technologies, and innovation. But at its heart it digitises the human experience of walking into a wine shop. In a shop or restaurant you’d listen. Online you just have to use different sorts of ears.” That’s how the team at Pix, the new online wine discovery and search platform, analyses its users and consumers to work out what they are looking for from wine online. In the first of what will be a regular series of insights, Pix suggests four online tools that can help you analyse your own traffic data on your site to create more effective content and lists of wines that your consumers are wanting to buy. From Google Trends to Google Ads there are free existing tools out there that can unlock your online sales data and help you make more informed decisions about the wines you source, list, promote and sell.
Although many Barolo and Barbaresco wines are true icons, they are largely still flying under the radar, argues Peter Mitchell MW, Jeroboams’ wine director, who believes they offer an opportunity to the on-trade to start replacing Burgundy on wine lists. Sarah McCleery talk to Mitchell at Festa Piemontese, the company’s Barolo and Barbaresco tasting, and discovers key wines from Castello di Verduno, Ciabot Berton, Amalia and Ceretto.
As Prowein 2022 gets set to return after two years absence, Caroline Gilby profiles Château Purcari, the Moldovan estate that is exhibiting with the aim of bringing more of its wine to the UK. Purcari is at the forefront of reviving Moldova’s indigenous grape varieties, such as Rara Neagra which is a key part of the iconic Negru de Purcari cuvée, as well as producing Freedom Blend, the wine aimed at raising money for refugees that have flooded across the border since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Although it makes ports – both red and white – the winemaking team at Quinta da Pedra Alta in the Douro Valley is saving its greatest enthusiasm for the new table wines it’s producing. Its philosophy is to make fresh, approachable, contemporary wines using indigenous varieties like Viosinho, Rabigato, Sousão and Gouveio. Winemaker João Pires takes Victor Smart through the wines who is suitably impressed.
It was Bordeaux winemaker Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc who once coined the phrase “Twitter is for show, but email is for dough,” when talking about how to build up an online wine retail business. It is very much the approach that Eamon FitzGerald has taken in setting up his own e-commerce platform, WineSpark, which has borrowed a few tips and techniques from his days at Naked Wines to build up a strong email database that is now driving his move into online wine retailing.
What started as a Louis Jadot employee brainwave has now grown into a major international event. Bike to Care en Bourgogne has just successfully wrapped with €230k raised for hospitality charities with Château Haut-Bailly agreeing to stage the event next year in Bordeaux. Our drinks editor Peter Dean went along for the (long) ride.
“As South Korea’s cultural economy firmly imprints itself across the globe, another phenomenon is building within South Korea itself – a rapidly expanding market for imported wines.” That’s the view of marketing and trade agency, Nimbility, that specialises in distributing and building drinks brands across Asia. It sees South Korea as the key market to watch as trends that have blossomed in lockdown, including a big demand for drinking wine at home, are now helping to open up the international wine market for wine producers and brand owners alike.
Casanova di Neri is a Montalcino producer famed for helping pioneer single vineyard expressions in the region – including the mighty Cerretalto whose 2016 vintage is tasted alongside Tenuta Nuova 2017, ‘Etichetta Bianca’ 2017 and two Rosso di Montalcinos, as part of a lunch to celebrate the estate’s entry into Pol Roger Portfolio. Sarah McCleery reports.
From modest beginnings in Tony and Veronica Cleary’s living room, the Lanchester Group of companies, which includes Lanchester Wines and Greencroft Bottling, has grown into a much-admired business with an enviable record on sustainability. A restless pioneer of renewable energy, with a proven track record for pushing at the boundaries of green technology, the County Durham-based group is investing in a new state-of-the-art, self-powered home for its Greencroft Bottling company that Tony Cleary believes will be ‘the most sustainable such building of its kind on the planet’. As David Kermode finds out, for Cleary, sustainability is about the head, as much as the heart.
If you want to sell wine in the on-trade then here’s some new wine research you need to read, digest and take action on. KAM, the consumer research analysts that usually focus their attention on the pub, bar, and convenience store sectors, has produced its first dedicated study that looks to better understand exactly what it is the average consumer wants out of wine when they are going out for a drink. Produced in partnership with Hallgarten & Novum Wines it is based on interviews with 500 wine drinkers at the end of February and clearly identifies which wine styles and price points are most in demand, but also shows just how important good customer service is when selling wine and, in particular, the need for staff to make the whole wine buying experience more relaxed and not intimidating. As Colin Cameron, marketing director for Hallgarten & Novum Wines says: “The reward is too big for pubs, bars, and restaurants to let these customers slip away. Life maybe too short for bad wine, but, in the eye of the customer, it’s also too short for bad service and bad experiences. Good wine and good experiences, however, could be the key to a very long, and successful life, for our venues.” Get it right and there could be at least £500 a year per customer, per venue up for grabs. Read Richard Siddle’s analysis of the KAM study here.
Despite shortfalls in supply created by the poor 2021 harvest and issues with shipping, last week’s New Zealand Wine event provided many reasons to be cheerful. Average bottle prices are up, Kiwi Rosé is booming, vineyard acreage is up, the 2022 harvest is back to normal levels and there’s a new trade agreement coming this year. Geoffrey Dean welcomed the event back after two years away, talks to NZ Winegrowers’ Chris Stroud and picks six wines that stood out at the tasting.
“Rather than have cellars full of wine ageing quietly in barrels, that tell you the plot, varieties, blend and vintage, why not bring them to life and include the name and a QR link to the back story of the customer or customers that have invested in it and become part of that producer and winemaker’s success.” That’s a vision of a genuinely consumer-first driven wine businesss that your customers are being offered – and are increasingly demanding – from the brands and companies they invest in. Richard Siddle explains why drinks producers need to wake up to the fact they no longer own the brands they produce – their target consumers do. And if they don’t those drinkers will vote with their feet and buy into brands that believe in them.
There’s a great deal of excitement about the wines that are coming out of the Agulhas Wine Triangle – South Africa’s southernmost vineyards. This is a region with ancient soils, extreme winds and a raw landscape that are producing cool climate whites and reds of remarkable quality and elegance. On a recent trip to South Africa, Geoffrey Dean visited the region, tasted the wines from the 10 wineries and talked with some of the key players – Bruce Jack, Dirk Human and Pierre Rabie about what makes this new frontier of winemaking so special.
In the first part of our New York Pitch project in partnership with the New York Grape & Wine Foundation we helped to bring producers looking to export to the UK together with leading buyers from key importers and the chance to hear about their wines. Here we dig a little deeper into what New York State can offer by picking out the wine styles that the buyers think have the most potential to do well in the UK and why the region has so much to offer in terms of cool climate, fresh, pure fruit forward, acid driven wines with low alcohols.
Most Champagne Houses released their 2008 vintages way too early. That’s the view taken by Mathieu Rolland-Billecart, the CEO of Billecart-Salmon which launched its dazzling new Louis Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs 2008 yesterday alongside older vintages and the new NV Blanc de Blancs. And good things do indeed come to those who wait as Peter Dean discovered.