Nika Tiki is a Lanchester Wines best-seller, a flagship Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that’s a firm favourite with the on-trade and its customers. So Lanchester’s director of purchasing, Lesley Cook, was facing a potential crisis when it became apparent that Marlborough’s 2021 vintage was going to have incredibly small yields. To make matters worse, such was the popularity of the previous vintage that there was nothing left from 2020. Add in a sharp increase in shipping costs and it looked like the perfect storm. Here, Cook tells David Kermode how she needed to work fast, to secure an alternative supply from South Africa, creating a new wine, Moloko Bay, that replicates the characteristics of Nika Tiki, without replacing it.
Former Somerset cricketer and wine expert Geoffrey Dean reports on 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 ex-Scotland rugby player Doddle Weir OBE, now suffering with Motor Neurone Disease. 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.
Here’s an en primeur system of paying for wine in advance that gets to the core of real winemaking, dedicated to reviving, and in some cases, bringing vineyards back from the dead. Derek Mossman Knapp of Chile’s Garage Wine Company explains how he has helped introduced a ‘Revival’ winemaking programme focused on neglected vineyards across rural Chile. A project that is both helping to rediscover old vines and create unique new wines, but has also captured the imagination of major producer and distributor, Freixenet Copestick, that is helping to part fund the initiative as well as sell Garage’s wines in the UK.
Stephen Cronk’s dream to make wine in Provence took a long time to come true. Eleven years and a whole different career in telecoms passed by before eventually he, and his wife Jeany, plucked up the courage to actually make happen what they had spent over a decade craving to do. But it was a time well spent as it gave the Cronks the time, the experience and the knowledge to start and then grow what has gone on to become the global success of Mirabeau. A business based on the concept of creating a Provence wine brand that embodies the nature and viticultural values of the region, but also captures the iconic imagery and lifestyle of the south of France. As they introduce the first wine grown on their own estate – La Réserve – Stephen Cronk sits down with Richard Siddle for the first part of a two part interview on how the Cronks’ Mirabeau dream came true.
Trying to cope with the symptoms of Long COVID and the restrictions on international travel have made life tough for Steve Daniel, Hallgarten’s head of buying. In a candid interview he explains how he has managed, adding two new estates to his Greek wine portfolio, both from islands he has not sourced wine from before – Ios and Kefalonia, which the smart money predicts will be the ‘new Santorini’. So what is it about Greek wine that has continually fascinated him? From championing it back in his Oddbins days to the present, where the world has finally woken up it seems to what the country has to offer.
In part one of our report on The Buyer’s debate with key importers, sommeliers and retailers on the opportunities for Beaujolais white wine and Centre-Loire red wines, in partnership with Inter Beaujolais and Centre-Loire Wines, we analysed what the buyers thought specifically of Beaujolais’ less well known white wines. Here we turn the spotlight on the Centre-Loire and look at the styles, the producers, and the price points that our panel feel have the best opportunity to do well in the specialist retail and premium on-trade.
Any drinks competition is only as good as the quality of products that are entered. That stands to reason. But they also need to be pushing themselves forward to truly represent the drinks being made that are of increasing interest to the consumer. Which is why the International Wine & Spirit Competition teamed up with Cider is Wine to hold its first tasting and awards judging for 100% juice, not-from-concentrate ciders, perries and fruit wines. Here Christelle Guibert, the IWSC’s chief executive officer, and Alistair Morrell, chief executive of Cider is Wine explain why they were blown away by the results.
Biodynamic farming is being damned by a group of Italian scientists who have started a petition, claiming that the practice is witchcraft. A leading senator backing the scientists has declared (somewhat unbelievably) “we risk giving legal recognition to flat-earthers who preach magic and witchcraft.” The aim of this petition, which has surpassed a staggering 31,000 signatories, is to overturn a bill which would put biodynamic farming on the same standing as organic farming, thereby allowing biodynamic practitioners to receive state aid. So puzzled about this state of affairs was wine consultant and restaurateur Mike Turner, that he decided to delve into the matter and ask some fundamental questions about all types of farming, talk to South African winemaker of the year Johan Reyneke, and generally put some positive PR out there for biodynamic farming.
“Rosé is the only wine where customers buy with their eyes. All rosés are customer-facing in our stores. On our Vagabond machines, the guests are able to see the different shades of pink, and there is a definite sweet spot that Provence rosés hit.” That’s the way wine buyer and winemaker, Freddie Cobb, says Vagabond Wines displays and sells Provence rosé in its bars – to great success. Here he looks at why and how Provence has not only made such a difference with rosé it now leads and drive the rest of the category. But, he stresses, Provence is also a lot more about rosé and that’s why its future is so exciting.
There is a real underdog quality to the Champagne growers of Les Riceys. Once the preferred tipple of Louis XIV, the wines in this Eastern French commune are now overshadowed by the great Champagne Houses of the North – which only serves to make them more diverse, idiosyncratic and with a point to prove. David Kermode introduces us to five producers of these Grower Champagnes: Champagne Batisse-Lancelot, Pascal Manchin, Péhu-Guiardel, Arnaud Tabourin and Vincent Philpaux, who have collectively formed an Alliance to better promote their wines to the outside world.
The conundrum facing many drinks brands is whether or not to use social media influencers in your marketing – and if you do, who are the most, well, influential to use for your products? It’s not a problem, however, for Katherine Jones. Not only does she run her own successful influencer marketing business – generating over £20m in sales for brands in only four years – she is using her influencers to help promote her new low sugar, vegan Prosecco brand, ThinK Wine, as she explains to Richard Siddle.
Wine Australia has used its Connect website to focus on Riesling throughout the month of July. Our contributing editor, chef and New World wine specialist, Roger Jones, tastes his way through six top Clare Valley Rieslings, with food-pairing suggestions for each. He also explains the thinking behind a new series of videos made for Wine Australia that showcases the versatility of Australian Riesling, especially when it comes to matching them with food.
If you were looking to hold a buyers’ debate and tasting of Beaujolais and Centre-Loire wines your immediate assumption would be looking at red wines for Beaujolais and whites for the Centre-Loire. Not this time round. For both regions are also producing a diverse range of quality wines that you would not normally associate coming from those appellations. To help explore and assess just what sort of white wines are being made in Beaujolais and red wines in the Centre-Loire, The Buyer teamed up with Inter Beaujolais and Centre-Loire Wines to bring together a leading panel of buyers, wine importers, sommeliers and restaurateurs to taste a selection of wines and then analyse just how suited they might be for different channels of the UK market in our “The Secret Gems of Beaujolais & Centre-Loire debate’. In part one of our report we explore what the two regions can offer for reds and whites and then delve more deeply into diversity and quality of Beaujolais white wines. Part two of our analysis, later in the week, will focus on the red wines from the Centre-Loire.
The Roussillon region of South West France, is a vinous treasure trove with many exciting wines to discover, argues Justin Keay. As a region it was only officially uncoupled from the Languedoc five years ago, and its identity as a producer of quality table wine has only really taken place in the past 20 years. But its roots as North Catalonia, with its rich historical and cultural past run much deeper. So too do the wide variety of winemaking styles, benefitting as they do from a patchwork of micro-terroirs and a multitude of different soil types. At a press and trade tasting, Keay explores the wines of 12 different producers and recommends which wines need to be on your radar.
Ask any business leader what the most important aspect of their company is to get right and ‘our people’ will often be first or very high on their agenda. Yet the attrition rates for staff continue to go up and the reality is somewhat different on a day-to-day basis. How companies can really put their people first will be a key aspect of next week’s One Step Beyond webinar, co-hosted by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, as we hear directly from Steve Ingham, chief executive of PageGroup one of the biggest and most respected recruitment consultancies in the world.
With the Tour de France riders passing over the Hors Catégorie climb of Mount Ventoux this week, our drinks editor and cycling nut Peter Dean looks at the psychology of why you would willingly cycle up a mountain that is ‘beyond category’ and why Castelnau has chosen this as the concept for its top Champagne. C.M. 1993 – as it is called – is the third in an adventurous series of prestige cuvées that is inspired by cycling to the highest level, and allowing the winemaker to break all the rules.
To help increase diversity within the drinks industry, Distill Ventures, the brand development and start up investment arm of Diageo, is launching what it is calling a new ‘Pre-Accelerator Programme’ dedicated to early stage founders from underrepresented groups that often are overlooked for corporate funding and private investment. It is pledging to invest $5 million in drinks entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds over the next 12 months. Here Distill Ventures’ portfolio director, Ara Carvallo, explains how the scheme is going to work and how it is part of its overall commitment to drive diversity and inclusion.
Offering customers exactly what they want is a key aim of everyone in hospitality. But, in order to achieve that, we need to understand more fully how the brain works in its connection to the perception of flavour and eating behaviour argues Dr Qian Janice Wang who uses wine as the medium through which to study the human mind. Restaurateur, wine consultant and importer, Mike Turner, had an audience with Janice at the Somms’ Edition of the Spanish Wine Academy initiative operated by Ramon Bilbao. Here he learnt why people will pay more if they eat with heavier cutlery and why even the most hardened wine critic can still be fooled by fake rosé.
The flagship wines from House of Arras, Houghton, Grant Burge, St Hallett and Hardys made up the tantalising selection of prestige wines from Accolade Fine Wines, that were showcased at its second Pre-Release Introduction tasting. Part of Accolade’s Global Vintage Release Programme for 2021, the tasting allows key buyers and selected press to assess and confirm their allocation ahead of the release of the wines later in the year. Roger Jones, our retired Michelin Star Chef and Aussie wine lover tastes through the full portfolio.