When you search Google for images of a ‘whisky drinker’ you still see only men above the fold. That old archetype is still many whisky brands’ go-to market, but brands and advertisers are waking up to the fact they can no longer market so narrowly. Women make up 36% of whisky drinkers*, which makes them a hugely important and profitable consumer segment. It’s why Distill Ventures recently organised a panel discussion, led by whisky expert and journalist Becky Paskin who has done so much to raise the issue of diversity and inclusion in whisky, with five women leading the way in various fields of the whisky industry, to discuss how we can make positive change. Full analysis by Jessica Broadbent.
Being a biodynamic winemaker in a cold climate is hard enough. Then to be certified as such is another big hurdle. But for the 25 members of respekt-BIODYN, however, they add another level of certification in order to enjoy the benefits of this exclusive association. Peter Dean joined them for a tasting of four wines, including a Sauvignon Blanc Trockenbeerenauslese, to mark the arrival of two new members to the group, Sattlerhof and Leiner.
The doors of restaurants and bars up and down the UK might be closed due to Covid-19, but there is still much work going on behind the scenes to make sure they are ready to burst back into life as soon as they are allowed. That’s what the new ‘UK Wine List of the Year’ awards – co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List – are all about. The chance to to celebrate the best sommelier and wine buying talent in the UK and the work they continue to do with their suppliers to create and manage some of the best wine lists in the world. Here’s how you can enter the 2021 awards – including a special Lockdown Wine List of the Year category.
Last week we were able to share Bruce Jack’s personal and harrowing account of what the real impact of Covid-19, and the subsequent alcohol bans placed on South Africa by its government, has had on its drinks industry and the large community of towns and villages, and the people that rely on working in vineyards and for wine producers, has had. It generated an enormous response both in the UK, but also in South Africa itself and around the world. Today UK wine consultant Richard Bampfield MW calls on us all as individuals to do what we can to support South Africa by buying as much of its wine as we can. The only part of its industry that is still working. He also asks us to share our stories and the wines we like on social media under the hashtag #MyFavouriteSouthAfricanWines. Here he explains why.
“The last 10 months have not been the cocktail- and cigar-fuelled haven I had planned, but rather a psychological assault course that has left all of us in this industry battered…and some of us already broken.” This is the deeply personal, and at times harrowing account, of what it has been like as a South African winemaker, producer and employer of 100s of desperate employees during the Covid-19 pandemic in a country that continues to ban the sale of any alcohol to devastating effect. We implore you to read Bruce Jack’s unique take on not just the impact of Covid-19, but what it means for the long term future of our wine industry, and us as individuals and human beings.
Back in 2009 when Pancho Campo held the first Wine Future event in Rioja the world was a very different place. For a start hardly any of it was reported on social media. Some 14 years later he feels the time is more than right to bring the event back in a bid to shine the light brightly on the key global issues facing the world wine industry, from the impact of Covid-19, climate change, viticulture, international tariffs, and how we collectively engage with a fast changing consumer. Here Campo explains what we can expect at Wine Future 2021 in February.
It’s one thing having a particular liking for Rhône wines, but it’s quite another to move your family to the Rhône to live for two years so that you can really get under the skin of all 52 appellations and write a 300 page book on it. That’s what Matt Walls did, and on January 25th the fruits of his labours Wines of the Rhône is published. He tells The Buyer why the Rhône has such an appeal as well as gives us a few insider tips to the best wines, appellations and winemakers we should be keeping an eye on.
“And so as we start 2021, the Lebanese political class still has not taken heed of the priorities: to make provision to salvage the economy and the state finances and to sufficiently protect us from the Covid-19 virus.” So writes George Sara, who runs Lebanon’s largest winery Château Ksara, on the tragic impact of the pandemic on his personal and professional life. Covid-19 comes on the back of the collapse of the banks, political turmoil, and the August 4 explosion that destroyed his apartment. In another ‘must-read’ feature Sara tries to find some light at the end of the tunnel, but all the time aware that he is fighting for survival.
Coming up with a potentially breakthrough wine brand is hard enough, never mind launching two separate brands, side by side, into the wine market at the same time. But when you have a creative team behind them that includes a winemaking Master of Wine and an advertising executive that has dreamt up campaigns for some of the world’s most famous brands then they must stand more chance than others of making it. Richard Siddle caught up with Barry Dick MW and Nick Palmer to talk through their two very different new wine brands – Bowl Grabber and Vin Ventura.
The on-trade being closed for such an extended period of time clearly brings no end of issues for restaurateurs, bar owners and pub chains. But it is also a unique time for operators and their suppliers to truly take stock, and re-assess the right range and offers they need to have in place for when the sector can re-open again in the coming months. That’s what the new set of reports from on-trade research specialists, CGA, in partnership with The Buyer hope to provide. The data, statistics, trends and information to help buyers and sellers plan what are the right drinks ranges and wine lists going to be for the rest of 2021. Here’s how you can get access to the four reports planned in the series, starting with a dedicated focus on wine menus.
This was the first year the People’s Choice Drinks Awards ran separate judging sessions, using professional spirits buyers, to help assess the eight standalone spirits categories it has introduced to the overall event. In keeping with the ethos of the People’s Choice Drinks Awards consumers were also invited to take part in the judging which was able to take place both in person and virtually. Here is the shortlist of brand owners, distillers and importers who make up the finalists.
As our attention starts to turn to our buying needs in 2021 the California Wine Institute in the UK has been quick to get on the front foot and plan a new form of virtual tasting that it believes can both break new ground for how generic wine bodies can put on major country tastings, but also provide a new highly effective tasting model that will still be suitable and relevant for post-Covid times. Here its two UK directors, Justine McGovern and Damien Jackman, explain to Richard Siddle just how its Essential California At Home tasting in March is going to work and how importers, buyers and press can get involved.
As wine regions go The Loire is still one of the most neglected and under-valued in the world. It is also one of the most diverse regions, with arguably the world’s most diverse grape, Chenin Blanc, in its arsenal of varietals. In order to shine a light on Chenin Blanc’s diversity and value, Loire wine expert Jim Budd picked six of his favourite wines and explained how Chenin Blanc has had a renaissance over the past 30 years, particularly in the Anjou region.
“Bartenders probably have some of the best marketing and sales skills out there. They have highly sought-after skills that are transferable into other areas of the drinks industry. People who work in hospitality don’t always see their skills in that way.” That is why Deborah Brenner, founder of Women of the Vine & Spirits has started up a new Facebook support platform for female bartender staff to share experiences and look at ways they can find new roles within the drinks industry. It is one of a number of new initiatives that Women of the Vine & Spirits is offering the drinks and hospitality sectors through these times.
Being chief executive of a trade association is a stressful and responsible position at the best of times, but when the industries you are looking after are going through not just one national emergency, but two at the same time – in Brexit and Covid-19 – then it’s a wonder Miles Beale continues to look so young and fresh faced as he does. Here in the first of two in-depth interviews Beale explains what the Brexit deal actually means for the drinks industry and what businesses need to continue to do to keep themselves trading, and how the WSTA and its members have responded to the Covid-19 crisis. He also explains what it has been like for a trade body to be able to continue lobbying government ministers in lockdown and how collaboration across the industry has been vital. Next week the focus falls on the other big issues the wine and spirits industry need to tackle, including its role in driving better sustainable practices, and the need for practical and deliverable solutions on diversity and inclusion.
The London Wine Competition prides itself on working with top level judges that each have direct buying responsibilities in their roles. The key individuals in the UK wine industry that collectively have the buying power to list wines from all over the world that are entering the competition. Buyers with the experience of assessing wines on their quality, their value for money proposition and how that is demonstrated through their packaging and design – the three key judging criteria.
The growth of outstanding dry white wines from Tokaj has been just one of the many exciting developments from this Hungarian wine-producing region in the past two decades. But with it comes an agonising decision that has to be made in September by the winemaker – how much dry wine are they going to make and how much of the Furmint crop are they going to leave on the vine in the hope that botrytis will set in so they can produce Tokaji Aszu? Climate change means that the years where conditions are perfect for botrytis have been halved, which makes the decision even more of a gamble.
In the third of our debates, held in partnership with the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) to help mark Bourgogne Week, we look at the extraordinary rise in e-commerce during 2020 and how the impact of Covid-19 has been an opportunity like no other for independent merchants and wine producers to maximise their online sales. Richard Siddle helps chair a debate with John Townend, managing director of House of Townend, the Yorkshire based wine merchants, and Manoël Bouchet, director general of Maison Roche de Bellene the négociant business in the heart of Beaune, and vice president of marketing and development commission for the BIVB.
We continue our Onwards & Upwards series featuring key figures in the drinks and hospitality sectors that are now embarking on new roles and opportunities in the industry with the highly experienced sales director, Tom Surgey. Most recently at Ridgeview and with live presenting gigs for BBC Good Food and Three Wine Men coming out of his ears, Tom’s work came to a crashing halt with the pandemic. Here he talks about how he coped and then hooked up with Tristram Coates –devising a new style agency called Glass Half Full, that aims to bring an innovative approach to the industry.
Villages like Saint-Romain and Saint-Aubin, Maranges and Marsannay were never that high up on the ‘must-have’ list of most self-respecting Burgundy buyers in the past, but how times are changing, argues Sebastian Thomas, director and buyer of Howard Ripley. These wines from more humble locations, and those from the Hautes-Côtes, can be quite brilliant and as generous and balanced as Premier Cru wines were 30 years ago. There are even signs that the hierarchy of classification is threatened, he says.