London’s annual Washington State Wine tasting was one of the last ‘live’ events to be held in March 2020, before the pandemic struck. 16 months later and Geoffrey Dean attended this year’s event which showcased 91 wines from 13 producers. The well known names of Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Reynvaan, Gramercy Cellars, Betz and L’Ecole No 41 were all there but what made this event even more fascinating was the sheer amount of wines coming from lesser known estates and ones which are seeking representation in the UK.
To reflect the big changes that are taking place in Bordeaux The Buyer has teamed up with Les Vins du Médoc to introduce a new series of articles – Medoc: The Next Generation Interviews – where we highlight the work being done by new, exciting, innovative winemakers and producers in the region and invite a breakout young wine writer to talk to them about their life in wine, their winemaking philosophy and why they think the Médoc is such a special place to make wine. First up we shine the light on Anaïs Bernard of Château Gadet-Terrefort who shares her story with Jess Lamb.
As the grapes go through veraison in Chianti-shire, we find Querciabella’s South African winemaker Manfred Ing in contemplative mode – looking back at the pandemic that devastated Tuscany and looking forwards at what the future holds for one of Italy’s leading wine estates. The 2021 harvest looks like being of very high quality although springtime frosts means that quantities will be down for the second time in five years. Ing is upbeat, however, about how his wines are being handled in the UK and about future investments.
With a legacy of quality wine production in the region dating back centuries, it’s unsurprising the Bordelais like to take their time when it comes to making big strategic changes in the way their wines are made and brought to market. In the second part of The Buyer’s online debate between Bordeaux producers and key UK importers, buyers and independent wine merchants, in partnership with the CIVB, we continue our exploration of Bordeaux’s modern reds, where these fit into the region’s long-term strategy and why the panel are particularly excited to see the emergence of so many quality, commercially focused single varietal wines and where they might work best in the premium UK on and off-trade.
In a brave about-face, Louis Roederer has ditched its best-selling Brut Premier NV cuvée and replaced it with the new Louis Roederer Collection 242, a multi-vintage blend that uses both a string of reserve wines and a high proportion of a solera-style Perpetual Reserve – created in 2012 and topped up after subsequent harvests. Underlying the move is cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon’s vision to cope with warming temperatures in the region and to create an unique NV that gets increasingly complex with each subsequent harvest.
“The pandemic has switched all our client external comms dials from important to critical. We are now a more valued part of their teams than before with one client telling us that our work had not only been critical in increasing sales but was responsible for saving jobs. That’s different from before.” This is how Nicky Forrest, managing director of leading drinks PR company, Phipps Relations, describes the impact that Covid-19 has had on its business and how it now works with its clients. She also explains why she is so pleased to be one of the Drinks Trust’s new trustees.
On the face of it Bordeaux has everything going for it. It is one of the most famous, respected and influential wine regions in the world. Yet when it comes to debates around modern winemaking, new viticultural techniques and what’s new in the world of wine, due to its classic reputation, it is often overlooked as a place you look for innovation. But that is not the real picture of what is actually happening in the region. Far from it. To help analyse the emerging trends in Bordeaux, The Buyer teamed up with the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council) to bring together key trade players, including UK buyers, importers and sommeliers, and Bordeaux producers to examine just what “Modern Bordeaux” is, how well understood it is and what aspects are best communicated to the wider trade and wine consumers at large.
Portugal was considered safe to travel to and then almost overnight was put on Britain’s amber list, a problem compounded by the added cost and bureaucracy of Brexit. For Sandra Tavares who, with her husband Jorge Serôdio Borges runs Wine & Soul in the Duoro, these are just some of the issues facing a small, independent wine producer as they enter the ‘new normal’ of a post-pandemic world. Peter Dean got the lowdown.
Bordeaux Day 2021 has been organised by Vins de Bordeaux to give UK buyers as big a chance as possible to taste the modern styles of wine now being made in the region with two standalone tastings taking place next week – in London on September 8 and Manchester on September 9. Here we turn the spotlight on one of the producers – Chateau du Seuil – whose wines will be available to taste as Nicola Allison explains why she gave up a career as a doctor to take over the family’s property in Graves with her husband Sean to make modern-style organic Bordeaux wines.
The impact that British wine has made both domestically and in international markets has been spearheaded by its sparkling wines. But what of English still wine? For too long it has played second fiddle – obtaining the right fruit ripeness from the unpredictable British climate, and also making wine at a competitive price point have not helped. But there are now so many examples of top quality still wine made on these shores that wine scribe Justin Keay decided to take a closer look, visiting a number of estates over the summer and focusing on two in particular – Balfour and Tillingham – that have approached still production from opposite ends of the wine spectrum.
“Street food has become so fashionable – perhaps because it reflects the authentic soul of a given region. I was inspired to cook this recipe after enjoying delicious lamb meatballs on the streets of Athens.” This is how Raul Diaz introduces his latest food and wine recipe matching meatballs to the classic Greek wine variety Agiorgitiko in the latest of his monthly food and wine pairing series.
It is arguably in its white and red wines that the Luberon really starts to show its Rhône credentials with both wine styles made from a wide selection of varieties where the emphasis is very much on bringing out the freshness, acidity and balance in the wines. In part two of The Buyer debate, in partnership with Wines of Luberon, we ask wine buyers, sommeliers and importers to taste and assess a selection of white and red wines and give their overall impression of where they see the opportunities for Luberon in the UK.
Until two weeks ago, life for winemaker Simon Waghorn in New Zealand’s Astrolabe was more normal compared to his counterparts in any other country. Jacinda Ardern’s hardline stance and the Kiwis’ natural geographical isolation meant that Covid had had little direct impact on the country. If anything the pros probably outweighed the cons. But recent outbreaks have given the country a harsh reality check. Writing for The Buyer, Waghorn explains what effect the pandemic has had on a Marlborough-based wine estate and how he is adjusting to the ‘new normal’.
Riesling is one of the top grapes favoured by those in the wine trade – and for good reason. It is totally unique in its ability to withstand extreme cold, produce TDN and make such a vast array of wines with little or no need to be blended with any other varietal. David Rosenthal from Chateau Ste Michelle in Washington State, Erni Loosen from Dr Loosen Estate in the Mosel, Sam Barry from Jim Barry Wines in the Clare Valley, and Jean-Frédéric Hugel from Famille Hugel in Alsace, each discuss three of their new wines and what makes them special while Geoffrey Dean tastes.
Ask the average UK wine buyer to give their views on the Rhône and they could probably spend a couple of minutes talking about the region and why its various styles of wines taste the way they do. But could they do the same for the wines of Luberon, made in the south eastern extreme of the region? To help widen buyers’ knowledge of Luberon wines and what they could offer the UK, The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Luberon to bring together a panel of sommeliers, wine importers and merchants to taste and assess the opportunities for the region in the premium UK wine market. In part one of our two part report the buyer’s shared their first impressions of the region and then focused in on Luberon’s rosé wines and the opportunities for them in the UK. Part two will examine the region’s red and white wines.
Tenuta Sette Ponti is a Tuscan estate that may not be on everyone’s radar, but it soon will be, argues David Kermode. Guided by the vision of its owner Dr. Antonio Moretti, it is fast expanding with its two sister wineries Poggio al Lupo in Maremma, and Bolgheri’s Orma almost fully organic now and receiving rave reviews – the latter being favourably compared to its illustrious neighbours Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Kermode spoke to the estate and tasted the latest vintages of the wines.
There’s so much more to being a chief winemaker than tending vines and fermenting grapes – ask Patricio Celedón, chief winemaker at Chile’s Viu Manent. As he reflects on the pandemic, that hit Chile later than a lot of countries, Celedón tells us how his biggest challenges are logistical, with bottles, cardboard and wooden boxes all in short supply; as is agricultural labour – a side effect of the government’s aid bonds scheme. But it’s not all doom and gloom, Viu Manent has made some fundamental changes to the way it produces wine as well as advanced a new wine project that was on the back burner – but pulled it forwards thanks to the unexpected downtime.
If you have watched any of the episodes from the SAS Who Dares Wins show on Channel 4 what makes it so gripping is not just seeing how average men and women tackle the SAS training course, but the techniques the former SAS officers use to get the candidates to open up about why they are really taking part in the programme. Mirroring is very much one of them, where you literally repeat back what someone has said. Here Harry Crowther explains why using simple mirroring techniques can have a dramatic direct impact on wine sales and the bonds you can instantly create with customers.
It seems only yesterday that wine scribe Chris Wilson decided to put his money where his mouth is and make his own wine, setting up what has become Cambridge’s first ever winery, Gutter&Stars. After the rave success of his inaugural wine ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ Bacchus 2020, Wilson launches his second wine, ‘Hope is a Good Swimmer’ Pinot Noir 2020 which also harps back to his days as a music journalist. With orders to fulfil, fruit to check and sun to pray for, what else is on his To Do list? A TV interview and, weirdly, this is the thing that concerns him most.
Bordeaux Day 2021 offers two days of trade tastings divided between London and Manchester – on September 8 and September 9 respectively – to give as many buyers as possible the chance to take part in what is being billed as an “unique insight into modern Bordeaux, showcasing the quality, diversity and fantastic value that the region and its wines have to offer”. To help get you in the mood here we talk to Jonathan Ducourt, of Vignobles Ducourt, one of the region’s oldest producers about how it is more than moving with the times with its switch to organic production and working with with newly approved grape varieties in the region.