“I’ve got that ProWein feeling…!” It’s not the official strapline for the world’s biggest international wine & spirits show, but that’s how Kylie Minogue, iconic pop star turned wine producer, burst out singing when I asked her to describe what it was like to go to what was her first ever trade show. Not that I expected her to reply in full Kylie singing mode, or even see her take her place as one of the 6,000 plus exhibitors at the fair. But then it pretty much summed up the rollercoaster experience of ProWein and the chance to get back into the inner webbing of the international wine trade and the chance to better understand just where producers, importers and buyers are when it comes to putting trading, supply chain issues to one side and work out how to do effective business with each other going forward.
Three Decades of Germany was one of those landmark tastings that you simply had to be at. Anne Krebiehl MW and Ulrich Sautter persuaded six German producers – Weinguts Dr Heager, Knipser, Frust, Georg Breuer, Donnhoff and Geltz-Zilliken – to show dry Riesling and Pinot Noir from the past 30 years. The durability and sheer quality of the wines spoke for themselves why a fascinating panel discussion focused on the effect of earlier harvests and how once-dismissed vintages have fared over the years.
It’s understandable if your focus and interest in China has waned a little over the last few months as its on-going issues with Covid and travel has meant the imported wine market has taken a hammering. But China is not a market we can ignore for long and even if sales have slowed down considerably the potential and opportunity is still there. To get a true insider’s view of what is really happening we turn to Ian Ford, founding partner of Nimbility, and widely recognised as one of the most authoritative and important independent commentators and analysts on the Chinese wine market.
Sangiovese Reset returned to London for its second edition, with Master of Wine Jane Hunt and Walter Speller taking over Westminster’s Lindley Hall aiming to set the record straight on a grape that’s often misunderstood. The well attended event featured more than a hundred carefully chosen producers. Lisse Garnett, a Sangiovese superfan, was there for The Buyer and she brings us this insightful account of the tasting, together with her own personal connection to the variety.
When you consider producing one litre of wine is the equivalent of travelling 400km in a car there was much to discuss, assess and evaluate at the recent Sustainable Development of Bordeaux Wines Forum held in the city. In her first article for The Buyer, Abbie Bennington, was on hand to hear what steps different wine bodies and sustainability experts are taking in order to help the wine industry as a whole be more sustainable and responsible in how it makes wine.
The Mentzendorff annual tasting is a crucial date in the diary for all serious wine buyers – and so it proved once again as the importer laid out its wares in Whitehall’s palatial One Great George Street for what’s on offer during 2023. Geoffrey Dean found that the portfolio has all bases covered with a fine mix of classic wines and spirits plus new lines and picks out his highlights from the tasting.
The 2022 harvest was a good one for English winemakers and so it proved for Cambridge-based Gutter & Stars, whose winemaker Chris Wilson is also a writer for The Buyer (when he finds time!). He managed to source almost three times the fruit that he did the year previous year which has meant the wine portfolio is now eight wines strong, and the quality of the 2022 fruit has led to some stylistic changes in the Pinot Noir.
Victoria Sharples is a long way from her original home in Melbourne, but with her new Swains Wine Bar & Store she wants to bring a little bit of that Victorian vibe to the local community next to Hampstead Heath in north London. Sharples is well placed to know what makes a good wine bar for not only did she used to run venues in Melbourne, she was, for a number of years, wine director at London institution, St JOHN, and hopes all that experience can bear fruit at her first UK venue. Richard Siddle took a trip to Hampstead Heath to enjoy the Swains experience for himself.
The Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges is a special annual wine auction held on the second weekend of March in this famed Burgundy village. Every year since 1961 the wine trade congregates to raise money for the historic hospices by bidding on the specially crafted barrels of wine. This year, the 62nd auction raised over €3.5m and gave buyers the first chance to try the generous 2022 vintage straight from the barrel. To find out more about the Côtes de Nuits’ version of the better known Hospices de Beaune auction, we sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner to find out more under the tutelage of Laurent Delaunay. As Turner found out, there could be few better guides to the auction than this fifth generation owner of the fabulous Maison Edouard Delaunay.
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Licensed Trade Charity
If you have any room in your diary for an extra few meetings at ProWein then here’s why you should spend some time and go over to Wine Australia’s stand and pick out the five producers who are making the journey from South Australia to represent the Riverland wine region as part of the Riverland Uprising initiative to shine the light on the alternative winemaking scene in what is largely regarded as one of the country’s biggest sourcing areas for bulk wine. If you do there are five producers just waiting to meet you.
The new Dom Pérignon 2013 is being described in some circles as ‘the last pre-climate change’ vintage. Vincent Chaperon, DP cellar master, was in London to launch the new cuvée, talk about its sheer simplicity, how he harnessed its energy and power and why there’ll be no 2014 and 2016 Dom Pérignon. Victor Smart was The Buyer’s scribe at the tasting.
As the wine industry’s great and good prepare to descend on Dusseldorf for ProWein ‘23, the team from Lanchester Group, its subsidiaries Lanchester Wines and Greencroft Bottling, will be putting the finishing touches to a rebranding, to be exclusively unveiled at the show. Revealed across the group’s biggest ever stand, the new messaging will have the sustainability message front and centre – as you might expect from a business that champions itself as a restless pioneer of renewable energy. David Kermode caught up with Andrew Porton, managing director of Lanchester Wines’ Wine Division ahead of ProWein, to find out what to expect.
The theme of Enotria & Coe’s annual tasting this year was ‘cognoscenti’ although it could have been ‘fortis’, writes David Kermode who suggests that strength in the face of adversity is just as key in 2023 as being well informed. Kermode talks to E&C’s managing director Ants Rixon about his priorities going forwards, the new agencies in the portfolio – Bodegas Maranones (Madrid DO), Bodega Cerron (Jumilla), Mayfield (Orange, NSW) and Champagne A Robert – and highlights 10 wines from the tasting that he thinks should be on every wine buyer’s radar.
Next week sees ProWein return to its traditional timeslot in the drinks industry’s events calendar after 2022’s show was switched to May, and in 2020 and 2021 cancelled entirely due to Covid restrictions. Not surprisingly, ProWein’s executive director, Michael Degen, is hugely relieved at the return to some semblance of normality for the world’s biggest international wine and spirits trade show. He talks to Helen Arnold about the impact of the pandemic, what visitors can expect from the 2023 show and his vision for the future of the event.
Alliance Wine has set out its stall with sustainability and diversity at the core of its business. Nowhere was this more evident than at its 2023 portfolio tasting where it was trialing an ingenious ‘anti-waste’ policy, which is one of the pillars of its sustainability strategy. Alliance is also making its own wine range, Terres Fidèles, in partnership with winemakers in the South of France which further enables it to meet its goal of responsible production and consumption. Robert Mason talked to sustainability manager Marta Juega Rivera, and took a tour of the new wines.
Richard Dennis has the kind of CV you wonder where he has managed to pack all his experiences into such a short period of time. A career that has seen him work on both sides of the trading fence – at Sainsbury’s and as a supplier and importer. He is now part of the Watermill Wines team that is working closely with major multiples and operators to source wines that can work primarily for their own label and exclusive ranges, as he explains to Richard Siddle.
Armit Wines’ Italian portfolio is the envy of most and its annual tasting in London is a must for all serious wine buyers – and that’s not just because they were showing Sassicaia Bolgheri 2012 in magnum. For Justin Keay it was an opportunity to try the wines of Armit’s new estates Petrolo and duca di dolle alongside many favourites that span the length and breadth of the country. Two things that really stood out were the quality of the 2019 vintage and also how Italian whites are on a roll right now.
Hospitality and horse racing go together like a pair of stirrups on a saddle which makes this week’s prestigious Cheltenham Festival, which starts on March 14 and runs to the end of the week, prime territory for showcasing premium wines, spirits and no-alcohol drinks to a discerning audience. Neil Phillips, aka The Wine Tipster, will be track side all week offering advice to guests on what to drink as well as offering some tips on which horses to place your bets on.
You only have to walk down any aisle at a major international wine fair to see producer after producer showing the medals they have won in different wine competitions. But how important are they to wine buyers tasting their wines? Do they make a difference in what wines they list? What makes one wine competition stand out over another? To help find out The Buyer teamed up with the IWSC to ask major wine buyers, who also invest a lot of time judging competitions themselves, why it is they take part, what they are looking for in a medal winning wine and what producers should be doing with any medal they do win.