Over the last two years we have seen the drinks industry come together like never before in this generation to help support and protect as many of its own during these extraordinary and difficult times. The Licensed Trade Charity is one of the central bodies that has been able to provide both financial and emotional support to those in the hospitality sector most in need. Richard Siddle talks to head of marketing, Paula Smith, about the work it does and how members of the trade, as well as suppliers, producers and brand owners can make the most of its extensive range of services.
Jim Gore and Erica Dent do not normally enjoy the limelight. They are usually quietly working away behind the scenes working with their latest group of students taking various levels of WSET exams through their respective independent wine training companies – Gore’s Global Wine Academy and Erica Dent’s Enjoy Discovering Wine. Here they explain their individual approaches to teaching wine courses and why education has become their vocation in life.
The Lisboa wine region has been compared to that of Chile and California in that it is a long, thin coastal zone with fresh wines made close to the cool Atlantic while more heavily-textured, deeper wines are made in the drier more protected inland areas. Picking a dozen of the top, most representative Lisboa wines our drinks editor Peter Dean tastes and rates them according to quality and value and assesses their potential for the on-trade.
Gonzague Lurton embodies the idea of a new generation of winemaker taking over the reins in Bordeaux. As part of the highly respected Lurton Bordeaux winemaking family he has been able to learn from his winemaker father, Lucien Lurton, and all those who went before them. But he has always had an ambition to put his own stamp on winemaking in Bordeaux, an opportunity his family’s legacy has allowed him to do at Château Durfort-Vivens, part of the 1855 classification. Here he talks to City AM’s wine columnist, Libby Zietsman-Brodie, about his own wine philosophy and goals.
Mentzendorff’s long term UK multi-channel sales and distribution approach has really come to the fore over the last 18 months as it has been able to work with its customers across the premium on and off-trade and specialist routes to market. Here Andrew Hawes, managing director of the UK business, looks back on what has been such a fast moving, turbulent time in its history, and reflects on the steps it has taken to keep one step ahead of the supply chain and sourcing issues to ensure it had the most relevant range available for its wide customer base.
The sniffing, spitting and sipping for the People’s Choice Spirits Awards judging sessions have all been done and we can now reveal the finalists for the 2022 event. Here Janet Harrison, founder of the People’s Choice Drinks Awards, explains how she is looking forward to holding the first standalone spirits awards in January, and the plans for the wine awards that are now open for entries.
Think of Ricasoli and you think of Chianti Classico. This Tuscan estate is almost synonymous with the region and the wine – being by far the largest estate in Chianti Classico and having an historical association that dates back through over 800 years of winemaking. Under the helm of the 32nd Barone Francesco Ricasoli, however, the estate has been progressing forwards in leaps and bounds with a major soil study, replanting programme and introduction of three Gran Selezione crus producing wines that are arguably the best Chiantis money can buy. Peter Dean tastes and rates the new 2018 vintage of these three wines – Roncicone, Colledilà and CeniPrimo – as well as the estate’s flagship wine, the 2018 Castello di Brolio which, for the first time ever, is being made with 100% pure Sangiovese.
The clock is ticking for those producers, importers and brand owners that want to put their wines to the test in the 2022 London Wine Competition – the only global wine awards to judge on quality, value for money and packaging and design. Entires are open for all three London Competitions for wines, beers and spirits with the chance to get a discounted fee for anyone entering by December 10. Here’s how to enter and the Top Gold Medal wines from the 2021 London Wine Competition.
“We need to break out the defibrillator on our digital skills,” is how Simon Huntington describes the need for the drinks industry, across all channels, to really take digital marketing seriously and understand it is now a vital part of how any company should now be operating. But what exactly is digital marketing and what do you need to concentrate on to get it right? Here Huntington sets out his vision for effective drinks digital marketing.
“If you think Ribera is all about power and extraction, then think again, because it absolutely is not.” So said Tim Atkin MW at the launch of his Top 100 Ribera Del Duero wines which went some way to prove why this is a region on the move and one that wine buyers would be wise to keep an eye on. Village and vineyard specific wines are becoming more common, and there is a new breed of winemaker keen on making contemporary wines that express the high altitude terroir of the region. David Kermode was our man at the Top 100 tasting and the lunch to launch the event – picking 10 of Atkin’s wines to reflect the quality and variety on show.
Regulars at The Birley Group, The Ivy Collection, Chiltern Firehouse, Park Chinois and Aqua Shard are amongst the growing number of premium on-trade customers turning to CBDs and other wellbeing products that offer just a little something more than an average glass of Sauvignon Blanc or gin and tonic. Adam Feldheim is one of a number of new players in the drinks market that are bringing business and finance skills, as well as the ability to create new health and wellness products, to a fast growing community of consumers, as he explains to Richard Siddle.
When Ramón Bilbao devised its premium Lalomba wines it concluded that the best material for vinification and ageing in was concrete. The material is like steel in that it does not impart any aromas into the wine and it is like oak in that it has a high porosity – the end result is wines with finer tannins, better balance and an approachability at a younger age. But concrete also has a terroir story, just as much as where the grapes are sourced from, as Sarah McCleery explains.
“We aim to have the largest and most ambitious environmental conference ever for wine, unifying the entire trade around the most pressing issue that our society and our sector are facing.” That’s the ambition and goal that Pancho Campo has set for next year’s Green Wine Future event that will take place in different continents over a four day period in May. The opportunity for each part of the world to take a serious look at the local challenges they face and what they are going to do to tackle it.. Here he explains how Green Future is going to work and what you can do to get involved.
Eighteen months since the devastating blast in Beirut harbour, Lebanon is still reeling from crisis after crisis. That hasn’t dampened enthusiasm within the country’s wine industry, however, argues Etienne Debbane, head of IXSIR, the company whose winery was named as one of the greenest buildings in the world – in fact wine is one of the few industries that is helping people make ends meet. In a revealing interview with Justin Keay, Debbane explains why he has halved the price of his wines to the domestic market and has focussed his energies on planting more hectares of vines including Pinot Noir and Assyrtiko. Keay also picks out three IXSIR wines that he recommends for quality and value.
The role of a wine buyer may never have been as challenging as it is right now. With the on-going problems with Covid-19 and Brexit and continued shipping crisis, the poor harvests in the Northern Hemisphere could not have come at a worse time. Not least as the industry was already feeling the effects of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc shortage after the low-volume harvest there earlier this year. The problems in Europe have seen a stampede to the Southern Hemisphere, where demand is driving a rise in prices.
A wine producer is nothing without great quality wines. That’s a given. But having great wines is not going to make you a successful wine producer. For that you need brands. But what comes first? Here Tim Ford, co-owner of Domaine Gayda, the independent winery in the heart of the Languedoc Roussillon, talks to Richard Siddle about how having a carefully thought-through brand strategy has allowed it to make wines that reflect and tell stories of the land it makes wine from – spread across four distinct terroirs in this diverse, wine-producing region.
At a tasting to highlight top end Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon, Christo Le Riche, chair of the Cabernet Collective explains how the historical wine producers of the Cape are trying to focus worldwide media attention on South African Cabernet Sauvignon in order to underline the region’s ability to make premium and ultra-premium red wine. Le Riche and his fellow members of the Cabernet Collective believe that Cabernet is the grape for South Africa to hang its hat on – that the message from the industry should be specialisation rather than diversification, and that big brands should carry this message to the outside world to allow South Africa to ride bumps in the road more smoothly.
All week The Buyer has been working with the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships to help announce the winners in all its categories. So far we have been able to reveal the 56 Best in Class winners, the 13 Regional Champions, 12 National Champions and here today everything comes to a head with the announcement of seven World Champions, the supreme world champion, the Tony Jordan Rising Star Award and the Chairman’s Trophy.
Sparkling wine has been made to play second fiddle to Champagne through the years, in terms of critical appreciation and ‘column inches’. The tables are turned, however, in Fizz! Anthony Rose’s brilliant new book that focuses more on sparkling wine and the exciting developments that are taking place in wine regions across the world with the likes of English sparkling wine, Prosecco, Cap Classique, defectors from Cava and cool regions like Nova Scotia and Hokkaido. In an extensive interview Rose does cover how climate change is affecting Champagne, why they will cope and the future of the NV blend, as well as reveal how his mis-spent youth included making towers of lead capsules from the oceans of Cava he drank. Rose picks out his Top 10 desert island sparkling wines and there is an exclusive 40% discount for readers of The Buyer.
Steve Daniel has been buying Californian wine for longer than some Californian producers were actually ready to sell it. That was back in his Oddbins days when he was responsible for bringing wines – like Frog’s Leap – to the UK long before they had made their name in California. Fast forward to 2021 and Daniel is still, in his role as head of buying for Hallgarten & Novum Wines, looking to promote and showcase what California does best, which brings us to its recent partnership with Terlato Wines to introduce iconic producers, Sanford and Chimney Rock to its fine dining customers. Here Daniel and Chuck Cramer, Terlato’s UK and European sales & marketing director, explain to Richard Siddle why they think there are so many more opportunities for premium Californian wine in the UK.