Earlier this year Pol Roger Portfolio announced the addition of the fabulous wines of famed Barolo producer Luciano Sandrone to its range of fine wines for the UK trade. Built on the success of the eponymous Champagne brand, Pol Roger Portfolio continues to include some of the most celebrated names in wines and spirits. Earlier in the spring The Buyer’s Mike Turner sat down with Pol Roger Portfolio’s James Simpson MW, to discuss the recent additions and future opportunities for this premium drinks’ agency. This was followed a couple of weeks later with a visit to Barolo to meet Barbara Sandrone to discuss their hopes for this exciting new partnership.
This spring, Matt Walls, the man who – literally – wrote the book on the wines of the Rhône Valley is conducting a series of masterclasses in the UK to shine a light on one of most fascinating, diverse and iconic wine regions in the world. Walls began his mission in Edinburgh, with a masterclass dedicated to the impressive range and value on offer, as well as the current trends emerging from the innovative Côtes du Rhône appellations. Mike Turner was there – and for this comprehensive and insightful report, the first in a series for The Buyer, he also brings the perspective of the Rhône Valley’s rich wine history to the fore.
“The scheme is open to anyone who is starting in their career in wine but who has had a barrier to going further, whether financial, social, or based on your background.” That’s how Jane Anson describes who the Bordeaux Mentor Week, that she set up last year, is aimed at. As she looks to host the second Mentor Week in Bordeaux later this year she explains what she hopes the initiative can do to get more people from diverse backgrounds into the wine industry.
As tastes change, both of wines and the foods they’re matched with, so winemakers are responding with different styles of wine, levels of alcohol, tannin and acidity. Nowhere is this more true than with Australian Shiraz. Two decades ago these wines delivered a heck of a punch with high concentration and alcohol levels. Retired Michelin star chef and New World wine expert, Roger Jones, looks back fondly as he samples and recommends 24 of the finest new style Australian Shiraz from the latest vintages.
You have to go all the way back to 2008 for the first Wine Future event held in Rioja, Spain. A breakthrough event at the time that looked to bring the biggest names, companies and wine brands in the world together to address the key issues facing the sector. Some 15 years later and many of those challenges, if anything , have got worse and a whole lot more have piled up. Which is why Wine Future is returning in November to help the sector address its issues and make the most of untapped opportunities.
California wines are changing with the future looking bright for alternative varieties, and wines made by new winemakers, producing contemporary styles for a younger demographic. The well known names and heavy hitters are still holding their own, argues Justin Keay, but it is in the middle bracket – the wines that sit between blue-chip estates and supermarket wines – that you can discover amazingly good value.
With so many tastings in the wine trade calendar how do busy buyers, importers and sommeliers decide which ones to go to? What makes one stand out over another? What do sommeliers, in particular, look for when they go to a trade event? To find out we asked Mattia Scarpazza, head sommelier at Petersham Nurseries, to attend the recent portfolio tasting of the fast growing Wanderlust Wine that is quietly supplying many of the hip and happening restaurants in the country.
The UK’s first wine tasting dedicated to the wines of Toro was a real eye-opener, writes Robert Mason. This North-West region of Spain has long been associated with concentrated, high alcohol red wines made from its own Tempranillo clone. But last month’s tasting in London, coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the Toro DO, displayed a wide range of wine styles that were as unexpected as they were refreshing.
With canned wine sales in the UK now close to £15m and an estimated global value of over £160m it is quietly moving from a niche to mainstay of the overall UK wine market, particularly as its sustainability credentials tick so many boxes for businesses looking to hit their environmental and carbon net zero targets. Any growing sector, though, needs pillar brands and businesses to set the standards and show the way forward for smaller players to follow. Which is what the Canned Wine Co now believes it is in a position to do, particularly with last week’s acquisition of The Copper Crew canned wine brand. The Buyer talks to Ben Franks, co-founder and wine buyer for Canned Wine Co about why it decided to buy a rival brand and what he sees as the future for the overall canned wine market.
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Bike to Care event, which took place in Burgundy, the wine industry is once again taking to its bikes this May in Bordeaux, hoping to overtake last year’s impressive €250,000 money raised for hospitality charities. The Buyer’s Peter Dean joins the Hatch Mansfield team, gives a taster of what’s in store with Bike to Care Bordeaux, and explains how you can help by giving.
Are B Corp certifications a sign of genuine commitment to environmental and ethical causes, or are they just the latest corporate fad – an empty promise designed to draw in customers with words but not backed up by any real change? As we look to mark Earth Day 2023 that’s the challenge Dan Hooper, co-founder of the Yesmore Creative marketing agency, has for the drinks industry and the business, brands and celebrities that are now all chasing each other to get B Corp status.
Ribera Del Duero is one of Spain’s most exciting DOs. With the likes of Vega Sicilia and Dominio de Pingus, the reputation of its top wines is now well established, especially amongst the great and the good of Madrid’s fine dining establishments. Outside of the country, however, less is known about the complexity and range of terroirs on offer. The Buyer’s Mike Turner met up with two of the finest winemakers of the region to find out more.
Next time you venture into a vineyard, ask which grape clones are planted there and you’re bound to hear a series of unfamiliar codes that sound a bit too “sciencey” to be related to the romance of wine. Most wine lovers are content to have a solid grasp on what the main grape varieties are, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc, and so on. However, an understanding of grape clones and the important role they play towards wine style adds another intriguing dimension when considering the wine in your glass, says Leah Clearwater. Who analyses the clone wars taking place in Australia’s Margaret River.
At the global launch of Guidalberto 2021, the point was made and emphasised that Guidalberto is not the second wine to Sassicaia, but a standalone wine. A Bordeaux blend, it was first produced by Tenuta San Guido 23 years ago as an experiment with Merlot and as a wine made for early consumption by a broader audience. Despite this, aged Guidalberto wines dating back to 2002 were used to show its durability with the estate’s Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta and importer Armit Wines’ Brett Fleming explaining the wine’s unique identity.
Daniel Lambert is just as bound to share a controversial viewpoint about the wine trade as he is to introduce buyers to new and exciting wines. Eschewing a London venue for his fifth portfolio tasting, and basing it in Bristol instead, Lambert believes that the wine trade is too London-centric and proved the point, he believes, with the outcome of the event. Elizabeth Gabay MW was there for The Buyer, talks to Lambert and picks out the interesting wines from the new producers on show.
Les Caves de Pyrene has long been a trailblazer for low intervention and natural wines from across Europe and around the world, encapsulated with its annual Real Wine Fair. It is now looking to shine the light on English low intervention wine producers and the wines they are producing with its first Real Wines in the Vines trade tasting that takes place next month. Les Caves’ Doug Wregg explains what it hopes to achieve.
Long regarded as one of the world’s leading commentators on Champagne, Tyson Stelzer has had an atypical route to the profession – as an Australian teacher from the Gold Coast. With last Thursday’s London launch of his Champagne Guide Online, however, his expert analysis becomes more readily accessible as Anne Krebiehl MW discovered when she met him for lunch, an event that included just one or two rather special bottles.
Both Richard Leaver and and Domingo Miguel are well versed in knowing how to source wines and create brands for the countless retailers and buyers they have worked with over the years. They are now ready to use those skills and network of producers to create their own, appropriately named, brand – Savvy Pair – that is focused on bringing “bright, fresh fruit forward wines” to the market from multiple markets. Or as Leaver puts it: “It is unequivocally about us and our experiences, travels, loves and failures!” They talk to Richard Siddle about how they are going to do it.
The conundrum of Juan Pablo Murgia, head winemaker at Grupo Avinea, is a familiar one for Argentine winemakers… despite branching out into different styles of winemaking, using a wide range of grape varieties, all roads lead to Malbec – what the group and country is known for and what drives the wine business there. Just prior to today’s World Malbec Day, Justin Keay sat down with Murgia to taste the new wines of Bodega Argento and Otronia, talk Malbec, terroir, and the huge issues facing the exporting of wines from Argentina.