The clock is ticking for entries into the separate 2023 London Wine, London Beer and London Spirit Competitions. An opportunity for producers, brand owners, importers, wine merchants, retailers and on-trade operators to pick out the drinks in their ranges they think best represent what they do. The products they think best connect with their targets customers. Here Richard Siddle sets out how and why these competitions stand out – from their own competition.
We continue our series helping to promote new voices in the Australian wine scene with this fascinating examination by Max Brearley on the changing face of Western Australia’s ‘unassuming’ Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends and how producers are increasingly succeeding in making dynamic, age worthy and beguiling expressions not normally associated with the region. He also looks at how producers are now looking to make Semillon, in particular, “the star of the show” and not one of the supporting cast.
2021 may have been a challenging vintage for winemakers in Cornas but, on first tasting, the Domaine Colombo Cornas 2021 wines themselves have a fresh approachability that will be a hit with Rhône fans. Colombo’s Fanny Fouché showed Peter Dean the 2021 wines, explained the vintage and showed some older vintages over a classic French bistro lunch at legendary Soho drinking hole The French House.
A new Golden Vines® Scholarship has been set up in partnership with the Gérard Basset Foundation that offers a unique opportunity for a talented BAME/BIPOC entrepreneur to break into the wine trade. Sponsored by Wine Owners the Golden Vines® Off-Trade Startup Scholarship is looking to reward a new business looking to create a successful wine merchant, retailer, importer or distribution model. Here we talk to Romané Basset, co-founding trustee of the Gérard Basset Foundation and Wine Owners’ founder, Nick Martin, about how the scholarship is going to work.
Set up 130 years ago by North England Quakers, Te Mata in Hawke’s Bay became New Zealand’s largest winery by the turn of the Twentieth Century. Its flagship red, Coleraine, a blend of Merlot and Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc has also become New Zealand’s most famous red wine. In a landmark tasting, Roger Jones met up with Te Mata’s Toby Buck to taste through a range of Coleraine and the new vintages of Awatea, Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc, Elston Chardonnay, and Bullnose Syrah. That was after Roger discovered some fascinating facts about Toby…
2022 will go down as the year businesses, both big and small, up and down the supply chain, started to take their sustainability responsibilities seriously. 2023 now needs to be the year when drinks companies implement and take those sustainability strategies a step further. Which is where Jeremy Rockett hopes he can help with The Sustainability Partnership consultancy that has been set up to help businesses navigate the right way forward, as he explains to Richard Siddle.
Bibendum’s annual portfolio tasting is always a must-attend event. This year was no different with it staged in Battersea Arts Centre under the imaginative and effective theme of ‘The Art of Wine’. Justin Keay attended this preview, congratulated agencies for emphasising breadth and value-for-money and picks out 10 stand-out wines that should be displayed on many a shelf or list.
Whisper it quietly but the world of wine is waking up to the idea of doing business in Paris, in February thanks to the fast growth of Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris which goes into only its fourth show promising to be 25% bigger than 2022, of which 35% of visitors will come from outside France, up from a quarter last year. Here Helen Arnold assesses what it is that has made the trade fair connect so quickly with the global wine industry and what to expect at next month’s show.
One small step for the world of wine, one giant leap for Slovakia. This was the message that came out of The World of Slovak Wine tasting earlier this month in London. The first ever UK wine tasting devoted to Slovak wine was a small, focused affair that has helped put the wines on the map, with sommeliers, indies and niche wine consultants all raving about what they found and eager to discover more. Elizabeth Gabay MW who was showing a Rosé she has co-produced with Vladimir Magula reports from the event.
“I’ve been lucky to join an industry and find a role which fits like a glove.” That’s how Stuart Porter, sales executive for Southern Home Counties, describes his position at Corney & Barrow and how the opportunity to work directly with restaurants, bars and pubs to find the right wines for their wine lists and their customers is what still excites him some 10 plus years working for the company. Richard Siddle talks to him about the skills needed to be a regional sales executive.
The annual portfolio tasting for Louis Latour Agencies last week was an impressive affair, particularly given that it was the first since the tragic passing of Louis-Fabrice Latour last September. With his brother Florent Latour attending as well as MD Will Oatley, Geoffrey Dean got the lowdown on the company’s succession plans and the priorities for the coming year. New agencies Château Sainte Roseline from Côtes de Provence and Champagne’s Cobalte Vodka were unveiled along with all the new vintages and cuvées from the company’s tidy stable of international, family-owned estates. Dean also highlights nine wines (and a brandy) that caught his eye.
We continue our countdown to the ceremony of the Star Wine List UK of the Year with The Buyer by looking at one of the new international categories that has been introduced for the 2023 competition – most sustainable wine list. To help put on the award we have partnered with Spier, one of South Africa’s leading wineries when it comes to environmental farming with a whole host of initiatives in place that not only look after the vines and the grapes they produce, but also the soils and natural habitat all around them. Spier also works closely with local communities and promotes cultural and art initiatives as part of its commitment to be a sustainable business in all aspects of what it does.
With its natural ampitheatre and 8-metre high walled terraces, Quinta da Boavista is one of the most instantly recognisable and iconic estates in the Douro Valley – worthy of UNESCO World Heritage status on its own. And yet very few people are allowed here. Granted rare access to the estate, Peter Dean explores the historical, 80-hectare site, meets winemaker Carla Tiago for the first ever tasting of all the estate’s wines from the past five harvests and discovers how, under its new owners Sogevinus, and with the help of Pétrus’s Jean-Claude Berrouet, Boavista is set to cement its reputation as one of the best producers of still red wine in Portugal.
To help mark Australia Day we turn our attention on Brown Brothers’ that has been making wine in Milawa in Victoria since 1889. The winery remains with the family all these years later and is now under the control of three sisters, Katherine, Caroline and Emma who have taken the helm of one of Australia’s first and leading family-owned wine companies. Libby Brodie talks to winemaker, Katherine Brown, about life on the estate, its future plans and how it is looking forwards to bringing Brown Brother’s sweet wine Orange Muscat and Flora back to the UK.
For the past three years, Creation Wines has been voted into the top 50 of the World’s Best Vineyards and has now grabbed the top spot in Africa. While Creation’s restaurant and tasting room are a destination in their own right, the wines are pretty special too, as Anne Krebiehl MW discovered when she tasted through the range of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and got under the skin of Creation’s philosophy with owners Carolyn and Jean-Claude Martin.
With so much competition amongst the wine importers that already exist, it’s quite a big step to launch a new business into such a crowded market place. But since Alex Green and Matthew Johnson started up Beyond Wines in the middle of Covid-19 they have not looked back with a business model that operates as a smaller, arguably more flexible alternative to the UK’s biggest distributors. It’s all based on striking strategic partnerships with key producers around the world. Here Alex Green explains how it is working with Overhex to source great value wines – and potentially breakthrough brands – from South Africa.
The flagship wines of Western Australia’s Vasse Felix – Tom Cullity and Heytesbury – offer exceptional value for money and quality when set alongside comparable wines from the Old World, argues Roger Jones. Our Australian wine expert and retired Michelin star chef met up with Vasse Felix’s chief winemaker, Virginia Willcock to put the wines to the test, tasting the first ever vintage of Tom Cullity, sampling Heytesbury back to 2013 and comparing both wines with verticals of the Vasse Felix Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
We are not even at the end of January and the trading challenges facing the wine industry for the year ahead look like some of the hardest it has ever had to overcome. It feels like producers, buyers, importers, suppliers and retailers alike are standing in front of a croupier in a casino not sure whether to stick, twist or place another bet. Be it the problems up and down the supply chain getting wine from A to B, to the increased packaging, dry good and glass costs, through to the shortage of staff on the front line of hospitality and retail to sell it. Here Phoebe Phillips talks to major producers, suppliers, importers and buyers to understand the challenges they are facing and how they are innovating to stay relevant, competitive, solvent – and hopefully profitable.
Victoria Pinot Noir is arguably Australia’s finest, but there is more to the State than Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley as Geoffrey Dean discovered when he spent a three-week driving tour there – teasing out some of the lesser-known gems in Victoria’s vinelands. There are eight regions (aside from Mornington and Yarra) which are all producing outstanding Pinot Noir which Dean explores, highlighting the producers that may well be under most people’s radar.
As the clock ticks down to the final days to enter the UK Wine List of the Year competition, run by Star Wine List in partnership with The Buyer, we look back at one of last year’s big winners – The Vineyard at Stockcross. In all it picked up three wine list awards for California, Germany and New Zealand in the 2022 awards. Here Helen Arnold analyses its success in the New Zealand category and talks to director of wine, Romain Bourger, about how he puts the overall wine list together.