This year’s finalists in the Star Wine List of the Year UK with The Buyer have been announced and includes the biggest selection of restaurants and bars to make it through to the awards shortlist. It will see some of the UK’s most prestigious restaurants and bars battling it out to see who comes out top in each category. The shortlisted venues can take pride in being selected by an esteemed judging panel that includes Piotr Pietras MS, Ronan Sayburn MS and Jan Konetzki.
The annual Wine Australia trade tasting returned to its former glory in London last week, following Covid’s interruptions. Visitors to the Lindley Hall venue were welcomed by a huge array of the great and the good of Aussie wines from across all the major UK importers. Some producers had even braved the jet lag and the joys of a cold British winter to attend. While wine buyers tasted the latest vintages and cuvées Mike Turner used the event as an opportunity to catch up with a number of producers who have signed up to the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia initiative to see how this young program is progressing for them, and how it is fast becoming an integral part of the Australian winemaking scene, and a key part of growth. In just four years the number of members has swelled to 250 (with 1000 in the pipeline) in what is a major opportunity for Australia to prove its sustainability credentials to the world.
There is no shortage in producers, importers and buyers wanting to do business with each other the problem is how they do it. The on-going supply chain issues and constant increases in dry good costs for packaging, and the huge shortages in glass, screwcaps and labels means negotiating contracts between drinks producers and buyers has become far more complicated than just agreeing the price on grapes, or a bottle of wine and spirits. That’s why the first One Step Beyond webinar of 2023, organised by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, will look to tackle just how producers, importers, retailers and buyers are having to rewrite the rules of trading. Here’s who is taking part and how you can sign up.
Four wines, made from four grape varieties, show Villa Maria Wines at the top of its game. Usually, Villa Maria releases its Single Vineyard and Icon Wines in November but Anne Krebiehl MW was given a special taste of four wines in early 2023. Here she discovers the background to Villa Maria’s top wines and gives an in-depth tasting of Seaspray Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Keltern Chardonnay 2021, Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2019 and Ngakirikiri 2019.
Chinese wine has had a number of false dawns in the UK and other key wine markets around the world. But just as it seems to be gaining some traction, interest wanes and producers have turned back to building domestic sales instead. But as the country finally emerges from its prolonged Covid lockdown, Christelle Chene, international affairs director at the Xige Estate in Ningxia – widely recognised as the premium winemaking region of China – makes the case for why this new ambitious, influential producer has its sights on making not just its name overseas, but for premium Chinese wine as a whole.
The first unveiling of the finished Romanée-Conti 2020 wines took place in London last Thursday – an event that rivals Christmas for importance to most wine critics, and an event that engenders such FOMO that lucky invitees to Corney & Barrow HQ are forbidden to post images or mention the event before it happens. 2020 was the hottest vintage in Burgundy and the reds, in particular, can be hit and miss – so how did team Fenal and de Villaine do? Peter Dean went along to find out.
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.