The world has moved on a great deal since the inaugural WineFuture event was held in Rioja in 2009. At the time it was the first of its kind. An attempt to bring the global wine industry’s most prominent and influential figures together, from producers, brand owners, importers, retailers to critics and media. The event was repeated in 2011 in Hong Kong, but not since. Until now with the news it is to return in a new online webinar format in February 2021. Here’s what to expect.
Oregon’s Willamette Valley might be best known for its Pinot Noir but few may realise how diverse its winemaking community is. Celebrating Hispanic Roots was an event aimed at setting the record straight with six Latinx winemakers from Atticus Wine, Beacon Hill Winery, Cramoisi Vineyard, Gonzales Wine, PARRA Wine and Valcan Cellars telling their stories and showing their wines, the best of which LM Archer tastes and recommends. Not only are the six speakers leaders in their own right but they are also advocates for the Latinx community, particularly for those who work on vineyards.
When we held the first One Step Beyond event in early March to analyse the growing trends and advances in technology that were changing the way we as consumers behaved, the world was a very different place. Even though Covid-19 was rampaging across Europe, in the UK it still felt very much at arm’s length. Seven months on and so many of those emerging, ‘about to happen’ trends discussed at the conference are now very much part of our daily lives shaping the way we live and dictating what businesses need to do to survive. To help assess what changes in consumer behaviour the drinks industry needs to be on top off now and in the months ahead, The Buyer is teaming up again with Sophie Jump to host a special free One Step Beyond webinar with the same experts and panelists from the inaugural conference. Here’s how you can take part.
Whether he’s plunging his arm into a just-fermenting open barrel of bubbling Grenache, bounding across the arid La Roque vineyard where his beloved 80 year-old Carignan vines grow, or pouring samples of the seven wines he produces under the Domaine of the Bee label, Justin Howard-Sneyd is a man with boundless enthusiasm – a Master of Wine who’s found his ultimate vocation. Peter Dean popped down to meet him for lunch in the Roussillon town of Maury to find out how the year’s been and how he’s getting ready for harvest.
Training and consultancy support are so often some of the first things to go when businesses are forced to make cut backs in difficult times. But here in our latest Onwards & Upwards article to give a voice to those in the trade looking for new opportunities, Harry Crowther makes the case for why now training has never been more important in hospitality to help operators get even more out of the assets – their wines and spirits – through the skills and quality of their staff.
The wines of ‘new Chile’ demand a fresh look by wine buyers if the 16 best new Chile wines selected by Tim Atkin MW are anything to go by. In a two-part 3-hour tasting review, with 16 winemakers beamed in from around Chile, this superb session showed off the freshness and diversity of the wine styles that have undergone a sea-change here. Gone were the heavy, oaky, rich, sweet wines of yore and in their place were 16 wines with less extraction and reduction, and more of a sense of place. The sessions also showed how far Zoom tastings have come in six months – punctual, technically faultless with the wines showing well. Peter Dean reports.
“We refer to our wines as ‘Next World’ as they are somewhere in between the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ world in style with tremendous elegance and distinctiveness.” That’s how Paul Beavis the new head of Iconic Wineries of British Columbia describes the unique styles of wine being made by the shores of the lake that dominates Canada’s Okanagan Valley. Beavis will be well known to the wine trade for the 20 years he spent steering Champagne Lanson’s success in the UK and internationally, but, as he explains, the draw of this wonderful, and largely undiscovered, part of the world was a new challenge he is so excited to take on.
With a father from Burgundy new Veuve Clicquot chef de cave Didier Mariotti was clearly at ease talking about the new Pinot Noir-led prestige cuvée La Grande Dame 2012 at its launch yesterday. Even though the wine ‘is not his’ and neither was the decision to increase the amount of Pinot Noir in the mix to 90%, he clearly values the decision, going into some detail with Anne Krebiehl MW about where the fruit is sourced from and why, the use of bitterness on the finish and also how important the shape of the glass is. To emphasise this point LVMH sent out two different glasses with the tasting pack so that Anne could taste the difference.
Wines from all over the world were willing to put themselves to the test in the hope of being selected as one of the top trophy winners in what is the IWSC’s 51st year. Here we reveal the Top 30 wines that the competition’s elite group of judges selected from the thousands of wines entered that they believe deserve a trophy of their own with particular standout wins for France, Australia, Hungary, South Africa and England.
“I still suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I often wonder why this is? I have a great job and get great feedback from guests and colleagues alike. I know that I have worked hard and deserve to be where I am. Yet I realise that I am not, and never will be, part of the inner club of wine – the boys’ club – that still dominates the wine industry.” This is just one of a number of hard hitting, and thought provoking sentences in this must read article from sommelier Amber Gardner who shares what it is like being a woman working in what she experiences as being very much a man’s world. She also questions what is being done to foster the talent and the hard earned skills being learnt by sommeliers and hospitality staff when they want to move on from the restaurant floor. Where can they go? What can the industry do as a whole to help not just women feel more comfortable, respected and wanted in this sector, but what opportunities are available for their male counterparts too that can keep them all in the drinks and hospitality sectors they have given so much time to.
So what can the North Americans teach us Brits about gin? Well, quite a lot as it happens, as Victor Smart found out when he tasted a range of contemporary American gins under the careful tutelage of top barkeeper Christy Pope. Juniper takes a back seat and other botanicals come to the fore like kumquat, cinnamon, nutmeg, bergamot oil and cucumber. Maize is often used as the base spirit and get the alcohol levels… a cool 92% abv in the case of one barrel-aged spirit.
As we all grapple with finding the right ways to talk about and sell ourselves online, The Buyer’s new Digital Hub looks to take a look both inside and outside the drinks industry to see what we can learn from others. This time round we look at the kind of technology that works and is needed in hospitality; why Amazon wants to attract luxury brands; how we can now sell on Instagram IGTV; and what we can learn from Walmart’s new digital-first store concept.
Grenache has never historically been a grape to hog the limelight as a monovarietal wine. There are exceptions, but it has mainly been blended with the likes of Syrah, Carignan, Tempranillo or Mourvedre to add acidity, colour and tannin to it, and has traditionally found its place in the Rhône, Rioja, California and Australia. But the McLaren Vale Grenache is challenging many preconceptions, argues Mike Turner, who tastes 12 of these 100% Grenache wines and gives two thumbs up to all 12. Here he gives the 5 reasons he thinks you should get McLaren Vale Grenache into your life and lists his Top 3 wines from the tasting.
One of the biggest trends that was on fast forward before lockdown, and been on triple speed throughout Covid-19, has been sustainability and what brands and businesses consumers are buying products from are doing to act more responsibly. One of the big areas that the drinks industry, and wine in particular needs to get right, is its packaging, design and supply chains. Ahead of this month’s One Step Beyond free webinar, James Harmer of Cambridge Design Partnership looks at how a new scientific approach, to packaging and design can help companies take sensible, incremental and effective steps towards full carbon neutral sustainability.
The Caley 2015 is only the fourth vintage of Yalumba’s super premium blended red, but already it is turning heads and getting wine buyers reaching for their allocations. One such buyer, Roger Jones, tasted the wine in the virtual company of Yalumba chief Robert Hill-Smith and compares it against the three other vintages. Not only is it a fitting tribute to Hill-Smith’s ancestor Fred Caley Smith but it could just yet be Australia’s greatest Claret.
As if this year could not get any worse we have all been shocked to see the fires that have struck right through the heart of the wine communities in California’s famous Napa and Sonoma Valleys over the last couple of weeks. For those outside the US it is hard to know how to respond to such an emergency other than to continue to support by promoting and selling Californian wine. This weekend The California Wine Institute UK is urging us all to do just that and is also broadcasting a special ‘California Calling’ lifestyle show featuring Oz Clarke and TV chef, James Martin.
After a judging season like no other, thanks to the Covid 19 crisis, the International Wine and Spirits Competition has now revealed the results for its Southern Hemisphere wine awards. A total of 1,475 medals were awarded: 1,018 were bronze, 421 silver and 36 awarded prestigious gold medals. The IWSC’s chief executive Christelle Guibert reflects on this year’s competition, talks about the reforms she has introduced and looks to the future for the awards business.
Any student of economics would be well served by analysing the ups, downs and dynamics of the fine wine market over the last 40 years, for it is a classic case of how supply and demand works, and how too much of the latter means the traditional ways of doing business are thrown up in the air. It’s an area that Nick Martin, founder of Wine Owners, is particularly fascinated by because of how his industry specific business software manages different approaches to independent wine retailing. Here he makes the case for why the fine wine retail market is changing so fast.
To mark its Silver Jubilee, Ridgeview winemaking director Simon Roberts, knew he had to craft something very special indeed. That he has with a one-off Blanc de Blancs called Oak Reserve NV made from three cracking vintages with the wine part-fermented and aged in oak. A fan of subtly-oaked fine wine, Roberts has raised the English sparkling wine bar with this cuvée and found true harmony between English freshness and confident oak integration. Peter Dean talked to him on the day of the wine’s release – Ridgeview’s first new cuvée in a decade.
Like so many of his peers in the wine trade Toby Sigouin first started out on a shop floor working at his local Fuller’s making ends meet as a student. But whilst he first discovered a passion for wine, re-stocking shelves and hosting in-store tastings in a subsequent role as a store manager for Oddbins he also realised if he was to have a serious career in wine he needed to widen his experience. So he was brave enough to step outside the sector and learn the skills you need to succeed in sales by joining Landrover where he was soon one of their top 10 best sales specialists in the country. On returning to wine he joined Forth Wines and following the acquisition by Inverarity Morton he progressed to the senior wine buying role where he has enjoyed considerable success. He has, though, due to Covid-19 now been made redundant and is looking for a new start. Here he shares his experiences and story in wine and how he hopes he can now help others with his new wine consultancy business whilst he also looks for a new senior buying role.