All of those advocates of South Australian Grenache – winemakers and voices in the trade – are being proved right as the sheer quality of the wines coming out from Down Under are proving to be peerless. To make the point Amelia Jukes held an event in London’s 67 Pall Mall called ‘Continents of Grenache – an exploration of South Australian Grenache’ to highlight what South Australia can offer and to pit them against the best from across the globe. Roger Jones was in attendance and picks out his highlights that include wines from Alkina, Cirillo, John Duval and Yangarra.
“Brilliant digital strategies and the ability to engage consumers in new ways will be the difference maker for most brands. We need to invest in talent and technology and continue to innovate with sustainability.” Justin Noland, senior director for DTC marketing and ecommerce at Treasury Wine Estates sets out the challenges and opportunities the wine industry needs to address ahead of next week’s major Wine Future conference in Portugal that will bring together many of the sectors leaders figures and businesses.
The Chardonnay grape rose to international fame in the 1980s and has since become the World’s most planted white variety. In Pays d’Oc, more than 600,500 hectolitres of varietal Chardonnay were made in 2022 – which amounts to almost the combined total of ALL the other Pays d’Oc varietal whites! There’s a good reason for this: Chardonnay thrives in the sunny south of France, making a seemingly endless array of different wines, the quality of which never ceases to improve. Dominic Rippon selects 14 of his favourite IGP Pays d’Oc unoaked Chardonnays from a recent tasting of the 2022 vintage.
VSPT Wine Group is looking for a full-time UK Account Manager based in the market to develop current business and open new accounts within the off-trade channel. An exciting opportunity to join the UK subsidiary that was opened earlier this year.
The worlds of bulk, branded, packaged and own label wines and spirits are becoming ever entwined as buyers and producers alike look at ever more efficient and sustainable ways to do business with each. Which is why in November the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show is returning to London with a new sister event, the UK Trade Tasting focused on promoting branded wines and spirits. The Buyer talks to events organiser Sid Patel, chief executive of the Beverage Trade Network, about what he hopes the two combined events can offer the UK and European wine industries.
As the organiser of a Crémant v Cap Classique masterclass, it was sod’s law for Les Grands Chais de France that it would land just days after the South Africans knocked the French out of the Rugby World Cup. Ballsy that they should still go ahead with it but then, as France’s leading producer of traditional method sparkling wines making almost 40 million bottles a year, GCF is not known for being a shrinking violet. They have unrivalled expertise in making top-quality crémant and are the only company to make it in all eight of the PDO regions. Sarah McCleery had a ringside seat for the sparkling wine clash, tasted through the South African estates Neethlingshof and newly acquired, Villiera and reports back on what’s new at GCF in 2023.
As if battling climate change wasn’t hard enough, the Italian wine estates that travelled to London for this year’s Borsa Vini Italiani had to then combat a national rail strike and threatened London Underground strike to get people to come taste their wines. The Buyer’s Heather Dougherty managed to get to the event and found wines made with a fascinating range of grapes – ones that are familiar and many less so – a breadth of varieties that could well be Italy’s answer to coping with the changing weather.
Turkish wines now offer a “combination of gorgeous, expressive brightness of fruit that that almost has a slightly ‘New World’ feel that is countered by really lovely, interesting textures and an almost ‘Old World’ structure”. That was the summary of Sarah Abbott MW who helped lead a travelling group of UK wine buyers, and consultants to take part in the IWSC’s new initiative to taste where possible in the host country. Fellow judge David Kermode explains how and where the judging took place and picks out some of the highlights.
South Africa is rightly praised and respected around the world for how far its wines have come in the last 20 years, but it is still not seen as a major fine wine producing country. Vilafonté is looking to change that. A high-end South African wine brand, based on premium Bordeaux-style blends that, in its own words, has “an uncompromising determination to produce wines which stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the great wines of the world”. To help prove the point, and to set the scene for the imminent release of the 2021 vintage, it recently held a 21-year vertical tasting of every vintage of Vilafonté Series C all the way back to 2003 at a special event in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The invited tasters could go at their own pace, aided and abetted by head winemaker, Chris de Vries. Malu Lambert was one of those invited to attend and here she catches up with Mike Ratcliffe, one of the co-founders and lead champion of the Vilafonté brand, where they discuss ancient terroir, new irrigation technologies, the state of fine wine in South Africa, and his 100-year plan.
Next month sees the culmination of a year-long campaign by the Consejo Regulador D.O. Jerez and ICEX, the Spanish government agency that promotes exports and investment, to shine a sustained light on the opportunities that Sherry has for the premium on and off-trades through a mix of marketing, digital, trade, and promotional events that will all come together for the 10th Anniversary of International Sherry Week between November 6 and November 12. Fino 4 Foodies, the digital marketing campaign that looked to highlight Sherry and Fino wines, in particular, to the UK trade and consumer, launched in the summer and continues throughout October and November. Here we set the scene for what to expect during November’s International Sherry Week and how restaurants, bars, pubs and independent wine merchants can get involved with their own events, tastings and dinners.
“I have just returned from one of my life’s most fascinating and comprehensive Australian tours…” That’s how Matthew Jukes describes his recent comprehensive tour of Western Australia, taking part and hosting breakthrough tastings and masterclasses right across the region, as well as the chance to taste 100s of wines and assess just where he thinks the region, its wines and producers are heading. Here in this exclusive in-depth, comprehensive report for The Buyer he takes us all on a journey across Western Australia, as he shares his thoughts, feelings and experiences of taking such a deep dive into what the region can offer the world of premium and fine wine. Jukes, arguably the world’s leading non-Australian critic of the country’s wines, also shares his top wines from the WA Good Food Guide & Wine Awards and includes highlights from many of the not to be repeated tastings he was able to host and take part in.
No Champagne brand has courted such controversy as Armand de Brignac. What’s changed, though, is that lux giant LVMH has bought a 50% stake. Picking up the story is The Buyer’s Victor Smart who hooked up with the team and tasted through the new range, including the new Blanc de Noirs Assemblage Number Four which will first be available from Harrods this Christmas in a boxed set of each of the maison’s cuvées at a cool £6,400.
Romanian wines enjoyed a breakthrough year at the 2023 Winelovers Wine Awards, with nine gold medals, 27 silver and seven bronze as well as three ‘Best of’ awards going to Romanian producers. Romania’s collective success is very much what the Winelovers Wine Awards is all about in providing a platform for the most influential wines in Central and Eastern Europe to shine, as well as providing an opportunity for the region’s wineries, merchants, experts and consumers to meet. Here we go behind the scenes of Romania’s success at the awards as well as give an insight into Romania’s wine history, grape varieties and wine regions.
Hatch Mansfield’s Rhône 2022 tasting – featuring the M.CHAPOUTIER Sélections Parcellaires en Primeur – had no Michel Chapoutier in person this year, quaffing Comtes de Taittinger and regaling yarns from the Rhône valley as he likes to do. In his place were 20 wines from a selection of his sites across France, but (naturally enough) with a focus on Rhône 2022. A hot, dry, variable vintage, Rhône 2022 is throwing up a few surprises, not least the amount of freshness there is in the reds. Chapoutier’s Rhône wines were showing very well as were those selected from his other sites in Alsace, the Rhine, and Roussillon, presented in self-pour machines at Vagabond, Monument, that showed off the estate’s skill at sourcing prime fruit from old vines in fascinating soils.
The Sherry Academy hosted its first interactive tasting experience last Tuesday in the capable hands of TV’s Hannah Crosbie and Jimmy Smith – a fun, online tasting that was aimed at both devotees and the uninitiated, bringing them up to speed with the basics then digging deeper into the gastronomic uses of sherry. CRDO Jerez, which operates this free online learning platform, also used the event as a primer for Sherry Week which has its tenth anniversary starting November 6. Sophia Longhi signed up and went along for the ride.
Any trade charity is only effective if it is close to and listening to what the industry it serves needs for support. Over recent years one issue has repeatedly come top for many drinks businesses, both big and small – the mental wellbeing of their staff faced with huge challenges during the Covid lockdowns and subsequent cost of living crisis. It’s why The Drinks Trust, the main drinks industry charity, has come up with a new Business Advisory Programme designed to give companies the tools and advice they need to offer their staff a comprehensive wellbeing support service. Ross Carter, the charity’s chief executive, explains how it is going to work.
A heritage Champagne producer with a history of family ownership dating back to the 17th century and a County Durham-based wine business, established in its founders’ front room 40 years ago, might not – at first glance – seem to have much in common, but a meeting at ProWein between Famille Moutard and Lanchester Wines has inspired a new partnership, built on a shared family ethos, which promises to surprise and delight in equal measure, with a distinctive and different range of top end Champagnes and on trend Pet Nats, as David Kermode reports.
Champagne Barons de Rothschild has only been in Champagne for 18 years but, in that time, it has been forging ahead with ambitious plans to make the House as influential as the family is in Bordeaux, Napa and Chile. On the eve of the new luxury cuvées Rare Collection Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2013 and Rare Collection Rosé Vintage 2013 and with a state-of-the-art winery set to be unveiled next year, Christian Holthausen talks to chef de caves Guilaume Lété about the new wines and the ambitious plans for the future, including the winery, the design of which Lété is heading up.
Ribera del Duero has long been a Spanish wine region known for producing some of the world’s finest red wines – powerful wines that are big in flavour, yet fresh and balanced in the glass. The magic ingredient is the altitude of the region with vineyards here some of the highest in Europe outside Switzerland. As white wines and rosados are on the increase so are the number of wineries themselves – growing from eight to 318 over the past 40 years. As a preview to a major Ribera del Duero tasting event in London on November 14, Peter Dean takes an in-depth look at 26 new wines from top-scoring wineries – all unrepresented in the UK – showing a range of styles and the high level of quality that can be found in the region.
Georgia Panagopoulou is one of a new breed of digital marketing experts that are helping wine producers and brand owners tell their stories to a wider audience. Here she explains how she has created her own Wine Gini digital marketing agency and what she sees as the steps needed to have an effective digital strategy. She also looks ahead to next month’s Wine Future conference and the talk on digital comms she is presenting there.