New Zealand wines in the off-trade have succeeded in achieving a premium price position way ahead of their peers in Australia, South Africa or South America. The challenge is now to push more of its wines onto the top wine lists in leading restaurants. Here we look at the finalists in the New Zealand category in the 2021 UK Wine List of the Year awards, sponsored by New Zealand Winegrowers, to see which outlets are championing Kiwi wines the most as we build up to the 2022 awards co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List.
The 2020 vintage was the hottest year ever in Burgundy – beating even 2003 and previous hottest vintage 2018 – and there were also drought issues. Miraculously, however, there are no signs in the wines of over-ripeness or cooked characters and, writes Geoffrey Dean, there is the right amount of structure and substance to allow these wines to age for a considerable length of time. Dean hears from Albert Bichot’s team of the technical adjustments they made to cope with the challenges and recommends six of the wines from its extensive range that you need to have on your buying radar.
As we get into the heart of Bourgogne Week we continue our series talking to leading UK importers and wine merchants about how they are working with their Bourgogne producers to promote and bring their wines to their customers. Today we talk to Adam Bruntlett, senior buyer at Berry Bros & Rudd about its long-term partnership with Domaine Follin-Arbelet in Aloxe-Corton and what they hope and expect from the much awaited 2020 Bourgogne vintage. (Main picture features Franck Follin-Arbelet and his wife Christine).
A vintage that ended on December 30… welcome to winemaking in England and one of the most challenging vintages in history. For Chris Wilson, wine scribe turned winemaker and owner of Cambridge’s first urban winery Gutter&Stars, 2021 was a vintage which threw everything possible at winemakers; he did, however, get some decent juice out of the year along with plaudits for his inaugural wines, including from Roger Jones who made Gutter&Stars’ first Chardonnay his Christmas pour.
It was in Paris that the international wine industry last had the chance to meet face to face to do business and it will be in Paris that it will have the opportunity to do so again. The fact there have been two long hard years in-between will hopefully be quickly forgotten when Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris opens their doors between February 14 to 16. Richard Siddle spoke to Rodolphe Lameyse, chief executive of Vinexposium – the overall events business that owns the combined show – to get his immediate reaction to the news the show will officially go ahead.
While some producers and importers have shied away from saying whether Burgundy 2020 is a ‘white vintage’ or a ‘red vintage’, Armit Wines’ brand manager Nicolas Clerc MS has come down firmly on the side of the white wines. The whites he says have “tension and precision balanced by generosity. Many will be delicious in their youth, especially across the Bourgogne and Village appellations.” The reds will need to have more time in the bottle for a proper evaluation. Here he gives us his insight with contributions from Christophe Roumier, Domaine de Montille and Domaine Bart.
There is nothing quite like the UK wine market in terms of the choice, range and diversity of wines on offer. Name a wine producing country anywhere in the world and there will be an importer, a retailer or a restaurant somewhere selling it. But with such an open market how easy is it for producers to get their wines taken on by first the distributors and suppliers and then the gatekeepers who guard the all important most coveted retail and restaurant wine lists? To find out The Buyer, in partnership with the inaugural Bloody Big Drinks Summit in Australia, brought together buyers from four key suppliers – Seckford Agencies, North South Wines, Beyond Wines and Propeller – to look at how they decide what producers to work with and their list of dos and don’ts for producers to follow.
The Buyer has this month teamed up with Bourgogne Wines to help shine the light on how UK importers specialising in Bourgogne wines are working with local producers to promote wines from different and lesser-known appellations as part of Bourgogne Week that runs from January 10 to 14. We start with an interview between Louisa de Faye Perkins, managing director of Charles Taylor Wines, and its partnership with Florent Rouve, which is making quality wines from Mâcon-Lugny, including its much coveted ‘Les Crays vers Vaux’ plot.
Burgundy 2020 is a unique vintage with hot and dry weather producing wines of exceptional freshness and balance – not normally what you would expect to come out of those challenging conditions. How this was achieved is a fascinating story in itself and part of a detailed report from Guy Seddon, senior fine wine buyer for Corney & Barrow, who went first hand to Burgundy, tasted a wide range of wines, and got detailed insight from the many producers that they represent in the UK including Guillaume d’Angerville, Michel Lafarge, Jacques Prieur, Charles Lachaux, Leflaive and Aubert de Villaine amongst others.
One of the key trends to emerge from 2021 was not just the interest in more esoteric wines, but customers, across all channels, be it online, in specialist retail or the premium on-trade, willing to trade up to buy them. Here Italian wine consultant and writer, Paul Caputo, shines the light on the wines made in the foothills of Monte Vulture, the extinct volcano in the Basilicata region of southern Italy and the Aglianico del Vulture DOC by profiling one of its key producers, the Mastrodomenico family.
In just the same way that brands and products move on from one year to the next the pressure is also on our major drinks competitions to do the same. Which is what the London Drinks Competitions hope to do each year with new initiatives as part of its separate awards for spirits, wine and beers. It’s why it has introduced a new marketing and communications tool for its London Spirits Competition that allows anyone entering a product to also include a cocktail suggestion to go with it. Here’s how it works.
Most of us in the wine trade can safely say that we have a reasonable stash of bottles. For Roger Jones, however, when he nips down to his cellar he’s going into an Aladdin’s cave of vinous delights that, when it was part of his now-closed Michelin-starred restaurant, won him the AA’s best wine list in the UK for a number of years. So, in Roger’s best wines of 2021 review, expect some rare treats alongside more recent wine releases that he has tasted wearing his various hats for Decanter, The Buyer, IWSC and the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships.
As we gear up for the 2022 UK Wine List of the Year awards, co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List, we take the opportunity to look back at some of the winners from the inaugural awards held in January 2021. It was at the time a chance to reward and hopefully raise spirits for key players in the premium on-trade at a time when we were in the middle of the winter lockdown. We start by looking at the finalists in the German Wine List of the year category, sponsored by Wines of Germany, that saw Vineyard at Stockcross being named the overall winner.
It comes as little surprise that five of Geoffrey Dean’s Top wines of 2021 are from South African estates. Dean is a massive fan of South African wine and, in a window of opportunity, he managed to get to SA in 2021 for a blissful five weeks of catching up with old friends and discovering new wines. These are the wines that stood out and which he would recommend, plus five more from across the globe.
In our final analysis of what we can expect more of in 2022 we look at the bigger societal, cultural and world issues that we will all have to address – and not just in the coming year either. Richard Siddle examines how diversity and inclusion have become key issues for the drinks and hospitality sectors in 2021 and why in 2022 we all need to look at the personal actions we take. Similarly with the collective steps we can take to tackle climate change and the lessons we have learned from taking trading and education online during Covid-19.
Making the shortlist for the IWSC’s Wine Communicator of the Year was just one of the many highlights of 2021 for David Kermode. His podcast The Drinking Hour has been drawing in listeners far and wide and, given that travel was still exceedingly restricted throughout most of the year, he did manage to make it to a large number of events many of them detailed here in his review of the top drinks of 2021 seen through the lens of 10 very different glasses.
In part two of The Buyer’s analysis into what we can expect to most influence the premium drinks, retail and hospitality sectors in 2022, we turn the spotlight on the actual sourcing, buying, selling of the wines and sprits that help keep the whole supply chain going. In particular, Richard Siddle analyses just how well equipped we all are to keep up with the change in demands of drinks producers and brand owners at one end of the market and the ever changing consumer at the other end.
With a nose to sniff out some of the most interesting wines on the planet, and with an eye for a bargain, wine expert Justin Keay’s review of the top wines of the year is always a must-read. Of the 10 wines that floated his boat this year Keay includes a red from Crete, a super-premium Carmenere from Chile and a single vineyard Assyrtiko that retails for £6.99. There’s space for a West Coast Chardonnay (remember those?), an English fizz featuring a blend of 28 back vintages and, like our drinks editor Peter Dean yesterday, reserves special mention for the wines of Spain that are really going places.
As we turn our attention to the new year and what me might receive in 2022 The Buyer’s Richard Siddle looks outside the drinks industry for inspiration and what is going to influence the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors in the year ahead. Here he assesses the virtual digital world of the metaverse, a term you may not be that familiar with now, but one that will firmly be on our collective agenda in the 12 months and years to come.
Every year our drinks editor and the tasting team choose the wines that stood out above the many others. 2021 was no exception although it was another ‘year of tasting differently’ with Covid-19 affecting opportunities to taste wines physically alongside winemakers and importers. There were, however, more real life tastings to enjoy in the UK than in 2020 and the online experience was improving all the time, witness Wine Australia’s superb Connect website. For Peter Dean it was also the first year for covering premium Champagne and sparkling wine on The Buyer with two making it to his final list and an impressive five still wines coming from Spain and Portugal. All the wines listed are new releases and not taken from library stock, including the one wine that was made in the Nineteenth Century.