CGA’s new ‘Overcoming Covid-19’ is the fourth and final edition of the 2021 series of Wine Insights Reports produced in partnership with The Buyer. It is arguably the most comprehensive analysis of the impact that Covid-19 has had on the on-trade, consumer spending behaviour and the performance of the wine category in particular in relation to all drinks categories across the last 15 months. It looks at the impact the pandemic has had throughout the 2020 lockdown on the on-trade and then sets out the roadmap the sector is likely to follow in the months to come as it plots its way out of social distancing, the rule of six and gets back to full on trading.
Millésimes Alsace, the biennial celebration of wines from Alsace, was another fair to go digital this year. There are certain signs, thinks David Kermode, that this could become a future format for the event – with talk about carbon footprint saved and ‘Digi-tasting’ being trademarked. So how did the tasting element work? Spread across three days, with 400 wines from 100 producers on offer, was this as good as the real thing? Kermode gives his views as well as picks out 10 wines that were showing particularly well.
We might have had our fill of 90 minute events come the end of the Euro 2020 football champions next month, but here’s news of an alternative way of spending 90 minutes with the second One Step Beyond webinar, co-hosted by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, to be held on July 12 that will once again share the insights and expertise of leading figures in consumer behaviour, technology and innovation, both in and outside the drinks, retail and hospitality sector. Here’s what to expect from those 90 minutes.
Wine snobbery is one of the reasons that rosé is still not taken seriously as a wine, argues Elizabeth Gabay MW. She confesses to initially keeping her distance but then a work assignment grew and grew until she has now become one of the world’s leading specialists in the field. In order to fill the void created by cancellation of wine shows she has just launched a ‘Buyer’s Guide to the Rosés of Southern France’ in which she blind-tastes over 1,000 rosés from over 35 different grape varieties. In an in-depth interview she tells Peter Dean the thinking behind the guide, which are the estates and grape varieties to keep an eye on, plus gives The Buyer readers a special discount.
If the Covid-19 lockdowns have taught us one thing it is the importance of being able to adapt a business to new circumstances and consumer behaviour shifts. That implies efficiently run operations, logistics and supply chains. How you are able to do that as effectively as possible has also, finally, opened the door for business management providers and their specialised computer systems that are designed to improve wine companies’ operations, improve visibility and transparency of their own drinks’ supply chain and open up business development opportunities. Quite how they do that and what potential benefits they can bring to the wine industry was the theme of a far-ranging debate with key operators at last month’s digital London Wine Fair, reports Richard Siddle.
Is it collusion between wine judges and producers? Shifting public taste? or Australian winemakers wanting to make wines in a style that speak more of their grape varieties and their ancient soils? These were some of the ideas posited during an illuminating and entertaining Wine Australia webinar entitled Ancient Soils – Contemporary Wines: Yarra Valley Chardonnay, hosted by Max Allen. Peter Dean had a virtual ringside seat and got to taste six of the best Yarra Valley Chardonnay, that reflect today’s more balanced, contemporary style.
“It’s an absolute joy to be involved in this. It’s one of, or maybe the best food and wine pairing competitions there is in the UK.” High praise indeed, but that’s how respected wine critic and broadcaster, Sarah Jane Evans MW, describes the international Copa Jerez Competition which has seen the chef and sommelier team from The River Café win the UK heat and go towards the grand final in Jerez later this year. Here Evans and fellow judge Matthieu Longuère MS describe how the competition works and you can look to make and enjoy the winning three course menu and sherry pairings for yourself.
A wine that costs £11 and has won the Tre Bicchieri award six times – sound too good to be true? That’s what Geoffrey Dean thought until he tried the Nero d’Avola Cartagho from Mandrarossa in a 6-strong wine tasting. A collaboration between Alberto Antonini, Mimmo De Gregorio and Pedro Parra, this Sicilian estate is just about to open its own winery 22 years after its first wine, as it moves from its cooperative origins to a wine producer focussed on single-site cuvées.
In just under 40 years the number of wineries in Washington State has risen from 20 to over 1000, with another four new wineries opening every month. The region now has 16 AVAs with three more in the pipeline which is resulting in new terroir and opportunities for winemakers, argues Justin Keay. Although Cabernet Sauvignon is still king here, white grapes are increasingly important, and new styles of winemaking are evident that is seeing a movement away from high levels of oak, tannin and alcohol.
Now the on-trade is back open again, albeit with the handbrake on held back by social distancing rules and rule of six, on-trade operators and their drinks suppliers can actually put hard plans in place to attract and keep customers in their outlets. Here we examine the latest findings from KAM Media and Zonal on what bars, pubs and restaurants are going to have to do to appeal to the switched on, digitally driven, happy at home consumer.
The People’s Choice Drinks Awards are back with news that for its 2022 competition it is splitting out its wine and spirits awards into separate events to allow each to have the spotlight they deserve as they continue to grow and add more categories. The event has also introduced a new ‘Find My Wines’ search function on the site which allows consumers and the trade alike to search through past winners and shortlisted wines to find the most suitable wine for a particular drinking occasion or need. Here awards founder Janet Harrison explains why the changes are being introduced and why she is looking forward to bringing consumers and trade judges back together in person again for this year’s events.
Champagnes from the solar year of 2012 are open, accessible and approachable and the new Dom Pérignon Vintage 2012 is no exception. At yesterday’s launch, Dom Pérignon’s cellar master Vincent Chaperon explained how the quality of the harvest throughout the region allowed him and his team to create a Champagne which shows real contrasts in the blending. And this was despite the difficulties of the winter temperatures, frost and Spring hail. Peter Dean has an audience with Chaperon and tastes the new wine.
Anyone who has ever put on a wine tasting or drinks exhibition will have had sleepless nights that no buyers actually turn up. That was actually the case for Pascal Fernand when he first started what has gone on to become the successful APVSA – Association for the Promotion of Wines and Spirits in North America. Here he shares the story of how he built the organisation event by event, one grower and buyer at a time, to the point where it is now hosting events all over Canada and the US including a new series of virtual fairs during Covid-19 and what he has in store for the upcoming digital wine and spirits fair being held between June 28-30 which he hopes will attract buyers from all over the world.
When Edetària’s estate blend achieved the top of the classification pyramid in Spain, last January, it was a sign that Catalonia’s DO Terra Alta was at last getting the highest recognition for its wines. This oft-forgotten corner of Spain is a treasure trove of winemaker-led, smaller operations, focused on quality, narrative and terroir, as Ines Salpico discovered when she tasted six of the region’s benchmark wines from LaFou, Edetària, Josep Vicens, Altavins, Heréncia Altés, and Xavier Clua.
It’s been a rollercoaster 15 months for any drinks business, but few have been hit, pulled, stretched, and then literally brought back from the dead like Jascots Wine Merchants. A business that pre-Covid-19 had a successful business model as a 100% dedicated on-trade supplier. A strategy that was ripped up from under its feet once the pandemic struck. Managing partner, Miles MacInnes, explains in candid detail just how close it came to going to the wall, and how it has been transformed in a matter of months under the ownership of Freixenet Copestick.
LM Archer reports from Oregon Wine Month in which seven top producers from Willamette Valley Yamhill-Carlton AVA compare Pinot Noirs from three vintages: 2014, 2015 and 2018 – sharing the lessons learned and how they coped with the weather. Winemakers included Adam Campbell of Elk Cove Vineyards, Lynn Penner-Ash of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Ken Wright of Ken Wright Cellars, Brian O’Donnell of Belle Pente Vineyard & Winery, Jay McDonald of EIEIO & Company Wines, Jessica Mozeico of Et FilleWine, and Tony Rynders from Tendril Wine Cellars.
It was Sod’s Law that Tim Atkin MW had to taste the Argentina 2019 vintage in Wimbledon rather than in the country itself. 2019, a “cool, elegant and historic” vintage in Atkin’s words, had been heralded as potentially the greatest ever, and so it proved. Not only was the long, cool harvest conditions perfect for making stand-out wines, but the weather complemented the brighter, fresher styles that many of the best bodegas are producing these days. Atkin lists the top 10 wines from 2019 that he would have on his wine list, as well as explains his thinking behind awarding a wine in South America a 100-point score for the very first time.
Entering any drinks competition is ultimately about trying to win a Gold medal for your brand, but to be then told that your product is not just of gold standard but the best out of all other products entered in your category from around the world really is something else. It means the team at Ramsbury Brewery & Distillery are still reeling from being named Best Spirit of the Year in the 2021 London Spirits Competition for its Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka.
Vaccines are boosting wine drinker’s confidence to go out eating and drinking again, but Harry Crowther questions whether all operators are playing up to that confidence in the wine ranges and choices they are offering. Here in his latest article looking at how best to train your staff with the most relevant on-trade wine skills he calls on restaurants and bars to be braver in the wine lists they are offering and makes the case for why now is the ideal time to introduce more diverse and adventurous wine lists.
Since taking over as winemaker at Viña San Pedro’s Cachapoal valley winery, and placed in charge of the estate’s fine wine Altair, Gabriel Mustakis has been focusing on the estate’s unique terroir, and changing vineyard management and winemaking to suit – all the while taming the natural ripeness of the Cabernet Sauvignon, and bringing greater freshness and complexity to the wine. Altair 2018 has had an image facelift to reflect these changes and the wine’s stylistic change was clearly evident when tasting the new vintage alongside two wines from the winery’s past.