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    Margaret River
    Insight
    Vignoble and Biodiversité

    French pesticides U-turn an upset at second Vignoble & Biodiversité

    The concessions made to demonstrating French farmers over ‘green regulations’ was a setback for biodiversity but a timely reminder during the second Vignoble & Biodiversité conference, of the need for strength in adversity. The French government backtracking on its Ecophyto programme which would have massively reduced the use of pesticides in French agriculture coincided with the conference getting underway in Avignon. Ben Bernheim was there for The Buyer to hear why biodiversity matters, particularly in viticulture, and what is being done in the field to promote it.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2021

    Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2021: nature shows who’s boss

    Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2021 is a magical set of wines of great beauty and a look back over the shoulder at the style of past decades before the power of the sun became such an issue. The weather was cruel, however, with the yields the lowest for 50 years – Corton and Montrachet down to just 10% of production – although that is not apparent in the wines. Peter Dean heard from DRC’s co-directors Perrine Fenal and Bertrand de Villaine about the soul-searching the team experienced during the April frosts and their use of ‘candles’ for the first time and tastes through the wines at Corney & Barrow, DRC’s UK distributor.

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    Insight
    Yiannis Karakasis mw

    Yiannis Karakasis MW celebrates Greek wines in his new report 

    “Greek wine has come a long way over the past years. I believe that in today’s rapidly evolving global wine scene, an annually updated Greek wine report has become indispensable.” Which is why Yiannis Karakasis MW has pulled together arguably the most comprehensive guide to Greek wines in his new 116 page report – Greek Wine Explained. Here he sets out why he thinks Greek wines deserve their place in the premium and fine wine market and what to expect in his new report. 

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    Insight
    Coravin

    Coravin – not just for wine but sake, sherry, juices & no/lo

    For 10 years Coravin has allowed ‘accessed’ wine to have a life above and beyond the limitations of its closure – whether that be cork or skrewcap. Since inventor and founder Greg Lambrecht introduced us to his revolutionary gadget quarter of a billion glasses of wine have been served with Coravin and extensions been developed for sparkling wines, Vinolok closures and 100ml sample bottles. Lambrecht was in London to show how the device can also be used for No/Lo, fruit juice and fortified wines – and put Victoria Sharples’ tasting to the test with a 15 year-old bottle of Barolo that has been ‘accessed’ multiple times over the past decade.

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    People
    Kylie Minogue and TV wine criti Helen McGinn at the recent Annabel's anniversary party

    Wine’s Helen McGinn on what it takes to be a best-selling novelist

    “It’s like doing a massive jigsaw puzzle, it’s frustrating at times but once completed it feels amazing.” That’s how Helen McGinn, wine buyer turned novelist, describes the experience of starting with a blank piece of paper and turning it into, hopefully, a best-selling novel. With her fourth book about to be published she explains the process she goes through of bringing an idea for a story to life and then committing it to page.  She also gives a behind the scenes insight into her other career as a television wine pundit on BBC’s Saturday Morning Kitchen. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Oddbird

    How Oddbird alcohol-free wines are revolutionising no/lo market

    “Would you like your wine with or without alcohol?” is a glimpse into the future of selling wine in a restaurant, afforded by Oddbird. The latest entrant into the alcohol-free wine market, Oddbird wines have been made possible by an unique process of vacuum distillation which aims to keep the wine’s provenance and varietal obvious to the customer – at the same time as removing the alcohol. David Kermode gave Oddbird the taste test in one of London’s hottest new restaurants, Apricity.

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    Awards
    Chelsie Bailey London Comp

    Brand ambassadors take London Competitions to next level

    The London Competitions for Beers, Wines and Spirits has introduced a new global ambassador programme where it is giving leading sommeliers and wine buyers around the world the chance to help promote the awards in their respective countries whilst also sharing their experiences of what drinks trends are driving their local markets and how medal winners in the London Competitions can look to target local listings. As the clock ticks down for entries into the 2024 London Competitions (February 22) we feature three of the ambassadors based in Bangkok, the UAE and the UK.  

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    debates
    vinho verde

    Buyers’ Debate: Top merchants on Vinho Verde’s huge potential  

    “You really have to come to the region to immerse yourself. I will go back to the UK and  evangelise about the complexity and diversity of the region’s wines.” That’s how Del Crookes co-founder of Kerno Wines in Cornwall describes the experience he shared with a small group of fellow wine buyers and independent wine merchants during a trip to Portugal’s Vinho Verde, co-hosted by The Buyer and the region’s governing wine body, the Vinho Verde Wine Commission.  It was an opportunity for them to see first hand the diversity of the wines now being made in Vinho Verde and discover both its white and red wine styles which Marianna Sivalli, operations manager at Vinoteca described as “a revelation”. The Buyer’s David Kermode was also on hand to help chair a filmed panel discussion between the merchants and Dora Simōes, president of the Vinho Verde Wine Commission, and explore the opportunities for Vinho Verde wines in the premium on and off-trade. 

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    People
    Frescobaldi

    Lamberto Frescobaldi on the strategy of Italy’s wine dynasty

    In order to get to the crux of the Frescobaldi family’s winemaking strategy, Justin Keay compares this great Italian dynasty’s philosophy with that of the Antinori family. He looks at how the two families’ approaches to winemaking have changed over the years and talks to Lamberto Frescobaldi about recent estate acquisitions, choice of grape varieties and the importance of Tuscany to Frescobaldi’s output. Keay also picks out five Frescobaldi wines that need to be on your wine list.

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    People: Producer
    Gérard Bertrand

    Gérard Bertrand, a winter pruning celebration and Vanina the mule

    Pruning 4 million vines across 2,420 acres is the task set for the vignerons at Gérard Bertrand’s Languedoc empire. We travel to the city of Narbonne to see how they do it with the aid of seven mules, get the lowdown behind the world’s most expensive rosé and hear from the man himself, both his philosophy of winemaking and also why he had to tell rugby legend Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa, aka ‘The Beast’ to stop calling him on the phone.

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    Insight
    varaison students

    Veraison: wine training can help next generation of on-trade staff

    “There is a whole generation of people working in hospitality who grew up through Covid and don’t have that ‘pub or going out culture’…We cannot continue to assume knowledge that just isn’t there.” That’s how Bob Davidson puts into context the work that Veraison, the wine training arm of Berkmann Wine Cellars, is doing to help connect with the new and next generation of hospitality staff that the on-trade is going to rely on to make the most of the wine category in restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels. Here Jonathan Caswell talks to Davidson about the work it is doing and what impact it hopes to make. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    MMD

    Faiveley, Billaud-Simon & Delas Frères at MMD’s 2022 EP tasting

    Timing is everything with en primeur which is why MMD decided to host a ‘sneak peek’ tasting of three of its prestigious agencies at the tail end of last year – Domaine Faiveley, Billaud-Simon and Rhône’s Delas Frères from the much-lauded 2022 vintage were on show at London’s Carousel restaurant. Victor Smart, polished his tasting glass and went along for the ride.

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    Awards
    iwsc in georgia main

    IWSC in Georgia: judges blown away by the quality of wines

    “There’s been a huge step forward in the top end wines and we have found some absolutely world class examples – the improvement over the last decade has been really quite remarkable.” That was the assessment of Alistair Cooper MW who headed up the judging panel of UK wine professionals to travel to Georgia and put its wines through the rigorous IWSC judging process. Fellow judge, David Kermode, reports back on what was a breakthrough trip for the quality of Georgian wines, and a chance to see how far Georgian wines have come in recent years. 

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    People People: Supplier
    vin tasting

    Top importers: what to expect at London’s VIN French wine tasting

    With the Six Nations rugby kicking off this weekend it is good timing to welcome the French wine community to London on February 1 with the return of Business France’s VIN tasting and the chance for UK wine buyers, merchants, importers and sommeliers to meet and taste wines from across 10 regions of France, featuring over 40 producers and covering 45 plus AOCs. To help set the scene we talk to the four UK importers who are also taking part in the event about what they hope VIN can achieve and why they are taking part.  

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    Sommelier
    Arnese

    Vincenzo Arnese’s formula for NoLo pairings at Raffles London

    Vincenzo Arnese took on the role of director of wine at Raffles London at the OWO in 2023, curating the wine list for the renowned Michelin-starred chef Mauro Colagreco. With numerous accolades, including Taittinger’s UK Sommelier of the Year in 2022, Arnese and his team orchestrate an impressive wine-pairing tasting menu at the restaurant, seamlessly integrating wine, vermouth, and sake. What adds to the allure is the team’s exceptional non-alcoholic pairing. Leona De Pasquale speaks with Arnese to delve into the intricacies of the thought process behind these remarkable pairings.

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    Insight
    Being known as the easiest and most seamless wine supplier work with as a key point of difference for Jascots, says Miles Platt

    Miles Platt on trying to make Jascots the ‘easiest’ wine supplier

    If there is one business lesson anyone wanting to forge a long term career in the wine industry needs to learn is don’t burn your bridges when you move on from a particular role. It’s an adage Miles Platt can certainly attest to having twice worked for Bibendum in his career, and now Jascots Wine Merchants having recently returned to lead the business as part of his wider role as head of on-trade for its parent business, Freixenet Copestick. He explains to Richard Siddle why he is delighted to be back heading up a business with a clear goal of doubling Jascot’s current size of around £10m turnover to £20m in the coming years. To do that he wants Jascots to be the “easiest and most seamless” wine supplier to work with in the premium on and off-trade. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Tedeschi

    Geoffrey Dean on enduring vision of Veneto’s Tedeschi family

    Since the early Seventeenth Century the Tedeschi family has been making wines that showcase the unique terroir of northern Italy’s Veneto wine region. Although it produces a wide range of wines, Tedeschi is most famous for its Amarone della Valpolicella, produced using the traditional appassimento method. A winery committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly winemaking practices, Sabrina Tedeschi was in London to host a lunch, explain the estate’s vision for making single vineyard wines and allow The Buyer’s Geoffrey Dean to taste through and recommend his favourite wines.

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    People: Producer
    Sicily

    Best of new Sicily: Montecarrubo, Planeta, Feudo Maccari & Giasira

    Most wine buyers know that Sicily is one of the most exciting wine regions in Italy right now. If they don’t they should, argues Geoffrey Dean who visits Montecarrubo, Planeta, Feudo Maccari, Giasira and Zisola to discover a range of exciting wines, 10 of which he highlights for your list. Whilst in Sicily Dean meets up with wine aristocracy in the form of Peter Vinding-Diers and Alessio Planeta who was named winemaker of 2023 by Wine Enthusiast.

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    Insight
    Screenshot 2024-01-24 at 13.47.15

    How Punch Pubs supports staff and Licensed Trade Charity

    Punch Pubs & Co has long supported the Licensed Trade Charity (LTC) and its work to help head office employees and publicans, both past and present, and those working across the on-trade who have fallen on hard times. Laura Cavendish, Punch’s HR director, explains to Helen Arnold why the company is such an advocate for the charity, and how this aligns with its HR and ESG strategies. She also sets out the various ways in which Punch works with the LTC to help promote its work and the services it provides. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bottega

    How Bottega proves quality Prosecco can stand test of time

    Smart wine buyers know that you don’t always have to splash the cash to get great quality wine – one of the points that Bottega Prosecco attempted to prove with a 10-vintage vertical of its Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOC cuvée in a masterclass led by Susan Hulme MW. Victor Smart was The Buyer’s man at the tasting, who also sampled Bottega Gold and a fascinating new wine called Bottega Ancestral

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