When Giorgio Lungarotti passed away in 1999 he left his Umbrian winery in the capable hands of his wife Maria Grazia and their two daughters Chiara and Teresa. Together they have helped put Umbrian wine on the international wine map – but it has not been easy. Teresa was one of the first female oenologists in Italy while company CEO Chiara found that she was the only woman in the associations of which she was a member. Their style is individual and uncompromising and their wines, including the famous Rubesco, reflect the unique terroir of Umbria in all its power and elegance.
The big spirits brands do everything they can to catch our attention with their high profile, big budget advertising campaigns. But what really counts is what the top bar staff, bartenders and owners think are the best brands to have on their lists. Which is what this list of the top scoring spirits voted for in the 2021 London Spirits Competition is all about. The brands that achieved the four highest scores – 96, 95, 94 and 93 – in an event only judged by professional bar staff.
Having just published An Opinionated Guide to London Pubs, with a second book – Modern British Beer – in the works, it’s safe to say Matthew Curtis knows a thing or two about what makes a good pub, and the kind of beer it should be selling. Fiona Holland talks to the freelance writer and photographer, who by day is busy putting together his drinks website, Pellicle, about what long term impact he sees Covid-19 having on the British pub and beer industries.
While recent fashion dictates that rosé is a wine that is only salmon pink and to be enjoyed al fresco, served from an ice bucket, the Tavel rosé wines are an altogether different beast. These are not for those looking for delicate aperitif rosés, but are more serious wines, preserving their heritage and just as happily paired with winter food as a summer salad. With skin contact ranging from 12 to a more traditional 72 hours, Tavel rosés have more colour, weight, structure, firm minerality and hint of tannin, compared to their Provencal counterparts. World rosé expert, Elizabeth Gabay MW, tastes a range of 30 Tavel rosé to highlight their different styles.
Today we profile the Top Gold Medal winning wines in the 2021 London Wine Competition that scored the three highest level points – 96, 95 and 94 – in this year’s event. These are the wines that stood out even within the Gold Medal class. Each wine in the competition is judged for its quality, its value for money and what they look like with their packaging and design, and are assessed by professional buyers with direct buying responsibility in their roles.
Australians have been trying to sell us beer for as long as Paul Hogan was in short trousers. But the 3 Ravens Brewery in Melbourne has a slightly different take on the beer scene than our friends at Foster’s. It is very much about capturing the irreverent Australian personality in its beers, but matching it with authentic, local ingredients that gives the brewery an ever changing range of quality, but quirky craft beers that have gone down a storm at home and now want to make it around the world, including the UK, explains general manager Nathan Liascos.
Bling gift boxes for luxury cuvées will be a thing of the past and Dom Ruinart is happy to be the first major Champagne house to ditch them in order to reduce carbon footprint, says chef de cave, Frédéric Panaïotis; “The time for action is now.” Speaking at the 50th anniversary launch of Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009, the morning after the devastating April frost, Panaïotis wants consumers to understand the effect climate change is having on the future of the region as well as how it affects the style of the Champagne they are drinking. A deep dive into the 2009 vintage, and the decisions he and his team have to make during increasingly early harvests made for enlightening and sobering listening. Peter Dean had an audience and tastes and rates the new cuvée in full.
Even a business as seemingly entrenched and successful as Origin Wine, one of the world’s most respected and successful wine producers, making wine in South Africa and South America and creating brands that sell the world over, has had to take serious action in the last 12 months to respond to the challenges thrown down by Covid-19. A key part of that response has been working with experienced winemaker and consultant, Clem Yates MW, on developing bespoke blends and wines for customers when buyers have been unable to travel, as Richard Siddle reports.
The second Cape Fine & Rare Auction takes place on May 22 with a 200-year old bottle of sweet Muscat de Frontignan hogging all the headlines. But it is not just Groot Constantia’s bottle of Grand Constance 1821 that makes this year’s event worth registering for. A new tasting panel, a new set of criteria and overall set-up has ensured that the range of wines on offer and the quality level has never been higher. Geoffrey Dean talked to leading South African wine critic Michael Fridjhon,
Cathy van Zyl MW and François Rautenbach about why wine buyers should tune in this year, what’s on offer and how the auction delivers a captivating slice of South Arica’s continually evolving wine history.
We might not have physically gone very far in the last year, but as people and as consumers we are all very different in what we want and expect from our favourite brands and businesses than we did before March 2020. Just how far we have changed was at the heart of the first One Step Beyond webinar for 2021, organised by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, that attracted delegates from 24 countries around the world. In the first write up from the event Richard Siddle looks at the big changes in consumer behaviour that Alex Ririe, director of The Collaborators, the brand consultancy business, thinks we need to be on top off coming out of lockdown.
To many, Donnafugata is a byword for Sicilian wine, such is the company’s reach and influence. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year the company has 410 hectares of vines spread across five estates on Sicily, all with their own vinification and ageing facilities, and all producing wines with a mix of international and indigenous varieties. To highlight the wines from their most recently established winery on Etna, brother and sister owners, Antonio and José Rallo held a tasting to show the 2018 vintage, along with the spectacular work they are doing in their single vineyard sites.
There is something very different about this new Formula 1 season. For a start Lewis Hamilton looks like he is going to have to work a lot harder to keep himself at the front of the grid, and if he ends up sharing more podiums with Max Verstappen then they will be celebrating with bottles of Ferrari Trento thanks to a new sponsorship deal signed by the Italian sparkling wine company. We talk to president and chief executive, Matteo Lunelli, about how this illustrious deal came together and how they hope to capitalise on it.
“Earthy, woody, mystical, intriguing and endless.” No it’s not a line from the start of a chapter in Lord of the Rings but how Dutch spirits company, De Kuyper Royal Distillers, describes its award winning Muyu Vetiver Gris liqueur that was named the best designed and packaged product to be entered into the 2021 London Spirits Competition. Here’s the back story to a brand that has not just caught the attention of the competition’s judges but bartenders across the world.
“When you think of representation, all it takes is seeing one person that looks like you doing something that you never thought was possible, to really start believing in your own potential.” This is how Jamele Favorite describes what it has been like for him to join Wine Unify, the US organisation that has been set up to give a voice to diversity in the wine industry and support racial and ethnic minorities get a foothold in the sector though education and mentoring. Here in a new series, in partnership with Wine Unify, The Buyer talks to Favorite about his career in wine and how his Music in the Bottle podcast is doing far more than give him a voice, but share his personality, love of wine – music and black culture – to a growing audience.
“It’s a fantastic accolade for a small family-owned winery in the Barossa to win on the world stage.” This is what it means for Australian winemaker Joanne Irvine to have been awarded the best overall wine in the 2021 London Wine Competition for her Levrier 2015 Anubis Barossa Cabernet. Here she explains the immediate response she has had to the news, with orders coming in from around the world, and what impact it has had on her and her small winery team.
To achieve a House style and avoid the vagaries of the sometimes inclement Hampshire weather, Exton Park’s new range of English Sparkling Wines owes more than a passing nod to Champagne. Exton Park RB, or Reserve Blend, is a range of three wines that are all non-vintage and made from up-to 32 different base wines. David Kermode had an audience with winemaker Corinne Seely to find out how she is aiming to make Exton Park “an English Bollinger” and to taste and rate the new wines.
“The opportunity for us in rum was trying to address why there is still plenty of opportunity in rum – a lot of people don’t understand it.” That’s the challenge that two former Chivas Regal executives, Patrick Venning and Laurent Lacassagne, set themselves when they decided to go it alone and set up their own micro craft business, the Brixton Distillery Company, and look to make their small, but significant mark on the still growing and innovating rum category. Jessica Broadbent heads to Brixton to hear their inspiring story.
La Jefa is a new 100% wood-fermented Malvasia from pre-phyloxerra vines in Toro. It is the latest wine in the Bodega Matsu portfolio (the wines that have close-up photos of farmers), a project that has been trying to prove that the Toro region can make wines of real finesse – and save 100+ year old vines in the process. Peter Dean attended the all-whistles-and-bells global launch of the wine, hears from CEO Richi Arambarri and chief winemaker Raul Ache, and tastes and rates La Jefa alongside the new vintages of the other three Matsu wines.
To an untrained eye a bar full of people is exactly that. Everyone there for the same reason. To have a drink and a good time. But to an experienced sommelier, bar manager or waiting staff team every customer is different and needs to be handled with care and a clear strategy on how to serve them, what drinks to suggest and how much information to give them. Knowing how to read your customers is one aspect of Harry Crowther’s new Grain to Grape training series designed to motivate all levels of on-trade sales teams.
Justin Keay has seen the future of real-life wine tastings and they should be hosted outside – weather and venue-permitting, of course. But they also need to be run as professionally as ‘French Spark’ was. This was a physical wine tasting held last week, hosted by Business France, which highlighted a range of French sparkling wines that have yet to find distribution in the UK. Keay discovered a 100% Petit Meslier (a rare white-skinned variety), an Aligoté/ Muscat blend from the Rhône plus plenty of Crémant de Bourgognes that were impressive as well as great value for money.