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    People People: Producer
    kevin white

    Washington State’s Kevin White and his ‘unsung hero’ winemaker story

    Washington State might be a long way from the Rhône Valley, but winemaker Kevin White is doing all he can to bring it as close to what he sees as being his inspiration for making wine. Which is why on his property he only grows and makes wine with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre and when he does it is very much a minimalist approach as he wants the fruit to shine rather than anything he does in the winery. You can taste his wines for yourself at next month’s Washington State Wine tasting.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bollinger LGA 2012 Launch - Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver

    How Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 is the true heart of creaminess

    It is a year since Champagne Bollinger launched the monumental La Grande Année 2008 and between that vintage and La Grande Année 2012 it has bottled no other La Grande Année wines. The 2012 more than lives up to expectations, Anne Krebiehl MW writes, with the 2012s being hedonistic from the get-go in contrast to the 2008’s understated appeal. Iconic English St JOHN Restaurant was chosen for the UK launch because of its focus on craft, simplicity and the essence of ingredients – key tenets shared with Bollinger and the construction of these stunning wines.

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    Opinion
    jack merrylees

    What it’s like to be? Jack Merrylees on running Majestic Wine’s PR

    “It’s not a career I ever sat down and chose, but it’s certainly a unique and exciting one to have ended up in. Particularly as I started out as a van driver in Majestic Swindon.” Now that could be a sentence to introduce any number of people in the wine trade, who have stumbled into the career they now have in wine. But this one belongs to Jack Merrylees who heads up the PR for Majestic Wine. Which is a job title that, as he explains, covers a lot of remits, from emptying spittoons at press tastings to handling urgent calls from the national press.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Davys 2

    How Davy’s is evolving in the right direction – even after 150 years

    To celebrate 150 years of business in the wine trade James Davy uncorked an 1870 Madeira and an 1870 Port at its Old World Portfolio Tasting. Treating on-trade, consumers and the wine bars as one integrated business unit is one of the secrets of its success, says Davy. But so is its portfolio that covers all bases, argues Justin Keay. Davy’s focuses on small, almost boutique producers and has an impressive 90% exclusivity on its wines. Keay focuses on three producers in particular that highlight the direction Davy’s is headed in.

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    Insight
    london wine comp judges all 19

    Top judges on why London Drinks Competitions is different

    Looking at the past winners is one indication of a competition’s value, but arguably so are its judges. Who are the people tasked with making the decisions about which drinks win an award? It’s why the three London drinks competitions, London Wine, London Beer and London Spirits – only works with managers, buyers, sommeliers and bartenders that are professionally working in retailers, bars, restaurants and pubs.

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    People People: Supplier
    helen mcginn holly

    Helen McGinn on the highs of being “The Knackered Mother”

    Ten years ago Helen McGinn sat down to write her first blog as her alias ‘The Knackered Mother’ with no more intention of it being something to share with her family and some close friends. A decade later she is publishing the second edition of her award-winning Knackered Mother’s Wine Guide, that did so much to transform what wine means to so many everyday drinkers – both mums and dads – and is able to look back on countless TV appearances, being a regular on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, and having a long-standing column in the Daily Mail. Here she shares the highs of what it’s like being Helen McGinn and the ‘Knackered Mother’ at the same time.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Vinora

    Vinora: searching for the world’s most exciting volcanic wines

    The volcanic heartland of Central France was the setting for Vinora, a 3-day wine fair and conference focused on celebrating the volcanic wines of the world – with particular emphasis on the wines of the Côtes d’Auvergne AOC and Puy-de-Dôme IGP. David Kermode travelled to Vulcania, a theme park near Clermont-Ferrand that hosted the event; hears from geologist Patrick Marcel and author John Szabo MS, attempting to shed some light on the link between volcanic terroir and what we experience in the wines; Kermode also picks 10 volcanic wines that ‘blew him away’.

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    Insight
    lanchester boutique alfonso

    ‘Boutique’ bulk helps Lanchester push sustainability to suppliers  

    If Lanchester Wines was ever invited onto a corporate version of Mastermind then bulk wines would have to be its specialist subject. Perhaps alongside sustainability. For thanks to its parent company, Lanchester Group, which also includes the specialist Greencfroft Bottling business, Lanchester Wines is at the forefront of buying, shipping and packing wines in the market where they are going to be sold. It’s even now created a new ’boutique’ market for bulk wine that is allowing it to work with and source smaller parcels of premium and more eclectic wines that can still be sent in bulk and bottled in the UK. Richard Siddle talks to Lanchester’s Mark Roberts and Lesley Cook about what makes boutique bulk potentially so exciting.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bancroft

    Bancroft Wines portfolio tasting – 30 years and still going strong

    Solid bankers for every wine list, some personal favourites and a couple of oddball wines for the wine geeks amongst us – Mike Turner picks his Top 10 wines from the Bancroft Wines 30th anniversary tasting. What was most surprising, though, was the amount of organic, biodynamic and vegan wines that Turner discovered on the list – 40% of all the wines were certified organic – and a long list of other sustainability initiatives.

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    Opinion
    Joe Fattorini h

    Joe Fattorini: we’ve had enough…it’s time to cut back wine duty

    “Last year Yasmeen, Cathy, Brian, Imran and Sean had a wine tasting in Coronation Street. That didn’t make it to the papers. Because today wine is part of everyday life for people in every corner of the UK. What did make the papers was when Coronation Street’s script writers mistakenly suggested a large glass of red would cost just £3.00. Viewers knew that was a real piece of fiction.” Joe Fattorini on typically blistering form as he makes a passionate case for a cut in wine duties in the Budget.

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    People: Supplier
    Italy's  most famous names are part of Armit's portfolio

    New strategy helps drive Armit’s Italian wines into the on-trade

    You don’t need to have been in the UK wine trade for very long to know that Armit Wines is synonymous with Italian wine. It has long been one of the country’s most important and passionate importers of Italian wine with an almost unsurpassable list of producers and contacts it works with the length and breadth of the country. With a new management team and strategy in place, Italian wines are going to be even more key to its future growth and success in the on-trade, says brand manager Alex Hill.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona

    “Honey, we’ve just been gifted a 220 hectare estate in Tuscany!”

    The Tuscan estate of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is producing some of the most renowned Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wines, along with a number of other wines using international varieties. Its top Brunello from the 2015 vintage has just been awarded 100 points by James Suckling and well it might – it’s a beauty. At its UK launch winemaker Paolo Bianchini showed off all of his new wines to a select group of wine buyers, alongside those of another classic Brunello vintage, 2010, as well as divulge the incredible-but-true story of how his family came to own this historic estate.

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    People People: Producer
    biondi santi estate

    Sangiovese RESET: celebrating Montalcino at Biondi-Santi

    With vines dating back to the 1930’s Biondi-Santi is one of the iconic Italian wineries and one of the most prestigious in the classic region of Montalcino. It’s also very much still in family hands that stretch right back to the mid 19th century. Here Tancredi Biondi-Santi, the latest generation to work with the estate’s famous vines, shares the history of the winery, but also looks ahead at the steps being taken to make it as relevant in the future as it has been for so many decades. You can meet him and taste their classic wines at the Sangiovese RESET tasting on March 3.

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    People People: Producer
    washington tyler Long Read

    How Kiona Wines is making unique wines in Washington

    If sommeliers bought as much Washington State wine as they say they like them, then the lists of most premium wine restaurants would be full of different styles from this distinctive and still fast growing US wine region. As it is there is still enormous potential for Washington to build distribution, both first with UK importers and then to the restaurant customers they supply. Ahead of the Washington State Wines tasting in London on March 10 we start a series of interviews with participating winemakers with Tyler Williams of Kiona Vineyards.

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    Insight
    Coronavirus

    Janet Wang: How the coronavirus is affecting wine trade in China

    As the international community struggles to contain the coronavirus, life in mainland China has changed beyond all recognition, writes Janet Wang. Social activities have dropped by 80-90% just after the Chinese New Year which, traditionally, is one of the most active periods for gathering and gifting. The impact on retail is colossal with Q1 being written off and a spate of bankruptcies predicted for Q2 as retailers try to cope with the stemming of cashflow. Wine trade professionals are estimating that 2020 will see a 20% downturn. But ‘Wei Ji’ the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is made up of two words meaning ‘danger’ and ‘opportunities’. Wang also looks at the impact the virus is already having on online and a new ‘contactless delivery’ business that has sprung into action.

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    Opinion
    Tenerife

    The Buyer on the Road: Journey to the centre of Tenerife

    First mentioned by the Bard, and shipped back to Blighty by the boatload in the 16th Century, the wines of Tenerife have long been admired for their quality and individuality. Geoffrey Dean went there to discover the island’s 6,500 hectares under own-rootstock vine, its dozen local grape varieties, five DOs, half a dozen wineries that are pushing the envelope, and tasted and recommends the wines that are worth seeking out. Dean also finds that wine tourism is alive and well, particularly in the European winter months.

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    People People: Producer
    sonia wines of portugal

    Wines of Portugal’s Sónia Vieira: UK’s key to our global strategy

    If you stop and ask a sommelier or a top wine buyer to pick out countries or regions where they are increasingly turning to both for interesting, eclectic wines, but also those that offer excellent value at all price points then time and again they will bring up the different regions of Portugal. What’s more it is also the local indigenous varieties that are becoming more popular with curious buyers. Which will be music to the ears of Sónia Vieira, marketing director of Wines of Portugal, who explains to Richard Siddle Wines of Portugal’s strategy to help grow Portuguese wines sales in the UK.

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    Tasting Tasting: Wine
    Furmint February

    Mike Turner: on-trade’s love affair with dry Furmint February

    As recently as the year 2000, a seminal wine was produced that marked a dramatic shift in one of the most famous wine regions of the world. Istvan Szepsy’s now legendary Úrágya dry furmint is widely regarded as the first time a winemaker from Tokaj took the idea of producing a dry white wine seriously, and came up with a special result. 20 years on, Mike Turner attended the launch of Furmint February, a trade initiative to promote these dry Furmints from across Hungary, to hear all about the rapid shift in thinking and production.

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    Insight
    vagabond battersea

    CGA & The Buyer Report: What Are The Next Big Things in Wine?

    OK before you read any further, it’s time to manage expectations. This report does not tell you what the next Prosecco or Pinot Grigio is going to be. But what it does do is provide the insight and the analysis into understanding the consumer and why wine sales in the on-trade were down a further 6% last year. It also explains in detail the steps needed to make wine less of a daunting drinks category for consumers to navigate and how the answer to reviving wine sales actually comes in how it is promoted, talked about, presented and served.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Louis Latour Agencies

    Meeting new faces & tasting new wines at Louis Latour Agencies

    Never one to sit on its laurels, Louis Latour Agencies has been busy adding new wineries to its 15-agency strong portfolio that includes many new vintages, cuvées and, in one case, winemaker. Particularly interesting was how Maison Louis Latour under the direction of Louis-Fabrice Latour is increasing its spread of Pinot Noir outside of core Burgundy territory – in Beaujolais, Coteaux de l’Auxois and Provence – and how these wines are getting better vintage by vintage. There were on-trade exclusives here as well as a brand new ‘natural’ Beaujolais from Henry Fessy.

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