The news that Frog by Adam Handling has partnered up with Toku Sake this week, joining a growing list of premium on-trade accounts that are taking this new premium sake from Hokkaido, could not have been better timed. World Sake Day, which is being celebrated this weekend, is also the launch date for KANPAI, the UK’s first sake brewery which opens after its soft launch in London Bridge five days ago. Peter Dean talked with Toku’s newly-promoted COO Grace Hunt, tasted the liquid and wonders whether now is the time that the UK finally gets the premium sake bug.
There are only a couple of days left to get Super Early Bird entry rates for the 2023 London Wine, London Beer and London Spirits Competitions. Three separate events with a common goal. To identify, reward and then promote the wines, beers and spirits that consumers are most likely want to go out and buy. An awards programme that judges products on what they taste like, their quality, their value for money and what they look like. The winning combination for any successful drinks product. Here’s how to enter the 2023 competitions and take advantage of Super Early Bird Entry fees that close at the end of September.
Next month the Sherry Academy is supporting the trade with a special webinar aimed at giving wine professionals the chance to explore all styles of Sherry in an online tasting that will also act as an introduction to the free courses the CRDO Jerez hosts on the Sherry Academy online learning platform. The October tasting is also a chance for wine buyers, merchants, restaurants and wine educators to start to look ahead to the 10th anniversary of the official Sherry Week, which runs from November 6 to 12. Here’s what to expect at the Sherry Academy’s ‘Sherry 101: A Modern Guide & Interactive Tasting Experience’ on October 17.
Finding unique wines with a story to tell is the meat and drink of the on-trade. Few, though, are as good as Bibendum, argues Lisse Garnett, in unearthing idiosyncratic winemakers who like to push boundaries to the limit. To prove the point, the importer invited Garnett to visit one of the many jewels in its crown – the 13th Century estate of Alois Lageder, who is making biodynamic mountain wines in the fairytale world of Alto Adige, complete with Alpine cows in the vineyards and barrels of wine being played the music of Bach, from a wind-powered sound system no less.
Following the Australian rugby team’s humbling at the hands of the Welsh, it was a brave host at London’s Australia House last night that opened the door to Welsh ‘boi’ Roger Jones, still wearing his colours and a Cheshire cat-like grin from ear to ear – having hot-footed it from Lyon straight to the launch of Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines. This is one of Jones’ favourite nights of the year (when the Welsh aren’t playing) and here he explains why – picking out Jukes’ ability to award bouquets to entry level wines as much as ultra-premium.
“The consumer wants wine as their preferred alcoholic beverage. They just don’t know it.” That’s why Rob McMillan of the Silicon Valley Bank remains positive and optimistic about the future of the global wine industry despite the many challenges it faces. Here he shares his thoughts as the latest leading wine figure taking part in the Wine Future conference in Coimbra in Portugal in November.
With little in-depth knowledge of the wines of Chile, Justin Keay went along to the thin country’s annual generic tasting with an open mind and a set of pre-conceptions. Were the wines going to be power houses made with international grape varieties and produced in staggeringly high volumes? Not a bit. What Keay discovered was a wine scene that is clearly evolving, focusing more on regionality, freshness and tilting away from the old dependence on Bordeaux varieties; although it can still produce these very well indeed, especially at the premium end.
Ben Franks is “a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit, which defines those who subscribe to the motto ‘Follow your dreams’.” That’s how Angela Mount describes the steps that Ben Franks, chief executive and founder of multi-award winning Novel Wines, and specialist importer of south and East European wines, has already achieved in such a short period of time. As he announces he is to step away from Novel Wines in the new year to concentrate full time on the Canned Wine Co, which he also co-founded, as chief commercial officer, Mount catches up with him to see where his wine dreams are going to take him next.
The Loire has been back with a bang this summer with its first Bloom Big tasting at London’s Southwark Quarter in June to help showcase all the styles of wines now being made in this key French region. To help mark the occasion and better understand what it is buyers and leading wine figures are looking for from the Loire, The Buyer teamed up with the event’s organisers, Loire Valley Wines, to host a special panel debate that looked at the challenges and opportunities the region faces and how its wines can continue to lead the world in producing lighter, fresh styles of wine that are now so in demand by wine buyers and wine drinkers alike. Helen Arnold reports back and picks out the buyers’ and producers’ key comments.
The Rioja wine board took its 100kms of Diversity tasting tour around the UK this month to help educate the trade about new developments within the Rioja region but also as part of a ‘levelling up’ process. Janet Harrison, founder of the People’s Choice Wine Awards, caught up with the Rioja tour on its Manchester leg, talked to importers, producers and wine buyers there, and discovered that there is an increasing need to tap into a wider wine-buying community – not just one that is centred around London. Top of the agenda was taking the focus away from ageing (Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva etc) and being able to discuss Rioja’s ‘terroir driven wines’.
Inspired by tasting Michel Chapoutier’s biodynamic wine at ProWein in 2019, Ukrainian winemaker Ihor Petrenko set out to make his own biodynamic wines at the Biologist winery close to Kyiv. He has followed a hard but hugely rewarding winemaking journey since. His conversion to biodynamics is a story that is also the inspiration for this award winning article by Victoria Makarova in the biodynamics category in the WebWineWriting competition organised by Hungarianwine.eu. A story we are pleased to share for you on The Buyer.
The worlds of bulk, branded, packaged and own label wines and spirits are becoming ever entwined as buyers and producers alike look at ever more efficient and sustainable ways to do business with each. Which is why in November the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show is returning to London with a new sister event, the UK Trade Tasting focused on promoting branded wines and spirits. The Buyer talks to events organiser Sid Patel, chief executive of the Beverage Trade Network, about what he hopes the two combined events can offer the UK and European wine industries.
The first taste of a new vintage of Celebris is always a big occasion and the launch of Gosset Celebris 2012 did not disappoint. Gosset chose Ekstedt at the Yard in London for imaginative food-pairing, contrasting the wine served straight from the bottle and also from carafe. Who better to taste and rate for The Buyer than Roger Jones, an expert in Champagne and sparkling wine and also a one-time Michelin Star chef himself who, bowled over so much by one sauce served with the fizz, declared it the best fish sauce he had ever tasted.
The UK’s fascination with wines from Portugal continues to rise. With exports to the UK already growing in the first half of 2023 by a confident 18% in volume and an impressive 44% in value, Portuguese wines are clearly showing their qualities and no longer stuck with the historic reputation of cheap and cheerful and made to a price point. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner to the Wines of Portugal tasting earlier this month in London to find out why so many are keen to add Portuguese wines to their shelves and wine lists.
The 2023 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction that takes place on October 6, will be the 39th since the cream of the South African wine industry decided to club together and make special, one-off wines that showcase the depth and breadth of Cape wines to an international audience. To date the auctioned wines have become collectors treasures and have also showed up on the secondary auction scene. To give potential bidders the inside track on this year’s event, South African wine expert Roger Jones flew back from his Rugby World Cup antics to London to join CWG chair Gordon Newton Johnson and others for an exclusive tasting of 40 of this year’s top wines.
The world over winemakers are increasingly turning to the benefits of working with old vines helped enormously by the research, insights and leadership of initiatives like the Old Vine Project in South Africa and the Old Vine Conference. One of these winemaking pioneers is Derek Mossman Knapp and his Garage Wine Co in Maule in Southern Chile who is taking the old vine movement one step further by not just reviving old vineyards, but doing so in a way that ensures the local rural community also has a long term source of sustainable income. He explains to Richard Siddle why working hand-in-hand with old vines and local communities are ineluctably entwined.
It is one thing wanting to source wines from a particular target country or region, it can be quite the challenge to find the right producer with the right wines for your business and customers. Particularly when looking at a developing wine country for the first time. Like Greece. Here we talk to Antonis Sioulis, managing partner of Reco Exports, that specialises in putting Greek wine producers together with the right overseas partners, about its new bespoke service it hopes to offer UK importers and wine buyers in finding the right Greek producer for their needs.
UK wine drinkers have a distinct thirst for the sparkling wines of Italy. Whether from the juggernaut of Prosecco, the luxury of Franciacorta, or even the critically acclaimed Trento DOC, Italian bubbles are a seemingly permanent fixture on the wine lists or shelves up and down the country. The Buyer’s Mike Turner argues that Alta Langa DOCG, producing high quality sparkling wine from the famed hills of Piemonte, deserves to join in the fun. He visited Carlo Galliano at Borgo Maragliano to find out more about some of Italy’s oldest sparkling wines.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Distill Ventures. It is no exaggeration to call its inception, development and progress one of the more remarkable stories of the last 10 years in the drinks industry. Perhaps the reason it is remarkable is that at the heart of Distill Ventures you have a compelling idea: a partnership between non-corporate entrepreneurial minds and Diageo, the biggest drinks corporate of the lot; one side looking for funding to develop their ideas and create a brand – the other looking for the next big thing to fuel organic growth. And while a slow burn, there are signs of success. To assess how Distill Ventures builds on its first decade Adam Withrington sits down with its new chief executive, Heidi Dillon, who has been promoted after years with the business, to see what new drinks trends we can expect in the future.
A Col Fondo served straight from a 20-litre keg, in which the secondary fermentation took place, was one of the many highlights of the annual WineGB tasting that gave Justin Keay an opportunity to feel the pulse of the British wine industry. Producers are bullish, with more of them smiling now about the 2023 growing season after a warm September… and there are plenty of newcomers showing impressive wines, 10 of which Keay picks out to put on your buying radar.