Compared to the finest crus of Burgundy by some of the world’s leading wine critics, Querciabella’s Batàr is no ordinary white wine from Tuscany. Celebrating its 30th year with the 2018 vintage, this is a Pinot Bianco/ Chardonnay blend that has an almost uncanny ability to age. To prove the point and to launch the new vintage, winemaker Manfred Ing lined up a once-in-a-lifetime vertical for David Kermode, including the very first vintage – 1998 – that Kermode describes as a ‘miracle’.
“Barley forward, Téireoir-driven whisky” is not your usual descriptor you come across on a bottle of premium whisky, but it also stands more as a mission statement, or a way of life for the whisky team at Waterford, one of the mostly highly regarded of the growing number of elite Irish distillers that are shaking up not only the Irish spirits market but premium whisky as a whole. Richard Siddle talks to its charismatic head distiller, Ned Gahan, about exactly what it means by “téireoir-driven whisky”.
As most UK-based importers expand their portfolios this year, one company is defiantly swimming against the tide by only offering on and off-trade customers one estate per country or region represented. The approach by Cardiff-based Fine Wines Direct UK means that it can import in bulk, offering customers competitive prices and good stock availability. For the wine producers it also means that their wines do not have to compete against other wines from the same region. But what of the selection and the wines themselves? Justin Keay tasted through part of the range which includes Pesquera, Marqués des Cáceres, Carrau, Allan Scott, Thorn-Clarke and Escorihuela Gascon.
For all the innovation there might be on back bars and on retailers shelves things have stayed pretty much the same in the way wines, spirits and beers are judged and awarded medals. With blind tastings and products assessed on quality being the way to go. That was until the end of 2017 when the London Drinks Competitions were introduced – with separate awards for London Wine, London Spirits and London Beers – by the Beverage Trade Network which announced it was going to awards its medals based on the quality of the drinks, its value for money and what it looks like in terms of packaging and design. Four years on we talk to the competitions founder Sid Patel about how and why he came up with the awards and his plans for keeping them different from the competition.
“So let’s get this straight. 1: I pick the fruit – grapes for wine, apples for cider. 2: I crush the fruit. 3: I ferment the juice – grape juice for wine, apple juice for cider. What’s the difference between wine and cider so far? Nothing. Flavour, yes. Philosophy, no.” That’s Oz Clarke making the case for why cider should be treated with much more respect as a drinks category in its own right. Which is why Alistair Morrell, head of Cider is Wine, is so pleased to see cider as a key part of the IWSC’s Back to School tasting aimed at giving wine students and the trade the opportunity to discover and taste off beat wines, ciders and drinks styles from all over the world.
Enotria & Coe’s Decameron tasting was the first of the major importer tastings this autumn and it was packed to the rafters with exciting new wines and spirits, producers eager to get back into the fold, and 1200 buyers keen to do business and hear about E&C’s spectacular Christmas peak sales levels. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, sampled the new lines and picks out a Top 10 that caught his eye, as well as talks to managing director Sam Thackeray about the company’s current triumphs and challenges.
Enter into any debate around digital, e-commerce and direct to commerce and one of the buzzwords and terms that everyone quickly refers to is “content” – and the need not just to have it, but to have a lot of it. But what exactly do people mean by “content” when it comes to online retailing and running a website? That was the topic in question for our panel of “content creators” as part of One Step Beyond webinar, hosted by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, held earlier in the summer. Richard Siddle, who helped chair the discussion, analyses what we can all learn from producing good content and what impact it can have on your direct drinks sales.
José Moro, at Ribera del Duero’s Bodegas Emilio Moro, is the first winemaker to have been picked as one of the top 100 global business leaders in the field of innovation and creativity by Forbes Spain. His latest project, Sensing4Farming, developed hand-in-hand with Vodafone, is aimed at creating a high quality sustainable vineyard that can be managed completely digitally. And yet his wines also have tradition at their core – fine Tempranillo that speaks of the land from which it comes. Geoffrey Dean reports.
“Buying into a brand that ‘gives back’ is a powerful thing. A key element to a modern, profitable wine list now needs to be seeking out this type of producer.” So says Harry Crowther who believes restaurants and bars should be thinking about putting truly sustainable wines on their lists, even in favour of organic wines, as consumers are now far more interested in ‘buying into’ brands that are putting sustainability first which makes them feel good to support them.
The Nahe is one of Germany’s smallest wine regions featuring just nine producers but, with Donnhoff and Emrich-Schönleber amongst them, it includes some of the country’s best sites for making Riesling. Peter Dean tastes and rates a range of wines from Emrich-Schönleber including four dry style wines, a Kabinett and an Auslese, and talks to owner/ winemaker Frank Schönleber about achieving a delicate sense of balance in his wines.
Drinks trends come and go but there appears to be one constant in the drinks industry that for producers, brands, retailers and bars alike is the gift that keeps on giving – premiumisation. Whether it is a tequila shot, a glass of malt whisky, a Provence rosé, a crafted world beer, we are all seemingly willing to pay that little bit extra. Providing we think it is worth it. And there’s the rub. The rush to premiumise the drinks category means you have to know what you are doing to convince trade buyers and consumers to trade up, argues Richard Siddle.
Grafenegg 2021 was the Austrian wine industry’s single vineyard summit – an opportunity to taste the new 2020 vintage alongside the monumental 2019s – but because annual conference VieVinum did not happen again this year it was also a chance to catch up with some other more far reaching developments. David Kermode talks with producer body the ÖTW to find out about how its recent classification system is working and what’s happening with Wachau, he also manages to toast 850 years of Schloss Gobelsburg, visit its new cellars and taste some of its sumptuous library of wines.
Mateja Gravner and her son Gregor have taken over the running of the Gravner estate, split across Italy’s Northeastern border with Slovenia, after the tragic death of her brother 12 years ago. Mateja’s father Josko is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of Orange wine in Western winemaking, continuing the Collio/Brda tradition of skin contact Ribolla wines, and pushing it further with months-long macerations, fermenting in qvevri, biodynamic viticulture and, most recently, with a total conversion to whole bunch fermentation in 2017. Mateja spoke to the Buyer in the summer about how she has been coping during the pandemic.
This year’s Poppy Appeal to help raise funds for the Royal British Legion and those in the Armed Forces in the need of support has even more significance than normal as it marks the 100 year centenary from when the Legion was first founded. To help mark the occasion, and to raise money, The Royal British Legion has teamed up with Eminent Wines and Champagne Jacober to blend three limited edition Champagnes that are being released to the trade and to the public. Here’s how you can get involved in the centenary and supporting the new Champagnes.
Accessing aged, top end Bordeaux by the bottle, direct from the châteaux cellars at competitive market prices – Bibendum’s new Bordeaux Project solves many age-old problems for the on-trade, particularly around cash flow. For the châteaux it means a more direct relationship with the end consumer and increased listings in top restaurants. Mike Turner talks to Bordeaux-based negociant Pierre-Antoine Mairet from Compagnie Medocaine, Bibendum’s head of fine wine, Omar Raafat, and its head of Bordeaux sales Robert Mathias to discover how the project works.
2017 Barolo, 2018 Barbaresco & Langhe Nebbiolo from a selection of vintages were the focus of an outstanding tasting last week at Westminster’s Church House writes Chris Wilson. In a week when many questioned how safe some of the larger portfolio tastings were being run, this one was impeccable in both its safety protocols and also its mix of producers from the well known dons of the region to lesser known estates. In addition Wilson picks his top 10 wines from the region to have on your radar.
Ahead of the third One Step Beyond free webinar on October 13 we look back at some of the highlights from the second session earlier in the summer where our panel experts from the worlds of consumer insights, technology and innovation looked at some of the lessons we can take from lockdown and see how they might now be applied in our businesses and personal lives. Here we look at the world of wine through the creative eyes of Dan Cullen-Shute, co-founder of Creature London, that claims to “make game-changing advertising that real people can’t help but care about” and why he thinks the wine industry’s. most powerful and profitable customers are the people who drink wine, but don’t think twice about it. Attract their attention, he says, and half your battle is won.
In part two of our buyers’ debate on premium Italian wine in partnership with Banfi we turn the focus on two of Italy’s stars of its famous fine wines: Brunello and Super Tuscans. Just where do these bastions of wine styles now sit in the minds of buyers looking for fruit forward, fresh, approachable wines? What styes of Brunello are buyers looking to list? Are Super Tuscans enjoying a new lease of life as other fine wine styles price themselves off wine lists? Richard Siddle hosts and writes up the second part of our in-depth report.
Bancroft Wines may have added 60 new producers and increased by a third the amount of wines it represents, but it was the trimmed-down approach of its Snapshot tastings that appealed to Mike Turner. By pre-selecting wines that suit the region Turner, a Bancroft customer, felt that everything on show was suitable and the amount of wines to taste on the day of manageable proportions. He travelled to Edinburgh, one of three tastings Bancroft held, and picks for us nine wines that are either great value, worth a punt or an absolute stand-out.
2016 was generally regarded as one of the greatest modern vintages of Barolo and was always going to be a hard act to follow. But the 2017 Barolos from Mauro Veglio are still delivering an immense amount of pleasure, argues Geoffrey Dean, who hears first hand from the estate’s Alessandro Veglio how the winery is using them to spearhead a greater presence in the UK on-trade.