There is quite a competitive set of wine regions that could compete to be both the most idyllic, but also the best at producing wine in the world. But with its combination of castles, towers and pretty villages, plus its spectacular range of white wines, serious Pinot Noirs and characterful Crémants, then Alsace would have to be one of the favourites. As we are currently not allowed to travel to see Alsace for ourselves, Les Vins d’Alsace has come up with its first DigiTasting® event that offers buyers the chance to meet producers online for one-to-one personal tastings, as well as pre-order samples to taste and take part in masterclasses and debates. Richard Siddle explains how it is going to work.
There’s nothing new about an April frost in France, but precocious ripening of vine buds earlier on in the growing cycle is becoming increasingly common due to global warming. Combined, the two have had a devastating effect on wine producers throughout France. From Bourgogne to the Sud de France, vine growers grapple with the catastrophic effects of this frost event which began on April 5 and lasted up to three days. LM Archer talks to winemakers through the country and gets a snapshot of how some of the major wine regions have been affected, as they count the cost.
There is a strong family – and female – bond at Château des Arras, which sits in Saint Gervais, just outside Bordeaux, as it is run by sisters Anne-Cécile and Marie-Caroline Rozier who have been in charge of winemaking since their mother, Claudine, took over the estate in 1993 following the death of their father and husband. Together all three now run a successful and organic independent winery, along with gites and bed and breakfast business. Richard Siddle talks to Anne Cécile and Marie-Caroline Rozier about their family and nature-driven winemaking philosophy.
Bodegas Roda is a relatively new estate in Rioja but one which has made waves ever since it came onto the scene in the 1990s. Like many of the top bodegas it has an individual approach to how it makes its wine and is not afraid to break the rules. Its super-premium Rioja, Cirsion, for example is aged in French wood for just eight months and made from a selection of very old vines from over 30 vineyards. On the launch of Cirsion 2018, Peter Dean had an audience with the team and tasted the new wine alongside vintages from 2010, 2009 and 2004 to assess its unique properties.
The fact so many of Corney & Barrow’s senior management team that have been with the business for some time has been a major plus during Covid-19 such has been the need to radically change the way it does business. Richard Siddle talks to Rebecca Palmer, associate director and head of commercial buying for the wine merchants, about what has been by far the most eventful 12 months in her 15 years with the business and how the team’s collective experience has been invaluable in first re-assessing what it needed to do and then, with all hands to the helm, go out and achieve it. It is also an opportunity for her to reflect on how her wine buying role has changed in her career and what she now sees as the key attributes and skills needed to be an effective, quality driven, but also highly commercially focused wine buyer in the UK wine industry.
Was it the endless confusion between Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-Fuissé that led Loire producer Pascal Jolivet to change the name of his Sauvignon Blanc to Blanc Fumé for the UK market? Or was it because Blanc Fumé is the more common term by which Sauvignon Blanc used to be known? Victor Smart hears first hand from Jolivet as well as tastes the new 2020 vintage of the wine alongside three older vintages (2013, 2018, 2019) of Jolivet’s premium Sancerre Blanc “Sauvage”.
The London Wine Competition does things differently from the majority of its competitors. It does not just award medals to wines and producers based purely on the quality of the wine – usually only tasted blind. It bases its medal winners using the same criteria as wine buyers and sommeliers do when choosing which wines to list. By quality and what it tastes like, its price point and whether it offers value for money, and what it looks like and whether its packaging and design matches the quality and value of the wine. Here are the results and winners of the 2021 London Wine Competition.
It’s time to raise a glass or two to all the medal winners in the 2021 London Spirits Competition, the only event of its type that rewards distillers and spirit brand owners for making products that tick all the boxes when it comes to how a professional bartender, or spirits drinker, decides which product to buy. By its quality, what it tastes like, how much it costs and what it looks like on a back bar.
The Austrian winegrowing region of Carnuntum hosted Explore Carnuntum, an online wine fair for importers and retailers from around Europe, in late March. Each estate in this small, quality-focused Austrian wine region, hosted its own one-hour online tasting, to present itself, its production, its focuses in export and distribution and its approach in the vineyards and cellar. A guided flight of six wines was shipped out in advance to each interested party with potential business ‘break-outs’ originating from those tastings. Lilla O’Connor, lately the UK head of Wines of Hungary, took part and tells us what it was like and what she discovered.
Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc is the wild garlic of the wine world. So says La Trompette’s head sommelier Donald Edwards who argues that both seem to be ‘one-note’ products that offer far more diversity than at first appears, and are only limited by how we approach them. Always one to take a new angle on wine, food and often radical wine pairings, we reproduce here another instalment of Donald’s excellent blog that looks at that most prolific of wild, free food – wild garlic.
Henners head winemaker Collette O’Leary says what keeps her awake at night is also one of the best things about the job: wondering what her wines are doing in their tanks. There is arguably no conventional route into English winemaking, but if there is, O’Leary didn’t take it. She started in corporate PR, but is much more content over in East Sussex making wines by the sea. Jessica Broadbent caught up with O’Leary about Henners’ exciting expansion and new branding, making wine with the French, and surviving the pandemic.
Canned wine is a genuinely exciting new format and the predictions are that this will be the year when finally there is a real breakthrough. It raises a number of issues against bottles, however: sustainability, parity of quality, image, role in restaurants and format size in general. So what has Mike Turner learned from 12 months of selling canned wines to consumers?
The best restaurants and bars don’t just pick their drinks supplier by the quality of their beers, wines and spirits. That’s a given. It is now increasingly all the extra added value support, insights and consultancy service that national suppliers in particular can provide that sets one operator apart from another. It’s where Bibendum has worked hand in hand with its customers to help them come out of lockdown in as strong a position as possible, as its senior management team explains to Richard Siddle in part two of The Buyer’s analysis of Bibendum’s lockdown performance.
It feels like just a few weeks ago that wine journalist Chris Wilson proposed setting up a new winery, Gutter & Stars, and suggested a monthly feature so that The Buyer could follow its progress. And already his first wine, ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ Bacchus 2020, is bottled and up for sale. In addition, Wilson has linked up with an urban brewer, making beer out of the fermented skins and is already thinking about this year’s harvest.
Each year, the E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Women Behind the Wine Educational Fund in collaboration with the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation awards 24 women in the wine trade an educational scholarship totalling $80,000. The scholarships, which will empower and support the professional development of the next generation of women in the wine industry are supported by an annual donation by E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Women Behind the Wine platform. Richard Siddle sat down with Florencia Gomez, the winner of the $10,000 Master of Wine Scholarship.
Normally the first quarter of the year sees Louis Latour Agencies show off its portfolio in the flesh, something that obviously could not happen this year because of Covid. So, instead, the importer enlisted the services of wine expert Oz Clarke to pick six innovative wines that he thinks are ‘unexpected’ and break away from the norm. The six innovative wines show off the pioneering side of Louis Latour – both as an eleventh generation wine producer in Burgundy – and the agencies for which it sells and distributes wines in the UK.
“We know where we have come from – and that’s serving the on-trade,” is how Nigel O’Sullivan, founder and managing director of Fine Wines Direct UK, sums up the last 12 months that has seen this almost exclusive Welsh on-trade distributor diversify into retail and e-commerce for the first time. For whatever new business it has been able to achieve, the company’s heart, soul and DNA lies in the on-trade. Here Richard Siddle catches up with O’Sullivan and sales director Bastien Martinole, to look back on 2020, but assess where Fine Wines Direct UK goes from here.
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Cristina Villar Miranda
Cap Classique, South Africa’s traditional method, premium sparkling wine, is neatly positioned between Prosecco and more expensive English Sparkling Wine or Champagne. As the category celebrates 50 years of production this year, South African wine expert Roger Jones looks back at the wine, the value it affords and picks a ‘magnificent 7’ that you should put at the top of your shopping list.