Despite shortfalls in supply created by the poor 2021 harvest and issues with shipping, last week’s New Zealand Wine event provided many reasons to be cheerful. Average bottle prices are up, Kiwi Rosé is booming, vineyard acreage is up, the 2022 harvest is back to normal levels and there’s a new trade agreement coming this year. Geoffrey Dean welcomed the event back after two years away, talks to NZ Winegrowers’ Chris Stroud and picks six wines that stood out at the tasting.
“Rather than have cellars full of wine ageing quietly in barrels, that tell you the plot, varieties, blend and vintage, why not bring them to life and include the name and a QR link to the back story of the customer or customers that have invested in it and become part of that producer and winemaker’s success.” That’s a vision of a genuinely consumer-first driven wine businesss that your customers are being offered – and are increasingly demanding – from the brands and companies they invest in. Richard Siddle explains why drinks producers need to wake up to the fact they no longer own the brands they produce – their target consumers do. And if they don’t those drinkers will vote with their feet and buy into brands that believe in them.
There’s a great deal of excitement about the wines that are coming out of the Agulhas Wine Triangle – South Africa’s southernmost vineyards. This is a region with ancient soils, extreme winds and a raw landscape that are producing cool climate whites and reds of remarkable quality and elegance. On a recent trip to South Africa, Geoffrey Dean visited the region, tasted the wines from the 10 wineries and talked with some of the key players – Bruce Jack, Dirk Human and Pierre Rabie about what makes this new frontier of winemaking so special.
In the first part of our New York Pitch project in partnership with the New York Grape & Wine Foundation we helped to bring producers looking to export to the UK together with leading buyers from key importers and the chance to hear about their wines. Here we dig a little deeper into what New York State can offer by picking out the wine styles that the buyers think have the most potential to do well in the UK and why the region has so much to offer in terms of cool climate, fresh, pure fruit forward, acid driven wines with low alcohols.
Most Champagne Houses released their 2008 vintages way too early. That’s the view taken by Mathieu Rolland-Billecart, the CEO of Billecart-Salmon which launched its dazzling new Louis Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs 2008 yesterday alongside older vintages and the new NV Blanc de Blancs. And good things do indeed come to those who wait as Peter Dean discovered.
Returning after two years away was the Australia Trade Tasting that was its customary mix of old school classics and young guns ‘going for it’. Wine scribe turned winemaker Chris Wilson was suitably impressed and picks out 15 new Australian wines that sommeliers should check out including a remarkable 11-year-old, unfortified 16% abv Marsanne that’s spent four years on ullage.
There are many ways for producers and buyers to meet. Be it at tastings, international trade fairs or personal visits to the winery. During the pandemic we also all went online to do business via zoom and found new ways of working together. Which is very much what The Buyer and New York Wine Grape Foundation wanted to do with our “New York Pitch” project and the chance for leading UK buyers to meet and hear the stories of a number of New York State wineries looking to find listings in the UK through a series of ‘Dragons Den’ style pitches via zoom. Here we look at the producers that took part and what potential UK buyers think New York as a region has in the UK and which wine styles and price points are best placed to do well in this market.
Portuguese wine is one of the categories that just seems to get stronger year by year. Across its 14 wine regions there are an increasing number of winemakers at the top of their game, – producers that are doing great things with some of the country’s 250 grape varieties but also innovating, with concrete eggs, amphora and Pet Nat all increasingly part of their palette. The crowds at Wines of Portugal’s annual portfolio tasting were proof that wine buyers are aware of this sea change and also testament to the importance of the UK. Justin Keay reports and picks 10 producers that need to be on your radar.
Krug Grande Cuvée 170th edition and Krug Rosé 26th edition – are both based on the erratic 2014 harvest which makes up 55% and 67% respectively of the two new wines. Krug chef de cave Julie Cavil explains to the IWSC’s emerging wine communicator of the year, Sophia Longhi, how the House overcame 2014’s many problems and fashioned another two monumental wines.
“There’s a growing focus on climate change in the wine sector, and that’s obviously incredibly important. Much is being learned, and we’d like to help share that knowledge.” That in a nutshell is the role of Sustainable Wine Roundtable, a body set up by Tobias Webb, to act as a catalyst, think tank, agitator and facilitator in helping the wine industry take effective action to drive a sustainable agenda. Here Webb sets out the cross industry work that he and his team does that feeds into the expertise that Sustainable Wine can offer and what to expect at its forthcoming two day conference in June.
The Ultimate Rioja tasting earlier this month was a snapshot of where Rioja currently is as a winemaking region. The tasting showcased some of the finest wines of Rioja – 48 wines from 39 producers – that had been judged ‘best in class’ by a panel of industry experts guided by panel chair and leading authority on Rioja, Sarah Jane Evans MW. As well as shining a spotlight on the high quality coming out of the region, it also highlighted the diversity of wine styles currently representing Rioja. Sophia Longhi talks to Evans as well as picks her favourite wines from the tasting.
“Rueda is in a unique position. Other regions around the world would die to have what Rueda has.” That was pretty much the universal conclusion of a panel of leading wine buyers who came together last week to taste and talk through a wide selection of wines from Rueda, and debate what they see as being the region’s key calling cards and areas of growth and potential, but also address what it needs to do more to make the most of what they see as its “unique” position in Spain and the Spanish wine category as a whole. Richard Siddle was on hand to pose the questions and assess the answers.
Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon is one of those ‘wine trade wines’ that we all love to bang the drum about. But Tyrell’s Vat series is no ‘one hit wonder’ as it also features the Vat 47 Chardonnay, Vat 8 Shiraz Cab and Vat 9 Shiraz – all new vintages of which Roger Jones tastes while in conversation with winemaker Bruce Tyrrell, subjects including old vines, screw caps and er… nappies.
Manchester’s Stoller Hall was the venue for the 2022 People’s Choice Wine Awards and once again the chance to see which wines entered by producers, brand owners, importers and retailers caught the attention of this event’s unique judging process that involves both everyday wine drinkers and professional wine trade judges in determining the finalists and and overall winners. These are the wines that consumers want to buy and drink. The Buyer is the official media partner for the awards and sponsor of the video category.
Throughout the pandemic so-called “key workers” were both allowed, and expected, to work by the government throughout all the national lockdowns. When it came to keeping the UK – and international – wine and spirits sectors going over the last two years then the team at Kingsland Drinks Group certainly fell into the “key” category as it kept all its operations going, buying, importing, bottling and then distributing millions of litres of wine and spirits to its customers in all channels of the market. Here Richard Siddle sits down with Kingsland’s managing director, Ed Baker, to talk through all the various services it now offers the trade, and its ambitious plans for the future to be regarded as the UK’s most forward thinking and innovative category solutions supplier for the global drinks industry.
“2021 might not be a natural successor to the three warm vintages preceding it but the early indications are that there will be plenty to like.” So says Guy Seddon, Corney & Barrow’s senior fine wine buyer, as he and his team prepare to hit Bordeaux for the en primeurs, the first campaign in the flesh since the 2018 vintage. Much was made of the difficulty of the 2021 harvest but how will the wines shape up and which vintages will 2021 most be like?
Stephen Cronk and the Mirabeau team were in London last month to showcase wines from their 2021 harvest to the UK trade. It was also an opportunity for Cronk to sit and down and reflect on what has been another hectic year with both big successes in terms of sales, distribution and brand building, but also dealing with the impact of the devastating fire that ruined what would have been the second vintage of its estate wine. Cronk also shares why he is so committed to driving regenerative farming practices.
With every vintage, Canadian wine seems to be coming into focus with just a little bit more clarity and precision. The regional differences, the use of the key grape varieties and the increasing quality of the main wine categories – sparkling, Icewine, still red and white wines – means that Canadian wine is becoming clearer and more distinct. In the on-trade with quality and value for money to the fore it is increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with.