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    Insight
    jason atherton looking away

    Flint’s on-trade debate: Jason Atherton & top restaurateurs

    The fact bars and restaurants now know they can re-open at one metre (plus) social distancing rules in a week or so is a massive relief to all involved in the premium on-trade. But it is only one part of an increasingly complex set of factors that will determine which outlets and operators can return and when they can re-open. That was very much the conclusion of a wide ranging debate held online by Flint Wines recently with leading restaurateurs, including Jason Atherton, and top Master Sommeliers on how they see the premium on-trade re-opening.

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    People People: Producer
    pol roger chief Long Read

    James Simpson MW on driving Pol Roger Portfolio forward

    Today Pol Roger Ltd celebrates 30 years of trading in the UK as primarily a business to promote, distribute and sell the famous Champagne house, but over the years it has also built itself up to be a highly respected agency representing premium, family, independent producers from across the world. It had hoped to pop some bottles of Pol Roger in much better times, but, as managing director, James Simpson MW, explains, it’s also about raising a glass to all the customers it serves and hopes to be working with for many years to come.

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    Opinion
    post-Covid

    How New Zealand could navigate its way in a post-Covid world

    Exports play a huge role in New Zealand’s drinks industry and attracting wine tourists to visit the islands has been a mainstay of the country’s economy. Short of exporting clones of popular Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, how can the nation rebuild its economy following its short but strict coronavirus lockdown? Last night’s New Zealand Wine Diaries webinar explored the roles that grape varieties, emerging sub-regions and sustainability could play in the recovery, as Peter Ranscombe reports.

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    People People: Supplier
    stone-vine-and-sun-160

    Stone Vine & Sun’s Simon Taylor: Online has been our saviour

    Simon Taylor is now in a position to look back on the last three months of lockdown with a sense of satisfaction that he had a business model in place that allowed Stone Vine & Sun to switch from being an on-trade wholesaler and wine merchants to becoming a 100% e-commerce and delivery company. Its already strong online sales have proved to be its saviour as it has kept its local customers happy, but also gained many more from right around the country.

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    Tasting: Wine
    English sparkling

    English Wine Week celebrates the growing diversity of styles

    With lockdown measures easing, and secondary vine growth making up for some of the frost damage that hit just four weeks ago, it finally looks like there are some things to raise a glass of bubbly to. But it is not just English Sparkling wine that is being celebrated and consumed in this week’s re-scheduled English Wine Week, writes Sophie McLean, but a whole host of wines that include red, white and rosé still wines with an increasing array of styles. 

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    People People: On-Trade
    bintwo mike boyne smiling Long Read

    Mike Boyne and his ‘anything goes’ attitude to wine at BinTwo

    “There are no right or wrong answers for us when it comes to wine.” That’s the refreshing attitude that Mike Boyne has brought to his BinTwo wine bar and merchants business in Padstow, Cornwall that has made it such a success over a small period of time both with his customers and the suppliers who are happy to travel to meet him and show him ever more adventurous wines. Here he talks about what life has been like in lockdown in one of Cornwall’s most famous tourist towns, but most of all he shares his uplifting views on what wine means to him and the kind of service he wants to give his customers.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ojai Vineyard

    Ojai Vineyard recreating Old World wine in Santa Barbara

    When Adam Tolmach left Au Bon Climat, just nine years after having founded it with Jim Clendenen, to the Californian wine community it seemed a curious decision. But, with Ojai Vineyard now over 30 years old, Tolmach has totally vindicated that decision. He is still the consummate craftsman, keeps a hands-on vigneron approach, and continues to craft world class wines that speak of his passion for the wines of Burgundy and the Rhône. David Kermode attends this first in a weekly Sommelier Sessions series run by the California Wine Institute, and tastes three of Tolmach’s wines.

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    People People: Supplier
    Richard Siddle was able to spend some time with Oz Clarke on Zoom last week for The Buyer's latest video interview

    Oz Clarke’s on lockdown & passion for his English wine book

    Spending any time with Oz Clarke is valuable, but being able to share an hour on Zoom chatting about our respective lives in lockdown before diving into the new book he has written on English wine was particularly special. In this wide ranging conversation we also talk about what motivates him still to discover new wine regions, different producers and their wines, and then have the energy to write about them all. Most of all, though, as we move into English Wine Week, it shows the love and passion he has for English wine and how much he has enjoyed being able to tell the stories about the people as much as the individual wines that are now becoming the envy of so much of the rest of the world.  

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    Tasting: Wine
    Journey's End

    Tasting the ‘Precision’, ‘Tails’ and ‘V’ ranges from Journey’s End

    Lockdown has been a busy time for wine consultant and writer Harry Crowther: first he ran a series of Instagram Live sessions on ‘Tasting Skills’ then came his ‘Supermarket Series’ picking out the best value wines from the top supermarket chains. Crowther also managed to hook up with Tom Hanson-Smith from Stellenbosch’s Journey’s End to hear how Rollo Gabb’s winery has fun, sustainability and local community as key drivers; and also to work his way through three of their wine ranges ‘Tails’, ‘V’ and ‘Precision’ to pick out the wines that you should have on your buying radar.

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    People People: On-Trade
    me and heath

    Heath Ball on keeping Red Lion & Sun going through lockdown

    Pubs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can cater for all our needs on a night out. From the good ol local that is the hub of the community, to destination gourmet pubs that are more like fine dining restaurants. The Red Lion & Sun in Highgate village, north London, probably sits somewhere in the middle. A pub that has a wine list that would be the envy of any master sommelier, and you’re likely to bump into Liam Gallagher ordering another pint of Guinness. Whilst 1000s of pubs have been shut over the last three moths, the Red Lion & Sun has really come into its own thanks to the drive and imagination of its larger than life owner, Heath Ball, who has made it the go to place for Highgate locals looking for fine food and wine to deliver or collect and enjoy an escape from lockdown.

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    Opinion
    The lakes of New York State are not only beautiful to look at but have such an influence on the styles of wine being made

    Jamie Goode: 10 things you need to know about New York wines

    Jame Goode first visited New York State’s wine regions in 2018, and he was also able to go back again the following year. He quickly became impressed with the range and diversity of wines being made across its two main wine growing regions of the Finger Lakes and Long Island. It’s time, he says, that the evolution of these two regions needs to be told to a wider audience. So here are the 10 things that he thinks you should know about New York State wine.

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    Tasting: Wine
    IGP Pays d’Oc

    Elizabeth Gabay MW picks her Top 20 from IGP Pays d’Oc

    As the price of Provence rosé wines increases and as demand outstrips supply, so canny buyers should be looking to the Southern French wine region of IGP Pays d’Oc, for value, variety and quality, writes Elizabeth Gabay MW. Here she picks out her Top 20 rosés starting with the most popular variety – Grenache-based wines – then Cinsault, unusual varieties, and more gastronomic wines featuring darker grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon.

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    Insight
    Basic RGB Long Read

    Covid-19 Hub: Matthew Clark e-commerce; Off Piste’s DTC gin

    As we all look at how we call slowly emerge from the other side of Covid-19 The Buyer continues to update its rolling updates service with a new Hub covering the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as the momentum shifts towards how businesses can now look to regroup, relaunch and come out of this crisis with the tools and knowledge to grow. This is Part Five of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog that starts on June 9.

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    People People: Producer
    Tom

    Tom Denning: investigating aromas & Bacchus at Plumpton

    It was a belief in British still wine and the potential of the variety Bacchus within that which spurred Tom Denning on during his MSc in Viticulture & Oenology at Plumpton College. In order to assist winemakers in really poor years, and also to help winemakers produce wines with a lower ABV, Denning investigated whether the addition of an enzyme to juice pre-inoculation can increase the volatile thiol aromatic profile of early harvested Bacchus.

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    Opinion
    contactless ordering

    Richard Siddle: what the ‘new’ on-trade can offer

    The clock is well and truly ticking for the on-trade and the possibility pubs, bars and restaurants might be able to open their doors again in the coming weeks. As the wrangling continues over whether outlets will have to do so within 2 metres or less social distancing rules, all on-trade owners can do is plan for what they do know. Which will probably mean introducing some sort of contactless ordering and payment system. Here Richard Siddle explores some of the options and makes the claim that some of the new safety measures might actually help outlets offer a more personalised service than they have been able to do so in the past.

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    People: Producer
    Australian

    How winemakers handled 2020’s ‘unprecedented’ vintage in Oz

    Australia’s wine-producing regions may be spread across an area larger than Europe, but some common themes still emerged from the winemakers who took part in industry body Wine Australia’s maiden international webinar. Winemakers at Vasse Felix, Yalumba and Yarra Yering explain how lower yields were the story of the day, leading to more gentle winemaking techniques and the use of less new oak, as Peter Ranscombe reports.

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    Insight
    Saunders and his team are also now looking at what added value solutions they can offer their on-trade customers when they return

    Covid-19 Hub Part 4: Michael Saunders on on-trade’s recovery

    As the UK and the world slowly starts to look at how it can emerge from the other side of Covid-19 The Buyer has scaled up its rolling Hub and updates service to keep the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors up to date with what steps are being taken to help businesses not just survive, but regroup, relaunch and come out of this crisis with the tools and knowledge to grow. This is Part Four of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog that starts on May 28 with all the latest insights, stats, and drinks trade reaction.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Drouhin

    LM Archer: How the new Joseph Drouhin 2018 vintage is tasting

    In what was surely one of the final portfolio tastings in Beaune before the virus closed everything down, Burgundy expert LM Archer visited Maison Joseph Drouhin for a full portfolio tasting of the impressive 2018 vintage. In the company of Frédéric Drouin 10 whites and 11 reds were tasted showing an impressive array of terroir, deft winemaking skills, consistency of quality and surprising affordability.

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    People People: Supplier
    andrew bewes and me

    Andrew Bewes on guiding Hallgarten through Covid-19

    Being in charge of a national drinks distributor over the last three months must be like trying to steer a container ship through a combination of out of control storms one minute, and perfect sailing conditions the next. For whilst the on-trade side of your business is causing nothing but stress and sleepless nights, your retail division has never done better. That’s very much the split world that Andrew Bewes has been trying to guide Hallgarten & Novum Wines through over the last few weeks. In The Buyer’s latest video interview with key figures in the drinks and hospitality sectors, Richard Siddle talks to Bewes about how the business has been able to adapt and respond to the Covid-19 lockdown, and what he sees as being the main challenges – and opportunities – in the months ahead.

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    People: Producer
    Ferdinando

    How 6 Italian wineries see green shoots of recovery in Phase 2

    Italy has re-opened its borders and permitted travel after a restrictive lockdown. So what has it meant for Italian wineries across the country – how have they coped and what hopes and prospects do they have as the country enters Phase Two of battling the pandemic? Sommelier Mattia Scarpazza talks to six winemakers from Principiano, Piero Busso, Adami Spumanti, Tenuta La Torretta, Gianni Masciarelli and Tenuta di Fessina to see where the greatest challenges lie and what they will be doing differently going forwards.

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