The sense of spirit and togetherness is there to be seen right across the winemaking community in Stellenbosch, and none more so than with the members of the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective – 35 producers who are all working individually and together to put Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon on the world map. For the latest article from his in-depth Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle, talks to leading members of the group about how Cabernet is evolving in the region and the drive to make even more quality wines.
Mags Janjo is no stranger to readers of The Buyer – from winning a place to study for his MW through the Golden Vines Scholarship to supporting female winemakers across the globe with the diverse portfolio at MJ Wine Cellars, the wine distribution business he set up in 2019. Following initial success at wine trade shows, Janjo and the team put on their inaugural portfolio tasting at the WSET School in Bermondsey earlier this month. We sent our very own Mike Turner to taste his way through the wines on offer.
Some of the best and most evocative journalist stories come straight from the front line when intrepid reporters are willing to embed themselves in the military and head straight into a battle zone in order to tell it as it really is. Well, here’s a drinks journalist alternative to all that derring-do. Richard Siddle reports back from the heart of Bavaria where he has returned from a trade mission, embedded as part of the Hofmeister team, to see for himself what the brewing heartland of Bavaria is really like and go behind the scenes at the traditional Bavarian brewery responsible for making the new revamped, multi award-winning Hofmeister Helles lager.
The wine trade is blessed with inspiring characters on both sides of the winemaking and buying fence. So when two of the most creative and innovative personalities come together on a new project it’s worth taking notice. Which is why The Buyer was intrigued to sit down with highly experienced wine buyer, Andrew Ingham, formerly of Morrisons, Coles and Greene King, and Rollo Gabb, wine producer and founder of Journeys End, the successful South African wine brand, to hear about the new wine brand – Interpunkt – created by Ingham that is now making wine with Gabb. A new wine brand that promises to shake things up, both with its branding, edgy attitude and sales strategy and its paper bottle packaging that it believes is the way forward for modern wine brands and the environment. Richard Siddle finds out what Interpunkt is all about.
For number one whiskey and bourbon fanboy extraordinaire, Neil Hennessy-Vass, the chance to try new spirit, Drew Mayville’s Signature Blend, alongside the man himself was an opportunity too good to miss. Mayville is a Goliath of blending, sitting as he does at the helm of Sazerac the company that owns The Last Drop Distillers, that is managing this exclusive release and whose 28th rare liquid this is. With only 1500 bottles produced you’ll have to be quick to grab a bottle, and you’ll have to have a cool £3,100 in your wallet…
British wines are in rude health: sales are up; the quality is getting better; 2022 promises to be a magnificent vintage; the choice is greater with 195 wineries now spread across England and Wales; and there are many exciting newcomers such as Carr-Taylor, Stopham, Velfrey, Hebron, White Castle and The Wharie Experience just to name a small selection of the many discoveries made by Justin Keay at the WineGB tasting on Tuesday. In addition to sharing his exciting finds, Keay lists his Top 10 wines of the tasting, including some names that maybe more familiar and some cuvées that are out of this world.
Michael Brajkovich has been making some of the best value Chardonnay in the world at Kumeu River from his estate close to Auckland in New Zealand. The winery has been expanding recently with vineyards sourced from Trinity Hill in Hawkes Bay – but the trademark quality is still there, writes Antipodean wine expert Roger Jones. To launch the new Kumeu River 2021 vintage, marketing manager Paul Brajkovich was in London on Monday to show all the wines and lunch with Jones at Mayfair’s exclusive 67 Pall Mall wine club.
If the wine industry had a collective Achilles heel it would be that category, market and consumer insights are not used to their full potential. But this is an area that Kingsland Drinks has looked to make one of its key points of difference – data and its insights team are at the heart of the company and it has invested in resource and increased its focus in this area to give the business a competitive edge. Here, Richard Siddle talks to Charles Overin, head of marketing, brand and insight and Jo Taylorson, head of marketing and product management, about the advantages this approach gives the company.
“An experienced and competent logistics specialist is the beating heart of a wine business, and like a mechanical watch movement, needs to coordinate a lot of interconnected tasks for the efficient operation of the overall business.” That’s how Nick Martin, founder of Wine Owners, describes the role and importance of logistics within any successful wine company. Here he sets out what you need to prioritise in order to run an effective logistics operation.
While the 2022 Douro harvest gets underway with quality not quantity being the watchword in this drought-stricken year, time to reflect on the newly-released Quinta do Noval 2020 and Nacional 2020, both of which have immense richness, power and concentration, according to Peter Dean. Reflecting on time spent at this extraordinary quinta, he pinpoints why these ports are so special and gets some insight from managing director Christian Seely about the release strategy of the new ports and some of the thinking that has gone on behind the 2020s.
Ahead of ABS Wine Agencies portfolio tasting on September 7, The Buyer takes a behind the scenes look at how the ‘Kickstarter’ programme, launched by the California Wine Institute to introduce Californian producers to potentially the right UK importers, has resulted in ABS taking on the Hanna Winery in Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, part of Terlato Wines, whose wines will be available to taste at the London tasting alongside the rest of its growing worldwide portfolio.
Strip away their wine ranges and what really differentiates one wine distributor over another is the level of support, advice and training they can provide their customers. That is where the power of supplier and customer relationships can really come to the fore. This is very much the role of Camilla Armour, wine education trainer at Corney & Barrow, who works with restaurants, bars, hotels and pubs across the country in giving their staff the skills and confidence they need to sell wine in their venues. Here she explains to Helen Arnold how she decided to follow a career in wine training and what difference it can make to an operators’ overall performance.
English saignée rosé is tipped to be a major new category for the English and Welsh wine industry – a more gastronomic pour than traditionally-assembled pink fizz. To put six of our finest to the test (with two ringers from Champagne) wine expert Douglas Blyde chaired a fascinating blind-tasting session last Friday to which our own Stephen Vey was one of the judges. Much was learned by everyone present although the jury is still out from the winemakers themselves – some think it the purest terroir-driven expression of Pinot Noir we can achieve in England while one is unsure they will be repeating the ‘experiment’.
To continue farming in Britain it is becoming increasingly important to ‘think outside of the box’ in order to survive, which is why Tim and Tan Spittle, sheep farmers in the Cotswolds, have been shortlisted as finalists in the Farmers Weekly Awards 2022 for Diversification Farmer of the Year. Not only did they convert disused cattle sheds into a successful gym but with Blacklion Vodka they have launched an internationally recognised and lauded new premium spirits brand… and it all comes from a waste product from cheese production – Europe’s first vodka to be made from sheep’s milk. Peter Dean talks to the Spittles and tastes the vodka.
“We need to be pro-active and be continuously re-inventing ourselves.” Elmarie Rabe, manager of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, perfectly sums up the spirit of innovation and the willingness to test, trial and experiment to make better quality wines that is currently taking place in Stellenbosch, not just by individual winemakers, but as a region as a whole. That is also the message that came across during a session hosted by Richard Siddle of leading Stellenbosch producers looking at what steps different wineries are taking to push the envelope and make wines that are true to the soils and climate where they come from.
If you thought that Australia’s greatest ever show wine was Grange, think again. It is, in fact another Penfolds wine, the 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A, which is a Shiraz Cabernet blend and a style of wine that Australia does better than anyone else… even though it has been slowly going out of fashion. Showcasing this unique Australian icon is the key driver behind The Great Australian Red 2022 competition which was hosted yesterday in London for the first time in its 16 year history. Our editor-at-large and Australian specialist, Roger Jones was asked to join Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer to judge this year’s awards at 67 Pall Mall, from where he gives all the results as well as explains in depth the thinking behind this flagship Australian wine event.
It’s a busy time for trade tastings and Davy’s Wine Merchants has certainly gone the extra mile in what it has planned for its special New World wine event on September 7 that it is hosting at its head office in Greenwich, London. James Davy, chairman and the fifth generation of the Davy family to run the business, says the team has worked hard to give buyers a fully immersive tasting that will use food pairings and bespoke music matches to heighten their tasting experience of wines from all its New World wine producers.
“Increases in dry goods and shipping have a much greater effect at the bottom end of the market, however this segment has never been important to our business, so is less of a problem for us from that perspective.” That’s how Lucie Parker, trade director of Jeroboams, sets the scene for the London wine merchant’s annual tasting that takes place on September 7. It will once again be the opportunity of the year for buyers and the UK wine trade to meet 40 producers pouring over 300 wines and sample many of the new and old estates featured in the Jeroboams portfolio. Here, Parker and wine director, Peter Mitchell MW give us a sneak preview of what to expect.
“Attica, defined by the commanding presence of Athens, has always been a huge wine market and one with great opportunities for the growers. Attica is not only blessed with ideal climatic conditions, perfect vineyard sites and distinctive soils, but has also significant commercial advantages.” That statement helps set the scene for a special series of articles looking at different aspects of what makes this region of Greece such an important part not only of the country’s winemaking industry, but also its influence on the traditions, culture and history of the country as a whole.
In our special series of articles on Attica Wines we have highlighted the transformation of the age-old winemaking tradition of Attica to a top-of-the league wine producing region which boasts of the most exquisite wines of Greece. Below we discuss the renewal of the vineyards of Attica and we shed some light on the region’s flagship native variety – Savatiano.