It’s not just tourists that pack the streets of Santorini, but grape growers, winemakers and wine producers also make up and contribute so much to this beguiling Greek island. In fact, an astonishing one in 10 people on the island belong to grape growing families and out of a population of 15,500, over 1,500 are grape growers all providing much sought after grapes to the 20 plus wineries that are fast making their names across Santorini. Here Andrew Johnson, managing director of Woodwinters, shares his love not just for the wines being produced, but also singles out Assyrtiko as being the driving force behind the surge in popularity for its wines.
How many Irish whiskeys do you list? Jameson, Bushmills, maybe relative new boys Teeling? You’re only scratching the surface. New distilleries have been sprouting up like mushrooms after rain in recent years as global sales rocket. In 2010 there were four distilleries and sales were about 5 million cases and in 2022 it was 15 million cases from over 40 distilleries. Martin Moran MW picks out the key trends he believes are driving the booming Irish whiskey market.
Bien Boire en Beaujolais is a wine fair like few others – a cool meeting of minds and vignerons, where the Gamay has an undertow and the brass band plays the hits of Radiohead. Most of what happens in Bien Boire en Beaujolais stays there – because participants have little or no recollection of ever having been. The Buyer’s Lisse Garnett bought a ticket and reports back (remarkably well) on 15 of the standout wines, and points out that, contrary to the wine fair, what happened in Beaujolais does not stay in Beaujolais – in fact a good deal of the whole swerve of contemporary winemaking, it could be argued, from natural wine to crunchy quaffers, was born and migrated from this very special part of Burgundy.
A basic rum punch recipe involves: one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong and four parts weak, but how else can we pimp this Caribbean cocktail and make it stand out from the next bar? To find out, Marina Ray travelled to St Kitts & Nevis to take a two-day Kittian RumMaster course, then sampled a wide range of differing rum punches from bars by the road, on the beach, in the bush and in the swankiest of hotels. Rum punch is served everywhere here, 24/7, which does mean… rum punch for breakfast.
Swig has been a key importer at the forefront of the New South Africa movement but there is so much more to its portfolio, argues Roger Jones who highlights wines from R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, Flint, Domaine Castera, Chateau de Messey, Henri et Gilles Buisson and Stephane Ogier as examples of fine wine at sensible prices as well, of course as his old chums from Hemel-En-Aarde in SA, Restless River.
German wines are renowned for pairing well with food and to help prove it, Wines of Germany is hosting a series called #SommSessions – a masterclass in German wine exclusively for the on-trade and sommeliers from around the UK, hosted by acclaimed, award winning sommelier, Jan Konetzki, four times winner of ‘UK Sommelier of the Year’. Here, Helen Arnold sits in on the first #SommSession held recently at the Mei Ume restaurant in London’s Four Seasons Hotel which specialises in traditional Chinese and Japanese dishes. How did the German wines pair with its cuisine?
2022 Bordeaux is causing quite a stir with wine buyers. Out of the back of the hottest year in France has come wines that are truly magical and have a freshness and balance that seem to be at odds to the weather that produced them. How the Bordelais managed this, which are the appellations to make a bee-line for and some of the top estates are all part of this exclusive insight from Armit Wines’ brand manager Alex Aldersley-Hey, who was at this year’s en primeur tastings getting an in-depth feel for what’s in store for wine buyers of all persuasions.
The wine industry’s focus on the global bulk wine market has never been more intense as retailers, importers, distributors and suppliers look to source the best quality and best value wines for their markets. But what are the behind the scenes trends that are driving and dictating the international bulk wine market? We talk to Otilia Romero de Condés, chief executive of the World Bulk Wine Exhibition about how she sees the bulk wine market and what to expect at WBWE 2023 in Amsterdam in November.
It might have taken a (very long) time for Georgian wines to really find their place in the UK wine market, but with sales booming year-on-year there is much to talk and get excited about. As well as showing a wide selection of its wines at this week’s London Wine Fair, Wines of Georgia is also holding a separate portfolio tasting in London on May 23. Here Sarah Abbott MW helps set the scene for both with her take on why she thinks serious wine lists should always have room for Georgian wines.
Was Bike to Care Bordeaux a ride or a race? No-one seemed quite sure but the lube was guaranteed to fly when you put 100 riders from hospitality worldwide on the back roads of Bordeaux – especially with the new arrival of a semi-pro team from the Low Countries. After Louis Jadot and fellow winemakers from Burgundy put charity ride Bike to Care on the map last year, it was up to the Bordelais to ‘go one better’ … or was it?
Travelling around the wine regions of Central Greece and you are struck on the one hand by how much heritage and tradition there is in the vineyards and wines the region can make, but also how open its winemakers are to try new techniques, invest in modern viticulture and, crucially, look to celebrate and promote the area’s unique indigenous varieties whilst also embracing and seeing how well the world’s most international grapes can do in its soils. It is a modern approach to winemaking that is quietly, but quickly, making wines from Central Greece some of the most coveted, and yet to be fully discovered wines from the Mediterranean, if not around the world. Richard Siddle recently joined a UK trade trip including leading importers, merchants, restaurateurs and trade press to get to know what Central Greece is all about.
The wines of Domaine des Tourelles can be seen as ‘off piste’ because of their limited use of oak and use of unusual varieties, but that’s one of their greatest strengths, argues Justin Keay who tastes through the range of this exciting Lebanese producer, alongside owner/ winemaker Faouzi Issa. New wines include an orange wine made with fruit from 150 year-old Merwah vines, fermented in terracotta; plus a tense, racy white made from Merwah and Obeidi – wines which Issa believes recalls Lebanon’s winemaking heyday of the 1940s and 50s.
Wine producers the world over are bending over backwards to try and turn their wineries into hospitality and tourism destinations. But what are so called ‘wine tourists’ looking for from an actual winery visit? David Crowe is currently travelling around South America with his wife, Toni, as part of a pre-retirement trip taking in the food, culture and wines from their visits to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. Here he shares what their ‘wine tourism’ experiences have been like.
Legend has it that the first sweet wines of Tokaj were created in the Thirteenth Century when a war delayed the harvest which ended up full of botrytised berries. True or not, Lisse Garnett was in Hungary to separate fact from fiction but also to make a fascinating personal discovery of dry Szamorodni which is a wine style here which uses botrytised fruit with the wine then fermented under flor and aged oxidatively. The results are spectacular and like an intellectual exploration in a glass, as Garnett reports
“Our work in the Aventura Winery will allow us to innovate at speed” and help it “be at the forefront of future trends.” It’s a bold statement and an impressive ambition but one that leading Chilean producer, Morandé Wine Group, has made possible by investing in and building a new state-of-the-art winery equipped with the latest vinification technology and ageing vessels – from concrete to qvevri – so that it can both develop its own ideas and brands, but also be a “one stop solution” for projects and opportunities for potential customers around the world.
Alain Ducasse’s three Michelin star restaurant at the Dorchester was the setting for the launch of Ca’ del Bosco Edizione 45 and a full range tasting of Maurizio Zanella’s other Franciacortas from this prestigious North Italian estate. Dodging the blue lobster risotto, ceviche, caviar and top cuvées from the Vintage Collection was our own Victor ‘take-one-for-the-team’ Smart who came away suitably impressed.
“Tejo produces some of the freshest, most vibrant and affordable wines in Portugal today.” That’s the view of wine consultant Dirceu Vianna Junior MW on a region that might be Portugal’s oldest but has still so much to offer and discover. Here ahead of Wines of Tejo showcasing its wines at next week’s London Wine Fair we also talk to Luís de Castro, president of the regional wine commission of Tejo and Wine Intelligence consultant, Brian Howard, about what makes the region so special and why buyers should check out its wines at the fair.
Producing wine in a world-famous region such as Barolo can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the prestige means that your bottles will always have a market, but all too often the personalities and individuality behind each label can take a back seat to the fame of the name. On a recent fact-finding trip to Piemonte, The Buyer’s Mike Turner found a Barolo producer whose wines, and the stories behind them, highlighted the quality, charm, and sense of fun that can be found all over North-West Italy’s most famous set of vineyards.
B Corp brands and businesses are gaining more recognition – and shelf space – as the movement moves into the mainstream. And, while some might question if it’s a passing fad, record numbers of companies are signing up. But what is a B Corp company and what are the steps you have to take to become one? What level of investment is needed both financially and from a resource point of view to switch your business model to B Corp status? Rosie Davenport, founder of sustainability and communication consultancy Impact Focus is well placed to know as she is also a trained B Leader, helping companies through the B Corp journey. Here she talks to retailers and wineries about why they are embracing the global non-profit organisation and how it’s transformed their businesses.
When Wiston Estate won WineGB’s best UK contract winery award last year it was the fourth time this West Sussex-based winery had received this prestigious accolade. Richard and Kirsty Goring, who run the estate, have been busy planting new vines and opening a swanky new cellar door shop, which joins the equally-swanky on-site restaurant, Chalk. Winemaking-wise Wiston has also seen changes with head winemaker Dermot Sugrue departing after 16 years, still wines now a definite thing and a change of distributor from Swig to Fells. Justin Keay popped over to Pulborough, met up with the team and tasted through the new wines.