Napa has never lost its pioneering spirit nor its influence on the world wine map – despite its relatively insignificant size. And nowhere is that more true than at Rutherford-based Quintessa where a virgin estate was created by the Chilean Huneeus family, planting 135 acres out of a possible 280 without felling a single tree. Winemakers in Napa are thinking more carefully about the long-term repurcussions of decisions made today, from an increasing focus on terroir through to making the business landscape more of a level playing field for female leaders. Lisse Garnett places Quintessa within the viticultural history of Napa, tastes the wines and talks to winemaker Rebekah Wineburg about how she, and other women in Napa have benefitted from the first generation of women winemakers.
For the major New World producing countries Prowein 2023 was the chance to come back to the fair all guns blazing since Covid sent us all into lockdown. South Africa and Australia both had their biggest delegation of producers eager to get into the market en masse with Argentina and Chile not too far behind. In the second of his reports from the show Richard Siddle talks to southern hemisphere wineries about what ProWein means to them and what they were hoping to achieve.
Though the rebirth of winemaking in Washington State only came about around fifty years ago, it is now the second-largest wine producing state in the USA, with more than a thousand wineries making over 17 million cases of wine each year from 80 different varieties. Kate Hawkings reports from the annual UK trade tasting for The Buyer, selecting her top picks from the 20-plus producers showing their wines, as she hears how the pandemic has changed the profile of wine drinkers back home courtesy of a boom in domestic tourism.
Whether it is through the wide range of wines from Susana Balbo, where he is viticulturist and general manager, or through his personal PerSe project, Edy Del Popolo is at the forefront of viticultural change in Argentina. In town to host a lunch with wine writers Del Popolo showed Victor Smart the Signature range, Nosotros and BenMarco wines and explained his hands-off approach of viticulture.
Le Grand Chais de France says it offers a ‘one stop shop’ for France, and increasingly other parts of the world, for its many buyers across the premium on and off-trades and listens carefully to what its customers needs are and then sets out to meet them. But is that how independent retailers and specialist regional wholesalers see it? Shirley Kumar went to its recent trade tasting in Leeds to find out.
As Albariño from Rías Baixas becomes increasingly scarce with the rising demand in the UK, Amanda Barnes explores why Uruguay is poised to help fill at least part of the gap in availability. Ahead of a major trade tasting of Uruguayan wines in London on March 24, featuring 16 wineries from across the country, Barnes also highlights some key producers to keep an eye on.
The success of the annual Australian Pinot Noir tasting, held by Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in the UK, has led to an impressive global celebration of a wider range Australian Pinot Noir from Fleurie Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Tasmania, Macedon Ranges, Gippsland, Yarra Valley, Geelong and, of course, Mornington Peninsula. Australian wine expert and retired Michelin star chef Roger Jones was there for The Buyer to taste the 17 wines and hear from Matthew Jukes who hosted the event.
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“I’ve got that ProWein feeling…!” It’s not the official strapline for the world’s biggest international wine & spirits show, but that’s how Kylie Minogue, iconic pop star turned wine producer, burst out singing when I asked her to describe what it was like to go to what was her first ever trade show. Not that I expected her to reply in full Kylie singing mode, or even see her take her place as one of the 6,000 plus exhibitors at the fair. But then it pretty much summed up the rollercoaster experience of ProWein and the chance to get back into the inner webbing of the international wine trade and the chance to better understand just where producers, importers and buyers are when it comes to putting trading, supply chain issues to one side and work out how to do effective business with each other going forward.
Three Decades of Germany was one of those landmark tastings that you simply had to be at. Anne Krebiehl MW and Ulrich Sautter persuaded six German producers – Weinguts Dr Heager, Knipser, Frust, Georg Breuer, Donnhoff and Geltz-Zilliken – to show dry Riesling and Pinot Noir from the past 30 years. The durability and sheer quality of the wines spoke for themselves why a fascinating panel discussion focused on the effect of earlier harvests and how once-dismissed vintages have fared over the years.
It’s understandable if your focus and interest in China has waned a little over the last few months as its on-going issues with Covid and travel has meant the imported wine market has taken a hammering. But China is not a market we can ignore for long and even if sales have slowed down considerably the potential and opportunity is still there. To get a true insider’s view of what is really happening we turn to Ian Ford, founding partner of Nimbility, and widely recognised as one of the most authoritative and important independent commentators and analysts on the Chinese wine market.
Sangiovese Reset returned to London for its second edition, with Master of Wine Jane Hunt and Walter Speller taking over Westminster’s Lindley Hall aiming to set the record straight on a grape that’s often misunderstood. The well attended event featured more than a hundred carefully chosen producers. Lisse Garnett, a Sangiovese superfan, was there for The Buyer and she brings us this insightful account of the tasting, together with her own personal connection to the variety.
When you consider producing one litre of wine is the equivalent of travelling 400km in a car there was much to discuss, assess and evaluate at the recent Sustainable Development of Bordeaux Wines Forum held in the city. In her first article for The Buyer, Abbie Bennington, was on hand to hear what steps different wine bodies and sustainability experts are taking in order to help the wine industry as a whole be more sustainable and responsible in how it makes wine.
The Mentzendorff annual tasting is a crucial date in the diary for all serious wine buyers – and so it proved once again as the importer laid out its wares in Whitehall’s palatial One Great George Street for what’s on offer during 2023. Geoffrey Dean found that the portfolio has all bases covered with a fine mix of classic wines and spirits plus new lines and picks out his highlights from the tasting.
The 2022 harvest was a good one for English winemakers and so it proved for Cambridge-based Gutter & Stars, whose winemaker Chris Wilson is also a writer for The Buyer (when he finds time!). He managed to source almost three times the fruit that he did the year previous year which has meant the wine portfolio is now eight wines strong, and the quality of the 2022 fruit has led to some stylistic changes in the Pinot Noir.
Victoria Sharples is a long way from her original home in Melbourne, but with her new Swains Wine Bar & Store she wants to bring a little bit of that Victorian vibe to the local community next to Hampstead Heath in north London. Sharples is well placed to know what makes a good wine bar for not only did she used to run venues in Melbourne, she was, for a number of years, wine director at London institution, St JOHN, and hopes all that experience can bear fruit at her first UK venue. Richard Siddle took a trip to Hampstead Heath to enjoy the Swains experience for himself.
The Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges is a special annual wine auction held on the second weekend of March in this famed Burgundy village. Every year since 1961 the wine trade congregates to raise money for the historic hospices by bidding on the specially crafted barrels of wine. This year, the 62nd auction raised over €3.5m and gave buyers the first chance to try the generous 2022 vintage straight from the barrel. To find out more about the Côtes de Nuits’ version of the better known Hospices de Beaune auction, we sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner to find out more under the tutelage of Laurent Delaunay. As Turner found out, there could be few better guides to the auction than this fifth generation owner of the fabulous Maison Edouard Delaunay.
Licensed Trade Charity
Licensed Trade Charity
If you have any room in your diary for an extra few meetings at ProWein then here’s why you should spend some time and go over to Wine Australia’s stand and pick out the five producers who are making the journey from South Australia to represent the Riverland wine region as part of the Riverland Uprising initiative to shine the light on the alternative winemaking scene in what is largely regarded as one of the country’s biggest sourcing areas for bulk wine. If you do there are five producers just waiting to meet you.
The new Dom Pérignon 2013 is being described in some circles as ‘the last pre-climate change’ vintage. Vincent Chaperon, DP cellar master, was in London to launch the new cuvée, talk about its sheer simplicity, how he harnessed its energy and power and why there’ll be no 2014 and 2016 Dom Pérignon. Victor Smart was The Buyer’s scribe at the tasting.