The wine trade descends upon Montpellier today as it plays host to the 27th edition of Millésime Bio, the world’s largest organic wine fair. The Buyer’s Mike Turner headed down earlier this month to judge the gold, silver, and bronze medals and to find out what’s in store for Europe’s wine buyers. As Turner discovered, where being organic was almost a handicap two to three decades ago, organic certification is fast becoming expected by the consumer as the new norm.
Hartley Smithers (Australia)
Nora Iriarte (Spain)
Florin Voloaca (Romania)
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If you had told Rodolphe Lameyse at the end of Vinexpo Bordeaux in mid May 2019 that he could proudly claim to a press conference in January 2020 that he was now part responsible for steering what could be the biggest trade exhibition organiser for wine and spirits in the world then he probably would not have believed you. Vinexpo, as a trade event, was probably at its lowest ebb. But now thanks to a new joint venture with Comexposium, one of the world’s biggest exhibition companies, he can now lead his team into next month’s first Vinexpo Paris event full of renewed vigour and confidence.
Even with a multitude of Burgundy en primeur tastings across the capital, last week’s annual New Zealand trade tasting was a pretty busy rave – set overlooking the Thames at the OXO 2 in South London. Roger Jones, our soon-to-be-retired former Michelin star chef but even-more-roving reporter for The Buyer, has a look at the New Zealand in a Glass tasting and picks out the wines he thinks will do best in the premium on-trade.
When new fine wine merchants, OenoTrade, is looking to work with a new premium on-trade customer it will ask them for their “wish list” of wines and then go out and try and source them. It’s a business model that is already enjoying breakthrough in what is already a fiercely competitive market place. Here head of wine for OenoTrade, Olivier Gasselin, explains the company’s strategy and also what we can expect at its inaugural trade tasting on February 26.
Ask Ronan Sayburn MS where the most interesting country for making wine is right now and his answer will be Australia. Sayburn is one of the most influential wine buyers in the world and, after a military-style two week tour of Australia’s wine-making regions, he came back with a long list of wines which will challenge most people’s preconceptions about what the country is capable of making. At a special tasting event he talked through the eight wines that inspired him the most. Spoiler alert: the list may include some very unexpected bottles…
Emerging Wine Writer of the year Malu Lambert hooks up with fellow South African Craig Hawkins, who has been dubbed the Natural Wine King of South Africa, although you won’t catch him saying that. Hawkins was showing the new 2019 vintage of his Testalonga range – wines that have become famed for their uber-cool labels and sense of fun as much as their quality, and ability to transfer Swartland’s unique terroir into bottle. Although there are a lot of wines on the El Bandito and Baby Bandito labels, there is one clear philosophy – single grape, single soil. Oh! and all the varietals just happen to be Mediterranean.
“We’ll bounce back. That’s what we do.” That was also the clear message driven home at an emotional press conference at today’s Wine Australia annual trade tasting in London as senior figures from the generic body, including marketing chief, Stuart Barclay, and head of the UK and Europe, Laura Jewell MW, explained the harsh reality of the devastating impact the wild bush fires have had on some areas of the Australian wine community. Thankfully the overall damage has been limited to some areas, mainly in the Adelaide Hills, but where the fires have struck the impact on wineries and the surrounding communities has been total. Richard Siddle reports.
It might be Italy’s most planted grape variety, and one that has now travelled to all parts of the world for its ability to stand up to climate change that winemakers are increasingly facing, but how well do you know and understand what true Sangiovese should taste like? It’s a question that Italian wine expert, Walter Speller, and wine consultant, Jane Hunt MW, hope to answer with their breakthrough Sangiovese RESET tasting and event in London on March 3.
Whatever sector of the drinks industry you work in, we all like a list to find out who or which company is performing better than others in their channel. If you enter a drinks competition then winning a Gold, Silver or Bronze certainly helps determine and define how well a particular product is viewed by its peers. Which is why the London Wine, Spirits, and Beer competitions have gone one step further by publishing Top 100 lists of the best performing products in each category. Find out here who came where in each Top 100 list and also details on how to enter the 2020 competition.
Even with a venue greatly reduced in size, the annual generic New Zealand tasting which took place in London last week had bags of new ideas, new wines and new angles served up with its customary chutzpah. David Kermode heard how exports to the UK, New Zealand’s top overseas market, were in rude health thanks largely to its premium offerings; saw how well its wines can age; and also how great strides are being made to broaden the grape varieties from largely Sauvignon Blanc into other exciting territory.
At the end of 2019 we gave the floor to Joe Fattorini to set out why he believes marketing only to millennials is a waste of time and the dangers of basing any consumer research just on the thoughts and behaviours of one demographic group. It’s, therefore, only fair to balance things up and assess just what it is about millennials that some marketers and consultants think makes them so special. Like Polly Hammond, founder of 5Forests, a brand communications consultancy, who believes there is much for us all to learn about how millennials, in general, have grown up in what she argues has been the most fast changing and disruptive market place for consumers. Here Hammond, who is one of the partners and keynote speakers at the upcoming breakthrough One Step Beyond conference, part organised by The Buyer, gives her take on why millennials are not only special, but are worth listening to.
The interest and diversity in organic wines has arguably never been stronger, which makes next week’s Millesime Bio trade fair even more important than normal, as it expects to welcome buyers from all over the world, with a strong, and loyal delegation coming from the UK. Here Nicolas Richarme, president of SudVinBio, and a producer himself at Château de Bastet in France’s Occitanie, on what is in store for them in Montpellier.
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There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to buying wine for a restaurant wine list, but there are arguably more ways in which you can get it wrong, than if you play it safe with well known varieties from established regions and countries. To stand out in the new London Wine Fair Wine Buyers Awards you are going to have to do a lot more than that. One of the judges for the Restaurant and Wine Bar category, Martin Lam, explains what he thinks makes a good wine buyer.
The Vignerons’ Lunch at St. JOHN Restaurant is an annual tasting of the group’s wine range – available to trade and consumer – including its own label wines blended by the wine team, its own Languedoc winery Boulevard Napoléon, and a group of vignerons that St. JOHN works with, either on its own label wines or with specific and bespoke cuvées. It is also an excuse to praise at the high altar of British cooking, with St. JOHN co-founders Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver. In a somewhat messy fashion.
Well, that’s a headline to get the heart rate going, particularly in a market that is already having to come to terms with a steady decline. But forewarned is forearmed which makes the latest CGA report such an important and fascinating read. It looks to dig behind the headlines and crunch the numbers to identify what are the other drinks categories that are the real clear and present dangers to overall wine sales in the on-trade. Here are the top line findings.
The Côte de Beaune is still relatively under-rated compared to the Côte de Nuits, says Mentzendorff managing director Andrew Hawes, who argues that it is still possible to find great and specific terroir, coupled to availability, at prices that have not yet experienced the dramatic escalations experienced in the Côte de Nuits. Key signature wines continue to be in short supply, however, which forces buyers to explore the region looking for an alternative which, in turn, leads to lesser known appellations deservedly receiving more attention.