We know the wine industry is full of extraordinary talents when it comes to tasting and knowing all there is to know about wine. But it also includes a number of sporting talents – some of whom have even represented their country – who regularly show their skills as part of the Wine Trade Sports Club. In September it is marking its 50th anniversary with a special dinner at Vintners Hall. Lucy Marcuson explains what the organisation is all about and how to join.
Cyril Brun’s high profile appointment at Ferrari Trento is a fitting one for the ex-chef des caves of Charles Heidsieck. The North Italian sparkling wine has always had a close relationship with Champagne – as an inspiration, as a competitor and as a doppelgänger. But Ferrari’s quintessentially Italian take on high-end luxury sparkling has defiantly ploughed its own furrow from the regional authenticity of the wine to the brilliant marketing strategy behind getting the bubbles into the hands of royalty, superstars and now onto the podium of Formula 1 racing. Lisse Garnett visited Ferrari in Trento, met with Matteo and Camilla Lunelli and talks to Cyril Brun about the significance of his move from Reims to Ravina.
Wine writer and winemaker Chris Wilson samples some stunning new South African wines at Encounter South Africa – the first all-industry WOSA event since Covid. Apart from picking 10 ‘bangers’ Wilson talks to producers and importers to find out where South African wines are at, after the over-excited buzz of ‘New Wave South Africa’ 10 years ago. What he found was a quiet confidence in traditional styles and a ‘less-is-more’ ethos with the bottom of the industry being raised up, improving the quality and landscape of new South African wine from entry level upwards.
“All these initiatives are aimed at helping people working in our industry to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.” That’s how Nicky Grandorge explains the steps New Zealand Winegrowers’ has introduced to help workers achieve both career success and personal fulfilment. Helen Arnold speaks to her in her role as the organisation’s leadership and communities manager, to find out what these initiatives are, and the impact they are having on both individuals and business.
It is nearly 25 years since the first Wine Future looked to address the big issues facing the wine industry at its inaugural event in Rioja in 2009. In November the fourth Wine Future is set to take place in Coimbra in Portugal where many the issues discussed all those years ago are still as relevant today. To help set the scene for what to expect The Buyer over the coming weeks is interviewing many of the keynote speakers set to take part starting today with Dr Laura Catena, managing director at Catena Zapata, one of Argentina’s and the world’s most influential wine producers.
Striking a balance between stock, cashflow and long-term ambitions for the business is the key to rising to the challenges of the current marketplace, especially for a ‘new’ kid of the block like MJ Wines. So says founder Mags Janjo who has been sharing costs with other boutique importers and working on a two-pronged approach to the market, servicing the off-trade and on-trade with an eclectic range of wines. Justin Keay talks to Janjo and picks out six of the best wines that include a single vineyard organic Xynisteri from Cyprus, a top Bikaver from Hungary, a great value Zweigelt from Austria, Tavel Rosé, an Imvula Cap Classique and “the best non-Santorini Assyrtiko we have tried.”
It’s been two years since Harriet Kininmonth took on the wine trading director role at the C&C Group – effectively heading up the wine strategy for Bibendum, Matthew Clark, Walker & Wodehouse and Bibendum Off-trade covering all channels of the wine market outside direct to consumer. In that time she has been able to put in place both a group strategy aimed at better serving its producers and customers whilst also giving the individual businesses greater clarity over their own performance targets and responsibilities. A trading model that looks to maximise the strength and buying power the C&C Group has, without compromising the individual personalities of the separate business units. A challenging and demanding role that Kininmonth describes as “one of the best in the industry” and one she is enjoying hugely and thriving in. She sits down with Richard Siddle to look at how far the new wine strategy has come and what opportunities and potential lies ahead.
Bought 30 years by Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, Tenuta di Arceno is one of the jewels in the crown of Jackson Family Wines. Nestled in 1,000 hectares of glorious Tuscan countryside, the estate produces a range of premium wines that include Campolupi Gran Selezione, Valadorna and Arcanum. Visiting the estate in June, The Buyer’s Geoffrey Dean discovered from winemaker Lawrence Cronin how Tenuta di Arceno’s massive expansion this summer will facilitate a doubling of production from 4-800,000 bottles across its three ranges. Dean also tastes a wide range of the wines including the super-premium wines which have also changed from being blends to 100% varietal and uncovers how and why the team decided to go down this route.
Christophe Congé, the managing director of Saint-Estèphe fourth growth Château Lafon-Rochet, has only held the post for 18 months and is already helping his small team achieve some lofty ambitions. The estate wants to emulate the success of Calon-Segur and will get there over the next 5-10 years by making higher quality, terroir-driven wines. First the team has to learn more about the terroir, invest in the winery infrastructure, apply science and fully convert to organic viticulture, a process that will complete next year. Leona De Pasquale met up with Congé and director of the estate’s new co-owner, Emmanuel Cruse to learn more and taste a vertical of Lafon-Rochet that dates back to 1996.
“It is time to do more than just talk about the struggles of working in wine and start providing a more positive mindset to create impact.” That’s the key reason why Queena Wong, founder of Curious Vines, has teamed up with C&C Group’s Proof Insight to put together what they claim is the first comprehensive survey to try and find out what life is like for women working in the wine industry. Here we talk to Wong about what she hopes the survey can achieve and how to take part.
Pale, pure-fruited Criollas, cloudy, skin-contact Torrontés, an explosion of micro-vinification and a very cool somm scene in Buenos Aires – this is what wine looks like today in Argentina. A winemaking scene that has “one foot in tradition and one foot in innovation” which is how Sophia Longhi describes what she was able to taste and experience on a recent comprehensive trip to the country.
Small, family-run wineries distributed on an exclusive basis are the mainstay of Davy’s Wine Merchants’ portfolio. Despite holding its London tasting on the same day as five other major tastings in the capital, Davy’s managed to get a sizeable crowd along. The Buyer’s Justin Keay was one of them and here he selects the countries and wineries that stood out on the day, including Gilvesy Cellars, Tenuta Montauto, Unmaredivino, Domaine du Dragon, Henri Bonnaud, Bizoe Wines, La Brune and Phelps Creek Vineyard.
Ask a winemaker anywhere in the world why they make their wine in the way they do and they will give you a whole myriad of answers. Be it the quality of their fruit and how they care for their vines and grapes. Or it could be their sense of place, and making a wine true to the soils, land, climate and where their vineyards are grown. They might even talk about the generations of winemakers that have come before them and making a wine true to their principles. The list goes on. But have you ever heard a winemaker say they make a wine just to make sure its alcohol level is below 11.5% abv? Well, thanks to the government’s so called ‘simpler, fairer’ new alcohol duty reforms wine – and spirit – ranges are going to start looking very different from August 1. Richard Siddle crunches the numbers and assesses what impact the change in the duty system will have on the UK wine and wider drinks industry.
“Following the success of the 100km of Diversity tasting in London last year, we were keen to host the same event in a second UK city in order to amplify the message of Rioja as a diverse and premium wine producing region.” That’s the reason the second 100km of Rioja Diversity Tasting is taking place in Manchester on September 6. Here we talk to the event’s organisers to find out what importers, merchants and sommeliers in the north of England can expect.
South Africa’s Lukas Van Loggerenberg has only been releasing his wines since 2016 and yet the expectancy and excitement are raised with every new vintage. A one-time South African ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’, Van Loggerenberg is a self-confessed Loire Valley wines fanatic, who puts a decidedly South African spin on his Chenin and Cabernet Franc. Malu Lambert met up with him at this Paarl Mountain winery, to taste through his superb new 2022 vintage wines which also include two Syrahs and two Cinsaults.
“Every restaurant wants a Gavi on their list.” That quote from Holly Sharpe, head of London on-trade at Alliance Wine, pretty much summed up the overall feeling of the buyers, importers, sommeliers, wine merchants and restaurateurs who took part in The Buyer’s latest Restaurant Tour. This time the focus was on Gavi wine, thanks to a partnership with the Consorzio Tutela del Gavi, to showcase the potential of the region and its wines to senior players across the premium UK wine market. The opportunity for them to also spend time with their peers and fellow wine buyers to share their experiences and better understand what opportunities there are for Gavi wines in the UK. A tour that took in four venues across central London in a bid to show how Gavi wines perform against different styles of food. The four restaurants were: Vinoteca, Kings Cross; Arabica, Kings Cross; Gaucho, Charlotte Street; and Lucy Wong dim sum and cocktail bar in Fitzrovia. Here’s our behind the scenes report on the day.
Recently named as one Europe’s fastest growing companies for the fourth consecutive year by the Financial Times, London-based wine merchants Cru Wine has also just celebrated 10 years in business. Chief executive and entrepreneur, Gregory Swartberg, talks to Helen Arnold about how exceptional customer service is the bedrock of the company’s success, and how it hopes to stand out in the competitive world of fine wine merchants and investment.
Lying below the Wiltshire countryside lies an old Ministry of Defence munitions store in a deep stone mine that now has over 10 million bottles of fine wine in it. Welcome to the home of Octavian and arguably the centre of the global fine wine industry, as this is where some of the actual bottles of wine being traded by fine wine merchants the world over are stored. Richard Siddle talks to managing director, Vincent O’Brien, about how it all works.
To prove the worth of Torrontés, and that it can achieve fine wine status, Susana Balbo hosted two extraordinary vertical tastings of her Signature Barrel-Fermented Torrontés dating back to 2016. Peter Dean met up with her, tasted the wines and discovered the great lengths she has gone to show Torrontés as a noble variety – planting vines at high altitude, toasting oak barrels with hot air and holding back bottles for seven years to show how well the grape ages.
Lenz Moser clearly does not like to sit still for long. With serious wine projects already well underway in China, Hungary and his home country, Austria, he has now struck a new partnership with Portuguese winemaker, Pedro Ribeiro from the highly respected Herdade do Rocim in Alentejo. They have now come together to make their own blended style of Arinto, one of Portugal’s flagship white grape varieties, which Moser believes could have global appeal not only for the style of wine, but for the ultra light weight bottle they have used to package it in – as he explains to Richard Siddle.