French wine trade tasting, VIN 2024, returned to London earlier this month hosted as usual by Business France. Exhibitors included 39 producers seeking distribution and four importers looking to attract a host of sommeliers, retail buyers and consultants to the quality of the wines on show. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner along to understand why this means so much for the producers involved, and which producers really shone through on the day.
The need for all drinks businesses, particularly those of a certain size, to be putting in place appropriate and effective steps to make them more sustainable is greater than ever. But the help, support and advice to help them do so is a more tricky area, with lots of companies claiming they can help, but not a clear path forward for which routes a particular wine, beer or spirits company should take. The new Sustainability in Drinks exhibition and conference to be held in the UK in October hopes to provide some of those answers. One of its founders, Janet Harrison, explains what it hopes to achieve.
The wines of Boekenhoutskloof are some of South Africa’s finest and best value on the market. From the same team responsible for the phenomenon that is The Chocolate Block and also top-end Côte-Rôtie lookalike Porseleinberg, the Boekenhoutskloof Semillon, Syrah and two Cabernet Sauvignons from Marc Kent and his team are good when young but sensational with age – wines that once bought will be on repeat allocation. Abbie Bennington caught up with Marc at London’s Spring restaurant to hear how the spring-like conditions at harvest have helped turn in wines that are as magnificent as those made in 2015 and 2017.
No matter how good a country’s wines are and how prepared its producers are to do business in any given market, they will only succeed if busy buyers are prepared to give their time and attention to taste, analyse and potentially put some wines on their list. If that was the target of the Borsa Vini Italiani Dublin tasting then it was a great success, at least in terms of getting a large proportion of the country’s senior buyers to attend. One of Ireland’s senior and most respected wine writers, Martin Moran MW, was also there for The Buyer to assess the opportunities for the Borsa Vini producers in Ireland.
Situated in the heart of the Bolgheri DOC appellation with Ornellaia to the right and Sassiscaia to the left, Orma is a 5.5ha estate that has ambitions to leave an indelible mark on winemaking in the region. Run by the Moretti Cuseri family which owns Tenuta Sette Ponti, amongst others, Orma was in London to show off the latest 2021 vintage alongside museum wines to show how the wine ages and is a good match for hearty Italian cuisine.
There was very much the sense of being in the right place at the right time at last week’s Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris. An event that has, in the last two years, fast tracked its way into the hearts and minds of even the most jaded wine trade producer, or buyer, beaten down by years of trudging to and from international trade fairs. There was a collective excitement about being part of a show on the up. In a city that simply does not care there is a major wine event going on. But that is also part of Wine Paris’ appeal. The chance to experience and enjoy one of the world’s greatest cities whilst getting down to the business of buying and selling wine and spirits. Richard Siddle reports back from the buzz of Wine Paris and examines what it is the show is doing right, and will need to do more of in order to keep its momentum going.
Tim Atkin MW’s The Best of Rioja tasting in London last week delivered the very finest of fine wines to enraptured city mouths without missing a beat. Terroir-focused beauties dominated the proceedings with whites making an indelible mark on Lisse Garnett and the many educated savvy consumers she met. This was a far cry from the “Rioja is in crisis” headlines that have been regularly appearing in the wine press of late – with splits within the regulatory council, high profile bankruptcies, overstocks and poor grape prices all causing turbulence in the region.
If you are looking to enter the London Competitions for wine, beers or spirits then you need to get your skates on to get your entries in by February 22. Here we set out what the awards offer, how medals are awarded and then promoted, and who is responsible for making the judging decisions. The London Competitions are unique amongst international awards in that they judge products for their quality (blind), and then their value for money and what their packaging and design looks like.
The finalists in what will be the fourth Star Wine List of The Year UK with The Buyer have been announced, picking out the very best restaurants and bars that have wine as a central part of their offer. The chosen venues will now go forward to the final to be held in London on March 4 and the chance to network with fellow finalists and the drinks partners for the competition. Here we reveal who will be competing for the overall winners.
Although its original vineyard was planted 130 years ago it wasn’t until 1980 that Elderton Wines really started – when a real estate agent offered Neal and Lorraine Ashmead 72 acres of vineyard for free if they bought the farmhouse. Having brought the vines back from the brink, the couple won Australia’s top wine trophy 10 years later and have never looked back. Now under the ownership of sons Cameron and Allister, Elderton is on an ambitious growth programme, changing the style of the wines, and looking to invest in its future. The good news is that the wines are back in the UK. Peter Dean caught up with Cameron and tasted through the new vintages.
The Roussillon is ‘the last frontier of France’ – a region that’s been making wine for millennia but is only today being rediscovered as a source of fine wine. So says Steve Daniel, Hallgarten & Novum Wine’s head of buying, who has made it his mission over the next five years to give the region the attention it fully deserves, and the kind of focus he has brought to bear on Greek wine. On the eve of Hallgarten’s annual portfolio tasting in London, Peter Dean caught up with Daniel and tasted through the wines from the six producers he has chosen to spearhead this new project.
With a growing middle class and increasing appreciation for premium drinks, the Asia-Pacific region continues to present strong opportunities for wines and spirits brands. This expanding market, however, remains a complex one and can be hard to navigate and requires strategic partnerships and a deep understanding of the local market to get right. Which is where Nimbility, a specialist market builder for drinks companies across the region, hopes it can offer a targeted route to market and has worked with a number of brands and producers including Maison Mirabeau, Sagamore Spirits, Rathfinny Estate, Journey’s End, Klein Constantia, Trinity Hill and Bertinga. Here Nimbility’s founding partner, Francesca Martin, explains how it can help wine producers find the right import and distribution partners in the APAC region.
Valpolicella is another wine region that has started listening to the changes in consumer taste – from making big, bold extracted wines with immense concentration and alcohol, to wines with greater elegance and finesse. So how are producers changing style and what does this mean not only for Valpolicella but also the future of one of Italy’s greatest red wines, Amarone? Justin Keay talks to Stefano Cesari owner of Brigaldara and also discovers the part that expanded production in the region and how it is having a detrimental effect.
Tuscan wine royalty, Tenuta San Guido, releases Sassicaia 2021, the latest vintage of its true iconic flagship wine this February. The 2021, available through importers Armit Wines, has been eagerly anticipated following favourable vintage conditions on the rolling slopes of Bolgheri, towards Tuscany’s stunning western coastline. We sent The Buyer’s very own Italophile, Mike Turner, to taste the wines with Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta and find out more about what proves to be another much sought-after triumph for the team at Tenuta San Guido.
Sardinia, best known for blue seas, white sandy beaches and unlike the UK right now, warm sunshine. Located 150 miles off the west coast of Italy, Sardinia is the second biggest island in the Mediterranean. At around 9,300 square miles ‘Sardegna’ as the locals say is just fractionally smaller than Italy’s famous southern island, Sicily. Here Abbie Bennington reports on the exciting new wine and food scene on the island and a growing winemaking community.
To best understand the key trends, opportunities and pressure points across the super competitive UK on-trade sector, Wine Business Solutions has for over 15 years analysed and tracked up to 300,000 different wine listings on wine lists in venues across the country. Here its founder, Peter McAtamney, sets out some of the key lessons to be learnt from its latest Wine On-Premise UK 2024 report, shares his thoughts on what areas he thinks UK importers are doing well and where they need to quickly improve on – and what it was that made Boutinot stand out as its leading supplier of the year.
The concessions made to demonstrating French farmers over ‘green regulations’ was a setback for biodiversity but a timely reminder during the second Vignoble & Biodiversité conference, of the need for strength in adversity. The French government backtracking on its Ecophyto programme which would have massively reduced the use of pesticides in French agriculture coincided with the conference getting underway in Avignon. Ben Bernheim was there for The Buyer to hear why biodiversity matters, particularly in viticulture, and what is being done in the field to promote it.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2021 is a magical set of wines of great beauty and a look back over the shoulder at the style of past decades before the power of the sun became such an issue. The weather was cruel, however, with the yields the lowest for 50 years – Corton and Montrachet down to just 10% of production – although that is not apparent in the wines. Peter Dean heard from DRC’s co-directors Perrine Fenal and Bertrand de Villaine about the soul-searching the team experienced during the April frosts and their use of ‘candles’ for the first time and tastes through the wines at Corney & Barrow, DRC’s UK distributor.
“Greek wine has come a long way over the past years. I believe that in today’s rapidly evolving global wine scene, an annually updated Greek wine report has become indispensable.” Which is why Yiannis Karakasis MW has pulled together arguably the most comprehensive guide to Greek wines in his new 116 page report – Greek Wine Explained. Here he sets out why he thinks Greek wines deserve their place in the premium and fine wine market and what to expect in his new report.
For 10 years Coravin has allowed ‘accessed’ wine to have a life above and beyond the limitations of its closure – whether that be cork or skrewcap. Since inventor and founder Greg Lambrecht introduced us to his revolutionary gadget quarter of a billion glasses of wine have been served with Coravin and extensions been developed for sparkling wines, Vinolok closures and 100ml sample bottles. Lambrecht was in London to show how the device can also be used for No/Lo, fruit juice and fortified wines – and put Victoria Sharples’ tasting to the test with a 15 year-old bottle of Barolo that has been ‘accessed’ multiple times over the past decade.