Visit any major wine producer and as well as the chance to buy their flagship wines there is usually a hefty tome all about its history sitting proudly in reception. Some of which, it is fair to say, are better than others. So when, in late 2019, John Stimpfig left his role as the content director of Decanter, he looked to start a fledgling business producing bespoke books that potentially take the quality of producer books to a whole new level. First Press Editions was created the following year, in 2020, with his business partner Ian Mitchell. Here Richard Siddle catches up with Stimpfig to see how it all works and how things are going.
A limited edition 19 year-old English Harbour rum and boutique gin distiller are two major discoveries when Geoffrey Dean visits the Caribbean island of Antigua. The rum is to mark the 90th anniversary of Antigua Distillery, whose Calbert Francis gives the back story to this very special spirit. By contrast Dean also visits the much smaller distiller on the island, Antilles Stillhouse, where David Murphy is producing two gins using local, unique botanicals, a ‘fevergrass’ spirit as well as an Antiguan pastis.
Babylonstoren’s famous garden at its estate tells the story of the people of South Africa’s winelands, their Cape Dutch heritage and the sheer joy of gardening, so what better way to celebrate all three than to showcase not only their historic beautiful farm but also their wines at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Our retired Michelin star chef, South African wine explorer and amateur gardener, Roger Jones, spends the day with the team at the show ground.
“We believe that building long term relationships between our producers and customers is the key to success and place a big focus on spending time in market with our producers.” That’s how Andrew Chudley, Davy’s Wine Merchants’ managing director and head wine buyer, describes the company’s strategy that has served the business well for over the last 150 years. He also marks your card on what to expect at its portfolio tasting in London on June 6.
“Marketing is often not top of mind in many wine organisations and typically is the last cab out off the rank when it comes to budgets and mental resources.” That’s the view of Lulie Halstead, founder of Wine Intelligence, who sets out why she thinks the wine industry needs to take marketing more seriously, or risk falling further behind other drinks categories that do prioritise and invest in marketing themselves to target consumers in ways they want to be spoken to.
The unique properties of old vine wines, how vines manage to survive for over 150 years and what they can tell us about the future of viticulture in the face of climate change, were just some of the topics discussed at the Old Vine Conference 2023 held in Campania. Hosted by Feudi di San Gregorio, leaders in the Italian movement to protect, preserve and make wines from old vines, this second Old Vine Conference brought together leaders in the realm of ancient Italian vineyards to discuss and examine best practices for growing, protecting and promoting old vines and their wines. The Buyer’s Lisse Garnett was there to hear from Professor Attilio Scienza, vine master pruner Pierpaolo Sirch, Feudi di San Gregorio chairman Antonio Capaldo, Sarah Abbott MW and Basilisco winemaker Viviana Malafarina. Garnett also tastes and evaluates 12 old vine wines from across the globe to evaluate their unique properties.
Rioja Wine UK invites the UK trade and press to the first Rioja Residency – an immersive, educational journey around Rioja without leaving London. It all takes place on June 21 at London’s five-star boutique hotel, The Ned, which will be Rioja’s home for the day where guests can enjoy the region’s rich culture and heritage including the chance to taste wines from 20 visiting winemakers. The day will also include masterclasses from Spanish wine experts and masters of wine. Here’s what is in store.
In order to prove the food-matching potential of its wines, Languedoc estate Château Haut Gléon took the brave decision to set up a wine-pairing dinner of its range with 3-Michelin starred food. The cuisine of Gilles Goujon at Auberge du Vieux Puits is notoriously complex with one dish involving an oversize oyster that’s sealed in a smoke-filled bubble that you can only reach with a hammer. How was the meal and how did the wines match up? The Buyer’s Victor Smart needed no encouragement to jump on a plane to Languedoc to find out
The older we get the more likely it is we are going to turn to a corkscrew and a bottle of wine to enjoy at the end of a day. Or at least that is what the current and previous generations have done. But what about the next generations? Are millennials and Gen Xs and Zs going to follow their parents into the wine category? The jury is well and truly out on that warns Daniel Hooper, co-founder and chief creative officer at YesMore Creative, the specialist drinks marketing agency.
For many consumers, and even for many within the wine industry, 2017’s introduction of geographically specific categories within Rioja’s production laws might have gone under the radar. Fresh from his trip to participate in the Rioja Academy’s new educator programme, The Buyer’s Mike Turner explains why the laws allowing wines to be promoted as coming from a specific zone, village, or even single vineyard, could be one of the biggest revolutions to hit this wine region and has the possibility of catapulting Rioja’s already famed wines and winemakers to even more impressive heights. Part 1 of a 4-part series.
Ahead of the Institute of Masters of Wine’s 10th International Symposium to be held in Wiesbaden, Germany this summer, Richard Siddle speaks to IMW executive director, Julian Gore-Booth, about the institute’s flagship event – which it calls the ‘Olympics of wine events’ held, appropriately enough once every four years, about what it hopes to achieve and what the key issues are that will be up for discussion. He also looks at the institute’s targets and ambitions and its role in the wider wine industry.
Understanding terroir and how it can be expressed in wine is one of the key priorities at family-owned, Tokaj-based winery Harsányi, as the trend towards dry wine continues in this region of Hungary. Robert Mason talks to head of the estate, Gábor Harsányi, tastes through the range and discovers how key the conversion to organic winemaking is as it embraces the new, as well as endorsing its historic past.
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.