Right across Bordeaux there are big changes taking place in vineyards, cellars and barrel rooms as winemakers look to re-assess how they are making wines that best reflect the terroir from which they come from, and the markets and end consumers they want to reach, and in Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur it’s no different. One of the big trends taking place in this sub-appellation is the new generation of female winemakers that are playing their part in re-inventing what we should expect from Bordeaux now and not the future.
“It’s a moral imperative for a business like ours, with our size and scale to take action on sustainability.” That was the clear message, but also challenge that Sam Thackeray, managing director of Enotria&Coe, wants the trade and its customers and suppliers to know about how seriously the business is now taking its sustainability responsibilities. Richard Siddle reports back from an open forum held by Enotria&Coe to both share its plans, but also get feedback and insights from its customers and leading trade figures on what a comprehensive sustainability strategy should look like.
Regardless of how well a business treats its staff and does all it can to be open, transparent and fair in how it deals with its employees there is one area where it is almost impossible to keep all your staff happy – how much they get paid. Which makes this new exclusive report from Vinokelly Drinks Recruitment, in partnership with The Buyer, such a breakthrough piece of research. It also claims to be the biggest study ever undertaken into the salary and recruitment trends in the UK wine industry. Giving the wine industry a breakdown in every sector of what average salaries are, or should be. Potentially vital research for hiring managers and HR teams looking to find the best talent out there and for those in the wine industry plotting their next move. Here we share some of the key findings.
Les Crus Bourgeois returned to London earlier this month with a tasting of recent vintages at the Institute of Directors. Now into the second year following 2020’s launch of the re-imagined classification system, Marguerite de Luze (owner of Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, Château Paveil de Luze) was in attendance to discuss the progress over the last 24 months, as well as the state of plans for the 2025 classification and beyond. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner along to find out more.
“Germany is the country that has diversified the most over the last eight years – it’s now a melting pot of styles and production methods.” That’s how Christina Rasmussen, co-founder of Little Wine, describes what is now widely seen as the new wave German wine scene that is helping to re-invent the German wine category, particularly at the premium end of the market, driven by organic, biodynamic, and low intervention, independent winemakers. To help explore what actually is happening across Germany, The Buyer hosted a debate, in partnership with Wines of Germany, with two of the producers hoping to make a difference and with buyers looking to introduce the new style of German wines to potential customers and consumers in the UK.
For too long diners have been missing out on the pleasures of mature Bordeaux, a situation that Bibendum’s revolutionary Bordeaux Collection is fast rectifying. Almost three years since inception the scheme now has 110 accounts and is welcoming Lafite, Barons de Rothschild, Cantenac-Brown, Smith Haut Lafitte, Troplong-Mondot, Lynch-Bages and Figeac into the fold. Anne Krebiehl MW talks to the team behind Bordeaux Collection and argues that its approach could be seen as a total reset for the on-trade’s fine wine offering.
For the first time in the UK a new vintage of Brunello di Montalcino was released en primeur. Benvenuto Brunello was the name given to Hunt & Speller’s exclusive London preview of the Brunello di Montalcino 2018 vintage and the 2017 Riservas, some two months before the Consorzio’s official January 1 2023 release date. Justin Keay was there for The Buyer, giving his views on the vintages as well as picking a dozen standout wines from the 115 on show.
It’s not just the products and brands that enter the 2023 London Spirits Competition that are stars of the show, but the panel of judges that have been lined up to assess them and hand out the medals. Only drinks professionals with direct bar, restaurant, retail or spirits background are invited to take part with a line-up of talent that includes some of the most influential names in the world of spirits. Here’s who is taking part.
If you are looking forward to getting a new tasting diary in your Christmas stocking here’s a new date and event to look forward to, which also won’t take up too much space as it is only three letters long: VIN. A new tasting event being organised by Business France on February 2 that promises to be a one stop shop opportunity to explore and discover gems from all regions of France from producers already in the UK and many who are looking to sell their wines here for the first time. Here’s what to expect.
Over the last few weeks panels of every day wine drinkers and wine trade professionals have been analysing, checking, tasting and scoring flights of wines and spirits as part of the judging for both what is the sixth People’s’ Choice Wine Awards and the third People’s Choice Spirits Awards. Judging sessions were held in both Manchester and London to get a more diverse set of judges from different backgrounds. Here Janet Harrison, founder of both competitions, explains how the judging went, announces the shortlists and picks out some highlights for how the 2023 awards are going to be run.
Over the last 18 month Distill Ventures has extended its investment programme to support new start-up drinks brands, by starting a Pre Accelerator programme aimed at identifying and then backing new brand launches from entrepreneurs from marginalised communities. To date it has been able to invest $5 million in a wide range of brands and is now starting its investment programme for 2023. Here we talk to Ara Carvallo, portfolio and I&D Director at Distill Ventures about how it works.
You’ve tasted the wine, now visit the region, says Linda Galloway after a visit to Tokaj, Hungary’s oldest wine region. There are miles of wine caves to explore, new state-of-the-art tasting rooms, historic estates plus a range of gastronomy and hospitality to indulge yourself in. Galloway points out some of the key wineries, plus gives a range of contacts for when you visit Tokaj.
“We look to Burgundy as the global benchmark of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we are not trying to replicate their wines.” Instead Brendan Hawker says he is looking to pin point which blocks and parcels of vines are going to make the right styles of wine that truly reflect the terroir of Australia’s Yarra Valley in his role as head winemaker at Yering Station. He also looks at how its winemaking has evolved to become focused on the fruit and bringing together complex blends of its key varieties.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Balfour Winery, and the launch of its new Archive Collection, owner and founder Richard Balfour-Lynn held a remarkable vertical tasting of its English sparkling wine, Balfour Brut Rosé, in London this month. Launching the new range is a late-disgorged Brut Rosé from 2008, which is the first wine of its type in the UK, and which gets two thumbs up from our expert at the tasting, Master of Wine and fizz aficionado Anne Krebiehl MW.
Winemakers are faced with making 100s of decisions every month about what they should be doing in the vineyard, with their vines and in the cellars. But how many would be brave enough to give the power for making those decisions over to their potential customers? Well that’s the exact concept behind the Not Named Wine Co and a new form of community winemaking which allows people to sign up to become members and then work with the winemakers to decide what wines to make. Co-founder Alex Brogan explains how it all works.
If you really want to fast track your knowledge about the global wine industry and what is really going on then book yourselves into two days at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition. It’s like the wine fair equivalent of Tinder where buyers will swipe left, or right, depending on who they want to do business with. Across the two days of the show I was not offered one wine to try. My name badge may have had ‘The Buyer’ on it, but as soon as the producer realised I was not actually there to physically buy wine, but talk about it, they wanted to keep their limited tasting stocks back for the ‘buyers’ who really matter. Last week’s fair was like no other that has gone before it. The ramifications of Covid, problems in the supply chain and seemingly quarterly increases in dry good, packaging and bottling costs, along with a global shortage in glass bottles meant the actual price of wine was actually the last thing people needed to negotiate about. All of which is ripping up the traditional way that producers and buyers do business together with once sacrosanct yearly contracts being thrown up in the air. Richard Siddle was there to see the new rules of trading being written before his eyes.
To mark the sad passing of rugby legend Doddie Weir OBE yesterday we repost the inspirational story of Doddie’5 Red Blend 2019, a unique South African red blend which has many parts to it but one purpose – to raise money for Weir’s Motor Neurone Disease foundation. Weir wore the No.5 shirt for Scotland while Schalk Burger, who made the wine with his son Tiaan, wore the No.5 for the Springboks. In another homage to the wine’s sporting provenance the blend is made of five grape varieties with £5 from every bottle sale donated to Weir’s MND charity and Burger constructing the wine as if it were a team of legends. Wine and sports writer Geoffrey Dean got the story and the wine is still available to buy – details at the end of the article.
Spain has led the way in building world class, high end-designed bodegas. With the unveiling of its new winery in Empordà, however, the Perelada Group has gone one better. Not only is the winery at the cutting edge of technological and functional advancements in winemaking, and sporting an avant-garde design, but it has also been driven from the very start by a total commitment to sustainability. So much so that it is the first European winery to be certified LEED Gold – the world’s highest sustainable building certificate. Largely built underground the winery mixes futuristic design, sustainability and oenotourism with winemaking. The Buyer’s Marina Ray was one of the first visitors, talked to winemaker Delphí Sanahuja about how it has affected his winemaking capabilities and tastes through a range of Perelada wines.
Communicating about wine is so much more than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and telling a story. It’s a narrative woven through words, pricing, positioning and placement. It’s about being in the right place at the right time and in front of the right people and then and only then, will you succeed. Over two days of talks, seminars and discussions, wine2wine 2022 put this complex puzzle under the microscope, calling on leaders from all corners of the wine industry to share their expertise. Caroline Tanner reports back for The Buyer.
The New Zealand new releases tasting in London last week may not have had the scale of recent years, being held in the 67 Pall Mall club, but it was just as insightful. Apart from a slew of first rate wines from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages, New Zealand Winegrowers decided to show how these wines can age. A masterclass, hosted by Peter McCombie MW, showed Sauvignon Blancs from as far back as 2003 and Pinot from 2008 onwards. It was a real eye-opening, transcendent affair, as David Kermode reports.