Our final look back at the wines of 2022 finishes with a selection of 10 from our Drinks Editor, Peter Dean. Four major events stood out for him in the year – a legendary Hermitage tasting, a wine fair in Vienna, a cycle through the vineyards of Burgundy and a tasting in the underground cellars of Octavian which has already gone into wine scribe folklore as possibly the best-ever wine tasting.
“Curious Vines’ approach to redressing the gender imbalance in the wine world is two-fold: not only do they provide high-quality education and academic support for women undertaking the highest level of wine qualifications; but they complement this by fostering a genuine community of women in wine.” Which is why The Gerard Bassett Foundation has just awarded Queena Wong, founder of Curious Vines, a Master of Wine support funding programme to help female candidates taking the exam. Here we talk to Queena Wong about the work Curious Vines does to bring women in wine together and how the new funding will help.
“We have never been able to buy Bordeaux with the consistency of quality that we are doing at the moment…Bordeaux has never been so good.” That was the verdict of Bordeaux wine educator, Laura Clay, after taking part in a tasting of Right Bank Bordeaux wines that asked our panel of leading importers, wine merchants and educators to assess wines from 2018, 2010 and 2012 vintages to see what developments there have been across the region’s main appellation as part of a link up with Union of Syndicates of St Emilion which covers 10 appellations: Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Montagne Saint-Emilion, Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac and Canon Fronsac.
Created in 2005 and now led by 36-year old CEO Rodolphe Frerejean Taittinger, Frerejean Frères is one of the youngest houses in Champagne – allowing it to break free from convention. The company ethos sits somewhere between that of a typical maison and that of a grower as Victor Smart discovered when he visits for its inaugural maison cellar dinner. Smart meets the Frerejean Frères team and samples the wines including Cuvée des Hussards 2012 and VV26 Grand Cru, a blend of 2008, 2009 and 2016 harvests from vines dating back to 1926.
Slovak wines are unchartered territory for most, the country itself was only made an independent republic 30 years ago, and vineyards here were once regarded as being on the very edge of what is achievable viticulturally. That is sure to change, argues Elizabeth Gabay MW, who previews ‘World of Slovak Wine’ a first-ever Slovak wine tasting event in London that looks to show wines made from Dunaj, Alibernet, Devín, Milia, Hron, Rimava and Rudava amongst others.
James Van Tromp and Nathan Aylott have both spent their careers up to now advising big corporates, including major drinks brands, large retailers and flagship shopping centres on what they need to do to attract consumers to their products and sites. Now they have decided to take all those experiences and create a drinks brand for themselves. The result is Hitchhiker, a small batch botanical rum, they believe can sit at the forefront of where the rum category is going to next.
There are some excellent wines in the new Burgundy 2021 vintage, that is if you can lay your hands on any. With volumes so low now is the perfect time to look at German Pinot Noir to fill the gap, argues Harry Crowther. Attending a Howard Ripley deep dive into three Spätburgunder producers, called ‘Understanding German Pinot Noir’, Crowther highlights three wines from Weingut Peter Wagner, Weingut Holger Koch and Weingut Rings that he believes the trade can use in lieu of red Burgundy.
“Drinks producers, importers and buyers are having to work out new ways of trading that allows them to do business with each other. But they are having to do so in a real-life equivalent of a Twister game, where everyone’s position changes with every throw of the dice.” That’s how Richard Siddle sums up the unique challenges the drinks industry, and the retail and hospitality sectors it serves, faces going into 2023.
Burgundy Week kicks off in London today with a raft of tastings, although the number of events is down just over 50%, reflecting the overall reduction in wine stocks from the region. With so little wine available Corney & Barrow has decided not to hold its annual Burgundy tasting, arguing that it seemed unfair to expect their producers to go to the trouble of showing wines which few customers will be able to buy. In this fascinating insight Guy Seddon, head of fine wine buying at Corney & Barrow, explains the qualities of the vintage, where the many beauties lie, and why 2021 Burgundy is a vintage that very few young buyers will have experienced before.
Bordeaux as a wine region is so integrated into the UK wine market that it would be hard to imagine a sector without it. But what is it about Bordeaux that UK wine buyers – and wine drinkers – keep going back for? What, in particular, does the Right Bank, and its Union of Syndicats of St Emilion which gathers 10 appellations: – Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Montagne Saint-Emilion, Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac and Canon Fronsac, offer that UK buyers can’t get anywhere else? That was the theme of the latest The Buyer debate, held in partnership with Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac which brought together leading trade figures, buyers, wine consultant, importers and merchants to get a cross industry feel on what it is about these landmark wine areas that capture their attention and what it needs to do in the future to keep their focus in the years ahead.
Provence continues to be a go-to region for wine drinkers across the globe searching out premium rosé. Rosé dominates wine production in the southern French region, with around 90% of the wine produced as the iconic salmon-pink wine. But what is it about Provence rosé that seems to have captured, and continues to capture, the hearts of so many wine drinkers in the world? We asked The Buyer’s Mike Turner, a restaurateur and retailer himself, to taste through a selection of the 2021 vintage and give us his thoughts on the region.
2022 was an eventful year for Lisse Garnett with her Top 10 wines of the year largely picked from her travels to Argentina, Hungary, South Africa, Greece, Portugal, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Colombia and Chile. Garnett writes here about events of the year which included the Real Wine Fair and Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, as well as the mourning of a lost friend in the influential English restaurateur Andrew Edmunds.
The UK Wine List of the Year awards are back giving restaurants, bars, hotels and pubs across the country the chance to showcase the work that goes on behind the scenes by wine buyers and sommeliers to pull together market leading wine lists. The awards are organised by Star Wine List, in partnership with The Buyer, as part of its International series of wine list competitions that are held in cities and countries all over the world. Here we set out what the categories are to enter for the 2023 competition, including a new standalone award for the most sustainable wine list.
“If you go to the town of Setúbal it’s everywhere, and it’s in every thing. It’s in the soap. You name it. They know they have something special.” That’s how wine consultant and broadcaster, Joe Wadsack, explains just how important Moscatel, the fortified, sweet wine is to Portugal’s Setúbal wine region, located just south of Lisbon. In part two of our debate with leading wine importers, merchants and sommeliers on the opportunities for Setúbal in the UK we turn the spotlight on what Moscatel can potentially offer.
Now that wine scribe Chris Wilson is a winemaker – with a growing output and reputation – wine tastings he attends is a time to learn a trick or two from others winemakers. Visits to Switzerland, South Africa and France, plus a range of tastings in the UK, form the basis of Wilson’s top wines of the year which include a Rotgipfler, a left field Shiraz from Western Australia and a red field blend from Craig Wessels.
Margaret River is not only celebrated for its wines, but for the magnificent natural environment within which the vineyards nestle. Inspired by their relationships with this landscape, winemakers Vanya Cullen (Cullen Wines), Glenn Goodall (Xanadu), and Ian Batt (Small Things Wine) find common ground in their endeavours to preserve it. Here Angela Oemcke talks to them about the steps they are taking and what impact it is having on the land and the wines it is capable of producing.
Picking the best wines of the year is a fascinating exercise because it reflects the passions and field of expertise of the wine writer. In the case of Justin Keay, the ‘wines that make him go Hmmm’ are ones largely made from lesser-known grapes, wines made in regions that are just coming onto the wine world map and those that have been around for millennia but are just being re-discovered. So in Keay’s top 10 are fascinating, rare wines such as one made from Lorkosh and Samarghandi grapes exported from Iran and vinified in Sweden by a natural winemaker, and another, a Tuscan white made from Vermintino and Ansonica grapes picked by prisoners on the island of Gorgona.
Situated just south of Lisbon it’s fair to say the Setúbal wine region has yet to really show its true colours to either the trade or UK wine drinkers. But that’s largely because so many of its producers have had great success at home in Portugal, making up a fifth of domestic wine sales. Now the focus is changing and Setúbal is looking to explore opportunities overseas, particularly in the premium on and off-trade, for its specialist, maritime influenced wines that can potentially offer a whole new spectrum of wines for buyers looking for fresh, fruit forward, gastronomic wines. To find out just where the gaps might be in the UK market, The Buyer teamed up with Setúbal Peninsula Wines to host a zoom debate with leading importers, wine merchants and sommeliers to get their take on the region, taste some classic examples of Setúbal wine and see where it might sit within the overall Portuguese wine category.
For her most memorable wines of 2022, Anne Krebiehl MW has chosen to list the wines that she drank a bottle of rather than merely sipped at a tasting. In a year which saw her get engaged and land a plum position at Vinous, Krebiehl understandably includes a large amount of fizz in her selection – even more than usual, if that is possible.
When you are the retired owner of a restaurant that regularly won Best Wine List awards – and you are still adding to the cellar rather than selling – you undoubtedly have a step-up from many in the wine trade in terms of accessing top-end wines in their optimum drinking window. Roger Jones’ best wines of 2022 list therefore includes such rare gems as Krug Clos du Mesnil 1990 and Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1954, as well as newly-released wines that he has tasted both as a judge and wine writer.