Small harvests in a number of regions, plus cost-of-living pressures are driving consumers to ‘drink less but better’. And never has finding out about good value wines with a fascinating story and provenance been more key. These were some of the themes of Justin Keay’s visit to Jeroboams’ Autumn Portfolio tasting where he got the lie of the land from the company’s key players plus tasted through the range, highlighting 12 producers that caught his eye in the all-important £10-£30 bracket.
Wine communicator, educator and consultant John Downes MW found himself in lockdown with some time on his hands. So he decided to take on a new skill – animation. Within a few weeks it opened up a whole new world for him and a great, innovative and engaging way to tell wine stories and bring wine education to live. He is now producing a regular series of what he is calling Downes in Two – short animated, education videos on different countries, regions and wine issues.
“Journalists want to force Chenin into one style, but it is such a chameleon.” That’s the view of Heinrich Stipp, sales and marketing manager at Stellenrust Wine which has 15 different styles of wines from its range. As the wine world’s attention turns to the opening of Cape Wine in South Africa today we take a close look at Chenin Blanc, one of the country’s main calling cards and in particular what is happening in Stellenbosch and its influence on how Chenin Blanc is being produced across South Africa and arguably around the world. Here Richard Siddle talks to leading Chenin producers about what styles they think are going to succeed now and into the future.
Despite an erratic supply side, horrific shipping costs, exchange rates and glass shortages, there is plenty to be optimistic about in today’s market argues Hatch Mansfield CEO, Patrick McGrath. At 19 agencies, his portfolio is covering all bases and in manageable proprtions. Kate Hawkings talks to McGrath and MD Ben Knollys about the ‘state of the union’ and picks out 10 new wines that she thinks you should consider for your list.
Taking over as a chief winemaker for a major producer brings to mind the challenge – and opportunity – that awaits any new football manager, or rugby and cricket coach, taking over a top team. You might not be able to bark orders or move your vines around the vineyard, but the decisions you make will have a direct impact on how they perform. It’s the situation that Tomas Muñoz finds himself in as the new chief winemaker for Viña Errazuriz, in charge of its Estate Reserva, Aconcagua Costa and Max wine brands amongst others, and the responsibility of ensuring the high standards achieved in the past are carried forward.
“Communication requires more attention by professionals interested in selling, promoting, teaching and even making wine, as it clearly affects every aspect of the sector.” Those are the thoughts of Steve Kim, founder and the creative thinker behind the breakthrough wine2wine event that is back in November for its first post-Covid in-person event. It’s also why she and her team have decided to put “wine communications” at the heart of what will be the ninth wine2wine event with a series of talks, seminars and debates designed to share what wineries, producers, businesses, writers, influencers and communicators are doing to tell their stories about wine in their own creative way.
A photo of a French Antarctic expedition from 1904 in which the team is seen drinking Mumm Cordon Rouge was the inspiration for an extraordinary new champagne cuvée, Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar, which has been made to be drunk in space. Crazy publicity stunt or a genuine attempt to put some fizz back into space travel? Quentin Sadler met the team in Paris, got the lowdown on this five year quest and even got to taste the new champagne.
What do you get when you give a Master of Wine free rein to hold a tasting in a ‘wine cellar’ containing over 10 million bottles of fine wine worth over two billion pounds? The Octavian wine cellar tour tasting, of course. This was a tasting where the wine list was sent ahead on the invite and caused palpitations and no lack of envy amongst those unlucky enough to immediately receive a WhatsApp snap of the list accompanied by the caption ‘Tomorrow’s Lunch Wines’. Peter Dean got a Golden Ticket….
Armit Wine has one of the most enviable portfolio lists in the business. MD Brett Fleming celebrates three years in charge this November, and its Autumn Portfolio Tasting gave the team (and those producers that could get away from harvest duties) the chance to showcase their wares to an expectant client base of private clients, restaurants, and well-heeled independents. We sent Mike Turner along to get a taste of what Armit has to offer.
“Pinotage is emblematic of our country and the region of Stellenbosch. As a variety it is also just at the beginning of its own journey.” That’s how South African wine academic Jonathan Steyn describes just how important Pinotage is not just to Stellenbosch but to the country as a whole. A grape variety that has long been misunderstood outside of South Africa, but is now gaining the respect it arguably deserves. Richard Siddle talks to some of the most influential Pinotage producers to find out just where they want to take Pinotage next.
Aiming to be fully-sustainable as a business is all well and good but how do you do it in the wine business exactly? Alliance Wine drew its line in the sand in September 2021 and since then has aligned its business practices with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals from work in the vineyard through to how finished wines are delivered – even picking a ‘no waste’ restaurant in which to hold its ‘In Our Nature’ tasting. Robert Mason was suitably impressed with what he saw at the tasting and picks 10 wines that all have their art in the right place.
“Now is the time to value old vines, in every sense. And the sessions have been developed to show why. To value old vines is not to hanker sentimentally for ye olde days of the hoe…we want to highlight how old vine fruit inspires and engages winemakers.” That’s the rallying call from Sarah Abbott MW, co-organiser and founder of the Old Vine Conference that holds its first in person event next month as part of its worldwide ambition to bring producers, winemakers and commentators together to discuss and analyse how collectively the wine industry can work with, protect and use old vines to make the wines of the future.
Go to virtually any major city in the world and there will be a thriving, if small, natural wine scene going on. But what about China? Has natural wine been able to make its mark in such a vast, fragmented country where it’s hard for even multinational wine brands to make their mark? Nichole Mao, partner at Nimbility, the Asian-based drinks brand development agency, investigates the natural wine scene in China to see what sort of grip, if any, it has taken on the still growing overall wine market.
The second ever Blue of the Danube tasting on 12th October, is an unique opportunity to explore Central Europe’s fantastic diversity of blue-skinned grapes in one place, with around 50 producers from seven countries showing their wines.
It’s a busy and significant time at Enotria&Coe as it celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month and looks back on its achievements over half a century, as well as assessing how it is going to meet the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow. Part of that strategy is centred around taking its premium wine offer, and the services it can provide around it for busy sommeliers and on-trade buyers, to the next level. Which is why it’s a good time to catch up with John Graves, its new head of wine development, to get his take on a business he has re-joined and how he and his team are fully focused on making that strategy happen.
Spirits and fortified specialist Kate Hawkings found plenty to be impressed by at last week’s Specialist Brands portfolio tasting – liquids that were on-trend towards lighter long-drink styles and ones that play to the post-Covid stay-at-home-mixologist. She talks to all the key players, picks a Top 10 that definitely need your attention, plus highlights market innovations such as Boatyard’s 2.8 litre refill pouches of vodka and gin that help the on-trade save 25% over the same drink in bottle.
Although wine lovers the world over will be familiar with Wynns Coonawarra Estate and its iconic Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, this is still a misunderstood region, with the estate’s Michael Shiraz somewhat neglected. In a rare back vintage tasting which showed the three new flagship wines: Wynns John Riddoch 2019, Michael Shiraz 2018 and Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 against much older library wines, Justin Keay discovers, with the help of Wynns winemaker Sarah Pidgeon, what makes Wynns tick and how the wine styles are changing.
However much Stellenbosch wants to look forward, its future also lies in its past and the traditions and knowhow that enable so many of the innovations taking place in the region to happen. None more so than in the role of old vines in helping winemakers rediscover, and bring back to life varieties and plots of land that have gone unloved for many years. In the latest article from The Buyer’s Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle assesses just what impact old vines are having on modern winemaking in Stellenbosch.
With over 1,000 years of winemaking the Luberon isn’t a new wine region by any stretch of the imagination. But its wines have been over-shadowed by its two closest neighbours Provence and the Rhône. Wine communicator of the year, Sophia Longhi, visits the Luberon for The Buyer and reports that, with its core values of sustainability and biodiversity, teamed with approachable, versatile and accomplished wines, it’s now Luberon’s time to shine.
Mathieu Bordes, winemaker and general manager of the 3rd growth, Saint-Julien estate Lagrange, was in town to show a remarkable 11-wine vertical of the grand vin dating as far back as 1982 and including such legendary wines as the 1990 and 2000. Bordes explains in detail how they made the 2016 which he considers one of the best-ever produced, why they were never bothered about Robert Parker’s disdain for the estate, and why two thirds of production at the estate is dedicated to making Les Fiefs, one of Bordeaux’s truly great second wines. Geoffrey Dean reports