Throughout this new series of interviews with some of the world’s top winemakers we have heard differing stories of how vignerons have coped during the pandemic – the lessons learned and what changes they are implementing as they face the future. But what of winemakers in China? What has been the experience in the country where the virus started? For Emma Gao, winemaker at Silver Heights, she has helped the winery’s expansion both at home and abroad, experimented with new cuvées including her first Pet Nat and taken home some fundamental truths about wine’s place in the grand scheme of things.
The summer of 2021 will be remembered by the international wine community for the devastating fires that have wreaked havoc across so many of the world’s most famous wine regions. Over the last few days thousands of hectares of forest, and potentially hundreds of hectares of vines have been caught up in wild fires across Provence and large parts of south east France, wreaking havoc as they teared across the land. Here, in an impassioned opinion piece, Stephen Cronk, owner of Mirabeau describes what it has been like to feel the brute force of nature and how close he, his family and team came to losing their new Domaine property and why we all need to wake up to the dangers of climate change and take real, effective action.
The London Drinks Competitions pride themselves on being as close to judging beers, wines and spirits as the people who choose to buy them do. Whether it is a busy drinks buyer for a major supermarket, a sommelier for a top Michelin restaurant or a bartender looking for the latest hip spirit for their back bar. For each product is judged on their quality, their value for money at that price point and what the packaging and design looks like. The separate 2022 awards are now open for London Wine, London Spirits and London Beer and if you enter by August 31 you can take advantage of super early bird pricing.
Champagne expert Robert Walters believes that Champagne producers talk a lot about terroir while at the same time blend it away in the name of house style. But is Champagne house style simply part of the shiny facade of luxury brand marketing, or does it go deeper than that? Tom Hewson speaks to Alice Paillard and Charles Philipponnat about what makes good house style in Champagne and how they try and achieve complexity and personality in a multi-vintage, multi-vineyard blend.
Ahead of next month’s specialist tasting in London of over 100 wines from some of the finest and most sought-after crus of Barolo and Barbaresco we talk to Matteo Ascheri, president of the Consortium for the Protection of Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe and Dogliani, about this iconic, world famous wine region, and the challenges and opportunities there are in ensuring its wines are as relevant and coveted as they have always been, whilst also keeping ahead of changes in viticulture and winemaking styles to ensure it is making wines the market and consumers want to drink.
“Seeing a brand grow and develop, emerge from some rough sketches and bringing clients ideas to life though visual storytelling will always excite me.” It’s also why Jodie Newman has decided to jump into the deep end and leave the security of a strong, safe job – as head of creative at Frexienet Copestick working on leading brands as Freixenet itself and I Heart Wines – to set up her own design agency for the drinks industry. Here, as part of our Onwards and Upwards series shining the spotlight on individuals looking to make big changes in their career, she sets out what her agency will be able to offer and what for her is a winning wine or spirits design.
South African wine producers have been particularly badly hit by Covid and by actions taken by their government. Although one of many alcohol bans has recently been lifted, restrictions on hospitality are still in place and slowing the pace of recovery. As part of our ongoing series on winemakers emerging from the pandemic, Anthony Hamilton Russell of Hemel-en-Aarde pioneers Hamilton Russell Vineyards, explains how he has been running his operation, and how the ‘new normal’ will see him re-focus his wine portfolio, and benefit from improvements made during the past 18 months in distribution, communication the cellar and vineyards.
This week we shine the spotlight on Mags Jango, founder of wine distribution business, MJ Wine Cellars, and look at his career in the wine industry, taking a lead role on promoting diversity and inclusion in the sector and his response to winning the Master of Wine scholarship in the new Golden Vines scholarships initiative for BAME and BIPOC students awarded as part of the Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation in partnership with Liquid Icons.
Ex Michelin-starred chef and Australian wine expert Roger Jones tastes and rates Tom Cullity 2017 – the new premium Cabernet Sauvignon from Vasse Felix that critics are saying is the best vintage yet – alongside the four previous vintages, including the inaugural 2013 vintage that was released on the winery’s 50th anniversary. Jones also gets up close and personal with Vasse Felix owner Paul Holmes à Court and chief winemaker Virginia Willcock to discover the history of this wine and why it works so well with black truffles.
“One thing we’re great at as an industry is collaboration, particularly over the course of the pandemic. People have really come together to create fresh ways of working and new partnerships – with great distress comes great creativity, and I think that’s something the sector has really proved this year.” That’s the way that Jillian MacLean, founder and chief executive of the Drake & Morgan pub group, describes what makes the drinks industry such a unique place to work. It is also one of the main reasons why she has become a trustee of The Drinks Trust and an opportunity for her to share some of her experience as a leader and major employer in the hospitality industry at a key time in the charity’s history.
When AYALA closed its cellar for a month in March last year, it was the first time that this had happened since the winegrower revolt in Champagne in 1911. For the House’s chef de cave, Caroline Latrive, the pandemic has forced many changes upon her and her team, as it has on winemakers right across the globe. In this latest instalment of The Buyer’s series, Adjusting to the New Normal, we find out how AYALA is moving onwards and upwards as the world adapts to the changes wrought by Covid-19, both from a winemaking perspective but also how the commercial team has fared, as director general Hadrien Mouflard paints a picture of how he has met some of the many challenges.
Finding the right wine for your list is ultimately what being a wine buyer is all about. Half the battle is getting access to source the wines that are right for your buying needs and the venue you are buying for. It’s why the London Wine Competition is fast becoming one of the key competitions for wine professionals as it only uses commercial buyers as judges who assess wines in the same way they might in their role: by their quality; their price and value for money; and what they look like with their packaging and design. Here’s how you can take part in the 2022 awards.
Sometimes an anomaly with the weather can do extraordinary things to a wine. In the case of Moët & Chandon’s Grand Vintage 2013, the lateness of the 2013 growing season in terms of budding, flowering and ripening meant that the house was picking grapes in October. Even with 23 years under his belt at Moët, chef de cave Benoît Gouez, says he didn’t have any reference point for such a late year, rot was an issue too, especially with the Pinot Noir. But the House has turned in a magnificent wine and, against all the odds, it achieved the best average balance between acidity and alcohol than any other Moët vintage Champagne over the past 60 years. Peter Dean got the story and reviews the two wines – blanc and rosé.
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Tell anyone outside the drinks industry what you do for a living and the common assumption is you live a life of fun and travel enjoying fine food, wine and spirits along the way. The reality, as we know, is somewhat different. But it is the idyllic lifestyle that the new international publication Falstaff International wants to capture. A new quarterly magazine and digital platform dedicated to food, travel and wine. Anne Krebiehl MW has been appointed editor-in-chief of the new title and here she explains just what she hopes Falstaff International can offer the drinks industry – and her readers – in the months and years ahead.
There are no Grand Cru vineyards in Meursault, but that hardly seems to matter sometimes when you are drinking aged Premier Crus from a top producer. This is one of the lessons that wine expert Harry Crowther learned during an exceptional tasting with Bouchard Père & Fils. In order to showcase its 2018 Meursault, the producer showed its new Genevrières and Perrieres alongside two different older vintages, as well as showing the new vintages of Les Clous, Le Porusot and Les Gouts d’Or. For Crowther it was an opportunity to really get under the skin of what Meusault means as well as to assess the new 2018 vintage.
If we all had a pound for every time we were told the “story” behind a particular brand, wine or spirt then we would not have to work at all. But there is a big difference between how interesting, relevant and captivating a product story might be. Then there’s the skill in how you actually tell that story. Which is what the People’s Choice Drinks Awards ‘Story Behind The Label’ competition is all about. The chance for brands, and drinks companies entering the awards, to also tell the story behind their liquid in its video competition which is being opened up to the spirits sector for the first time this year. Here’s what spirits brands have to do to enter and why The Buyer is delighted to be the main category sponsor for both the wine and spirits categories.
A low alcohol Sauvignon Blanc macerated with hops to make a ‘winebeer’ was one of the many highlights at the ProChile wine tasting held at the Chile Embassy in July. Set up to offer the UK trade a first hand taste of 40 wines looking for a UK partner, David Kermode found the tasting small, perfectly formed and genuinely fascinating – demonstrating yet again how fast this country is progressing in offering wines made with indigenous grapes and alternative styles.
As well as all its thrills and spills the Tokyo Olympics also put mental health back on the national agenda as athletes and competitors from around the world openly talked about all the huge pressures they face doing what is effectively their job in their work environment. Here, in the first of a new regular series of articles from Michael Page, one of the world’s biggest recruitment consultancies, Nicholas Kirk, identifies the top five measures employers can be taking to support their staff through this ever-changing time in the work place.
The memory and influence of Gerard Basset OBE MW MS are encapsulated by the new series of Golden Vines scholarships that are being awarded as part of the Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation in partnership with Liquid Icons. Two of the most prestigious scholarships are the The Golden Vines™ Masters of Wine and The Golden Vines™ Master Sommelier Scholarships which, in their inaugural year, have been awarded to Mags Jango, founder of the UK wine distribution business, MJ Wine Cellars, and Winnie Toh, a sommelier from Singapore, who is currently working at the Aman Hotel in Turks and Caicos. They will both receive £12,500 to cover the full costs of tuition, examination and tastings to take part in the two programmes, including the opportunity to take part in exclusive winery visits and study tours. In the first of two profiles on the winning students we talk to Winnie Toh about her career and what she hopes winning the Master Sommelier scholarship will do for her career.