Retsina, one of the most well-known wine styles in Greece, with Attica as the centre of its production, is experiencing a complete makeover. PGI Retsina of Attiki produces these iconic wines that have re-invented themselves, with new elegant styles, based on quality grapes and moderate resin flavours. In the third and last of our Attica Special features we look at why Retsina is a style of wine that demands to be better known and why Attica has such an important role in the Attica Renaissance.
If you wanted to write a book on the best way to launch a new drinks brand then get top bartenders to help create the drinks with you and then recruit some of the best, most respected and connected talent to help lead the business and you’ve got more than half your book written. Which is exactly what the founders of Mocktails did when they came up with the idea of creating authentic, naturally made alcohol-free ready-to-drink cocktails that top venues and bars would happily have in their venues from day one. Richard Siddle sits down with two of the ‘talents’ behind Mocktails, Ed Gerard, chief commercial officer and Chris Rowe, head of UK sales, to help write the rest of that book.
Although still somewhat immature as a wine category, German rosé has almost doubled in production over the past decade – up to 12% of all German wine production. Because German Pinot Noir is the third highest planting of the variety worldwide we can expect to see a lot more of German rosé, writes Simon Field MW, especially with so many quality winemakers making both high-end and commercial, populist styles. On a press trip entitled Think Pink! Field was introduced to a plethora of wines that showed many of the issues facing German rosé – most notably name and style – as it strives to forge its own identity in this fascinating category.
“The amount of change and development is sometimes hard to assess from an insider’s point of view, but really there is so much happening in the UK wine scene and we hope to convey that notion to visitors.” That’s how Simon Thorpe MW, chief executive of WineGB, sets the scene for the body’s annual tasting that takes place at London’s Lindley Hall on September 6. It will once again be the opportunity of the year for buyers and the UK wine trade to see for themselves what is happening in the fast changing UK wine scene.
Rosé is a wine category that is much-maligned, according to world expert Elizabeth Gabay MW, who says that even erudite critics fall into the trap of labelling it ‘sexy’ or ‘seductive’. Many buyers don’t taste but make decisions based on colour alone, while the on-trade is missing a massive opportunity by only listing one or two choices compared to a long list of reds and whites. Gabay has made it her mission to set the record straight by applying the same set of critical criteria as she would to any other wine. On the eve of the publication of her new book, which takes an unprecedented approach to the pink wine across Provence, Bandol, the Rhône valley and Languedoc-Roussillon, she opens out to The Buyer about why she is ‘still banging on about rosé’.
The key challenge – and opportunity – for any leading wine importer and agency business is to ensure the range of producers it is working with are relevant for the needs and demands of their customers. It’s why Louis Latour Agencies has been able to build its impressive portfolio of producers from around the world. Here managing director, Will Oatley, gives an update on the company’s performance and why he is so pleased to welcome two premium Provence producers – Chateau des Demoiselles and Chateau Sainte-Roseline – to its growing stable.
August 2022 will go down as the earliest grape harvest in Spanish history. Sarah McCleery was there, in Pastrana, a 14-hectare vineyard close to the sea in Miraflores, watching Palomino Fino picked by the team at Bodegas Hidalgo. She was there to witness an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this sherry producer, most famous for its Manzanilla La Gitana, but also a much larger range of sherries, still wines and vermouth. A guest of Fermin Hidalgo, McCleery witnesses an historic horse race on the beach, gets converted to sherry-pairing throughout a meal and sees how Hidalgo has kept on top by keeping things fresh from the barrel.
The adage that we are stronger together very much applies to the decision to bring the tourism and wine sides of Stellenbosch together under one organisational and promotional body – Visit Stellenbosch. Richard Siddle examines how it potentially provides the perfect platform on which to tell the many stories of Stellenbosch through the prism of its wineries, vineyards and winemakers and the spectacular scenery and tourism experiences they offer.
Five new Italian wine estates and three Spanish have been added by Carson & Carnevale to its portfolio in a September refresh. The multi-channel importer and distributor is now working with Kellerei St Paul’s, Marchesi di Barolo, Tenuta Scuotto, Assuli and San Giusto a Rentennano from Italy and Bodegas y Viñedos Monteabellón, Navascués Enología and Viñedos de Sonsierra from Spain. Peter Dean tasted through the range, introduces each estate and picks out his key highlights.
Talk to multi-generational family wine producers and many will say the most difficult time comes when passing the business on between the third and fourth generation, as that is when there are so many moving parts to keep the company and family together. Well, they must be doing things differently at Maisons & Domaines Henriot as Gilles de Larouzière Henriot, is the eighth generation to head up the family business. Here he explains to Richard Siddle his approach and how the family is still firmly involved in its future strategy.
Paz Levinson might have made her name and reputation as a world leading sommelier working outside her home country of Argentina, but she has always remained close to the wine scene there and how she can help promote the best wines that Argentina is producing. Which is why she has launched her new ‘Argentina Reloaded’ programme that hopes to showcase in key cities around the world the most exciting developments in Argentina’s burgeoning wine industry. Here she explains to Richard Siddle just what ‘Argentina Reloaded’ is all about.
For the past two decades German wine has been on a roll with the country housing one of Europe’s most vibrant, creative and progressive wine industries. And yet the wines of Germany are some of the most misunderstood on the planet. In an in-depth and wide-ranging interview German wine expert Anne Krebiehl MW explains about the full trajectory of the German wine industry – early success, then doldrums, its current state of health and its direction – and why now is the right time for re-evaluation. She explains why there is currently an unprecedented density of quality production and a new generation of winemakers who are re-defining what German wine can be in the 21st century. Grape varieties have changed as have wine styles – with grace and elegance favoured over power – all the result of a new-found, more self-confident identity that was almost obliterated by two world wars and the disastrous legal framework of the 1970s. A Buyer Rewind feature – re-posted from its 2020 ‘publication’.
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The wines of Santorini are rapidly becoming recognised as the world class wines they are. The Greek island of Santorini may be small but its reputation is massive on a global scale and rapidly increasing. But why are these wines so unique? What is it about the soil, climate, grape varieties and viticultural techniques that make these wines so distinctive and worth seeking out?
“Happily the indigenous grapes we tasted today, with their breadth of styles and good quality, definitely have a place on UK wine lists. Some will make excellent pairing wines, others a brave alternative and others more of a ‘hand-sell’.” That’s how wine buyer and restaurateur Victoria Sharples, owner of the Swain’s Wine Bar & Store in north London, described a recent masterclass she attended to promote and highlight the diversity and variety of central Greek wines to a panel of sommeliers.
The Saint Mont wine region in SW France was ‘lost’ 40 years ago – turning out cheap Tannat-based wine and spirits with many winemakers giving up and moving on to other businesses. André Dubosc changed all that by setting up the Plaimont cooperative that now accounts for 98% of Saint Mont AOC, half of Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic Bilh with well over 600 growers. It is now one of the most transformative and genuinely exciting wine regions in France, reviving forgotten pre-phylloxera grape varieties that can help counter global warming and a renewed focus on old vines, premium sites and ancient varieties. Geoffrey Dean travelled to the region, attended the third Saint Mont Amelographic Days Conference and heard first-hand from Plaimont’s chief winemaker and managing director Olivier Bourdet-Pees about the exciting changes taking place.
“We want to try and help create a more focused approach about what varieties are best planted where based on a better understanding of the soils, the terroir and the micro climates of what are effectively a multitude of different site expressions.” That is how terroir expert and wine consultant Jonathan Steyn explains the thinking about producing a report purely focused on explaining the influence of Stellenbosch’s terroir. Here Richard Siddle continues his series of reports from Stellenbosch.
Legendary (H)ermitage lived up to its billing. A tasting to see how Hermitage AOC winemakers had handled the heat of the 2019 vintage and the hurdles of 2020, followed by a dinner of truly epic proportions. This was the first Syrah celebration that the AOC had conducted in 31 years and the first-ever in London, and it soon became one of those pinch-yourself moments where legendary bottle after legendary bottle were poured and drank.
“UK demand for tequila has recently grown at around 8%, but even more interesting is the growth for premium (21% growth) and super-premium (13% growth) brands. A lot of brands, ambassadors and bartenders have worked hard on tequila’s image in recent years to get to this point – and it’s clearly working. But what might lead to a bigger tipping point?” That’s the question that Dan Hooper, co-founder of the YesMore drinks marketing agency, looks to answer as he examines just what it is that has made tequila both the go to drink for A list movie stars and the great drinking public.
Most wine businesses came out of lockdown looking and acting very differently to when they went into the pandemic. But not many can look back on such a transformative performance as Armit Wines. In the year to September 30 2021, and in the height of the pandemic, it saw turnover increase 7% increase to £22 million, a swing in net profit of £2m taking the business into the black to just over £1.3m and gross profits up 25.4% from 22.7%. But what were the key decisions made by managing director, Brett Fleming, and his management team that made the difference? To help us unravel the numbers and take us behind the scenes at Armit Wines we talk to head of sales Fraser Currie.