With little in-depth knowledge of the wines of Chile, Justin Keay went along to the thin country’s annual generic tasting with an open mind and a set of pre-conceptions. Were the wines going to be power houses made with international grape varieties and produced in staggeringly high volumes? Not a bit. What Keay discovered was a wine scene that is clearly evolving, focusing more on regionality, freshness and tilting away from the old dependence on Bordeaux varieties; although it can still produce these very well indeed, especially at the premium end.
Ben Franks is “a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit, which defines those who subscribe to the motto ‘Follow your dreams’.” That’s how Angela Mount describes the steps that Ben Franks, chief executive and founder of multi-award winning Novel Wines, and specialist importer of south and East European wines, has already achieved in such a short period of time. As he announces he is to step away from Novel Wines in the new year to concentrate full time on the Canned Wine Co, which he also co-founded, as chief commercial officer, Mount catches up with him to see where his wine dreams are going to take him next.
The Loire has been back with a bang this summer with its first Bloom Big tasting at London’s Southwark Quarter in June to help showcase all the styles of wines now being made in this key French region. To help mark the occasion and better understand what it is buyers and leading wine figures are looking for from the Loire, The Buyer teamed up with the event’s organisers, Loire Valley Wines, to host a special panel debate that looked at the challenges and opportunities the region faces and how its wines can continue to lead the world in producing lighter, fresh styles of wine that are now so in demand by wine buyers and wine drinkers alike. Helen Arnold reports back and picks out the buyers’ and producers’ key comments.
The Rioja wine board took its 100kms of Diversity tasting tour around the UK this month to help educate the trade about new developments within the Rioja region but also as part of a ‘levelling up’ process. Janet Harrison, founder of the People’s Choice Wine Awards, caught up with the Rioja tour on its Manchester leg, talked to importers, producers and wine buyers there, and discovered that there is an increasing need to tap into a wider wine-buying community – not just one that is centred around London. Top of the agenda was taking the focus away from ageing (Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva etc) and being able to discuss Rioja’s ‘terroir driven wines’.
Inspired by tasting Michel Chapoutier’s biodynamic wine at ProWein in 2019, Ukrainian winemaker Ihor Petrenko set out to make his own biodynamic wines at the Biologist winery close to Kyiv. He has followed a hard but hugely rewarding winemaking journey since. His conversion to biodynamics is a story that is also the inspiration for this award winning article by Victoria Makarova in the biodynamics category in the WebWineWriting competition organised by Hungarianwine.eu. A story we are pleased to share for you on The Buyer.
The worlds of bulk, branded, packaged and own label wines and spirits are becoming ever entwined as buyers and producers alike look at ever more efficient and sustainable ways to do business with each. Which is why in November the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show is returning to London with a new sister event, the UK Trade Tasting focused on promoting branded wines and spirits. The Buyer talks to events organiser Sid Patel, chief executive of the Beverage Trade Network, about what he hopes the two combined events can offer the UK and European wine industries.
The first taste of a new vintage of Celebris is always a big occasion and the launch of Gosset Celebris 2012 did not disappoint. Gosset chose Ekstedt at the Yard in London for imaginative food-pairing, contrasting the wine served straight from the bottle and also from carafe. Who better to taste and rate for The Buyer than Roger Jones, an expert in Champagne and sparkling wine and also a one-time Michelin Star chef himself who, bowled over so much by one sauce served with the fizz, declared it the best fish sauce he had ever tasted.
The UK’s fascination with wines from Portugal continues to rise. With exports to the UK already growing in the first half of 2023 by a confident 18% in volume and an impressive 44% in value, Portuguese wines are clearly showing their qualities and no longer stuck with the historic reputation of cheap and cheerful and made to a price point. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner to the Wines of Portugal tasting earlier this month in London to find out why so many are keen to add Portuguese wines to their shelves and wine lists.
The 2023 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction that takes place on October 6, will be the 39th since the cream of the South African wine industry decided to club together and make special, one-off wines that showcase the depth and breadth of Cape wines to an international audience. To date the auctioned wines have become collectors treasures and have also showed up on the secondary auction scene. To give potential bidders the inside track on this year’s event, South African wine expert Roger Jones flew back from his Rugby World Cup antics to London to join CWG chair Gordon Newton Johnson and others for an exclusive tasting of 40 of this year’s top wines.
The world over winemakers are increasingly turning to the benefits of working with old vines helped enormously by the research, insights and leadership of initiatives like the Old Vine Project in South Africa and the Old Vine Conference. One of these winemaking pioneers is Derek Mossman Knapp and his Garage Wine Co in Maule in Southern Chile who is taking the old vine movement one step further by not just reviving old vineyards, but doing so in a way that ensures the local rural community also has a long term source of sustainable income. He explains to Richard Siddle why working hand-in-hand with old vines and local communities are ineluctably entwined.
It is one thing wanting to source wines from a particular target country or region, it can be quite the challenge to find the right producer with the right wines for your business and customers. Particularly when looking at a developing wine country for the first time. Like Greece. Here we talk to Antonis Sioulis, managing partner of Reco Exports, that specialises in putting Greek wine producers together with the right overseas partners, about its new bespoke service it hopes to offer UK importers and wine buyers in finding the right Greek producer for their needs.
UK wine drinkers have a distinct thirst for the sparkling wines of Italy. Whether from the juggernaut of Prosecco, the luxury of Franciacorta, or even the critically acclaimed Trento DOC, Italian bubbles are a seemingly permanent fixture on the wine lists or shelves up and down the country. The Buyer’s Mike Turner argues that Alta Langa DOCG, producing high quality sparkling wine from the famed hills of Piemonte, deserves to join in the fun. He visited Carlo Galliano at Borgo Maragliano to find out more about some of Italy’s oldest sparkling wines.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Distill Ventures. It is no exaggeration to call its inception, development and progress one of the more remarkable stories of the last 10 years in the drinks industry. Perhaps the reason it is remarkable is that at the heart of Distill Ventures you have a compelling idea: a partnership between non-corporate entrepreneurial minds and Diageo, the biggest drinks corporate of the lot; one side looking for funding to develop their ideas and create a brand – the other looking for the next big thing to fuel organic growth. And while a slow burn, there are signs of success. To assess how Distill Ventures builds on its first decade Adam Withrington sits down with its new chief executive, Heidi Dillon, who has been promoted after years with the business, to see what new drinks trends we can expect in the future.
A Col Fondo served straight from a 20-litre keg, in which the secondary fermentation took place, was one of the many highlights of the annual WineGB tasting that gave Justin Keay an opportunity to feel the pulse of the British wine industry. Producers are bullish, with more of them smiling now about the 2023 growing season after a warm September… and there are plenty of newcomers showing impressive wines, 10 of which Keay picks out to put on your buying radar.
For a region as big and as important to the overall French wine industry it is surprising the AOP Languedoc has not had a major generic trade and consumer advertising campaign to promote what it does. Until now. In fact it is about to move into the fast lane of wine communications with a comprehensive campaign that looks to capture the unique qualities of a region synonymous with making wines for all price points with large scale producers, working alongside smaller, niche, independent players. Richard Siddle talks to Olivier Legrand, director general of marketing at AOP Languedoc.
Think of quality Pinot Noir wine regions and you could be forgiven for thinking of Burgundy, California, Germany and New Zealand before you think of the South of France. So the chances are you might not think immediately of the Languedoc-Roussillon where IGP Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir comes from because of the heat. And yet the variety of soils, micro-climates and lay of the land in the region and the freedom of expression that is allowed with IGP Pays d’Oc has resulted in a vast choice of high-quality Pinot Noir at barely credible prices. Which is why Peter McCombie MW called his recent masterclass on the subject – ‘IGP Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir – the great alternative’. Peter Dean reports.
“We must not be afraid of the word ‘bulk’…for me, bulk means creativity. It is the foundations of the house on which you can choose to build one way or another.” That’s the open minded approach that the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) wants to take when providing the global wine industry the platform to buy and sell wine and do business, says Cristina V Miranda the event’s marketing and communications director. Here she explains what to expect at this year’s event.
For a Champagne house so in love with Pinot it is curious that it has taken 42 years for Champagne Bruno Paillard to release a new Blanc de Noirs since its first one way back in 1981. “You have to start somewhere'” Alice Paillard tells Peter Dean, as she explains why she eschewed opulence and sweetness in the Bruno Paillard Blanc de Noirs MV and opted instead for refinement with a very low dosage – a true sommelier’s cuvée if ever there was one.
As India’s first Master of Wine Sonal C Holland is well placed to assess both the huge opportunities there are to grow wine consumption in India, but also the challenges the sector has to make a major breakthrough. She will be sharing her insights at Wine Future in Coimbra, Portugal in November and is the latest speaker at the event to give their views on the state of the global wine industry.
The release of a new Kumeu River vintage is always an event. One of New Zealand’s finest and most sought-after producers, this legendary estate is best known for its Chardonnays which give many a 1er and Grand Cru white Burgundy a run for their money. Located 20 km northwest of Auckland, the estate now boasts two Pinot Noirs, one of which comes from its youngest vineyard, Ray’s Road, purchased from Trinity Hill six years ago. To launch the Kumeu River 2022 vintage, marketing director Paul Brajkovich was in London to host an in-depth tasting of the wines. Sophia Longhi hooked up with him to get the back story of the vintage.