Here’s a story that flies in the face of the theory that wine drinkers don’t care about where their wines come from. Katie Jones, producer of Domaine Jones in the Languedoc-Roussillon has sold out within days of launching an “Adopt an Old Vine” scheme that allowed her customers to go online and pick out a vine, each given a name and their own back story, and claim it as their own. Here Jones explains how she came up with the idea and how she hopes it brings her loyal customers even closer not just to her wines, but the actual vines that produce the grapes that go in them.
Australia has had comparatively few human casualties from Covid but the financial impact has been immense. The loss of international cellar door trade plus the tariffs imposed by China – as an indirect result of the pandemic – have been keenly felt. Add to this the bushfires and floods and you understand why the Australian Grape and Wine Authority says as many as 30% of the country’s 2,600 wineries could go under. Justin Keay talks to three family-run wine estates to see how they are faring and what they are doing to plan for an uncertain future in the week when Wine Australia launches its new CONNECT digital platform to help bring its producers closer together with wine buyers around the world.
Spirits buyers will have their own criteria and determining factors that will decide which spirits brands end up on their drinks lists and pride of place on their back bar. But it can’t help to benchmark whatever vodkas, whiskies or gins they have chosen with the best of the best in the recent London Spirits Competition. Here we profile the overall winners in the separate vodka, gin and whisky categories and why they stood out to a judging panel made up of some of the UK’s leading bartenders and spirits buyers.
Portobello Road Gin has only been around for ten years but in that time it has established itself as both a bartender and consumer’s favourite. Part of the secret of their success has been that the distillery was set up by bartenders. One of those, co-founder Jake F Burger, took Fiona Holland through the thinking behind four of their classic expressions and why the company has one foot in the past in order to take two steps into the future.
“Wine is drunk by 33 million people in the UK, but the vast majority aren’t ever going to go study the WSET.” That’s what got Josh Lachkovic into thinking about using digital marketing skills to bring more off beat wines to a much bigger audience through a new sort of “learn about wine as you go” wine subscription service. The result is Wine List, a new wine box service that has convinced him to leave his previous career in food and coffee and give it a go. Fiona Holland finds out how it is going to work.
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Louis Roederer’s chef de cave, confesses to being more laid back these days – less obsessed with House style and letting the vintage and the grapes dictate the course of the winemaking more. Only the second vintage of Cristal to be made since transitioning fully to biodynamic farming, the Louis Roederer Cristal 2013 displays a number of changes in direction for the House – and there are more major changes in the pipeline. Peter Dean had an audience with Lécaillon at the UK launch of Cristal 2013, with Cristal 2008 constantly used as a reference point – the vintage he had previously declared was the best ever…
When we started The Buyer our mission statement was all about how we could play a part in bringing producers and importers together by helping them better understand their respective needs. Well, in the case of Ross Sleet and the South African wine brand, Rascallion Wines, and Jamie Wynne-Griffiths, founder of Propeller, the new breakthrough wine supplier, The Buyer has managed inadvertently to do just that. They both read pieces about each other’s business on the site, liked what they saw, rang each other up and within a matter of weeks are now doing business together. Matchmaker Richard Siddle caught up with them.
There was a big increase in entries from all over the world in the 2021 London Wine Competition from both the classic, established wine producing countries, as well as the less celebrated. Wherever they came from they were all judged in the same way. The quality of the wine, how they tasted, their value for money and what they looked like. Here we shine the light on Portugal which was one of the most successful countries in the 2021 awards with its medal success reflecting a boom in sales in the UK.
The Pays d’Oc IGP vineyard of South France is a cornucopia of vinous delights for wine lovers of all persuasions. It is a vineyard area that each year produces an astounding array of diverse rosé wines using the full palate of permitted grape varieties and styles. World rosé wine expert Elizabeth Gabay MW tastes through a range of the new 2020 vintage of Pays d’Oc IGP Rosé and highlights ones which use single varieties as diverse as Marselan and Petit Verdot, as well as blends.
Kunye is a new wine brand with a very clear mission. To drive better inclusion in the South African wine industry with a scholarship fund that will help South Africans from disadvantaged backgrounds embark on a career in wine – as well as hopefully bring a new inclusive South African brand to a broader international wine consumer. Jessica Broadbent talks to its two founders, Cassidy Dart MW and Inika Minnie about their vision for the brand, including producing what they claim is the first consumer wine book written in Xhosa, and what they can do to help drive real change in wine diversity not just in South Africa but in all the markets where it is sold.
The Armit Italian portfolio tasting has always been a key date in the diary of serious wine buyers. Ever since John Armit set up in the company in the late 1980s, Italy has been Armit’s strongest suit. This year the company engineered an unprecedented access to the portfolio with buyers tasting up to 80 wines at home, including wines from its marquee producers such as Tenuta San Guido and Bruno Giacosa. In the first part of a tasting special Peter Dean picks 10 white wines that hit that sweet spot between accessibility and class, and focuses on wines that deliver outstanding value, at a time when the on-trade in particular needs to be buying more scrupulously than ever.
Fifteen leading chief executives offering three pieces of actionable advice each. As pitches for a new online business conference that’s pretty much hitting the nail on the head. But this is what you can expect at the new Three Things Summit taking place next week aimed at helping the hospitality sector plan for what is still such an uncertain future. Here Richard Siddle talks to Martin Williams, chief executive of Rare Restaurants, that includes Gaucho and M Restaurants, about what to expect.
Lanzarote wines have a great future ahead of them, argues Justin Keay, who says that the vogue for wines from volcanic soils, plus the improving quality of the wines from the island is spelling good news for the growing number of wineries. In the past eight years the number of DO wineries on Lanzarote has almost doubled, with most of the winemakers at the top producers only in their 20s and 30s. Keay hones in on indigenous varieties Listan Negro and Malvasia Volcanica, and picks out four wines which are worth putting on your buying radar.
In his career as a drinks buyer Ivan Dixon, be it during all the years he decided what went on the shelves at Harvey Nichols, or more recently what brands ended up as part of Enotria&Coe’s portfolio, has nosed, swilled, spat, tasted and drunk thousands of wines and spirits. In fact there is probably not one premium spirit brand on sale in the UK that has not passed across his desk at some stage in its life. So for him to agree to not just be a brand ambassador for a new spirits brand, but invest in it too means the launch of a new brand from Kenya – Procera gin – named after the country’s indigenous Juniperus Procera juniper berry, really needs some investigating.
Following last year’s triumphant annual tasting in London, Austrian Wine knew it had a job on its hands to replicate the success of its ‘real life’ event under Lockdown conditions. Austrian Tasting UK: The Stay-at-home Edition, as it was billed, was also hugely impressive as David Kermode discovered. Over 6,000 samples were sent globally, every winemaker had a chat room, there were seminars from key industry figures and more.
Raul Diaz continues his series of picking a classic, but simple recipe to go with the world’s most famous and widely planted grape varieties. This time round he turns to Chardonnay, much maligned by wine purists for many years, that has now bounced back to become one of the benchmark grape varieties and styles in the world. But what do you pair with it? For Diaz there is nothing better, particularly on a nice sunny day, to grill some sardines and serve with Chilean-style salsa – Pebre. Read and enjoy…
When it comes to diversity and inclusion there is so much we can all learn from the actions and inspiration of others. Like the steps that Chris and Andrea Mullineux have taken at their award-winning South African winery, Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines to both involve and reward all their permanent staff by sharing the profits of a new wine brand, Great Heart Wines, with them. Sumita Sarma talks to Chris Mullineux about how the scheme works and the other steps the winery is taking to help develop and support its team.
So what now? This is the question winemakers throughout France are asking themselves after the devastating crop losses of April’s frosts. What is the strategy for the future? and how can losses be mitigated moving forwards? Tim Ford, co-founder and MD of Domaine Gayda in the Languedoc, assesses the impact of the ‘cruellest month’ and considers how this affects his plans to expand in the region.
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Bordeaux is full of Chateau owners and families who have been born not just into wine, but some of the best places in the world to make it. Not Jean-Luc Thunevin. His success in Bordeaux has come through all his own work, starting as a garagiste winemaker, before developing Chateau Valandraud from half a hectare of land into a first classified growth of Saint Emilion. Richard Siddle talks to him about his extraordinary life that has taken him from his home land of Algeria to become one of Bordeaux and France’s most celebrated winemakers and influential producers.