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
New South Wales is pretty proud of the fact it is one and a half times bigger than France. A region that has 2,000m high snow-lined mountains and deserts that reach 50C. It also has seven major wine regions each with its own terroir, climatic characteristics and a diversity of wines its producers claim can also live up to the French too. You can find out for yourself at today’s New South Wales generic tasting taking place at 67 Pall Mall in London. Here respected Australian wine writer, Andrew Graham, helps explain what New South Wales is all about.
You don’t get to the size, scale and influence of Les Grands Chais de France (GCF) without knowing a thing or two about how to make wine for virtually every kind of wine consumer. Responsible for what it claims is around one in four bottles of French wine sold in the UK, and one in five of every bottle of wine exported from France, Les Grands Chais de France is hugely important to the overall French wine category. Ahead of its first all channel portfolio tasting in London on October 4 and 5, featuring all its international wines and spirits too, Chris Davies, UK sales director for on-trade and independents, explains how its premium wine strategy is driving the company forward with a new range of Signature wines representing the best of what France can do.
Although it is only 10 years old the Austrian Single Vineyard Summit, held earlier this month in Grafenegg, has established itself as an epicentre for all that is good in Austrian Wine. The ÖTW, which runs the event, has designs on becoming a national body as it continues to expand with new regions signing up. Its painstaking, new classification system now covers 95 1er Cru sites with Grand Cru to come and, with Austria’s wine exports on a roll, there is still room for further expansion as Austria establishes itself with a younger generation of international wine lovers. David Kermode was one of 40 international journalists taking part in the event and reports from Grafenegg.
Craggy Range made history this month by being the first New Zealand winery ever to be sold on the historic La Place de Bordeaux. This honour should come as no surprise, argues Robert Mason who shows how, in the 25 years since land was bought for the estate in Hawke’s Bay, Craggy Range has become an iconic New Zealand winery which has never lost sight of its sense of place or its family ties. Meeting up with head winemaker Julian Grounds, Mason gets an invaluable insight into the workings of the winery as well as gets to taste the new vintages of ‘Le Beaux Cailloux’ Chardonnay, ‘Aroha’ Pinot Noir, Le Sol Syrah and the Bordeaux blend Sophia.
“It is not only our mission to promote world class wines, but also to discover and reward new and exciting wines from established and emerging regions across the world.” That’s how Tom Stevenson, founder and chairman of the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships introduces the results of the medal winners in the 2022 competition. The CSWWC has grown to become the world’s biggest and most respected awards initiative for the Champagne and sparkling wine sectors with medal winners selected from over 1,000 wines entered.
Featuring 68 wines from 17 producers and seven emerging and established regions, New South Wales (NSW) will hold its first live wine showcase since Covid at 67 Pall Mall in London on September 21. This is a unique opportunity for UK buyers to take a deep dive into this vast and diverse region with producers represented across the Hunter Valley, Hilltops, Orange, Central Ranges, Tumbarumba and Mudgee, featuring a wide range of wines that are both in the UK already and those looking for distribution.
Today’s The Bunch annual press tasting stands out for two important reasons. Firstly, it is an opportunity to taste premium wines from all over the world from seven of the UK’s most leading importers. But, secondly, these are suppliers who are united by their commitment to ethically source and supply the independent sector with quality wines encapsulated in a fiercely proud code of practice that ensures best practice trading standards and customer service. Here’s what The Bunch means to some of those who run it: Corney & Barrow’s Rebecca Palmer (chair), Private Cellar’s Laura Taylor, Tanners’s Robert Boutflower and Yapp’s Tom Ashworth.
Ana Paula Bartolucci is a winemaker used to making waves. Not only is she the first female winemaker in 60 years at Chandon Argentina but, as the youngest member of its innovation and research team, she has also successfully steered them for the first time into the apéritifs category and the UK market, by making a sparkling wine with oranges as well as grapes. The inspiration for Chandon Garden Spritz, a new ready-to-pour-spritz, was Bartolucci’s grandmother’s Orangecello recipe. Four years and 64 attempts in the making, she firmly believes that this time she has finally cracked it.