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    wine producers
    Insight
    California

    Allison Jordan: how California leads the world on sustainability

    Talk to winemakers across California and they don’t see anything special or unusual about being organic, biodynamic or sustainable. That’s just the way they make wine – and always have done. It’s also why the state is arguably leading the rest of the world with how far its growers and producers have come to farm sustainably. Here we talk to Allison Jordan, executive director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, about the work it is doing to champion and take sustainable winemaking to the next level to hopefully help and inspire other wine regions around the world.

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    Insight
    Unico 2014

    Why Unico 2014 is a masterpiece and insight into its making

    Last night Vega Sicilia launched Unico 2014 to the UK trade in the Spanish Room at London’s National Gallery as a way of marking 160 years of winemaking. Honoured guests were treated to an unforgettable evening of wine, art and culture as importer Berkmann also celebrated 60 years in the business (in the year that the National Gallery is also celebrating its double centenary). The new releases rubbed shoulders with older vintages, paired with a banquet served in a room dripping with priceless art. Our very own Peter Dean was granted a golden ticket and uses this historical occasion to examine what goes into making these wines as he recalls a visit to Vega Sicilia to discover just that.

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    Insight
    simon huntingdon good

    Marasby’s Simon Huntington’s three big English wine trends

    With 70% of English vineyards planted in the last 10 years, the UK is home to one of the wine world’s newest and fastest-emerging regions. As a result, it can be difficult to keep up with events. Vintage variation in England is significant, and there are constantly new producers coming on stream. Simon Huntington, co-founder of Marasby, the specialist English wine retailer, is as well placed as anyone to know what is really going on with growers, winemakers and producers. Here are his top three English wine trends that will drive the market in 2024.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Yangarra

    Meeting Yangarra’s Peter Fraser: Rhône ranger of South Australia

    Retired Michelin star chef Roger Jones gets up close with Peter Fraser, winemaker and general manager at Yangarra, McLaren Vale to discover his love of Rhône Valley wines, hear how US Jackson Family transformed the winery’s fortunes with a similarly held belief in old, bush vine Grenache, and to taste through the newly-released wines.

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    Insight
    bruce dickinson 2

    Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson on turning customers into fans 

    The business conference circuit is made up of professional keynote speakers able to turn their hand to any industry and share their wisdom on how that sector and its company leaders could do better. But there are not many on the speaking circuit who are also used to fronting a heavy metal band and playing to tens of thousands of adoring fans. That, though, was the theme that Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, drilled down on in his inspiring talk at last year’s Wine Future event in Portugal. How do you turn your customers into loyal, adoring fans? Without slipping into spandex, or whirling an electric guitar around. 

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    People: Producer
    Sugrue South Downs

    The rebirth of Dermot Sugrue – Britain’s finest winemaker

    With the purchase of Bee Tree Vineyard in East Sussex, new financial backers and a whole range of new projects afoot, 2024 will be the year that Sugrue South Downs will finally and indelibly be put on the map. Run and co-owned by Ana and Dermot Sugrue – the most famous and finest winemaker in the history of English winemaking – the team are turning their backs on contract winemaking and concentrating on their own portfolio which will include Dermot’s first still wine, a Pinot Noir from Essex fruit, a first Blancs de Noirs, a gin and a perpetual reserve with an undisclosed gameplan called Bonkers. But first, there’s the no-small matter of expanding a very muddy building site into a fully-functioning winery.

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    Insight
    worried about drinking

    Lewis Perdue’s analysis of Dry January & alcohol cancer claims

    If you are in the midst of Dry January here is a sobering analysis by US wine and medical writer, Lewis Perdue, into the scientific and medical research and health claims made by certain US government regulators and alcohol control organisations about how damaging drinking alcohol is and in particular the supposed threat of the acetaldehyde compound commonly found in alcohol beverages that is claimed to be linked to cancer. Research and evidence that Perdue believes is far from proven. Here he explains why. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Spier Wine Farm

    Lisse Garnett puts South Africa’s Spier wines to the taste test

    As one of the oldest Cape wine farms, Spier has its share of controversial history but for the past five decades it has been at the forefront of enotourism, sustainable viticulture and social innovation in South Africa. By seeing to the needs of workers and practising regenerative farming, Spier has generated positivity in the local community and even abroad, where they’ve won many accolades for this work. In her second piece about the estate Lisse Garnett met up with Frans Smit in London to taste through Spier’s latest vinous offerings.

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    Conference
    Die ProWein in Düsseldorf ist die international führende Fachmesse für Weine und Spirituosen. Vom 19. bis 21 März 2023 präsentieren sich über 6.000 Aussteller aus mehr als 60 Nationen. 
ProWein in Düsseldorf is the world’s leading trade fair for wine and spirits, and is the largest industry platform for professionals from viticulture, production, trade and gastronomy. From 19 – 21 March about 6,000 exhibitors from over 60 Nations showcase their products.

    What to expect as ProWein prepares for pivotal 2024 show 

    It looks like ProWein will have to do without an appearance from Kylie at this year’s show, but for thousands of wine buyers and producers Dusseldorf still remains the place to be seen and to do business. Richard Siddle catches up with the show’s new director, Peter Schmitz, to find out how seriously it is taking competition from Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, and what steps it is making to build on its status as the number one global wine fair. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Jean Leon

    Jean Leon – schmoozing Marilyn and Bordeaux wines in Penedès

    Few wine estates are like Jean Leon that can boast a founder who was a Hollywood actor, then a restaurateur who schmoozed Marilyn and James Dean, and then returned home to Penedès and uprooted Spanish varieties in order to plant Bordeaux vines. Victor Smart takes up this fascinating tale and tastes through the range of new wines with Mireia Torres, yes that Torres, who is now tasked with taking the estate along the next stage of its journey into a somewhat uncertain future.

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    Opinion
    Screenshot 2024-01-17 at 11.37.05

    WSTA’s Miles Beale: how you can fight against duty changes 

    “This time last year alcohol inflation was 3.5%. We told the HM Treasury that its plans for the duty system would push up inflation. Now alcohol inflation is almost three times the rate a year ago.” That’s how Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirits Trade Association, kick starts a campaign starting today to get the government, the Treasury and the Chancellor to think again about its new damaging alcohol duty regime that is, as warned, sparking inflation with spirits up 8.9% on a year ago, wine up 7.8% and fortified wine up 18.7%. Here he sets out what the industry can do together to get the government to change tack. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Beautiful Chaos

    Michael Seresin on taking a new direction with Beautiful Chaos

    Celebrated film and winemaker Michael Seresin is not a man to stick with the status quo and the launch of three new natural wines under the sub-brand Beautiful Chaos witnesses him showing the world another angle to Marlborough wines. Peter Dean caught up with him and runs the rule over the three new wines.

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    Opinion
    richard shotton screengrab

    Richard Shotton on using simple storytelling to sell brands

    We’ve all seen the power of the stand-up comedian that can have an arena full of thousands of people enthralled just by talking about the simple, everyday things we do in our lives. But there is a scientific reason why we love them so much. We can see ourselves in the stories they tell, visualise ourselves doing the very same. That’s the power of using simple, storytelling techniques copied by brands and marketing teams all over the world. Here behaviour scientist expert, Richard Shotton, explains the other powerful steps drinks brands and businesses can take to tell their stories and connect with their customers.  

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    Tasting: Wine
    Pugnitello

    San Felice’s Pugnitello: forgotten Tuscan grape with ‘The X Factor’

    Pugnitello is an ancient Tuscan grape that has been rising in significance over the past 40 years in Chianti-shire. From an experimental planting by the University of Florence in the 1980s, it was championed by San Felice as a blending component for Sangiovese, then replaced it in the estate’s SuperTuscan blend Vigorello. It is now used by 20 producers in the region, with its own Pugnitello community formed. To hear this remarkable story, and to taste the grape in a blend and as a single varietal wine, Leona De Pasquale hooked up with winemaker Leonardo Bellaccini.

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    Conference
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    Wine Future: What we need to do to be diverse & inclusive 

    One of the wine industry’s biggest strengths is also one of its major weaknesses. For this is a sector that attracts people for the long term with many, if not most, spending their entire careers working in some aspect of wine or another. But it can, for that very reason, be quite intimidating for someone to come in to what is a largely white, middle class workforce, particularly if you don’t look or feel the same as those around you. To help better understand what those challenges are last year’s Wine Future conference invited those from a range of different backgrounds and underrepresented groups to share their experiences of how diverse and inclusive the wine industry really is.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Margaret River

    Roger Jones on 22 top Margaret River wines with IWSC gongs

    Wine judge and former Michelin-star chef, Roger Jones, examines the latest round of awards and trophies handed out by the IWSC to 22 Margaret River wines – tasting them and determining if he agrees with their awards status or not. An expert in, and a prolific buyer of, wines from this Western Australian wine region, Jones also discovers how IWSC has increased entries for certain regions by 300% into their annual Wine Awards competition.

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    Conference
    wines unearthed judy ana sofia

    Find unsigned talent at Wine Paris with Wines Unearthed

    Ironically the hardest thing busy wine buyers get to do when attending major trade exhibitions is the opportunity to go and meet new producers, so busy are they with meetings with existing producers and importers. Which is where Wines Unearthed comes in. An initiative 100% focused on promoting producers seeking distribution in key markets all in one area of the show. It has become a firm fixture of the London Wine Fair and will be making its first appearance at Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris in February. Here its founders, Judy Kendrick and Ana Sofia Oliveira explain how Wines Unearthed works and what to expect in Paris. 

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    Opinion
    2023 British wines

    Chris Wilson: we need to show caution about 2023 UK wines

    The 2023 British harvest was enormous with 20-22 million bottles predicted, but are the celebrations premature? Indie winemaker Chris Wilson from Gutter&Stars thinks so as he believes the all-crucial benchmark of quality of wines has not been fully determined. In a fascinating insight into 2023 British wines, Wilson explores why there was a glut of fruit in 2023, why over-cropping became an issue and how he has had to deal with the 2023 fruit in order to make the wines he wants to.

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    People
    tim wildman with glass

    Tim Wildman on being the world’s most disruptive MW 

    “All of my businesses have that underdog hunger, that big start-up energy. They all have challenger status, and a healthy dose of punk rock resolve.” That’s how Tim Wildman MW describes his self-made career as what he calls – with his tongue firmly in his cheek – the “world’s most disruptive MW”. Over the last 10 or so years he has set up his own wine producing business that now sells his eclectic Australian pét nat wines in 16 countries, run a series of wine education field trips to Australia and started an English wine initiative, Lost in a Field, bringing back to life old native grape varieties. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about the passion he has felt as an underdog to shake up and disrupt the traditional wine industry.

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    Insight
    Institut Regional de Sommellerie Sud de France

    Institut Regional de Sommellerie Sud de France opens its doors

    The Institut Regional de Sommellerie Sud de France is a spanking new €9m facility close to the city of Perpignan that is an immersive regional sommelier school with international associations and ambitions. As it opened its doors for the first time we sent Victoria Sharples to the Roussillon to see how a range of flexible and tailor-made courses offer insight and practical experience to sommeliers and wine trade professionals both in France and further afield.

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