Thanks to European development funding Hilary Miller has been able to return to her home in the Isles of Scilly where multiple generations of her family have lived before to set up her own craft distilling business with her husband Arthur. After only a few years from launch the Scilly Spirits Distillery is winning a raft of awards in all the major international spirits competitions and gaining distribution around the country thanks to its initial listing with John Lewis. Richard Siddle finds out just what inspired the couple to start a distillery in Scilly.
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.
The One Step Beyond conference organised by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, in partnership with the WSTA, is back. First held in March 2020 the one day event is returning to London on October 31 with a unique mix of experts in consumer trends, behaviour, innovation and technology from outside the drinks and hospitality sectors combined with leading players within the industry who can help identify the key trends and issues we all need to be on top of in our respective businesses. The event will look to tackle the future shopper, how to make the most of direct to consumer and how understanding what dictates human behaviour can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
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.
The sense of spirit and togetherness is there to be seen right across the winemaking community in Stellenbosch, and none more so than with the members of the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective – 35 producers who are all working individually and together to put Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon on the world map. For the latest article from his in-depth Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle, talks to leading members of the group about how Cabernet is evolving in the region and the drive to make even more quality wines.
Mags Janjo is no stranger to readers of The Buyer – from winning a place to study for his MW through the Golden Vines Scholarship to supporting female winemakers across the globe with the diverse portfolio at MJ Wine Cellars, the wine distribution business he set up in 2019. Following initial success at wine trade shows, Janjo and the team put on their inaugural portfolio tasting at the WSET School in Bermondsey earlier this month. We sent our very own Mike Turner to taste his way through the wines on offer.
Some of the best and most evocative journalist stories come straight from the front line when intrepid reporters are willing to embed themselves in the military and head straight into a battle zone in order to tell it as it really is. Well, here’s a drinks journalist alternative to all that derring-do. Richard Siddle reports back from the heart of Bavaria where he has returned from a trade mission, embedded as part of the Hofmeister team, to see for himself what the brewing heartland of Bavaria is really like and go behind the scenes at the traditional Bavarian brewery responsible for making the new revamped, multi award-winning Hofmeister Helles lager.
The wine trade is blessed with inspiring characters on both sides of the winemaking and buying fence. So when two of the most creative and innovative personalities come together on a new project it’s worth taking notice. Which is why The Buyer was intrigued to sit down with highly experienced wine buyer, Andrew Ingham, formerly of Morrisons, Coles and Greene King, and Rollo Gabb, wine producer and founder of Journeys End, the successful South African wine brand, to hear about the new wine brand – Interpunkt – created by Ingham that is now making wine with Gabb. A new wine brand that promises to shake things up, both with its branding, edgy attitude and sales strategy and its paper bottle packaging that it believes is the way forward for modern wine brands and the environment. Richard Siddle finds out what Interpunkt is all about.
For number one whiskey and bourbon fanboy extraordinaire, Neil Hennessy-Vass, the chance to try new spirit, Drew Mayville’s Signature Blend, alongside the man himself was an opportunity too good to miss. Mayville is a Goliath of blending, sitting as he does at the helm of Sazerac the company that owns The Last Drop Distillers, that is managing this exclusive release and whose 28th rare liquid this is. With only 1500 bottles produced you’ll have to be quick to grab a bottle, and you’ll have to have a cool £3,100 in your wallet…