Hatch Mansfield chairman Patrick McGrath MW describes the present challenges facing the drinks industry as a ‘shit show’. With stock stuck in ports all around the world, the climate affecting yields and more, it was impressive that the importer’s autumn showcase was a well-tempered affair full of blisteringly good wines. Held at the Tower of London, David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus also managed to keep his cool at the tasting and picks a Top 10 of wines that really turned his head.
Another year another new vintage – Cloudy Bay 2021 was launched in the UK yesterday, sadly by Zoom again, with technical director Jim White stepping in for winemaker Daniel Sorrell who has handled the previous run of releases. With newly-appointed senior winemaker Nikolai St George joining last September from 2021’s New Zealand winery of the year, Giesen Wines, there are clearly changes underway. How much of that is down to the new hierarchy is too soon to tell but White does reveal that Te Koko is undergoing an overhaul and the style of Cloudy Bay 2021 is different to the 2020. There is also the considerable issues of a 30% drop in yield and getting the wine onto a ship – anytime, anywhere would be nice. Peter Dean reports.
Ahead of this week’s One Step Beyond webinar on October 13 Richard Siddle talks to Robert Chin, chief executive of leading US and Canadian drinks company, Aquilini Beverage Group, about how, in just over two years, he has transformed it from being largely a bulk supplier of alcoholic drinks to a leading drinks brands producer in its own right with a number of fast growing lines across North America. Here he looks at what he thinks it takes to be a successful drinks brand.
There is so much talk about the so-called changes that consumers have been through during the pandemic, but what are they in reality and how relevant are they for the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors? That is what the third in our series of One Step Beyond webinars, organised in partnership with Sophie Jump, will look to tackle with experts from the fields of consumers behaviour, innovation, technology as well as leading figures in the drinks industry. Here’s what to expect and how to sign up to the free webinar being held on October 13.
You can have the highest scoring, most awarded wine list in the country, but if you don’t have the sales team with the skills to build relationships and understand which wines are best suited to which restaurants and bars then it’s going to gather dust in your warehouse. Here we talk to Maria Proshuta, part of the London on-trade sales team for Corney & Barrow, about the skills she thinks you need to sell wine to the on-trade.
The clock is ticking for beers, wines and spirits producers to enter the 2022 London Drinks Competitions and take advantage of special pricing that ends on October 15. There will still be time to enter the competitions up to the end of February but at the full entry fee for each of the three awards. The London Wine, Beer, and Spirits competitions pride themselves on judging every product entered for its quality, price, value for money and what they look like with their packaging and design. Here’s how you can enter the 2022 awards.
Found in Cocchi’s archives, the recipe for Cocchi Barolo Chinato tipo Esportazione was brought back to life in a limited edition to celebrate the great Italian company’s 130th anniversary. Such a special Barolo Chinato deserved a special send-off which it got at Hide in London’s Mayfair – mixologist Oskar Kinberg had devised a series of bespoke cocktails to celebrate Cocchi’s vermouths and Americano while chef Ollie Dabbous was at the controls in the kitchen – devising the menu and in particular a warm ‘acorn’ cake with smoked caramel and liqueur to pair with the Chinato. Victor Smart reports.
There are no tyre kickers and time wasters at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition. This is not a trade show where you can merrily wander around and expect a producer to give you a taste of their full range. No, the WBWE is all about doing business. Samples are offered for buyers to taste that might result in orders of hundreds of thousands of litres of wine. As the show’s chief executive, Otilia Romero de Condés, says the WBWE has three main objectives for its delegates: business, networking and results. Here she explains what we can expect from this November’s show.
In just over 40 years Joseph Helfrich has turned Les Grands Chais de France from a 5,000 franc loan into one of the world’s most important wine producing groups – currently worth €1.14bn and accounting for over a fifth of all France’s wine exports. Famille Helfrich is the group’s exclusive on-trade and independent retail arm that is showing over 200 of its wines at two UK tastings. The London event is next Tuesday while the Manchester one just happened with Mike Turner suitably impressed with what was on offer – especially a wine from Gascogne that is £3.68 DPD.
If you had a spare few hundred pounds and wanted to invest in some bottles of whisky then Nick Morgan is the man to call. With over 30 years experience of working in the whisky industry – the last 20 plus years at Diageo – he has now branched out on his own to offer his whisky, brand and strategic insights in a new consultancy role. He has also looked to capture his whisky know-how in a new book – simply called Everything You Need to Know About Whisky. Here he explains how it came together.
Compared to the finest crus of Burgundy by some of the world’s leading wine critics, Querciabella’s Batàr is no ordinary white wine from Tuscany. Celebrating its 30th year with the 2018 vintage, this is a Pinot Bianco/ Chardonnay blend that has an almost uncanny ability to age. To prove the point and to launch the new vintage, winemaker Manfred Ing lined up a once-in-a-lifetime vertical for David Kermode, including the very first vintage – 1998 – that Kermode describes as a ‘miracle’.
“Barley forward, Téireoir-driven whisky” is not your usual descriptor you come across on a bottle of premium whisky, but it also stands more as a mission statement, or a way of life for the whisky team at Waterford, one of the mostly highly regarded of the growing number of elite Irish distillers that are shaking up not only the Irish spirits market but premium whisky as a whole. Richard Siddle talks to its charismatic head distiller, Ned Gahan, about exactly what it means by “téireoir-driven whisky”.
As most UK-based importers expand their portfolios this year, one company is defiantly swimming against the tide by only offering on and off-trade customers one estate per country or region represented. The approach by Cardiff-based Fine Wines Direct UK means that it can import in bulk, offering customers competitive prices and good stock availability. For the wine producers it also means that their wines do not have to compete against other wines from the same region. But what of the selection and the wines themselves? Justin Keay tasted through part of the range which includes Pesquera, Marqués des Cáceres, Carrau, Allan Scott, Thorn-Clarke and Escorihuela Gascon.
For all the innovation there might be on back bars and on retailers shelves things have stayed pretty much the same in the way wines, spirits and beers are judged and awarded medals. With blind tastings and products assessed on quality being the way to go. That was until the end of 2017 when the London Drinks Competitions were introduced – with separate awards for London Wine, London Spirits and London Beers – by the Beverage Trade Network which announced it was going to awards its medals based on the quality of the drinks, its value for money and what it looks like in terms of packaging and design. Four years on we talk to the competitions founder Sid Patel about how and why he came up with the awards and his plans for keeping them different from the competition.
“So let’s get this straight. 1: I pick the fruit – grapes for wine, apples for cider. 2: I crush the fruit. 3: I ferment the juice – grape juice for wine, apple juice for cider. What’s the difference between wine and cider so far? Nothing. Flavour, yes. Philosophy, no.” That’s Oz Clarke making the case for why cider should be treated with much more respect as a drinks category in its own right. Which is why Alistair Morrell, head of Cider is Wine, is so pleased to see cider as a key part of the IWSC’s Back to School tasting aimed at giving wine students and the trade the opportunity to discover and taste off beat wines, ciders and drinks styles from all over the world.
Enotria & Coe’s Decameron tasting was the first of the major importer tastings this autumn and it was packed to the rafters with exciting new wines and spirits, producers eager to get back into the fold, and 1200 buyers keen to do business and hear about E&C’s spectacular Christmas peak sales levels. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, sampled the new lines and picks out a Top 10 that caught his eye, as well as talks to managing director Sam Thackeray about the company’s current triumphs and challenges.
Enter into any debate around digital, e-commerce and direct to commerce and one of the buzzwords and terms that everyone quickly refers to is “content” – and the need not just to have it, but to have a lot of it. But what exactly do people mean by “content” when it comes to online retailing and running a website? That was the topic in question for our panel of “content creators” as part of One Step Beyond webinar, hosted by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, held earlier in the summer. Richard Siddle, who helped chair the discussion, analyses what we can all learn from producing good content and what impact it can have on your direct drinks sales.
José Moro, at Ribera del Duero’s Bodegas Emilio Moro, is the first winemaker to have been picked as one of the top 100 global business leaders in the field of innovation and creativity by Forbes Spain. His latest project, Sensing4Farming, developed hand-in-hand with Vodafone, is aimed at creating a high quality sustainable vineyard that can be managed completely digitally. And yet his wines also have tradition at their core – fine Tempranillo that speaks of the land from which it comes. Geoffrey Dean reports.
“Buying into a brand that ‘gives back’ is a powerful thing. A key element to a modern, profitable wine list now needs to be seeking out this type of producer.” So says Harry Crowther who believes restaurants and bars should be thinking about putting truly sustainable wines on their lists, even in favour of organic wines, as consumers are now far more interested in ‘buying into’ brands that are putting sustainability first which makes them feel good to support them.
The Nahe is one of Germany’s smallest wine regions featuring just nine producers but, with Donnhoff and Emrich-Schönleber amongst them, it includes some of the country’s best sites for making Riesling. Peter Dean tastes and rates a range of wines from Emrich-Schönleber including four dry style wines, a Kabinett and an Auslese, and talks to owner/ winemaker Frank Schönleber about achieving a delicate sense of balance in his wines.