Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Sir Alex Ferguson has mixed success in Christie's fine wine auction

Published:  09 June, 2014

Sir Alex Ferguson bought well when he was at Manchester United and enjoyed some exceptional years in charge. But now after retiring from the club he is enjoying off-loading some of his myriad responsibilities.

Read more...

Alliance Wine opens London office to grow on-trade sales

Published:  09 June, 2014

Alliance Wine is opening an office in London to boost its sales into the capital's on-trade and south east market.

Read more...

Enter Story Headline

Published:  07 June, 2014
Read more...

France still best performing wine in on-trade

Published:  13 May, 2014

On-trade wine sales fell by 2% during 2013, and stayed flat in the first quarter, according to figures compiled by CGA for the WSTA market report. In the long-term, France still remains best-performing country for wine in the on-trade. It has grown 10% in the 12 months to January 25, 2014 and now holds a 27% share of total wine sales.

Read more...

France tops medal chart at the International Wine Challenge 2014

Published:  07 May, 2014

France has topped the medal chart at the International Wine Challenge for the 31st year running, taking 1987 medals, including 113 golds.

Read more...

Spring 2014: bulk wine prices

Published:  07 May, 2014
Read more...

Chile and South Africa wine exports surge

Published:  16 April, 2014

Chile and South Africa saw the volume of their wine exports surge ahead last year, while Australia and Argentina faced more challenges, according to Rabobank's latest report.  

Read more...

Champagne exports to UK plummet by 5.1%

Published:  14 April, 2014

The UK remains Champagne's biggest export market, despite imports falling to €447.2 million last year, a decline of 5.1% by volume and 3.8% by value.

Read more...

Education is critical for Italian wines to compete in Hong Kong

Published:  11 April, 2014

A panel of wine educators from Hong Kong have urged Italian producers to invest in education modules specific to Italy to boost the country's paltry share of the wine market.

Read more...

Stevens Garnier to add major brand every six months

Published:  03 April, 2014

Stevens Garnier is on the look-out for major old world brands, and plans to boost its portfolio by adding one every six months.

Read more...

New Generation Wines to distribute Guerrieri Rizzardi wines

Published:  02 April, 2014

New Generation Wines has signed a deal to become Italy's Guerrieri Rizzardi's exclusive importer and agent in the UK.

Read more...

Prosecco cocktails could be next big UK drinking trend, says Robin Copestick

Published:  25 March, 2014

Prosecco cocktails which have become popular across Italy and Germany could be the next big drinking trend in the UK, according to Robin Copestick of wine agency, Copestick Murray.

Read more...

Mark Fiddes sorts the Messis from the Rooneys in the Wine World Cup

Published:  17 March, 2014

Forget about Brazil 2014. The World Cup has already been decided.

Read more...

Liberty Wines prioritises customer education over London Wine Fair

Published:  27 February, 2014

Liberty Wines is prioritising its customer roadshows ahead of major trade exhibitions and won't be attending London Wine Fair this year. 

Read more...

Douglas Blyde hears history, gains insight and tastes wines at Fells first summit

Published:  26 February, 2014

Combine one part history lesson with another part insight into the runnings of five family businesses, with a final part of tutored wine tastings, and the first Fells wine forum would result.

Held at Embankment's five-star Corinthia, a hotel realised by the Libyan Investment Authority (vehicle for Colonel Gaddafi's state funds) proceedings began with a speech by Fells MD, Steve Moody. His message was: this time it's personal.

"Today we take a step in a slightly different direction," he said. "Over the last 10 years our portfolio changed dramatically. Now we're one of the most premium wine importers. Rather than a larger, generic tasting, this is more personal. We're in the business of selling stories - and I think we've some of the best in the trade."

The function room of about 40 attendees included "hand-picked" sommeliers João Pires (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal), Vanessa Cinti (Cut, 45 Park Lane), Jan Konetzki (Restaurant Gordon Ramsay) and Charles Pashby-Taylor (Dabbous). The latter (previously of Gaucho) very obviously connected with the event's message. Pashby-Taylor told host Gerard Basset OBE (who donated his fee to a Southampton-based charity for disabled children): "As a sommelier I can talk the hind legs off a donkey on closures and barrels, but nine out of ten guests will sit with blank expressions looking petrified. It doesn't matter if a wine costs £10 or £10,000 a bottle - what guests want to know is, has love and attention gone into it?"

Esoteric only?

Basset paraphrased Jancis Robinson in his address, who recently described how Robert Parker Junior was "annoyed" by sommeliers who "only list esoteric wines" and "forget beautiful wines from a classic region." "In London we're lucky to have very different restaurants. For example at the River Café, I know sommelier, Emily O'Hare will want to surprise me and give me a wine I probably never heard of. But if I were to go twice a month, I'd also want something classic."

Moody showcased five family-owned agencies, including Torres (who owns 10% of Fells) and Symington Family Estates (who own the remaining 90%). Paul Symington said: "I am chairman, but they don't even pay me. I don't even get lunch but some awful sandwich from down the road!" He justified his position: "I didn't buy in to make a profit centre; the only things I ask Fells is not to lose money."

Wearing a bright orange v-neck, Thomas Henriot of Champagne Henriot (1808), whose family also bought Bouchard Père et Fils and Domaine William Fèvre in 1995 and 1998 respectively was first to speak. "Any tradition is an innovation which has succeeded," he said.

Alongside his PowerPoint presentation which featured the amusingly-misspelled heading, 'Are we Dinausaures?' Henriot revealed his modus operandi: "The world is wild: I don't rely on the bank, and I don't imagine fashion will protect my legacy." He clarified the latter. "Putting Syrah in Montrachet wouldn't be re-inventing the wheel; it would be nonsense."

Next, Miguel Torres Maczassek, fifth generation of Torres (1870) showed slides of Torres' Spanish "Chablis" from 1940. "It was hard to sell Spanish wines until after world war two, when people became familiar with the Torres brand."

Unfazed by Pinochet

Torres Maczassek showed an elemental, juicy, fair-trade Chilean sparkling rosé made from the 'Pais' grape, the country's most planted and resistant grape, here found in earthquake-hit sites. I learned that as well as being pioneers (from 1966) in introducing international varieties and stainless steel tanks to Spain, Torres were significant in being among the first foreigners to invest in vineyards in Chile from 1979. "Others were scared by dictator Pinochet," said Torres Maczassek. The locals thought our stainless tanks looked like UFOs."

He also revealed the secret to success, which doesn't depend on automatic dynastical lineage. "We believe not everyone in the family should work in the company - only the people who can add value."

Barone Francesco Ricasoli was the most vigorous producer to speak. Representing the 32nd generation of his family, Ricasoli tends sites in Chianti Classico, a region defined by ancestor, Barone di Ferro (the Iron Baron) in the 19th century and "roughly the size of St. Emilion.'

Ricasoli described the period from 1993 when he and his father, Bettino bought back the estate's name and re-launched the estate. "While everyone was hiding the name Chianti Classico I did the opposite, starting to work on Sangiovese and finding out why it was such a tough variety - almost as much as Pinot Noir. There are 70 different clones listed by the ministry of agriculture catalogue.

While Ricasoli takes a serious, reasoned approach to agriculture, he appeared interested foremost in "historical sustainability" (the estate was founded in 1141) than environmental "sustainability". Indeed, those terms appeared in that order in his presentation. He even denounced the nebulous definition of "natural" wines as "bullshit".

Wines shown, including 2010 Castello di Brolio, which Ricasoli defined as the "Lafite of Italy" were my favourites of the day.

Les Misérables

Penultimate speaker, Philippe Guigal of E. Guigal (1946) was sprightly despite a 3am start. "What is the Rhône valley today?" he asked. "It is France's second largest region after ...I forget the name... Bordeaux," he answered playfully. Guigal showed a rare picture of his grandfather, Etienne in the cellar of then boss, Monsieur Vidal-Fleury, which led to an ultimately uplifting narrative. "Etienne's father passed away when he was just two weeks old. At eight, he was told he was told 'you're the most dynamic of the three kids and must take care of yourself.'" Etienne subsequently toiled in vineyards from 14 to 18. "A Les Misérables start for the Guigal family!" he said. "At 19 the hard worker learned about vinification and a few years later became general manager. When he returned from the war he founded his own winery and vinified 67 vintages."

Following a special request from Moody to "please tell our guests some personal and private about the family that nobody knows" Guigal showed a picture of his mother, Bernadette and father, Marcel dressed for carnival (dad as Doge), then let slip that he and his wife, Eve are semi-pro ballroom dancers.

Guigal summed up his professional advantages. "We are in a world which goes so fast. The average stock of wine in the Rhône is 2.3 months, while we have the valley's largest stock - for 36 months in our three hectares of cellars."

Guigal also revealed while white wines only account for only 3.4% of the Rhône's output, they account for "precisely 25%" of their output. He showed Condrieu La Doriane 2012. "It's too easy with climate change to make ripe, rich, fat, explosive styles - we're moving to straight minerality."

Keeping it in The Family

Finally, Paul Symington confusingly defined himself by his accent. "I'm the only person who sounds British, but I only came to UK for the first time when I was 12 in 1965." He described his situation as privileged. "We don't have châteaux, but the most extraordinary valleys and the largest area of mountain vineyard one earth.

Symington talked of the Cockburn's project. "We rescued it from the hands of a multinational in 2006 and brought it back to its roots. Livery companies now buy it for first time in half a century."

Another positive piece of news involved Dow's 2011, which Symington described as the first port this century to get 100 points from Wine Spectator. "I must have got the right Swiss bank account for the man at Wine Spectator," he joked.

Apparently the last port company with coopers, Symington showed a single year Tawny. "Old Tawny is a complete mystery to the British. This Colheita was as much made by the team of coopers as the winemaker. Almost Cognac in colour, it's Port which adapts to the modern way of living." He told the sommeliers that there is no need to decant this style. "Don't need to disappear into the kitchen." Apparently six barrels or "pipes" of the 1982 were offered to mark for Prince William and Princess Kate "because that's when they were born."

Symington brought the summit to a close. "I had the misfortune of turning 60 in December, which was like falling into a big abyss. I believe in two distinct areas in wine: swathes as a commodity, being well-made but industrial, not speaking of anything other than being red or white. But the chances of having a survivable family business in that area are virtually invisible. Instead, broadly family businesses I think will have an incredible future because something protects us."

After the event Moody told me the event had not been rehearsed. "I don't mind admitting I was a little anxious about doing something so different for Fells. I do believe though that the day was a great success and it seemed to be enjoyed by our producers and the trade alike..."

Read more...

Mike Paul on the lessons and warnings English sparkling wine can take from the success of Prosecco

Published:  29 January, 2014

At the recent International Sparkling Wine Symposium held at Denbies I was facilitating a session on the way forward for English fizz and made a throwaway comment that for all its success producers should be wary of seeing Prosecco as a role model. I noted that, while it has certainly captured the imagination of a large swathe of the wine market, I doubted that many consumers could name individual brands or are aware of the difference between DOC and DOCG Prosecco. This implies that they will tend to be drawn to the cheapest Prosecco that they find acceptable. It would be fair to say that my comment was not universally popular with  Prosecco producers in the room.

Read more...

French wines set for success with advent of sophisticated consumers

Published:  21 January, 2014
Read more...

Two Good, 2 Bad for 2013, 2 Hopes and Fears for 2014: David Gleave, Liberty Wines

Published:  01 January, 2014

As we welcome in the new year, David Gleave, managing director of Liberty Wines, looks back on his 2 Good, 2 Bad memories of 2013 and looks ahead at his hopes and fears for 2014. 

Read more...

Fine wine market declines for third year says Liv-ex

Published:  20 December, 2013

 

The fine wine market has declined for an unprecedented third year in a row, according to the 2013 fine wine report from Liv-ex, the global marketplace for fine wine.

Read more...

Enter Story Headline

Published:  20 December, 2013
Read more...