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Geoffrey Dean: travels through the Lebanon

Published:  01 July, 2012


The Bekaa Valley is secure again, and its wineries are welcoming
visitors with open arms. That is the message the Lebanese are keen to
promote, notwithstanding the destabilising events in neighbouring
Syria and, having just got back from a trip to the Bekaa, I would
happily concur.

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Richard Siddle: Why we should all get behind LIWF

Published:  30 May, 2012


So another London International Wine Fair has been and gone and as ever there are many in the trade who have been keen to perform their own post mortem on the show. Well here's mine.

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Day 1 LIWF: live blog

Published:  22 May, 2012

Don't forget to check our live blog for rolling updates of what's been going on each day at LIWF. You can also follow us on Twitter @harperswine #LIWF.

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Michael Stoddart explores the 'economic deception' behind supermarket wines

Published:  21 May, 2012

Vino Ignobile?

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Richard Siddle: comment, May 18, why LIWF is still our showcase to the world

Published:  18 May, 2012


There has been a lot of nostalgia in recent weeks as the nation's media prepares us all for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It is as if a look back to the 1970s, the three-day weeks, power cuts and Carry On films, will make us feel a whole lot better about life in Britain in 2012.

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Richard Siddle: comment May 4; seeing the world through Boris's eyes..

Published:  04 May, 2012


Here's a topical anecdote to mark the seemingly never-ending London mayoral elections that took place on Thursday.

 

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Richard Siddle: comment April 5, Government splits drinks industry over minimum pricing

Published:  05 April, 2012


The debate around the proposed minimum price of alcohol appears to have split the trade in two.

 

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Gavin Quinney blog: Bordeaux's en primeur 2011

Published:  28 March, 2012

As the world's top tasters get ready to head to Bordeaux to sample the 2011 vintage, Gavin Quinney, owner of the region's Château Bauduc, blogs on what he thinks lies ahead.
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As the world's top tasters get ready to head to Bordeaux to sample the 2011 vintage, Gavin Quinney, owner of the region's Château Bauduc, blogs on what he thinks lies ahead.

 

Even though I live and breathe each vintage in Bordeaux, it's foolish to try and predict how each Chateau's wines are going to show from barrel, especially with such an up-and-down year as 2011.



No-one is going to claim that 2011 is a better vintage than, say, 2009. Apart from me, that is - I lost 80% of my crop to hail in May 2009. (So did hundreds of others, for that matter.) But for the great wines, 2011 sits in the shadows of 2009 and 2010, despite the dry and sweet whites from last year showing real promise.



There are some key factors about 2011. We had a very early budbreak and then a summer-like spring, so the vines flowered about three weeks early in May. By the beginning of July, after a bone dry period of four months, the development of many vines had become blocked through lack of rain. July and August were then up-and-down - at times hot and humid, at other times cool and rainy.



The year will go down as a very dry year, with just 270mm of rain from March to September, compared to the 30 year-average in Bordeaux of 430mm. But in July and August we had around 150mm of rain compared to a norm of 100mm, so a glance at a weather chart will show that it was an upside-down season - dry from March to June and again in September but wetter in the summer. Weird.



There was less threat of mildew early on but, far worse, there was a high risk of grey rot as the harvest approached. The harvest was early, following on from the early kick-off in the spring, with the dry whites being picked in the second half of August. 'Record de précocité' shouted the headline in the Sud-Ouest on 30 August.



The 2011 reds were nearly all picked in September. In 2009, and the late harvest 2010, you'd have seen the Merlots being picked in September and the Cabernets in October, so 2011 was an early one, for sure. The only other vintage in the last twenty years when everything came in during September was 2003, a quite different year when there was a dangerous heatwave in August.



Sorting and selection were key, and this put the guys with the best terroirs (that could withstand drought or rot, for example) and, of course, the resources, into a far stronger position. I can't stress enough how much investment has been made in the sorting lines and in the top wineries in the last four or five years. In 2009 and 2010, the mind-boggling equipment at some of the major châteaux were simply there as a test, a fashion statement for the cameras. The grapes then were close to perfection. But in 2011, the new-fangled sorting systems have really been put to the test.



My guess is that there'll be some very good wines, although quite inconsistent. Right Bank over Left? Not a vintage, I'd wager, to wade into the bulk red wines.



People might describe it as a more classical vintage, even if the growing season was far from typical. The malolactic fermentations generally happened early too, so the reds shouldn't be too hard to taste.



2011 will be called a 'drinker's vintage', as opposed to one to invest in: prices will have to come down a great deal for the expensive wines to sell through, and not get stuck along the way. It could be a tough year for Bordeaux negociants if they get left holding these babies.



Whatever the prices, everyone will want to see a quick primeur campaign. Recent experience shows, the 2008s notwithstanding, that one shouldn't hold one's breath.

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Richard Siddle: comment, is Cameron's minimum pricing move a double bluff?

Published:  23 March, 2012

When Steve Hilton, David Cameron's so called policy advisor, packed his man bag to head to California many thought he had taken all of the Prime Minister's big policy ideas with him.
Well think again.

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Richard Siddle: comment March, how wine companies are changing the way they operate

Published:  21 March, 2012

Itseemed like the world, its wife and extended family had turned up at Prowein, the German wine fair early this month. Over 40,000 members of the global wine family had made the trek to Dusseldorf by plane, car and winnebago to take advantage of what is increasingly being seen as the most commercially important trade fair in the world.

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Richard Siddle: on the road with Glenmorangie at Sassicaia

Published:  29 February, 2012

There are wine press trips and there are spirits press trips and both are very different affairs. But never in my experience do you get a wine and spirits trip all mixed up in one.

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Richard Siddle: comment, February 24, time for us all to stand up over responsible drinking

Published:  24 February, 2012

David Cameron's warning last week that his government is looking to introduce much tighter drinks legislation, including potentially a minimum price for alcohol, resulted in the industry taking another beating from the national media.
Yet other than the obligatory responses from our much called upon drinks trade associations, where was the reply from our major drinks companies?

 

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Richard Siddle: comment, February 24, time for us all to stand up over responsible drinking

Published:  24 February, 2012

David Cameron's warning last week that his government is looking to introduce much tighter drinks legislation, including potentially a minimum price for alcohol, resulted in the industry taking another beating from the national media.
Yet other than the obligatory responses from our much called upon drinks trade associations, where was the reply from our major drinks companies?

 

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Richard Siddle, comment: what sort of brand appeal do you have?

Published:  16 February, 2012


It says something of how far the power of brands are now so embedded in our lives that the adverts during this week's Super Bowl had more of an impact than the game itself.

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Richard Siddle: comment, January 30, The gospel according to the Famous Five

Published:  30 January, 2012

As the industry takes a collective intake of breath for us all to plan our respective budgets for the financial year ahead, who better to guide us in our efforts than the collective thoughts of the BWS chiefs at each of our major supermarkets. The Famous Five if you like.

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Anne Krebiehl: a review of the Thrilling Vintages from Germany tasting by The Wine Barn

Published:  17 January, 2012


"It is just important to give the trade the opportunity to taste, to show how good and versatile these wines are," said Iris Ellmann, MD of German specialist merchant The Wine Barn at yesterday's Annual Trade Tasting.

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Richard Siddle: comment, December 16, Let's Get Engaged

Published:  16 December, 2011

If you did believe all you read in the papers then you would not get out of bed in the morning. If the economic predictions for the year ahead were not enough to get you reaching for a bottle of the strong stuff, we're now being told by a TV retail celebrity that if you did pop down to your local high street you would not be able to find a shop with a bottle to sell you.

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Richard Siddle: my visions of China

Published:  02 December, 2011

When's the last time you had a Chinese takeaway? Last week? A fortnight ago? If the pundits are right we'll soon be asking the same question about the last Chinese wine you had.

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Richard Siddle: memories of Wine Future 2011 Hong Kong

Published:  02 December, 2011

The old idiom a problem shared is a problem halved certainly came to mind whilst listening to, and taking part in, three days of Wine Future Hong Kong 2011 event last month. Near on 1,000 wine professionals from 45 different countries made the effort to fly to what has now been dubbed the wine capital of the world to hopefully take a few pearls of wisdom back to their home markets.

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Richard Siddle: why we need to understand the new consumer

Published:  27 October, 2011

Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. They've not had a pay rise in two years, they're worried about their job, they live on a tight budget and are forever searching the internet to find voucher discount codes and only eat out if they can get a family deal. But they are also really into their food and will shop around to buy local or authentic products. They give money to charity and are actively walking away from businesses with big profits that don't do anything for the environment.

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