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Richard Siddle: learning lessons from WaverleyTBS collapse

Published:  19 October, 2012

The speed in the collapse of WaverleyTBS should rightly send shockwaves around the industry. It is worrying enough that one of our biggest on-trade suppliers has gone bust, that no-one in the trade saw it coming until hours before it happened only goes to demonstrate the dangerous financial times we all live in.


Geoffrey Dean on his discoveries in Piedmont

Published:  19 October, 2012

In contrast to the wettest British summer for a century, Piedmont enjoyed such a dry, sunny growing season that the harvest was completed much earlier than normal.


Boosting wine tourism: Geoffrey Dean blogs from Cape Town

Published:  09 October, 2012

While the biennial Cape Wine trade fair in South Africa last month was another big success, a new exhibition that ran alongside it in the Cape Town Convention Centre enjoyed a sparkling debut. Vindaba, part of a long-term strategy to boost wine tourism, derives from the South African government's aim to gain promotion by 2020 to the travellers' Premier League - the top 20 global destinations.


Anne Krebiehl blogs on the latest Booths Tasting

Published:  24 September, 2012

It's not often that regional merchants come to London to show their wares, but a rather popular north-western player, Booths, showcased 100 wines from its wine range at the Saatchi Gallery's Mess Room on Friday afternoon.


Jenny Mackenzie: putting Aldi's BWS range to the test

Published:  17 September, 2012

If you thought Aldi's wines were all cheap and cheerful, you might be surprised to find grand cru Champagne, a grand cru classé Margaux, 30 year old Tawny Port and a multi, medal-winning Tokaji in its Christmas Special range.


Anne Krebiehl dishes the dirt from the Dirty Dozen tasting

Published:  14 September, 2012

So why exactly is the Dirty Dozen Tasting the most exciting, least predictable and most hotly anticipated event within the crazy wine circus that London is in September?


Richard Siddle: why Accolade and Treasury Wine Estates partnership should be applauded

Published:  27 July, 2012

The beginning of August is supposed to herald the start of what our newspaper colleagues would call the Silly Season. A time when there is very little hard news around and our daily news feed is full of stories of escaped pigs, or retired policemen travelling around the country in a bath of baked beans. But the world of wine and spirits does not look ready for a summer holiday just yet.


Richard Siddle: how wine merchants can benefit by working together

Published:  16 July, 2012

Being an independent retailer can, by definition, be a lonely place to be. Whilst being 100% responsible for your own business can bring great advantages it can also leave you exposed to making executive decisions you might not always be qualified or experienced enough to make.


Richard Siddle: why wine prices are sometimes too good to be true

Published:  01 July, 2012

It may have been some time since the UK wine trade was dominated by the clipped tones of our cover star in this week's Harpers Wine & Spirit, the one and only Terry Thomas, but the level of trust and reassurance that comes with a certain accent and upbringing is still an important, unquantifiable, part of the sector.


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.


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.


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.


Michael Stoddart explores the 'economic deception' behind supermarket wines

Published:  21 May, 2012

Vino Ignobile?


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.


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.



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.



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.

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.


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.


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.


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.