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Live news blog: The Beautiful South Tasting Day One

Published:  10 September, 2014

As the Wines of the Beautiful South tasting takes place in London's Olympia Harpers catches up with leading wine figures at the event with their thoughts on the UK market for Chilean, Argentinian and South African wines. 

As the Wines of the Beautiful South tasting takes place in London's Olympia Harpers catches up with leading wine figures at the event with their thoughts on the UK market for Chilean, Argentinian and South African wines.

Wines of the Beautiful South



Laurie Webster, chief executive, Los Bodegas:

On the Beautiful South tasting:

"This year has been a massive improvement with the navigation of the tasting and its has been a really good first day.  There have been a steady flow of visitors and really good quality buyers."

On the continued success of wines coming from Argentina in the UK market:

"I think Argentina really has personality and there are a combination of a lot of factors that are helping to drive growth.  There is a steady tide of change towards fresher styles of wine.  What is also really helping and encouraging is that there are great blends that are reasonably priced coming into the market. It is not just producers making iconic blends. That to me is great."

On how Argentina is taking a larger market share in the UK:

"We are taking business from other wine producing countries based significantly on the quality of wines that we are producing.  It really is all about the quality. Our exports have seen rapid growth particularly in the last five years.  I think some of it is also based on Argentina delivering regionality for consumers.  They aren't forcing it on people; it is very organic.  I think it is result of the winemakers and their ability to deliver wines that truly reflect terrior."


Chris Alheit, Alheit Vineyards:

"We have the opportunity to do something completely unique in South Africa and not just pretend we are live in Bordeaux. We have to do things that no-one else is doing in the grape like our Semillon Gris."


Kobus Basson, managing director, Kleine Zalze:

On Beautiful South tasting:

"There is a good vibe here. The producers I have spoken to are happy with the tasting so far. It is a good opportunity to see your customers in the UK but also we are seeing good Scandinavian buyers here."

On UK market:

"We are seeing good growth in the areas where we want to grow. Like the independents and on-trade. We are putting a lot more focus in those areas and it is starting to kick in. But it is a slow process and you have to be patient. We are also doing well with regional on-trade players. It seems once you are with the regional players they stay with you. It is a good area to work in and less price sensitive than the national on-trade players and we do not want to have to buy share."

On new cellarmaster, Alistair Rimmer:

"We are very pleased. We wanted to bring in a South African winemaker but who has got good international experience. Alistair fits the bill for us as he has worked around the world for the last 10 years. If we want to move forward then we need someone who understands the international markets. We want to be able to refine what we can offer in our key markets and try some new things. It is a good time for us to do this."




Justin Knock MW, consultant for Encirc Wines, predicted a boom in flavoured wines, allied to the "temporal supply issues" the market is experiencing. Last year saw huge harvests, and Knok said "we would be better off liberalising that sector of the market and allowing people to make overtly flavoured wines". He told that the wines at the bottom end of the market are "doing no-one any favours". "Those very, very cheap wines at under £4 make producers no money, and consumers aren't drinking them because they like the taste." He said the market was primed for a "sangria revival". "It's funny how temporal supply issues drives trends," he added.


Wines for dog lovers: Ian Tottman formerly of a number of major Australian brands, has started his own wine brand targeting dog lovers. Dog Walk Wines, which was started 15 months ago, advertises its red and white offerings in Pets at Home magazines and engages with dog lovers via social media. "We're not trying to make it too simplistic, but emotionally [the 9 million dog-lovers] want a 'human reward' after their walk."


The event, which runs today and tomorrow, September 10 and 11, will have a "meet the winemaker" themed area which will act as the central focus for this year's tasting.

This is the second year that Wines of Argentina, Wines of Chile and Wines of South Africa have come together to put on a joint tasting across two days at London's Olympia.

BBC journalist and broadcaster, Nigel Barden, will help host the "Festival of the South" area of the show where visitors will get the chance to hear and talk to leading winemakers from the three countries talking about their wines and taking part in open debates. Key themes will include: Pushing the Boundaries; Old Vines; 10 Years Apart and Family Owned.

The "Festival of the South" will also give visitors the chance to take part in a blind tasting challenge. On-trade buyers will be invited to go on the "Sommelier Festival Trail", and go through the tasting with an industry expert.

The tasting will also include four, free-pour, themed tasting tables to highlight what each country can offer. These will include: Tales of the Unexpected; Beautiful Bubbles; New Kids on the Block and Champions of the South.

For more information and to register go to

Please check back on this page for news updates posted live throughout the day.