The Master Winemaker 100: Kym Milne MW, Bird in Hand Winery

28th April, 2020

The drinks business recently published a guide celebrating the talent of the winemakers who have scooped the highest accolade of our  Global Masters tasting series, which is judged almost exclusively by MWs. Each week we profile the winemakers behind these medal winning wines – the creatives, scientists, mavericks and dreamers who are at the pinnacle of winemaking.

Kym Milne, MW, winemaking director, Bird in Hand Winery

Milne has spent 30 years as a winemaker. He has notched up experience in Australia, New Zealand (where he was chief winemaker for Villa Maria Estate), and across Europe, South Africa and South America as a director of winemaking operations for International Wine Services. He moved back to Australia in 2003 to lead winemaking at the family-owned Bird in Hand winery in the Adelaide Hills, but also has his own winemaking consultancy.

What or who inspired you to become a winemaker?
During my gap year after school I worked a vintage for a small winery in South Australia’s Riverland to earn money to go travelling. On returning I landed a cellarhand job at Berri Estates winery and the winemakers there took the time to talk to me about winemaking as a career option. As a result I applied to change my degree from science to winemaking.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
I have always got a lot of pleasure from blending. I have always found it fascinating to put together components that on the whole are better than individually.

What’s the hardest part job?
Difficult vintages. 1988 in New Zealand when Cyclone Bola hit the East Coast of the North Island and dumped 16 inches of rain in 24 hours just as we were about to pick was one of the worst – when we could eventually get in to the flooded vineyards the botrytis was rampant.

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
If it’s a hot summer day and I’ve been doing a lot of vineyard walking, a cold beer. In winter, probably a glass of Chardonnay.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Enjoy it – it’s a great ride. Also bigger is not better: subtlety and complexity are more important. That’s a lesson learnt over time.

What was your greatest winemaking mistake?
Too many to mention. If you are not making mistakes you are not trailing enough new things.

Which wine-related achievement are you most proud of?
Passing the MW exam in 1991 at the first attempt would be right up there.

Also in 2015, Bird in Hand winning Winestate magazine’s Australian Winemaker of the Year, Australian Winery of the Year and Wine of the Year was very satisfying not just personally but for the whole Bird in Hand winemaking team. It was the first time all three awards had been won by one company.

Who is your inspiration in the wine world today?
No one person. I am fortunate to work with many talented winemakers and people both at Bird in Hand and with some other consultancy clients around the world, and I am constantly learning and inspired by them and their passion for what they do.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
In a cool climate, adjacent to a city. The Adelaide Hills ticks a lot of boxes.

If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be doing and why?
International cricket commentator.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?
There is no grape I can’t get along with, but I struggle with the recent trend of ‘natural wine’. The term is offensive as it implies other wine is not natural – Brian Croser’s article referring to the style as “accidental” wines is more accurate. The quality of much of it leaves a lot to be desired and is often not something I find appealing.

How has your taste in wine changed over your career?
Taste and style naturally change over time. From my early days of winemaking where bigger was better, I would say overall my taste has moved more toward the subtle and elegant.

Which type of wine do you drink most regularly?
I try to drink as greater variety of wine as possible. But my most regular would probably be Chardonnay.

Which wine would you most like to drink, and who would you share it with?
Good wine, with friends.

Master medals

  • >  Nest Egg Shiraz 2012 (Syrah Masters 2016)
  • >  Marie Elizabeth Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017)
  • >  Bird in Hand Shiraz 2014 (Syrah Masters 2016)
  • >  Nest Egg Chardonnay 2015 (Chardonnay Masters 2018)
  • >  Bird in Hand Nest Egg 2015 (Chardonnay Masters 2017)
  • >  Bird in Hand Nest Egg 2016 (Chardonnay Masters 2017
  • >  Nest Egg Chardonnay 2016 Chardonnay Masters 2018)

To download a copy of The Master Winemaker 100, please click here.

Quinta do Noval declares 2018 Vintage Port

27th April, 2020

In line with Quinta do Noval’s strategy to declare a ‘classic’ Vintage Port from every harvest, but vary the quantities produced, the revered estate has released a vintage expression from 2018.

The vintage-release was announced today and marks the property’s eighth classic vintage Port bottling in a row – in contrast to an average of three declarations per decade for most Port brands – although Noval made just 1,600 cases in total, representing a mere 7% of the total production at the quinta.

With extremes to the weather patterns in 2018, from heavy rain in the early part of the year – making difficulties during the flowering period – to an amazing long dry summer, eventual ripening was excellent, particularly for two key grapes, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa.

These two varieties have dominated Noval’s 2018 Vintage Port blend – which Christian Seely, managing director of Quinta do Noval, considers “magnificently ripe, profound and expressive’”

As always, all the grapes in Noval’s classic vintages come solely from the 148 hectare estate, where a very strict selection of the best lots results in a small quantity of top quality Vintage being declared year after year, ever since a major replanting programme matured more than 10 years ago.

Noval’s classic vintage declaration for 2018 follows that of Taylor’s, which was announced on Thursday, while Symington Family Estates has released a series of single quinta vintage Port expressions.

Seely’s views on the 2018 harvest and Quinta do Noval’s approach to classic vintage Port declarations are reproduced in full below.

Seely said about the 2018 harvest: “Like 2017, 2018 was a year of low yields, but for different reasons. 2017 was a year of extreme drought, while 2018 was marked in the first part of the year by heavy rainfall. This meant that potential yields were naturally much reduced by the difficulties of the flowering period. Subsequently however, a long hot dry summer ensued. Water levels in the soil had been replenished, and the result of this excellent ripening period on a low yield is evident in the 2018 Vintage Port, which is magnificently ripe, profound and expressive.

“As always, the Quinta do Noval Vintage Port is made exclusively from grapes from our Quinta in the heart of the Douro Valley, and the quantity bottled (1600 cases) of the 2018 Vintage Port represents just 7% of the Quinta’s production, as usual a very strict selection of the very best lots to make the Quinta do Noval blend.

“Both Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa flourished in 2018, in particular the Francesa which benefited from the ideal ripening conditions, and this Vintage Port blend is dominated by these two varietals. The wine is wonderfully ripe, full and exuberant, spicy on the nose, with very fine long tannins and a classic Noval purity and elegance.”

Meanwhile, commenting on Noval’s approach to vintage Port mentioned above, Seely said: “Noval follows its own path in its approach to Vintage Port. If we believe that we have wines of the quality and personality to join the ranks of the Quinta do Noval Vintage Ports of previous years, we will bottle it and declare it, even if this means declaring several years in a row, and even if it means, as is often the case, bottling only a few hundred cases of Quinta do Noval Vintage Port, representing a tiny percentage of the total production of the Quinta.

“Of course, in very great years, when there is unanimity among Port producers, and a General Declaration results, Quinta do Noval will declare its wine also, and perhaps with a little more wine than usual. But whatever the year, the standards of selection in the Noval tasting room are extremely rigorous, and even in the more generous years volumes of our Vintage Ports are always extremely small: at the very most, up to 15% of the production of our great vineyard terroir.”

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Top HK bars offering bottled cocktails delivery

27th April, 2020

With another 14 days of the forced closure of bars and pubs in Hong Kong, it is not only torture for bar owners but also for thirsty drinkers, who are itching for their favourite cocktails. Fortunately, some bars have swiftly turned to selling bottled cocktails for takeaway. Here’s where you can find them.

Trio Negroni

COA, The Wise King, and Tell Camellia have released a series of three signature Negronis in bottles. COA’s Caffeinated Negroni contains gin, mezcal, coffee, Campari, and Mancino Vermouth Rosso; Tell Camellia’s signature Darjeeling Negroni is made with its Darjeeling gin, Campari, and Mancino Vermouth Rosso, while The Wise King’s Washed Negroni is a concoction of gin, Biancosarti, and Mancino Vermouth Bianco. Each bottle (500ml) is priced at HK$500. If you are getting the set, it is available for HK$1,350.

The three bars have also launched other packaged cocktails. For example, COA has created a canned cocktail in partnership with Young Master.

You can place the order by contacting the team via their social media account.

Amuse-bouches: The latest restaurant news bites

27th April, 2020

We round up the week’s hospitality news, from Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca appointing advisors at PwC to the concerns many restaurateurs share about re-opening with restrictions still in place.

Wahaca: As reported by Sky News, Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca, co-founded by MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers, has appointed advisors at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to review its finances amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The restaurant chain has a total of 25 restaurants in the UK and employs around 1,000 people. Miers previously told the Mail on Sunday that around 50% of hospitality businesses could fold, with a total of two million jobs lost, if the industry does not receive more support.

Five areas that need to be addressed: On 19 April, UK cabinet minister Michael Gove warned that pubs, bars and restaurants would be “among the last” to re-open when lockdown restrictions are relaxed. Later in the week, Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, addressed the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, outlining five key areas that she believed need to be addressed. These included an extension of the rent holiday, a way of helping those not covered by the Job Retention Scheme, issues with the grants scheme, frustration with the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), and the fact that 71% of hospitality businesses had insurance claims rejected.

Table spacing concerns: A number of UK restaurateurs have expressed concern about the viability of re-opening with fewer tables, spaced further apart. As reported by The Guardian, Russell Norman of Polpo group said that the two-metre rule would result in the remove of two-thirds of seats from his restaurants, which would be financially unfeasible for the business. Gary Usher of Elite Bistros, the group behind Kala, Sticky Walnut, Pinion, Wreckfish, Hispi and Burnt Truffle, agreed that it wouldn’t work. “We have done forecasts on opening with just 50% of the pre-Covid trade. We’d survive for three months and then go bust,” he said. Will Beckett of steak chain Hawksmoor said that re-opening during the public health emergency would do “long-term damage” to the hospitality industry.

Cornwall Community Kitchen: The Cornwall Community Kitchen, a collaboration between caterer Fee’s Food and chef Tim Speeding is helping to provide food for vulnerable people in the area. The initiative has been donating meals prepared by volunteers to food banks based in Wadebridge and Bude as well as DISC Newquay. It is also supporting local suppliers, farmers, and fishermen, which have been impacted by the closure of restaurants and hotels.

Benares: London-based fine dining Indian restaurant Benares has partnered with Market Financial Solutions (MFS) to offer free meals for NHS staff. MFS will jointly donate the funds to cover the costs of the meals. Benares is one of a number of restaurants in the capital that has remained open and is offering takeaways and deliveries. Now for every takeaway order it receives, it will donate one meal to NHS workers in the local area. Food packages will be delivered to Hammersmith, Charing Cross, Chelsea & Westminster and St Mary’s (Paddington) hospitals as well as local NHS medical centres in Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Victoria.

Small Beer Brew Co.: Bermondsey-based Small Beer Brew Co. has launched an on-trade initiative called Small Acts of Kindness. It has extended its campaign to feature a ‘hospitality edition’, inviting anyone in the industry to nominate a friend or colleague that has been a source of reassurance during the pandemic. Small Beer is donating 50 cases of beer for winning nominees. All entries can be submitted here. 

Hattingley Valley: Hampshire-based winery Hattingley Valley has revealed the success of its hospitality fundraising initiative. It has raised £1,000 for Hospitality Action and a further £1,000 to support its restaurant partners, which include The Oystermen, the London Shell Co, and The Chesil Rectory. It has also sent out a number of bottles to members of the industry as part of its Hattingley Hero initiative. Following the launch of its new still rosé, it will be donating £12 for every case sold towards a £100 voucher for use in the restaurants it works with. For every eight cases bought, customers will be put into the draw to win.

Italy’s restaurants rise up against social distancing

27th April, 2020

As many as 75,000 restaurants, bars and clubs in Italy have united in protest at post lockdown social distancing measures that could cause the closure of half the businesses in the country’s hospitality sector.

Under the banner Risorgiamo Italia (Italy rises again), a protest demonstration has been organised by an organisation called MIO (Movimento Imprese Ospitalità), which has brought together a total of 75,000 on-trade establishments.

Objecting to social distancing measures that the Italian government are enforcing following the gradual end to the Covid-19 lockdown in the country, bars and restaurants will give the keys to their businesses to local mayors on Wednesday morning this week as part of a voluntary and highly symbolic hand-over. 

Meanwhile, the night before, at 9pm, every one of these outlets will turn on their lights to mark their last evening of trading.

The grievances of those who manage on-trade businesses – the majority of which are family-owned and operated – run deep for many reasons, but the essence of their frustration centres on the fact that they will be expected to trade at a loss when they are finally allowed to open on 1 June.

With proposed measures for outlets extending to wide spacing of tables and plexiglass panels to divide diners, the members of MIO mourn that they can only expect to bring in 30% of their usual turnover, while facing the same running costs.

Without changes to the rules, MIO has stated said that as many as half their members will have to cease trading altogether – and it’s a major part of the Italian economy, worth €87 billion, and employing 1.5 million people.

Furthermore, according to the organisation, with the loss of its bars, trattorias and ristorantes, Italy risks losing a vital part of its cultural fabric.

The collective concerns represented by MIO in Italy have also been raised by the drinks business regarding the hospitality sector in the UK.

For those running on-trade outlets in this country, a post-lockdown scenario of a profitable bar, pub or restaurant business with government enforced social distancing guidelines in place will be a challenging one.

Such businesses operate on tight margins, and can commonly only cover their running costs if they are close to full capacity, but with physical distancing rules ensuring a reduction in patronage, most establishments will be running at a loss.

And there’s a major worry over the length of time such physical distancing measures would remain in place. Should they be needed until a widespread effective vaccine for Covid-19 is in place, then this could represent years, not weeks, and would would require a complete rethink of floor layouts and concepts for the vast majority of businesses in the hospitality sector. 

It’s why, as one operator said to db a earlier this month, the only solution for the survival of establishments in the on-trade is for governments to remove all physical distancing restrictions, while protecting the vulnerable.

In other words, the quickest way to avoid the economic problems outlined above is for nations to employ the ‘herd immunity’ approach – but it’s also deemed the riskiest to human life in the immediate future, which is, of course, why so few dare consider backing it.

With this in mind, it was particularly galling to see news this weekend suggesting that Covid-19 dies out in 70 days regardless of the methods used to tackle the virus.

Such stories were based on claims by Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, who has used data analysis to show that Covid-19 peaks at 40 days before declining, with or without interventions.

Should he be correct – although proving that would be extremely difficult – then it would mean that shutting down the hospitality sector, along with so much else during the global lockdowns, has been done for little gain.

Read more

Coronavirus a ‘9/11 moment’ for hospitality sector

Online auction of record-breaking £1m whisky bottles hacked

27th April, 2020

An online auction which was to feature some the world’s most expensive whiskies was cancelled after the website hosting it was hacked.

The auction, which went live on 10 April and ran until 20 April, included part of an extensive private whisky collection, thought to be the largest to be sold at auction with several bottles valued at over £1 million.

WhiskyAuctioneer was the subject of a “targeted, technologically sophisticated, sustained and malicious attack” on its website and databases, according to a statement on the website’s landing page.

The website has now been taken down as a precaution, while employees have contacted customers “who may have been impacted by this, so please check your inboxes and follow the suggested next steps.”

Called ‘The Perfect Collection’, the bottles were amassed by the late Richard Gooding, an American private whisky collector from Colorado, who spent over 20 years travelling around the world to source the spirits.

The 10-day sale of 1,958 bottles included rare whiskies such as The Macallan 1926 Fine & Rare 60 Year Old, bottles from some of Scotland’s lost distilleries
including Dallas Dhu, Glenugie and Killyloch with some bottles dating back to 1921, and a Glenfiddich 1937 Rare Collection 64 Year Old. Only 61 bottles of the Glenfiddich 1937 have been produced.

The first phase of the auction, comprising 1,932 bottles, was snapped up for US$4.2 million in February this year.

The auction of The Perfect Collection: Part Two has been postponed, according to Whisky Auctioneer, with further updates on this and future auctions to follow.

In focus: Hard seltzers

27th April, 2020

The hard seltzer success story is a masterclass in savvy branding. Having burst onto the scene in 2016, in just three years hard seltzers have become the fastest-growing alcoholic drinks category in the US, with the sector predicted to be worth US$2.5 billion by 2021 and due to triple in size by 2023.

White Claw leads the hard seltzer category

Dominated by market leaders White Claw and Truly, the question now is whether the category can replicate its runaway success in the US around the globe. It’s important to define what exactly hard seltzers are. Essentially boozy fizzy water housed in eye-catching packaging, hard seltzers can have a wine, spirit or malt base to which sparkling water and natural fruit flavours are added.

Ticking all the trend boxes, they are typically low in alcohol (around 5% ABV), low in calories (around 100 per can), and low in sugar, with most cans containing between 1-2 grams. They are also largely vegan and gluten free, which has helped them to win over a legion of health conscious millennial fans in the US.

In addition to ticking trend boxes when it comes to flavour, brand owners also seem to be winning the marketing game by creating hard seltzers with broad appeal across all demographics. Brand leader White Claw’s gender split is 53% female and 47% male. The packaging couldn’t be more on-trend too – portable, recyclable cans with Instagram-friendly designs set against a white background.

Brand leader Truly

And while sales will inevitably spike during the summer months, hard seltzers don’t seem to suffer from being viewed as a seasonal drink. Adam Rogers, the IWSR’s research director for North America, believes that while bang on trend, hard seltzers are here to stay.

“This is due to the category being seen as a healthier alternative to the current alcoholic drinks brands on the market. Innovation is also keeping consumers engaged in the category through the release of new flavours and higher- quality offerings,” he says.

In 2016 the burgeoning hard seltzer category moved up a gear with the launch of the category’s two biggest players: White Claw and Truly. The former is the brainchild of Mark Anthony Brands, run by Canadian entrepreneur Mark Anthony von Mandl, creator of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, whose family owns four Okanagan Valley wineries, including Mission Hill.

Truly, meanwhile, was created by the Boston Beer Co, maker of Samuel Adams beer. The brand has proved so successful for the brewer that it now sells more hard seltzers than it does beer, while White Claw sales surpassed US$1.5bn last year.

Having made a splash at the Kentucky Derby and Coachella, White Claw developed a cult following last summer, fuelled by a song called Drinkin’ Claws by singer-songwriter Mark Leach and Ohio-based rock band Hey Monea, which features the line: “There ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws”.

By September, White Claw, which boasts a malt base and is brewed and taxed like beer, warned of an impending shortage and von Mandl had to start selling the brand on allocation.

Hoping to give the big guns competition, in late January California wine brand Barefoot, owned by wine giant E & J Gallo, entered the game with a range of four white wine-based hard seltzers that marked the brand’s biggest new product investment in its 55-year history.

Among the flavours in the range are cherry and cranberry, and pineapple and passion fruit. Each can contains just 70 calories. Also hoping to ride the wave are big beer firms, which are ploughing millions into the category.

Vizzy is owned by Molson Coors

The first big brewer to enter the game was AB InBev, which acquired the SpikedSeltzer brand in 2016 and renamed it Bon & Viv. The brewer added Natty Light Seltzer to its portfolio last August and Bud Light Seltzer, made using “a unique five-step filtration process” in early 2020.

Meanwhile, Constellation Brands has invested US$40m (its biggest single brand splurge to date) in the marketing of its Corona Hard Seltzer, though given the current coronavirus crisis, consumers may struggle to see the appeal. Molson Coors has invested millions in new hard seltzer brand Vizzy, which launched in the US in March.

Keen to stand out in an increasingly crowded category, Vizzy’s point of difference is that its seltzers are made with antioxidant-rich acerola cherries, which are said to contain up to 30 times more vitamin C per cup than an orange.

The brewer is using the wellness route to attract health- conscious consumers who would rather knock back a low-calorie seltzer than develop a beer belly. As an increasing number of big brewers launch hard seltzers, they are, somewhat ironically, competing against themselves for market share – the more successful their seltzer brands, the more they are likely to eat into their beer sales.

Though with beer remaining largely flat, this seems to be a gamble brewers are willing to take. Reflecting its evolution as a company and the need to expand into new drinks categories, Molson Coors changed its name to Molson Coors Beverage Company in January ahead of the launch of Coors Seltzer this July.

Being a category that is unashamedly produced for profit, when it comes to hard seltzers, big brewers have a head start on fledgling brands in their ability to produce, distribute and market their seltzer brands at a fast pace on a large scale, piggy-backing off the success of their beers and engendering customer loyalty while they’re at it.

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Video: Catena Zapata harvest comes up to 40 days early

27th April, 2020

Staff at Catena Zapata wine estate “can’t remember an earlier harvest year” than the one that has just passed, as warmer weather brought by climate change has caused grapes to ripen faster than ever.

Catena Zapata vineyards, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza.

And while yields were down between 20%-30% due to a lack of rain during the summer, head winemaker Alejandro Vigil claims it “one of the best vintages of the last 10 years.”

The 2019-2020 harvest season was extremely dry, according to Catena Zapata’s annual harvest report. Rainfall was between 40% and 70% lower than the historical average, depending on the region, while river flows were 40%-60% lower than usual, and 11% lower compared to the 2019 harvest season. This, combined with warmer weather throughout the year and “scarce snowmelt”, led to lower yields and earlier ripening. In 2020, grapes ripened between 20 and 40 days earlier than usual, depending on the region and the grape variety

The greatest drought was in the high altitude Gualtallary Region, where accumulated rainfall decreased 282 mm compared to historical values (-70%). Next was Tupungato Region, where rainfall was 230 mm lower than the historical average (-63%), while temperatures throughout the season were above average.

In Mendoza’s “Primera Zona” or “First zone”, white varieties ripened one week earlier and red varieties ripened two weeks earlier than usual.

Catena harvested red grape varieties from vineyards in the Uco Valley a month earlier than usual.

Daniel Pi, winemaker from Bodegas Trapiche, warned that yields would suffer in Argentina due to a lack of snowfall next winter, as estates with high eltitude vineyards rely on meltwater from the Andes to irigate their crops.

“We are not having snowfall in the winter, which means that there is less water coming from melting from the snow, and the glaciers are reducing, because they are not being fed by the snow,” he told db in March.

Although there was one unexpected advantage to global warming bringing an earlier harvest this year. The harvest at Catena Zapata almost didn’t happen at all, according to managing driector Laura Catena, as lockdown measures were put in place across Argentina last month

The “big scare” of the growing season came on 19 March, Catena said in its annual harvest report, when the Argentine government declared an obligatory quarantine. The lockdown — one of Latin America’s strictest — banned the public from leaving their homes unless they need to buy essentials like food and medical supplies. Schools also closed, while only those working for the state or in health, food production, drugs production or the oil industry workers could be exempt from the rules and use public transport to get to work.

Fortunately, a government order came in “late in the day” that classed winemaking as food production in Argentina, “allowing us to continue harvesting through the first week of April.

Concha y Toro launches major TV advertising campaign in UK

27th April, 2020

Concha y Toro UK has launched a television advertising campaign across ITV, Channel 4, All 4 and Sky, focusing on its Argentine wine brand Trivento.

According to data cited by the wine group and sourced from Nielsen, value sales of Trivento grew 53% in the 52 weeks ending 21 March 2020.

The advertising campaign, which will feature a 20-second advert shown across major terrestrial and satellite television channels, is the next phase of the company’s ‘bold discoveries’ marketing campaign.

The ad will be hitting screens today (27 April) and will be shown until 24 May 2020 during prime time shows including Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip, Bake Off – The Professionals, and Vera.

The campaign will support the earlier unveiling of a new series of 8 x 10-second Trivento idents as part of a partnership with the Discovery Channel, which is now in its third year. The idents will run across the Discovery channels, which include Discovery, Quest, DMAX, and dplay, from April until 31 December 2020.

In the 12 weeks to 21 March 2020, Trivento was thirteenth best-selling wine brand in the UK by value, excluding own-label sales. Value sales of its Private Reserve Malbec grew 93% in the 52 weeks to the 21 March, while its Reserve Malbec grew 54%, making it the best-selling Malbec in mainland Britain.

Commenting on the new campaign, Concha y Toro UK commercial director Clare Griffiths said: “The bold discoveries campaign is part of long-term brand-building investment which has already seen Trivento’s household penetration (the percentage of households buying the product) reach 5%, its highest-ever level [Kantar 52 weeks to 21 March 2020].

“As Wine Intelligence say, during times of upheaval consumers tend to revert to brands which make them feel ‘safer’. We know how important it is for leading brands not to “go dark” at times like these, so we’re making sure we talk to consumers in the right way via this mainstream campaign. No one can predict with confidence exactly how the rest of the year will play out, so we need to take these opportunities when they arise.”

Disaronno Velvet cream liqueur launches in the UK

27th April, 2020

Italian liqueur brand Disaronno has launched an amaretto cream liqueur called Disaronno Velvet in the UK in its first line extension in over 500 years.

Founded in Saronno in Lombardy in 1525, amaretto liqueur Disaronno is one of the oldest Italian spirits brands and is known for its distinctive rectangular Murano glass bottle.

Disaronno Velvet shares the same bottle shape as the original liqueur, only in white. According to its makers, the liqueur boasts notes of apricot, almond and vanilla. It can either be served over ice or within a cream cocktail.

“The unique tasting experience enjoyed over ice means consumers across the UK can enjoy a completely new product with the distinctive taste of Disaronno, even during this enforced period at home,” said Neil Jardine, managing director of Disaronno International UK.

“The launch is incredibly exciting for us and we have big ambitions for the brand in the UK, and entering a new category with the launch of Velvet is only the start,” Jardine added.

The 17% ABV Disaronno Velvet will be available in the UK at major retailers from the end of May with an RRP of £15 per 50cl bottle. The launch of Disaronno Velvet follows the company announcing plans to unveil a new UK subsidiary, Disaronno International UK, from January 2021.