Macron gives Vinexpo 2020 presidential patronage

29th July, 2019

French president Emmanuel Macron has given the next instalment of Vinexpo presidential patronage in recognition of its role in promoting French wines and spirits.

This year’s show was also granted presidential patronage, which is a sign of the president’s acknowledgement of an event or exhibitions’ capacity to enhance French know-how and expertise in any given field.

Vinexpo said in a statement that: “This expression of interest from the State’s highest level enhances Vinexpo’s professionalism and international scope. Vinexpo’s events across the world – Bordeaux, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and now Paris – make France shine on the world stage of wines and spirits.”

Following the 2019 edition of the show, the new CEO, Rodolphe Lameyse, revealed sweeping changes to the show’s format.

This includes a joint show with Wine Paris in the French capital next February and re-orienting the flagship Bordeaux event to coincide more with the region’s annual primeurs tastings in the spring.

Lameyse told db in May: “My plan for Vinexpo is to make it a global offer of smaller shows that are more effective in terms of business. If you want to be a premium show you can’t be the largest. I’ll leave the Tesco approach to the Germans.

“With Vinexpo Bordeaux I want to recreate the spirit of happiness around Bordeaux wine and will be looking to revive World Wine Week. I want to move the show to April to coincide with primeurs week if the UGC are happy with the idea.”

Gymkhana owners to open gastropub in Fitzrovia

29th July, 2019

Gymkhana owners Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants are to open a gastropub in Fitzrovia on the former site of The George on Great Portland Street.

Karam, Sunaina and Jyotin Sethi are to open a gastropub in Fitzrovia

As reported by Eater, the trio, who also own Bridgadiers – a pub inspired by the army mess bars of India in the City – are poised to take over both The Geogre on Great Portland Street and The Cadogan Arms on the King’s Road in Chelsea.

According to Eater, the venue taking over The George will be treated as an entirely new projected and will not fall under the JKS umbrella.

The gastropub will however be making use of the talents of James Knappett, who runs the two Michelin-starred Kitchen Table in Fitzrovia (owned by the Sethis) with his wife Sandia Chang, who heads up grower Champagne and hotdog specialist Bubbledogs next door.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the Sethis are also reportedly scouting out King’s Cross with the view to opening a new restaurant concept there.

Over the last decade the trio have built up one of the most successful restaurant groups in London. Their portfolio includes high-end modern Indian restaurants Gymkhana and Trishna, and Sri Lankan pancake palace Hoppers.

The trend-spotters have also invested in some of the top London restaurants to have opened in recent years, including Lyle’s in Shoreditch, Flor in Borough Market, Sabor in Mayfair, Xu in Soho and steamed dumpling specialist Bao.

Last month the Sethi’s Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana was forced to close after a fire ripped through the restaurant. It took 60 members of the London Fire Brigade to get the blaze under control after it spread to multiple floors.

Heineken shares sink as profits fall short

29th July, 2019

Dutch brewer Heineken saw its share prices slump this morning after the maker of the eponymous lager failed to quite meet its projected half-year profits.

Shares fell 6% when the results were announced in Amsterdam, the biggest fall the company’s shares have experienced since 2011.

Heineken reported a 0.3% rise in operating profit to €1.78 billion between January and June but was this short of the expected €1.91bn suggested by analysts.

Revenues actually rose across all regions, with double-digit growth in Asia Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, pushing net revenue slightly ahead of forecasts.

Much of this, however, was offset by rising production costs according to Heineken, which rose 8.5% in the Jan-Jun period, mostly on aluminium.

James Edwardes Jones, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets told the Financial Times that nothing was especially “wrong” with the results, the problem was they weren’t “very good” and suffered in comparison to other companies, not least fellow brewers AB InBev and Carlsberg, which had all recently reported results that were above expectations.

Heineken insisted that, “major unforeseen macro economic and political developments” aside, it was on-track for “mid-single digit growth” in organic operating profit by the end of the year.

Neil McGuigan resigns as CEO of Australian Vintage

29th July, 2019

Neil McGuigan, the inimitable chief executive of Australian Vintage, has resigned from his post at the company and is due to formally step down on 20 November.

The ebullient Neil McGuigan has resigned as CEO of Australian Vintage

After stepping down, McGuigan will work as technical advisor for Australian Vintage for ten weeks a year, consulting with the winemaking team and continuing to forge relationships with global clients.

Craig Garvin will take on the role of CEO on 20 November when McGuigan steps down, and will join the firm in September in the temporary role of CEO elect.

McGuigan joined the business in 2004 as general manager for Wine Supply, before being appointed CEO – a role he has held for nine years.

During his tenure, McGuigan’s unbridled passion for wine helped transformed Australian Vintage from a bulk supplier to a respected branded wine company.

Never shy of the limelight, McGuigan has been named International Winemaker of the Year a record four times at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

He has also been voted White Winemaker of the Year four times at the International Wine Challenge.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as CEO, working with our talented team to create fantastic brands that are enjoyed around the globe.

“Being able to continue contributing to the company in the future, building on what my brother Brian started when he established the business in 1992, is very gratifying,” McGuigan said.

Richard Davis, chairman of Australian Vintage, added: “Neil has a great passion for the wine industry and has done a tremendous job as CEO of this company.

“During his time as CEO he has transformed it into a well-respected branded wine company with a clear focus on developing world-leading quality wine. We thank him for all his efforts in the role of CEO.”

The company’s new CEO, Craig Garvin, has worked as chief executive of dairy manufacturer Parmalat for the last nine years, having previously held senior positions at Star City Casino, Campbell Arnott’s and Lion Nathan.

“Craig has built strong, diverse teams with a focus on collaborative cultural creation. I have no doubt that he will continue the great work that Neil did in inspiring and leading the tremendous talent that we have at AV,” David said.

“I’m excited to build on Neil’s successful transformation of this company and to support the existing strategies into outcomes that generate long-term profitable growth for the company and our shareholders,” Garvin added.

10 new low and no-alcohol spirits brands to try in 2019

29th July, 2019

Atopia by William Grant & Sons

(Photo: Atopia/Youtube)

William Grant & Sons launched its first ultra-low alcohol spirit, bottled at 0.5% ABV, last month.

It was created by the company’s master distiller Lesley Gracie, who is the brains behind the recipe for Hendrick’s gin, and costs £25 per bottle.

So far there are two products in the Atopia range: Spiced Citrus, and Wild Blossom.

Gracie said the distillates were “selected and combined with care and precision, meaning you can pick out each flavour separately whilst no one flavour dominates over the other.”

Lidl shines light on Eastern European wines

29th July, 2019

Lidl is shining a light on Eastern Europe as it launches three new wines from the region.

(Photo: Wiki)

The latest Wine Tour includes a red, white and rose from former Eastern block countries, which it has previously described as having great potential.

The whites include an Aureos Sauvignon Blanc (RRP: £5.99) from Bulgaria, an ‘unusual’ Haraszthy Sir Irsai from Etyek, Hungary using the distinctive Irsai Olivér grape from Etyek, east of Budapest, and a delicate and dry Pinot Noir Rosé, Kamocsay Ákos (RRP:£5.99), from Neszmély, Hungary, on the Slovakian border as part of the latest Wine Tour.

The retailer has consistently stocked wines from countries in Eastern Europe, after its first Hungarian range of three red, four white and one dessert wine “flew off the shelves” in January 2016, bringing out its largest Eastern European Wine Cellar in 2017.

Lidl’s consultant MW Caroline Gilby MW previously told db she wanted to expand the retailer’s Eastern European wine range in the longer-term to incorporate wines from Romania and Moldova which were showing potential as well as Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Last week, Kantar data showed Lidl has bucked the trend for poor supermarket booze sales in recent weeks, thanks to a well-timed wine promotion.

The retailer is also thought to be mulling the launch of selling wine online having confirmed it to The Grocer magazine it was ‘actively exploring’ launching online after advertising for an e-commerce project manager and a junior project manager in the UK. The move follows the creation of a holding company last year called Lidl Digital Logistics in the United Kingdom, which was revealed in May 2018 by the Daily Mail’s This is Money.

Documentary on chef Gary Usher to air this autumn

29th July, 2019

Airing on Channel 4 this autumn, a new documentary will follow chef and restaurateur Gary Usher on his journey to opening Pinion restaurant in Merseyside’s Prescot.

Gary Usher – Image: Elite Bistros

With a culinary history including Chez Bruce and Angela Hartnett at York and Albany, Usher founded Elite Bistros in 2011, which now comprises of Kala in Manchester; Sticky Walnut in Hoole; Burnt Truffle in Heswall; Hispi, in Didsbury; Wreckfish in Liverpool; and Pinion in Prescot.

The one-hour documentary charts Usher’s journey to convert a former betting shop into Prescot’s first new restaurant in 30 years.

Featuring Usher’s initial crowdfunding campaign, which saw him reach his £50,000 target in under an hour, the documentary follows the chef as he endeavours to convince the town to enjoy a menu of deep-died pig’s head croquettes and steak tartare.

Usher hopes that Pinion will assist in the regeneration of the area, which has suffered a decrease in footfall since a shopping complex opened nearby.

Trump reignites French wine tariff spat

29th July, 2019

“I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine,” tweeted President Trump who, in response to France imposing a tax on global technology companies, has threatened to slap tariffs on French wine.

The US President tweeted last Friday (26 July) that France was unfairly targeting American technology companies with its new digital levy, dubbed the GAFA tax.

An acronym for ‘Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon’, the GAFA tax will impose a 3% levy on the total annual revenues of the largest global technology companies providing services to French consumers.

Trump promised to announce “substantial reciprocal action” to what he called “[President] Macron’s foolishness”.

In response, French economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire, said that the technology tax was “universal” and was not aimed specifically at American companies.

Speaking in a press conference yesterday (28 July), he said: “The first point I want to make very clear to our American friends is that we are not targeting specifically American companies.”

He added that the measure was introduced prior to a decision due to be made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCDE) on the financial control of digital firms.

“As soon as there will be an international solution on the taxation of digital activities, France will withdraw its national solution,” he added.

The UK and Spain have also announced similar measures, while Italy has also said that it will impose a tax if the OCDE decision is further delayed.

Le Maire called on the US President to consider the technology tax and tariffs on French wine separately.

He said that French winemakers had been expressing their concerns to him following Trump’s remarks, adding: “We should not mix these two subjects. Over the past 10 years, there has been a very significant rise in the imports of American wine in the European Union – around 30%.”

Trump first took a swing at the French wine industry back in November last year, after criticising France for its tariffs on US wine imports, which he claimed were preventing US producers from selling their wines in France.

“On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S,” Trump tweeted. “The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!”

In December, the Trump administration finalised regulations which clamped down on “unfair” tax breaks for booze companies who import and export wine.

Meanwhile, in April this year, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) proposed tariffs on US$11 billion worth of imports from the EU in response to its subsidies that support Airbus over rival aviation company Boeing. The list of products include wine, cheese, aircraft, motorbikes and olive oil.

Last month, US members of international grower organisation Wine Origins Alliance wrote to the government’s trade representative, calling for the scrapping of proposed tariffs on EU wine.

L’Art du Vin to launch wine school in Fife

29th July, 2019

Scottish wine merchant, L’Art du Vin, is set to open a wine school and shop at its new premises in Fife.

L’Art du Vin managers Lewis Renton, Philippe Larue and Richard Bouglet – Image: L’Art du Vin

Focusing on wholesale wines and whisky in the past, the company is moving from it current location at Adelphi Distillery will plans to expand the business.

Located in Dalgety Bay, the new premises will provide space for tasting classes and the opportunity to sell directly to customers.

In a planning statement, L’Art du Vin said: “Excursions to the wine school and retail will be by appointment and many of these customers will be licensed trade staff.

“The proposed operation is not a High Street off-sales type of casual operation.”

Open 10am to 10pm Monday to Saturday, the school will offer between one and three classes per week, depending on demand.

Managing director of L’Art du Vin, Philippe Larue, said: “Over the last 12 years of working within the industry, we think that one of the most important criteria is to educate staff and explain why they should sell better wines.

“When we moved to the new premises, our intention was to push open that facility to private customers who want to learn more about wine. It’s a nice place to have a small group of people come by or to have pop up events, learning about matching food with wines.”

L’Art Du Vin in Dalgety Bay is set to open this autumn.

Where Diageo sees gin’s popularity growing around the world after UK boom

26th July, 2019

While some claim we’ve reached ‘peak gin’ in the UK, the CEO of drinks giant Diageo believes there is still plenty of opportunity to cash in on international sales.

Although the spirit makes up just a small fraction of drinks giant Diageo’s sales, CEO Ivan Menezes sees “a lot of runway ahead” for the growth of its gin portfolio worldwide, with markets such as Brazil and Mexico starting to pick up pace.

“Everyone’s talking about gin and we are really happy and excited about the momentum of gin,” the spirits boss said during a briefing with journalists on Thursday (25 July).

Net sales of Diageo’s gin brands rose 22% in the year to June 30, with Gordon’s and Tanqueray delivering double digit growth, although gin still makes up just 4% of the company’s revenues. In the UK, where Gordon’s drove sales of pre-mixed drinks up 17%, sales rose 4% with market share gains in both beers and spirits.

The spirit’s popularity has continued to grow in the UK. According the WSTA’s end of year market report, the summer of 2018 witnessed record gin sales, with the equivalent of almost 28 million bottles sold. More gin was sold during three months of the 2018 heatwave than the summers of 2014 and 2015 combined.

In the last quarter of 2018 gin sales grew 53% by volume and 59% by value, compared to 2017, which the WSTA states is “the largest growth by quarter on record for gin”.

HM Revenue and Customs figures published in February showed that exports of UK gin rose by 15% in 2018, compared to the previous year, rising to £612 million.

Menezes said that he does not expect growth in the UK to continue at the rate it has, but that it could be repeated in other international markets.

He added the group had seen growth in countries like “Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa,” although sales were still relatively sluggish in the US.

“The trend of gin is spreading around the world,” he said, “and we see a lot of runway ahead.”

Menezes said that, since he became CEO of the business, Diageo is now “much better at recruiting new consumers to new occasions,” and says it has improved its research into consumer demand, which is now a “a huge source of advantage for the company.”