The Wine & Spirits Show 2019: in pictures

18th April, 2019

A whopping 1,550 wine and spirits enthusiasts flocked to the Royal Horseguards Hotel in London last weekend for the second Wine & Spirits Show.

Some 300 trade guests descended on our event on Friday 12 April, where we showcased a wide range of wine, spirits and beer brands.

In the Wine Hall, visitors were treated to an assortment of wine brands from around the world – including Champagne house Piper Heidsieck, and The Apprentice star Jackie Fast’s Canadian Icewine, Rebel Pi.

Domaine Clarence Dillion unveils new look for its premium range

18th April, 2019

Domaine Clarence Dillion, the owner of  Château Haut-Brion, has unveiled a new logo and identity for its premium Bordeaux wines,  Clarendelle, Inspired by Haut-Brion.

The range, which was inspired by the company’s current president, Prince Robert of Luxembourg and named in honour of his grandfather, American banker Clarence Dillon, who founded the company is 1935, comprises three red wines primarily from the Saint-Émilion, Médoc and Pessac-Léognan regions, a white Bordeaux from Graves, a rosé, and a ‘modern, approachable’ sweet Amber blend of Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle, from Monbazillac.

The chateau said the new design and logo would better reflect Clarendelle’s identity, telling the story behind the creation of the wines.

The original logo – Clarence Dillon’s initials surrounded by vine leaves – was conceived for the newly created Clarendelle premium range, which is now in its 17th vintage, having launched on the market in 2005, however the logo was subsequently adopted by the company’s wholesale arm, Clarence Dillon Wines, as well as the parent group, Domaine Clarence Dillon, and incorporated into its wine shop and restaurant.

As a result, the company wanted to give the new Clarendelle range its own look and branding, and has rolled out new bottling incorporating the company logo along with elements borrowed from the Dillon family tree, including the crown and the lions rampant on either side. It will be showcased at Vinexpo.

“The emblem expresses a slice of history in constant evolution, the first chapters of which were written by Clarence Dillon at Château Haut-Brion in 1935,” the company said

The company, which counts Château Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Quintus in its portfolio as well as a fine wine shop, boutique, La Cave du Château, and two Michelin-starred restaurant Le Clarence in Paris, has been owned by the Dillon family for four generations.

Last October, the company joined the association of independent family-owned wineries from around the world, Primum Familiae Vini (PFV).

‘Philanthropist’s Cellar’ raises US$6m

18th April, 2019

Mature Burgundy and blue chip Bordeaux shot Hart Davis Hart’s recent sale to a US$9.5 million finish earlier this month, with $6m alone coming from the collection of a single collector.

Taking place at the end of last week and into the weekend, the sale featured all the great collectable names of the old and new worlds.

The best-selling lot of the whole sale was a 12-bottle case of Henri Jayer’s 1996 Vosne-Romanée, Cros Parantoux which went for $119,500.

There was strong bidding for old and rare Madeira, cult Californians, mature claret (which brought in $485,000 altogether).

The single owner collection realised the bulk of the auction’s final tally – $6.2m – with bidders honing in on various lots of top Burgundy (including the Jayer) and old Yquem including a Nebuchadnezzar of the 2007 which sold for $8,962.

“We take pride in having the most accurate auction estimates in the business, so when those estimates are exceeded, it speaks to great demand,” remarked CEO Paul Hart.

“These results demonstrate the continued strength and vitality of the wine market.”

In pictures: Masseto’s new winery

18th April, 2019

Super Tuscan Masseto has unveiled its newly revamped cellar, complete with new vinification facilities and a ‘wine caveau’ featuring every vintage back to 1986.

Designed by the ZitoMori Studio, the cellar has been designed to fit into the landscape and makes use of the region’s blue clay to insulate it.

“To represent the effort required to produce the wine made here, we created a series of spaces – not by construction, but by extraction from the hill’s monolithic mass. The diverse internal volumes, heights and levels are reminiscent of a gold mine as it follows seams of precious metal to the core,” said Japanese-born architect Hikaru Mori.

The whole winery is gravity fed, with the architects favouring cast concrete, glass and steel as their building materials.

A statement from the winery refers to the barrel room being reminiscent of an ancient underground temple while in the vault, every vintage of Masseto dating back to the first vintage in 1986 is kept suspended in its own steel mesh cradle.

Masseto CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, said: The Winery is a tribute to the past, present and future of Masseto. It celebrates the incredible story of a wine that was never meant to exist.

“Years of planning and effort have been dedicated to building the right home for Masseto. One that consolidates three decades of experience, where every aspect has been designed to meet the winemaking team’s highly detailed requirements.”

A few other pictures from the winery can be seen on the following pages.

Tovaritch! claims to be ‘most awarded vodka in the world’

18th April, 2019

Russian vodka brand Tovaritch!, owned by Geneva-based Tovaritch Spirits International, has laid claim to being the world’s most awarded vodka with a total of 116 gongs to its name.

The vodka producer made the statement after its recent success at this year’s Vodka Masters – Asia, hosted by the drinks business Hong Kong. The brand won a Gold in the organic, smooth, premium and rye categories.

It also scored 93 out of a 100 in the Beverage Tasting Institute’s International Review of Spirits and won a Gold medal and Best Buy Award. It picked up another Gold from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition  where almost 3,000 spirits were judged alongside it.

Commenting on the brand’s success, Eugenio Litta Modignani, CEO of Tovaritch! Spirits International, said: “Over the years, the most discerning palates in the industry have repeatedly confirmed the invariably superb quality of our vodka. It is nothing short of amazing, given the highly-competitive nature of the spirits market. And we have every intention to stay on top of our game – and on top of our competition.”

Tovaritch! recently unveiled its new vodka infusion called T! RED, made with vodka and wild berries. With its 25% ABV, low sugar content and fresh aftertaste, T! Red is designed to be consumed as a shot or as part of a mixed drink.

Jay Rayner warms to English sparkling

18th April, 2019

Guardian columnist Jay Rayner has changed his views on the British sparkling wine industry, after previously slamming the category for offering poor value for money.

(Photo: John Arandhara Blackwell)

The outspoken restaurant critic told the drinks business that the continuing diversification of the sparkling category, within the UK hospitality sector, had enabled English sparkling wine to find “a more comfortable niche.”

“It’s true that I’ve been very critical of English fizz in the past, but my views are changing,” said Rayner.

“I feel that the price points have become more reasonable, and that the quality has risen. Five years’ ago, being offered a glass of English fizz in a bar would have given me pause, but not today.”

Rayner also opined that by-the-glass offerings across the on-trade had improved “immeasurably” in recent times.

“The offering is so much more interesting,” he said. “Champagne, Cava and Prosecco have been joined by some really good value, alternative styles such as Cremant.”

Former Michelin chef and restauranteur Marco Pierre White has also been a staunch critic of English sparkling.

“English sparkling wine is ridiculously overpriced. I just can’t justify selling it at my restaurants, especially when the quality doesn’t rival Champagne,” said White.

In the past, Rayner has never been short of strong opinions about the UK’s food and drink industry.

In 2016, as reported by db, he slammed the “bollocks spouted by wine connoisseurs,” suggesting diners should ignore them and buy “the cheapest wine on the list.”

London Wine Fair creates record number of session spots in 2019

18th April, 2019

The organisers of the London Wine Fair have announced a record number of session places for participants in this year’s edition.

(Photo: Anthony Upton)

It is estimated there will be more than 4,000 spaces across some 80 individual sessions in May 2019, an increase of 12% on 2018. Demand for places at bookable sessions outstripped supply last year, leading to the introduction of a new Masterclass Theatre and increased capacity in the Education Zone Theatre.

To date, the session attracting the most bookings is “Greek wines: indigenous varieties & fascinating terroirs”, which will be presented by wine writer and consultant, Yiannis Karakasis MW & Head Sommelier at 67 Pall Mall, Terry Kandylis.

“We have worked hard with our exhibitors and the wider industry to bring together a show absolutely unrivalled in content for 2019. This year’s offer will span topics relevant to anyone operating within the drinks sector, from buyers to business owners, to influencers, marketeers and beyond,” said Hannah Tovey, Head of London Wine Fair.

Building on the success of LWF 2018, the organisers have lined up a diverse and insightful mix of content, covering the latest – and future – drinks trends and issues facing the industry.

Highlights include: Industry Briefings; Masterclass Theatres; Walk-Up Tastings; The Innovation Zone; and W.S.E.T. Education Zone, as well as tutored tastings taking place on exhibitor stands.

One of the show’s most anticipated sessions is set to be: “An audience with Oz Clarke”. Friend and colleague, Charles Metcalfe will take on the role of interrogator as he elicits some of Oz’s best wine stories, (Monday 20th May: 2pm).

In addition, Xavier Rousset MS, co-owner of hospitality members club, TRADE, will present “TRADE’S Little Black Book Tasting” on Wednesday 22nd May, featuring wines from the venue’s secret list, which comprises small parcels of exclusive wines hunted out by owners Rousset and Gearoid Devaney MS.

Honomi Matsumoto, House of Sake, will also host a session on “Simplifying Sake: starting your professional journey.”

Oenophiles should also make time for Enotria’s series of on-stand tastings (C50), featuring top estate wines, sherries, spirits and more. These include a “Trimbach Back Vintage”, “The Riesling Hour” and “Aperitivo Hour”.

Visitors can pre-book places via; and will take place between Monday, 20th and Wednesday, 22nd May.

The week in pictures

18th April, 2019

Last weekend, we welcomed 1,500 members of the trade and London’s wine-loving community to our Wine & Spirits Show.

Mouton cases make £750,000 for Notre-Dame

17th April, 2019

Twenty-five limited edition cases of Mouton Rothschild have made £750,000 in a London sale with all proceeds going to repairs of Notre-Dame.

As announced yesterday (16 April), the proceeds of the sale were originally earmarked for restoration work at the Palace of Versailles but after the terrible fire at Notre-Dame de Paris on Monday, both Mouton and Versailles announced that the money from the London leg of the salewould be diverted to the cathedral’s repairs instead.

Auctioneer Sotheby’s reported that each case “more than doubled” its opening bid and the average case price was higher than the £30,105 achieved per unit in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Catherine Pégard, president of the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles, said: “Today with Château Mouton Rothschild, we will donate the proceeds of the London auction of 25 Versailles Celebration Cases to support the rebuilding of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

“Proceeds were originally designated to fund restoration projects at the Palace of Versailles. We are proud to offer a contribution towards the restoration of this symbol of French heritage.”

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Chairman and CEO of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, added: “My family and I are proud to have, jointly with Versailles, made the decision to donate the proceeds of the sale of 25 of the limited-edition Versailles Celebration Cases, which raised over £750,000 in London today, to the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Following tragic recent events, we are honoured to contribute towards the reconstruction efforts of this national landmark that is an integral part of our French history.”

The sale of the final set of 25 cases in New York next month will be for the benefit of Versailles as originally intended.

Accolade targets on-trade growth with new Hardys ‘Foodie’ range

17th April, 2019

Accolade Wines is ramping up its on-trade ambitions as it launches an exclusive range of ‘Foodie’ wines for restaurants and bars that highlights what meat the wines should be paired with.

The new ‘Foodies Range’, which is available exclusively to the on-trade from the end of April and is being distributed by Matthew Clark and Heineken, comprises three of the brand’s most popular skus, a Shiraz, a Chardonnay and a rosé.

The woodcut-style labels indicate the best meal to pair the wine with, with the Shiraz featuring a cow on the label, the Chardonnay, a chicken and the rose, a fish.

The brands says the move is based on “extensive” category insight and consumer research that shows UK consumers have little knowledge about choosing wine when dining out.

It said two thirds of drinkers surveyed do not feel confident about their choice of wine when they dine out, rising to 86% of 18 – 24 year olds (according to CGA Strategy MAT 14th July 2018).

Marketing director David White said the range would ensure on-trade customers feel confident and knowledgeable about the wine they choose with food.

“The Foodies Range aims to encourage diners to spend more on wine in outlets, through providing consumers and bar staff with simple and delicious wine pairing recommendations for popular menu options,” he said.

According to Nielsen, Hardy’s is the UK’s biggest off-trade brand, growing 3.6% year-on-year (Nielsen 52 week ending 23.03.19) and bought by 4.7 million UK households, according to Kantar (52 weeks ending 24.03.19). However, it follows a dip in retail sales in 2017, which saw the brand fall 11.6% to £ 36.5m, on volumes down 13.2% according to trade publication The Grocer, which was attributed to Sainsbury’s slashing Hardy’s skus from 13 to 4, (a total of around 600,000 cases).

Last January the company launched a fine wine arm in the UK and Ireland, Fine Wine Partners to “champion” the top-end range of its portfolio, which includes Petaluma and Stonier. The move followed the company’s acquisition of  Fine Wine Partners from Lion Nathan in 2017, and aimed at specialist, prestige and independent accounts in the on- and off-trade, as well as overseeing its e-commerce site,1853 Wine Club and its Weybridge wine shop.

In March, the UK arm of the Australian wine giant reported profits up 175% to £11,5 million in the 12 months to, up from £4,1 million the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Turnover also rose 0.72% to £477 million.

The Australian company was acquired by US private equity firm the Carlyle Group, for AU$1 billion (£548 million) last April.