Bancroft Wines adds Aussie brand Heartland Wines

18th March, 2019

Bancroft Wines has added Aussie wine brand Heartland Wines to its portfolio, after being appointed as the brand’s exclusive UK agent.

Based in Langhorne Creek, South Australia, Heartland Wines was founded by acclaimed winemaker Ben Glaetzer of Glaetzer Wines and his friend Nick Keukenmeester, and specialises in producing distinctive Australian old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

The wines benefit from the region’s cool maritime climate and significant diurnal range, the company claims, with vine grown sustainably, not being treating  with any chemicals, and there is minimal handling of the grapes plus a long cool fermentation to ensure the wines remain fresh and elegant.

As well as the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the duo have also experimented successfully with alternative varieties Dolcetto and Lagrein, which are used to make the brand’s blended wines in Glaetzer’s Barossa Vintners winery in Tanunda.

The London-based distributor, which supplies the on- and off-trade as well as private clients and several select national accounts, said Heartland’s wines were “a natural fit” for its portfolio.

“Their wines are absolutely unique, with great quality throughout the range and a true commitment to sustainability.” Bancroft Wines’ CEO Jon Worsley said, adding that there was “a natural synergy” with its agency Glaetzer Wines, as they share Ben Glaetzer as winemaker.

“We are very excited to expand the presence of these wines in the UK and increase awareness of Langhorne Creek’s potential to produce great wines,” he said.

Keukenmeester, co-owner and managing director of Heartland, said the timing was perfect.

“The UK market is vibrant and diverse, and we believe this is the perfect time to inject new energy into our presence here,” he said.

“We are thrilled to be working with a new partner whose passion for wine is at the heart of what they do. I am confident that Bancroft’s young and energetic team will help introduce Heartland to a new audience and really tell the story of our very special terroir”.

UK flyers face on board duty-free drinking ban

18th March, 2019

Air passengers in the UK have now been officially banned from consuming duty-free wine and spirits on board planes, prompted by growing concerns over alcohol-fuelled air rage.

As reported by The TimesWorld Duty Free, which is the only provider of duty-free shops at most large airports in the UK, has tightened its control on the sale of duty-free alcohol.

In measures that were introduced at the end of last year, all duty-free alcohol is now required to be placed in sealed bags to prevent passengers from opening them until their plane has landed.

According to the paper, all bottles of alcohol, regardless of their size, must be placed in sealed plastic bags bearing the inscription: “Do not open alcohol purchases until your final destination”. The reinforced bags require cutting with scissors which are of course banned from being placed in hand luggage.

According to The Times, Gatwick has implement further measures, banning the sale of miniatures from duty-free shops and enforcing a “no-shots policy” in bars.

A spokesperson for World Duty Free said the move was voluntary, adding that while alcohol-induced air disruption incidents are rare, “where they do happen, the impact can be serious for fellow passengers, employees working in the air and the airport industry.

“The industry is working together to tackle this problem and make disruptive behaviour such as this socially unacceptable. The vast majority of our customers understand that the alcohol we sell can only be consumed when they reach their destination, and this message is already clearly conveyed at tills, on receipts and on bags.”

In 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority revealed that a total of 422 serious incidents were recorded, double the number reported in 2014, with only those that directly put the aircraft at risk being noted. The CAA estimates that in half these cases, alcohol is involved. 

Responding to the government consultation on the introduction of airside licensing at UK airports earlier this year, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which 13 UK carriers, said: “Whilst airlines do not want to stop passengers enjoying a pint or glass of wine at the start of their holiday the sale of alcohol needs to be responsible. We want to see common sense prevail and ensure bars and retailers airside come under the jurisdiction of the Licensing Act – simply applying the same rules as on the high street.

“It is the alcohol consumed or bought in the airport that is the most common causal factor (more than half) of disruption in the air and unfortunately the number of incidents continues to rise and each incident poses a safety threat.

“Simply bringing the airports in line with the high street would protect passenger interests while reducing the number of disruptive incidents and making flying safer and more enjoyable for all.”

While such incidents can impact fellow travellers and members of staff, they are also costly, with diversions due to on-board incidents ranging from £10,000 to £80,000 depending on the size of the aircraft and where it’s diverting to.

Champagne sets record €4.9billion turnover in 2018

18th March, 2019

Total volume of Champagne shipments declined by 1.8% in 2018 to 301.9 million bottles, but total turnover set a new record, hitting close to €4.9 billion – 0.3% higher than in 2017.

As reported by the Comité Champagne, overall, exports of Champagne are on an upward trajectory, rising by 0.6% in volume and 1.8% in revenue.

In Champagne’s more traditional markets of France and the UK, which together account for 60% of total sales, volumes dropped by around 4% each, while by value turnover slipped by around 2% in both markets.

The UK, which remains the biggest export market by volume, imported 26.7m bottles in 2018, a decline of 3.6%, while value reached €406.2m, a drop of 2.2% – making it the second biggest export market by value after the USA.

These figures are in line with estimates of 2018 Champagne shipments outlined by the drinks business in January. 

However, demand is most dynamic beyond the European Union. The USA, which remains the biggest export market by value and second biggest by volume, saw exports rise by 2.7% to 23.7 million bottles. To Japan, exports increased by 5.5% to 13.6 million bottles, while exports to the “Chinese triangle” (mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) increased by 9.1% to 4.7 million bottles.

Following very significant growth over the past decade (+134%), Australia saw imports of Champagne dip slightly, by 1.8%, to 8.4m bottles, which was attributed to a “less favourable exchange rate”.

Other countries are emerging stronger for Champagne, including Canada which increased its imports by 4.8% to 2.3 million bottles, Mexico by 4.3% to 1.7m bottles, and South Africa, where sales topped the million-bottle mark for the very first time, recording growth of 38.4% by volume and by 43.4% by value – the highest increase of any market on both counts.

“The 2018 results validate the value creation strategy of the Champagne region, based on a continual pursuit of exceptional quality and rigorous environmental targets,” the Comité Champagne said. “From an agronomic point of view, 2018 was an unprecedented year with a bumper harvest of outstanding quality, boding extremely well for the future Champagne cuvées.”

Champagne shipments* over the past 10 years:

2018: 301.9m
2017: 307.3m
2016: 306.1m
2015: 313m
2014: 307m
2013: 305m
2012: 309m
2011: 323m
2010: 319m
2009: 293m

Shipments refers to stock that has left the cellars and warehouses of Champagne producers, and therefore covers the domestic market as well as exports. Also, it represents the delivery of stocks, not actual sales.

New on Wine List Confidential: The Drop

15th March, 2019

Originally built to store coal to power Victorian London, before becoming a Mecca for clubbers, Coal Drop’s Yard in King’s Cross, home to The Drop wine bar, has become an impressively rehabilitated culinary quarter.

Originally built to store coal to power Victorian London, before becoming a Mecca for clubbers, Coal Drop’s Yard in King’s Cross, home to The Drop wine bar, has become an impressively rehabilitated culinary quarter.

Housed in original brick arches built to store coal, and with a glamorous counter and large terrace, The Drop is brought to you by co-partners, Sam and James Hart of Barrafina and Quo Vadis fame and their friend, Crispin Somerville, with whom they run El Pastór taquerias.

Comms director and leading light on the project, Sophie Orbaum likens it to “a more modern Gordon’s Wine Bar,” while Aimee Hartley, publisher of the Above Sea Level magazine was intrinsic to setting the tone for how to convey The Drop’s approach, from writing the website and producer bios to picking wines. She says: “I put something together that felt very them – a fresh take on the classics. Smaller, craft-led producers working in a gentle way in the vineyards and the winery.” Hartley also compiled the fledgeling little brown book, “which has anything from slightly wilder wines from the Jura, through to old Riojas from the 1970s, and some delicious grower Champagne. All on a cash margin.”

In addition to native oysters from the jolly-looking cart outside, dishes by Karan Ghosh (formerly of Thomas’s Café at Burberry) may include homely mushroom consommé, braised ox cheek with horseradish mash, and a very flavoursome pear and frangipane tart with custard cream, possibly matched with a glass of Bera Moscato d’Asti selected by Orbaum’s brother, Sam who got his role at The Drop through an internal promotion “that had nothing to do with me whatsoever (directly or indirectly),” says Sophie. Finish your time in the substantial culinary quarter, which also includes the largest Barrafina thus far above, with a drop of bright, Californian Fernet Francisco Ruibarbo before heading to the sweet-smelling churros stall opposite.

Un-ticketed monthly “drop-ins” occur monthly, including the “Tartiflette and Alpine” event and Braai and South African wine night featuring a keg of Yellow Belly Chenin Blanc by Craven, and The Huntsman Shiraz from Stellenbosch producer, Journey’s End whose MD, Rollo Gabb is also a Director of Hart Bros.

To view the Wine List Confidential website, please click here.

Wine List Confidential, brought to you by the drinks business, is the first platform to rank London’s restaurants on the strength of their wine list alone, providing a comprehensive guide to the best restaurants in the capital for wine lovers.

Restaurants are graded on a 100-point scale based on five criteria: size, value, service, range and originality.

* Please note that scores for the next edition of Wine List Confidential will be published in May 2019.

Gordon Ramsay unveils first look inside new London restaurant

15th March, 2019

A fusion of striking interiors and innovative Asian-inspired cuisine, chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay offers a glimpse at what guests can expect at Lucky Cat, which will open in Mayfair this summer.

The Gordon Ramsay restaurant group announced the opening of new venture Lucky Cat last month, following the closure of Maze in 2018.

Devised by Gordon Ramsay and his executive chef Ben Orpwood, the menu will include Asian small plate classics and robata grilled dishes, with each plate designed to be shared.

The menu will feature dishes such as seared otoro with house soy, wakame oil and baby kale; Orkney scallop with yuzu and sweetcorn hot sauce, wasabi leaf and finger lime, in which yuzu is amalgamated with wasabi leaves grown in the restaurant’s kitchen; and a seasonal take on a Chawan Mushi consisting of a savoury steamed custard finished with flavours such as truffle, mushroom or caviar.

Desserts will include a passion fruit and yuzu soufflé with lemongrass and ginger sorbet, and a ‘Yum Baba’ with robata roasted pineapples and coconut Chantilly, offering an Asian take on the classic Rum Baba which has proved popular at many Gordon Ramsay restaurants.

Created by design studio AfroditiKrassa, guests will have the opportunity to feast upon every aspect of the restaurant, with each table offering an intriguing perspective on the restaurant’s design.

The ‘Chef’s Tables’, situated in the centre of the space, will invite guests to choose from a handwritten, seasonal menu and a ‘Raw Bar’ will give guests the opportunity to enjoy sushi and sashimi, with both elements offering a chance to see the chefs at work.

Utilising Asian ingredients to provide a twist on the classic cocktail menu, guests will choose from cocktails such as the White Geisha, a mixture of vodka, saké syrup, yuzu and egg white decorated with the portrait of a Geisha, or the Jade consisting of a mix of green tea infused gin, Sauvignon Blanc syrup, lime juice, egg white, and matcha tea, inspired by the precious stone considered by many to bring good luck to the owner.  A Lucky Negroni will be served over hand-carved ice, with the roll of three dice deciding, from a potential 216 combinations, the flavour combination a guest receives from the selection of gins, vermouths and bitters on offer.

Lucky Cat will also have a wide selection of Japanese gins and over forty premium sakés on offer, alongside wine, beer and whisky. A choice of loose-leaf teas, from South East Asia and Vietnam, will also be on available.

Gordon Ramsay said: “Lucky Cat has been a long-time vision for me and I can’t wait to bring it to life. I’ve toured and worked in much of Asia over the years and the culture, the flavours and the incredible cooking never fail to inspire me. We’ve got a great team on the project and we’re ready to bring something really special to London this summer.”

UK sees wine decline – and it’s predicted to worsen

15th March, 2019

The UK drinks market is seeing a fall-off in still wine consumption – and it’s predicted to worsen – although the main area of decline is the lower end of the market, according to the IWSR.

Source: IWSR Drinks Market Analysis

Using data gathered from all areas of the UK drinks market, figures from the IWSR released at a Vinexpo press briefing on Wednesday this week showed that still wine sales have fallen by 3 million nine-litre cases (see bar chart, above).

Such a decline was recorded over a 12-month period from 2016 to 2017, and the decrease comes in marked contrast to the global picture for still wine consumption over the same period, which has risen by almost 12m cases (see bar chart, bottom).

Considering that the UK still wine market is a little over 114 million cases, the decline in sales noted above represents a drop of almost 2%.

Commenting on the development at the event this week, Mark Meek, who is CEO of the drinks market analyst, said that it was the “lower end” of the still wine market that was seeing a decrease, and that this was not being replicated at the higher end of the market.

“The UK is an incredibly price-conscious market, but we are seeing interesting growth around the ‘premium and above’ category,” he commented.

However, while the still wine market has declined in volume terms according to IWSR data from 2016-2017, the analyst showed that sparkling wine consumption in the UK had risen by more than 8% over the same period.

With an additional 582,000 cases, consumption of sparkling wine has offset some of the fall-off in still wine, and is set to continue to grow, driven by Prosecco (plus “a budding” English sparkling wine industry, which Meek said would add “close to 100,000 cases by 2022”).

Speaking generally about the UK drinks market, Meek said that “The global ‘less-but-better’ trend is likely to continue in the UK, with value growth out-pacing volume.”

As a result, he said that “wine will continue to shed volumes at the low-end,” noting that “the still wine market overall will gradually decline towards 2022,” referring to IWSR forecasts for the UK market over a five-year period from 2017.

Indeed, according to figures requested by the drinks business this morning, IWSR data shows a forecasted decline of more than 11% over the next five years, with the still wine market predicted to shed as much as 13m cases, falling from 114.3m cases (2017) to 101.1m in 2022.

Affecting sales of still wine in the UK will be a continued growth of sparkling wine consumption, but also sales of US whiskey, gin and the low and no-alcohol drinks sector, as well as a general trend of moderating consumption, as Brits cut back on alcohol.

Nevertheless, higher priced / higher quality wine is expected to fair better, with IWSR forecasts showing the ‘premium’ wine segment of the still wine market – defined as wine selling in retail for £8 to £14.99 – growing from 20% of sales by volume in 2017 to 25% by 2022.

When asked about the potential impact of Brexit on consumption in the UK, Meek said that it was hard to quantify the impact, but didn’t believe that it would affect any of the trends mentioned above.

“The best guestimate I can make is that it [Brexit] will be such a fudge that nothing will change.”

All data in this article comes from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, and was shared with db on Wednesday 13 March in London, as part of a Vinexpo press briefing on the state of the global market for alcohol.

Source: IWSR Drinks Market Analysis

WATCH: Coravin reveal video ahead of Wine & Spirits Show masterclass

15th March, 2019

Purveyors of high-tech wine solutions Coravin have revealed a teaser video of what to expect from their masterclass at next month’s Wine & Spirits Show.

the drinks business and The Spirits Business are joining forces to host the Wine & Spirits Show on 12 and 13 April 2019.

This year, we already have masterclasses lined up with high-tech corkscrew specialist Coravin and Champagne house Pol Roger, as well as a chance to taste some of the spirits that picked up the highest accolades in our Global Masters series.

Ahead of the two day event next month, Coravin have sent us a video offering a preview into what the masterclass will entail. Found in such hallowed locations as 67 Pall Mall and Pollen Street Social, Coravin’s bottle-opening equiment is well regarded within the world of wine, but new users can find the tools a little intimidating. The masterclass will take trade professionals and consumers through the ropes:

Some 1,500 visitors are expected to descend on Westminster this spring, sampling everything from German craft gin to Pol Roger Champagne.

We’re also bringing back the G&T bar this year, featuring spirits from Hamburg-based distillery Knut Hansen, Pocketful of Stones – headquartered in Long Rock, near Penzance, and Scotland’s Orkney Gin Company.

Members of the trade will be welcome from 2-5pm on Friday. To register for the trade session, follow this link

The event will open to consumers from 2pm until 9pm on Friday, and 1pm until 8pm on Saturday.

Get in touch with Chloé Beral – – for more details on exhibiting at The Wine & Spirits Show.

Inter Beaujolais invites guests to get their ‘Beau-jo on at ProWein’

15th March, 2019

Inter Beaujolais will be exhibiting over 150 wines from 12 appellations within the French region during next week’s ProWein, which will take place from 17 to 19 March in Düsseldorf.

Inter Beaujolais will be showcasing wines from Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié, Juliénas, Brouilly and Saint-Amour wines.

With several winemakers also helping to man the stand and present their wines, Anthony Collet, marketing director at Inter Beaujolais, commented on plans for the trade show.

“We’re delighted to be able to welcome the UK wine trade to the Beaujonomie stand at ProWein. It will be an opportunity to share some of the wines and give an insight into how our wines have been created, in a typical Beaujonomic setting where our wines should be explored and enjoyed.

“The UK continues to be one of the largest export markets for Beaujolais wines and we hope the selection we’ve put together at ProWein really demonstrates the quality and variety Beaujolais wines offer.

“We hosted our last magnum party at Wine Paris which went down a storm, so we look forward to welcoming the trade at ProWein for a Beau-jolly good time!”

You can find the Beaujonomie stand at Hall 11 Stand D140 throughout ProWein. The Beaujonomic magnum Party will start at 5.30pm on Monday 18 March at the Beaujonomie stand.

ProWein: Key information

This year’s ProWein is expected to attract over 60,000 international trade visitors and feature almost 7,000 exhibitors from 60 different countries.

Celebrating its 25th year, the fair will feature the most producers form Italy (1,700), with France coming second with (1,650), then Germany (980). There will also be 400 craft spirits showcased at the event.

ProWein takes place between 17 and 19 March from 9:00am to 6pm for visitors.

Benevolent Ball at the Natural History Museum raises £50k

15th March, 2019

The Benevolent held its annual Ball at the Natural History Museum in London last night, which saw 430 members of the UK drinks trade gather to raise £50,000 for the UK drinks trade charity.

The Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum. Credit: Andrew Fosker / PinPep

It was the first time that the event had been held at The Natural History Museum, with guests treated to a Champagne reception, sponsored by Laurent-Perrier, Louis Roederer, Moët et Chandon and Taittinger Champagne, before taking their seats in the Hintze Hall for dinner.

During the event, Joe Fattorini, a beneficiary of The Benevolent, shared his story as to how The Benevolent’s mental health helpline had helped him, and how he has benefitted from counselling sessions funded by the charity.

The Benevolent’s chairman, Michael Saunders, addressed the room with a powerful speech about the vital importance of regular donations to keep the charity’s work going, taking the opportunity to launch the new donors’ campaign, ‘It Could be Me’.

The campaign aims to encourage supporters of the charity to become regular donors, reminding them that one day they may need its services.

Donating the equivalent cost of a drink a month (£5 for a pint or £10 for a glass of wine), could make a huge difference to charity’s efforts to support colleagues in need, said Saunders.

Entertainment was provided by Master of Ceremonies Charles Metcalfe, who led the Power Pledge initiative and helped The Benevolent to raise over £13,500 in less than 10 mins.

“I cannot thank all our sponsors and friends in the industry enough who have helped us to achieve this,” said The Benevolent’s chief executive Chris Porter.

“I am delighted with the amount that we have raised. Please know that every penny will go towards helping those in our drinks industry community who are suffering financial and emotional hardship at this time. A brilliant night where the Trade really has come together to help its own”

Chris Porter, CEO of The Benevolent, and Michael Saunders, chairman of The Benevolent. Credit: Andrew Fosker / PinPep

Scotch Whisky Association loses tartan trademark battle in Singapore

15th March, 2019

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has lost a trademark dispute against Japanese retailer Isetan Mitsukoshi over use of the word ‘tartan’, having claimed that it could function as a GI for whisky.

Isetan had been attempting to register the trademark ‘Isetan Tartan’ at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), however the SWA had put in an objection. This is the first time that IPOS has heard such as case, after the Geographical Indications (GI) Act came into force in 1999.

The SWA argued that trademarks cannot be registered if they contain a GI. It said that tartan is an iconic symbol of Scotland and can function as a geographical indication for whisky. It cited the Intellectual Property Law of Singapore (2013) which states: “GIs often consist of the actual geographical name of the place of origin of the products but other indicating terms may also suffice as GIs as long as they identify the goods as originating in the territory, region or locality in the territory. Thus, it may be argued that iconic symbols such as the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal may serve as GIs of products from France, China or India.”

It also stressed Scotland’s long association with tartan and submitted evidence to show that Scotch producers often incorporated different tartan patterns onto their labels.

However, IPOS’ principal assistant registrar, Tan Mei Lin, rejected this argument, taking issue with whether tartan was a GI in the first place.

According to documents from the hearing, it states: The Opponent’s [SWA] submission is, however, misconceived. The relevant issue is not whether tartan is or is not iconic of Scotland, whether consumers associate tartans with Scotland or even whether it can or cannot function as a geographical indication but whether the tartan (or more precisely, the word “Tartan”), is a geographical indication.”

“GIs are used to identify goods with a given quality, reputation or other characteristic attributable to their origin. However, there was no evidence that “Tartan” is used to identify whiskies, or show what characteristics “Tartan” whiskies possess, and the association’s opposition failed.”

The report also noted that the GI Act only protects GIs that are protected in their country of origin. It stated that there was no evidence presented that demonstrates that “Tartan” is protected as such in the UK.

It added: “In this regard, the Opponent [SWA] furnished evidence of the registration of “Scotch Whisky” as a geographical indication with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which administers the Protected Food Name scheme, including spirit drinks in the UK. However, the Opponent did not produce any evidence to show that “Tartan” is also accorded protection as a geographical indication in the UK.”

Lindesay Low, legal deputy director at SWA, said: “We are obviously disappointed with this decision. We now need to consider its contents carefully and decide upon our next steps.”