Nyetimber unveils Valentine’s Day campaign

14th February, 2019

English winery Nyetimber has released a Valentine’s Day campaign entitled ‘A Love Shared’ inspired by its husband and wife winemaking team Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix.

Spriggs and Greatrix have worked together at the winery since 2007, having first met during their undergraduate Biochemistry degrees.

The campaign celebrates the “shared passions that unite us as couples and as friends this Valentine’s Day.”

In a video launched alongside the campaign, Spriggs says: “The most difficult thing about wine is putting words to it. Having been together for almost 20 years we kind of know each other’s language.

“With something as subjective as wine you know it’s a sensory experience we go through that we process together.

“We’re working in an industry that ultimately the goal is about making something for joy, for pleasure, for celebration. That’s why we do what we do.”

The English wine producer has also teamed equestrian duo William and Alice Fox-Pitt, who both share a passion for horses. William spent 35 years competing in eventing, winning three Olympic medals and six World Championship medals.

Alice is a former eventer and National Hunt jockey who now works and presents for ITV Racing.

Both firm fans of Nyetimber, the couple said in the video.

“If you look at the people who have tried to work together it’s a very challenging thing to do, so I think it’s very important to keep something for yourself. The best sporting we’ve enjoyed together was when we had this amazing opportunity, we were invited to go racing with Her Majesty the Queen. It was an amazing day, we’ll never forget that for sure.

“There isn’t ever a bad time to have a bottle of Nyetimber… You have to enjoy the moment and never wait to celebrate.”

Nyetimber will be publishing a video to complete the trio today.

MasterChef winner Kenny Tutt to open debut restaurant

14th February, 2019

The 2018 winner of the BBC cooking competition MasterChef and former bank manager, Kenny Tutt, is to open his first restaurant in Worthing called Pitch.

The menu, created with ingredients sourced locally, will focus on classic British dishes with a twist and feature Kenny Tutt’s own take on egg and chips alongside doughnuts with whipped goats cheese and cereal panna cotta with peanut butter.  Cream teas and seafood will also be available.  The wine list is yet to be unveiled.

Hailed by MasterChef judges as a “brilliant champion” for his unusual dishes, Tutt wants his first venture to be “somewhere people can relax and feel comfortable in an atmosphere that still feels special, without that stiff upper lip attitude”. His food will pay homage to his home town of London.

Located on Worthing’s Warwick Street, the former site of Italian restaurant Nonna’s Kitchen, Pitch will cover two floors and include a private dining room, with plans to open a cookery school on the top floor later this year. Pitch will open in May.

Bob Bob Ricard chef to open first solo venture

14th February, 2019

Bob Bob Ricard’s Anna Haugh is to open her first solo venture in London called Myrtle, promising to combine Irish influences and Chelsea panache.

Twitter @Anahaugh

A former chef at Michelin-starred restaurants The Square, Pied à Terre and Bob Bob Ricard in Soho, Haugh has drawn inspiration from her Irish heritage for the menu at her debut restaurant Myrtle.

Dublin born Haugh, who began her career at the city’s l’Ecrivain restaurant, said Langton Street’s Myrtle will offer “sophisticated yet informal dishes”.

The Modern European menu features a crispy stuffed chicken wing with wild trompette purée, slow confit Goatsbridge trout with cauliflower and capers, a buttermilk panna cotta, rhubarb jelly and cinnamon doughnuts.

As well as championing Irish cooking, Haugh is an advocate of female chefs and the restaurant’s name Myrtle is rumoured to pay homage to Myrtle Allen who was the first head chef at Ireland’s renowned Ballymaloe House.

Drizly teams up with US drinks chain BevMo!

14th February, 2019

Drizly, the ‘Amazon for Liquor’, has boosted its presence on the West Coast by teaming up with drinks retailer BevMo!

The partnership adds 45 BevMo! stores, to the Boston-based tech company’s e-commerce platform from today, spanning across California from Silicon Valley to San Diego and Los Angeles.

Drizly, which launched in 2012, already has a network of around 1,000 local stores in more than 100 cities in the US and Canada. It’s platform, dubbed the ‘Amazon of Liquor’ allows shoppers to compare the price of drinks in shops in their neighbourhood and order on-demand through the website and app. It also offers tips and cocktail recipes and trend information, while supplying its retail partners with its technology to enable them to offer id-verified delivery to customers.

Bryan Goodwin, SVP of commercial sales and operations at Drizly said BevMo!, which operates a total of 170 stores across California, Arizona and Washington, shared its innovative mindset, and the partnership would take its “already strong” west coast presence to “a new level”.

“BevMo!’s presence on Drizly includes their legendary ClubBev deals, making it easy for their loyal shoppers to enjoy a full BevMo! experience through just a few taps on their phones or laptops,” Goodwin added.

In December Drizly secured around $34.5 million in investment according to a SEC filing reported by Tech Crunch. 

Last month BevMo! launched a trial of a voice-activated ‘smart-aisle’ AI assistant to ‘talk whiskey’ to its customers, following a partnership with shopping marketing specialists, The Mars Agency.

P Franco and Bright team to open new London restaurant

14th February, 2019

The team behind London-based wine bar P Franco and restaurant Bright are preparing to open their third venture, proffering Japanese-inspired dishes paired with natural wine.

Instagram @peg.london

Influenced by yakitori, a Japanese type of speared chicken, the menu centres around skewers and broths and features grilled chicken wings, hearts and thighs from Leicestershire based Fosse Meadows with spicy Japanese inspired seasonings.

Located on the former site of Magnus Reid’s Legs on Morning Lane in Hackney, owner Phil Bracey says Peg will be all bar seating with “a focus on keeping prices down, small team, simple food, and a record player”.  The interior’s theme is recycling, with tabletops made from salvaged yogurt pots.

Peg brings P Franco and Bright together on two menu boards, the new grills on one and the familiar small plates of Bright on the other.

Head chef Byron Fini is supported by executive chef William Reid with a focus on carefully selected produce. Ingredients will be sourced from producers including those used by Brat, Koya and The Clove Club such as Flourish Produce, Namayasai Farm and Kernow Sashimi.

P Franco which opened in 2014 and Bright, which opened last year, are famed for their natural wine list.  A self-professed “wine geek”, Bracey’s wine lists have included pét-nats, reds, whites and orange wines such as Claude Cortois’s Racine and Cédric Garreau’s Gar’o’Vin.

Peg’s wine list promises to follow this trend. The restaurant will open on 20 February.

Lineup for Raw Wine London announced

14th February, 2019

More than 150 natural wine producers from around the world will be converging on London in March for the next Raw Wine Fair, including Gut Oggau, Château Le Puy and Domaine Tawse.

Isabelle Legeron MW

Also exhibiting will be Gravner and Radikon, both trailblazers of the orange wine movement, while Frank Cornelissen will be showcasing wines from the slopes of Mount Etna.

Visitors will also be able to sample Californian Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Rajat Parr’s Domaine de la Côte, as well as the no-added sulphite cuvées of high profile Burgundian, biodynamic producer, Domaine Tawse.

From the UK, family-owned Ancre Hill from Wales and Tillingham Wines in East Sussex will be exhibiting, alongside up-and-coming winemaker Nate Ready, of Hiyu Wine Farm in Oregon.

As well as an extensive tasting, the event will also feature Speakers’ Corner, which will host a variety of seminars and tutored tastings with top low-intervention organic, biodynamic and natural wine producers, including one on the early years of Gravner, which helped bring about the “orange wine renaissance”.

Also on board are 266 Wines, Ancestrel Wines, Dynamic Vines, Raeburn Fine Wines, Natural Born Wine and Roberson.

Raw Wine London will take place on 10-11 March, during #rawwineweek (6th-13th March) – a nationwide celebration of low-intervention organic, biodynamic and natural wines with tutored tastings, glass offers and winemaker dinners taking place thorughout the capital.

The fair will open on Sunday from 10-6pm, and on Monday from 10-6pm, at The Store, 180 The Strand, London.

For tickets visit rawwine.com

New Zealand in pictures: North Canterbury

13th February, 2019

My NZ adventure began at Pegasus Bay on a gorgeous summer day that showed off the estate’s lush Japanese-inspired landscaped gardens to full effect. Planted by the Donaldson family in 1985, Pegasus Bay’s Waipara Valley vineyard put North Canterbury on the New Zealand wine map.

Hot Valentine’s offers for dining in

13th February, 2019

A romantic Valentine’s date with your beloved may be the only option for many…

…but for those who want to escape the schmaltz of dining out – or whose nightly routine consists of soothing teething babies or putting small children to bed several times! – it might not be so easy to pop out for a romantic dinner à deux . So the drinks business has rounded up some of the booze and meal deals currently available on the high street for tomorrow’s big day to help you dine in at home easily.

Vodka ‘to benefit from gin fatigue’

13th February, 2019

Consumers overwhelmed by the choice in the gin category and those searching for something different are increasingly looking to craft vodka brands as an alternative, believes Ogilvy Spirits’ Caroline Bruce-Jarron.

Co-founders of Ogilvy Spirits, Caroline Bruce-Jarron and Graeme Jarron.

Speaking to the drinks business last month, Bruce-Jarron, who co-founded Scotland’s Ogilvy Spirits and now heads up its branding and marketing, said that she’d seen an increase in people searching for alternatives to gin.

“We’re definitely seeing more people looking for something different to gin. They’re overwhelmed by the number of gin brands on offer and are saying to us ‘Oh good, you’re not doing a gin’.

“When you think that at one show, you can have as many as 14 to 20 different gin brands battling it out, you can see why some consumers are getting a bit bored of it.

Ogilvy makes vodka produced from potatoes grown on the family farm near Forfar in Angus.

While Bruce-Jarron has seen evidence of ‘gin fatigue’, the category still remains in growth. In the year ending 3 November 2018, gin sales in the UK alone reached almost £2 billion with UK gin sales by volume totalling 66.3 million bottles, up 41% on 2017, and £1.93 billion by value, up 53%.

Bruce-Jarron added: “I think there’s still a long way to go – the word vodka does put a lot of people off. Our job is to show people that we make a product that tastes good and has flavour. Perceptions are definitely changing.”

Stephen Russell co-founder of Copper Rivet in Kent, which produces Vela Vodka, agrees.

“We cannot say that ‘craft vodka’ is a major trend yet in the way it has been for gin, but there’s momentum in that direction,” he said.

“The clear trend we’re seeing is a shift among discerning consumers towards seeking out more artisan, less showy brands with a real story to tell – for example, in our case, the process and the wheat, barley and rye which are grown locally and exclusively for us.

“Consumers also seem keen to enjoy vodka which has some character – so rather than being totally flavourless, we find consumers at the luxury end of the market enjoying being able to identify a hint of sweetness, warmth and creaminess,” he added.

Potatoes growing on the Ogilvy farm.

Keith Bonnington director of Colonsay Beverages, owner of Brochan Vodka, said that there are similarities in the way that raw materials are discussed by vodka producers and botanicals are mentioned by gin distillers.

“There has been a slow but steady swell of consumer interest in the premium craft vodka category over the last ten years, initially focussed on brands from mainland Europe and Russia but increasingly in recent years, from within the UK, talking up raw materials in much the same way gin producers do for botanicals,” he said.

“Arguably, the flavour variation derived from cereals is far more subtle than that which can be attributed to botanicals but there’s enough there to pique the consumer’s interest.”

Bruce-Jarron is among those calling for better regulations, particularly highlighting the plight of those producers making their spirit from scratch, often by growing the raw materials themselves.

“Firstly, we need more regulation between vodkas and gins that are not particularly juniper-led. Secondly, there are also a lot of producers, particularly in Scotland, that are buying in their base spirits and saying they’re Scottish.

“Of course there are a lot of great products that can be made in this way, but we, and others that do what we do, are frustrated and feel consumers are being misled as to what they’re drinking.

“There are other problems too: brands calling themselves distilleries when they don’t actually have a distillery, and are producing their products through contract distilling.

“We’re in a wee bit of a mess. With so many brands popping up, it’s hard to keep control of it all. We definitely need better regulation for better credibility.”

Ian Stirling, founder of Arbikie, another Scottish spirits producer employing the field-to-bottle approach, likewise believes traceability and being honest to the customer is vital.

“At Arbikie we’re one of the few UK distillers who grow and distil from scratch. We grow our own potatoes to distil our Tattie Bogle Potato Vodka which is then used as the base spirit for Kirsty’s Gin. Our Haar Vodka is distilled from our own wheat and used to distil AK’s Gin, thus giving full traceability for our consumers.

“Although it costs us a lot more to distil from scratch, we will never use bought-in neutral grain spirit as it often lacks traceability of production and the materials it was distilled from,” he said.

Steven Kersley, head of distillation at BrewDog’s distilling arm, LoneWolf, agrees, adding that vodka must improve its act if it is to compete with the rise of gin and rum.

“The growth across other spirits categories has meant vodka has taken a back seat of late. That said the strong performance of gin and rum etc. isn’t solely to blame.

“The custodians of this category have done it a disservice. Authenticity is lacking. Mass procured neutral grain spirit dressed up in a premium bottle, for me, has no real tangible quality edge on the value brands. The difference in price is a ‘wanker tax.'”

For more in-depth analysis of development in the vodka category, look out for the dedicated feature in the March issue of the drinks business magazine. 

Delaunay outlines vision for family estate

13th February, 2019

Laurent Delaunay, head of négociant house Badet Clément, has outlined further the plans for his recently reacquired family domaine in Burgundy, ‘Edouard Delaunay’.

The Château de Charmont

Delaunay announced last month that he had reacquired his family estate from the Boisset family in 2017 and that he was relaunching the brand this February.

Speaking to the drinks business at Wine Paris, Delaunay said that the chance to buy back the domaine (which his father sold in the early 1990s) had “always been a dream”.

His company, Badet Clément, has invested extensively in the south of France over the past few decades but he continued he had always kept numerous contacts in Burgundy and had continued living there.

Delaunay said that one day he had simply asked Jean-Claude Boisset if he would ever sell the domaine name and châteu back and “he [Boisset] accepted immediately”.

At the same time, “by coincidence”, the old cellars and winery which had been sold to another company also came up for sale so very quickly he was able to assemble the original framework of the estate.

The only thing that was missing were vineyards as Boisset retained the 13 hectares that used to belong to the domaine.

Delaunay said it was another “dream to buy some of our own vineyards,” but conceded that in Burgundy today such a desire was, “very difficult and expensive but we’re looking at opportunities and if a good one arrives we’ll take it.”

As such, all the grapes have been sourced through contracts, which Delaunay said had been the hardest part of the whole project.

‘Everything else is just finance and investing,” he said (and €1.5 million has so far been invested in the winery), “but grape contracts is all about personal relations.”

Luckily, he went on, there were a number of existing connections which allowed for some quick agreements and then the return of the family apparently prompted other growers to approach him and offer fruit from climats which are otherwise extremely hard to source.

“The range we built in two years I would never have dreamed of before,” he said.

The range currently stands at 25 wines from the Côte de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits covering Villages to Grands Crus and another four wines under the broader ‘regional appellations’ in Burgundy: Bourgogne rouge and blanc and Côte d’Or Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

As well as a Nuits-Saint-Georges village wine there are three premiers crus from the Nuits with Delaunay saying he wanted to have a “focus” on the appellation because it was “our village” – the old family house being in the Hauts Côtes de Nuits.

But he added he was most pleased to have tracked down parcels of Montrachet and Griotte-Chambertin which are extremely hard to source and the latter in particular was his father’s favourite.

In total the domaine works with five grands crus, rising to seven for the 2018 vintage.

In terms of distribution Delaunay said there was still much to put in place. He said he had 10 key markets in mind including the UK, US and China.

In the UK he wanted to aim at the high-end on-trade and very select retail outlets as well as fine wine specialists to take small allocations for private customers.

The US, he said, would not be a huge focus as many Burgundian houses were already well established there which made “profitability difficult”.

In China, however, a deal had already been struck with a company that’s a Burgundy specialist there and will sell largely to private customers.

And this market in particular, Delaunay continued, was the sort he wanted to capture for the next stage of the redevelopment of the estate.

Although the winemaking philosophy of the estate was very much Burgundian, he said, when it came to marketing, “we took more inspiration from Champagne, they pay attention to their customers, the packaging the service and so on.”

The goal, still in a planning and development stage has to how exactly it will be done, is to make the estate’s customers (particularly collectors) the sense they are “part of a venture”.

This may take the form of a wine club as exists in Napa, a guest house has also been mooted as have a series of programmes to help introduce people to what is to outsiders a very exclusive and often daunting region – “such as a weekend at the Hospices sale,” Delaunay suggested.

This is where the Chinese market comes in, with Delaunay noting that they are the, “type of client who wants to know more about Burgundy and who find it the most difficult [to get access].”