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  • In conversation with Matteo Lunelli

    On Tuesday evening, we were lucky enough to attend a seminar with Ferrari President and CEO, Matteo Lunelli, hosted by the Italian Society of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

    But it wasn’t only a humbling experience for us, but indeed for Matteo too, who, 10 years earlier, walked the halls of LSC as a student (he took a finance course in the summer of 1997).

    Although he is the third-generation of one of Italy’s most prestigious family-run companies, Matteo never took it for granted that he’d one day reside over the estate.

    From moving to New York to work at Goldman Sachs, to the course for Ferrari’s continued success into the future, Matteo spoke candidly about his entrepreneurial experiences, and the fascinating world of wine. Here, we share just a handful of the most interesting insights from the evening.

    Matteo_LSE

    ON changing anything if he were to start from scratch: Nowadays for my son I’d suggest doing some travel, and perhaps an undergraduate outside of Italy – being more international in your background is becoming more and more important.

    ON the strengths and weakness of running a family business: In winemaking, many of the most successful estates are run by families. Especially in our sector, being a family business brings a strong competitive advantage – a family can have a very long-term progression, which is crucial if you want to make great wine. From the day you first plant a vineyard, it can take almost a decade to the time when your vines will begin to produce great grapes. And even then, the wine you’re making might take a few years to mature into a great wine. So this whole cycle can take almost a generation. Being a family business in this industry allows you to work on generational projects, that you’re setting up for the next generation.

    But a family business doesn’t come without risk. This is especially true when the family puts their interests before the interest of the company and the people who work there. In my experience, what makes a successful family business is creating a set of rules and disciplines that define the relationship between the family and business. I’m thankful my father was a big promoter of creating a family constitution.

    Another risk is that if the family doesn’t promote a good management culture inside the business, it’s difficult to attract talented people from outside to come and work with you. As a family, we’re by no means the smartest people out there, so we need to be able to attract those talented people to want to work with us.

    ON the booming trend of Italian sparkling wine, and whether the growth is sustainable: Sparkling wine is growing; it is a very modern wine and is in line with the current lifestyle of people. Wine is about sociality and conviviality. Nowadays people are looking for light and elegant food, and sparkling wine matches perfectly with this. Sparkling wine evokes emotion and happiness – it is a very important wine, which is why it’s grown so much. There is certainly a bright future for sparkling wine.

    The biggest trend I’ve witnessed in the UK market is prosecco. The success is immense – we’re talking about stunning numbers here. Data from 2009 showed that the worldwide trade of sparkling wine was £4.2 billion, and it’s now £6.2 billion – almost 50% growth in the last five years. Internationally, this growth has been dominated by prosecco and Italy. Nowadays the total export of sparkling wine from Italy is 273 million litres, while from France it’s 176 million. But when you compare France to Italy, the export value of Champagne is £3.3 billion, while Italian sparkling sits at £1.2 billion. Italians export nearly more than 60% more than France, but we have just around a third of their value.

    Another important trend I’ve noticed is that an increasing number of customers are opening up to the idea that high-end luxury sparkling wine doesn’t only have to come from France. This doesn’t mean sales of Champagne will decrease, it’s still important. In my opinion, what will change in the next three years is that in restaurants you will find not only high-end sparkling wine from single regions, but you will find premium sparkling wine from the world over.

    If you think about still wines…I love Burgundy and Bordeaux and this is where Europe’s wine culture started, but on the wine lists around London you’ll find many territories for still wines; nobody would ever think about doing a wine list only with Burgundy. So, why would you make a wine list of sparkling only with Champagne.

    ON the contest between traditional winemaking, and what the consumer wants: We never change wines to adapt to the tastes of the customer. Rather, we always try to craft the best wine that we think is the expression of our own territory. In terms of winemaking we tend to be very traditional; however, this doesn’t mean we need to avoid innovation. Even if winemaking is old fashioned, you should still look for innovation in everything. It’s not about looking for one huge change, but rather lots of small steps. Excellence is not an act, but a habit. It’s not about finding one idea that changes your wine, but trying to make every single step better and better. The ability to match tradition and innovation is what sets a successful winery apart from the rest.

    ON the biggest challenges that lie ahead: One of the main challenges is to balance growth, whilst still maintaining quality. It’s important that in the future, we grow only when we find the right grapes that will allow us to continue producing the type of sparkling that we do today.

  • Our Chilean Trifecta  

    The RAW Wine Fair kicks off in London this weekend, and you’ll be able to catch our Chilean producer Renan Cancino (Huaso de Sauzal) at the two-day festival. So ahead of this, we thought we’d delve into Chile’s burgeoning wine landscape, and shine a light on our exciting portfolio.

    Historically, Chile’s wine scene has been led by large-scale, wealthy producers with little in the way of boutique, pioneering estates. It has the largest average winery size of any country, many either producing mass entry-level wines, or modelling themselves on powerful Bordeaux/Cabernet styles.

    Recently, however, this landscape has been changing, thanks to a small, committed movement of young, new-generation winemakers, who are turning heads with their human-scale, authentic and, often very traditional approach to Chilean winemaking.

    MOVI (Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes) can be accredited with drawing attention to this uprising, and VIGNO, a new co-op movement, has even developed its own covert DO for dry-farmed Carignan. For wine lovers and adventurers, these two trailblazers have started something exciting.

    This growing number of visionary young “viñateros” are bringing long lost strains of vinicultural artifacts back to life, creating startlingly unique, complex and bold wines. Each of them with a unique story to tell.

    All in the South

    The majority of Chilean wine is produced in and around Santiago, where Cabernet from regions such as DO Colchagua and DO Maipu are heralded as the heart of premium winemaking. Styles typically are generous and ripe, aiming for body, intensity and power, over freshness, balance of fruit and elegance. Down south, from where the young, maverick winemakers are rising, it’s a different story.

    The southern landscape and culture starts to change as you venture towards Concepción; where DO Maule, Itata and Bio Bio can be found. Here, the wines are gloriously fresh with a focus on minimum intervention. Stylish wines with huge sommelier appeal and individuality are out there, and, if you dig deep there are some real gems to be discovered.

    However, until recently, wine culture in the south was commonly rebuked; seen as basic, provincial winemaking, and País, the indigenous grape, was dismissed as a gutter grape, not fit for making fine wines. Today the tables are starting to turn, as all the big powerful wineries, in a bid to keep up with times, are starting to invest in these up-and-coming regions. In the right hands, País is capable of making some exceptional wines with vibrant fruit, tension, complexity and elegance.

    Our producers

    Laberinto – Maule

    Located at the foothills of the Andes, in an eastern mountainous region of the Maule Valley, this winery sits 600m above sea level, and is considered the coolest spot in Chile. Rafael Tirado is the creator of, and winemaker at this small, family-owned outfit. Rafael makes bracingly fresh Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Franc blend.

    The vines are planted in unusual curves, including two vine labyrinths. These labyrinths were planted with the aim of achieving more complexity through varying exposures of the fruit to the sun. This is a family project, and since 1993 their intention has been to make human-scale, gastronomic wines for the family to enjoy. What started out as half a hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon has grown into 18ha of vines, and Rafael’s Sauvignon Blanc is fast gaining notoriety. These wines are made with food in mind – think ceviche and oysters: they’re seriously mineral with incredible poise and elegance.

    Laberinto

    Huaso de Sauzal – Maule

    Renán Cancino makes very traditional wine in a small town called Sauzal in the Maule region. He works with vines that are up to 300 years old, and produces wines without any modern technology, spraying, or sulphites. Fermentation takes place in outside lagares, de-stemming is manual using a bamboo salander, natural yeasts, gentle, manual pigeage, free-run juice followed by a gentle press using rocks (delicately placed on top of the grapes). The soils here are of granitic origin, with a naturally higher pH.

    Climatically, Sauzal is in the valley, but geographically is farther in the interior and closer to the coastal range, with a wider thermal variation and a stronger influence of the cold towards autumn. Renán studied agronomy and gained experience in a co-op before he could resist the urge no longer: in 2008 he began experimenting. Using his family’s grapes, he began making wines the natural way – just as it had been done for centuries. All wine in Sauzal is natural, both in concept and in origin – this is not a faddish turn. These hand-crafted wines are beautifully unique.

    Renan Cancino, Huaso de Sauzal

    Terroir Sonoro – Itata, Bio Bio

    Juan Ledesma is a jazz musician and an erudite, artistic soul who made his first vintage in 2013 after discovering 300-year-old vines in Itata and Bio Bio. With a growing suspicion that everything he had learnt studying agronomy was a lie, he set out on a winemaking mission to support local growers in a quest to make exceptional wines, with the hallmarks of quality and verve.

    Juan’s methods are both unusual and pioneering. Lees are suspended by the resonance of jazz music that he composes, records and then plays into the wine when it’s ageing in barrel. This combines two visions – the science of using sound waves to mimic battonage and the emotional link to jazz. A lot of his inspiration, including the names of his wines, are taken from his hero, Chilean poet, artist and scientist Nicanor Parra.

    Terroir Sonoro

    The fires our support

    In January this year, Chile suffered from devastating fires, they were widespread from Colchagua through Curicó, down to Maule Itata and Bio Bio. Nearly 700sq miles of land was ravaged by more than 100 fires. Some of the worst affected areas were down in the south, where our Chilean Trifecta reside, and it’s the small traditional farmer that has been affected the most.

    Our producers have suffered: some have lost old vines, others will see damage from the smoke, and as their partner, Enotria&Coe feels strongly that we have a responsibility to support them during this hardship. So, for every bottle that’s sold of all of these wines, we’ll donate £0.50 into an accrued pot, which will be sent out to the three producers at the end of the year, to contribute towards helping them restore their vineyards.

  • St David's Day

    St. David (Dewi Sant in Welsh) is the patron saint of Wales, and 1st March – his feast day – is celebrated as a patriotic and cultural festival by the Welsh in Wales and around the world. As the national flower of Wales, Welsh people the world over proudly wear the leek – either the stalk, flower, or leaf – on this day. The Welsh leek has a flower, much like a daffodil, which is quite a bit easier to find around the world in March, so many use daffodils instead.

    Why do the Welsh wear leeks?

    Legend has it that on the eve of the battle against the Saxons, St David advised the Britons to wear leeks in their caps so they could be easily distinguish from the enemy. They won the battle and leeks became a Welsh symbol.

    To celebrate and get you in the mood for this monumental day, we have a delicious Leek and Whiskey recipe, and Welsh-based cocktail for you to try.

    Leek and WhiskeyLeek and Whiskey

    • 6 leeks
    • 3 tbsp cream (or crème fraîche)
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 24 scallops
    • 3 tbsp whiskey of choice
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Wash the leeks and slice into thin rounds. Fry gently in a pan for 10 minutes, until soft. Remove and set aside. In the frying pan, heat 2tbsp olive oil. Cook the scallops for 2 minutes of each side (note: don't overcrowd the pan, you can do a few at a time and set aside to keep warm). Once all the scallops have been cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside. Pour 3 tbsp of your favourite whiskey into the frying pan and stir over the heat. Remove the pan from the hob and stir in the cream. Season to taste. Arrange the Leeks and scallops on a plate and drizzle with the sauce.

    The Red Dragon

    This Welsh-based cocktail is a concoction of Brecon Botanical Gin with blood orange, green tea and hibiscus, and teapot bitters, finished with a Snapdragon flower. A sweet, refreshing cocktail. Almost looks too good to drink – almost!

    reddragon

    Ingredients

    • 35ml Brecon Botanicals Welsh gin
    • 20ml The Vert Hibiscus Liqueur
    • 10ml Gomme Syrup
    • 5ml Monin Blood Orange Syrup
    • 2 dashes Teapot Bitters
    • 10ml lemon juice
    • 10ml egg white
    • 1 fresh raspberry
    • Edible snapdragon flower (to garnish)

    Instructions

    Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Top the ingredients with cubed ice, then top with a glass and give it a good shake. Double strain the mixture into a chilled Martini glass, garnish with the Snapdragon flower and serve immediately.

  • Vintage Down Under with d'Arenberg

    Earlier this year we bid farewell to our e-commerce superstar Olivia, as she set sail for the land Down Under and a once-in-a-lifetime vintage experience with d'Arenberg in McLaren Vale. Before harvest kicks-off, and her hands are well and truly dirty, we checked in with Liv to find out more about her exciting adventure.

     

    What made you want to apply for vintage work experience?

    After a couple of years working in the wine industry back in the UK – and coming from a non-wine background initially – I thought it was about time I took a not-so-small trip to get an understanding of what a real vintage is all about, and what exactly happens Friday at 5 glass of wine gets poured!

    Olivia-Chester

    What made you choose d’Arenberg?

    I’m a sucker for label design, and easily won over by a bit of sunshine!

    What are the top three things you’re hoping to get out of the experience?

    • Winemaking: I want to learn more about the winemaking process, and gain a better understanding of the time, effort and processes that go into a bottle (aka blood, sweat and tears?)
    • Tasting: Develop confidence in tasting; whether I learn this at work or not, SA has got to be a good place to start my wine education. McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, and Clare all in driving distance of one another – sounds like a pretty good way to spend a day off!
    • Knowledge: Better knowledge of varietals; what affects them in terms of viticulture and climate, and how this is reflected in the flavour profile and characteristics when I drink a glass of wine.

    I’m also looking forward to being part of a vintage team in general. I’ve been warned how much hard work it can be, but I’ve never met a person who hasn’t recommended doing it, so that has to be a good sign!

    liv What have you been up to so far?

    Tastings, watermelon catapults, kangaroo spying, confined space training, winery tours…so far so good!

    This is just the start of Olivia's vintage journey, and we're sure we'll be hearing more from her as the days roll on. You can follow Olivia’s travels on Instagram @darenbergwine or at @100daysaway. After McLaren Vale, she'll be setting off for New Zealand to lend a hand in the vineyard at Carrick Wines in Central Otago.

  • What to drink this Valentine's Day

    We all love an excuse to splurge on bottle of something special, and what better occasion than Valentine’s Day? Choosing the perfect tipple can be tricky, so to help you avoid the cluster of cliché drinks on offer, some of our talented wine and spirits buyers have selected a collection that are sure to spark the romance.

    Whether you’re all loved up, or foot-loose and fancy free, wine buyer Harriet Kininmonth has you sorted.

    The date – romantic, cosy dinner at home on a cold, winter’s night. I’m thinking roaring fire, candles, and all things hygge. Impress your loved one with a rich, silky and brooding Malbec, sure to warm the heart. The El Esteco Estate Malbec is the perfect choice – hailing from the oxygen-starved, high-altitude vineyards of the Cafayate Valley in Salta, Argentina, it’s packed with rich and concentrated flavours of coffee, blueberry and spice, but is as fresh as they come.

    The party – who says that only couples get to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Don’t sit at home feeling sorry for yourself, invite some mates over and celebrate in style with a delicious bottle of boutique fizz from Spain. Franck Massard’s Mas Sardanas Cava Brut Nature is not your average cheap plonk from Spain. A hand-crafted, stylish, and premium fizz, drier than a prosecco and ideally paired with food – a girl’s gotta eat!

    For something slightly left of centre, and to spice things up a touch, spirits buyer Paul Hunter, nominates (with a generous lashing of tongue in check, mind you), the infamous tonic wine, Buckfast. “I like to drink two bottles of Buckfast every Valentine’s Day – it sets the tone appropriately for my romantic misadventures.”

    For those of you not in the know, Buckfast was first concocted by Benedictine monks in Devon, and is regarded as an aphrodisiac in the West Indies. However, it’s also recently gained a reputation as the drink of choice for debaucherous youths.

  • Australia Day Tasting 2017

    The annual Australia Day Tasting in London went off with a bang last month, with more than 1000 wines on offer from over 200 wineries, making it the UK’s biggest trade tasting of Australian wine to date.

    The tasting showcased the quality, diversity, and innovation of Australian wine, proving there's never been a more exciting time to be drinking and engaging with wines from Down Under.

    Victoria House, the new home for the London tasting, proved to be a huge success, creating a more curated and intimate feel to what was a robust, and extremely well-attended event with around 1200 guests passing through the doors over the course of the day.

    IMG_20170124_123746_860

    With a great showing from our portfolio, guests delighted in everything from Henschke's iconic, fine wines and an innovative line-up from d'Arenberg, to new-wave artisan wines from Tasmania's Stargazer and a diverse range from Howard Park in Australia's west. The tasting was also Enotria&Coe's first oppourtunity to showcase the exciting new wines from Marchand & Burch, which were incredibly well received.

    Plus, with attending principals PJ from d’Arenberg and Sue from Howard Park on hand, guests could discover more about the wines and stories behind each.

    While ADT Edinburgh was a smaller affair than it's London sibling, it was still a rip-roaring success. Indeed, the quality wines on offer, glamorous setting of the Balmoral Hotel, and engaged bunch of attending customers proved to be a recipe for success.

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