Home  /  Analysis

A group of wine producers and students gathered at the WSET’s London offices this month to learn from the team behind the successful I Heart brand.

Beaujolais: nouveau niche

20 November, 2018

The beleaguered winemakers of Beaujolais are celebrating after 2018 delivered the sort of vintage that can save many from biting the dust. Hail ravaged the region in 2016 and 2017 and some producers feared for their livelihoods as they headed into this year. But Mother Nature smiled on the area to the north of Lyon this year and superb conditions led to a large crop set to yield high-quality juice.

Whisk(e)y accounts for 21% of all UK spirits sales and it dominates the off-trade channel, but there is still a massive opportunity to grow the category further. It vastly under-trades among female consumers and younger adults, and retailers can reap the rewards if they compose exciting ranges that appeal to a broader demographic. For that reason we decided to launch Think Whisky, building on the success of our popular Think Gin and Think Rum events, in order to help them share best practice.

This April the dam levels in the Western Cape slumped to a low of just 18% and South Africans were bracing themselves for Day Zero.

Is orange the new white?

10 September, 2018

With Aldi leading the charge, orange wines could be set for a baptism of fire in the UK, finds Sonya Hook

Sir Ian 'Beefy' Botham is best known for his astonishing cricket career, but he's currently enjoying a run as a wine producer. He tells Martin Green he's hoping for a long innings in the game

Imagine you could buy the Mona Lisa for half price. Not the real thing, but a fake that could even fool the experts. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece would still be beyond most of our pockets. Now translate the idea across to wine. Say you could forge some of the world’s best wines, market them under your own label, avoid legal censure and knock them out to punters at a price they could afford. Why wouldn’t you?

Rum: the stuff of legend

20 July, 2018

Legend has it that Admiral Horatio Nelson’s body was put in a rum cask to preserve it for transportation back to England following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. He had just defied the odds to secure a decisive victory, constantly thwarting Napoleon and defeating a combined French and Spanish fleet, and he was due to receive a glorious open-casket funeral. But the navy officials who received his body discovered the sailors had drilled a hole in the cask and sucked it dry, leaving Nelson semi-pickled and unfit for an open casket.

Eric Idle once declared that American beer was like making love in a canoe – “fucking close to water”.

Over the past 12 months, the McGuigan wine brand has slipped quietly into the number three position in Nielsen’s stats for the UK off-trade, gliding past Blossom Hill. Echo Falls is within its sights, though overhauling market leader Hardys could still be some way off. Unusually for the chief executive of a public-listed company, in this case McGuigan brand owner Australian Vintage, coveting the top slot isn’t the number one priority, says Neil McGuigan. 

Drink is a compelling topic – for its friends, for its enemies and for all those in-between. And in August a new name will join those flapping around the flame. But Richard Piper isn’t saying what it is yet.

The team of wine advisors at fine wine investment company, Cult Wines, tells DRN what to look out for when it comes to seeking out wines that can increase in value:

Gaining the youth vote

15 June, 2018

The over-45 age group now accounts for more than three-quarters of BWS sales in the UK as younger adults increasingly turn their backs on alcohol. Kantar stats for the year to March show that 76.5% of volume sales go to the 45-plus demographic, with just 23.5% bought by younger adults. In the past year volume sales among 18 to 44-year-olds declined by 7.5%, while volume sales among the older generations grew 2.9%. 

More than 12 million sun-loving Brits jetted off to Spain in the past year and Barcelona was the most popular destination. It is easy to see why this enchanting seaside city is such a hit, as it is teeming with architectural treasures, the world’s greatest chefs and beautiful Mediterranean beaches.

In November 2017, Conviviality was riding the crest of a wave after share prices hit a record high of 426p following a raft of acquisitions.

Swindon and its environs have several claims to fame, from yielding James Bond creator Sir Ian Fleming to creating what is surely the world’s most complex roundabout.

When overworked news editors have a gaping hole in their papers, they can always rely on the anti-alcohol lobby to supply a scare story about the nation’s drink problem.

There’s a picture of the playwright Robert Bolt above the bar at Cork of the North, a hybrid-style wine merchant in Sale, on the south of Manchester.

Collaboration is a hot topic among independent wine merchants as they bid to increase margins, overcome barriers to trade and fend off the multiples. We caught up with Tim Carlisle, new business manager at Vindependents – an agency owned by and solely catering to indies – to explore the pros and cons of working collegiately. 

The family business

19 March, 2018

It has become accepted wisdom that the male of the species needs a space of his own to escape the pressures of family life.

Vodka: Coming up Trumps

15 March, 2018

When Donald Trump licenced his name to a US vodka brand in 2005, it seemed like a drinks category that could do no wrong. That was back when the idea of Trump becoming president seemed as likely as the Pope announcing his engagement to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the spirits industry’s star category provided the teetotal entrepreneur with a more credible roadmap towards world domination.

Mike James is the driving force behind an Aldi wine range that punches well above its weight when it comes to winning awards, earning column inches and growing retail sales. He has a strong track record of making shrewd decisions, exhibiting flair and dynamism in his buying choices and helping to shape the nation’s drinking habits. It has made him a serial number one on DRN’s Most Influential People in Wine list and earned him a reputation as one of the country’s most skilfull buyers. 

Age and beauty

26 January, 2018

In 1780 the good folk living along London’s Old Broad Street were abuzz with the news that a new wine merchant was opening on their doorstep. Edward Bland Corney’s shop sold only a limited range of port, sherry and Bordeaux, but it flourished and evolved into Corney & Barrow, one of the great names on the London wine scene. The old store is now consigned to the history books, but in 2018 the firm boasts thriving sales to private clients and a range of on-trade accounts, with a turnover of £60 million and offices in London, Newmarket, North Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Ayr, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Last month DRN surveyed 400 readers on what they considered the greatest threats to the future health of the drinks industry and the anti-alcohol lobby came second.

Midnight plane to Georgia

24 January, 2018

Georgia has been revealed as the birthplace of wine by an international team of scientists that found evidence of viticultural processes dating back to 6,000BC.

Trickery revealed

22 January, 2018

The campaigner who exposed Public Health England for massaging evidence to push through a reduction in UK alcohol guidelines has told DRN he believes such skulduggery is “endemic”. In January 2016, the chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, cut drinking guidelines for men from 21 units a week to 14, bringing them in line with women, and declared there is no safe level of drinking. To justify this move she cited evidence from a Sheffield Alcohol Research Group report. The report’s authors essentially recommended a lowering of drinking guidelines based on an assessment of the potential harm of low-level consumption. 

Wimbledon's craft serve

22 December, 2017

There has never been a more exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs to break into the burgeoning British beer scene as the nation’s love of craft brews shows no signs of abating. Drinkers are more experimental than ever and desperate to try quirky new beers that can demonstrate provenance and heritage. But two obvious challenges arise for newcomers to the market.

In the mid-2000s the Hunter Valley was home to some of Australia’s most successful volume brands, from Tyrrell’s Long Flat to Mount Pleasant’s Elizabeth. The region’s winemakers were raking in orders from around the world and enjoying huge growth as a result, but they were not particularly happy. 

Gin: Natural selection

09 November, 2017

After witnessing the advent of baobab gin, hop gin, cocoa gin, gin with ants in it, nettle gin and seaweed gin, you could be forgiven for thinking the flavour conveyor belt had run out of options. You would be wrong.

Surely “no/low-alcohol drinks” would be at the front of the queue if ever a category were in need of a sexier name. But this compilation of drinks – which includes lower or alcohol- free variants of cider, beer, wine and even spirits – has attracted considerably more interest lately.