Wine walks and experts

18 February, 2011

The Specialist Importers Trade Tastings will once again take place in both Manchester and London, but this year’s events will have “an exciting new element”, according to organiser Judy Kendrick.?Three generic bodies – Wines of Argentina, Wines of Chile and New Zealand Winegrowers – will be on hand to offer “wine walks” and masterclasses, which will focus on particular regions and varieties (see box, right).?Kendrick says: “These will give visitors a perfect opportunity to explore some fascinating wines under expert guidance.”?She is encouraging attendees to “make the most” of this year’s tastings by going along to the Mary Portas Masterclasses for Small Businesses.?“This is a chance to take part in exclusive findings and business learnings provided by the National Skills Academy for Retail,” Kendrick adds.?The sessions promise to give advice on how to develop businesses and improve the bottom line, as well as revealing simple steps to save money and maximise sales.

OLN’s sister publication Harpers Wine & Spirit will be announcing the winners of the first annual Top Merchants Awards, which will be held after SITT at London’s Vinopolis. The new initiative has been introduced to recognise the most outstanding merchants in the UK across eight categories.?Ruth Yates, of Corks Out, which scooped the Independent Wine Retailer of the Year

prize at OLN’s of Drinks Retailing Awards, says she will be visiting both the Manchester and London events.?“It’s well run and it’s fantastic that it’s in the north west. It’s a tasting that has grown and needs more time to do some really serious buying and tasting,” she says.?“SITT gives me the opportunity to meet up with some of my suppliers that I haven’t seen for a while and taste some of the new vintages or alternative wines on offer.?“It’s one of the most important tastings to attend if you are an independent.”

Swig Wines will have Lionel Cousin, winemaker of Cupano, the producer of Brunello di Montalcino, at the London event. He’ll be holding a vertical tasting of five vintages. Tom Carson’s “stunning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir” will be on taste from Yabby Lake in Mornington Peninsula (rrp £25 and £26 respectively), plus a host of new wines from Italy, France and Bulgaria.??Stevens Garnier is entering its 35th year this year and the company says it “continues to scour the globe to find groundbreaking, quality-focused wine producers”. It has 12 new wines on show, including Austria’s Tegernseerh of Loibenberg Grüner Veltliner 2007, from Wachau (rrp £19.99), Domaine du Grapillon d’Or Merlot/Caladoc 2009, from Vaucluse in France (rrp £8.99), and McManis Family Vineyards’ Pinot Noir 2009, from Lodi in the US (rrp £9.99).??Winetraders UK will be showing its new “wallet-friendly reds and whites” from Italy and New Zealand, together with an entry-level duo from Sicily, Terra Firma Inzolia IGT 2009 and Terra Firma Nero D’Avola IGT 2009 (rrp £7.35) in addition to other “quirky, interesting and downright impressive wines” on which it says its reputation has been built.

Seckford Agencies was founded 12 years ago and says it has supported the SITT tastings from the start in 2004. It works with family-owned wineries across the New World and will be launching the Escarpment Insight Series Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs 2009. Three Pinot Noirs – Kiwa, Te Rehua and Pahi (rrp £19.99) – will be available to taste with Larry McKenna, from Escarpment, in Martinborough, New Zealand. Other new launches include Ernie Els Big Easy 2009 (rrp £14.80) and Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (rrp £16.75), and a brand new range for the UK independent trade created by leading winemakers at Kaapzicht and Paul Cluver, Cape Diversity Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (rrp £7.99) and Shiraz 2009 (rrp £7.15).

Armit will be showing St Romain 2007 (rrp £22.03) from its new agency Maison Deux Montille Soeur Frère in Burgundy. Other new wines on show include Dry Tokaji 2009 Château Dereszla, Hungary (rrp £10.75), Le Difese 2009 Tenuta San Guido, Tuscany, (rrp £15.20) and Viña Ardanza La Rioja Alta 2000, Spain (rrp £24.99).??Thorman Hunt says 95% of the producers it represents are French but it’s also UK agent for producers such as Massaya (from Lebanon), Shafer Vineyards (Cali­ fornia), Kilikanoon (Clare Valley), Luigi Baudana from Piedmont and recently, Staete Landt from New Zealand.??Vintage Roots specialises in distributing wines made from certified organic and biodynamic grapes. It claims to be the UK’s leading distributor of high-quality, affordable wines made from certified organic and biodynamic grapes, with pricing available DPD, UB and ex-cellars. Its key agencies include the Millton Vineyards in New Zealand, IWC trophy winners Fleury Champagne, Battle of Bosworth in Australia, Albet I Noya in Spain and Argentina’s Jean Bousquet – a double gold-medal winner at the IWC 2009.

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