Sir Ian Botham passed into folklore in 1981 by smashing 149 runs off just 148 balls to inspire England to the most sensational comeback victory ever witnessed. They were priced at 500/1 to win the second Ashes Test against Australia after a first innings meltdown left them trailing by 227 runs. But Beefy stepped up and turned the match on its head with his unbeaten innings, sparking scenes of unprecedented revelry across the nation. Brokers stopped trading in the Stock Exchange so that the City could watch the spellbinding events unfold 240 miles north at Headingley, and a legend was born as England went on to win the series 3-1.
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?
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:
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.
It has become accepted wisdom that the male of the species needs a space of his own to escape the pressures of family life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over in Ireland a 300-strong group of independent off-licence owners has aligned itself with the health lobby in a bid to prevent supermarkets wiping them out.
It’s the time of year when Halloween paraphernalia masks the fact that retailers are already in full Christmas mode, yet we know that the pumpkins on shelf will soon magically transform into festive delights.
People are now discovering and making innovative ciders all around the world and here in Britain fans are keen to reinstate this country’s position as one of the leaders of the category. This year annual cider sales rose to a three year high, topping the £1 billion mark for the first time since 2014.
“What’s the difference between an English wine merchant and a terrorist?” says Australian Vintage’s award-winning winemaker, Peter Hall. “You can negotiate with a terrorist.”
In the uncertain political and economic times created by Brexit, Chile looks like a wine- supplying country that could bring a bit of reassurance and calm to the market.
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