Chinese Wine Starts To Hit The Shelves in the UK

China, Uncategorized, Wine Industry


I was making my way through my emails this morning and a couple of things caught my eye about Chinese wine.   First up I had an email from a press officer at Sainsbury’s, which is a major supermarket in the UK, saying they were about to have a couple of Chinese wines on their lists. Within a couple of emails time I saw an article in Wine Searcher about the $300 a bottle “Ao Yun” that LVMH are trying to launch round the world. Will 2017 be the year Chinese wine really breaks out?

The Highlights of Sainsbury’s Winter Wine Tasting

Reds, Sparkling, Whites


I’m always trying to work out what the best way of writing up these kind of days. I’m painfully aware that it’s ridiculously hard when you’re struggling with info to walk into a wine aisle at the supermarket and pick up a bottle. So maybe recommendations help? So with that in mind I trundled off to the Sainsbury’s Winter Wine Tasting, tasted my way through knocking on 100 wines, and came up with my top 5 for you all. Nice of me, wasn’t it?

#NWTW Week 40: The Verdict On Rioja

For The Foodies, New Wine This Week, Reds, Spain


Again I’m clearly a day late here with my verdict. Busy weekend of my cricket club pub crawl (although half the usual pubs had gone out of business, sad times!), the subsequent hangover, and then a catch up with a great mate from Oslo that…er…got out of hand a bit left me nursing a glass of Rioja for Monday lunch. There have been worse Mondays!

#NWTW Week 5: Argentinian Torrontés (Part Two)

Argentina, Info For Beginners, Info For More Seasoned Winos, New Wine This Week, Whites

So it’s back to the whites and the new world and South America for the next choice.  We’re going for Argentina’s next big thing: Torrontés!

Thanks to Anthony for his picks, I’ve gone for the following:

#NWTW Week 4: Italian Barbera

Info For Beginners, Italy, New Wine This Week, Reds

Here we are at week 4 already!

So we’ve gone for a couple of new world (roughly speaking that means non-european) wines so far, and one from the old world.  We’ve had a couple of whites, and just the one red.  So just to even it all up it’s an old world red, and this week I’ve chosen a grape variety called Barbera from Italy.

Barbera as a grape is grown in the north west of Italy in a region called Piemonte.  Any of you who know your maps know this is right up in the top left, with Torino as the region’s capital.


For The Foodies, Info For Beginners, Info For More Seasoned Winos, New Wine This Week, Spain, Whites

So left it a bit late this week to try this one, but it’s definitely managed to cure the Sunday-itis.  Despite there being a few hiccups with the food side of things the wine itself managed to live up to expectations.

#NWTW Week 3: Albariño from North West Spain

For The Foodies, New Wine This Week, Spain, Whites

When I mentioned to Anthony that this was going to be my first choice of 2014 he seemed pretty happy.  And he should be.

The first time I really drank Albariño was on my stag do about 3 months ago in San Sebastian.  For anyone who’s never been over to San Sebastian, then change that immediately, it’s absolutely awesome.  It’s a small piece of heaven on earth for foodies and wine-o’s alike, and if you like lounging on the beach or surfing too, then you’ll be like a pig in shit!

Southern Italy Simplified #2 – Watch Out World, Here Comes Sicily!

Italy, Reds

Everyone has their own ideas of what kind of place Sicily is. Even people who’ve never been there. I’m exactly the same. You can’t help it really given recent popular culture. It’s massively unfair on an island most who have been there think is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Unfortunately though, mention Sicily and most of us will think of the Godfather films, some may think of the Italian drama series Il Capo Dei Capi, and a few will have checked out the occasional TV chef waxing lyrical about the fresh seafood from the sketchy markets of Palermo. You think about exports, you probably think olive oil at best.

But as I mentioned in the previous post, Sicily has surprised the wine world in recent years and got itself in shape. Co-op Sicilian wines (they buy in the grapes and make the wine on mass scale) are now of such a quality that the shelves of the likes of Tesco and Sainsburys are laden with it.

So many wine regions in the place, all getting together under one brand!

So many wine regions in the place, all getting together under one brand!

So what’s made them so successful? They’re finally working together. Too long Italian winemakers have been a collection of individuals. Vineyards are family concerns, the wine sells well locally, and everyone has a roof over their head and food on the table. Why rock the boat? Well the influx of inexpensive but good quality wines from the New World (especially Argentina and Chile which is laden with Italian immigrants, both grapes and people) meant that the status quo in most Italian wineries was no longer good enough. The best sold, the rest faded from memory.

The north knuckled down, promoted it’s famous DOCGs (the famous areas and names such as Barolo and Chianti), and marketing was a collective business. Sicily is now showing the way for the rest of the south with this. It’s a branding exercise. It doesn’t have the famous DOCGs to fall back on like other areas. But what it does have is the willingness to work together. Co-ops and small wineries alike.

A couple of years back, you ask 99% of wine drinkers if they’d heard of Nero D’Avola as a grape. Probably not. But all of a sudden it’s on the £5 shelf at the local supermarket. It’s consistent quality (a must for both the co-ops and smaller guys) can now rival all the great things the New World brands have done so well.

The brand, IGT Sicilia, simple but really effective!

The brand, IGT Sicilia, simple but really effective!

The brand is now there. IGT Sicilia (IGT is the Italian version of the generic geographical appellation). And demand is there also. Sicilian wine is back on the map, and soon enough the ability for Sicilian makers to use the reputation of the IGT, of their brands, and of their local grapes to branch out into the premium export market in a big way will complete the turn around.

As we said in the last blog, cheap land and great grape growing climates should work. It needs investment and a willingness to succeed. Together.

Brava Sicilia