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Live news blog: The Beautiful South Tasting Day Two

Published:  11 September, 2014

On day two of the Wines of the Beautiful South tasting in London's Olympia, Harpers catches up with leading wine figures at the event with their thoughts on the UK market for Chilean, Argentinian and South African wines. 

On day two of the Wines of the Beautiful South tasting in London's Olympia, Harpers catches up with leading wine figures at the event with their thoughts on the UK market for Chilean, Argentinian and South African wines.


Robin Copestick, Copestick Murray:

"The show has been great with a lot of improvements over last year with navigation.  The place is much easier to navigate and the people that are here are quality buyers.  I am impressed with the how well the show has gone and the new areas that have been added.  They have done a good job."



Andrew Steel, Connoisseur Estates and Lucas Dalla Torre from Gauchezco winery

On the Beautiful South Tasting: 

Steel: "I think they really learned so much from last year and the changes they have made have been great.  The quality of the people that we had coming to the stand were really good.  We launched the new Gauchezco brand for the first time in the UK yesterday at the show and it has been so exciting.  The response has been so positive.  We found some really great leads and for this to be our 'acid test' has been better than we expected. It has been really affirming that we have partnered with the a right wine company"

On the UK market:

Steel: "For the UK this has been a success.  We really wanted to see people from the on-trade and independent merchants and we talked with some fantastic buyers."


Torre: "The UK market is such a reference point for wines to the global wine trade. It is a critical focus for us.  We have been focused on moving here for a few years.  But we really wanted to the portfolio and ranges of wines we were offering right before we decided to try and launch here.  Now with the range we have we felt that we were ready to present our wines to the UK market and this was a great start."  We are really happy with the feedback we received."


Ross Sleet, Cape Legends

"It is much better than last year and I like the low impact stands, it adds a bit of colour and makes it less noisy. We have seen everyone we want to see and seen more people from the on-trade than we expected, particularly from medium sized on-trade groups. But it has been a good place to showcase our premium wine offering that they are looking for. On-trade buyers are looking for whites that help pay the bills and reds that then can make something with."

Dominic Crolla, Las Bodegas

"The layout is a lot better this year and we are very pleased."

Claudia Benegas, Bodega Benegas (Las Bodegas):

"It is an important show not just to see our UK customers but also we are looking for business across Europe and we have been able to see buyers from Finland, Sweden here which is important for us."

Alex Starey, winemaker, Keermont (Swig):

"We are happy with how our wines are doing in the UK and are confident we will sell our expected volumes here this year. The show has been good for us. We are selling more now in to Europe and countries like Switzerland, Estonia and hopefully Holland and possibly Ireland. We have tried to tone down our red wines a little for this market. We are still 14.5% but they are just a little more restrained, a bit fresher, with a little more acidity and trying to use as little new wood as possible."



Berenice Barker, fine wine manager - Europe, Distell

On the Beautiful South Tasting: 

"The space and layout is much better than last year.  Yesterday we had a few really good meetings and found some good leads.  Today does seem a bit quieter but people may just be having a slower start today.  I do hope that continue to encourage some more independents and small agents particularly from the Midlands and from up north in areas like Manchester.  It is important to encourage and draw new people to this event. But I have been pleased with the level of activity I had especially yesterday."



Johann Fourie, chief winemaker at KWV

On the 2014 South African vintage:

"I don't think this vintage will go down as the best in our history and it was challenging.  But we were still able to get some exceptional parcels in our vineyards.  Rainfall and the heatwave at the end of season complicated things.  We picked most of our grapes before the rainfall, which was the way to go. In winemaking you're in a dance with nature.  It really keeps you on your toes and makes it interesting.  This year was no exception.  Our yields were a bit lower but we still had some good quality grapes come in."

Wines of the Beautiful South


As the Beautiful South second day kick offs we take a look at what people are saying out in cyberspace about how the showing is going:


Day two of the Beautiful South is getting under way and today there will be two 'Winemaker Tasting' session today.  The sessions give visitors an opportunity to meet the winemakers, personalities and hear the stories behind the wines from all three countries.  Each session is 45 minutes and include six winemakers and 12 wines.  

Today's sessions are:

11.00: Old Vines: a hot topic that results in some amazing wines

14.30: Family owned: where a lifetime of passion goes into making the wines

September 10: Day One


Laurie Webster, chief executive, Los Bodegas:

On the Beautiful South tasting:

"This year has been a massive improvement with the navigation of the tasting and its has been a really good first day.  There have been a steady flow of visitors and really good quality buyers."

On the continued success of wines coming from Argentina in the UK market:

"I think Argentina really has personality and there are a combination of a lot of factors that are helping to drive growth.  There is a steady tide of change towards fresher styles of wine.  What is also really helping and encouraging is that there are great blends that are reasonably priced coming into the market. It is not just producers making iconic blends. That to me is great."

On how Argentina is taking a larger market share in the UK:

"We are taking business from other wine producing countries based significantly on the quality of wines that we are producing.  It really is all about the quality. Our exports have seen rapid growth particularly in the last five years.  I think some of it is also based on Argentina delivering regionality for consumers.  They aren't forcing it on people; it is very organic.  I think it is result of the winemakers and their ability to deliver wines that truly reflect terrior."


Chris Alheit, Alheit Vineyards:

"We have the opportunity to do something completely unique in South Africa and not just pretend we are live in Bordeaux. We have to do things that no-one else is doing in the grape like our Semillon Gris."


Kobus Basson, managing director, Kleine Zalze:

On Beautiful South tasting:

"There is a good vibe here. The producers I have spoken to are happy with the tasting so far. It is a good opportunity to see your customers in the UK but also we are seeing good Scandinavian buyers here."

On UK market:

"We are seeing good growth in the areas where we want to grow. Like the independents and on-trade. We are putting a lot more focus in those areas and it is starting to kick in. But it is a slow process and you have to be patient. We are also doing well with regional on-trade players. It seems once you are with the regional players they stay with you. It is a good area to work in and less price sensitive than the national on-trade players and we do not want to have to buy share."

On new cellarmaster, Alistair Rimmer:

"We are very pleased. We wanted to bring in a South African winemaker but who has got good international experience. Alistair fits the bill for us as he has worked around the world for the last 10 years. If we want to move forward then we need someone who understands the international markets. We want to be able to refine what we can offer in our key markets and try some new things. It is a good time for us to do this."


Justin Knock MW, consultant for Encirc Wines, predicted a boom in flavoured wines, allied to the "temporal supply issues" the market is experiencing. Last year saw huge harvests, and Knok said "we would be better off liberalising that sector of the market and allowing people to make overtly flavoured wines". He told that the wines at the bottom end of the market are "doing no-one any favours". "Those very, very cheap wines at under £4 make producers no money, and consumers aren't drinking them because they like the taste." He said the market was primed for a "sangria revival". "It's funny how temporal supply issues drives trends," he added.


Wines for dog lovers: Ian Tottman formerly of a number of major Australian brands, has started his own wine brand targeting dog lovers. Dog Walk Wines, which was started 15 months ago, advertises its red and white offerings in Pets at Home magazines and engages with dog lovers via social media. "We're not trying to make it too simplistic, but emotionally [the 9 million dog-lovers] want a 'human reward' after their walk."

The event, which runs today and tomorrow, September 10 and 11, will have a "meet the winemaker" themed area which will act as the central focus for this year's tasting.

This is the second year that Wines of Argentina, Wines of Chile and Wines of South Africa have come together to put on a joint tasting across two days at London's Olympia.

BBC journalist and broadcaster, Nigel Barden, will help host the "Festival of the South" area of the show where visitors will get the chance to hear and talk to leading winemakers from the three countries talking about their wines and taking part in open debates. Key themes will include: Pushing the Boundaries; Old Vines; 10 Years Apart and Family Owned.

The "Festival of the South" will also give visitors the chance to take part in a blind tasting challenge. On-trade buyers will be invited to go on the "Sommelier Festival Trail", and go through the tasting with an industry expert.

The tasting will also include four, free-pour, themed tasting tables to highlight what each country can offer. These will include: Tales of the Unexpected; Beautiful Bubbles; New Kids on the Block and Champions of the South.

For more information and to register go to

Please check back on this page for news updates posted live throughout the day.