Tag Archives: annual tasting

Top 10 Tips for Events

Hallgarten & Novum Wines Events Manager, Chris Porter, has been working with the company for almost 20 years and is the brains behind the logistical operation that is the Annual Tasting – our yearly showcase of the best parts of the portfolio. With preparations for the 2020 tasting well underway, Chris has taken a step back to consider the top 10 things to consider when running an event.

 

  1. Objective/theme

First off, define your primary objective and convey this to your customers. It is essential to be as targeted as possible to attract the right audience. What is our purpose? What do we want to achieve? Who do we want attending? Where is our focus? These are just some of the questions you will need to explore.

Whether it’s a large scale event showcasing hundreds of wines, or a smaller affair with a handful of producers, the overriding objective remains the same – to impress and generate business.

Ultimately, an objective combined with a theme brings focus, and will help to qualify the success of your event, with any achievements translating into sales and favourable write-ups.

  1. Timing is everything

Month – Timing is key and this next step should align with your main objectives. For example to gain traction on any newly launched wines, you must consider when the trade reviews their wine lists, as they will be more inclined edit their portfolio around then. Seasonality is also crucial, as certain themes work better at different times of the year.

Day – Most events work well mid-week. If yours is aimed at consumers, try to think when they would most likely have free time such as Thursday, which is late enough in the week but not a prime weekend day.

Time – In most cases it’s important to not start too early. Beginning at 11am works well in the wine industry for trade tastings, as this allows time for travel, but still provides an opportunity to taste before lunchtime. Also bear in mind the finish time and consider the audience. For us, if we’re inviting sommeliers or restaurateurs, they are often limited by service times, so finishing too early may not provide them with the opportunity to attend. For a wine merchant holding a tasting in the evening the hours between 6pm and 9pm are prime time.

  1. Choose the right venue

Venue choice is paramount to success, and as such it is crucial to choose somewhere that can accommodate the right location, capacity and ambiance to enhance your event. Alignment to your theme should also be considered. If you’re not holding the event at your own site, a spacious, well-decorated venues close to amenities such as transport links, hotels, restaurants etc. are a good option, and can be easily transformed to meet your needs. Consequently, opting for a premium venue is usually a good investment.

  1. Get inviting

Identifying your target audience is vital in order to tailor your event accordingly. On top of this, it’s important that any invite you design is clear and concise, with minimal content at the early stage. The essentials, if relayed effectively, should be enough to peak their interest; further information can be relayed at a later date.

Transmission of your invites to your selected audience is quite key, digitally inviting guests is time-efficient and simple, whereas a hand delivered invite is a personal touch that is always appreciated.

Timing is important here, if sent out too early, the event may be forgotten, but too late and run the chance of people already having plans. Two months in advance of the event usually works well and provides a suitable amount of notice for your customers.

  1. Social media – Promote, inspire and share

An extremely useful tool in promoting anything these days is social media. It is a great way to connect with the targeted audience for your event, and in the right hands can be incredibly effective.

The beauty of social media is that it is so accessible, you can easily create a buzz and spread the word across a number of different platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

To promote events effectively, creating a social media calendar to plan and regulate activity can help to build anticipation through a steady release of content.

Promotion of your event doesn’t stop on the day. In fact, it’s the perfect time to generate some noise about it! Getting staff and guests to use a previously specified hashtag when posting on social media can help endorse your event through various online channels via the sharing of photos and videos from the day. Keep an eye on who has used the hashtag and track the engagement after the event – these could be future customers!

  1. Reception – The gatekeepers

At any event it is essential to have a pair of sociable and welcoming people looking after reception. This is the first point of contact for all guests, and it is important to create a good first impression.  Streamlining this process to minimise time spent at this area will ensure customers remain satisfied, and are not put off by long queues before even entering your event.

The main jobs here are to register arrivals, meet and greet your guests, and be a point of reference through your customers throughout the day. Keeping track of attendance is imperative to understanding the success of the event.

  1. Food

It is important to remember that although sustenance should always be considered, it is not the primary focus of the day. If you opt to provide food, try to keep thing simple. Small plates and finger foods will encourage guests to socialise and also try different flavours with your selected wines. This is key, and where possible should be encouraged as it’s fascinating to discover how different wines pair with different foods.

Alternatively, should you be hosting a winemaker’s dinner or something similar, providing foods that generate a wow factor when paired with your chosen wines, can really help to enhance your offerings. Be mindful nonetheless to select foods that do not detract from the wines themselves, irrespective of the circumstances.

Food for thought…

  1. Provide the right tools

In order for a wine tasting to be effective a few elements are key;

  • Tasting booklets – A source of information as well as a place to make notes.
  • Glasses – Too much is never enough! Try to allow for roughly 2 glasses per guest, however be mindful that some people may take more, and of course there are always breakages!
  • Ice buckets/Ice – This will keep you from running to the fridge but don’t over chill your wines.
  • Spittoons – An essential in any wine tasting. Make sure you provide enough, as they fill up quickly!

Miscellaneous – Don’t forget the little things! Pens, corkscrews, slow pours and jugs of water are all crucial.

  1. Break down/Finish

At the end of the day, you need to breakdown your event and tie up any outstanding tasks. It’s important that this is done efficiently and within the timings agreed with the venue. To ease the pressure I normally start a soft breakdown half hour before finish, just to make the task easier when the time comes.

At the close of the day, encourage guests politely to conclude their day. Then it’s all about working as quickly as possible.

Work with your staff/team to clean up and dismantle any physical equipment, banners, signage and surplus stock etc. You should be leaving your venue in the same condition as when you first arrived.

Once complete, thank staff for a job well done; a small victory drink normally goes down well!

  1. Review & follow-up

Evaluation of your event is a must. Gathering feedback can be done in a number of ways such as via an online survey, paper handouts or simply through conversations. The main thing here is timing – don’t wait too long after the event as people’s memories will fade.

Did things go well? How many potential new customers turned up? Any good write-ups? What didn’t work? What could we do better? The good stuff is great to hear but sometimes it’s better to focus on the negatives. Why? Well these are the things that need fixing, especially if you wish to repeat things in future.

Follow up with attendees & absentees. Thank them for coming and continue discussions if needed. For those who couldn’t attend, recap what they missed and let them know how to remain in contact. Regardless of whether they attended or not, a consistent follow up is key.

The Annual Tasting… From the inside

Charli Truelove, Hallgarten Marketing Coordinator, was at the forefront of annual tasting logistics when we took to One Marylebone for the first time this year. Below she provides her perspective on what it is like from the other side of the tasting glass.

Arriving at the venue on Sunday to get ready for the two days ahead and prepare for what was our first annual tasting at One Marylebone; nearly 750 wines, from 152 producers, based in 23 countries were set to be on show for customers, press and those in the trade to taste. As soon as I stepped out of Great Portland street tube on that sunny Sunday I was wowed by the view that greeted me – One Marylebone. What is the first thing you should do in this situation? Take a picture of course…

Out of curiosity, I had a sneak peak of the venue on Google street maps before arriving, but was not expecting it to have quite this impact! The Grade 1 listed ex-church built, in 1826 is absolutely stunning. Pumped and ready to start the work ahead (unboxing, carrying, lining-up wines and generally making everything looked shipshape) I am even more bowled over as I step inside; up the stone steps through the impressive doorway into the beautiful wooden herringbone floored, stained glass magnificent venue.

The main task at hand on the Sunday was to simply make sure everything was in place for the two day tasting ahead. Wines numbered and on the table, boxes away, point of sale and signs in place, tasting books primed, pencils sharpened, all set up and ready to go.

On the morning of the first day of the tasting it is my responsibility to direct our suppliers to their designated table and it’s a pleasure to see the excitement on their faces as they walk into the venue and experience the new set-up for the first time.

As the tasting gets underway, by 11:30 I can’t help but notice a queue forming to get inside – ‘this is going to be a busy one!’. The day gets off to a flying start; corks were popping, laughter and chatter filled the building. No matter who you are in the trade, it is always a wonderful experience to taste wines poured by winery owners, winemakers, grape growers and wine experts, who embody the wines and it is clear to see the love and passion they have for what they do.

This year, the organising team decided to take our even catering to a whole new level – street level.  KERB is one of London’s leading street food organisations, whose sole goal is to make events taste better. We welcomed three different and exciting street food vendors, paired with wines from the tasting, to park up and serve their culinary delights to our guests.

  • Growlers – Portuguese rolls filled with hangar steak
  • Nazari – Inspired by Al-Andalus Moorish Spain
  • Hanoi Kitchen – The freshest Vietnamese street food straight out of Hanoi

My favourite was the Pregos – how can you argue with a steak sandwich on a Monday?

The new venue, new wines and new producers seems to be going down well with suppliers and guests alike. As I walk around taking photos and making sure everyone has all they need there is a positive buzz that fills the room, everybody is learning, pouring, tasting and generally getting excited about the wines and suppliers on show.

All in all a very successful annual tasting and my favourite venue so far. After three days, and almost 30,000 steps on my pedometer, I can’t wait to get planning next year’s!

Hallgarten’s Edinburgh Tasting – Jon Harris Recommendations

Following our Hallgarten Tasting at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Sales Director-Scotland, Jon Harris, has chosen his standout wines of the show…Cuvée Sélection Brut 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes, Champagne Marc Hébrart NV

 

Champagne Marc Hébrart, Cuvée Sélection Brut 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes NV
I
ncredible richness and complexity for a wine at this price – smashes all the Grand Marques at the same price

 

Schloss Johannisberger Riesling QbA Feinherb Yellow Seal, 2015
N
ot the cheapest wine in our portfolio but just benchmark Riesling, dry, mineral, wonderful concentration and perfectly balanced acidity. Verging on too expensive for many of us on an on trade list but the retailers loved it.

 Syrah Frappato 'Vitese' , Colomba Bianca, Terre Siciliane, Sicily IGP 2015

Colomba Bianca, Syrah Frappato ‘Vitese’ 2015
Another wine that over delivers at its price point, perfectly suited to both retail and on-trade.

 

Ventolera Syrah 2013
Probably my wine of the show – beautifully balanced and expressive, incredibly elegant for new world Syrah.

Get in touch and let us know if you agree with Jon’s choices!

Zorzal and the eggo

In beautiful downtown Luton our thoughts are turning to our annual tastings at the end of January and the introduction of new wineries to our list – and we have an absolutely beauty on the way.

Zorzal is a boutique Argentine winery founded in 2008 by the renowned Michelini brothers, definitely one of the most passionate winemaking families in this land of passion. We’ve been seeking to get a piece of their action for some time now, so this is cracking news. Winemaker Juan Pablo Michelini, a kind of new generationEggo_Filosopinot_eng “can-do” iconoclast, will be attending our tastings and I know our customers will love his zeal and fervour.

Juan Pablo’s philosophy is grounded in an absolute respect for terroir. His is a non-invasive winemaking philosophy that seeks purity of fruit before power. These are fantastically individual wines with a quite amazing minerality running through them (the notion of salted caramel keeps recurring every time I taste them).

They are in Gualtallary, 1,350 metres above sea level at the foot of the Tupungato volcano, on calcareous soil, with stones streaked with chalk – which may partly account for that minerality. A combination of altitude and desert climate make it an ideal place to cultivate grapes of exceptional quality.

The winery has the lot – state-of-the-art technology in crushing, fermentation and ageing. It was designed on four levels to move grapes and wines by gravity. It has an automatic system of temperature control from New Zealand, which can be operated via the internet from anywhere in the world. Juan Pablo and his brother Matias believe in roll fermenters and egg-shaped vats, as well as staggered harvesting and micro-vinification in casks.Eggo_Franco_eng

We are concentrating on the Eggo range. As the name suggests, these are wines vinified in eggs made of cement. Look out for a flinty Sauvignon Blanc, a gunpowder and graphite Pinot Noir, a piercing Bonarda, an herbaceous Cabernet Franc and an absurdly fresh Malbec.

All this is very well, but another Argentine producer on our list? Yes, I know. But, listen, trust me, these really are individual wines. Juan Pablo’s desire to stress maximum terroir means these wines are very different to the sometimes more power-driven Argentine offerings. It’s that minerality thing.

Argentina. Amazing country.

It’s funny how these things pan out, but a week or so ago I opened a bottle of the Malbec and drank it while reading Angels With Dirty Faces, Jonathan Wilson’s brilliant new history of Argentine football, which I’d been given as a Christmas present. It got me thinking: who would be the footballing equivalent of a Michelini? A bit daft, really, I thought, but the Malbec was beginning to work its magic. So, who was it to be? Maradona? Obvious, but, crikey, he comes with a lot of baggage. Messi? Another salient choice. But you could argue that, for all his dribbling brilliance, Messi hasn’t changed the way the game is played. So I rifled through the pages some more. And then it hit me. From another era, the man described by Sir Bobby Charlton as the greatest he’s ever seen: Alfredo di Stefano. Of course! He did change the way the game was played, as the fulcrum of the great Real Madrid team which forever transformed the face of football.Eggo_Blancdecal_eng

But I wanted further proof – and I got it, via the daily motion website.

So here is a mighty suggestion from the portfolio director bloke: open your own bottle of Zorzal, click on this link and watch di Stefano’s destruction of Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup Final. Take a sip and watch. There we go – see di Stefano’s delicious shimmy at 12:14 – was that the Sauvignon Blanc moment? Then comes his first goal at 21:34 – he starts the move in his own half, then is on the end of a cross to turn it in at the far post – the famous still picture of him balletically falling backwards in the art of scoring was to be reproduced all over the world – this is a Bonarda moment, I feel. Blink and you’ll miss it as he pounces like a cheetah! at 24:00 and scores his second goal – that would be the Cabernet Franc. And then watch his double step-over at 35:44, taking him past two clogging Frankfurters – yup, that’s the Pinot Noir moment. Finally – at 1:06 – that goal, the 40-yard sprint followed by a thunderous shot past the hapless Frankfurtonian keeper into the bottom left hand corner: definitely the Malbec moment.

I watched all night, God, what a player.

No doubt about it, Wilson’s book and the grainy black and white video, they are both life-affirming. But not as life-affirming as the bottle of Malbec. Definitely not as much.Eggo_Tintodetiza_eng

A week or so later, typing this account, I am more convinced than ever that this is an outstanding addition to our already brilliant line-up comprising Andeluna, Doña Paula, Matias Riccitelli and Piattelli. Our Argentine list is now arguably the most comprehensive in the country – in fact some people (the stock controller, for instance) would say that it’s a bit bonkers. But, you know, sometimes when you are faced with something this good, you need to stand up, be counted and bet like men!