As Senior Marketing Advisor for Business France, Pandora Mistry is at the forefront of the French wine scene in the UK. Amanda Barnes interviews her on the top trends today and learns how she got into the world of wine.
How were you first introduced to wine and what sparked your interest in the industry?
I started to do wine tours with Arblaster and Clarke in the early 2000’s, mostly in Champagne and Burgundy, which prompted me to start the WSET courses. We had some incredible times such as spending the turn of the millenium in the cellars of Ruinart!
Did you have any mentors who really helped progress your journey in wine?
The wine guides were fantastic, I travelled with Conal Gregory, Charles Metcalfe and many more who were all great fun and inspirational.
You’ve been instrumental in promoting French wines, especially in the UK market. What are the major trends in French wine that you see taking off here in the UK?
France remains the benchmark against which every other country measures itself, the trends are clear, rosé, organic, crémant, anything esoteric and whacky, orange wine, sans sulphites, no and low, classic grape varieties and lesser-known grape varieties. The insatiable curiosity of Brits means that literally anything goes and if it’s good, well marketed and well priced it could be the next big thing!
What initiatives do you have lined up with Business France for 2021 which might be interesting to members?
We always have lots in the pipeline.. our February sparkling free pour has had to be postponed, in April we hope to go ahead with the En Primeur Bordeaux tasting at Le Méridien and a new tasting of biodynamic wines also in April. We have a couple of debates lined up with The Buyer and later on in the year we will have another tasting of French wines which will be covered by the Wine Merchant.
Earlier this month, the UK officially left the EU, which has obviously put a strain on relations with Europe and France in this process. Do you see any exciting or interesting opportunities in the future for rebuilding the relationship between the UK and France?
I love the stories about the opportunities found in a crisis. A bit like love in the time of cholera. I think the UK market is always open to great wine and the time warp that all these lockdowns have provided has given buyers the space to review their ranges, especially in the case of independent specialists who have increased and improved their offer immensely.
France has such a vast range of wines so much of which we are still to discover, the challenge at the moment is getting these wines in front of buyers, we have high hopes of doing this as soon as government guidelines permit!
And finally, dreaming about a return to ‘normality’ this coming year, do you have any wine experiences or wine destinations on your bucketlist for 2021?
The wins are going to be huge if we can pull off all the postponed and cancelled tastings from 2020. If we can put producers once again in front of buyers and wine writers and create those magical moments where someone’s face lights up as they taste something delicious. Just getting to a London tasting would be a ‘destination’! And, of course, summer in Provence!