THE WINE MERCHANT. Issue 67, March 2018
© WavebreakMediaMicro / stockadobe.com
An independent magazine for independent retailers
We braved the blizzards to hit our March deadlines
THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS The indies who have declared war on plastics
4 comings & GOINGS
If you can sell mobility equipment, why not try your hand with wine?
8 tried & TESTED
Our search for a nice bottle of Hajós-Bajai comes to an end Rising prices and slower consumer spending are a toxic blend
Independent confidence up despite flatlining sales Confidence levels are slowly recovering in the independent trade, despite data which shows that average sales across the sector have stayed broadly flat over the past year. The proportion of independent merchants
who are confident of achieving a sales increase in the coming year has increased to just under 74%, compared to less than 70% in last year’s Wine Merchant reader survey.
The independent market as a whole hit
record levels in 2017, with sales rising to
£545.8m from the £527m recorded last year.
But much of the increase is down to the impact
of new businesses and extra shops. The average turnover per business was down 0.5% to
£869,185, while the average sales per shop
12 milestone at the mill
Barrica intends to celebrate its first decade in style
18 david williams
Lessons from the travails of midmarket restaurant chains
26 Mr & MRS FINE WINE
declined 1% to £634,707.
This year’s survey, which was completed by
a record 179 independents, shows that there were winners and losers over the past 12
months, with many merchants achieving big
increases in turnover and planning expansion. But for others, the impact of Brexit, slower
consumer spending, rising prices and poor
vintages across Europe means that they are braced for a difficult 12 months.
Margins are holding up well, averaging 34.5%
at retail level, while the mean selling price for a bottle of wine has risen from £11.62 to £12.25.
Six pages of survey analysis starts on page 26 and continues in our April edition.
Why it didn’t take long to move into larger premises
42 focus on english wine
Merchants find customers seek out local heroes
50 make a date
The April tastings you need to have on your agenda
53 supplier Bulletin
Essential updates from agents and suppliers
BACCHUS © Dewald / stockadobe.com
b Champagne wants Academy recruits For Philip Amps, the benefits of Champagne Academy membership for independent merchants are crystal clear. Yet for one reason or another, the association has lost some of its profile in the UK and former chairman Amps hopes to persuade younger members of
The course involves a week of education in Reims and Epernay
instils, membership of the Academy is
were two organic wines that had just been
“Every year we have the AGM – the
“Before each dinner there’s a tasting,
something Amps says continues to provide benefits to him in his role as a merchant. vintage tasting, featuring the current
the trade to consider joining. The group was established in 1956 to
houses, but typically lists wines from five or six of them at any one time.
“I do rotate them round because like
These include Bollinger, Veuve Clicquot,
anything, people like to see something
Charles Heidsieck, Krug, Lanson, Laurent-
new,” he says. “So Pommery I hadn’t had for Amps: membership benefits are ongoing
The only payment is the £75 life
vintage in magnum that the house is
Amps, owner of Amps Fine Wines in
are encouraged to bring people who are
membership fee due after completing the course and passing the daily exams.
Oundle, Northamptonshire, says although
a week is a big commitment, “when people know about it, they’ll find a way to do it, because it is that sort of course”.
As well as the contacts and the
knowledge that the course generates and
prestige cuvées. So that education carries Amps says that he feels free to stock
and Reims, hosted and organised by the 16
Roederer, Ruinart and Taittinger.
and there’s the opportunity to try some
Champagnes from outside the 16 Academy
ranks take a one-week course in Epernay
Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis
plus you get to taste the wines with dinner
Marques. Those who are accepted into its
Monopole, Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-
on from France, through to your work in
foster more appreciation of the Grandes
Perrier, Moët & Chandon, Heidsieck
released. I’ve not seen those anywhere
selling,” he says.
“It is for members and guests and we
in the trade. We have the London dinner, the Scottish dinner, the Northern dinner,
a while, but I tasted the cuvée – the 2002
vintage – which is the best I’ve tasted this year, so we listed that over Christmas.” More information at www.
Top 100 deadline The deadline for entries in this year’s Wine Merchant Top 100 is Wednesday,
the Midlands dinner and then we have the
alternative cuvée tasting this year there
an entry form.
alternative cuvée tasting.
“We get to see things that are new. At the
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 2
Please visit www.winemerchanttop100.
com for more information and to download
Board the comedy Indies declare bus at GWW war on plastics Great Western Wine is a regular
Plastic is fast becoming public
supporter of the Wine Arts Trail, part of
enemy number one – and a couple of
the annual Bath Comedy Festival.
independent wine merchants are doing
Alan Nordberg, shop manager at the
Wells Road store, says the company
their bit to reduce their reliance on it. Dunnell’s Premier Wines, which has
supplies all the wine for the twice-daily
three shops on Jersey, sells around 40,000
“Seventy people arrive at the shop
But managing director Neil Pinel is not
“Our Man with the Facts”
reintroduce the old bottle deposit scheme
• The ancient Greeks played a drinking
moving to branded alternatives made from
disc balanced on a pole, with the aim
trip on a red double decker bus that is a popular element of the festivities.
and we give them a glass of Prosecco or Champagne,” he says.
Guests then board the bus and travel to
five more stops, each with a comedy sketch or theme. Arthur Smith was a previous celebrity “conductor” and this year it’s
the turn of comedian and actress Helen Lederer.
“The idea is that they have a glass of
wine when they arrive at each of the five stops and then they are dropped back here,” says Nordberg. “As far as we’re
concerned, it’s great fun and we get an
extra 140 people in the shop. Basically it’s a very good PR exercise.”
The Bath Comedy Festival runs from
March 27 until April 15.
bottles of water each year in plastic packaging.
planning to replenish any of his current
stock once it’s sold through, and intends to on Evian and San Pellegrino glass bottles.
game called kottabos. Players reclined
He is also phasing out plastic bags and
on coaches and aimed wine at a bronze
BinTwo in Padstow – which has already
into a domed pan placed further down.
banned bottled water sales in favour of free tap water refills – has introduced reusable, collapsible and compostable coffee cups, branded with the company’s logo.
Customers who present a reusable cup,
made by Stojo, qualify for a 15p discount on their hot drink. The company is also
encouraging customers to ask for free used coffee grinds to use as compost.
of dislodging it and sending it crashing • A barrel made from top-quality
French oak may cost the winemaker upwards of €800. Assuming a three-
year lifespan for the barrel, this equates to around €1 per bottle of the resulting wine, purely in oak ageing costs. • In French, Spanish, Italian and German, there is no word for
“winemaker”. The French “vigneron” is often used as a synonym but more accurately means “wine grower”. • Phylloxera is not a problem in
the Spanish region of Toro, with its
abundance of sandy soils. It’s thought
that nearly 2,000ha of vineyards in the region are ungrafted.
• In medieval times, English speakers
used “tent” as the word for strong red wine from Spain and Portugal. It’s a corruption of “tinto”.
Comedy fans debate who will be the designated driver
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 3
From mobility shop to wine specialists Debbie Watts and her husband Michael are old hands when it comes to keeping shop in Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire. Their mobility business has been on
the high street for the past 10 years, but recently they’ve been looking for a new
challenge and decided a wine merchant would definitely have a fan base.
Knowing the “pattern” of their own high
street, the couple felt confident to start a
new business in the old HSBC building and it was when chatting to their friend, Janine Pert of Discover Wine in Denmead, that
they concluded a similar business could work in Lee.
“The response has been amazing,” says
Debbie, recalling the opening. “It wasn’t just people coming in to get a free glass
of Champagne – they were spending big money.
“It’s been steady every day since. People
just pop in to see the new business on the block. The feedback has been so positive
The Wine Bank in Lee-on-Solent is in a former HSBC branch
Online’s the priority Wirral merchant for Oswestry indie moves uptown Neil Jenkins, owner of Twelve Green
Whitmore & White’s original store in
Bottles in Oswestry, has taken his
Pensby Road, Heswall is relocating to
business in a new direction.
a more premier high street location
The company is now focused on
complete with customer parking.
Jenkins continues to run his wholesale
the range. “It’s going to be stacked a little
from the locals.”
e-commerce, with the shop no longer
has helped to shape their wine list, with
and online business from the town centre
Their knowledge of the local community
and its high street “full of empty shops” a keen eye on price points. Wines are
starting at around £7 and stopping at around £30.
Debbie says: “Even our Champagnes
we kept to the low end of the scale at
just below £30. We’re using Hallgarten,
Negociants, Fells, Connoisseur … Janine
has been really good and she has slowly been introducing me to suppliers.”
The company has also sourced an
interesting range of local gins and ales
opening regular hours.
owner Joe Whittick won’t be reducing
premises. Retail customers can still buy
going in there,” he says.
wine from the store, either by ringing the bell or calling ahead.
“We had a cracking January; we did a lot
more online than we would ordinarily have done in the shop,” says Jenkins.
All the branding and signage remains
and a vinyl sign on the window conceals
the more warehouse-styled storage within. • Paul Rollings has moved to Mallorca,
including some lines from the recently
meaning that the Rollings Wine Company
training courses for Debbie and Michael as
wine bar but have not bought the Rollings
established Portsmouth Gin Company.
shop in Harpenden has closed after 11
well as their part-time members of staff.
Pert’s assistance will also extend to some
Although the new premises is smaller,
years. The new leaseholders are opening a
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 4
higher and a little tighter, but it will all be “Our biggest problem is the parking
and the footfall. We’re just trying to make ourselves a bit more accessible.
“There’s a little bit of [off-road] parking
there, and on-street parking; it just means people can pop in and grab something. I
think these days that if things aren’t easy for people they’re not really prepared to necessarily go out of their way.”
The price to pay for a higher footfall
sometimes means jostling with bigger high street names, and while Whittick admits
that relocating next door to an M&S food
hall might be “counter-intuitive” he asserts
“their customers are our customers, really”.
French buying trip gets duo in business The owners of Morgan Edwards Fine Wine & Spirits, the new independent, in Knutsford, are already directly importing 40% of their stock. Morgan Ward and Edward Speakman
met at university and while Speakman
pursued a career selling wines and spirits at auction, Ward became a London-based banker. “When I moved back home, we decided to give it a go,” says Ward.
“We went out to France in December
and took a good few weeks and picked
our favourite châteaux and vineyards. For
everything we import, we’ve actually been
Morgan Ward (left) and Edward Speakman: university friends
to the château and not just been to an
looking at shop premises and it was quite
Kent has taken shape inside a former tea
stock, along with a couple of smaller
and a fruit and veg place, so it all works
taken the role of head chef while Pleasence
Liberty is helping with the rest of the
suppliers including a local woman who
imports direct from three New Zealand vineyards.
Although they only started trading on
February 1, Ward says that the diary is
busy with tastings and events, and since they increased the social media activity “the shelves are looking a bit bare”.
The online shop is now in development
and wholesale plans are in place – it’s just
expensive, then this place came up. There’s a butcher, a specialist cheese man, a café nicely together.
“We open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
and Saturdays between 8am and 4pm. I think if we could open after work for
• Appellation Nation has closed its Cheltenham branch, which had come to the
we range from £7.99 to around £30. We’re not going to win on price against the likes
of the supermarkets, so we’re going for the quality/value ratio. Other than the French
small selection of around 40 wines.
wines as well,” says Ward, “and we do have a few fine wines on the shelves. But mostly
is taking care of front of house. They have a
still manage to get here and Saturdays are
end of its lease. The company is on the hunt
“Ed still buys and sells his own fine
accommodate around 35 covers. Hart has
people that would really help. But people
a matter of waiting for their AWRS licence to come through.
room, which has now been converted to
for “bigger and better” premises in the town and continues to trade from its Cirencester
Folkestone eaterie offers wine sales
Former tea room has 40 wines on list
“We use Les Caves des Pyrene, Liberty
and Lea & Sandeman at the moment,” says Pleasence. “We also buy Bacchus direct
from Terlingham Vineyard in Kent. All the
wine is available to buy and take away at a 40% discount.”
stuff, which we’ve sourced ourselves,
Restaurateur David Hart and partner favourite Bond villain, actor Donald
in East Sussex has changed hands. Christine
Pleasence) have launched a restaurant
and Colin Munday have sold the business,
with a wine retail element.
which includes a shop, restaurant and
everything we order is either award
winning or scores highly on the likes of
The business trades from a stall in an
indoor market. Ward says: “We were
Polly Pleasence (daughter of everyone’s
The Folkestone Wine Company in
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 6
• The English Wine Centre near Alfriston
wedding venue, to Rob Blackman.
Totnes Wine Company has taken over Crebers, the Tavistock delicatessen. Owner Julian Packer plans to run the
business as a deli with a wine department, while introducing a small deli area to the Totnes store.
“Crebers was established in 1881
as a proper provisions store – a wine
merchant and deli,” says Packer. “It’s an
old established business that lost its way, I suppose. It’s a lovely little business and
we’re just looking to give it some attention and love.”
Totnes Wines will continue to trade as
such but the branding will be gradually phased out in favour of Crebers.
Nigel Pound, who sold Totnes Wine to
Packer last year, is helping to establish an agency business for the company.
Buyer on horizon for Blanc de Blancs Alex and Emma Buxton are hopeful they have found a buyer for their Blanc de Blancs business, which closed earlier this year. The wine bar and shop in Bramhall,
Stockport, opened in 2016 and was the successor of Aged in Oak, the couple’s
original retail venture in Garstang, the market town between Preston and Lancaster.
“It’s not a decision we have come to
lightly, as we love what we have achieved thus far with Blanc de Blancs,” says Alex.
“But long hours along with long-distance travel – we live in Preston – are a major factor in the decision.”
The premises are expected to reopen
soon with the Buxtons playing “a very background role going forwards”.
ur eyes meet across the
supermarket checkout lanes.
Our gazes lock for a few seconds
too long. He smiles, a little bashfully and I start to feel a warm glow … from sheer utter annoyance. While he’s trying to
work out where he knows me from, I’m trying to pretend I haven’t seen those
bottles of Yellowtail and Campo Viejo he’s piling onto the belt.
I’ve spent years grooming this
customer to buy better wines, gently
encouraging him to realise that spending
Then I see him in the supermarket. I’ve
popped in for detergent and loo paper. He’s stocking up on the big brands of
plonk. Suddenly, the penny drops and
he knows exactly who I am. He turns an alarming shade of pink and hurries to
pay up and scuttle out. I’ve caught him in flagrante, playing away.
And here’s the thing. When people
become regular customers, you
somehow think that they only ever
Let us never talk of my for a more enjoyable experience. He used to grab the two cheapest bottles big-spending he could find. Then he dropped by for a customer’s couple of free tastings. Could he taste the difference between a £6 and a £12 wine? Yellowtail shame Why, yes he could! ever again Within a year, he was spending just that little more on a bottle makes
£200 a month on a case and giving me detailed notes of the ones he liked. He
buy from you. As an independent wine
It was all so wonderful. People really
dislikes – and you think that relationship
introduced me to his friends – and one or two became regular customers as well. understanding the merits of drinking
less but better, and supporting their local independent wine shop.
Then, I didn’t see him so much. The
cases became less frequent and nearer the £150 mark. In October, he popped his head around the door and said he was going dry for the month. Stop-
effing-tober. He returned in December for a Christmas case and I hadn’t seen him again. I asked one of his friends if
everything was OK – trying not to sound desperate at the sudden loss of a source of income. Perhaps he’d lost his job,
perhaps he was ill, perhaps his house
renovations had finally started and he’d
temporarily moved away. Apparently, this customer was just fine and dandy.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 7
merchant, you invest time in them, you learn about their lives, their likes and
is mutual. But customers can be fickle.
They may come into your shop regularly
for a period of time and then they change their shopping patterns for no particular reason. In the case of this customer, he simply reverted to how he used to buy
wine without giving any thought to how it might impact my business.
A couple of weeks later, he does pop in
for a couple of bottles. “Anything new?” he says, cheerily.
I smile. Neither
of us mention “the incident”. I’m just glad to see
him back in my shop.
© photoschmidt / stockadobe.com
Crebers deli joins Totnes wine family
Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing
tried & Tested Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Zeisen 2017
Domeniile Franco-Române Crai Nou Pinot Noir 2012
Everyone loves Grüner but some examples can be a
The byline of winemaker Denis Thomas proudly
stable. Yes, there’s plenty of zip and zest and a healthy
Romania’s prestigious Dealu Mare region, it’s an
appears on the label, and why not – he used to work
little one-dimensional. Not so with Pfaffl, a producer
for Moillard in Burgundy, after all. Hailing from
just north of Vienna that’s recently joined the Enotria
authentic, organic and earthy Pinot, with a bloody
dollop of fruit, but it’s the exotic wafts of incense and
juiciness that makes you salivate for another glass.
spice that really take this wine to another level. RRP: £15
Bancroft Wines (020 7232 5470)
Enotria & Coe (020 8961 4411) enotriacoe.com
Trizanne Signature Syrah 2015
Markham Vineyards Merlot 2015
Winemaker Trizanne Barnard works with fruit from Elim and, in this case, Swartland, where she sources
Merlot seems to have rehabilitated itself in California
of ripe Syrah, with a succulence and elegance that
of Cabernet and Syrah in the mix, and 16 months of
grapes from four parcels on two farms. It’s cool-climate viticulture but it celebrates the vibrancy and happiness others might have been tempted to rein in. A wine with a future, but which is ready to party right now. RRP: £14.99
Alliance Wine (01505 506060)
in these post Sideways times and this Napa example
deserves an open-minded hearing. There’s a little bit ageing in French and American oak, creating a soft, spicy wine with notes of cola and black cherry. RRP: £32
Richmond Wine Agencies (020 8744 5550)
Fleur Haut Gaussens La Bergeronnette Cabernet Franc 2016
El Esteco Old Vines Torrontes 2016
A second single varietal following the success of
quite clicked in the UK, yet these pergola-trained
Malbec, classed as Bordeaux Supérieur. Beautifully poised, rounded red fruit: there’s so much silky elegance going on here that the world seems to suddenly go into slow motion as you imbibe. RRP: £22.50
Berry Bros & Rudd (01582 722 538)
If we’re honest, Torrontes is a variety that has never
vines dating from 1945, grown at high altitude in the
Calchaqui Valley in Chile, show us what it’s capable of. It’s got the fresh sherbety twang you’d expect, but a depth and complexity that maybe you wouldn’t. RRP: £14.20
Enotria & Coe (020 8961 4411)
Il Folle Nero d’Avola 2016
Koch Cserszegi Fűszeres Hajós-Bajai 2016
Il Folle means “the mad one”, but the only crazy thing about this wine is the value for money it represents.
Koch Csaba inherited a few lines of vines from his
towards thoughts of volcanoes. It’s a warming and
well as international varieties. This is an aromatic and
It comes from Sicily and has the kind of soft, pumice-
stone minerality that does make an excited mind drift fruity wine, packed with cherry and red fruit flavours that turn just a little darker on the finish. RRP: £9
Bancroft Wines (020 7232 5470) bancroftwines.com
grandfather in 1991 and has since been on a mission to
understand the DNA of Hungary’s indigenous grapes as Gewürz-like varietal, with lychee and citrus elements, but a clean, steely edge to the finish. RRP: £10.99
Alliance Wine (01505 506060) alliancewine.com
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 8
bits & BOBs FAVOURITE
THINGS Jonathan Cocker Martinez Wines, Ilkley
Favourite wine on my list Torremilanos Los Cantos Tinto, Ribera del Duero 2014. Being a Yorkshire
man I was always going to pick a wine which I think represents great value
and at £15.99 this is super stuff. Mainly Tempranillo with a splash of Merlot
Symington Family Estates, most
a number of broken bones. He returned
famous for Port production, is to build
to work the next day.
a dedicated winery for its growing portfolio of Douro DOC table wines. The new winery, ready by 2020, will be
built on its Quinta do Ataide property in the extreme north east of the Douro.
“This is a big investment decision for us
and it is based upon the fact that, after two decades, we are now extremely confident
of the quality of our table wines,” said Paul Symington.
Decanter, February 22
too! Black fruit, exotic spice, and coffee
Favourite wine and food match I am a huge fan of Pinot Noir, so a good
man in Spain who has helped Martinez build a fine reputation for Spanish
wines, and he has become a good friend too.
killed at his farm in Stellenbosch.
Back described his assailants as
“common gangsters”. “My heart goes out
to all the people that have lost their family members in the ongoing farm attacks,” he added.
12 months to September, Brits bought £1.2bn of gin, the equivalent of over 47
Favourite wine trip
Favourite wine trade person
winegrower Joubert Conradie was shot and
2017, in the on- and off-trades. In the
go down a treat with me.
Carlos Read from Winetraders. Our
In September last year, fellow
Sales of gin in the UK increased in
Burgundy with roast duck will always
and “left for dead”.
Brits buy an extra 7m bottles of gin
aromas ooze out of the bottle.
with Alsace: the wine, the food and the
Back was set upon by three people and
beaten with a crowbar, rolled up in a carpet
The Drinks Business, February 14
from 35+year-old vines and organic
Alsace with Thorman Hunt. I fell in love
Symington builds still wine facility
million bottles. The Douro winery will open by 2020
Charles Back ‘left for dead’ in attack
This is up by 7m bottles compared to the
same period the previous year. Decanter, February 12
• A fire at Ten Minutes by Tractor winery in Victoria destroyed the wine cellar and
Charles Back of Fairview estate in Paarl,
several vintage tractors. AU$500,000 worth
South Africa, has survived a brutal
of wine has been lost.
attack at his farm in which he suffered
The Drinks Business, February 26
Favourite wine shop Dunell’s Premier Wines, Jersey. A lovely range of wines with a great French
selection, and well priced due to the
Channel Island location. I particularly
like the Beaumont shop as it is right on the sea. Guaranteed to enhance your
holiday, and if you live there: lucky you.
01323 871836 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 860 specialist independent wine shops. Every one of them, as the previous sole exception to the rule has now closed down. The magazine is edited by Graham Holter. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2018 Registered in England: No 6441762
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 10
VAT 943 8771 82
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 11
A milestone at the mill Jane Cuthbertson never really intended to run her own wine shop. Yet it’s now 10 years since Barrica opened, and it’s a good excuse to throw a party and to look back over an eventful decade of business
t was a customer who pointed out
customers who are eating in.
to Jane Cuthbertson that a landmark
Initially, Barrica was strongest on
anniversary was approaching. “As
European classics but the focus has
people who know me will tell you, if there’s
shifted towards Portugal and Argentina.
any reason for a party, I’m up for it,” she
“I love the food, the wine, the people, the
culture – everything from both countries,”
Barrica started life in Samlesbury, near
Cuthbertson says. “And it’s my shop, so I
Preston, before opening at Botany Bay, a
can specialise in those countries if I want!
converted mill near Chorley that’s now
“We have Châteauneuf-du-Pape and
home to dozens of independent traders.
Chablis Premier Cru, Macons and stuff like
For a couple of years the two shops ran in
that. But not the classical stuff we used
tandem but Cuthbertson is now focused
to do. We do buy parcels and one-offs at
squarely on Botany Bay, in a ground-floor
Christmas. And vintage ports I tend to do
unit that’s needed to expand three times since she arrived.
“We’ve probably got about 750 square
Cuthbertson: “Customers have become friends”
The development, just off the M61, has
here; there’s a herb shop; we’ve got a guy
feet, so it’s not massive – I’m constantly struggling for space,” she admits.
become a real destination for shoppers in
the north west, and provides Barrica with some useful neighbours.
“We’ve got a tea and coffee specialist
who does hog roasts; we’ve got a bakery; a very old fashioned sweet shop – so there’s
all sorts of stuff.” Barrica has an agreement with other tenants to serve wine to their
‘We’ve got about 450 wines now. We used to have 800 or 900, and when I look back at it I think that was far too many’ THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 12
The selection has been tightened up over
the years, and in January Cuthbertson had “a real cull – I’ve been quite ruthless”.
“I’ve changed my approach to the range,
so we’ve got about 450 wines now,” she says. “We used to have 800 or 900, and
when I look back at it I think that was far too many.
“If I went to a wine merchants I’d want
to see a decent range of Rioja and some Australian Shiraz, some Argentinian Malbec – and also I’d want to see
something a little bit different.” Croatian, Turkish and Greek wines are now on her agenda.
The specialism has inevitably broadened
beyond wine. “When we first started, I
just had one shelf of bottled beers from a
Bash raises cash for hospice Cuthbertson is celebrating her decade in business with Barrica’s Big Birthday Bash, which will be raising money for St Catherine’s Hospice in Preston.
local brewery and then that sort of grew
into one set of shelves, and then we took a
The event takes place in the function room of the nearby David Lloyd Club on April 14. For £25 a ticket, guests get a
neighbouring unit and filled that, then last
two-course supper and entertainment from a top local DJ.
but that’s a moveable feast – at Christmas
says. “It’s not until you have that personal connection that
June we doubled the space for beers.
A raffle and auction on the night will also boost funds.
we probably have 75. But they all have to
you see how amazing hospices are. So every year for the
wholesaling, but still spends one day a
and it just got ridiculous, so now we say St Catherine’s is our nominated charity.
“We usually have between 40 and 50 gins
earn their place on the shelf.”
Cutherbertson has “cut right back” on
week making deliveries. “Trying to get
money out of customers can be a challenge in itself,” she says. “While you’re chasing
money every month, I’m thinking just how
“My brother-in-law was in St Catherine’s,” Cuthbertson
last seven or eight years, we’ve supported St Catherine’s as a company. We get inundated with requests for donations “We used to have one big event in aid of them, with all profits going to the hospice. The first was the Barrica Ball; then we had the Barrica Barbecue, then the Barrica Bash. “The last one we did was three years ago and it was a ball. My target was £10,000 and we raised £21,293.”
much profit am I making?”
Barrica has won a trophy in the
Enterprise Vision Awards for customer service, and you sense that this is the
metric by which Cuthbertson prefers to be judged.
“We have a lot of customers who have
become friends and help out at events and things like that,” she says.
“What I’ve never wanted is a wine
merchants where someone comes in and
buys a case of wine and goes again. I want it to be inclusive.
“When we get new wines I get customers
to taste them as well. That does three
things. It gives us the reassurance that
we’re choosing the right sort of wines. It makes customers realise that we don’t
just buy off a list – there is work that goes into choosing a range. And if a customer
sees a wine that they’ve tasted, liked and
recommended on the shelf, they’ll go, ‘ooh,
I put that there, I helped choose that’ – and it makes them feel part of it, which is what I want.”
The Botany Bay shop has expanded three times since Barrica arrived
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 13
THE WINEMAKER FILES Charlie Holland, Gusbourne Charlie has been involved in making Gusbourne wines since 2008, but officially joined as head winemaker in 2013 and oversaw the building of the new winery. After studying business and marketing, he discovered his passion for winemaking whilst working in Australia. He went to Plumpton College to complete his winemaking studies before embarking on winemaking stints in France, Germany, New Zealand and California
It was never my intention to get into English wine. I always thought I’d be somewhere hotter, a bit more exotic and a bit more exciting I guess. However, the opportunity came
to work back in England and at just the right time – England is probably one of the most exciting and vibrant places to make wine today.
In the last 10 or 15 years there’s been a seismic shift to thinking: wow, we can create something really special. Watching the industry grow and change right before your eyes is fascinating: all the different styles and personalities coming on board.
England is absolutely New World because we don’t have any winemaking history. We’re still learning how to get the best out of our soils; the best ways to make wine. The
quality has improved dramatically in recent years, but I do believe we are just at the start of that journey. There is the potential to make some truly outstanding wines in England.
We have 14 different vineyards now and we have 40 different clones planted which all have different characters. Some ripen a bit earlier, some a bit later. Some tend to be more fruit-forward and some produce steely, mineral wines. It actually gives us a really
good pallette to do the blending with. Our Kent vineyards tend to be heavier, clay based soils, but you can also find sand, silt and marine deposits. We also have some sites in
West Sussex on chalk – some more loam, some more flint – so the idea is to have a nice patchwork of different types of soil that we can play with.
Being in complete control of your own vineyards is really important from a quality point of view. Where possible we’ll pick everything separately and press everything
separately and ferment everything separately. This year we have up to 200 components that we’re playing with. It’s a lifetime’s project, really. It’s really exciting.
We’re quite often the first in the country to pick for sparkling wine so we often do get quite ripe grapes. We tend to age our wines a bit longer: for our Brut and our Blanc de Blancs especially we try to have at least three years’ lees ageing. For an English wine
it’s more of a mature style. It’s usually four years from harvest to releasing a wine for us.
The first job offerwith I got independents was to work inwho a winery, at Angoves in McLaren Vale. and We want to work are looking for something different, My early days werechosen more laboratory but I got the wine bug andvery have consciously not to selland ourquality winescontrol through supermarkets. We are went to Roseworthy College. I came back to Angoves inthe 1976 and got to more and more committed to the independent sector as we feel this is best place hand-sell our involved. wines and tell the Gusbourne story.
Feature sponsored by Gusbourne www.gusbourne.com
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 14
Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2013 RRP £45 “Pale gold with a delicate mousse, this Blanc de Blancs blends classic Chardonnay characters of green apple, citrus and white fruit on the nose, with mineral notes and buttered toast complexity from extended lees ageing.”
Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2013 RRP £35 “This blend highlights red fruit aromas of cherry and strawberry, which develop into attractive fresh pastry notes with a touch of cinnamon and spice. With a bright streak of citrus fruit, the palate is clean and fresh whilst giving tones of soft stone fruit.”
Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé 2014 RRP £40 “Delicate pink, with soft summer berries and floral notes on the nose. The palate shows bright red fruits, driven by ripe strawberries, fresh cherries and redcurrants, with a crisp freshness and creamy, rounded texture on the finish.”
ENGLISH WINE WEEK GET INVOLVED!
May 26th - June 3rd 2018 • Sell more English wine • Engage your customers with exciting events • Be part of the incredible buzz around English wines We’ll support your event, provide you with point-of-sale materials, and promote it - all for free. For more information visit www.englishwineweek.com or email us at email@example.com AT BR
WINEGB TRADE & PRESS TASTING 2018
Producer Stands • Central Tasting Table • Industry Briefing Seminars and Panel Discussions • English Wine Week Launch
26th April, RHS Lindley Hall, London SW1P 2QW. To attend call 01858 467792 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
La French Spark 27 27.. 03. 03. 18 18
Haymarket House, 28-29 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP
10am - 5.30pm THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 15
better uses for burgundy domaine names
‘I’m spiralling into a Pisse-Loup!’
Yes, we’ve already done this with Bordeaux châteaux. But there are still plenty of definitions crying out for words, so this time we’ve raided Burgundy for inspiration
A small morsel of jamon, Epoisses or water
The correct term for the circle left imprinted on
Name mockingly applied by colleagues of a
biscuit hurriedly gulped during the preparation
a white tablecloth by a clumsily-poured bottle
merchant who has made an absolute ass of
of platters intended for lunchtime customers
of red wine. When a customer notices they have
themselves by ballsing up the public removal of a
or guests at a tasting. Typically three or four
made a dampt, they will invariably try to repeat
cork. Typically there will be much straining before
chicotots will be consumed: sufficient to
the feat four more times to recreate the Olympic
the cork splits in two, and efforts to retrieve the
persuade the ingester that a
logo, only to discover that the fourth and fifth
bottom section produce a
proper meal is unnecessary, but
rings are frustratingly invisible.
crumbling mess. “And you’re
not enough to prevent a dizzy
meant to be the professional!”
spell and wobbly limbs later on.
guffaw the onlookers.
Descriptive of any humorous “thought for the
That cheapo bottle of something or other from
An online battle of nerves between two or more
day”-type message chalked on to the blackboard
Bulgaria, Riverland or some Italian cantina that
merchants, all of whom are determined to
or disseminated on your social media feed. “Save
isn’t quite nice enough to write a shelf note about
beat the others on price as a point of principle,
water – drink wine!!” is an entry-level example.
but makes a useful – and perfectly adequate –
even if it means taking margins into minus-
“You can’t buy happiness,
makeweight in a mixed case. Discussions about
figures territory. Participants understand that
but you can buy wine, and
ruffins are best avoided, as
such behaviour is futile and
that’s kind of the same
there is a real risk they will
destructive, but sometimes
thing!!” is one rung up the
turn out to be the customer’s
you just have to stand your
favourite wines of the selection.
ground. Right? Right?
Nickname applied to a pub or restaurant owner
The intangible sense of wellbeing that derives
The brief moment when a merchant’s finger
who opened an account with you and nodded
from running a wine shop that generates just
hovers over the till or tablet while ringing up a
enthusiastically at your eager suggestions of
enough cash to keep its owner alive, but able
sale, during the thought process of whether or
staff training, exclusive-label Palo Cortado and
to enjoy a lifestyle replete with luxury cuvées,
not to apply a discount. This pause alerts the
winemaker dinners, but now merely
splendid lunches, lifelong friends and the
customer to the indecision, which means (a) the
haggles over the price of bargain-
occasional overseas jaunt.
gesture now seems a lot less generous than it
basement Prosecco and settles
It might be more lucrative to
should have done, or (b) that hopes
invoices five months late, partly in
work the tills at Asda. But
are cruelly raised for a discount that
meat raffle tickets.
nothing like as much fun.
doesn’t materialise at all.
Any foreign body observed in wine during the
One of those beliefs or opinions held by a regular
Interminable bureaucratic correspondence
final sips. Should one occur in a customer’s glass,
customer that is completely misguided but has
between a merchant and officialdom of any
the grivot can always be explained away as a
been espoused far too often for you to correct it
kind. This may involve the dimensions and
harmless tartrate crystal. In one’s own glass, it’s
now. “Vintage Champagne is more alcoholic than
GPS location of an A-board, quibbles over the
either the result of some tasteless humour on the
non vintage”; “Rioja is my favourite
shade of blue that you’ve painted your
part of a sadistic vineyard
grape variety, especially the Spanish
frontage, or an exploded diagram of an
worker, or polonium put
type”; “I put that Chenin I bought
Enomatic machine and reasons why it
there by the bloke you
last week in the freezer to make ice
won’t precipitate the end of civilisation
sacked last month.
wine”. That kind of thing.
in your particular market town.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 16
© EvgeniiAnd – stock.adobe.com
Not everyone is tired of high street eateries
Stuck in the middle Restaurant chains are having a tough time, partly because they are caught in the no-man’s-land between cheaper rivals and the fine dining experience. Are wine drinkers also bored with the happy medium, or is there still room for mainstream products?
or places that specialise in the culinary middle of the road,
mid-market restaurants attract a surprising level of passion. At the very least, there’s been a certain amount of relish in
the responses to what the FT has called “the casual dining crash”, in which some of the biggest names of what had been one of the past decade’s most buoyant sectors – such as Byron, Strada and
schadenfreude-magnet Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian and Barbacoa – have announced losses, profit warnings, large-scale outlet closures and radical restructuring.
According to the more hardnosed of the analyses I’ve read, the
reasons for this sudden plunge in popularity are various, but they
amount to a perfect storm: overambitious and complacent chains, increasingly backed by short-termist venture capital and lured by cheap credit and eager high-street landlords looking to fill
empty units, simply over-estimated the British appetite for casual dining. As costs (staff, food, rents, business rates) have risen (not least post-Brexit), so margins, already wafer thin, have all but disappeared.
Aside from the market conditions, there’s also an issue of
competence, a sense that some of the brands involved just aren’t
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 18
really very good at what they do, that their customers have simply
tired of their formulae. That’s an easy conclusion to draw when, as Jay Rayner said of Jamie’s Italian, the offer is “increasingly ersatz
Britalian with a menu full of annoying dish titles such as crunchy Italian nachos”.
But I also wonder if the travails of some chains are part of a
wider issue, a general feeling that the middle of the road – that
narrow strip of territory where you are neither trying to be the best nor the best value, where you’re neither homespun and
independent nor egregiously global and corporate – is actually the most difficult part of any market to get right.
That’s certainly true of the wine business, at all parts of the
supply chain. In a world where it’s apparently possible to make a
profit from selling secondhand books for 1p a pop on Amazon, the business model for the high-volume bulk business is easy enough to understand: it’s all about scale, quality is secondary, marketing minimal, and you make your money by harvesting as many minuscule margins as possible.
At the other end of the scale, the pitch for a putative fine wine
brand may be difficult, not to say expensive, to pull off, but it’s not
exactly complicated on paper: you’re simply making the best wine
David Williams is wine critic for The Observer
Lidl and Aldi work on the assumption that, while you may well be able to buy something better, you won’t be able to find anything drinkable cheaper
you can, and selling it for as much as you think you can (or in some
by firms who, whether through choice or circumstance, have to
certainly in the UK – at the moment are polar opposites. On the
are in the business of selling something deeply unglamorous and
rare, admirable cases, should) get.
In retail, meanwhile, most of the successful businesses –
one hand, Lidl and Aldi work on the assumption that, while you
may well be able to get something better, you won’t be able to find anything drinkable cheaper, although you’ll have to go through a pretty miserable, striplit, impersonal experience to get hold of it. And, at the other
extreme, most independents offer a pitch that,
while not precluding a sense of value for money, are much more about quality, personal service – you
might call it humanity – and a sense that you get what you pay for.
Much the same dynamics apply for the third piece of the puzzle, suppliers: the thriving
businesses tend to be either specialists who make a virtue of their unique offer, insider
knowledge and small teams; or the big guys with their something-for-everyone ranges,
economies of scale, sales teams and supplychain efficiencies.
In each case, the space in the middle is
looking more and more squeezed, occupied
come to terms with a difficult conundrum: like Liberal Democrats in a system that has gone back to its old two-party ways, they increasingly unfashionable, compromise.
But if this is a difficult reality in which to succeed, it’s not
impossible. Indeed, there are lessons to be learned from the
current casual dining crash for the wine sector in seeing who
has emerged from the current mess with their reputation – and customer base – intact.
Whether or not you actually enjoy eating in them, it can’t be denied that Wagamama and Nando’s have very clear and well-
executed approaches, from which they have barely deviated even as they’ve expanded. Both offer predictable but reliable food of
good quality that may not surprise or inspire but – unlike certain fast-food chains – doesn’t leaving you feeling vaguely ashamed when you’ve finished eating, and all served in pleasant, buzzy surroundings.
There are equivalents already out there in the wine business.
Well-executed brands such as Torres, Villa Maria and Concha y
Toro, the latter-day Oddbins in retail, or a supplier such as Hatch
Mansfield, all show that, while it may be congested and confusing, sometimes the middle of the road is where you find a happy medium.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 19
There are roughly as many independent book stores in the UK as there are independent wine shops
Book sellers are on the same page Indies join forces to fight multiples
ccording to the Booksellers Association, there are 868
independent book shops in the
UK. If that figure has a familiar ring to it, that’s possibly because it’s remarkably
close to the specialist independent wine shop total, which The Wine Merchant currently puts at 860.
The similarities between the sectors
don’t end there. Independent book
retailers are irritated by the second-
class status afforded to them by some
major suppliers and are planning to band together to increase their bargaining
power with publishers.
together. “There are two main wholesalers,
before Christmas Waterstones did an
“We’ve had conversations with them and
Simon Key of London’s Big Green
Bookshop is leading the charge. “Just
exclusive edition of the new Philip Pullman book,” he says.
“They’d obviously done a deal with the
publishers and they got 5,000 copies of
the book, a lovely hardback for £35, signed by Philip Pullman. It kind of touched a
nerve – that’s £175,000 that independent bookshops cannot have.”
Key accepts that such deals are a feature
of normal business. But he believes indies can and should be part of the action.
“I thought if 200 independents got
together, they’d be in the same position as Waterstones and we could perhaps
negotiate for our own exclusive editions among other things,” he says.
So far 125 book sellers have expressed
an interest in some kind of coming-
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 20
Bertram and Gardners, and they deliver
to independent book shops,” Key explains.
they’re keen to get involved too and be part of the process.
“What’s also really encouraging is how
positive the publishers have been, because it’s not just the bookshops that struggle
to deal with the publishers – it’s the other way round as well.
“Imagine a publisher trying to go around
250 different book shops to see how many books they want to buy – three, two, five,
10. If there’s one central point we can say,
‘OK, these 250 shops will take 2,000 copies of this book, what discount could you give us?’
“Publishers are really happy that
something like that could possibly happen. No one loses. That’s the good thing about it.”
wine merchant buyers’ trip
The lure of the Loire The Wine Merchant teamed up with InterLoire to take 11 independents to Vinovision, the cool-climate wine fair in Paris, where Loire producers took centre stage. There was plenty of business to be done
f you could only drink wines from one
region for the rest of your life, the Loire Valley would keep most people happy.
Luscious sweet wines, bracing whites,
succulent reds and refreshing rosés … the
list goes on and pretty much every taste is
catered for. Which is why, when we offered independent merchants the chance to visit the Vinovision show in Paris, there was no shortage of takers.
Erik Laan of The Vineking in Surrey says it “really mattered to us to get out there and find some new things”.
“I’d say the Loire provides some of our
most important whites,” he adds. “The UK’s obsession with Sauvignon actually started in the Loire, of course.
“We found some good value Touraine.
I also quite enjoy some of the Côt – the
Malbecs down there. Some of the crémants Steve Hodden of
ArtisVin in Eastbourne met Marc Hough of
Cork of the North in
Manchester at the fair
and found he had similar
© pedrosala / stock.adobe.com
‘We found some cracking Chinon, one possibly the finest we’ve ever had’
are also really good.”
tastes to his northern counterpart.
“Marc and I are going to start shipping
stuff from Ackerman, which could really work for us,” he says. “We tried three
Muscadets, and I’d happily take all three. There’s one really premium one, which
was astounding. Very full bodied, very rich, almost like a Savennières.
“There were a few good Chinons there
and we’re really keen to take some in.
Every time we’ve had it in, it’s sold well. We found some cracking Chinon and
one is possibly the finest we’ve ever had. Just exceptionally smooth and velvety;
everything Chinon should be and more. I fell I love with that.
“There were some outstanding crémants
so I think we’re going to take a few of those on.
“The Loire is always a strong region for
us. We’ve got a nice wine selection and I’m looking forward to expanding that.”
John Greenwold of Winefantastic and Wine-boutique in Suffolk describes
the Loire as “a fantastic source” for his business. “Certain generics are very
reliable and work well for us: Muscadet,
Touraine Sauvignon and that kind of thing. There’s enormous potential,” he says. “I am going to start shipping some
Saumur-Champigny that I found at the
show … the quality is very, very high. Never mind where they’re from, they were very
A Cabernet Franc vineyard in Saumur-Champigny
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 22
good for the price. They’ll retail at £15 or
more indie feedback
“It was great meeting with the producers and I’ll soon be planning with my partners a trip to some of those vineyards. In the Loire Valley with the Chinon and the Sauvignon you get some really interesting and quite affordable wine.” Amaury Levisalles, Authentique, north London Loire producers were some of the main attractions at Vinovision “I think Loire crémant has got better
£16 and stand up very well to wines from
young, fresh Cabernet Franc, which I think
Nigel Pound, former owner of The
that fits the bill. They came from Anjou,
Totnes Wine Company who still acts as a consultant for the business, agrees there
was “lots of fantastic stuff” on display from Loire producers.
“It was really nice to try a lot of the
is part of the future for the Loire. We need to think more about lighter red wines and mainly, and also the well-known areas.” Pound was impressed by Coteaux du
Layon and Coteaux de l’Aubance wines,
whose sweetness makes them perfect both
and I think customers are starting to know about it. I’ve been asked quite a bit about it because people travel, and you don’t see it around very much. It’s a Champagne-method sparkling which offers value from money and can often be very good.” Chix Chandaria, The Wine Parlour, Brixton
as aperitifs and after-dinner wines.
“In England we don’t do aperitifs right,”
he says. “We have a gin and tonic or a pint of beer but the continentals will have a
slightly sweet aperitif because that raises the appetite, and that’s the idea.
“The Coteaux du Layon and some
Coteaux de l’Aubance particularly tick that box. They’re great with soft cheeses too.” He adds: “The first wine trip I went
on was in about 1979 and the son of the owner of the first château I went to see,
Domaine de la Rochette [in Pouillé], was there at Vinovision.
“It was great to talk to him and we will
Jean-Martin Dutour, president of InterLoire
be importing some of his stuff. He makes a Cabernet Franc, a Cabernet rosé and a special cuvée as well.”
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 23
“When I was studying French I had a year in a school in the Loire and I fell in love with the region then. In fact it’s probably quite influential in my going into the wine trade in the first place. One thing that inspired me was that you taste wines there that you just will not taste anywhere else. They are so individual.” Susan McCraith MW, Davis Bell McCraith Wines, Bristol
Lifeâ€™s too short to drink supermarket wine. The Wine Merchant Top 100 is the only competition thatâ€™s devoted solely to wines on sale in the independent trade. All our judges are independent merchants themselves. If you supply the kind of wines that help make the independent sector the most vibrant and exciting part of the UK wine scene, visit www.winemerchanttop100.com now for details of how to enter this yearâ€™s competition. Winners will be featured in a Wine Merchant magazine supplement and showcased at the London Wine Fair.
London Wine Fair: bigger, better and more inspiring than ever
ondon Wine Fair is back with a bang for 2018, with a
brand-new team promising a packed show of inspiring
features, innovative tastings, critical masterclasses and
over 14,000 wines from 40 countries, making it an unmissable event for independent merchants. Registration is now open
and is free to anyone in the wine trade. Visit londonwinefair.
com to sign up and stay on top of the latest news coming from the show.
“We’re making this year the best and buzziest yet,” says show
director Hannah Tovey. “This is the time of year that the whole
wine industry comes together to do business and network, and we’re planning to make sure everyone leaves the fair inspired with new connections, new wines and new ideas for the next 12 months.”
Features for 2018 include: • A brand-new Innovation Zone designed to inspire, with future tech and trends from the wine trade and beyond, from AI to blockchain, logistics innovations and wine apps.
• Drinks Britannia – Discover English
sparkling wine, craft gin, beer and more
• Champagne Live – A celebration of the finest
Introducing the London Wine Fair app
producers, featuring three tasting trails and live streaming from vineyards in Champagne
• Boost your knowledge in the Education Zone from
For the first time, the show is going mobile.
Download the official London Wine Fair app and access
WSET, including the chance to take your Level 3 entrance exam
interactive floorplans, a searchable exhibitor list and a
exhibitors, making sure you are seeing exactly who you need to.
free of charge
• Plus masterclasses and tastings from Lafite to Uruguay.
As well as the exciting new areas, London Wine Fair is bringing back one of the most popular parts of the show, Esoterica, a dedicated area for small, quality importers.
Esoterica is the perfect opportunity to discover rare and
niche wines that aren’t available from anyone else.
With a casual table-top set-up, this is your chance to get up
close and personal with the best small-scale importers and uncover some of the world’s most exciting wines.
personalised schedule, as well as a meeting booking system, allowing you to pre-book on-stand meetings direct with
More announcements still to come
The London Wine Fair team are focused on making this show the best yet for merchants, and are busy behind the scenes creating yet more unmissable features.
The only way to make sure you find out about them first, and
to get first access to meeting slots with exhibitors, is to register to attend. Visit londonwinefair.com to sign up for your free entry badge.
Feature sponsored by London Wine Fair
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 25
reader survey 2018
Not everyone’s feeling flat It’s been a challenging year for independent wine merchants as prices rise and consumers feel the squeeze. Yet many retailers have put in resilient performances and are determined to make the most of the opportunities that exist, despite the Brexit confusion
ast year’s reader survey showed that confidence among independents was sagging a little. This year’s
findings suggest that merchants were right
to be worried: sales are 1% down, averaged out per shop, at a time when costs are rising (see page one).
Yet the independent trade as a whole
continues to see increases in store
numbers each year (there was a net gain of 31 shops in 2017) and despite the political and economic gloom, many merchants did
well last year. Among many, there is a sense that there is still money to be made as an
independent. It’s just that you may have to
how business is looking for a few dozen
many merchants had a pretty good 2017.
90% increase, opened a second shop last
work harder for it.
Our table opposite illustrates that
We’ve analysed the data provided by 41
independents who gave us turnover figures both this year and last, and it’s clear that there were winners as well as losers. Of course, these are in many cases
heavily rounded figures and we can’t verify their accuracy. (In fact, one or two outliers, which pointed to particularly extreme
upward or downward trends, have been stripped out.) Even so, we get a sense of
How optimistic are you that your sales will increase in the coming 12 months? 60
The business topping the list, with a
year. Others which achieved spectacular increases are very young businesses on a steep growth curve. For larger, more
established companies, that growth was hard to come by in most – but not all – cases.
If we just analyse the results from
this sample of 41, the picture is more
encouraging than the wider data suggests.
Sales for this group were up, on average, by 3.3% per business.
The proportion of merchants who
are “very confident” of a sales increase Fairly optimistic
this year is 22.3%, down from 27.2%
last year. It’s actually the lowest figure
we’ve recorded in six years of running the
survey. But it’s compensated for, to some degree, by those who say they are “fairly
Neutral Fairly pessimistic
Very pessimistic 0
Number of responses: 178 in 2018; 151 in 2017; 150 in 2016; 118 in 2015; 117 in 2014; 99 in 2013.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 26
confident”, which is 51.4%, ahead of the
42.4% recorded in 2017. So overall 73.8% of respondents are optimistic about their
prospects in the year ahead, compared to 69.5% in the 2017 poll.
The proportion saying they are
pessimistic to a greater or lesser degree stands at 8.4%, more or less where we
were last year – and comfortably below the 11.1% recorded back in 2013.
How turnover has changed Survey partner 2018
How some independents are approaching 2018
Unpredictable trade ‘is a problem for all retailers’ The main issues worrying independents are fairly obvious, and once again Brexit comes across as the main cause for
concern. But merchants are also spooked
by rising costs, growing competition, and the shortfall in the 2017 vintage in many parts of the world.
“Within a difficult and uncertain
environment, I think we will have to work harder than ever to maintain sales,” says one East Anglian merchant.
A Scottish merchant adds: “Uncertainty
with Brexit and price increases against
internet rivals puts retailing in a precarious position.”
According to an independent in North
Yorkshire, “retail is very unpredictable at
the moment – all quality retailers say the same thing in our town, so not just the
wine trade,” he says. “Since the election last year it’s been volatile. Brexit is not helping and I don’t see the next 12 months getting any better.”
Another East Anglian trader says: “Sales
seemed to have reached a plateau partly due to increased prices and partly due
to the economic situation, meaning less
disposable income. This is true not just for wine but most non-essential purchases.” Some merchants talk about “playing
safe” in the coming year as they ride out
the economic and political turbulence. But others say they will be taking a proactive approach.
“There is a lot of pressure to keep ahead Continues page 28
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 27
Table shows reported sales of 41 merchants who provided data in both 2017 and 2018, ranked in order of percentage change in turnover. 23 saw an increase, 6 were static and 12 registered a fall.
reader survey 2018 From page 27
11% Are very or fairly likely to open additional branches in the coming year (2017: 13%)
of the game with new concepts and ideas, says Sam Jackson of Chester Beer &
Wine. “We feel the need to be more than
just a wine shop with new events, tastings
and products. The public seems to expect a lot more than 10 years ago.”
Stephen Murphy of The Wine Factor
in Chingford, north east London, says:
“Although I think that high street retailers
“The internet is the greatest cause of
concern with regards to consumers’ buying habits and so retailers have to offer a
reason for these consumers to enter.”
bottles,” says Euan McNicoll of McNicoll & Cairnie in Broughty Ferry.
media will help develop sales, along with customer-focused supplier visits. For
example I will be taking key customers
to visit gin distillers, independent whisky bottlers, and so on.”
Are very or fairly likely to try to sell the business in the coming year (2017: 3%)
Services in Canterbury is in that camp.
“We see a good future for independents
How sales are split Online 4.4% Wholesale 19% Other 4.9%
Jefferson Boss of StarmoreBoss in
Number of responses: 168 The share of turnover from shop sales (which includes on-premise takings) is up from 68.4% last year, while online’s share has declined from 5.7%. The proportion of sales going through wholesale is down from 20.7% last year.
Sheffield sounds a similar note. “Although
offering sound advice,” he says, “and a
concentrating on being able to provide a
with a more event and experience-focused
external factors like the economy are
better service to our customers through customer loyalty, finally sorting out our
online sales and information, and creating
a wine club in order to increase our sales.”
Clive Barlow MW of Press Wine
budget weeknight wines as well as special
creating their own sets of worries, we are Are very or fairly likely to reduce staff numbers in the coming year (2017: 3%)
outlook remains hopeful.
becoming better known for having good
“We believe that increased social
Are very or fairly likely to increase staff numbers in the coming year (2017: 47%)
feeling among many independents that the
the coming years, I think that they need to
“Our reputation locally is key, but we are
Despite all the challenges, there is a
are finding it, and will find it, difficult over adapt.
Are very or fairly likely to close one or more branches in the coming year (2017: 2%)
willing to try something different.”
“As the range grows, so does the
expectation of stocking more wines,” says
Tim Watson of The Grape to Glass Wine Shop & Tasting Room in Rhos-on-Sea on the north Wales coast.
“As we have introduced wine by the
glass, and BYO food, the space has become increasingly popular, and customers are
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 28
range of wines giving value, quality and
interest at different price points combined approach.”
Mark Wrigglesworth of The Good
Wine Shop in London sums up what many are thinking with a bullish assessment of the year ahead.
“We have confidence in our offering and
believe we can continue to build on the
successes of 2017, despite the uncertainty that Brexit brings,” he says.
“We are not going to allow the
uncertainty to dissuade us from advancing our plans.”
It’s now six victories in a row for Boutinot
Top 20 suppliers to independents Position (2017 in brackets)
% of retailers voting for this supplier
There’s no change at the top of this
year’s leader board of favourite wine
suppliers, with Boutinot and Liberty
occupying first and second spots
respectively for the sixth year in a row.
Enotria & Coe
Among the top 10, Enotria & Coe,
Hallgarten, FMV and ABS all climbed
up the table. A little further down the
list there were creditable performances by Vindependents, Mentzendorff, Red
Squirrel, Armit, Daniel Lambert and Delibo. Every year the number of suppliers
mentioned increases, though this may merely reflect the growing number of survey participants. But it confirms
the increased level of choice available to independents, especially given the
emergence of smaller specialist importers. The average selling price for a bottle of
wine in a specialist independent wine shop has risen 63p to £12.25, compared to the market average of around £5.60, though average transaction values have slipped back to near 2016 levels.
Average margins per sales channel 35%
Fields Morris & Verdin
Awin Barratt Siegel
Les Caves de Pyrene
Walker & Wodehouse
Number of responses: 153 Respondents were invited to name up to three suppliers that they most enjoy working with, in no particular order. No prompts were given. There were 110 suppliers nominated, compared to 103 in 2017 and 96 the previous year. Walker & Wodehouse votes include those cast for Bibendum.
Average transaction value
Shop salesWholesale 33.6% Online 32.5% Online
7 (15) 8 (14)
Average sales price per bottle
£11.62 £12.25 2017
Number of responses: 162 in 2018; 138 in 2017; 136 in 2015; and 108 in 2015
Number of responses: 156 in 2018; 132 in 2017; 131 in 2016; and 103 in 2015
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 29
Number of responses: 157 in 2018; and 131 in 2017
reader survey 2018
Which of these product areas will you be focusing on developing in the coming year?
Number of respondents: 159
B Speciality spirits
C British craft beer
Enthusiasm for spirits is holding strong, with figures very similar to those we recorded last year
Another solid second place for artisanal ales, though the “yes” vote slips from 53% last time No
Maybe Yes 66%
Maybe Yes 46%
D Imported beer
E Wine accessories
The proportion expecting great things from this category has crashed from 42% in 2016 and 25% last time
Up from fifth spot last year thanks to a small but significant increase in the “yes” vote for gadgets and gizmos No
Maybe Yes 18%
Maybe Yes 14%
G Delicatessen items
This year’s results are almost identical to those from 2017. A category that seems to have hit the glass ceiling
Another category with a stale performance. Cheese and ham have a problem. So what’s the cure?
Maybe Yes 13%
Maybe Yes 12%
I Cigars and tobacco
The number of respondents interested in posh chocs and other indulgences has more than doubled
Almost a third of respondents back in 2014 had high hopes for this category, which is rapidly fizzling out
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 30
Bright future on cards for Portugal and Australia For the third year running, France increased its vote when we asked
Which countries of origin do you think will see the biggest sales increase in your business this year?
Yet also for the third year in succession,
ask merchants to name the countries or
That said, France still tops both league
for the various options we provided, such
32% 33.8% 26.3% 21.1%
23% 25.7% 33.3% 31.8% 21.8% 23.1% 27.7% 19%
as “Bordeaux”, “Languedoc”, “most or all
19% 15.5% 15.5%
regions” and so on.
performers in 2017 – have lived up to their
tables when we combine the votes cast
as South Africa and Spain – both star
business over the coming year.
regions they expect to do best in their
merely reflect the fact that countries such
France has seen its vote slip when we
their votes decrease this year. This may
they specialise in.
prediction league table (top right) saw
2 South Africa
merchants which countries or regions
Interestingly, most nations in our
1 France combined
12.9% 16.2% 8.9%
10 New Zealand
Number of responses: 179. Respondents could name as many countries or regions as they liked. Only top 10 countries from the vote are shown. France was split into eight options, combined here.
promise and sales are now levelling out.
But it’s also a reaction to vintage shortages in many areas.
This year’s big winner is Portugal,
which hits a three-year high with 26.3% of
respondents predicting a big sales increase. Many independents have long been talking up the country’s potential, thanks in part
to the value it offers. Its run of decent-sized vintages, relative to much of the rest of Europe, also counts in its favour.
The other star performer is Australia,
which is finally beginning to win round
its doubters with a selection of premium
wines that can challenge Old World classics on price.
In our countries of specialism chart, the
percentages are remarkably similar to last year’s, though Spain is significantly down from 28.4% last time and California falls
out of the top 10, down from 9.2% to 3.5%.
Which countries do you specialise in? Position (2017 in brackets)
% of retailers voting for this country
Number of responses: 171. Respondents were allowed up to three choices. France was split into eight options, combined here.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 31
merchant profile: MR & MRS FINE WINE
The mezzanine area to the rear of the retail space is designed for on-premise consumption
Moving up a level Not many merchants upgrade to larger premises as quickly as Chris and Gosia Bailey. But they knew that the former bank in Southwell would be the perfect home for their hybrid wine business
hris and Gosia Bailey set up their wine shop in the
Nottinghamshire town of Southwell four years ago – and moved to a new site within a year. They took over the
town’s former HSBC bank in the shadow of Southwell Minster,
and adopted a new name, The Wine Bank. Both it and the original
name, Mr & Mrs Fine Wine, appear on branding through the shop, Anita Mannion, September 2017 website and branded add-ons such as wrapping paper and bags.
When they set up the business, Chris was selling wine for
Accolade into markets including Dubai, India and the Caribbean.
For Gosia, it was a chance to return to work after raising a family, bringing her organisational and creative skills from a former career in office management to the business side of things.
“My boss was incredibly understanding,” says Chris. “I explained
we were going to be opening up a shop and it was going to be
Gosia’s company and he was all right with it. There was no conflict with the brands I was selling for Accolade.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 32
“They have some supremely premium wines but the mainstay
was bag-in-box, cheap juice and stack-it-high, sell-it-cheap in my markets.”
With a generous vacant Victorian space to play with at the new
site, Chris and Gosia were able to create an environment that
seamlessly combines on- and off-trade elements – retail on the
street side, blending into soft mustard leather banquettes and a
mezzanine seating area to the rear, with a high spec and luxurious feel throughout.
Before it was a bank, the building was the minster’s boys’ school,
‘Properties of this size don’t come up that often. We could see the potential but the scaling up was huge’
and what was the science block upstairs is now an inviting extra seating area which doubles up as an events space. There’s an
eight-bottle Enomatic at ground level and a four-bottle one in the overspill.
Why did you decide to open a wine shop in the first place? Gosia: We enjoy our wines but the nearest place to buy them was
Newark or Nottingham. It was crazy that there was nowhere else. We were driving past and there was a sign saying To Let and we thought, let’s give it a go.
Chris: I was still fully employed and it was going to be a sort of fulltime project for Gosia to get on board with. It was very apparent very quickly there was an appetite for what we were doing, so I ended up handing in my notice and committed to the shop full time.
Gosia and Chris took “an educated gamble” by moving to new premises
Has moving to a bigger premises changed the emphasis towards on-trade? Gosia: Predominantly it’s retail but the Enomatics enable us to
offer tasters and run as a wine bar. We were doing tastings before
but having to hire out village halls. We knew the demand was there but it was just frustrating. We outgrew the space very quickly and
had it in mind that we’d need to move.
Chris: Properties of this size don’t come up that often. We could see the potential but the scale up from there to here was huge:
we’re talking about 15 square metres to about 90 to 100 square
metres. It’s a significant change, not just in space but in overheads, business rates and the fact that the hours were going to be longer and we had to get in staff.
Did the locals respond well to the change? Chris: It was an educated gamble that we were taking. It’s a pretty aspirational town with some big companies in the area and a
lot of people who commute down to London. There are some
sophisticated people who do want wine. In the town there are
good pubs that are all selling wine but it’s typically the 10-litre
bag-in-box thing, nothing of note. We’d gauged a little bit of the demand and felt we could make a success of it, but it’s actually been significantly better than we anticipated. The Victorian building was a boys’ school before becoming a bank
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 2016 33
Continues page 34
merchant profile: MR & MRS FINE WINE From page 33
Was it an easy decision to go for Enomatics? Chris: I can understand why others are reluctant to buy into the concept. It’s huge capital investment but cheaper than another
member of staff to serve by the glass. The machines give us a huge USP. It sets us apart from other merchants in the area and other drinking establishments in the town.
Gosia: At first people came in and looked at it like a spaceship had landed. They couldn’t understand the concept. Now, we’re almost on the guided tour of Southwell. People will take their visitors to see the minster and then bring them in here to see the Enomatic machines. It’s extraordinary.
We have regulars who come in week-to-week and they know
they’ll see different wines. You go into a pub or a restaurant and
Gin is also available from an Enomatic machine
the wine list stays the same pretty much all year round. We had
Vindependents. It’s owned by the members and they have
Chris: We’ve put anything from a £10 wine to a £100 wine on
in the growing phase so we’re slightly shielded from it, but Brexit
English for English Wine Week and a Chinese wine for Chinese New Year.
there. When we put premium Bordeaux on I was expecting them
to sit there. They disappeared because people are just fascinated by it.
influence over it, plus the exclusivity and the margins.
It is a really tough environment. We’re fortunate that we’re still
costs have gone up, duty costs went up at the beginning of last year as well, and other costs come into play, like pensions …
Gosia: … electricity … all the costs have gone up by a little bit, but
when you put them all in the pot it’s significant.
Chris: We’ve always had this industry standard 32% margin. I don’t
Are you reaching your targets here? Chris: We have a realistic target and an
really understand how that was set, who set it,
and why we should all adhere to it. It’s crazy. It’s
aspirational one. We’re some way off the
driven by the wholesalers I suspect, and I don’t
aspirational target but we expect to hit the
buy into it. The Vindependents give me a much
realistic target this year. We’re still in a growing
better margin, the range is continuously growing
period; just scaling up has given us growth. This
… we’re by no means greedy on price points, but
12 months will be the first time we’ll get a like-
where Vindependents are offering me 40%-45%
for-like comparison on a full trading year and
margin, of course I’m going to commit more to
already it’s ahead of where we expected it to be.
that. It’s easily 50% of the core range and, frankly,
The shop looks great. What is still to be done?
it’s probably going to increase.
Chris: A big focus I’ve got this year is to
What about other suppliers?
understand the range itself: what we’ve got, what we’re missing, and where we’re buying it from,
Chris: If they don’t have the time to come in and
part of our range is from Vindependents, which
understand what the business is about we’re not
just to make sure that we’re constantly giving
interested. They need to know what it is to be
customers something interesting and fresh. A big gives me the exclusivity I look for in our wines. A
big bugbear is some of the bigger suppliers where
you go online and see the same wine at almost the price we’re buying at, or that they’ve suddenly gone into multiples.
There are a number of things I get excited about with the
With my Accolade background I understand
why supermarkets are important to consumers
for access to wine but I think by offering them something different, by giving them information and that personal service, it really
sets us aside. But it’s not a cheap business to run, so for me it’s
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 34
incredibly important to find those suppliers that are willing to
support you, whether that’s by looking at individual pricing, or
providing samples, or coming to do tasting events or supporting us at the Wine Fair. All of these little things add up. Do you buy direct at all?
Chris: No, not really. We’ve done a bit of en primeur. We don’t have that kind of volume. I’m not comfortable committing to whole
pallets. A big focus for us is [building the shop’s own] wholesale
and once we build those sorts of volumes there’s no reason why we wouldn’t go direct.
‘The Vindependents give me a much better margin, at 40% to 45%, and the range is continuously growing’
What’s the sales split? Gosia: Online’s only about 1%, wholesale is 10% and the lion’s share is off- and on-trade in here. [Off-sales] retail is probably
and what we originally were at the other shop. When we took over
see a corresponding increase in online sales. It’s a very tactile
not call it the Wine Bank, then? For the on-trade side it sounds a
about 60%-65% of what we do. The website is more of a shop
window. We see our online traffic spike at Christmas but we don’t product and unless you’ve got confidence in the brand or know the wine I don’t think people are always happy to buy online. Why the two names for the business?
Gosia: Mr & Mrs Fine Wine is the name we’re registered under
this place, all the paperwork referred to “The Bank”. There was
no house number, it’s always just known as “The Bank”. So, why
bit better nipping down to the Wine Bank than to Mr & Mrs Fine
Wine. The company name when we’re talking to suppliers is Mr & Mrs Fine Wine and the shop name is The Wine Bank.
Continues page 36
The business is still in a growth phase and “already ahead of where we expected it to be” in the current financial year, Chris says
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 35
merchant profile: MR & MRS FINE WINE From page 35
How did you arrive at Mr & Mrs Fine Wine in the first place? Chris: Over a bottle of wine I expect. We bandied round loads of ideas and I think we just ran out of time.
Gosia: We knew what wines we wanted to do. We knew they had
to be stylish and have a bit of elegance. We didn’t want to go down the road of cheap, mass-produced wines. I knew Mr & Mrs Smith the travel company …
Chris: Not that there’s any association …
Gosia: People who know Mr & Mrs Smith know they’re getting
a certain quality with their holiday. You look at Greek names for
wine, or whatever, and they’re already taken. And we didn’t want it to be corny or clichéd. We had an agency come in when we
looked at rebranding for the move and what came through was
that it was about me and Chris selling you wine, about having that relationship with the customer, so it stayed.
Chris: With hindsight, the “fine” bit gave people a certain
expectation and there was some hesitation, so The Wine Bank was trying to open that door a little bit. We are now referred to as Mr
& Mrs Fine Wine around town by people who don’t know our real names.
The look is quite high-end. Chris: If someone’s coming in to spend £20 on what is essentially a
luxury item you’ve got to give them the whole theatre: the look, the
The wine range is “very French”
packaging, the wrapping. The fact that we haven’t got the cheap 5p bag … they’re expensive bags but you see people re-using them so we get quite a lot of marketing from them. We’re trying to create a premium atmosphere and a premium result from a premium purchase.
Gosia: We’re very aware that people don’t have to come in and pay £15 for a bottle of wine so it’s very important to give them that experience.
The Enomatic helps promote “slightly more obscure” wine regions
‘If someone is coming in to spend £20 on what is essentially a luxury item, you’ve got to give them the whole theatre’
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 36
The couple say it was worth the extra investment to achieve a look that wouldn’t resemble a pub
Chris: Service is absolutely paramount. You go into some wine
slightly more modern style, compared to the old-school pubs
don’t buy, because I want them to go away and talk about it.
plan it as one, instead of adding on-trade to an established wine
shops and they’re grumpy – it’s almost like you’ve interrupted
their day. I’m quite happy to pour customers a taster, even if they Gosia: Service is something we can control. Prices and rents are always going to go up but we’ve got control of the service and the brand and what we
around here. We were lucky that when we came in it was a blank canvas. We were able to incorporate the whole hybrid thing and shop.
What grabs the locals in wine?
want it to be.
Chris: It’s very French. Less Bordeaux, but
Gosia: That’s down to me. I didn’t want it
Jura, trying to bring slightly different wines
certainly Burgundy features very highly.
Who’s the designer?
We’re always trying things like Gascony and
to be too rustic or too modern. If people
into the mix – which is where the Enomatics
are coming to have a glass of wine they
come in to play massively, because we can
just expect to see that money’s been spent.
find slightly more obscure areas and put
The colours, the tones have to be right. We
them on the machine. People buy into them
could have gone for cheap flooring, or cheap
and get confidence in them and we can put
shelving. That shelving cost a heck of a lot
of money because it’s all been custom made.
It’s lot of investment. It had to be elegant and a little bit more sophisticated.
Chris: We also wanted to avoid being a pub. It’s got a lighter, airy,
them on more permanently.
Gosia: It’s really funny seeing the
traditionalists who say they’ll only drink Burgundy or Bordeaux.
You say: “Try this Lebanese wine, it’s based on a Bordeaux blend”, and they really enjoy it. Great, that’s our job done. Tick.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 37
Aussies provide food f
The Fine Wine Partners team knew that the best way to put its new selectio before independents would be to enjoy them over lunch. So we booked re and Cardiff where 15 merchants could meet two winemakers, and put their
t all three lunches, Andrew
Hardy’s Croser Adelaide Hills
Sparkling NV got the proceedings
“It’s Methode Champenoise, which gives
you delicate bubbles and we think it suits us,” he explained. “It’s usually two thirds Pinot Noir and one third Chardonnay. “All the Pinot is hand-picked and
whole-bunch pressed; the Chardonnay
is a mixture of whole-bunch pressed and machine picking.”
Noel Young, of the eponymous wine shop
in Cambridge, was impressed by the wine and the £16.99 RRP.
“It’s delicious, it’s lovely,” he said. “It’s got
enough complexity to make it interesting to the more educated wine consumer,
but easy enough for someone who drinks Prosecco.”
Dafydd Morris of Cheers in Swansea
was also a fan and is planning to list the
wine. “It’s got good acidity, a nice texture
and I thought it was going to be a lot more expensive than it was, so I was nicely surprised,” he said. Croser Adelaide Hills Sparkling NV RRP £16.99 Petaluma White Label Sauvignon Blanc 2016 RRP £14.99 Petaluma Yellow Label Hanlin Hill, Clare Valley Riesling 2015 RRP £25.99 Petaluma Yellow Label Coonawarra Cabernet-Merlot 2015 RRP £38.99
Hardy declared that “the world is agog
with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc” but
Petaluma White Label Sauvignon Blanc 2016 “is a completely different beast”.
He added: “It’s much more food-friendly
but not hit-you-over-the-head Sauvignon, more like a European Sauvignon. There’s more definition there. It’s more like
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 38
Daydd Morris of Cheers in Swansea
Bordeaux and Sancerre. You get some nice
citrus and lemon and some nice secondary characters.
“In our home market this wine is seen as
a very good bistro, by-the-glass wine. It’s normally 10%-12% barrel-fermented in
new oak to give it that little bit of spicy lift; a little bit of char from the new oak.”
It’s another wine that Morris may list. “I
liked the style of the Petaluma Sauvignon;
it was a bit different, a bit more reserved. It wasn’t in your face,” he said.
Young added: “It’s above entry-level New
Zealand but still below Sancerre in terms
of price. I think a lot of New Zealand’s very much a gooseberry, elderflower, passion fruit character. Adelaide Hills is more
capsicum, green tomato, almost tomato leaf, with a bit of fruit. This is very nice
because it’s more restrained. The palate
in association with
Last Drop Wines, w
n of premium Australian wines estaurants in London, Edinburgh wines through their paces
just takes it away from that primary stuff.” Next up was Petaluma Yellow Label
Hanlin Hill, Clare Valley Riesling 2015 from a vineyard planted in 1968.
“It’s still hand-pruned and hand-picked,”
Hardy said. “It’s just starting to get that
lovely bottle age of toasted honey character that they get. It’s still got primary fruit, which I really like. It’s bone dry.
I was really impr essed by the spar kling Croser: prob is most commer ably the Brut cial for me. At th at price point yo of the Proseccos u are beating ou and the quality is t all better than any of Champagnes. Pe the supermarket ople are feeling a bi t of a squeeze so them that quality to be able to giv at that price I think e could be a huge success. I’m familiar with Petaluma’s Rieslin gs and have enjoy but at lunch my ed them very muc new discovery wa h s the Adelaide Hi It was the star of lls Sauvignon Blan the lunch for me; c. it lacked all the ba of Sauvignon – th d characteristics e over-pungent no se and acidity. I approachable. It thought it was so was subtle, elega nt and for me a pe rfect white wine. I think Australian wines are moving towards an Old W in a good way. Th orld style, ey're just a little bit more subtle, grown-up. They're elegant and becoming matur e in a beautiful wa sometimes the wi y. Before, nes were great fu n, but a bit rough the edges. The Au around stralians are giving us really seriously well-made wines that are expressin g a lot more than they were be fore. Petaluma ha s always been a touch mor e elegant than a lot of them.
“I wouldn’t call 2015 a typical Clare
Valley year. It was a warmer year, a faster
vintage, but I think that’s ageing gracefully.” Paul Stringer of Jeroboams said the
wine “really stood out for me … it was exceptionally good”.
Phoebe Weller of Valhalla’s Goat in
Glasgow described it as “just beautiful”.
“It’s been so long since I’ve tried it,” she
added. “We all remember it from the non-
independent days so we’ve all got this idea of it. It’s such an iconic wine and to taste
it again on the back of all that has come in the intervening years and for it to taste so good … I couldn’t keep away from it!”
The fourth wine was Petaluma Yellow
Label Coonawarra Cabernet-Merlot
Andrew Hardy of Petaluma
2015, another wine made from vines dating back to the late 60s.
“There’s also little bit of Shiraz in there,”
Hardy explained. “It’s always been a wine
that we’ve made with a view to ageing. This one is Cabernet-dominant but Merlot’s a really important part of the blend, especially for the palate.
“Merlot in this region is really tannic and
“I love the freshness of this. 2015 was a
really rich and I think you get that on the
aged for about 18 to 20 months in barrel,
palate. There’s a lovely Coonawarra mint character. It’s 100% new oak, all French, depending on the vintage.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 39
Young’s verdict: “It’s quite sexy. I’m
thinking a bit of lamb with that and I’m
premium australia St Hallett Butcher’s Cart Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015 RRP £19.99 St Hallett Blackwell Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015 RRP £27.99 St Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz 2014 RRP £49.99
t Hallett was established in 1944 by the Lindner family, who had
originally been butchers. The focus
was on fortified wines until the 1980s.
Winemaker Toby Barlow said: “Our focus
has gone more and more towards Shiraz, which sounds obvious now, but back in the day it was the scattergun approach
with lots of different varieties planted and wines made.
“If we look at in the last 10 years we’ve
gone from Shiraz being about 45% of our
crush to about 83% last year. Give or take
we have 120 parcels of Shiraz in any given year from all over Barossa. Our footprint
is quite substantial in terms of all the little
Richard Ballantyne MW Noble Grape, Cowbridge moment and I think St for Aussie wine at the I’ve got a bit of a gap for me. p ga that Hallett is going to plug w ercially sound, great Ne sparkling. It’s a comm ke an ma ey Th . ng I really liked the Croser aki em ite impressed by the win that World sparkler. I was qu that one, but the fact sion – we didn’t taste ver t ct tha nta … co s s lee lee d the de on en ext en years sparkler with I think sev y ver me so ke ma n they have a premium ca g exaggerated lees agein is very interesting. That interesting wines. alia is one of the go-to was pretty good. Austr lley. The Petaluma Riesling rly – particula Clare Va places for dry Riesling was a delicious arra Cabernet Merlot The Petaluma Coonaw St Hallett the ed y good. I lov minty style – very, ver nty, that mi d an big s – it wa Butcher’s Cart Shiraz sa style. American-oaked Baros
sub-regions in Barossa that we source
Shiraz from. What we’ve got today are all
blends. These are expressions of different parts of the Barossa.”
First up was St Hallett Butcher’s Cart
Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015, a wine from a good vintage which has been seasoned well with American oak. Noel Young
applauded the move. “Everyone wants
to go down the French route but a bit of
American oak for me always makes a wine
more complex,” he said. “I think it’s a really smart wine.”
The wine also impressed Dafydd Morris
(“excellent value for money”) and Richard Ballantyne, who “loved” the “big and minty” style.
St Hallett Blackwell Barossa Valley
Shiraz 2015 is the company’s “oldest,
richest, most robust wine”, according to Barlow.
“It’s all about picking decisions,” he
explained. “We’re going for a ripe level
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 40
but I don’t want it to slip into being less
in association with
‘Everyone is going the French route, but for me American oak always makes a wine more complex’ defined. The line between black fruit and lifted aromas and it becomes stewed can
be a matter of days. An extra period of heat and you can easily lose the definition.” Noel Young said: “It’s a juicy, sweet
style with a lot of black fruit and olive
and a lot of savoury characters going on. It’s noticeably more structured than the
Toby Barlow of St Hallett
Appreciating Australia's varied terroir
made with fruit from vines in the Barossa
Has the moment finally arrived for regionality to play a central role in the Australian
The final wine to be served was St
Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz 2014, and Eden valleys with an average age of 80 or 90 years.
“Barossa has one of the largest
repositories of old-vine Shiraz in the world,” said Barlow. “It’s an amazing
resource. This wine has always been more stylistically away from the really big style of Barossa Shiraz.”
Dafydd Morris intends to add the wine
to his list. “Not a lot, as we don’t sell a lot
at that end,” he said. “But it’s always nice to have icon wines like that.”
sales story? Phoebe Weller of Valhalla’s Goat believes consumers are increasingly seeing things that way. “In fact I came back from the lunch and rearranged Australia according to region,” she said. “People have to engage in a very visceral, real way. There is a proportion of our customers who have family in Australia so people coming back from visiting are happy to spend money.” Archie McDiarmid of Luvians in St Andrews said that customers often build up regional awareness through loyalty to particular Australian producers. “There is an increasing understanding that there are regional differences,” he added. “As much as anything else that is down to the Australians themselves: Australian winemakers talk about their terroir more than most French winemakers! “The old whole multi-region blend, which is what Australia built its wine reputation on, is definitely becoming less commonplace.” Paul Stringer of Jeroboams believes regionality is most relevant at premium price points. He argues that the Australian style has matured, but “without sacrificing any of the identity”. “There’s some slightly more restrained styles that have emerged,” he said. “Whether that’s down to winemaker preference or simply regional … “There’s still a certain amount of attention and noise around those big blockbuster styles, but gradually the market is waking up to the fact that there is more variety out there and, at the premium level, wines with finesse and subtlety as well.”
Phoebe Weller of Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow
For more information about the full range of premium Australian wines available from Fine Wine Partners contact Toby Spiers on 07752 291045 or email email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 41
focus on english wine
domestic appliance David Williams talks to independent wine merchants about the changing market for English wine in their businesses, and which producers are achieving the most loyal followings
Kerner from Worcestershire), Seyval Blanc (Devon’s Castlewood)
a rather magnificent saloon bar, The Coral Room, designed by the
English wine stories that have emerged in the past year. In a rather
n November last year, The Bloomsbury Hotel opened to much fanfare after a painstaking refurbishment. Based in a Grade II
listed neo-Georgian building by Edwin Lutyens in the London
district of the same name, the centrepiece of the boutique hotel is Swedish interior architect, Martin Brudnizki.
However tasteful the design, The Coral Room is a glossy,
upmarket sort of place, designed to attract what PRs
and Sauvignon Blanc (Surrey’s Greyfriars Vineyard Sparkling Fumé), as well as the expected flood of Champagne varieties. But The Coral Room’s initiative is but one of many striking
different part of the on-trade, the Fuller’s pub group reported a
euphemistically call discerning – and normal people call wealthy – punters. All of which makes the contents of its sparkling wine list
that bit more intriguing, since the 30-bin selection is entirely filled with English wines.
Of course, for anyone who’s been paying attention to the
trajectory of English wine in recent years, the idea of an all-English fizz list won’t be all that surprising. But what struck me reading
through the list – thoughtfully put together by the ex-Berry Bros & Rudd Master of Wine, Anne McHale – is how diverse it is and how that diversity doesn’t lead to a dip in quality. From the big names of Ridgeview, Nyetimber and Gusbourne to rising stars such as
Smith & Evans from Somerset and Surrey’s Albury, the wines are sourced from producers in 13 counties, and include wines made from Kerner (Astley Vineyards George Eckert Vintage Sparkling
The Coral Room’s allEnglish list is sourced from 13 counties and includes wines made from Kerner, Seyval and Sauvignon
Greyfriars Vineyard in Surrey, where Sauvignon thrives
50% spike in sales of its sparkling wines earlier this year after
taking the decision to replace its house Collet Champagne with a
selection of English sparkling wines from Furleigh Estate, Bolney Estate and Chapel Down last year across its 500 outlets.
Meanwhile, in the multiple off-trade, the numbers keep
impressing: Waitrose’s 45-bin English list grew at 50% year-
on-year to summer 2017 and the retailer is dipping a toe into
exporting English fizz to China. Marks & Spencer says sales of
its 17-strong English fizz range grew by 15% in 2017, and the company’s head of food and drink PR Liz Williams reckons it
can only go further in a year of patriotic pomp and circumstance that includes the arrival of a royal baby, two royal weddings
and a World Cup. And if you had any illusions about the total
Continues page 44
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 42
focus on english wine From page 42
mainstreaming of English sparkling wine, Aldi sold through its
£14.99 collaboration with Denbies, a Seyval Blanc-based blend,
Chalk Farm English Sparkling Wine, after articles announcing its arrival in every national newspaper including The Sun.
The feeling of boomtime is reflected on the ground. There are now just shy of 400 English wine producers, with that number
‘I do have some wines from Wiltshire and Devon, but people want the local wine from round the corner’
climbing from 287 in 2012. Even more impressively, around 1
million vines were planted across England and Wales last year, the overwhelming majority of them being Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and
Pinot Meunier destined for sparkling wine. All this on the back of a
to turnover was dramatic,” White says. “We sold it through very
greatly from the original estate to 170ha across West Sussex and
Like many independents, White’s English wine selection is
135% increase in plantings in the previous 10 years, split between established players such as Nyetimber – which has expanded
Hampshire – and newcomers such as, most dramatically, East
Sussex’s Rathfinny, which has so far planted 75ha, with plans to add a further 91ha by 2020.
The latter, the largest single development yet in English wine,
will be responsible for one of the most anticipated launches of the year in April, when founders Mark and Sarah Driver unveil the
first two sparkling wines from the estate at a launch event for the
press. Disgorged in February, the Sussex Sparkling Blanc de Blancs 2014 and Rosé 2015 will be on sale to the trade via distributors Gonzalez Byass in June.
based on its local appeal. “We tend to go pretty heavy on the local here,” he says, which, as well as Winbirri, means a rosé and a
Bacchus from Humble Yard in Mulbarton and a red from Babu’s
Vineyard in Weston Longville. Indeed, for White, the distance from the shop trumps even the reputational and marketing-budget
advantages of the sparkling wine brands. “We do have some of
the Nyetimber, the sort of wine that people will have read about, and the reputation of English sparkling wine does seem to be
sound,” White says. But with the local, still wines, “there’s the reduced mileage, the connection,
That this debut sparkling release should
they know the owner or they’ve bought fruit
overshadow the Drivers’ earlier release of its still
from the farm.”
dry white, made from Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris
Mike Gould, director of Noble Green Wines
under the Cradle Valley label, is hardly surprising.
in Hampton Hill in Twickenham, has a similar
Labouring in the shadow of the roaring success
outlook, although in his case “local” takes in
of English fizz, after all, seems to be the fate of all
some of the big names of English sparkling wine
still English wines at the moment. Which is not
in Kent and Sussex “so we don’t have much from
to say that they haven’t had some high-profile
further afield. We’ve got quite close connections
successes of their own.
to Hattingley, Bolney and Gusbourne. We do
Perhaps the most spectacular triumph for any
[Bluebell Vineyards] Hindleap, and Nyetimber
still English wine in the past year was Winbirri’s
on the premium side, the Blanc de Blancs,” Gould
win at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Owned and run by winemaker Lee Dyer, the estate, near
Surlingham in Norfolk, picked up one of only 34 platinum awards
says, adding, “I think there’s still a difference in quality between still and sparkling.”
Dominic Lockyer also sees the advantage of the hyper-local at
handed out by the Decanter panel for its Bacchus 2015, which was
Fareham Wine Cellar in Hampshire. “I guess you can sell whatever
Winbirri wines, Chris White of local independent Reno Wine in
he says. “Hambledon is quite a well-known brand, so people do
declared the “best single-varietal white wine in show”.
The result was good news for one long-term supporter of the
“We’ve been selling it since the start of the shop, but the boost
you like in London, but we really only do local for sparkling:
Hambledon, Cottonworth and a new small producer, Raimes,”
come in and specifically want a bottle of Hambledon. Cottonworth and Raimes are more of a hand-sell; they haven’t got the same
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 44
Hampshire winemakers celebrate victory over Sussex in the 2016 “Vineyard Olympics”. Events included tug of war and tossing the end post
marketing behind them, although they’re very good quality.
“A lot of people are buying because of the locality,” Lockyer
continues. “I do have some wines from Wiltshire and Devon, [but]
they want the local one from round the corner – they want to drink something very local, or take it as a gift to someone to show them something local.”
The latter is especially true of still wines, of which Fareham has examples from nearby Tichfield Vineyard as well as Lyme Bay in
Devon. “The still wines haven’t been caught up in the excitement of sparkling wines,” Lockyer says. “There is a market for them,
but I haven’t worked it out. I’m not sure people are buying it for themselves; with sparkling people definitely are.”
For Lockyer, English sparkling wine is now effectively his
entry-point fizz, with Fareham having taken the decision not to compete with the supermarkets at lower prices. “We basically
don’t sell things like Prosecco or Cava, because the supermarkets have screwed that up for everyone. We’ve done away with most
sparkling under £20, we’ve only go a Moscato d’Asti, which is good! [Customers] are not coming to us for cheap sparkling, so we don’t have it.”
There is occasionally some resistance on price. “The cheapest
English sparkling is £25, and sometimes people don’t understand why it should be the same price as Champagne,” Lockyer says.
“Again, it’s undermined by the supermarkets selling Champagne
White has similar views. “The biggest block of all can still be
the prices. If they’re paying £20 for England, and I know there’s
something better on the shelf at that price, then it’s unfair of me [to push it].
“But if we do a special evening, which we do sometimes on a
steam train, the Pinot Noir from Winbirri, tasted blind, is usually
mistaken for a Burgundy. It’s only 20 minutes down the road, and, as prices [of other wines] have drifted up, £12.95 is not too far
away from that sweet spot for a gift. When you explain they only
have eight acres it starts to make sense. There’s the quirky reveal, and they think they’ll have one or two of those. “
For Christine Donovan at Camber Wines in Portsmouth,
however, price is increasingly less of an issue, for both still and sparkling. Camber Wines has a pair of producers representing each category (Nyetimber and Hambledon for fizz, and Lyme
Bay and Stopham Estate for still), all of which, Donovan says, are regular features in in-store tastings. “We use it a lot for our wine tastings to let people know and get people informed,” Donovan
says. “People have started to shop local more, and the wines are getting more affordable, so it’s not too off-putting.
“People get a bit daunted by the first thought of an English still
wine, but when they try it they think it has the quality to compete
with the classic styles,” Donovan adds, before capturing in nutshell the journey that English sparkling wine has taken in the past five years.
“If you explain that you can get a similar thing to Champagne but
from their own country, they think: that’s great. Why not?”
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 45
focus on english wine
Astley Vineyard Hailed as “one of the most iconic English wines” (Matthew Jukes, February 2018), Astley Vineyard’s Old Vine Kerner is a boutique, premium
still wine. Currently stocked at Michelin-starred Sketch, London, and previously served at Tate Britain,
variety produces an unusual, yet delightfully intense wine. Recently taken over by the Haywood family, this beautiful five-acre, single estate vineyard has been producing a range of quality wines in rural Worcestershire for over 40 years.
Contact: 01299 822907 firstname.lastname@example.org www.astleyvineyard.co.uk
Barrels at Bolney, Sussex
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 46
Henners Herstmonceux, East Sussex From a small and unique vineyard which overlooks the Pevensey levels. Delicate yet complex with remarkable depth and character, Hennersâ€™ elegant wines are a tribute to the low-lying sandstone soils on which our Pinot Noir and Meunier seem to flourish. Available from Boutinot.
Contact: 0161 908 1300 email@example.com www.boutinot.com
Wine made with precision by the top English white wine specialists. Contact us for information. Contact: 01798 865666 firstname.lastname@example.org www.stophamvineyard.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 47
focus on english wine
not such little englanders There’s a new voice for the English and Welsh wine industry in the form of Wines of Great Britain. Does that matter to independent merchants? Well, yes, it probably does
ureaucratic changes in the wine
trade don’t normally set the pulse
racing, but the tidying-up exercise
at the top of the English (and Welsh) wine industry feels more like a coming of age – perhaps a statement of intent.
The creation of Wines of Great Britain
from the merger of English Wine Producers and the UK Vineyards Association means that the industry can now talk with one
voice, both in a marketing sense and as a lobbying force.
as a wine region at a dramatic pace and
and working with whichever vintage we
producer, there is experimentation and
into one particular style as a region. We can
so as we are continuing to establish
our credentials as a top sparkling wine innovation going on in that sector,” she says.
“I mean an aged Blanc de Blancs that’s
not been disgorged for umpteen years …
we’re still waiting to see the results of that. “We are seeing it too in the production
Reichensteiner on bemused visitors at the
of some of our still wines. Who would have
already lobbied for its own PDO, and is
Kent, for example?
awaiting sign-off from Brussels.)
Wine gb hasn’t been set up to impose rules about yields, permitted grape
varieties or harvest dates. England is
still in growth mode, and while the big noise is inevitably coming from the
Champagne-style wines that are gradually winning a global following, there is still
experimentation and innovation going on. So says Julia Trustram Eve, head of
marketing at Wine GB. “We have evolved
terrific back stories.
“We’ve got some unbelievably talented
winemakers. New talent comes in and
existing talent is reaching out to produce
new things. It’s an exciting and heady time.”
“We’ve outgrown One Great George
quite like to be bound by the kind of
just to feel more authentic. (Sussex has
discover and ultimately that makes some
Lindley Hall in London for the first time.
These days, the English wine industry is
regulations that exist in mainland Europe,
still innovate, we can still experiment and
on Thursday, April 26 takes place at RHS
farm gate have been over for some time.
there’s almost a feeling that some would
“We’re so lucky in that we are not set
This year’s annual English wine tasting
The days of eccentric amateurs forcing
becoming so slick and so organised that
have and making something wonderful.
thought 20 years ago that Chardonnay
would produce such an epic still wine in “There’s some Albariño now being
produced by Chapel Down and in Wales at Ancre Hill. We’re seeing some wonderful developments with Pinot Gris; in great
years you’ve got some great Pinot Noir still reds.
“Actually I think there’s still some
traction to be gained in Bacchus being a signature grape variety.
“Winemakers are using oak, allowing the
wine to age for a bit longer before release, keeping that balance of acidity and fruit
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 48
Street,” says Trustram Eve. “We love it but
we’ve had to move because we’ve got new producers coming in all the time and we wanted to give them the opportunity to show their wines.
“Fortunately the size of our industry is
such that we can still have a central table.
So expect to see more wines and some new producers. We are also starting to focus on regions so people can get to know them a
little bit more. We will be doing a series of seminars and industry briefings.
“There’ll be an opportunity for the
trade to come along and find out what
the industry body is all about and what it can do for them. They can ask questions
and we’re going to have some interesting debates as well.”
English Wine Week, May 26 - June 3: Linking independents with local producers Wine
independent merchants about what kind of support they would like to see from the new industry body. Some of the support that already exists will be evident during English Wine Week, which takes place from Saturday, May 26 until Sunday, June 3. Retailers and producers are encouraged to forge links and create events that Wine GB can help to publicise. “We noticed the most impressive increase in participants in English wine week last year came from the off-trade, Above: late season at Bolney. Below: the tasting room at Bluebell Vineyard
and I would say that the large majority of that was actually from the independent trade,” says Trustram Eve. “We
independent sector coming to us, wanting to do something, but we also saw more engagement from the vineyards wanting to support the outlets they supplied. “We also noticed last year that social media played a very, very strong part in raising the profile and engaging people. So we’re going to be continuing the social media aspect. “There’s a story to tell with English wines and that’s something the independent wine trade is so brilliant at – you are always discovering something. “There’s a lot more the vineyards can do to help enhance the customers’ enjoyment of buying their wines from a wine merchant, because you can do anything from winemaker dinners to the in-
To find out more about English Wine Week visit www.englishwineproducers.co.uk. To register for the trade tasting email Julia@englishwineproducers.com.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 49
store tastings with the producer present. There’s a whole lot of opportunities just waiting to be embraced.”
© lithian / stockadobe.com
make a date
Rosé all the Way Twelve rosé producers will be showcasing different styles available in the various French appellations at this London event. Contact Pandora Mistry – Pandora.email@example.com – to register or for more details. Tuesday, April 17, London Cru Winery, Seagrave Road, London SW6 1RP
Wines from Rioja Tasting Rioja has experienced ground-breaking
reception will follow.
Contact Bettina Hepburn: email Bettina.
Hepburn@thisisphipps.com. Monday April 9
changes in the last 12 months and
The Rumpus Room
Wines from Rioja will be hosting an
event to introduce Rioja’s new corporate
identity to the UK wine trade.
London SE1 9PD
The event will also feature a panel
discussion featuring representatives from different sections of the trade. The panel
will discuss the recent changes involving single-vineyard and sparkling wines in Rioja and what this means for the UK market in the coming years. A drinks
The Magnificent Severn
Barratt Siegel, Alliance, Armit, Hayward Brothers, New Generation McKinley and Vintage Roots arrives in London for the first time with a tasting especially curated for independents. Each agency will be showing 40 wines,
making a total of 240 all dedicated to the independent market.
Contact your sales representative for
more details and to register to attend on the day.
Tuesday, April 17 Langan’s Brasserie
Following its success in Bristol and
Manchester, the collaboration of Awin
London W1J 8LB
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 50
MAKE A DATE
Beaujolais 2016 Cru Pop Up Beaujolais Wines will be hosting a series of pop-up tastings in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, capitalising on a recent flurry of interest from many independent merchants. These will showcase the 2016 vintage,
After each of these tastings, visitors
are invited to stay around to enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine from specially curated Beaujolais wine lists.
For more information contact Phoebe@
importer will showcase more than 60
Tuesday, April 10
their wares. They come from 20 Italian
tastebeaujolais.co.uk to register.
regions and include Beni di Batasiolo
12 Market Street
and harsh hail causing some producers to
Monday, April 23
ideal ripening period and dry days full of
Edinburgh EH4 1LW
wines with great freshness, bright fruit,
easy one in Beaujolais, with fickle weather lose entire crops.
This event hosted by the Croydon-based
westburycom.co.uk or go to www.
featuring all 10 Crus.
The 2016 vintage was certainly not an
Mondial Wine Portfolio Tasting
London E1 6DT
Producers will be on hand to discuss
from Piemonte, Girolamo Russo from
Sicily, Arnaldo Caprai from Umbria and
Villa Pinciana from Tuscany, among many others.
To find out more or to register, email
But summer pulled through with an
4-6 Dean Street
The result was classic Beaujolais style
Tuesday, April 24
The Lansdowne Club
9 Fitzmaurice Place
London W1J 5JD
sunshine and cool nights.
structure and moderate alcohol.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday, April 23
ABS . ALLIANCE WINE . ARMIT WINES . HAYWARD BROTHERS . NEW GENERATION MCKINLEY . VINTAGE ROOTS .
M7 London The tasting for independent wine merchants.
Tuesday 17th April 2018 10am â€˜til 4pm
Langanâ€™s Brasserie, Stratton Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 8LB (Right next to Green Park Station)
Please RSVP to your rep as soon as soon as possible to secure your place THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 51
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
Simonnet-Febvre Founded in 1840 by Jean Febvre, a cooper from Montbard,
Simonnet-Febvre remains one of the oldest Chablis producers.
Under the steady hand of winemaker and director Jean-Philippe
Archambaud, Simonnet-Febvre is renowned for having produced a range of exceptional Crémants de Bourgogne since the company’s
0207 409 7276
inception, along with regional wines such as Irancy and Côte
reinvigorate the winemaking region of Auxois – forgotten in the
d’Auxerre, and top-quality Grand Cru and Premier Cru Chablis.
More recently Jean-Philippe has been at the forefront of a move to
post-phylloxera era and now producing exciting wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Auxerois.
Gosset CELEBRIS 2004 The pinnacle expression of Gosset, CELEBRIS is not just a vintage wine, but a vintage wine encapsulating the essence of the Gosset
style – freshness, ageability and focus. Having aged at least 10 years on the lees, this 2004 displays the balance and complexity of the vintage along with the trademark elegance of Gosset.
For more information please contact the office on 020 7409 7276.
Awin Barratt Siegel New Price List
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES
Look out for our new Price List arriving through your letterbox just before Easter!
28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810
Highlights include welcoming new agencies Division Winemaking Company and twill Cellars from Oregon, USA, Allram from Kamptal, Austria and Nittardi from Tuscany, Italy.
If you don’t receive a copy of our new price list and would like one, please contact Joanna Clarke on 01306 631 155 or jlc@abswineagencies. co.uk.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 53
This summer we are offering not only 20% off but also a free-of-charge case on your first order of Chaffey Bros Not Your Grandma’s Rosé, just as long as you include it in your fridge selection.
Davenport House Bowers Way, Harpenden Herts AL5 4HX
Renegade winemaking brothers-in-law Theo and Dan from Chaffey Bros in the Barossa Valley have welcomed the Rosé Revolution – moving
away from the sweet, coloured white wine to a drier refreshing style.
the Lyndoch foothills and from Stockwell, which is co-fermented with
Twitter: @NegociantsUK Facebook: NegociantsUK
Not your Grandma’s Rosé is made from old-vine Barossa Grenache from 18% of Mourvèdre also from the Lyndoch region. The remaining 9%
is an aromatic blend of Riesling, Gewürtztraminer, and Weiβer Herold from the Northern Eden Valley, which emphasises the strawberry,
musk and Turkish delight aromas. Early picking allows for a textural mouthfeel, luminous rose-diamond colour and crisp natural acidity giving great length.
Chaffey Bros Not your Grandma’s Rosé 6 x 750ml – £65.89 £52.71 (all prices duty paid ex VAT). Place an order with orders@ negociants.com or get in touch with your sales manager for more information.
Menetou-Salon – the unlikely hero of the Central Loire …
New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL
Central Loire didn’t have it easy with the last two harvests seriously
crop in 2017. This small appellation of just 561ha produces a great
email@example.com www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield
impacted by the hail, frost and other whims of Mother Nature.
Luckily, the Menetou-Salon AOC came to the rescue with a good
alternative to our beloved Sancerre. Joseph Mellot’s Menetou-Salon vineyards are located near Bourges, south of Sancerre, planted on
gentle slopes of Kimmeridgian limestone – very similar soil to that
of Chablis. Les Thureaux offers here a great value Sauvignon Blanc, packed with intense citrus and pineapple flavours – a must for every Loire lover.
This wine, amongst others, will be available to taste at the London Wine Fair – 21st to 23rd May, London Olympia Our portfolio: Champagne Taittinger · Louis Jadot, Burgundy · Joseph Mellot, Loire · Jean-Luc Colombo and Colombo & Fille, Rhône · C.V.N.E, Rioja · Viña Errazuriz and Caliterra, Chile · Domaine Carneros, USA · Robert Oatley, Australia · Villa Maria Estate, Vidal, Te Awa Collection and Esk Valley, New Zealand · Kleine Zalze, South Africa.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 54
Marussia Beverages UK are importers and distributors of the finest spirits from around the world.
0207 724 5009
Since 1984 we have been sourcing rare and wonderful premium spirits to share with you and your customers. Sample Bourbon, Scotch, Irish and world whiskies, unique
American and London dry gin, superb French and Italian liqueurs, premium rum from Barbados and the highest quality traditional brandy from Cognac and Armagnac. These are just a taste of the range of spirits we supply.
MarussiaBeveragesUK @marussiabeveragesuk @MarussiaUK
buckingham schenk 68 Alpha Street South Slough SL1 1QX 01753 521336 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
New year, new wines The latest wine list from Buckingham Schenk is full of fantastic wines from a really
great range of incredible producers. Here are two examples to whet your palate: if you’d like to see more, please get in touch.
Il Cignale, IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale From the heart of Chianti Classico, Castello di Querceto has been run by the
François family since 1978 and consistently produces among the most highly-
rated wines from the region. This wine is a very deep ruby red colour, elegant
and well structured. Bursting with red fruit aromas with hints of balsamic and pine. On the palate it’s full-bodied but velvety with balanced tannins.
Rock Ferry, 3rd Rock Chardonnay
Owned by husband and wife team Tom and Fiona Hutchison, Rock Ferry Wines
is an organic winery from New Zealand. Their philosophy is to make real wines which speak of their home; to express the pure distinct flavours from their
organic estate vineyards in Marlborough and Central Otago. It’s the way they
live. From their Corners Vineyard in Marlborough, this Chardonnay has aromas of stone fruits, nougat with a hint of vanilla. Ripe and succulent on the palate, this wine has great persistence and texture.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 55
Brunello 2013 – potential for greatness
020 7720 5350
The 2013 Brunelli di Montalcino have now arrived in the UK. The
by David Gleave MW
wines are outstanding, and will be in great demand, not only because their classical structure will ensure great longevity, but also because so little 2014 was produced.
The growing season in 2013 was longer than usual, which has resulted
in the development of more complex tannins. Rain in September caused
apprehension for those whose vineyard work was less than diligent, but the best wines, from the most scrupulous of growers, will age very well.
The tannin structure of the wines saw Tancredi Biondi Santi announce
that the estate has decided to delay release of the 2013 until 2019, the extra year of ageing making it a Riserva in all but name.
Biondi Santi’s neighbour, Andrea Costanti, also benefitted from the
longer growing season, especially as his vineyards are among the highest
in Montalcino. As a result, Walter Speller called his 2013 Brunello “one of the top wines of the vintage”. For more power, look out for the Fossacolle, while the San Polo, from vineyards that are among the best managed in the entire zone, displays intensity.
The wines are starting to attract critical acclaim, so we expect demand to continue to
Famille Helfrich Wines
Famille Helfrich is the independent specialist arm of Les Grands Chais de
1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France
the leading producer and exporter of French wines and spirits.
email@example.com 07789 008540
the best terroir France has to
France ... yes, still a family – with real people! Joseph founded the company in 1979 with 5,000 fr and we have grown to become Don't let the size put you off, it has helped us create an independent portfolio of
over 400 wines and we now own over 45 domaines and châteaux across some of offer.
Having the infrastructure
allows us to consolidate all of our wines at one central
location in Alsace, where you
can either come and collect or we can deliver a single mixed pallet to you.
REMEMBER, we are a
producer, a family producer, not an agency as some people think.
Working with Famille Helfrich Wines gives you the ability as an independent to buy
direct from a producer from appellations all over France, with one delivery.
A perfect solution to help you grow and experiment with France and all it has to
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 56
walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 lmcgovern@walkerwodehousewines. com www.walkerwodehousewines.com
Spanish Spring This month sees the addition of three Spanish producers to our range:
Riojan powerhouse Marques de Riscal, Palacio Quemado and Moli des Capellans.
The oldest and one of the most respected producers in Rioja, Marques de
Riscal produces a range of award winning wines. Owning a total of 1,500
hectares in Rioja, with a high percentage of historic vineyards together with the Cathedral Cellar, which has housed wines since 1862, this celebrated winery lays claim to some of the oldest vines and wines in Rioja.
Owned by the Alvear family, Palacio Quemada in Extramadura is a
winery with an exciting future. In 2010 Envinate, a team of four passionate enologists,
took over the winemaking with a mission to express the terroir of this emerging region. With experience in Ribera Sacra and the Canary Islands, a DO with less than 20 years to its name (Ribera del Guadiana) was an ideal project for the team. The resulting wines are lithe and muscular with excellent balance.
Based in the north east of Spain in Conca de Barbera, Moli des Capellans is the
brainchild of Sergi Montala and Jordi Masdeu. Using Parellada and Trepat, this visionary
duo are producing stylish modern wines from low-yielding vines. Green harvesting, cold maceration and lees ageing are some of the techniques employed. The resulting wines are supple and elegant expressions of these Catalonian varietals.
fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge, KT13 8TB 07552 291045 toby.spiers@accoladewines. com
Fine Wine Partners: championing regional Australia Fine Wine Partners are distributing some of the most highly renowned and respected wineries across the breadth of Australian fine wines. We are extremely excited to be showing our wines to independent wine merchants
throughout the UK in 2018 and we have a clear strategy on how we will do this and are happy to share this with you. Our regional champions are
Houghton, Petaluma, St Hallett, Grant Burge, Stonier and House of Arras. We feel there is an
amazing opportunity to tell the
somewhat unknown or forgotten story of regional Australian
premium and fine wine and we want to do that together with
your help. We will be doing our
utmost to bring our wines to life over the year ahead.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 57
mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600
New Vintages and Releases at Mentzendorff We hope you were able to join us for Mentzendorff’s Annual Portfolio Tasting on March 7. Once again we welcomed our world of wine producers to London to showcase their
wares to the wine trade. The event featured our latest vintages and releases, as well as our new producers. Here are a few of the highlights from the event …
© Sunny studio / stockadobe.com
Champagne Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2007
Champagne Ayala Blanc de Blancs 2010
Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino 2013
Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana En Rama
AIX Rosé 2017
Thanks to everyone who took part in this year's Wine Merchant reader survey. We had our best-ever response and five entrants were selected at random to win a Coravin, courtesy of our partners Hatch Mansfield. Congratulations to: Mike Boyne, BinTwo, Padstow | Timothy Pride, Kingsgate Wines, Winchester | Dylan Rowlands, Gwin Dylanwad Wine, Dolgellau Sue Halls, Wadebridge Wines | John Freeland, CA Rookes, Stratford on Avon
WINNERS THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 58
richmond wine agencies
A new Château d’Esclans wine has landed!
The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE
Provence rosé is NEW and available via Richmond Wine
020 8744 5550 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Palm by Whispering Angel 2017 A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this easy-drinking Agencies.
Under screwcap closure, it is sure to be a hit in 2018 and beyond. Contact us for more details.
RWA increases its Californian range We are proud to now be UK agents for the David Bruce range of wines.
Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the winery has earned an international reputation for producing world-class wines.
They were one of 12 Californian wineries to participate in the now famous 1976 Judgement of Paris. The range:
2015 Chardonnay ‘Russian River’ 2015 Pinot Noir ‘Sonoma’
2015 Pinot Noir ‘Russian River’
Lismore, Reserve Chardonnay, Greyton 2016 Intense citrus aromas and classic soft fruits are layered with honeysuckle and vanilla notes, beautifully balanced with a crisp and distinct minerality. Tim Atkin, 95pts
Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538 email@example.com www.hnwines.co.uk
Castello Pomino, Benefizio Bianco Riserva 2016 This barrique aged white wine is elegant and distinctive with a rich array of aromas and flavours such as apple, pineapple, citrus and honey.
We’re proud to represent some of the best female winemakers around the world. To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, we have taken a closer look at some of the wines in our portfolio crafted by Women With Bottle.
San Marzano, Edda Lei Bianco, Salento 2016 A very distinctive and complex wine with intriguing aromas of orange blossom and beeswax complemented by rich honey with overlaying freshness.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 59
Olifantsberg, Grenache Blanc, Breedekloof 2016 Subtle aromas of lime blossom combine with green herbal notes, white peach and quince through to a beautifully balanced and richly textured palate with a delicious hint of salinity on the finish. Castello Nipozzano, Chianti Rufina Riserva 2014 The benchmark of Chianti Riserva, Nipozzano has a vibrant personality full of wild berry, cherry and toasted notes underpinned with spicy aromas.
Piattelli Vineyards, Grand Reserve, Cafayate, Malbec 2015 A rich and fragrant wine which represents the best of the crop. An intense red with aromas of black fruits, vanilla and a touch of smoke. Tim Atkin, 91pts
The Wine Merchant issue 67