The Wine Merchant issue 68

Page 1

THE WINE MERCHANT. Issue 68, April 2018

© Ilshat /

An independent magazine for independent retailers

We’re ready for summer. The question is, are you?

THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS T-shirts for customers and new uses for old corks

6 comings & GOINGS

Connollys plays the generation game with new wine bar

8 tried & TESTED

A couple of cool Chardonnays and a throat-burner too

18 david williams

Seven per cent of merchants say they have started selling wine on the premises in the past 12 months

On-premise consumption hits a new high in indies There has been a big jump in the number of independent merchants selling wine for consumption on the premises. The proportion of indies operating this

kind of hybrid on-trade/off-trade model has

increased from 28% to nearly 36%, according to this year’s Wine Merchant reader survey. Recent converts include Worth Bros,

Connollys and Wine-boutique. More are likely: almost 4% of respondents say they will start

opening bottles for on-premise consumption in the coming year and almost 14% say they are considering such a move.

The survey also found that direct 45% of

merchants expect to increase the amount of

wine they import direct in the year ahead, down slightly on the 47% recorded in the

2017 survey. On average 18% of all wine sold in independents is sourced straight from

producers, up from 17% last year. Just 22% of

merchants say they will source all of their wines from UK suppliers this year.

Our survey found that 20% of independents

plan to source some of this year’s wines as part of a formal buying group, compared to 15% in 2017. Twenty-four per cent say they will buy

wine within an informal buying collective, up from 20% last year.

Eight pages of survey analysis starts on page 24.

The reason behind the Conviviality schadenfreude

32 secret bottle shop

A journey from cider to nightclubs to specialist wine retailing

38 edinburgh round table

Indies welcome the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing

42 focus on GIN

Talking rhubarb with three spirits merchants

50 make a date

Tastings galore including a new independent wine show

52 supplier Bulletin

Essential updates from agents and suppliers


b Been to the shop, got the T-shirt Sometimes a wine merchant has to

Urchin is lucky enough to have in-house

expertise as Minnie is talented graphic

designer and illustrator, whilst Cornelius

Beer & Wine fortunately had “a good local artist” as a customer who designed the T-shirt as a favour.

Wrobel says: “If you’ve got a talented

friend who charges mates’ rates or fancy yourself as a designer, I would say any

similar shop should go ahead and get their own, since it’s a massive ego boost and

basically money in the bank. I’m not sure if

I would have paid for a professional design outfit though – that’s where things like

this can end up costing more than they’re worth.”

at the business he created.

hotel, wine shop and wine wholesaler.

a successful foray into the world of

Richard’s son Pip paid tribute to his

fashion with the creation of their own

father as an astute businessman who

branded T-shirts.

forged deep friendships throughout the

James Wrobel at Cornelius Beer & Wine

wine community.

in Edinburgh sold his first batch of 50

“So many people literally almost called

T-shirts in just a fortnight and is waiting

him their dad in the wine trade,” he says.

for his next delivery. “When they first

“They started out coming up here and

came in we had a big window display of

selling to him, and then became very close

them but that didn’t last very long as stock

friends. Urchin, above, and below the Cornelius design

higher than for booze. It’s also a good thing

“I remember my first trip to the London

Wine Fair with him about 20 years ago and he knew everybody there.

“He went to every single London Wine

to be selling when people are feeling a bit

Fair bar one, and that was because he was

dry, as it were!”

in a Bordeaux château! He loved it and

Meanwhile at Urchin Wines in Margate,

even shared a stand there at one stage

Orson Warr and his partner Minnie

– he used to ship wines and do bespoke

Stott decided it was time to raise brand

packaging for them.

awareness. “Obviously logos are quite

“I took over about 10 years ago but he

important to businesses and we wanted

was in every day. It’s been a big loss in a

to get our logo and design out there, with

business capacity as well as a personal

people wearing it around town,” says Warr.

one. He was always there to bounce things

And the T-shirts are just a start: “It’s the

off and to taste wines with, and he was

first of a series of products we want to

involved in every decision.

make happen. We want to do tea towels as well.”

died aged 71, say his legacy will endure

in 1977. The company later expanded as a

Two merchants have recently had

outrageous price, but the margins are far

The family of Richard Gale, who has

the first wine bar in Wales when it opened

and release their inner Gaultier.

punting them out at a tenner, which isn’t an

Remembering Richard Gale

Gales of Llangollen was thought to be

get crafty, throw caution to the wind

went pretty quickly,” he says. “We’ve been

A familiar face at the London Wine Fair

“These buildings have real character and

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 2

he lives on through them.”

As recycling ideas go, it’s a corker The polymers and plastics in agglomerated materials don’t decompose, so what is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of wine corks? Sanjay Aggarwal of Recorked UK has a few answers. He has come up with a scheme where

his company will collect corks for free –

with “little or no administration” for the partners involved.

A number of UK wine merchants,

including Butlers in Brighton, Hangingditch in Manchester and Theatre of Wine in

London, are already participating so their staff and customers can drop off their

corks in the box provided, to be collected at a later date.

“When we get the corks in we are

reselling them because people are using

them for craft projects. The trick now is to find other uses for them,” says Aggarwal.

Flying Füchs

Other potential uses include bio

energy (Aggarwal has been involved in a European-funded research project with

Aston University to this end), and water filtration.

They can also be used to make dumping

sacks to receive keg deliveries – a cork

equivalent to a crash mat – corkboards, placeholders, birdhouses … the list is

growing and Aggarwal is keen to hear of

“Our Man with the Facts”

related products on the website, including

• The spores of botrytis, the noble rot

more innovative ideas.

A percentage of sales from all the cork-

the very on-trend succulents and air plants, go to the charity Frank Water which leads water projects in India and Nepal.

For full details on the UK-wide cork

recycling scheme visit www.winecorks.

Another story in here please

that helps produce the world’s best

sweet wines, enter grapes immediately after flowering. These spores remain dormant until the fruit is fully ripe, when they will start attacking the sugars from the inside.

• Saint-Emilion takes its name from Aemilianus, an eighth-century monk

who lived as a recluse in a small cave carved deep into the limestone rock. • Under the earliest Greek laws,

codified by Zaleucus of Loris in around 650 BCE, the penalty for anyone found drinking unwatered wine without a doctor’s prescription was death. The

diktat apparently came from Athena, the goddess of war.

• The Shiraz grape has no connection

with the Persian city of the same name, where the wines have traditionally been white.

• The legendary London-based wine

critic and shipper André Simon (18771970) authored 104 books over the course of a 66-year career.

Succulents succeed in repurposed cork

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 3

retailer news

The new premises will allow Taurus to host more events such as classes and food and wine matching evenings

Not born in a barn, but now it’s home It was its base for 16 happy years, but the brutal truth about Taurus Wines’ premises is that it was basically a shed with some shipping containers out the back. Now the company, run by Rupert and

Felicity Pritchett, is operating from a 2,000 square foot 400-year-old barn, just across the courtyard from the orginal shop in Bramley, south of Guildford.

The project was financed through a

crowdfunding campaign and has allowed the business to invest in Enomatic

dispensers and a fine wine climate-

controlled cabinet from Spiral Cellars.

“It was great to hear so many gasps of

‘wow!’ when our customers walked in for the first time,” says Rupert.

‘We directly import wines from all over

the world, and we now have the space to add more lines into the mix.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 4

Ceiling the deal on Connolly’s wine bar Chris Connolly’s plans to add a hybrid element to the long-standing family business have involved making way for the next generation. His daughter Abigail is bringing her

experience to the table and is heading up the launch of Arch 13, a wine bar on the premises of the current shop in Livery Street, Birmingham.

Connolly says it is an option he has

been considering for a while. “Previously we had a suspended ceiling in there and

now we’ve opened the whole thing up,” he explains.

“We’ve got this lovely archway and it’s an

atmospheric space. It’s much bigger than

we need for the purposes of the retail store and I was thinking to myself: ‘what the

heck are we going to do?’ and ultimately,

knowing nothing about this sort of thing, I thought, ‘let’s just go for it!’

“Fortunately my daughter does know

quite a lot about it, as for the past eight years that’s what she’s been doing.”

Morgan Ward (left) and Edward Speakman: university friends An artist’s impression of the new space in Livery Street, Birmingham

Bagot Settles into second wine shop

New location for Italian specialist

Buon Vino, the natural wine specialist,

Alessandro Allegretti closed The

has opened a second branch in the

Woodford Wine Room in north east

North Yorkshire town of Settle.

London last month and has “just settled”

The new shop is based at The Courtyard

as well as continuing his established

with a degree in culinary arts management

wholesaling operation.

and previous experience in running a wine

“We were at the same location for


seven years and basically we had the

As her father says: “The family has been

opportunity for this very good premises,”

hawking booze around the Midlands for

says Allegretti.

four generations and things have changed

“Bermondsey is an amazing location

dramatically during that time. This takes things into a new era.”

Rob Bagot: natural expansion

kind of space in which they themselves

Dairy and is open Wednesday to Saturday.

decent wine – it’s really the business of

• Wine-boutique has moved to new

but the family have aimed to create the would like to spend time.

“People can sit and chill, and have some

encouraging people to try something different,” says Connolly.

The new bar, which will have space for

around 30 covers, will open in May.

The rebranded Bon Vino SE1 is a shop

with a tasting room that will maintain

Allegretti’s specialism in Italian wines

Connolly Junior is a qualified sommelier

He admits it is “a leap into the unknown”

into his new premises in Bermondsey.

Owner Rob Bagot says: “Settle is too big

a town to have just one natural wine shop.” premises opposite its original branch in the centre of Felixstowe. Unlike its predecessor, the store offers wine by the glass.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 6

for us. We are only a few minutes away

from London Bridge and we have a lot of customers from that area.”

The name is not the only change for

the business. Allegretti has joined forces with Emilia Marinig, previously a brand manager at Armit. “We met in June last

year. I liked her and she must have liked us too, so she joined us. At the moment she is developing the e-commerce side for us –

it’s going to be an amazing joint venture.”

Adeline Mangevine Whitmore & White enters Chester fray Whitmore & White is preparing to open another branch in May. The brand has grown rapidly since 2014.

So will MD Joe Whittick look for more

sites? “Chester’s number four and I think

we’ll stick with that for now – but I think I said that at number three,” he says.

Whittick expresses some surprise that

Whitmore & White’s combination of wine, deli products and hampers is not offered by existing Chester traders, and so will be concentrating on that aspect of the operation.

“We won’t be doing the coffee and the

wine services that we offer in the other stores. We didn’t really want to get into

the whole bar thing in Chester. Going up

against everybody else in the city centre seemed like a bit of a challenge.”

The “quaint, bay-fronted” shop will

house the retail upstairs and the cellar, accessed by a spiral staircase, will be

used as a tasting room. Whittick says: “All our shops are a little bit different

but it’s nice to have an identity. There’s a

theme running through them so they are recognisably Whitmore & White.” • The village of Duffield in Belper,

Derbyshire, may soon have a new wine shop complete with its own tasting room. The local council has received a request for a change of use from A1 to A4 for the former NatWest branch, which has been empty since 2015. Planning has been lodged under the trading name of Bradmans and an off and on-sales licence has been applied for. • Worthing’s status as a town without an independent wine specialist could soon end. The Brooksteed Bottle & Jug Department has applied for a licence at premises at South Farm Road in the Sussex resort.

Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing


e’re running a bit late,” says the text. It’s from

Alex, who until recently

was my assistant manager. Now, WSET

Diploma in hand, he’s hot-footed it from the glamour of retail to a life sprinkled

with fairy dust (and a better salary). He’s become an account manager with one of my suppliers.

He’s bringing an Italian winemaker

with him, whose products I am not

remotely interested in stocking. From memory, they are over-extracted

monsters whose ridiculous size is

matched only by their equally hefty price tag. But I want to show there are no hard feelings towards Alex abandoning me.

Plus I know what a chore it is to fill up a

winemaker’s agenda to prove you are the right agency for them. I like to think of these as pity visits.

When they eventually rock up, Renato

After all, I am pretending very hard to

be interested in his spirity, manipulated wines.

I grit my teeth and work my way

through the eight reds they’ve brought along, while Renato flicks through his iPad to show me the vineyards they

come from. However, the grapes have

hung on the vines for so long and then

been smothered in the toastiest of new

oak that it is hard to tell them apart after

It turns out I’m one of the more boring dates on this Italian winemaker’s world tour

(the winemaker) is dressed in every layer

wine number three. Luckily, he doesn’t

his cigarette and then takes a long phone

in the cellar.

of puffa known to man. Jeez, it’s not that

cold. He lingers in the doorway finishing call, gesticulating wildly. Alex looks

embarrassed. As a newbie, he is scared

to tell Renato to get a move on. I can see why they are late.

Alex sets out the wines we’re going

to taste – all with showy baroque labels and flamboyant names like Il Respiro

Degli Angeli and La Vigna di Cioccolato.

Renato slopes through the door looking both annoyed and bored. I know he’d

rather be anywhere else (newsflash: me

too!). Like film stars promoting a movie, the global tour with your wines must be mind-numbingly boring after a while,

endlessly repeating your schtick about

unique terroir, ancient vines, vinification techniques and so on. But it would be

nice if Renato didn’t show it so obviously.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 7

even dare say that his wines are made in the vineyard. They are very much made I am saved by a customer walking in

– and Alex getting a text from his new boss asking him if they’re en route to

their next appointment. He lets slip that it’s lunch at a hot new restaurant with

other members of the trade. My ranking in the eyes of my supplier becomes

instantly apparent (again) – all I get is this tiresome visit. For once, though, I

am rather relieved. Today, I’d far rather be dining alone with my sad tuna mayo

sandwich than spend any more time in the company of Renato and his horrid wines.

tried & Tested Calmel & Joseph Villa Blanche Chardonnay 2017

Atamisque Serbal Cabernet Franc 2017

The C&J table attracted a great deal of attention at

Never prone to understatement, Las Bodegas reckons

why: 2017 was a warm vintage that suited the house

there’s a lovely chocolatey depth to go with the green-

this is the best value Cab Franc in Argentina. It would

the Lambert tasting in February and this was a wine

certainly take some beating. For such a young wine

that many merchants were homing in on. You can see

pepper crunch. A very different beast to Loire reds; a

style, combining rich, concentrated, exotic Languedoc-

credit not just to the Uco Valley but to the variety itself.

Roussillon fruit with that fresh mineral twang. RRP: £10.99

RRP: £15

ABV: 13.5%

ABV: 14%

Las Bodegas (01435 874772)

Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010)

Doluca Kav Bogazkere Okuzgozu 2014

Colombo & Fille Saint Péray 2015

When a grape variety has a name that literally means

People are getting justifiably excited about this Cornas-

fruitier, like Okuzgozu. They’re perfect partners in this

softened by fermentation in oak and a year of lees

bordering appellation and the freshness that its wines

“throat burner”, as is the case with Bogazkere, the

offer. This is a Roussanne/Marsanne blend which is

temptation is to blend it with something lighter and

ageing, but expresses its limestone and granite terroir

sumptious and well-judged blend, which derives its

with a crisp, saline kick towards the finish.

freshness from 1,000-metre altitude vineyards. RRP: £14.49

RRP: £25.85

ABV: 13.5%

ABV: 14%

Hatch Mansfield (01344 871800)

Walker & Wodehouse (0207 449 1665)

La Monacesca Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva Mirum 2015

Tony Bish Golden Egg Chardonnay 2016

The grapes at this Marche estate are allowed to

Bish makes wine in Hawke’s Bay and claims to be the

lees until the spring and spends 18 months in stainless

hand-harvested free-run juice, he’s created a wine

become a little over-ripe, which is why the finished

product has such a rich, deep character. It’s kept on the

steel and a further six in the bottle. Despite the density, this is a super-clean wine that glides across the palate. RRP: £24.50

ABV: 13.5%

only Kiwi producer focused entirely on Chardonnay. Using concrete eggs (hence the name) to ferment

that amplifies almost everything that’s great about the variety. Spicy, fruity, slatey and joyfully chaotic. RRP: £29.99

ABV: 13%

The Antipodean Sommelier (01733 238942)

Winetraders (01993 882440)

Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Viniverde Este Rosé 2017

Santa Rita’s flagship wine has deservedly achieved

Verde made with red grapes (Vinhão 60%, Borracal

A fresh, easy-drinking strawberries-and-cream Vinho 30% and Espadeiro 10%), using a white winemaking

legendary status and is only produced in exceptional

process. Yes, it’s time to wheel out the dread phrase

vintages. It’s deep and intense but manages to avoid

being weighed down by either the winemaking or by some people’s expectations of what premium New

World Cabernet has to be. An elegant and balanced wine. RRP: £35

ABV: 14%

Walker & Wodehouse (0207 449 1665)

“summer glugger” once again, but this would also be a lovely accompaniment to picnic salads and mixedability frisbee competitions. RRP: £8.50

ABV: 9.5%

Marta Vine (07503 298867)

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 8

bits & BOBs

THINGS Neil Pinel

Dunell’s Premier Wines, Jersey

Favourite wine on my list Wild Duck Creek Estate Springflat Heathcote Shiraz 2006. This wine just epitomises what patience and great Aussie winemaking

can achieve. Beautifully crafted, spicy, rich


Consumers trade up to bigger bottles A record £15m was spent on magnums

that 66 million ordinary bottles were

in the UK last year, according to

passed off as Châteauneuf-du-Pape or

research by Nielsen.

other Côtes du Rhône.

Majestic claims magnum purchases have

Up to 15% of the annual output of the

risen by 500% while Waitrose reports that

Côtes du Rhône appellation from 2013 to

Champagne but the new trend, according

found, after the arrest of the head of one of

purchases have doubled.

Magnums are commonly associated with

to Waitrose, is for non-sparkling wines

such as Côtes du Rhône in 1.5-litre bottles. The Guardian, March 16

© ChantalS /


and so smooth on the finish with amazing potential to just go on and on. We’ve just

taken on some of their 2004 too which will be hitting the spot right now!

2016 was counterfeit, an investigation by the French trading standards agency has the country’s largest wine wholesalers. Up to 1.3 million bottles were falsely

labelled as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the

agency said. It typically sells for £14-£50 a bottle in the UK, compared with £4 for the wine allegedly sold in its stead. The Times, March 17

Calorie label plan from EU wineries

Favourite wine and food match The above wine, but not discounting many other great Aussie Shirazes, with home-

cooked fillet steak, oven chips and some

A trade body representing thousands of

My wife Jane is a great cook although the

more nutritional information on wines,

green stuff to make the plate look pretty.

aftermath in the kitchen can be a challenge.

Favourite wine trip

I am very lucky to count Sophia Bergqvist of Quinta de la Rosa as a good friend. Her spot right on the edge of the Douro is stunning with their terraced vineyards all around.

Favourite wine trade person

David Gleave MW popped in to see me 20

years ago when he started Liberty and has

EU winemakers has proposed providing but health professionals say plans do not go far enough.

Majestic says magnums are up by 500%

The move would include calorie

Fake Rhône wines fool British buyers

information about wines, which would

British consumers have been victims

plans to allow producers to simply link

of one of France’s biggest wine frauds, according to investigators who believe

be expressed as energy amounts, said the CEEV, which represents 23 national wine

bodies. Doctors in the UK are unhappy with information to QR codes on labels. Decanter, March 13

been instrumental in the progression and development of Dunell’s and its portfolio.

Favourite wine shop 01323 871836

Twitter: @WineMerchantMag

Terroir in Donnybrook, Dublin. Sean,

The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 861

knowledgeable. I was also impressed by

exception to the rule has now closed down. The magazine is edited by

the owner, is very personable and

their range, especially as they import a large proportion directly from source.

specialist independent wine shops. Every one of them, as the previous sole Graham Holter. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2018 Registered in England: No 6441762

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 10

VAT 943 8771 82

Sponsored feature

Independents love Loire Valley wines for good reason. Get behind the category in May and you could win a trip to this trendiest of wine regions


ndependents have been given an

extra reason to get behind wines from the Loire Valley this spring with the

launch of a campaign targeting retailers and consumers.

The two merchants judged to have run

the best Loire Valley promotion will each win a trip to the region, famous for its 50 appellations, denominations and IGPs.

A POS kit is available to participating

merchants, including bunting, posters, window stickers and postcards.

During the campaign, independents

are encouraged to organise their own

activities, such as tastings and dinners, and to consider enlarging their Loire

Photo: Tony Perez/InterLoire

Valley line-up and run special promotions

Wines strike a chord with consumers

listed on the platform,

Loire Valley wines are bang on trend in the UK

on wines.

All participating retailers will be

the online home of London Wine Week,

market, making them the natural choice for

though merchants outside the capital are


into just about every consumer fashion in the UK

also very welcome to take part.

To apply for your POS kit, email:

loire takes centre stage Loire Valley wines will have a high profile this May, and throughout the year, thanks to a number of initiatives that will reach 4 million people. • Five dinners, which will emphasise the region’s food pairing credentials, are being organised in partnership with • Taxi advertising runs in London throughout May • Loire Valley wines will work in partnership with restaurants, bars and shops throughout London Wine Week • Jim Budd will lead a Loire Valley wines masterclass at the London Wine Fair.

Boasting a wealth of zingy white wines, light reds

and characterful rosés and crémants, the region taps wine market.

The Loire Valley is France’s largest white wine

region, with 20,000ha of vines growing white

varieties. These wines can be elegant, with light

amounts of residual sugar, or vins de garde with

a complexity characterised by many nuances and aromas, as well as great depth.

Loire whites can also be very sweet and bold, and

full of potential. Sparkling wines from the region turn heads with their exquisite freshness.

The principal white varieties are Sauvignon Blanc,

Melon de Bourgogne and Chenin.

The Loire’s red varieties are grown in an area

covering about 10,000 hectares. The single varietals, made from Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Côt (Malbec),

Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, include vins de garde with bold, full-bodied aromas.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 12

More information at

In stores soon: a bit of English magic Celebrate English Wine Week


May 26th - June 3rd 2018 On the last week of May, wine stores, vineyards, bars and restaurants across the nation celebrate the amazing wines we produce in this country. With a little imagination, plus some complimentary point-of-sale materials from us, any wine shop can become a place of wonder and discovery. (And English wines will pretty much fly off the shelves!)

Meet the producers and try the wines! I








The Wines of Great Britain Annual Trade & Press Tasting is taking place at RHS Lindley Hall, London, on April 26th. Email to RSVP.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 13


Wines of Germany’s Top of the Crops 2018 Following a panel tasting at the beginning of March, our experts selected their favourite German wines from a line-up entered into this year’s Wines of Germany Top of the Crops competition. Here are their selections, representing a snapshot of some of Germany’s most interesting wines.

BEST INDEPENDENT MERCHANT WINES Panel: Mark Flounders – Vagabond; Dawn Mannis – The Sampler; Jimmy Smith – Streatham Wine House • Pfalz, 2016, Oliver Zeter Sauvignon Blanc Fume, Delibo Wine Agencies, £23 • Franken, 2016, Wirsching Iphöfer Kronberg Silvaner Alte Reben, The WineBarn, £21.99 • Mosel, 2011, Matheus Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese, M&M Personal Vintners, £16.99 • Nahe, 2016, Zwölberich Auxerrois, Dudley Craig Wines, £14.95 • Rheingau, 2015, Bibo Runge Hargardun Riesling, Delibo Wine Agencies, £21 • Rheingau, 2016, Leitz Magic Mountain Rüdesheim Riesling, Awin Barratt Siegel, £20 • Nahe, 2016, Schneider Grauschiefer Riesling, The WineBarn, £13.15 • Mosel, 2016, Wilhelm Riesling, Boutinot, £12.49 • Mosel, 2016, Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Alte Reben GG, Awin Barratt Siegel, £44-£46 • Mosel, 2016, S A Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Delibo Wine Agencies, £24.50 • Rheinhessen, 2013, Becker-Landgraf Muschelkalk Spätburgunder, The Winery, £28.99 • Baden, 2015, Franz Anton Spätburgunder, The WineBarn, £23.75 • Pfalz, 2015, Hanewald-Schwerdt Spätburgunder, Prohibition Wines, London; Reserve Wines, Manchester; Noel Young Wines, Cambridge, £13.95

BEST UNREPRESENTED WINES Panel: Jamie Avenell – Conviviality; Alex Hunt – Berkmann; Jenny Smith – Oddbins; Harry Lobek – London Shell Co; Gus Pollard – 10 Cases; Dan Belmont – Bedales; Paul Laurie – Pipe of Port • Rheinhessen, 2016, Sauvignon Blanc, Fleischer • Pfalz, 2016, Weinbiet Grauburgunder Edition Philipp Bassler, Winzergenossenschaft Weinbiet • Rheinhessen, 2017, Grauburgunder Spätlese Trocken, Hauck • Rheinhessen, 2016, ORBEL Riesling, Raddeck • Rheingau, 2008, Riesling Edition, Querbach • Baden, 2016, Riesling, Gengenbach-Offenburg • Rheinhessen, 2015, Eimermann Riesling Feinherb, Eimermann -Domtalhof • Baden/Kaiserstuhl, 2016, Edition A – Achkarrer Schlossberg Pinot Noir, Winzergenossenschaft Achkarren • Baden, 2015, Black Forest Pinot Noir, Badischer Winzerkeller • Palatinate, 2015, Spätburgunder Avantgarde “Hölle”, Bergdolt-Reif & Nett

Taste all these wines at G Force, Wines of Germany's Trade Tasting Tuesday May 1, 11am - 5pm The Vinyl Factory via Phonica Records, 51 Poland Street, London W1F 7RJ THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 14


wine myths to drop into conveRSation

‘Can I sell you a watering can?’

There’s already plenty of public confusion and misunderstanding about wine. But that doesn’t mean we can’t invent some new falsehoods to add to the gaiety of the nation




Kath and Kim were right all along. You don’t

If you can’t finish that bottle of Cabernet

There’s a reason why that Kiwi white has a bit

say “shardonnay” any more than you’d go to a

Sauvignon and don’t want it to spoil, simply

of bite to it. Of course you’ve noticed the nettle

“shemist” looking for “shemicals” to lower your

take a clean twig and insert it in the neck so the

aroma: it comes from the leaves that are added

“sholestrerol”. Sure, people mispronounce the

bottom half is in contact with the liquid and the

during maceration. Some of the histamine

variety all the time, but that’s just a kind of tradey

top half with the air. This will keep the wine fresh

survives the fermentation process and has just

joke. When punters do

for a week. We sell French and American oak

enough power to generate a

it, the professionals

twigs for exactly

gentle sting on the palate. All

snigger and give each

this purpose; yours

perfectly harmless, but if it

other high-fives.

for just £7.99.

bothers you, suck a dock leaf.




It’s great that you can use your iPad in your cellar,

… was a young Scottish scientist called Malcolm

According to tradition, clients of wine merchants

but those invisible waves are speeding up the

Beck, who found himself working in an agricultural

ordered wines in quantities of 10, but actually

ageing process of your prized Barolos, Burgundies

institute in South America in the 1930s. A fan of

paid for 12. Historically one of the additional

and Bordeaux. Line the walls of the cellar with

Cahors, he was determined to develop a locally-

bottles was offered to the church or some

aluminium foil to combat the menace or get used

suited variety that had the same inky intensity, and

deserving individual. Genuine wine lovers know

to the idea that the cuvée

the result was named “Malbeck”

it’s customary to present the other bottle to the

you’ve been saving for your

in his honour. The letter “k” is

merchant who sold it, as a

50th birthday might be best

considered unlucky in the Andes

gesture of appreciation for

cracked open this weekend.

and later dropped.

services rendered.



Sounds crazy but all that lovely surface area

Some wines are just a tiny bit corky, and only


will aerate the wine beautifully, and the transfer

an experienced taster would detect the tell-

Why on earth would anybody, even the Gascons,

of positive ions from the metal will give it a little

tale aroma of mushrooms and damp badger.

give a wine such a preposterous name?

extra energy and lift. Don’t wash the watering

Sometimes TCA damage is far easier to identify.

Unsurprisingly, it’s just another of the trade’s

The world’s most corked wine, a 1996 Côtes

little in-jokes. Of course the

can. Allow rainwater to collect

du Marmandais, actually

words are meaningless, unless

when you want to decant.

set off smoke alarms at The

you unscramble the anagram: “A

Funnily enough we do sell

Dorchester when it was

hiccup-driven belch.” Try not to

opened in February 2008.

drink the stuff too quickly.



As well as making the wines taste better, dancing

It’s an historical quirk that dates back to the


around in a lagare has proven health benefits,

Methuen Treaty of 1703. The British monarch has

It’s the best way to neutralise the aromas and

including healing open sores and curing verrucae.

ownership of all supplies that reach our shores,

residue of whatever you were drinking. Rinse the

There is of course a filtering process which should

and even though it’s essentially a ceremonial

glass in hot water and agitate with a clean cloth

inside, and simply pour away

watering cans, for £35.

or kitchen paper. Wipe dry and drop a 1p piece

catch rogue hairs, sock

privilege, rarely exercised, Her Maj’s

fluff and Band-Aids. If

household has rights over every

in each glass until you’re ready

you do find a toenail in

dated port collection in the land.

to reuse. For some reason,

your wine, it’s actually a

Apparently she finds it goes very

pre-2005 coins have been

good-luck omen.

well with swan.

observed to work best.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 16

just williams

Not everyone is tired of high street eateries pere et fils.indd 1

27/05/2015 22:40

This is generally what we want our winemakers to look like

Scythes out for the tall poppies The Conviviality saga has drawn the inevitable sniping from those in the wine trade who think the business got too big too quickly. But not all criticism of drinks corporations is necessarily fair or rational


ow quickly a columnist’s opinions date. A month ago, I

was pontificating in these pages about the travails of the

mid-market – in wine as in restaurants, I said, now is the

time for the very small and the very large.

But even as I was finishing that column the biggest story in wine

retail for some time was bubbling towards the surface, and about to make my conclusion look a little premature.

That story, in case you hadn’t guessed, is the frankly mind-

boggling, faintly preposterous matter of Conviviality’s vertiginous

fall from high-flying retail-wholesale colossus to cautionary tale in a matter of weeks – a fall best summed up by a drop in share price from a peak of 456p in November to 10p in March.

The details of what’s gone wrong at Conviviality have been

well publicised elsewhere – the £30m of – how to put this –

“overlooked” tax, the profit warnings, the desperate hunt for

£125m to keep it trading, the resignation of CEO Diana Hunter.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 18

And they were very much the talk of the trade at events I’ve

been to over the past month. Pretty much everyone I spoke to had something to say on the matter. There was a sense of disbelief, as one PR executive put it to me, that “they could miss something

that basic. It’s the first thing you do as a business: you put your tax

money aside. The likes of you and me would never dream of telling HMRC, ‘Sorry, I seem to have lost the money to pay my tax bill. I’ll ask around and see if anyone can lend it to me.’”

The puzzlement is invariably accompanied by a certain smug knowingness. In part that’s because of the specifics of the

Conviviality case: the company, as is apparently so perfectly

clear in the 20/20 vision of hindsight, had of course grown too

quickly, its rapid expansion having a touch of hubris about it and

its strategy – gobbling up apparently successful big and mediumsized businesses and putting them into one enormous enterprise – therefore always bound to fail.

But it’s also possible to see something else in these reactions,

a more primal emotion that seems to get an airing whenever

any large company runs into trouble. From Tesco and its false

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

In a world in which corporate is an insult, the small and the homespun will always have the moral high ground

accounting fiasco of 2014 to the drama, concurrent with the

Conviviality story, of Facebook’s data breach/collaboration with

the dark side, it’s clear we just love to see a big company cut down to size.

Champagne, with the rise to prominence of the récoltant-

opposite. The fact is it’s rare to find anyone, even among the most

corporate-owned grandes maisons as it does to the comparative

There’s more to this than the jealous scything of tall poppies –

although our love of the underdog does rather tend to imply its ardent free-market fundamentalists, with too much positive to

say about really big business. In a world in which corporate is an insult, the small and homespun will always have the moral high

ground, and the best the big guys can hope for is a bit of grudging respect.

This seems particularly true in the wine world. Just look, for

example, at the reaction to recent developments in Burgundy. A region that has defined itself as the artisanal, men-of-soil antidote to the bourgeois

financier-backed Bordeaux, is going through a period

of end-times hand-wringing as its 21st-century success

has led to the inevitable arrival of the corporates. A kind of

vinous gentrification is changing Burgundy’s character, pricing out the locals (a few rows of vines in Musigny changed hands for a pro rata fee of €50m per hectare last year, according to

Burgundy authority Jasper Morris MW) and bringing in such multinationals as LVMH (owners now of Clos des Lambrays)

and François Pinault’s Groupe Artémis (owners now of Clos du Tart, as well as Christie’s, Château Latour and others).

We can detect a similar preference for the little guy in

manipulant over the past 30 years owing at least as much to a

generalised feeling of disconnect with the glitz and glitter of the quality of the wines themselves.

Is the bias fair or rational? Almost certainly not. Blind tastings of the likes of Dom Pérignon, Latour and the AXA Millésimes

portfolio show that big business is perfectly capabable of making fine wine. And the enduring loyalty of winemakers such as Régis Camus at Heidsieck, Peter Gago at Penfolds or the trio of

Igancio Recabarren, Enrique Tirado and Marcelo Papa at Concha y Toro, among many others, shows that they can be rewarding places in which to work.

But when it comes to our relationship with scale,

rationality doesn’t always come into it. In business,

as in politics, we have a natural suspicion of the big, a feeling

that the more a company – or a political unit – grows, the more

bureaucratic it becomes, the more it loses transparency and, for want of a better word, humanity.

It’s an instinctive, almost atavistic feeling. And it’s this, rather

than any sensible analysis about economics or strategy, that leads so many of us to believe that small is almost always more beautiful.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 19

make a date special

Small producers think bigger The European Confederation of Independent Wine Growers’ first UK trade tasting aims to broaden the horizons of specialist merchants


ndependent merchants tend to like working with independent wine

producers. A new tasting in London

will put the two sides in direct contact with each other and expose retailers to some less familiar regions at the same time. The event is organised by the

European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers, which represents 12,000 small to medium-sized, mainly family-

run estates, in 11 countries: France, Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Spain, Montenegro, Luxembourg and Belgium.

Vice president Ivo Varbanov runs the

annual Bulgarian tasting in London, which is now being bundled into the new event. “We thought it would make a bigger

Working the land at Tokaj Pendits, an organic producer in Hungary

impact on the UK market to have not just

the confederation have an enthusiasm

when we met for the AGM in Brussels we

restaurants in particular the sommeliers

the Bulgarian independent wine growers but also other countries,” he says, “and

discussed that and everybody was very enthusiastic about it.

“Producers who are members of CEVI are

all out in the vineyards, making their wine and selling it.”

Some of the producers in attendance

already have some form of UK distribution, while others are looking for importers.

Varbanov has deliberately aimed to achieve a mixture of the two.

Despite the familiar challenges,

Varbanov has found that producers in

to work with the UK. “There is a boom

in independent retailing and in London

are looking for interesting things,” he says. “The growers who are coming to the

event are convinced that it is a very good opportunity.

“Some of them already work in the

UK and for some of the others it will be

completely new, so there is an element of the unknown for them. But if the wine is

good and it is well priced they will have a positive impact.”

Varbanov has been keen to keep the

inaugural event “as simple as possible”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 20

so there will be no masterclasses or wine trails – just straightforward tasting with around 70 producers on hand.

The French are leading the way with 22

producers from various regions. Italy will be represented by at least 16 producers and Bulgaria will send 15.

To register for the tasting, visit bit.

ly/2oH8COi and use the password CEVI.

Alternatively contact Sara Davy on sara@

Wednesday, May 16 The Lindley Hall Elverton Street London SW1P 2PE

G Force: Wines of Germany’s Trade Tasting The driving force of German wine #GForce2018 Don’t miss this opportunity to taste over 200 wines from 18 of Germany’s best producers, plus a host of German wine importers including Lea & Sandeman, Delibo, Raymond Reynolds, Dudley Craig Wines, Bibendum and ABS.

During the day there will be an expert-led masterclass focusing on Generation Riesling, showcasing young, up-and-coming producers who are building the future of German wine!

Visitors will also have the first chance to sample this year’s Top of the Crops. The wines, split by retail category, have all been selected by a panel of industry experts and provide a snapshot of some of Germany’s best wines this year.

In the focus zone, the spotlight will be on Germany’s Coolest Wines. The 20 finalists of this worldwide competition have been

named the ‘coolest’ for their creativity, design and brand stories. To get this far the wines had to pass a blind tasting by industry professional and then battle it out in front of a panel of marketing experts, designers, the Editor of Rolling Stone magazine in Germany and the reigning German wine queen! The three overall winners were then chosen by an international online vote and revealed at ProWein in March. Head here to try a German PetNat, an irreverent Scheurebe or a wine with its own viral video.

Tuesday 1st May 11am - 5pm The Vinyl Factory via Phonica Records 51 Poland Street, London W1F 7RJ

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 21

london wine fair preview

New ideas for an old friend Independent merchants have more reasons than ever to come to the London Wine Fair at Olympia on May 21-23. David Williams talks to show director Hannah Tovey about the changes she’s made


& Spirit to helping to create and establish

o listen to Hannah Tovey describe

the challenges she faces in her job

Imbibe Live as one of the UK’s leading

as head of the London Wine Fair

drinks exhibitions and then switching to

is to wonder why she took on the position at all.

the consumer side overseeing The Wine Gang’s Wine Festivals. “My personal

Tovey’s is a bracingly realistic

experience lent itself brilliantly to the role;

assessment of the difficult market

if someone was going to do it, it was going

conditions faced by any wine business

to be me. I’ve worked in businesses before

trying to make a success in the UK today

where the odds have been stacked against

– but which are particularly acute for the

and got there.

trade’s showpiece event.

“There are smaller margins,” Tovey

begins. “There are fewer businesses to

exhibit. Duty has risen. Since the recession,

“But I did think hard about it. I assessed

Hannah Tovey: navigating in “a perfect storm”

the wine industry has shrunk on average

to replace Ross Carter after last year’s

and the competition [Vinexpo, ProWein],

is the pinnacle,” says Tovey, who, in her

1% each year for the last eight years. Then there is Brexit, which looms and terrifies, which has clearly grown over the past 10

years. Add that to the [tiny] latest vintage, just for an additional left hook … it’s a perfect storm.”

show. Didn’t it feel like a hopeless task? “If you work in wine events this job

17-year wine career has gravitated from

senior sales positions at Decanter and Wine

that in my own personal journey through the wine trade, there have been lot of

opportunities for me that have come out of the Wine Fair – a lot of positive things happened there. I’ve never missed a

fair, and I’ve gained a lot of benefit. I can surmise that’s true for everyone.”

Once she’d taken the plunge, Tovey’s first

task was to listen to those who shared her

So why did Tovey take up Brintex’s offer

CLAIM Independent Merchant Bursaries Brintex is offering 30 Wine Merchant readers LWF Independent Bursaries to

help make it easier to visit this year’s fair. The bursary falls into two parts: £100 to cover travel, and £250 to cover the expenses of employing a staff member to manage the shop for a day. To apply, contact The main area of the fair has been renamed The Trading Floor

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 22

ALL NEW AT THE FAIR Champagne Live A new section of the fair that in the evenings will double up as the first consumer event at the LWF, Champagne Live is a collaboration with the CIVC featuring wines from more than 70 top producers, and with features such as tasting trails, meeting points and an app. Drinks Britannia Described as a “full-on celebration of British drinks”, this zone will showcase the best of British sparkling wine, craft beer, gin, water and more. The Esoterica section has been expanded to 20 tables

Innovation Zone in partnership with JF Hillebrand

feelings about the fair – and, perhaps more

seeing the promotion campaign.”

towards it. But there is no one attitude.

much “the right people” for the fair, and

importantly, to the many who didn’t. “I was fully aware of the attitudes

There are stalwart fans of it: people who

want to see it grow again, see a relevance

to it, and feel that it’s important for the UK to have a shop window. There is a good

number of people like that,” Tovey says.

“There are also negative opinions, which

as we know, always tend to be the loudest. They’ve seen the fair shrink and assumed that’s because it’s lost its relevance.”

According to Tovey, that last perception

isn’t entirely fair. Although she’s under

no illusions that exhibitor numbers have

dropped in recent years, visitor numbers have in fact held up very well.

Whether they’re the right kind of visitor

is another matter, however, and Tovey says Brintex, which has backed her with new investment and an all-new team (“we’re

like a start-up,” she says), has been looking hard at its visitor data. “We had a strong

database in number, but it needed work.

“We ditched 30%, because they were not

the right demographic, and we spent on

improving the data, getting up-to-date solid data, making sure that the right people are

Independent wine merchants are very Tovey and her team have thought hard

about how to attract them. Esoterica, one of the LWF’s great successes of recent

years – and a particularly useful feature for indies – has been expanded, with 20 extra tables, confirming it as the single biggest

gathering of specialist importers in the UK. Tovey’s team has also come up with

a plan that addresses one of the biggest

stumbling blocks for independents who

An area featuring a series of TED-style talks on the “latest solutions across smart technology, big data, artificial intelligence, social media, event marketing, business modelling, e-commerce, staff engagement, packaging, design and supply chain solutions”. New LWF app The result of major investment from Brintex, exhibitors to the 2018 LWF will be able to download a bespoke app that, in Tovey’s words, will enable them to “organise everything they need from the palm of their hand”. That includes: travel and accommodation; booking, accepting

would like to attend – the costs in time,

or declining meetings before and during

that have emerged from Tovey’s

Trading Quarter

visit event once again. And with pre-event

has been made over as The Trading Floor

staff and travel – in the form of a bursary. These are but two of many initiatives

consultation with the trade, and with

which she aims to make the LWF a must-

registrations already up 2,000% year-onyear, it’s clear that something is working. “We listened to all the feedback, and

the fair; building a personal schedule; and receiving push notifications.

As part of the mission to bring back bigname suppliers, the main floor of the fair and will include a Trading Quarter where suppliers can spend a single day at the fair showcasing up to 40 wines.

we decided that the key factor is to make

LWF daily newspaper

But people still need to do business,

three days of the fair.

it relevant to this trading context,” Tovey says. “There are things you can’t change. whatever the climate.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 23

Brintex will be publishing a free daily newspaper with a print run of 6,000 on all

reader survey 2018

Indies press the ‘on’ switch The hybrid approach to wine sales, allowing customers to enjoy their purchases on the premises, is finally gathering real momentum among independents. But it’s not the only way forward, and almost half of merchants still prefer to stick to the traditional retail format


elling wine on the premises has been one of the big talking points in the independent trade for some time.

Yet it remains a minority sport – at least for now.

The proportion of merchants who say

they offer on-premise consumption has

risen from 28% in 2016 and 2017 to almost 36% this time. A further 17% say they may

start opening bottles for their customers in the near future.

“In these times of uncertainty it became

obvious to us that we should expand the

on-premise side in 2018, which is exactly what we have started to do,” says Claire Carruthers of Carruthers & Kent in Newcastle.

Rosamund Hall, co-owner of Burgess &

Hall Wines in east London, says. “This has

“growing significantly and now account for approximately 18% of turnover”.

Mark Wrigglesworth of The Good Wine

Shop in London adds: “We introduced

on-premise consumption at Kew only six

months ago, and plan to add it at our second shop in Chiswick this year.”

Many respondents say although they can see the potential of a hybrid format, their

premises are either too small to make the

concept work, or there are licensing issues. Euan McNicoll of McNicoll & Cairnie in

Broughty Ferry says: “If I had the space, for


been the most vital element to our business. Had we not had this option, we wouldn’t be in business.”

Clive Barlow of Press Wine Services in

Canterbury adds: “On-premise sales have

added to overall turnover and offer a better margin, additional sales and increased

Have sold wine for on-premise consumption for less than a year (2017: 4%)

Have sold wine for on-premise consumption for at least a year (2017: 24%)

Shop & Tasting Room in Rhos-on-Sea says on-premise sales have been “a resounding success”, along with hosting private

tastings. Tom Jones of The Whalley Wine Shop reports that on-premise sales are

premises. I am always on the look-out for

larger premises. However, rents are high.” Jefferson Boss of StarmoreBoss in

Sheffield adds: “We are looking towards opening a second site in the hybrid

model where we can have on-premise

consumption. Our current store is too small to make this a viable proposition without changing the model drastically.”

Archie McDiarmid of Luvians in St

Andrews says: “We would certainly consider it, but Scottish licensing law makes it

considerably more complicated than in

England, which is why we have chosen not to do so.”

Some independents have dipped a toe in the water with regular tasting events and pop-ups.

“Our pop-up wine bar started in August


2017 and has been well received,” says

Duncan Murray, of Duncan Murray Wines in Market Harborough. “We’d been actively

planning it for about two years and it’s been a welcome income stream.”

Paul Auty of Ake & Humphris in

customer connections.”

Tim Watson of The Grape to Glass Wine

sure I would sell for consumption on the


Have no plans to sell wine for on-premise consumption (2017: 47%)

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 24

Harrogate adds: “We have used TENs to provide special events by the glass and

educational flights. We aim to do more of this in 2018.”

Jaded Palates has branches in Chagford

and Ashburton in Devon. “We run a

© WavebreakMediaMicro /

Food isn’t such a halfbaked idea after all More merchants than ever now say they sell food of some description: 47% compared to 42% in the previous two years’ surveys … … yet the proportion saying they have no plans to sell food has increased to 46% from 43% last year.

Some merchants love the idea of an on-site wine bar, but simply lack the space

once-weekly wine bar in both premises,”

sell wine for on-premise consumption, and

planning application to be made.”


says owner Ian Renwick. “This has been

popular, although we have had to halt it for a At The Jug & Bottle in Bubwith, Louise

Smith runs a monthly pop-up bar. “We only

really sell gin and draught beer,” she reports. “Wine is on offer, but people come for the gin.”

Heather Smith at The Solent Cellar in

Lymington says “consumption generally

happens when we have an in-store pop-up event in the shop and garden, from Easter to September. However, people do also

occasionally pop in for a glass or bottle on the weekend.”

Andy Langshaw of Harrogate Wines

says: “We have an event room/tasting room which is very separate from the shop.

“I feel allowing people to drink in the

wine shop sends out a mixed message. If

you want to buy wine, our shop looks like every other wine shop. The event room is

for tastings, corporate and consumption on the premises should we wish.”

But the majority of merchants do not

Anthony Borges of The Wine Centre in Great Horkesley in Essex has no plans to

“We prefer to have regular evening events,

such as ticketed wine-tasting dinners twice a month and a variety of other ticketed

wine and/or spirit tastings, mostly always including a food offering: cheese platters, canapes etc,” he says.

“In this way we know the numbers

coming and avoid waste. Moreover it’s

easier to get staffing right. If we were in

town it would be a different matter, but we don’t have the footfall in the countryside. “We also offer free daytime Friday and

Saturday wine and/or spirit tastings with

deli platters, which gives a weekend feel to the shop. We also, incidentally, sell a lot of cheeses in this way.”

For some merchants, the hybrid model

involves a level of complexity that they

argue does not justify the outlay. “Margins may be higher,” says David Perry of

Shaftesbury Wines. “But you have to

consider the cost of servicing an on-trade customer, and washing up after them.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 25

About 6% of respondents sell more food than wine. This reflects the fact that some delicatessens have a strong enough wine range to be classed as wine specialists. About 8% say they have a good selection of food, but wine is more important to their trade. Almost 33% describe their food range as “small”. The proportion of respondents who are “thinking about” introducing food has halved, to just under 6%. Almost 2% say they will “definitely” start selling food in the coming year. Number of respondents: 159

reader survey 2018

Do reps deserve a bad rap? “I have one rep who calls regularly, and always brings something new and interesting to try. Needless to say we buy more from this supplier.” Jenny Holt, Divine Wines, Wincanton “Armit provided the best support last year and were regularly in touch to discuss new wines, ideas for tastings etc. I don’t mind not getting visits from reps but it would be good if they were a bit more pro-active; I’m always looking for new wines to list and new ideas for promoting them.”

Gilbert Viader, Viader Vintners, Cardiff “What some suppliers often forget is the importance of personal connections. Face-to-face visits are important and a strong working relationship with a rep who understands how your shop works is usually worth giving up a saving of a few pence a bottle from a supplier you never hear from – unless they are chasing an order to make up their quarterly sales figures.”

Michael Boniface, No 2 Pound Street, Wendover

Archie McDiarmid, Luvians, St Andrews

“We like reps that come in with a focus and want to work with you: they ask what gaps you have, and whether there is anything you like to focus on. This way it shows they are wanting to work with you and support your business, rather than selling what they need to shift.” Kelli Coxhead, The Wine Shop, Winscombe, Somerset “Once they have got you on board as a customer, most reps seem to feel their job is done and very few actually add any value. For example, very few take the time to get to know what sort of wines we like and offer recommendations.” Sam Brown, Vino Vero, Leigh on Sea “I think support and interaction from suppliers still very much depends on the person representing them. There have been two companies this year lose good reps and I haven’t heard a peep out of them for a long time. We’re still buying with them, but definitely less.” Dafydd Morris, Cheers Wine Merchants, Swansea

“In the 17 years we have been trading we have seen a reduction in the amount of support we can get from suppliers. All the reps are more stretched, having to cover larger areas. We see them less often, and the size of your business and the amount you spend with them definitely plays a role in the total involvement – which I guess is the way the world works.”

“Reps are generally good at attending tastings and providing samples. You always buy from people … more active reps get more business.” Tom Jones, The Whalley Wine Shop, Lancashire

“We are seeing a reduction in the support we get … reps are stretched, covering larger areas”

“We enjoy seeing reps – it’s always better if they can let us know they are coming, though. We haven’t seen a rep or had communication from some suppliers in over a year, and that’s a bit poor. If you are coming in then I’d be happy to see you for a longer period with new products and offers rather than just a brief pop-in and a ‘hello’. Make the time count.” © redav /

Jefferson Boss, StarmoreBoss, Sheffield

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 26

No room for sloppiness “Small minimum drops are very useful when storage space is limited. Smaller suppliers are pretty good at this, but even one or two of the larger ones have been terrific in this regard – in our case, Berkmann have been great and Enotria have been especially willing to go the extra mile. “Continuity of supply is an issue with some smaller-scale suppliers. I understand their problems in terms of cash flow and storage and I sympathise completely, but it is still frustrating to build up a fan base for a particular wine or range, only to see it go in and out of stock.” Euan McNicoll, McNicoll & Cairnie, Broughty Ferry “If a wine is ordered, it is likely that we have an end customer expecting it so when the wrong wine arrives we have a big problem. Our suppliers need to understand that a mistake makes us look bad and potentially loses business.”

“Smaller suppliers may need to find a way to offer payment terms that are as favourable as larger players such as Boutinot. The requirement for near immediate payment is a disincentive for working with smaller suppliers in the quieter winter months so I tend to only order from them when cash flow is quicker during the busy period.” Mike Boyne, BinTwo, Padstow “A few suppliers ran out of key lines in early December. One or two ran out of Christmas promotion lines in the first week of December. One let us down on so many key lines we had to switch supplier. We will not be switching back. “On the other hand most suppliers got what we needed to us when we needed it. With increasing turnover and limited space we have to operate on a just-in-time basis. “There is no room for sloppy suppliers. One local gin producer always delivers next day so we never run out. Another took 14 days as they had run out of glass. Smaller drops and a quick response is essential, especially at Christmas.” David Perry, Shaftesbury Wines

Andrea Viera, Last Drop Wines, London “Overall my general view of suppliers and distributors is ‘disappointing’. The follow-up of vintage changes, price changes and wrong deliveries makes me wonder how they survive. This is costly to me as a small business owner, as my resources are small and there’s a lengthy process to follow up. Liberty remains the best of the best.”

“Don’t bother trying to get me to stock untried wines for Christmas in October. It can take six to 12 months for wine to gain popularity, and that’s with my personal hand-selling support behind it.” Richard Taylore, The Framlingham Wine Shop, Suffolk “Suppliers need to be flexible with minimum order quantities.” Andy Smith, Mill Hill Wines, London

Melanie Brown, The New Zealand Cellar, London

© JackF /

Fair pricing all year round, please “It’s vital that suppliers refresh their ranges to offer better value and get rid of lines that have priced themselves out of the realms of fair cost. They need to fix prices for 12 months to allow confidence in purchasing to grow. They also need to be wary of putting a line up by 15% only to discount it down for Christmas. Fair pricing all year round please!” Paul Auty, Ake & Humphris, Harrogate “Wine suppliers do very well and are very supportive but we have a lot of issues regarding spirits pricing – constant price changes, often with no prior notification … in fact by the time an invoice arrives we’ve sometimes sold stock at a loss. Frustrating! Having to contact a rep every time I want a price on a bottle of spirits is ridiculous. I have issues with several spirits suppliers regarding this.” Cat Brandwood, Toscannaccio, Winchester “Suppliers could be more active in reducing prices when exchange rates improve.” Robert Poole, Symposium, Lewes

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 27

“By the time the invoice arrives we’ve sometimes sold the wine at a loss”

reader survey 2018

Let’s work together

Suppliers who invest in training and help with tastings win loyalty

© Eléonore H /

“Suppliers are generally pretty good in terms of support. However, in the last 12 months there’s been less support available as everyone struggles to make decent margins. We do respect our supportive suppliers by ensuring we give their products as much support back as possible. I find most suppliers are happy to come out and train the team, which is vitally important for on and offsales.” Ruth Yates, Corks Out, Cheshire “We are lucky to have some very important relationships with a few UK agencies. In the main we have had these for some time and have a great understanding with them. They know our business and what we require, and deliver on that. In a year like this where volumes are tight and prices are turbulent, those relationships come into their own and give us stability and continuity to use to our advantage. We have never been keen to flip around a lot, and like to build relationships and loyalty on both sides.” Matthew Hennings, Hennings Wine Merchants, Sussex “I find it hard and costly to get to tastings so I really appreciate the opportunity to taste wines in the shop. We have regular wine dinners and lunches so it is useful to know as much as possible when producers may be in the UK that might be able to present at these.”

“The more support, in the mode of training, wine information, offers and assistance with events we get then the greater our effort to work with suppliers and sell their wines.” Clive Barlow, Press Wine Services, Canterbury

Henry Rymill, Tankerton Wine Room, Whitstable “Most suppliers are amazingly helpful and realistic and it is a pleasure to deal with them. Sadly many of the bigger companies with brands treat us as if we are undesirable clients and make it very obvious with their pricing and credit control policies. Happily there are some exceptions!” Nick Underwood, Underwoods, Stratfordupon-Avon “Having just opened in the last 18 months I have encountered some cash flow situations, but the suppliers have been extremely supportive in helping us through the first problems.” Jonathan Rogers, The Solent Wine Experience, Emsworth

“Unfortunately rising prices are a fact of life so I don’t hold any grudges against our suppliers for their annual rises. I do, however, expect them to increase their support for those merchants who proactively seek to convert supermarket wine consumers through well-priced educational events, made possible by sample donations or on-premise support. “We believe that wine education, which provides a platform to showcase our key advantage against supermarkets, is fundamental to the future success of the indies but the level of support varies significantly across the board.” David Dodd, Tivoli Wines, Cheltenham

“I think most suppliers are starting to get better at doing promotions with producer support. Liberty really led the way on this, and others have followed with good effect. These are essential for us to get extra margin from UK-based suppliers.”

“Suppliers who do well with us understand our business, and keep us up to date with promotions, price changes and new product information. Offering promotional support for tasting samples and helping out at larger tastings is also key, as well as showing us new products that they think would work in our shop or for wholesale.”

Phil Innes, Loki Wines, Birmingham

Heather Smith, The Solent Cellar, Lymington

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 28

15% of merchants have installed wine dispensers It seems that independents have fixed ideas about wine dispense devices. Fifteen per cent of respondents say they already have an Enomatic or Wine Emotion machine, or similar: exactly the same proportion we recorded in last year’s survey. Just as in 2017, 2% of respondents

say they are “definitely” investing in a

Almost three in 10 independents are “definitely not” interested

dispenser this year, and as last year a

introduce draught sales this year, up from

have made no decision either way, not far


further 15% say it’s “possibly” happening. Twelve per cent of our 160 respondents

off the 10% we recorded last time. Twentynine per cent say they are definitely not

interested, up from 26% in 2017, while the proportion saying a machine is unlikely dropped from 30% to 25%.

Draught wine is an idea that has not

really gained traction in the independent trade, with 5% reporting that that they

already sell wine in this way – no change on 2017.

A further 2% say they will “definitely”

1% last year. But almost two thirds of

retailers say it’s an idea that is not on their There is a slight increase in the

proportion of respondents saying they offer some form of wine education

programme, up to 26% from 23% in 2017. Five per cent say they will “definitely”

introduce an educational dimension to their offer this year.

More merchants are now organising

trips to wine-producing regions for their customers: 10% of respondents, compared

introduce trips in the coming year, up from the 2% we recorded in 2017.

High hopes for websites in year ahead

Every year the majority of respondents in our reader survey say they have big plans for their websites. This year is no different, with 30% “very likely” to launch a new website, or overhaul an existing one, up from 28% last time. Twenty-six per cent of respondents say it’s “fairly likely” to happen, the same figure we recorded in 2017.

to 7% last year. A further 3% plan to

Do you plan to increase or reduce the number of suppliers you deal with?

Are you generally happy or unhappy with the support you get from suppliers?



Increase 42%

Happy 72%

Reduce suppliers





Increase suppliers



Decrease 24%


30% 20%

Unhappy 7%

10% 10%














Figures represent the % saying very or fairly likely/happy/unhappy. Number of responses: 160 in 2018; 130 in 2017; 133 in 2016; and 102 in 2015

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 29

reader survey 2018

The pros and cons of going direct The proportion of wine that independent merchants buy straight from producers has risen slightly this year as retailers seek out exclusive lines and bigger margins. But some indies say Brexit has scuppered their importing ambitions – while others are very happy with the service they get from UK agents


here’s been a slight increase

in the proportion of wine that

independents ship direct from

suppliers. But many merchants still say

they prefer a simpler life by dealing with UK suppliers.

Last year, merchants reported that on

average 17.3% of their range was sourced

direct from producers. This year that figure has risen to 18.2%.

The proportion of merchants predicting

up their direct imports cite reasons such as exclusivity and higher margins. “We enjoy the sole ownership of wines that we import and win awards for,” says John Hattersley of

Hattersley Wines in Bakewell (right). “It puts little old

Bakewell on the wine map.”

Z&B Vintners in Kent has

built up a reputation for the premium

Australian wines it imports. “As a direct

‘Without Brexit we would have been buying considerably more directly’

they will buy “much more” wine directly has risen from 9.5% to 10.8%. Those

expecting to see their direct imports rise “a little” has gone down from 37.3% to 34.4%.

The proportion of merchants

who will continue to source all wine from UK suppliers rose

slightly, from 20.6% to 22.3%.

Respondents who are cranking

result, this has brought opportunities from

top wine producers in

Australia who seek our representation,” says

owner Stuart McCloskey. “We clearly make

more gross margin by

importing direct – be it an exclusivity or not. We are

the ones in control of where our wines are sold and are not of the behest of delayed shipments from suppliers.”

Chris Bailey of Mr & Mrs Fine Wine in Southwell (left) is

planning more direct imports. “I am fed up of seeing

wholesalers’ products being

sold at 10% to 15% mark-up

online, which makes my pricing

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 30

seem high even when I am only marking up by 30%,” he says.

“I have had customers ask for

a case of wine only for them to tell me they can buy it online

for a lot less. The excuse given

by wholesalers that ‘they are

working on lower margins’

is abundantly obvious, but they

are failing to act on it by offering indies exclusives. Online should be treated as

a multiple channel. Buying direct gives

better margins and more exclusivity on wines – it’s a no brainer for me.”

Paola Tich of Park + Bridge in west

London (below) is planning to do a

little more direct importing in pursuit of exclusivity and higher margins.

“Having said that, I can’t see us buying huge amounts more because of cash

flow and storage space,” she says. “I’ve not used a

bonded warehouse

as this seems to add

costs. I might look for more ex-cellars opportunities.”

Many respondents say their importing ambitions have been curtailed by Brexit

© ACP prod /

to source

Many merchants have forged long-standing relationships with wine producers

uncertainties. “We were looking to start

importing wines before the Brexit vote, but now are waiting to see the outcome before getting involved in the technicalities of

importation,” says Kiki Evans of Unwined in Tooting (right).

Tom Jones of The Whalley Wine

Shop in Lancashire adds: “We are the right size to start buying

“For the time being, UK suppliers are

meeting our needs as well as offering

additional support,” says John Kernaghan of Liquorice in Shenfield, Essex.

Paul Auty of Ake & Humphris in Harrogate adds: “As long

as you work with the actual

directly in full pallets to make

agents, there’s not much

shipping work. The fall in

have been buying considerably more

direct, except when no one else

is bringing the wine you want into the

directly last year and this year.”


unfortunate effect on the exchange rate

space to take in large volumes,” adds David

Simon Evans of The Naked Grape in

Alresford (below) says Brexit “had a rather which immediately affected how many

wines I import direct”. For Andrew Lundy

at Vino in Edinburgh, the impact was even

more pronounced, and direct imports have stopped altogether. “The currency issue and Brexit have put us off in favour of firm pricing that is settled,” he says.

But there are plenty of

independents who say they are

happy with what they can source from UK importers.


more to be gained from going

value of the pound has delayed this. Without Brexit we would

Independents join forces with wine buying

“Apart from a couple of local vineyards

we do not buy directly as we don’t have the

Expect to source some wines this year as part of an informal buying group (2017: 18%)

Perry of Shaftesbury Wines. “The saving does not compensate for the impact on cash flow.”

Duncan Murray of Duncan Murray Wines in Market Harborough is


reducing the amount of directly

Expect to source some wines this year as part of a formal buying group (2017: 15%)

24% Expect to buy jointly with other independents more than they did last year (2017: 23%)

imported wine “due to cash being tied up for longer

periods” – a comment echoed

by many respondents.

He adds: “We aim to import

primarily for Christmas sales because

we can guarantee a quick return.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 31

Expect to buy jointly with other independents less than they did last year (2017: 5%)


merchant profile: saxtys secRet wine shop

The Hereford speakeasy The Secret Bottle Shop may be new, but it’s part of a business that’s traded on the site since 2001, and a family that’s been in the drinks trade since 1727. Now all eyes are on its future as a hybrid wine shop


t’s hard to know what’s most exciting: walking into Saxtys

Secret Bottle Shop for the first time, when you don’t know what lurks at the far end of that ancient passageway; or

making the journey a second time, once you know what treats await you.

Most wine shops that have opened in the past decade have

made a point of putting their wares on full view behind huge

street-facing panes in an effort to woo trepidatious passers-by.

The geography of Saxtys, which also incorporates a ground floor nightclub, doesn’t make such niceties possible.

“It’s almost like a speakeasy,” laughs owner Edward Symonds,

whose surname will be familiar to most cider drinkers. “It’s

obviously not – we have a sign out there. But it’s not a shop, and it’s not an office building.” What does he think goes through the minds of new customers? “The worst-case scenario is that it’s going to be a glorified store room and the best case is that it’s

going to be a vibrant, healthy retail space. It’s proving to be the latter, and we’re getting a lot of repeat custom.”

Symonds, a scion of the family who put their name to Scrumpy

Jack cider and sold out to local rival Bulmer in 1990, bought the Saxtys nightclub – a local institution – in 2001. The family had

been running bars at country fairs and agricultural shows and was hit hard by the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2000. They needed to put down roots, and Saxtys fitted the bill.

“In its heyday in the early noughties every Friday and Saturday

night we’d get 500 people in here, without fail,” says Symonds.

The doorway faces Widemarsh Street in the centre of Hereford

“There would be a queue down the street – one in and one out.

apps, the kids don’t feel the need to go out in the way that we used

trade that is common across the industry, thanks to the liberalising

and wanting to buy wine to take home, which is why the website

The pubs would close at 11pm and the clubs at 2am.”

The nightclub is still open but has experienced a downturn in

effect of the Licensing Act, the introduction of the smoking ban and a general change in the way people socialise.

“People’s drinking habits have changed – one in four 18 to

24-year-olds are teetotal,” says Symonds.

Anita Mannion, September “Being on the high street2017 for 17 years now, you see how

dramatically things have changed. With social media and dating

to. It’s a huge cultural change.

“Even back in ’08 and ’09 we could see people drinking less

was born. We set up the online shop to supply people locally and the business has grown from there. That’s the mainstay of the business – the online has thrived.”

The Secret Bottle Shop emerged an additional revenue stream in

Christmas 2016. It occupies a sequence of spaces in the building adjacent to the nightclub and set back from the street. Symonds

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 32

is now considering expanding the retail area into the front-facing part of the nightclub and offering wines for sale on the premises. How are sales in the shop compared to what you do online?

It’s still minimal at the moment because it’s only been going since

the Christmas before last. We don’t advertise, we don’t tell anyone where we are, so without that bit of signage, people have to find

us. But that adds to the theatre of it – you see people come in with a smile on their face because they’ve found it. The word-of-mouth thing is spreading.

It’s an add-on to the existing business so we haven’t had the

need to drive it too much.

What is the shop contributing at the moment in terms of turnover? At the moment it’s only about 10%, probably not even that

because of what we do with events, online, the bars, wholesale

and everything else. It’s pretty tiny, but it’s grown and the demand of customers has been fantastic. The start of this year has been fantastic. One of the plans we have is to expand the shop: a

Vagabond-type experience with Enomatics with 60 or 70 wines by the glass.

Have you been on field trips to Vagabond and places like that? We’ve been to Vagabond to have a look round. It is primarily

female-driven. There were couples and mixed groups but there were no groups of half a dozen guys drinking. You see people’s

Edward Symonds: victim of foot-and-mouth and the Licensing Act

At Vagabond, the staff were great, moving around and

faces going around drinking and their reactions to the wines. It’s a

interacting with you rather than being stuffy in an old-school

Some merchants feel that dispensers are a bit impersonal and

eight wines or less on – I don’t see the point of that. If you’re going

very good atmosphere in there. robotic.

You can argue that the next generation have grown up not

interacting with people. They have grown up online and if you give them a card they can go up and help themselves to wine – as long as there’s help and advice available if needed.

‘We’ve decided not to grow our wine list but to work with as many spirits suppliers as we can find’


I think it falls down when you stick one machine in and you put

to do it, you want to bank those machines in and have a great selection, you really do.

People are hungry to try new wines. They are keen to know

what’s what.

Are you constantly making changes to your range? As a small family-run business, we can be quick within the market as opposed to big companies who have to go through various buying channels.

We have made a conscious decision not to grow our wine list

anymore, but we’re looking to stock as many and work with as

many different spirit suppliers as we can find. Spirits are in such demand.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 2016 33

Continues page 34

merchant profile: saxtys secRet wine shop Being part of the Symonds cider dynasty must open a few

From page 33

doors. Do you sell any cider? Do you think the gin boom has peaked? I think it’s never going away. Obviously it will plateau and may

decrease slightly, but it’s at such a level. Will rum follow behind

it? Rum has got that thing as a long drink, you can have different mixers with it, so there’s more theatre to it.

I never used to drink gin at all but I’m a convert. Some don’t

work. It’s the power of social media. You can’t underestimate how powerful a tool it is.

What other merchants are round and about? There’s Tanners in town and a smaller independent, Noble &

Wild, who are very organic and niche. Then there’s Majestic and Waitrose.

We’re going the slightly more commercial route but with

the commercial stuff that’s not necessarily going to be in the

supermarkets or available elsewhere. There’s a good demand for what we’re doing.

We were only a small family firm, but we had Scrumpy Jack which was a big cider and then Greenall Whitley came in and invested millions.

We haven’t gone down the craft beer, craft cider route yet

because it’s a bit more problematic and of course the economies of scale don’t work. The Amazons and the big boys of the world are selling stuff for nothing. We have to make money.

Who are the main wine suppliers you deal with? We deal with Mentzendorff, Louis Latour, Fells, Kingsland, LVMH, Boutinot, Walker & Wodehouse. We tend to have accounts with a lot of people. Some are old historic ones, and some are from the

last two or three years. We’re not taking on any new ones. We’ve stopped buying ex-cellar apart from a couple of things we buy in

bulk for some corporate clients, but apart from that we just use UK stock now.

Is that because of the currency and the way that’s gone?

Symonds with sales and marketing executive Lucy Bennett, who takes care of the increasingly important social media output

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 34

The euro is definitely a thing but just at the moment you can buy

UK stock of Prosecco cheaper than you can buy ex-cellar. Because of the event business we can shift a lot of stock very quickly and

we’re always screaming for stock in the summer. The euro hasn’t helped much.

Is Brexit going to make life more difficult for you as a wine merchant? There’s a lot of people in the trade who are very anti-Brexit

which I find very strange. I was 50/50 until a week I spent before the vote on a Champagne trip with 16 people from all over the country.

There were the inevitable long lunches and long dinners and

it became clear that apart from one staunch remainer, everyone

was out, and vehemently so. A lot of the British working in France were vehemently out; a lot of French people we spoke to thought the whole [EU] thing was a joke. It shocked me a little bit.

The majority of Hereford voted out. Everyone’s excited about

it. There’s a lot of hot air spoken on both sides but when it’s all

sorted and done I bet you any money it will be business as usual. I don’t think we will notice. There will be some people who deal with cross-border stuff but for little old us I think there’ll be

‘I was 50/50 on Brexit before a Champagne trip. Apart from one staunch remainer, everyone was out, and vehemently so’ us. Those products are more Instagram-friendly.

Something shocked me recently: one of the most searched-

for phrases on holidays are how Instagrammable it is. And the

Instagrammability of venues, of bottles etc – it’s a big thing now for a certain market.

Lucy [Bennett, sales and marketing executive] does a really

Continues page 36

hardly any change. We’ll see, I guess.

They keep saying about this money that’s going to come out of

the economy and it’s going to make us poorer. But they’ve never

been spot on with any forecast I can ever remember on anything.

All the doom and gloom merchants who said what would happen … none of that has really come about.

How have you coped with the price increases over the last 18 months or so? When the vote came in and the euro went down we had several

increases – some suppliers put them up mid the annual increase. Prestige cuvée Champagne has gone up a lot. And obviously

Highland whisky has gone up an awful lot as it becomes more

scarce. But general stuff hasn’t gone up an awful lot that we’ve noticed.

Customers aren’t stupid: if it’s too expensive they won’t buy it.

There’s certainly stuff that we don’t stock because we cannot be

competitive, so generic supermarket Champagnes – Veuve Cliquot, Moët – we struggle to maintain prices on those.

Could you move away from grand marque Champagne? No, we are moving away completely from grower Champagne because we find that absolutely doesn’t sell. Prestige cuvée,

vintage Champagne, gift-pack Champagne and almost novelty

Champagne: Moët Ice, Moët NIR, Veuve Clicquot Rich, all work for

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 35

Prestige cuvées sell – grower Champagnes don’t

merchant profile: saxtys secRet wine shop From page 35

good job of all our social media. Instagram has become bigger and

bigger. Twitter is more trade-to-trade; there is very little customer interaction on Twitter. Facebook is still a big thing. What’s your particular area of specialism?

We do a lot of Port. I love my Port and we do a lot of Champagne. You hear all these stories of how good the Champagne Academy is and that you’ll never forget it – and it really is that good. It’s honestly something else.

Are there any countries that you’re particularly excited about? America. We are selling a lot of Californian wines at the moment. Australia, Chile.

I love my French, Italian and Spanish wine and especially Rioja.

I’m not so much a fan of Bordeaux; I love my white Burgundy.

There’s some great South African wines out there at the moment. I have a mixed taste, I guess.

Having a decent meal at home without a glass of wine is

Symonds sees no end to the gin boom

that’s pretty cool and, with the family name there behind it, a bit of heritage.

Apparently Stephen Hawking was a guest at one off your

sacrilege. The drink less, drink better mantra is definitely true.


We tend to go to a couple a year – it depends what the calendar is

We had a phone call from one of his team saying, “we hear you’re

Do you get to London for many tastings?

like. We went to one in Manchester last year. It’s just a slow drive, so it can be frustrating. The train isn’t so bad. If you go to London

you can usually time it so you get to two tastings together and take the staff to look at Hedonism or Vagabond. Have a look round, see what’s new.

Do you feel well looked after by the reps out here? We get very well looked after. There aren’t very many operators – because we have been trading for a long time, we get well looked after and we get to go on really good trips.

Have you thought of doing your ownlabel Champagne or claret? We toyed with a few of those ideas in the past and they haven’t gone anywhere –

but who knows? Maybe. We were looking

around Fortnum & Mason the other week and actually bought a couple of wines

home with their labels on. That’s a nice

gift to give someone. We’re not that kind of level at all, obviously, but with The

Secret Bottle Shop we’ve got something

He used to go to an annual conference in Texas, but then he

couldn’t fly so they started having the conference in Hereford.

having a Champagne tasting, and Stephen would like to attend”. He turned up with his entourage. He stayed for a couple of

hours. He had a bloody mary to start with which our cocktail guy was very nervously making.

The lady who was looking after him said “he wants to meet you”,

so I got to hold his hand and mutter a few words to him – but what do you say?

To meet someone who has the brightest mind on the planet … it

was quite intimidating, but something you never forget.

‘We had a call from Stephen Hawking’s team: “We hear you’re having a Champagne tasting, and Stephen would like to attend”’

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 36

Mark Bingley MW, one of the founders of MMD and now the company’s fine wine director, selects some of the highlights for independents in a broad and varied portfolio Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV RRP £45-£50

Delas Côtes du Rhône Rouge RRP £13.49

It’s the wine that the winemakers are most proud of. To make a non-vintage cuvée which is superb quality every year requires the skill of the blender and a wonderful collection of old reserve wines, which they age in old wood. All the vineyards are in the Montagne de Reims, Côte de Blancs and Vallée de la Marne. The wine has maturity while retaining incredible freshness. It boasts vibrancy, texture and balance with richness of fruit, a chalky minerality and delicate floral lift. The reserve wines add a decade’s worth of depth and complexity.

Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2015 RRP £22

This is our new baby! Roederer actually owns Deutz, which owns Delas, based in the northern Rhône, and this is the first time we’ve had UK distribution. They’re very much a Hermitage house but they’ve always offered great Côtes du Rhône. It has a high proportion of Syrah in the blend – 60% – and normally Côtes du Rhône is based on Grenache, so it’s quite unusual, and it makes a really attractive wine. It has a lovely scent, a bit more freshness and a bright fruit tone. It’s a very classy wine at great value for money.

Tommasi Ripasso 2014 RRP £23

This was an excellent vintage in Chianti Classico. The estate has been there since 1435, in the same family, so they’re on to the 25th generation. They’ve worked with the local oenology university and identified 36 Sangiovese biotypes, and over the years they’ve focused on getting the best Sangiovese – and the wine is virtually all Sangiovese. It’s traditional Chianti Classico but it’s got a bit more weight and a bit more dark fruit and a slightly more concentrated style. It’s a very satisfying wine and a great food wine, and always ages very well.

Apparently the Tommasi family were the first to use “ripasso” on the label as a description. All the wines come from their own vineyards in Valpolicella Classico, in the hills rather than the plain. Of course ripasso just makes a lovely warming wine – I think it’s a great winter wine, but it’s got freshness and a lovely smooth texture. Valpolicella Classico typically has bright cherry fruit, whereas this has a slightly more mellow note and it’s slightly softer. I think ripasso offers a bit more character and concentration.

Pazo Barrantes Albariño 2016 RRP £19.99

The estate is owned by the Creixell family, who have had this estate since the 15th century. Today the production comes from nearly 12 hectares, which is quite large for a single Albariño vineyard. The wine is aged on the lees and not actually bottled until the spring, which gives it a lovely texture. Pazo Barrantes Albariño really has more depth of character and complexity than most. It’s a slightly more serious style. It’s got the classic aromatics and texture and a very nice crisp finish which makes it great with seafood.

Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Clos Rochette 2015 RRP £24.99 It’s a monopole, so they own the whole vineyard. It’s right on the northern edge of Mercurey on the boundary with Rully, so quite a hard limestone subsoil that works pretty well with white grapes. The wines go partly into second-fill barrel and partly into stainless steel; the oak gives just a touch of extra complexity, flavour and texture. The wine is made almost like a Côte d’Or wine, but the great thing of course is because it’s Mercurey it’s half the price of Meursault or something like that. We find it’s an incredibly popular wine.

Feature sponsored by MMD. For more information, visit or call 0208 812 3380 THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 37

minimum unit pricing

A chance to prove our wines are The introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland presents merchants with an opportunity to narrow the price gap on wine with supermarket rivals, retailers say – and to demonstrate why independents offer better value. Our Edinburgh Round Table coverage starts here

O sell.

n May 1, Scottish retailers will be

Matthew McFadyen of The Good Spirits

obliged to charge at least 50p per

Company said: “The supermarkets have

unit of alcohol for every drink they

created this artificial construct of wine

being cheaper than it actually is. They’ve

Scotland wants to address its dire public

gone to extraordinary lengths to hack out

health record and slash drink-related

every single penny.

deaths and hospital admissions. MUP will

“The way that Aldi and Lidl have

mean a 2-litre bottle of cider will jump

cornered that side of the market has

from £3.99 to £7.50, while wine will be

allowed those people who still don’t want

hard to find at much below £5 a bottle,

to spend more than £5 a bottle to suddenly

depending on its exact alcoholic strength.

think: actually £3 is OK. The wine-drinking

Although specialist wine shops are

public have become dumbed down.”

highly unlikely to need to recalibrate

Are those really the kinds of consumers

their pricing as a result of MUP, many

welcome the “narrowing of the gap” with multiple rivals who attract sections of

their customer base with their current discounting.

According to Douglas Wood of

WoodWinters, it’s now “almost a middle-

class badge of honour to say that you buy cheap wine”.

Andrew Lundy of Vino agrees, pointing

that independents would naturally Wood: cheap wine “almost a badge of honour”

to a recent £2.99 California Chardonnay

deal in Lidl. “That wasn’t the only one that’s below £4, and that’s a marketing tool,” he

said. “It gets middle-class people in to buy everything else.”

‘If supermarket base level is £6 dross, and the difference is 50p or £1, people are going to reject it, because it’s terrible’ THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 38

attract? Richard Meadows of Great Grog

in Edinburgh believes shoppers who “are

in there anyway” are tempted by the wine deals offered by the discounters.

Lundy has tried to respond to the new

threat. “We’ve just put some £5.95 wines

out – most of them have come down from

£7.50,” he said. “That’s specifically to target that shopper.

He accepts that no independent is trying

to compete at the £5 level. “But it’s the first time that our £6 wines – that we all think are good £6 wines – are going to come

to the point where there’s a closeness in price,” he argues.

Archie McDiarmid of Luvians agrees.

“Thirty years ago a supermarket was never

somewhere you’d buy wine,” he said. “They

worth it The Wine Merchant Edinburgh Round Table in association with hatch mansfield then started dragging the price down to places no one else could go.

“This is the first narrowing of the gap

we’ve had between the supermarket

trade and the independent trade. But if

supermarket base level is £6 dross, people are going to reject it, because it’s terrible.

“If all of a sudden the difference is £1 or

50p, then the social value in serving a wine that you think is pretty poor versus a wine that you genuinely think is quite good is affected. You don’t mind paying extra.”

All six merchants are comfortable with

the general idea of ministerial interference with pricing. “The government interferes with every bloody single thing we do,”

Wood shrugged. “At least they’ve done something useful here for health.”

Is there not a risk that alcohol could

progressively become demonised – and ultimately face similar sanctions to the tobacco industry?

© nd3000 /

“One thing the alcohol industry will

always have is that being teetotal is worse

for you than being a moderate drinker,”

licensing laws? Most agree there are too

smoking never had that.”

indeed understood.

said McDiarmid. “A small amount of

wine actually improves your health, and Lundy added: “It will stop people

drinking six litres of white cider a day. It

will definitely take more problem drinkers out of the equation. But absolutely it could be the thin end of the wedge and there could be health warnings.”

McDiarmid said: “The fact of the

matter is, if you are earning any money

whatsoever, 50p does not drive out your ability to purchase alcohol. But if you’re a 14, 15 or 16-year-old, all of a sudden

many local variations and a postcode

lottery of how regulations are applied, and

“It would help if the people who brought

in these laws had a fucking clue what they’re talking about,” said Wood.

“They need to have far, far more specific

detail and rules, and people you can go and speak to about the rules. If you speak to

anyone, they’re like: ‘We’re not really too sure …’”


alcohol becomes inaccessible to you.

Archie McDiarmid

they’re drinking slightly nicer alcohol.”

Matthew McFadyen

“Hopefully those kids either won’t drink

alcohol – or they’ll be in a situation where Is there anything else that merchants

would like to see addressed within Scottish

Luvians, St Andrews

The Good Spirits Co, Glasgow

Andrew Lundy Vino, Edinburgh

Richard Meadows Great Grog, Edinburgh

Phoebe Weller Valhalla’s Goat, Glasgow

Douglas Wood WoodWinters, Bridge of Allan

MARK O’BRYEN Consumers are being lured to discounters by wines as cheap as £2.99, but will see prices rise

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 39

Hatch Mansfield

round table discussion

So, where are the millennials? Are younger drinkers missing out wine as they get their kicks from beer, gin and other stimulants? Our Edinburgh panel of independents considers the issue. More Round Table coverage next month

Phoebe: Come and hang out in my shop on

Doug: I 100% agree with that because back

the idea of acidity.

about 10. They're buying expensive wine.

that we have now.

22, 21 who are mad into this idea of natural

a Friday or a Saturday and you will see me

ID’ing everybody, because everybody looks Richard: I get the same in my shop, but

we've gone from mostly wine 12 years ago, about 75%, to about 30%. They’re buying craft beer.

Phoebe: They want wine. They just don't know it.

Richard: If they've gone into Lidl and

bought shite Chardonnay at £2.99, they get put off.

Archie: You can buy for £4 a bottle of

Kernel, arguably one of the best breweries in the world, so that young customer is

used to drinking the best. In 10 years’ time

when they're having a dinner party, they're going to come to you and say: what's amazing?

Matthew: The issue with millennials is

maybe about them drinking less. When I was young we used to drink a lot more. People in the social

media age are much

more about how they look and how they

feel. Are they more

concerned about not drinking too

much, and being


when we got smashed and wrecked and

off our faces there wasn’t the photography

Archie: Loads of these kids have absolutely no problems drinking quite spectacular amounts of booze. But what they are

looking for is it either needs to be an event or it needs to be a story.

For example, every year St Andrews

organises an Oktoberfest, and they can buy super cheap beer from

Paulaner. A thousand of them descend on a farm outside St Andrews and get absolutely ruined. They share it on social media and they love all of it. But at the same time, when

we do our wine fair or monthly

masterclasses, the vast majority of people that are there you would

Phoebe: In Glasgow we get customers of

wine; they’re vegans and they’re interested in process, they’re interested in place. Andrew: My theory of why there’s

less drinking is they’re paying for their education. When you’ve got that

amount of debt, especially if you’re

coming to Edinburgh from England, or from further afield … are you going to go out on a Wednesday night and get smashed and miss the lecture?

Richard: Young people still drink to

get hammered, absolutely they do, but they don’t do it as often as I did.

Andrew: There is an elephant in the

absolutely class as millennials.

room: they’re all taking loads more drugs.

different world than anywhere else …

and there’s no tax or minimum pricing.

Phoebe: But St Andrews is a completely Archie: No, they’re young educated drinkers.

Mark: I spent a lot of time training this

group of millennials in the on-trade. The people who work in hotels are 18 to 22. They come to a Champagne tasting all

excited and you give them Champagne and it’s, “oh, it’s too sour”.

You’ve got to teach them to taste,

otherwise their palates don’t get used to

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 40

Richard: Way more drugs. They’re cheaper They’ll see the £2.99 Chardonnay and say, “that’s pish”. Are you drinking wine? “No,

I’ll have some of that £4 Kernel thank you

very much.” They get a real kick out of that. Phoebe: With craft beer you’re getting people interested in flavour.

Archie: Really premium wine producers should be putting wines in cans.

Phoebe: Absolutely. A can is really cool.

Archie: Why are winemakers not looking

at something that’s trendy? This is a way of getting wine to be accessible to the people we want to drink it.

A can gives you room for artwork.

Fundamentally cans are amazing as a

vessel for conveying alcohol. Bottles are generally non-democratising.

Phoebe: Part of the thing about cans being £3 to £7 is you can try various different

things and see where your taste lies. You’re not committing to a £15, £20 bottle.

Andrew: It also plays into the health

aspect: you’re drinking better, but you’re drinking less.

Bottom left: Archie McDiarmid, Luvians. Above: Phoebe Weller, Valhalla’s Goat, and Matthew McFadyen, The Good Spirits Co. Below: Andrew Lundy, Vino, and Richard Meadows, Great Grog

I genuinely feel that people are investing

in their enjoyment of alcohol. Some of it

might go to beer, some to whisky and some to gin but it’s going to come back round to wine again. It’s the best fit for meals.

Cans is one angle. All I get from suppliers

at the moment is, “do you want bag-

in-box?” No, I don’t want bag-in-box. A

50cl can of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc would absolutely fly.

Matthew: The younger drinkers seem to be much more caught up in the idea of

being seen to be drinking the right thing,

so they come in looking for certain things. They tend to get more into fads.

Archie: I am really positive about where millennials are going to wind up when it comes to wine, simply because they are much more switched on by flavour and

story. They have less of an attachment to

these grand regions. We know that people progress. They start with Brewdog and

The Wine Merchant Edinburgh Round Table in association with hatch mansfield

entry-level breweries and move to much more interesting flavours.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 41

Sponsored feature

Proud to be craft distillers Warner Edwards welcomes consumers who ask awkward questions about their gin


s gin continues to boom,

consumers are becoming more discerning in their tastes and

asking more questions about what they’re drinking.

This is something that Warner

Edwards positively welcomes. There is

absolutely nothing to hide at Falls Farm, its home in the village of Harrington,

Northamptonshire. The gin is distilled in small batches by husband-and-wife

team Tom and Tina Warner, and created using only natural ingredients that are

farm-grown or locally sourced wherever possible.

Visitors can admire the botanical

garden and the company’s gorgeous

bespoke 500-litre copper still, Curiosity, designed to create a pure, clean spirit, or its smaller counterpart, named

Satisfaction, which is where the team experiments with new flavour

creations from the Botanical Garden and beyond.

“A lot of people are having their leg

pulled by mass-produced products selling for £35 or £40 a bottle,”

says Tom. “Genuine craft distillers

genuinely have to charge that much for the product. It’s great that this

level of education is now out there

Tina and Tom Warner at the natural spring on their farm in Northamptonshire

Lemon Balm and Honeybee, which is made with honey from the farm’s own apiary as well as from the wider

county and released in partnership

with the Royal Horticultural Society. Each bottle comes with a packet

of wildflower seeds to encourage the planting of bee-friendly environments.

Tom Warner now leads a team of

30 but the business has stayed true

to its original artisanal roots and its

because I think people are starting to see

commitment to sustainability. And despite

There are now six gins in the

relationship with the small retailers who

through some products in the market.” Warner Edwards range. The original is

Harrington Dry, a multi award-winning 44% abv gin with a complex, well-

rounded palate and notes of cardamom,

black pepper and citrus. It’s been joined

by Harrington Elderflower, Harrington Sloe, Victoria’s Rhubarb, Melissa

the success of the Warner Edwards

range, he is determined to maintain the

have helped to create a following for the brand.

“We’ve really focused on the

independent trade – that’s where we built our business,” he says. “We try to have as much contact as we can with these guys.

At the very start there was an awful lot of

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 42

running about seeing those independents and that really paid dividends. I think

because we did all that at the start we built a bond with a lot of them.

“We are craft, we do all the things

we say we do on the pack and it’s an interesting story; we’ve managed to

create a demand. We supplement that with as much awareness as we can

with tastings around the country and the shows we attend. We try to make

retailers’ lives as easy as possible. Most independent shops buy direct from

us, which helps to maintain that allimportant relationship.”

© Igor Normann /

focus on GIN

rhubarb rhubarb

Who would have thought that a spirit flavoured with everybody’s least favourite school pudding ingredient would create the drinks craze of 2017? Indeed who predicted that gin would still be booming in an era of austerity when bottles cost £40 each? Nigel Huddleston asks independents to help unravel the enigma


in is the Ed Sheeran of the drinks world: almost universally popular, with each new creation bringing a subtly

different texture and tone to the canon, anchored around

a traditionally authentic elemental ingredient – juniper in gin’s case and the acoustic guitar in Ed’s. Cynics might even say that

the unqualified success of each is hard to explain – and perhaps that gin has a significantly more interesting range and is more viscerally exciting.

For their respective industries, in pragmatic, commercial terms,

both are hard to ignore.

Indeed for drinks shops, it’s not so much a question any more of

“should I be stocking gin?”, more of which gins to stock and how to

ensure they sell through.

To answer that it helps to get a grasp of the stratification playing

out in the retail world, with the market fragmenting into the big mainstream gins that are the benchmarks of supermarket or

travel retail, local gins for local people, super-premium brands

like Warner Edwards or Silent Pool that have broken out of their

immediate surroundings, international gins, and ultra-expensive gins with crazy things like ants and truffles in them.

After that, there are always micro-trends that come and go such

as certain flavours or styles, with rhubarb a particular favourite

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 43

Continues page 44

focus on GIN different age groups. “It’s probably the early- to

From page 43

mid-30s who are buying the most. Even with the more expensive ones, people still want to snap

them up. I’ve probably got all my spirits at a 20%-

of 2017, now giving way to a more generic thirst

25% margin which means that a lot of them are

for all things pink: a Warner Edwards-driven

coming out at £40 or £45, but they’re still selling.

trend that hasn’t escaped the notice of Diageo and

Japanese Gin is £65.”

Pernod Ricard, who have released pink versions

Marcus Smith (pictured below), at Raffles

of Gordon’s and Beefeater respectively in recent

Fine Wines in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, has a


different experience and says “it’s mainly younger

“There are thousands of gins out there,” says

people” who are buying the more expensive

Trina Osborne, at Trina’s Wines in Putney, west London. “I do some of the basic ones such as

Gordon’s, Portobello Road, Sipsmith and Hendrick’s, and others such as Burleigh’s, [Audemus Spirits’] Pink Pepper, Nelson’s

Rhubarb & Custard and Japanese Gin from Cambridge Distillery. I sold a lot of Two Birds sloe gin at Christmas. Hendrick’s,

Sipsmith’s and Silent Pool are very popular – but they all go well. “It’s just become really trendy and people are being more

adventurous with flavoured ones. I wish I could get more in but it’s the financial outlay which is the issue for a shop like ours. Apart from the Burleigh’s and Pink Pepper I mainly get mine from cash and carry. Booker do quite a good range now and you can buy two or three bottles of each, or even singles.”

As with wine, the hand-sell is an important tool for

independents. “I try to do free samples if I take on a new one,” says Osborne.

marques. “My take on that is that older people

who’ve drunk gin all their lives absolutely point

blank refuse to pay £40-45 for a bottle of gin,” he says. “But

for younger people, coming at it from the cocktail scene, they probably don’t care that much.”

Raffles sells a relatively small range, spearheaded by Trevethan

Cornish gin and Psychopomp from Bristol.

“Trevethan is £44 and Psychopomp is £45,” Smith says. “I would

like them both to be £39 and I’m sure we could sell a lot more, but I won’t compromise on margin. A lot of people [in retail] would take a view on spirits and mark them up at much less, but I’m rigid about margin on everything in the shop. We

know that most people sell them for a similar price to

us – I’m sure most of the trade will work on 35%, but maybe a bit less on spirits.

“We the do the Bristol one because it’s local and

the Trevethan just because it’s so good. It’s all in the

aromatics; it certainly floated our boat. The distiller came up

“When Burleigh’s contacted me to take on their gin I asked for

and gave a demonstration, we did an evening and it just took off

While many forms of alcohol are typecast as young people’s or

have to focus on it and really work at it to become a destination for

samples to give to customers. I did that with their pink gin which was the most recent one. It always helps.”

old people’s drinks, Osborne says the appeal of gin cuts across

‘Gin is cutting through the generations and I don’t think wine is doing that. People in their 20s and 60s are enjoying the same gin’

from that really.

“If I had a shelf of 25 or 30 gins we’d do good business but you

gin, and I don’t have the space to do it in gin because it’s all about wine for us.”

Carl MacShilton, at Delicious, a deli and wine merchant in

Weymouth, says that “gin sales have overtaken white wine sales”. He adds: “There can’t be many houses in Weymouth that didn’t

open a bottle of gin on Christmas Day last year. If you look in bars there’ll be young people drinking it and older couples who are

equally enjoying it. It’s cutting across the generations and I don’t think wine is doing that. We do gin tastings in the shop and we have early-20s right through to people in their 60s who are all enjoying the same gin – and all ages in between.”

Delicious is benefiting from a growing local gin drinking culture,

MacShilton says. “Whatever happens in London will happen in

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 44

Weymouth five or seven years after,” he adds, “so we’ve got gin bars opening in the town and people drinking premium tonics to go in their gins. One of the things that appeals is that people can flavour it and mix to their own taste. And people are always looking for the next big thing.

“In the last two years it’s increased exponentially, so

much so that I’ve given up a shelf of white wine to stock some more, for the time being at least.”

While happy with the volumes people are buying,

MacShilton is less hawkish about margins, suggesting

that, with trade prices of many brands coming in at £30

per bottle including VAT, there’s not a lot of wiggle room if stores want to hit the £35-ish retail price point that

seems to be the prevailing norm in the boutique gin market. “The margins are really, really tight,” he says, “but I sell it

because it’s what people are after. We buy mainly direct. We do about 20 gins. It’s mostly from the south west. There are four

from Dorset and 10 from further afield in the south west, plus any others that people ask us to get.

“One of the difficulties is that there’s no central source for us to

buy from. I can buy wines from Australia, Chile and Spain, all from the same supplier. With gins it’s more difficult to do that unless

you want to use a big wholesaler like LWC or Matthew Clark – and then you’re obviously paying on-trade prices.”

Popular Dorset lines at Delicious include Fordington,

Conker and Soapbox Spirits’ Pothecary, while from neighbouring Hampshire the store sells gins from

Winchester Distillery. Cornwall supplies Frog’s Lip and

Tarquin’s, and Manchester distiller Zymurgorium’s sweet violet gin liqueur – widely referred to by its fans as the

Parma Violet gin – has also been a popular recent draw.

“I go down the route of ‘if I can get it and it’s available,

but not in the supermarket, then I’m happy to sell it’,”

says MacShilton. “It’s driven by local demand.

“In the last couple of of months the sweeter and flavoured ones

are becoming a lot more popular. People buy them because they collect the bottles. I’ve got customers who’ve got 70 bottles and

will buy a new one just because it’s a gin they haven’t had. It’s gone the way of thimbles and stamps. It’s quite unfathomable.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 45

focus on GIN

Portobello Road Gin

Willem Barentsz Gin Willem Barentsz is a rare split-

Portobello Road Gin is a timeless

base gin infused with exotic jasmine

London Dry, eschewing the trend for

flowers to create the ultimate gin

obscure and unusual ingredients to


instead salute London distillers of the




from the historical Dutch origins of gin production, Willem Barentsz harnesses











combined with contemporary flavour



infusions to create a new premium

botanicals, Portobello yields a depth

gin that invites you to explore and

of flavour and character to suit all


occasions and libations. It is, as one

From a refreshing gin and tonic to

might say, a capital bracer. Best

a harmonious, unexpected cocktail,

served simply with tonic and a twist of

Willem Barentsz celebrates the spirit


of discovery by delivering a unique taste to the most discerning palates. Contact: 0203 409 6565

Contact: 0203 409 6565

Kokoro Gin

Elephant Gin Kokoro was inspired by a visit


to “Uncle Nic”, who’s lived in


Japan for over 50 years. His life’s


passion has been transforming




spirit of Africa. Inspired by the

back into a haven for endangered

traditional sundowner experience

indigenous plant species.

after a day out in the African






London carefully that

premium Dry





Kokoro is a London Dry Gin

bush, Elephant Gin is produced

distilled with eight botanicals and

for wildlife adventurers and urban

fresh Sansho berries, imported






in Germany with high quality

the Afan Woodland of Nagano

production standards, the gin is

prefecture, Japan. Sansho berries

distilled using fourteen botanicals,

are used extensively in Japanese

including rare African ingredients

cuisine and have a distinctively

Baobab, Buchu and African Wormwood, to create the



earthy black pepper flavour with a piney citrus aftertaste.

gin’s distinctive flavour profile.

Contact: 0203 409 6565

Contact: 0203 409 6565

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 47

focus on GIN

Rock Rose Gin

Pinkster Gin Produced outside






Rock Rose Gin gets its name from our first botanical forage along the Pentland Firth cliffs, where

is a premium gin infused with

Rhodolia rosea was introduced to

raspberries. Real ones. The ones

us by a local botanist. A rose in the

that grow on bushes.


Deliciously dry, with just a hint of fruit and an exceptionally smooth

Over a thousand years ago, Vikings

finish, Pinkster makes a refreshingly

would forage the cliffs to gather

different G&T.

Especially when

Rhodia rosea. This was thought to

served with a sprig of fresh, well-

give them extra strength to carry on

spanked mint.

their long arduous journeys. Our gin uses this botanical along

Pithily described by The Observer Maximum

with local and traditional botanicals

flavour. Artisan gin with raspberries.

to create a unique taste from the


Highlands of Scotland!




Contact: 01847 851 287

Contact: 01763 849739

Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin

Hoxton Gin Named after Hoxton, East London,

Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin has a recipe of eight natural botanicals, each

Hoxton Gin’s bold and unwavering

individually pot distilled. The signature

attitude reflects that of the creative

botanical is Sussex Hop, discovered

centre of the capital. A gin that is smooth, easy and

wild in hedgerows near Mayfield and

different from the rest, it is distilled

cultivated by a hop farm in Salehurst. The label depicts the encounter of St

using natural and ethically sourced

Dunstan and the Devil, an epic event in

ingredients including juniper, iris,

10th century Mayfield.






Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin has a zesty

macerated for five days before single

citrus aroma, with a pure, pine-and-

distillation in a 150-year-old copper

spice juniper heart. The hops provide

pot still, then finished with natural

a floral note with a delicious subtle

coconut and pink grapefruit. Hoxton

bitterness and an elegant finish.

Gin is rested for two months for the botanicals to harmonise.

Contact: 01483 458700

Contact: 01483 458700

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 48

focus on GIN

Burleighs London Dry Gin

Conker Dry Gin In April 2015 we launched Dorset’s


first gin distillery with our Dorset

Burleighs London Dry Gin is

Dry Gin, a bright and refreshing

handcrafted and bottled in

take on a London Dry with the

the heart of Leicestershire.







It’s distilled with 11 of the


marsh samphire and hand-picked


gorse flowers.




In the same spirit of innovation,



Birch, Burdock,

Elderberry and Iris.

Conker Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur is an uncompromising tribute to

It is these ingredients and

Dorset-roasted espresso. No flavourings, colourings,

the great skill of the distiller

extracts or thickeners in sight. Conker Cold Brew doesn’t

that all contribute to the

just taste like coffee, it is coffee.

smooth nature of Burleighs.

No gimmicks. No fuss. Just top-notch small batch spirits distilled in Dorset from British wheat spirit and New Forest spring water. That’s the spirit. Contact: 01202 430 384

Contact: 01530 245 402

Rutte Gin Full of passion and quality conscious, Rutte has been producing genever since 1872 and uses no artificial flavourings or colourings; all of the sublime flavours and aromas are 100% natural and come from fresh fruit, herbs and nuts. The recipes Rutte uses to make its fantastic spirits have been passed down through generations, and the very same methods used by the firm’s founding father Simon Rutte are still employed today. The distillation process is still carried

Rutte Dry Gin

Rutte Celery Gin

Distilled with juniper,



botanicals including

70cl, 43% ABV





70cl, 43% ABV



celery, coriander,










handmade gin is still

peel and cardamom.

distilled in the same


back room that its

to use in a Red

founder Simon Rutte


used back in 1872.

its celery notes are



out in the historical building in the centre


cocktail, when

mixed with fresh celery and tomato juice.

of Dordrecht in South Holland which has been preserved in its original state.

Contact: 020 8838 9367

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 49

make a date

Wines of Germany Trade Tasting: G-Force

Bridgeman taking over from the late Ben Campbell-Johnson. The Madeira Institute, The Sherry

Institute of Spain, Extenda of Andalucia and The Port Wine Institute are all supporting this comprehensive tasting event.

An increasing proportion of independent wine merchants are claiming a specialism in German wines,

Château Montrose

according to this year’s Wine Merchant reader survey. This year’s G-Force tasting gives indies

the perfect opportunity to take stock of

recent developments, with more than 200 wines from 18 producers on display.

The event features a special selection of

wines that have been deemed by a panel of experts to be ideal for independent

retailers. There are also wines on show that have been identified for on-trade

sale, and a selection that are seeking UK representation.

Email Bettina.hepburn@thisisphipps.



Register at spearcommunications.

Thursday, May 3 Church House

There will be six producers from

Madeira, eight Sherry producers and 15

Port producers as well as representation from Australia, Carcavelos, Setubal and a

fortified wine from the Alentejo, Portugal. There will be three Port masterclasses

and two masterclasses focusing on Madeira.

Register at

Dean’s Yard

Wednesday, May 9

London SW1P 3NZ

Church House Deans Yard

ABS Masters of Riesling & Pinot Noir Tasting

London SW1P 3NZ

Wines of Hungary Tasting

Tuesday, May 1

The event will highlight the breadth

The Vinyl Factory

of the ABS German portfolio, with

Hungary, along with much of eastern

51 Poland Street

additional wines from Alsace and

Europe, is increasingly on the radar of

London W1F 7RJ


independent merchants.

Bordeaux Grand Crus Classés A vertical tasting showing 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 wines from 10 leading Bordeaux châteaux. The group includes Château Branaire-

Ducru, Saint-Julien; Château Canon,

Saint-Emilion; Château Canon La Gaffelière, Saint-Emilion; Château Gazin, Pomerol; Château Guiraud, Sauternes; Château

Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien; Château

Montrose, Saint-Estèphe; Château PontetCanet, Pauillac; Château Rauzan-Ségla,

Margaux; and Château Smith Haut Lafitte,

It’s a chance to preview the new vintage

of 2017 Riesling and 2016 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) from the major German winemaking regions.

For further details or to register, contact

Joanna Clarke: Thursday, May 3 67 Pall Mall St James’s London SW1Y 5ES

The Big Fortified Tasting

This is a chance to sample a selection

of Hungarian wines from UK importers

including Alliance, Bibendum, Boutinot,

Corney & Barrow, Hallgarten, Liberty, Top Selection and The Wine Society.

The tasting will showcase around 60

wines from regions including Tokaj, Somlo, Eger and Villany. There will also be a table of wines looking for UK representation.

The tasting will also feature wine trails

by Elizabeth Gabay MW, Caroline Gilby MW, Peter McCombie MW and Oz Clarke.

Registration is essential under embassy

rules. RSVP to Thursday, May 10

The Big Fortified Tasting makes a

The Hungarian Embassy

welcome return this year, with Alex

London SW1X 8BY

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 50

© Jason Charles

make a date

Vinca Minor Vineyard in Sonoma

The Golden State Tasting

Monday, May 14 Avenue 7-9 St James’s Street London SW1A 1EE

Over the years this annual tasting

Both London and Edinburgh are hosting the Golden State Tasting this year. As ever, the focus will be on very

premium, boutique Californian wines

curated by Flint, Roberson, The Vineyard Cellars and The Wine Treasury.

James Hocking of The Vineyard Cellars

says: “2018 is an exiting time for the

Golden State Tasting with its first foray

north of the border. Scotland’s burgeoning

Wednesday, May 16

has grown to include a broad range

The Balmoral

of wineries from British Columbia,

1 Princes Street

Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. In

Edinburgh EH2 2EQ

2018, there will be 35 producers in

Vintage Port Tasting

fine dining scene, with its focus on the

A walk-round tasting showing classic

perfect destination for top Californian

Symington of Symington Family Estates

finest beef and seafood and wealth of

vintage Ports hosted by Adrian Bridge

wines. This will be the first California trade

and Christian Seely of Quinta do Noval.

specialist independents, makes it the tasting in Scotland for a decade.”

There will be over 70 wineries

participating including Arnot Robert,

Duckhorn, Lutum Wines, Mail Road Wines, Peter Michael Winery, Rudd Estate, Sandhi Wines and Silver Oak.

For a full list of wineries represented

at either London or Edinburgh or both tastings, contact

Canadian Wine Tasting

of The Fladgate Partnership, Paul

Trade briefings will take place at

11.30am, 2.30pm and 4.30pm.

Register at spearcommunications.

Thursday, May 17

attendance. Canada’s generally cool climate and

mineral-rich soils offer the ideal conditions for producing some bright, bracing and interesting wines.

Highlights imclude the themed table,

which will show a variety of Rieslings and sparkling wines. In addition, a number of wineries are showing hybrids, crossings

and generally lesser-known grape varieties such as Lucie Kuhlman, L’Acadie Blanc, Dunkelfelder and Maréchal Foch.

Register on 020 8682 9020 or through

the website: Thursday, May 17

Trinity House

Canada House

Tower Hill

Trafalgar Square

London EC3N 4DH

London SW1Y 5BJ

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 51

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berkmann wine cellarS 10-12 Brewery Road London N7 9NH London, South, Midlands, South West 020 7670 0972 North & Scotland 01423 357567

New from Italy: Canevel and Masseria Pioppeto join Berkmann’s Portfolio Canevel came into existence in 1979 and is one of the most recognised Prosecco houses, both for its sense of tradition and its historical standing. From its first product, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry, it immediately reached premium positioning in the market. It is based in the Valdobbiadene – Conegliano Superiore DOCG area where steep

slopes, stony soils, and cooling breezes create a moderate climate and promote ideal growing conditions for Glera.

The three key lines are Casa Canevel

Prosecco Extra Dry (£14.10), Canevel Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOCG

(£16.90) and Canevel Vigneto del Faè

Prosecco DOCG Dosaggio Zero (£20.20). Masseria Pioppeto is the new addition

to the Campania portfolio; the winery is

located in Pietradifusi (Avellino), right at the heart of Irpinia region.

The area is known for the perfect combination of its volcanic soil and the unique

microclimate: high altitude and mild temperature throughout the year. The five wines

– Falanghina (£14.95), Greco di Tufo (£14.95), Fiano di Avellino (£18.10), Aglianico

(£14.90) and Taurasi (£37.50) represent the highest expression of this terroir.

le bon vin 340 Brightside Lane Sheffield S9 2SP 0114 256 0090 Le Bon Vin @lebonvinuk @lebonvin

Please join us at THINK Gin on 30th April when we officially launch Master’s Selection Gin at Smith & Wollensky. As the official UK distributor of Master’s Selection Gin, we are celebrating by showing this premium Spanish gin at THINK Gin 2018 in London.

Patrick Jouan, Le Bon Vin’s commercial director, is attending the event with Gonzalo Zalbidea and Ana Ceballos of

Destilerias MG. They are also introducing MG Tonic and GIN MG, a sublime G&T combination.

It’s a trade-only event that is being held at Smith &

Wollensky, America’s premier steakhouse chain, the first to be located outside of the US. In addition, there are debates

and specialist masterclasses to keep you up to date with the ever-changing world of gin.

Smith & Wollensky, The Adelphi Building, Covent Garden Riverside, 1-11 John Adam St, London WC2N 6HT

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 52

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LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ

0207 409 7276

Introducing two new releases from Cognac Frapin and Champagne Gosset Frapin 1270 Like all Frapin Cognacs, Frapin 1270 is distilled over the fine lees and receives extended ageing. It is aged in ground-level humid cellars which help to impart

great roundness and fruitiness. It is the perfect Cognac for all occasions; drunk neat, over ice, with tonic or as the perfect base for a fine Cognac cocktail. Available to order now from UK stock.

Gosset CELEBRIS Extra Brut 2007 CELEBRIS Vintage 2007 is the seventh release in the CELEBRIS

Vintage series. The wine has discreet bubbles and complex smokey aromas

with hazelnut overtones; with time in the glass it reveals minty, even slightly spicy notes. The palate has tension with volume and crispness carried

through to the mid-palate with notes of brioche finishing with a hint of pink

grapefruit. Available to order now: please speak to your account manager or call 020 7409 7276 to discuss availability.

London Wine Fair 2018

Louis Latour Agencies will be exhibiting at London Wine Fair this May. Find us on our new stand at D36.

delibo wine agencies

Here at Delibo, we find wines for the

independent specialist who’s creating an alluring range that overdelivers on

The Old Pigsty Rose Cottage Church Hanborough OX29 8AA

quality, value and interest.

We seek out independent vignerons,

from around the world, who are

passionate about their vineyards, the environment and their winemaking.

01993 886644

Then, we bring their wines here, so that you can offer your customers

something special.

Arriving in Spring 2018 are wines

from small producers, new to the UK, in regions of northern Spain and a

The Wine Merchant Top 20 Supplier 2018

fifth-generation family vineyard in Cahors.

And, if you haven’t yet discovered

Oliver Zeter, the ‘Modern face of

Germany’, let us introduce the bear. He’s irresistible and his wines are rather good too.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 53

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negociants uk Davenport House Bowers Way, Harpenden Herts AL5 4HX

Put a spring in your step with Pewsey Vale magnums! Spring is on its way and to celebrate we are not only offering 20% off every two cases purchased but also including a free limited-edition magnum on your first order this month.

Pewsey Vale Vineyard was planted in 1847 by Joseph Gilbert, shortly

01582 797510

after his arrival from England. Sadly, similar to many vineyards in

Smith. They reinvigorated this hidden utopia and focused on the beauty

Twitter: @NegociantsUK Facebook: NegociantsUK

the 1920s and 30s, Pewsey Vale fell into disuse but its potential was

rediscovered in the 1960s by Geoffrey Angas Parsons and Wyndham Hilland diversity of Riesling in its many forms.

At an average altitude of nearly 500m, Pewsey Vale Vineyard sits

250m above the Barossa Valley floor. Combining this higher altitude

with lean and hungry soils, rocky outcrops and finicky micro-climates,

this site produces tricky yet ideal conditions for superior Riesling. Each

block within the vineyard is individually managed by winemaker Louisa Rose and

viticulturalist Darrell Kruger. “The relationship between the Riesling and the unique, undulating site along with single-varietal dedication, provides depth, diversity and

dimension.” This individual care produces grapes of exceptional flavour and character. Place an order with or get in touch with your sales

manager for more information.

buckingham schenk 68 Alpha Street South Slough SL1 1QX 01753 521336


Malbec World Day Join in the celebration on April 17th and get involved with Malbec World Day – an

international day to celebrate one of Argentina’s finest exports. It’s a great excuse to enjoy this phenomenally popular variety in all its big, bold, fruity glory. Here are a couple of favourites from our latest wine list. There are plenty more in the full list, so please get in touch if you would like a copy. Phebus Patagonia Reservado Malbec IWC Gold Patagonia Malbec Trophy This wine comes from Patagonia, the southernmost region in Argentina known

for its elegant, aromatic wines. Intense red colour with violet tones. Elegant and attractive aromas of liquorice, violets and spices. A very rich and complex wine: a true Malbec from Patagonia. Great with red meats, game and cheeses. Phebus Gran Reservado Malbec

Hailing from the original heartland of Argentine Malbec, Mendoza, this is a

complex and elegant wine with aromas of liquorice and black cherries. A deep and full-bodied palate, intense dark fruit flavours, silky tannins with a smooth and long finish. Perfect with grilled meats, stews or cheese.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 54

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The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD

BOLLINGER R.D. 2004 Pinot Noir 66% Chardonnay 34% Richard Juhlin, 96 Points

020 7840 3600

“Nobody can be disappointed here. The

very essence of the R.D. concept is to try

to capture a wine’s optimal maturity along

with maximum freshness. The intensity of

the mature layers of dark chocolate, tobacco,

black truffles from Vaucluse and a melancholy hiking in the moist autumn forest is, at least,

impressive. The mousse tingles of lust on the tounge when stringency, chalk and jingeling pure acids dance over the finish line.” RSP: £180.00

liberty wines

Chianti 2015 by David Gleave MW

020 7720 5350


Those who read last month’s piece on 2013 Brunello will wondering why I’m turning to 2015 Chiantis so soon. The answer is simple: they are just so good! It was one of those vintages where the grapes ripened

perfectly and were picked in the most benign of conditions.

Even when the wines had just been crushed into tank, their depth, colour and explosive flavours were immediately

evident. And now, tasting them when they’ve been in bottle for close to 12 months, they show just how good they are. They have the sort of depth and longevity that the Super

Tuscans of the mid 1980s had, something attributable to the dramatic changes that have taken place in the best vineyards over the past three decades.

These exciting wines bode well for the likes of

Flaccianello, Cepparello and Fontalloro, which will arrive with us by September.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 55

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enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX

coming of spring, it’s time to start thinking about how to shake up your shelves, to help put a spring in their step. This month, we’re turning

our gaze towards a promising new gang of wines, lighter in style and

punchier in acidity. So to help you embrace the changing of the seasons, our team of passionate buyers has hand-picked a selection of wines to cater to every palate.

From Australia we have Kooyong’s single-vineyard Chardonnay,

020 8961 5161

With the promise of warmer, brighter days around the corner and the

whose bouncy, creamy disposition is balanced with lean acidity, and a cellar-aged Hunter Valley Semillon from McWilliam’s,

alongside two refreshing newcomers to the portfolio in


Pfaffl’s Grüner Veltliner from Austria and the flagship Sancerre from France’s Domaine Laporte. We’ve

covered the spectrum for reds too, with a laidback tipple from the

Pinot pioneers at Peregrine, which is bursting with floral aromas,

juicy berries and a hint of spice, or, if you’re looking for something richer, opt for a silky South African Cabernet Sauvignon – a great

mate for the oncoming BBQ season. Of course, the package would not be complete without a sparkler: the team of fizz fanatics at Ferrari

craft elegant and savoury sparkling wines in Italy’s North, which are fabulous for every occasion.

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. 07789 008540

the best terroir France has to

@FamilleHelfrich @family_helfrich_gcf_wines

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

offer ...

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 56

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hatch mansfield

COME AND VISIT US … LWF | Olympia | 21-23 May

New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL

The Hatch Mansfield team and brand representatives will be on hand on

01344 871800

Cuvée Gran Reserva 2011, an aged Cava. @hatchmansfield

stand D40 at the show to take you through the latest wines and vintages. Top picks this year include the much anticipated, newly released

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2007. Continuing with the bubbles theme and new to our list we will be showing Roger Goulart Gran There will also be the opportunity to meet some of the colourful

characters behind the wines, to name a few: RJ Botha, Kleine Zalze; Larry

Cherubino, Robert Oatley; Richard Painter, Left Field; David Piera, Roger Goulart; and Clovis Taittinger, Champagne Taittinger.

Since 2014 Hatch Mansfield has offset all the CO2 created by the company’s

office and business travel and more recently the distribution of all wine from LCB, our UK warehousing partner. Once again this year we invite visitors to our stand to vote on which carbon project to support.

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, Left Field and Esk Valley, New Zealand · Kleine Zalze, South Africa.

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 april 2018 57

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marussia beverages 0207 724 5009 MarussiaBeveragesUK

Marussia Beverages UK are importers and distributors of the finest spirits from around the world. 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 @MarussiaUK


Masters of Riesling and Pinot Noir Tasting

28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810

The annual ABS Masters of Riesling and Pinot Noir tasting is an excellent opportunity to


Thursday 3rd May – 10:30-17:00

67 Pall Mall, St James’s, London SW1Y 5ES

preview the new vintage of 2017 Rieslings and 2016 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noirs) from the major German winemaking regions. German winemaking is making tremendous strides,

helped in no small part by mother nature, so if you haven’t tasted German wines for a while, please contact us to register your interest.

For further details or to register, please contact Joanna Clarke (

Wines and representatives from the following wineries will be joining us for our tasting: Dr Loosen (Mosel), Villa Wolf (Pfalz), Leitz (Rheingau), Gunderloch (Rheinhessen), Louis Guntrum (Rheinhessen), Karl H Johner (Kaiserstuhl), Dönnhoff (Nahe), Schnaitmann (Württemberg), Jean Stodden (Ahr), Fürst (Franken), Julien Schaal (Alsace) and Allram (Kamptal)

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 58

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richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550


Richmond Wine Agencies will be present at the London Wine Fair with a number of producers on hand to meet you. This year we are proud to be showing wines from: • Château d’Esclans, Provence, France

• De Wetshof Estate, Robertson, South Africa • Geoff Merrill, McLaren Vale, Australia

• David Bruce, Sonoma & Russian River, California

• Wairau River Wines, Marlborough, New Zealand • Mt Difficulty, Central Otago, New Zealand

• Fincas de Azabache, Rioja, Spain (above right) • Chono Single Vineyard range, Chile • Pisano, Uruguay (below right)

• Familia Schroeder, Patagonia, Argentina Plus many others …

Find us on STAND C60. Email (south of UK) or (north of UK) to make an appointment.

Spring into Spain


10 regions, 12 new producers, 36 new wines highlights from the range include …

Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538


Xosé Lois Sebio, Galicia

Pago Calzadilla, Cuenca

Winemaker Xosé Lois Sebio has produced this stunning eponymous collection of wines as a result of a personal quest: to find wines with unique personality from more risky processing zones, and with a very marked identity.

A small, family-run estate producing a limited quantity of highly expressive wines from the province of Cuenca.

Guida Penin 93 points – Xosé Lois Sebio, Mais Ala, Valdeorras 2015 Beautifully textured, this wine made from the Godello grape shows spicy and green melon flavours through to a long and saline finish.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2018 59

Guida Penin 93 points – Pago Calzadilla, Gran Calzadilla, Cuenca, Vino de Pago 2008 Complex fruit flavours are complemented by hints of coffee beans and black chocolate. Full bodied yet elegant, with refined tannins and a spicy finish