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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 69, May 2018

Dog of the Month: Cooper Connaught Wines, London

THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS Good Wine Shop looks to bounce back after horror fire

6 comings & GOINGS

A new Jeroboams, and more good news for Birmingham

8 tried & TESTED

A wine to get you in the mood for World War III Marc Hough from Cork of the North and Chix Chandaria of The Wine Parlour were among this year’s judges

French producers toast more success in Top 100 France’s position as the leading player in the UK’s independent wine trade was confirmed once again at the 2018 edition of The Wine Merchant Top 100. The French outstripped their rivals to scoop

22 places in the final list of winners and two of the eight best-in-show trophies.

Italy and Australia were next on the list, with

13 Top 100 places, with Italy adding three

trophies and Australia one. And it was a good

year for the Iberian peninsular, with Spain and

Portugal both taking 10 Top 100 places and two trophies.

Now in its sixth year, The Wine Merchant

Top 100 was drawn from a field of 700 UK

independent wine merchant-exclusive wines. As ever, a panel of 21 independent wine merchants

came to the judging day in London in April, with this year’s representatives travelling from as far afield as the Isle of Wight and the Orkney Islands.

The final 100 featured wines from 14

countries and 27 suppliers in total, including a first entry from the Republic of Macedonia (Tikves Winery Kratosija 2017, imported by Hallgarten). A further 168 wines earned a Highly Commended award.

All 268 winning wines will be featured in a

special supplement to The Wine Merchant to be published with the magazine’s July issue, while the Top 100 will be available to taste at The

Wine Merchant stand on each of the three days Continues page 2

18 david williams

The revealing memoirs of Michael St-John St John

26 manchester round table Seven merchants put the world to rights at Salut

32 CONNAUGHT cellars

French and Italian specialism in the heart of London

48 make a date

Big shows for Romania, Beaujolais and southern France

52 focus on spain

Ten selections to grace any independent’s line-up

54 supplier Bulletin

Essential updates from agents and suppliers



express permission to hold information –

place back together again. But you can’t

documentation so that customers are

stock out the building until someone’s said

and protocols in place to protect it.

“We include new wording on our

aware of their responsibilities,” she says.

“I would say that most of our customers

are already thinking about this and putting procedures into place.”

out of the building, and you can’t take the they’re going to pay you for it,” he says. Forensics have confirmed just how

intense the heat was on the shop floor and

as a result Wrigglesworth knows that none of his stock is “remotely sellable”, but he

has to wait for the insurers to send in their own wine expert to verify the situation. The company has been diligent in its

insurance cover, but Wrigglesworth says:

Ticking the boxes for new data rules

“My advice is that any kind of improvement you do to the building needs to be insured specifically for you as a business.

“For example, because we put the air

The General Data Protection Regulation

conditioning into the building it doesn’t

comes into force this month and it has

belong to the landlord so it doesn’t come

big implications for any retailer storing

under buildings insurance. If you go

information about their customers. There are plenty of consultants ready

decontaminate until you get the stock

around your shop and just look at all the

things you have paid to upgrade or improve

to exploit the more complicated aspects

The April fire was caused by an electrical fault

out that this is essentially an evolution of

Good Wine Shop France celebrates set to bounce back Top 100 victories

of the rules, though the Information

Commissioner’s Office is keen to point

the existing Data Protection Act. Talk of

making examples of hapless non-compliant firms is “scaremongering”, it insists.

The new regulations are dealt with

Following the fire at The Good Wine

concisely on the ICO website. Perhaps

Shop’s Kew store, Mark Wrigglesworth

opt into mailing lists in a “specific” and

water damage, Wrigglesworth is quietly

draw and add names to your newsletter

around four weeks after the fire, which was

the most important consideration for

is hoping to reopen at the end of May.

“unambiguous” way. You can’t simply

confident that with “many hands on deck”

wine merchants is that customers must harvest the business cards for a prize

database. Neither can you send emails with pre-ticked boxes opting the recipient into future correspondence.

Even wine dispense machines are caught

up in the GDPR, as some devices can

store details about customers who have personalised cards.

Enomatic UK’s commercial director

Sally McGill says retailers must have a

designated “data controller” who needs

Despite the extensive smoke and

the shop will be back up and running in caused by an electrical fault.

“We’re gradually clambering out of a

hole,” he says. “It’s all doable, it’s just a

question of getting ourselves sorted out

with the insurers who are not moving as swiftly as we would like them to.

“We really want to get the building

cleared out and then get the

decontamination people in and then

we can start decorating and putting the


the building, you need to make sure you have cover.”

From page 2

of the London Wine Fair at Olympia from May 21 to 23.

“I was delighted with the selection

made by our judging team this year, which provides a handy snapshot of the kind of quality available in the UK independent

trade,” says The Wine Merchant Top 100 competition director, David Williams.

“The judging day itself has become a

real highlight of the year – I love the way

it brings together people from all over the country to share their expertise in wine

and their experiences in running some of the UK’s best wine merchants.”

• This year’s trophy winners are

unveiled on page 21.

New qualification recognises spirits The Wine & Spirit Education Trust has separated out the spirits section from two of its qualifications. From August 2019, a new qualification,

the WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits, will be available, rendering the spirits part of the

current Level 2 Award and Level 4 Diploma redundant. The WSET Level 2 Award in

Wines and WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines will replace the current qualifications.

alone so it’s a positive thing to elevate the spirits.”

Matthew Forster MW, director of WSET

Awards, says: “We are looking forward to working with our Approved Programme

Providers across the world to facilitate a

smooth transition to all new qualifications for educators and students alike.”

Windows upgrade for Vineyards Vineyards of Sherborne has taken the art of the selfie to a whole new level with the creation of an interactive shop window. Sadie Wilkins of Vineyards explains:

“It was all a bit of fun really. We wanted something to create more of a talking

so they can see people enjoy their lovely products.”

The increased social media interest will

also help to promote the new seating area in the shop for on-premise consumption.

claims he made for wine are that it

• The Portuguese grape variety Bical

das Moscas, or “fly droppings”, due to the speckles on its skin.

• It typically requires three to eight egg whites to complete the fining process in a 225-litre barrique of red wine.

• Constantia wine from South Africa is

mentioned in novels by Jane Austen and (where it is cited as a cure for gout as

Kelli Coxhead at The Wine Shop,

well as melancholy) and the unfinished

Winscombe, who also runs WSET

The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

programmes, thinks not. “It’s nice to

identify the staff who want to specialise

• The distinctive eucalyptus aroma

in spirits,” she says. “It might be tough for

and flavour found in many Australian

those wanting to touch on both, but to be

and Californian wines is created by a

honest doing Level 2 you literally spend

volatile compound called 1,8-cineole.

half an hour on spirits, so I think it will be

Even in small concentrations most

better for the wine side too.”

people can detect it in wine, and it is

Coxhead also sees this change as a

we’ve had a few enquiries just for spirits

form of medicine. Among the many

Charles Dickens: Sense and Sensibility,

putting their staff through the exams?

provider. “With the gin and cocktail boom,

encouraged wine consumption as a

is known in the Dão region as Borrado

the winemakers of the drinks in hands

positive when it comes to being a WSET

Catalan physician who died in 1311,

media and in turn promote us to their

friends, but also it’s a way for us to tag in

will this inconvenience merchants who are

• Arnaldus de Villanova, an influential

point in-store and online at the same

encourages users to engage with our social

Coming at the height of a spirits boom,

“Our Man with the Facts”

stops hair from greying, and cures piles.

time. It covers all bases in the fact that it

Coxhead: “I think it will be better for wine too”

Flying Füchs

often present due to the accidental

Hannah Wilkins hopes for hashtags


harvesting of eucalyptus leaves.

retailer news

The refurb has been achieved at a cost of around £250,000

New look for Norfolk store’s wine department Bakers & Larners, the venerable department store in Holt, Norfolk, has launched its newly refurbished food hall, which incorporates the fine wine department. The refit, which has required investment

of around £250,000, includes a new bakery and patisserie and the instalment of an

eight-bottle Enomatic machine.

dispenser has allowed the store to hold

membership of the Vindependents

Baker reports.

Managing director Michael Baker

says: “We are now starting to use our

more and widen our already extensive

range without having to commit to large purchases.”

The introduction of the Enomatic


tastings for customers “six days a week

and experiment with higher-priced wine”,

He says the reaction from the public has

been “phenomenal”, with a more varied

selection of wines being sold as a direct result of the food hall’s new look.

Jeroboams opens eighth London shop Jeroboams opens this month on High Street Kensington and MD Hugh Sturges is “very excited”, not least because it’s the first new shop for the business since his tenure began. “The key attraction is that some of our

stores are in areas where the footfall is

quite low but the demographic of the area is quite high-spending on wine,” he says.

“We’ve got middle ground here [in High

Street Ken], and the footfall should be OK – there isn’t an independent wine merchant in the area.”

The new store is one of around 12

units in a block being redeveloped by the

Inside the Jeroboams branch in Belgravia

Owners Peter Chalmers and David

landlord to create a “food and wine café-

Sleight stopped trading in September but

retain the same look and feel as all the

the business, established in April 2014,

type feel”.

While the store’s 900ft floor space will

Jeroboams shops, the range will be slightly adapted to suit the tastes of the local shoppers.

Sturges admits that he is still keeping an

eye on the market as the longer-term plan allows for a further three or four shops.

“I’m optimistic for south west London

but I think maybe some areas in north

London are ripe for a Jeroboams, so we’re not finished yet,” he says. “But it’s a slow and steady pace.”

Jeroboams already has branches in

Hampstead, Holland Park, Notting Hill and Knightsbridge, plus two in Belgravia and

remained hopeful of finding a buyer.

Last month those hopes evaporated and

was closed for good.

• Devine Wines in Headcorn, Ashford, Kent, is now closed. Former Unwins and Threshers manager Shaun Kendrick established the business in 2010.

Birmingham store goes natural route

tasting events and visits from winemakers. Despite the designs for a “low-key”

interior, the builders are still hard at work which makes the intended launch date a

moveable feast. The aim is to open at the end of May.

Variety is the spice of Chipstead had been empty for about 18 months before becoming the home of a new

bar and deli in Kings Heath, south

independent, The Grape Variety.

sourced from the likes of Les Caves de

north Norfolk coast, has closed.

Plans are already in place for regular

be opening Grace + James, a wine shop,

Norfolk indie gives up hope of buyer wine shop in Wells-next-the-Sea on the

back to see what’s on offer.

Sophie and Henry Poultney will soon


Cellar by the Quay, the independent

KeyKeg format will keep customers coming

Essentially Wines in Chipstead, Surrey,

a delicatessen, branded as Mr Christian’s, also in Notting Hill.

hope the portfolio of around 80 wines in

The offering of around 100 wines will

focus on biodynamic and natural products Pyrene and Newcomer Wines. The range will also reflect Sophie’s own love of

French wine and will be complemented by a “huge range” of cheeses in the deli.

The couple have also opted for a draught

system from Uncharted Wines, and they


Friends Steven Bishop and Thomas

Johnson have worked together for the

past three years at Elite Fine Wines, the brokerage company set up by Bishop in 2012.

Bishop explains that their new venture

in retail is “totally stepping away from

that”, and the duo are ready to embrace

their little bit of the high street and all it has to offer.

Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing “There’s a nice little community here,

with 15 or 20 shops on this parade, and the locals are really friendly,” he says.

“The butcher next door is a really nice

guy. We’ve put hundreds of leaflets on his counter over the last week and he’s been

putting one in with each sale. There’s been a really good response and we’ve had

people knocking on the door asking if we’d do a gin night and tastings.”

A five-year lease has been agreed with

the previous owner, Stephen Forward. The arrangement included the shop’s fixtures

and fittings and roughly 150 cases of wine in bond.

Bishop says while the wines “are maybe

not ones that we’ll order in the future”, they will have been on sale alongside IPAs from

local breweries and a range of local gins for the launch on May 2.


o write tasting notes or not to

write tasting notes? That is the question, as I sit before a slew

of summer wines new to my shelves. Up until now, I’ve always done them. With

misty eyes, I fondly remember how easy and fun it was back in the days when I was first starting out. I relished those moments when I could I impart the

deductions of my brilliant palate onto the ignorant masses.

I always hoped my notes would spark

a dialogue so I could give customers the

extra details he or she so clearly desired. A little story about the winemaker,

maybe. A mini-thesis on the climate perhaps. The full fruit bowl of taste sensations.

Except it didn’t quite work out like

Retirement forces reluctant sale

that. I didn’t appreciate how many people

Wine Buffs in Warrington may well be

would use the words “smooth” or “juicy”

up for sale but Peter Thompson is a reluctant vendor. “I’m retiring but I plan to continue doing

couldn’t give a toss if the grapes for a

rosé were handpicked, so long as it was

pale, dry – and cold. I didn’t foresee that I on so many reds or “crisp and citrussy” on so many whites.

I didn’t know that what I

something on the gin front,” he says.

thought was pretty obvious

are popular with the locals.

further explanation, nor that using

The shop has built a reputation for its

wide range of gins, and its regular tastings Thompson’s business partner, Brian

Marshall, is keen to carry on with the online trade. “We’re not enthusiastic

sellers,” says Thompson. “We really enjoy it, that’s the trouble – it’s a lovely business to

stuff like “aromatic” and

“mouth-filling” would need

words like “bouquet”, “attack” and “nose” made me sound so antiquated (nor even

that the very mention of the phrase “oak barrel” would cause such meltdowns). I didn’t realise that so many of the

be in. We are half-hearted sellers. It will be

notes I wrote could go on a dozen of any

• The Wine Cellar in Douglas, Isle of Man,

country gave me a clue. And, above all, I

sad when we go.”

will be relocating from its Tennis Road site after the 27-year tenancy comes to an end this year. The business has secured a retail space in a former electrical warehouse in Peel Road.

of the wines I stocked. Until the day some of them fell off a shelf. Only the price and had no notion that writing tasting notes would become such a chore.

So now I am at this crossroads. Do

I bother anymore? After all, there is


always a wine expert on hand to help a customer make a choice. But then

browsing must be one of the joys of shopping in an independent wine merchant.

I could always go down the fun fantasy

celeb scenario route. This is the wine you’d pour for Nicole Kidman if she

dropped in for lunch; this is the sort of

wine Leonardo di Caprio would date; if James Bond drank rosé, this is the one

Notes from a small wine shop: it’s amazing how many of my wines turn out to be ‘smooth’ or ‘juicy’ he’d pick. That might spark plenty of

conversation as customers struggle to understand what it might taste like. I could just do lazy

comparisons. Like Malbec?

Try this! Like Rioja? Try this! That would probably kill any

conversation though, and cause

lots of head-scratching from me when

customers return for that Chablis they liked – but don’t recognise any of the actual Chablis on the shelves.

In the end, I decide to do what I have

always done. Thesaurus by one hand

and Pantone chart by the other, I crack

on with the usual descriptors. At least it

provides me with a bit of sport, watching people read my bilge with intense concentration

before turning round and asking which of these

Proseccos they’ll like best.

tried & Tested Casa Silva Lago Ranco Riesling 2016

Ramón Bilbao Edición Limitada Lías Verdejo 2015

In 2006 Casa Silva started planting vineyards

This comes from the first harvest to be vinified at

Blanc have now been joined by a bracing, lip-smacking

batonnage has added a chalky, creamy character. But

Ramón Bilbao’s new Rueda winery. Eight months in

900km south of Santiago in a remote region with the

new oak has contributed a lovely musky depth, and

denomination Austral. The Pinot Noir and Sauvignon

there’s also an electric current running through this

Riesling. There’s a diesel-rag nose, a juicy mid-palate

wine, and a limey, minty freshness.

and a salty, rocky finish: all in all, it’s a bit of a star. RRP: £20

RRP: £15

ABV: 11.5%

ABV: 13%

Enotria & Coe (020 8961 5161)

Jackson Nugent Vintners (020 8947 9722) jnv.co.uk


Quinta do Pinto Grande Escolha 2014

Jako Vino Stina Cuvée White 2016

Portuguese blends can be tricky to memorise, but less

The combination is 70% Pošip, 20% Vugava and 10%

from the southern slopes of the Montejunto mountain

and a herbal sting in the tail. A wine that takes you out

so when they have a Rhôney theme. Here we have a

Viognier-Chardonnay-Marsanne combo, made with fruit in the Lisbon region. It’s a warm and mellow affair, with notes of brioche and butterscotch. RRP: £28.99

ABV: 14%

Chardonnay, expertly blended on the Dalmatian island

of Brac. There’s a hint of choux pastry, ripe yellow fruit of your comfort zone and then drops you somewhere unfamiliar, that turns out to be just as comfortable. RRP: £14.99

ABV: 12.5%

Hallgarten (01582 722538)

Boutinot (0161 908 1300) boutinot.com


Tenuta il Palagio When We Dance Chianti 2016

Bodegas Gratias ¿Y Tu De Quién Eres? 2016

Oh how we wanted to dislike an entry-level Chianti

Winemakers Ana and Iván are fixated on preserving

soft tannins, with a lovely rustic, cedary note on the

Gratias. This is 80% Bobal and 20% a field blend,

and promoting indigenous varieties in Manchuela

from Sting’s estate and how disappointed we were to

and went the crowd-funding route to create Bodegas

discover it was full of vibrant red-cherry flavours and

made with natural yeasts and unfiltered, with minimal

finish. Just the thing to get you in the mood for some tantric antics. But not The Dream of the Blue Turtles. RRP: £12.50

sulphur and gentle oak. Pure, fragrant and structured. RRP: £11.99

ABV: 12.5%

ABV: 13.5%

Alliance Wine (01505 506060)

Vintage Roots (0800 980 4992) vintageroots.co.uk


Château Beauchene Grande Réserve Blanc 2016

Domaine des Tourelles Red 2014

There’s a real whiff of wacky backy here, setting the

Cinsault and Carignan from the Western Bekaa in

A robust but medium-bodied blend of Syrah, Cabernet, Lebanon. We found it a little stiff at first, detecting

tone for an unashamedly hedonistic Côtes de Rhône

blended from five varieties. It’s rounded and fruity, with just about enough acidity to hold it together, but it’s all

about the here and now. It’s not thinking much about the future, which is kind of apt with World War III looming. RRP: £14

ABV: 13.6%

Hayward Bros (020 7237 0576) haywardbros.co.uk

only distant hints of blood and Fry’s Chocolate Cream. But the fresh cherry flavours gradually emerged and it became a lot more relaxed and giggly when we introduced it to some marinated pork chops. RRP: £12.99

ABV: 14%

Boutinot (0161 908 1300) boutinot.com



THINGS Max Holden

Mounts Bay Wines, Penzance Favourite wine on my list My favourite wine without a doubt is red Burgundy. When I can afford them I love the wines of Domaine Joseph Roty. In the shop we have a Marsannay Rouge, a low-ish priced wine (for Burgundy), which has everything you would expect: a dark fruited nose, perhaps a little too

Harrods has opened its new fine wine and spirits rooms, which include interactive features such as an aroma table. The multi-million pound project is

inspired by 1920s décor.

Wines are categorised by terroir, to help

customers explore wines from regions they previously hadn’t considered, according to Harrods.

Decanter, April 19

finish. I also love dry Sherry and one of my current favourites is Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana En Rama Manzanilla.

Majestic plans to shell out a further £9m

to £12m on the growth strategy on top of the £12m it spends each year. The Telegraph, April 17

Wine production hits 60-year low

According to the International

Organisation of Vine & Wine, wine outputs

good Chablis and a KFC, or a delicate premier

stood at 250m hectolitres last year, down

cru Volnay with my turkey at Christmas.

8.6% from 2016.

Favourite wine trip

All top wine-producing countries in the

I have just spent a year in New Zealand and

EU were hit by harsh weather, which led to

stayed for a while in Hawke’s Bay and enjoyed visiting Te Mata Estate, Craggy Range and

Wine area has relocated from the basement

visit to Clearview which was like stepping back

Favourite wine trade person

delivering better returns.

poor weather in Europe.

as the wine is good, but I have always liked a

slick designer winery vibe.

more bricks-and-mortar sites because its

lowest level in 60 years in 2017 due to

Favourite wine and food match

wines and were completely devoid of any of the

the firm had pulled back from launching

Global wine production slumped to its

I am not too concerned about the food as long

in time 30 years. They had great easy-drinking

Chief executive Rowan Gormley said

push to snare more customers online was

much oak, and a rich fruit and Burgundy-soil

Elephant Hill but my personal favourite was a


Harrods inspired by 1920s chic

Majestic marketing drive will hit profit

an overall fall in the bloc of 14.6% to 141m hectolitres.

Reuters, April 24

• Brighton restaurant Silo has launched a £10,000 crowdfunding campaign to help it buy the equipment to crush used

Majestic Wine is expecting a £3m dent

wine bottles and upcycle them into “fine

get a lot of visits by wine trade people. An

in next year’s profits as it invests in


exception is Antony Davis from Mentzendorff

marketing rather than new stores.

The Drinks Business, April 27

Being virtually in the Atlantic Ocean, we don’t

who is always a pleasure to see when he drops by. He has always been very helpful with advice,


information and tastings.

Favourite wine shop I quite like the atmosphere and wine selection in Avery’s of Bristol. Also I first got interested in wine when my father brought back fine Burgundies, great German Rieslings and great

01323 871836 winemerchantteam@gmail.com

Twitter: @WineMerchantMag

The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 864 specialist independent wine shops. We explain how we define these if you ask nicely,

South African wines from Harrogate Fine Wines

though the answer has a tendency to sound snobby. The magazine is edited

which became an inspiration in eventually

by Graham Holter. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2018

opening my own wine shop.

Registered in England: No 6441762


VAT 943 8771 82

retailer news

Derek and Carol Harle (top right) run their own distillery as well as a shop

Gin proves a tonic for Masham £95 to make a personalised spirit


orks & Cases in Masham, North Yorkshire, has wholeheartedly

tapped into the gin boom. Last year

owners Carol and Derek Harle launched their own gin, Spirit of Masham, adding a distillery to a village that has been

synonymous with brewing for generations. Now the couple are letting their

customers loose on the stills to make

creations of their own. Carol explains:

“People were coming into the shop saying

‘I’d love to make my own gin’ and we found

to show them how we make the Spirit of

distillery, so it just sort of came to us. We

upstairs while we explain the flavours on

we were spending a lot of time explaining to people how we made it in our own

had capacity above the distillery and we

thought that would make the ideal space for the experiences.”

She admits that the bespoke bar area they have had built above the distillery,

complete with 12 handmade copper baby

stills, has cost them their pension fund. But they are hoping the experience days will pay for the development of further gins and projects.

“The whole experience takes

approximately three hours, starting with a drink at the bar,” she says.

“We take them down into the distillery


Masham, talk a little bit about the history of gin and then they have a cocktail the flavour wheel.

“We’ve got over 100 botanicals that

people can choose from. We’ve really gone to town on the botanicals; we have tonka

beans, we have berries, different spices and herbs and we’re adding to it all the time.” Running since the beginning of March,

the feedback has been “brilliant”, with customers requesting bottles of their

own recipe to be run off again. As all the

recipes created by the amateur distillers are kept on file it’s easily done for £40 a

pop, meaning the revenue possibilities run beyond just the £95 fee for the experience itself.

cannabis update

A Colorado native’s own tribute to Jimmy Edwards

It’s smokey and they unbanned it Will legal weed impact on wine?


n January California became the latest state to legalise the purchase and

recreational use of marijuana. From

July, selected retailers will be allowed to sell government-approved weed.

It’s likely to be a long time before the UK

follows suit. But the revenue potential is

enticing for legislators: last year cannabis taxes in Colorado boosted state coffers by US$52m. In California, tax receipts from marijuana are expected to hit US$1bn. The state’s wine industry is already

much smaller than its cannabis trade, and some commentators predict that

wine could lose some of its existing share

and not driven by alcohol”.

(Interestingly, alcohol sales in Colorado

contains THC (the main psychoactive

as marijuana benefits from marketing

campaigns and a new-found respectability. increased after cannabis legalisation.) Given that a glass or two of wine

has roughly the same effect as a joint

– depending on the constitution of the individual – is it likely that consumers

will be giving up their wine for weed? It’s

perhaps hard to imagine health-conscious millennials taking up smoking to enjoy a

toke. But cannabis-based drinks may have an appeal.

The decision by US drinks giant

Constellation Brands to buy a stake in Canopy Growth, a medical marijuana company, would suggest the alcohol industry is taking this development

seriously. Canopy Growth’s chief executive, Bruce Linton, says “consumers are seeking something healthy, not driven by sugars


Sonoma winery Rebel Coast has created

an alcohol-free Sauvignon Blanc, which

compound found in marijuana) and it plans to launch a cannabis-infused rosé and sparkling wine this summer.

“The goal is to get giggly and naked with

someone,” it says. “We set out to mimic

the experience you’d find with traditional wine; a couple of glasses will put most people in a great place.”

Legalising cannabis won’t put an end to the illegal trade, however. With just 3,000 marijuana cultivation permits issued in

California, about 99% of growers remain unlicensed. And with the number of

authorised retailers standing at just over

100, many weed enthusiasts may decide to stick with their existing local dealers – and avoid taxes at the same time.


wine news stories you may have missed

‘We’ve had enough of wine experts!’

There’s always something newsy going on in the wine world, and it usually falls under one of a dozen headings. Here’s our own correspondent’s topical update




Even a small glass of red will shorten your life by

It’s official – wine has healthy properties that

Wine snobs are crying into their Bâtard-

about one day, according to a study at the City

ward off cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke

Montrachet after a humble white wine produced

University of North Trent. The risk doubles with

and ingrowing toenails. Researchers interviewed

in a vast factory next to a Languedoc autoroute

every glass consumed, meaning that most of the

the major shareholders of 80 wine producing

was crowned Best Wine That Ever Existed in a

researchers involved in the project do not expect

and distribution businesses and were assured

blind wine tasting challenge. Wine expert Barry

to live beyond their teens. Top doctors

that not only is wine safe

Spanners, who chaired the panel at

say people should lock wine in secure

to drink on a daily basis,

Newport Pagnell services, said the

containers, or hand it in to their local

it may actually promote

Colombard was “leagues ahead” of

surgery for safe keeping.


the other five wines in the tasting.




Champagne sales have crashed as consumers

Consumers are snubbing clunky 12-bottle cases

Patriots have praised Harvey Frink, a junior

tire of overpriced fizz with too many umlauts

in favour of the more convenient salmanazar size.

minister at DEFRA with responsibility for biscuits,

on the label and switch to English fare. But

One merchant in Largs saw sales leap by 100% to

for his decision to serve a 2016 Isle of Wight

the Champenois are fighting back, planting up

two bottles last year while a PR lady for a leading

Huxelrebe at a brunch for counterparts from

thousands of hectares in the Peak District to pre-

multiple said the numbers were “probably similar”

the Faroe Islands. A diplomat said: “The visiting

empt global warming. “Everything south of that is

at her company. “Salmanazars make a real

delegation agreed the wine was an

already under vine, optioned by

statement and are better

interesting choice. They were still smiling

Tesco or on the HS2 route,” said

for the environment,” said a

about it when they headed off for lunch

an important man in Reims.

man who tried to sell us one.

at Roux immediately afterwards.”




Wine tasting is a complete waste of time, it has

It’s enough to make crusty old colonels snort

Brad Pitt, Sting, Francis Ford Coppola and Cliff

been proved. Judges at a major competition were

Sauternes all over their foie gras. A tattooed

Richard paved the way and now one of Britain’s

left red-faced following glaring inconsistences in

woman from Leytonstone has blogged that red

most beloved entertainers is joining the wine

their scores, with one critic awarding 89 points

wine with fish is absolutely fine. “Kids drink

business following his purchase of a premium

to a Napa Cabernet despite giving the same

Monster energy drink with crab sticks all the

estate in Tuscany. Bob Carolgees told Decanter

wine 88.5 the previous day. In a blind tasting,

time,” she said. “So a chilled biodynamic Cab

that he plans to feature his canine

several judges failed to differentiate

Franc with Sichuanese sea bass

sidekick on his labels. “But these are

Saintsbury Donnelly Creek Stang

is effectively the same thing.

wines I think I’ll swallow rather than

2014 from its 2013 counterpart.

Ignore the so-called experts!”

spit!” quipped the funnyman.




The wine trade is grieving Hugolina Eustachia

Arterial road-favouring warehouse-format

Dim-witted Britons understand almost nothing

Beauvilliers-Bocuse, matriarch of Château

Sauvignon Blanc specialist Majestic Wine has

about wine, according to research

Rouselot-Paquin in Pomerol, who has died

reported “really great” sales following the latest

mentioned on a website. The study

tragically at the age of 104 following a lifetime’s

overhaul of its trading strategy. Announcing “very

found that 54% of us regularly open

access to first-rate medical care, surrounded by

pleasing” end-of-year results, the company said it

Champagne with a corkscrew, 74%

servants in the vast 18th-century estate in which

was “delighted” with its “robust” performance in

routinely add Ribena to red wines and

she entertained Winston Churchill

a “challenging” environment and

68% think that carbonic maceration is

and Marilyn Monroe. “Life can be

was “looking forward” to an “even

something that’s outlawed under the

very cruel,” wept an aide.

more brilliant” year ahead.

Geneva Convention.


Business Development Manager Independent On and Off Trade North South Wines Yorkshire, Lancashire, North East and Scotland Full Time. Home based. Salary flexible based on experience + benefits > Company background North South Wines is a young, dynamic, forward-thinking wine distributor. We set up in 2014 with a view to do things differently. We are not your average wine distributor. We are energetic and creative and have the drive to make things happen. We also have a different model. Alongside our UK shareholders we are part owned by two wineries meaning we can offer direct supply, better quality and better priced wines from across the globe.We stand apart from other wine distributors by being quick to react and going that extra mile for our customers. We aim to deliver WOW through service.

> Job Description We are seeking a Business Development Manager to deliver sales and achieve the company’s gross profit targets in the Independent On and Off Trade channel in the North of England and Scotland. The successful candidate will increase prominence and visibility of key shareholder and agency brands whilst working towards increasing North South Wines’ profile within the region. As a Business Development Manager, new profitable sales opportunities will be sought whilst adding further growth to existing business. For a detailed job description and/or to apply, please contact jobs@northsouthwines.co.uk


just williams

A lifetime of talking sense Few wine writers have had more impact on their chosen field than Michael St-John St John. His career is beautifully remembered in his new book – the first of a trilogy of memoirs – Wine: A Lifetime in The Sense Trade, Volume I 1947-1983. David Williams selects some highlights

© Olly – stock.adobe.com

The first time Prep school. 1957. The scent of bleach, Spam, boys’ gym kits and Matron’s enigmatic soapy admixture. Good preparation, in many ways – a remarkably fertile breeding ground – for a career in

the sense trade. Certainly, it was here, at dear St Jeffrey’s, among those beautiful grounds stretching as if forever along the gentle, womanly curve of the Usk Valley, where I learned to be truly

sensitive to the olfactory world and to nature’s merciless scented journey through the seasons from, as it were, blossom to crab apple, mud to mown grass.

Here, too, that I was to have my first experience of the

substance that would fundamentally shape my life. It came

courtesy of a Hungarian schoolmate, Istvan Gábor, a sullen,

prematurely swarthy boy who was inevitably nicknamed Zsa Zsa the moment he’d arrived in school the previous summer, and

who maintained a monkish, faintly menacing silence throughout his brief time among us. The only time I remember him uttering

even a single word was during an unseasonally warm evening in the Michaelmas term.

Now Istvan was a damn fine bridge player – the consequence,

no doubt, of long evenings in hiding with his family from the

Michael St-John St John, The Wine Merchant’s Man of the Year

Hungarian secret police. That night, as with so many others, he

hand to the next, and at one point someone suggested we raise

retrieve, from inside a tatty Soviet-issue pullover, a golden bottle.

hazy memory of crumpled pyjama, underpant and muffled

was helping me defeat a succession of teams of dorm-mates at our improvised card table, when he reached into his trunk to

Raising the bottle high above his head, he uttered a strange word

in his own incomprehensible tongue, a word, that in light of what happened next, could for all the world have been “Abracadabra!” Then he uncorked the bottle with two brutal stabs of my Swiss

the stakes from betting with the usual liquorice shoelaces and humbugs to “strip bridge”! The rest, dear reader, is but a soft

giggles. And the word – the incantation – that started it all and set me on my path in life: Tokaji!

The path to Connoisseur’s Quarterly

Army knife, took a swig and passed it to me.

They say that if one remembers the sixties one wasn’t there. In

the merest sour whiff reminiscent of the St Jeffrey’s chaplain’s

waking up, one charmed, Mediterranean early afternoon in the

Heavenly shafts of light struck my tongue! A golden road to

pleasure opened up, paved in custard and toffee apples and Sunday-evening breath. The bottle passed from one sweaty

which case I must have been a significant contributor to that

decade’s merriment, since so much is a blur until I find myself summer of 1973, in a queen-size bed in my father’s holiday


home high up in the hills above Antibes. Another thing they say: sometimes one reaches a fork in the road, a fork that is only apparent in retrospect, and whence one takes a path

that will end up being definitive. In my case the fork led down two equally beautiful pathways. Under one arm in bed that afternoon, sleeping peacefully by the empty ice bucket, the

full ashtray and the discarded cards from the previous night’s

game of strip bridge, the dark and delectable Mitzy; under the other, the blonde, voluptuous Diane. As anyone who has met

me at the numerous formal dinners that mark the calendar in

this beautiful business we call the wine trade will know, I chose the path marked Diane. A stroke of luck for which I will forever be thankful, if not – and you must forgive an old man for this confession – without just the odd twinge of regret, for what might have been.

But, no matter what our modern, politically correct masters

may say, luck can only account for some of our destiny. Talent,

and, more importantly, hard work, must also have their masterly, decisive say. My own lifetime at the grindstone started right

there in the silk sheets of that superbly springy Antibes queensize.

Sipping on a glass of the previous night’s Krug, and sucking

gently on a Dunhill, I came up with the idea for something truly new and original. It was just a hunch, but I was sure the world

was ready for a wine magazine, a publication that both took the subject seriously and endeavoured to share my extensive knowledge with a wider audience, some of whom who may even have been buying their wines

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

‘Istvan uncorked the bottle with two brutal stabs of my Swiss Army knife, took a swig and passed it to me … a golden road to pleasure opened up!’ distressing incident involving the pre-eminent American critic of those early years of CQ, the late Walter Gretsky, or, as he

preferred to be known, Wally G (pictured left). It is not true, as Wally and his phalanx of crewcut lawyers claimed, that he invented wine scores.

The earliest appearance of the Wally scale

in a supermarket! This was the beginning of what would come to be Connoisseur’s

– from 3 to 13 thumbs up – that became

Quarterly. Launched against the odds, with

so popular around the 1981 vintage in

Bordeaux, is in the September 1978, issue

little more than my monthly trust fund, a

of his monthly newsletter, Wally’s Wine

small investment from Diane’s father and

Stars. As I write, I have an old, yellowing

many hours of hard work at the spittoon

issue of CQ in front of me, open to a review

and editor’s desk from me and my team

of 30 assistants, CQ became, in the words of

of Late Bottled Vintage Ports. Each wine

Baron Philippe de Rothschild, “the last word

in wine” in the 1970s and 1980s. Everything – The

Trial of Trieste, the 32 episodes of St John’s World of Wine,

reviewed is clearly accompanied with one

of the three scores with which I have come to be

identified (and which, of course, still appear on merchant

the numerous awards, citations, honorary degrees – flows from

websites, brochures and auction house catalogues from Hong

Me and Wally G

with skull and cross bones (“Pure Unadulterated Poison”, later

there like Margaux into a St-John St John-branded, hand-blown crystal Connoisseur’s Royale Left Bank stem.

If there is one crinkle in the historical record – one persistent myth – that I would like to put straight above all others in

writing this the first volume of my memoirs it would concern a

Kong to Paris today): a full demi-john (or as we called it, a “St

John”) a half-full demi-john (a “demi-St John”) and a demi-john changed, after a spot of bother with Cockburn’s, to “bronze”

without the piratical motif). And the date of that issue? Summer

1978. Q, and if you don’t mind my saying so, E and D, Mr Wally G. Oh yes, and RIP.


Charles Heidsieck unveils new cuvée Blanc de Blancs non-vintage is testament to the Champagne house’s passion for Chardonnay


he launch of any new non-vintage

cuvée a generous texture, typical of

Champagne is a rare event.

Charles’ style.

Developing a NV requires years

Cellarmaster Cyril Brun says:

of painstaking trials and an incredibly

“Chardonnay and Charles Heidsieck has

complex blending process.

been a long love story. The house made

The Charles Heidsieck winemaking

some Blanc de Blancs quite a long time

team has been on this journey for a long

before it started to become fashionable.

time and the result is Blanc de Blancs NV.

Then Blanc des Millénaires was created

Charles Heidsieck was one of the first

in the 80s. It made a lot of sense to extend

Champagne houses to demonstrate its

this passion for Chardonnay to the NV

passion for Chardonnay by producing

segment to join the existing Brut Reserve

a vintage Blanc de Blancs in 1906, then non-vintages in the 70s.

Through this new cuvée, two of the

and Rosé Reserve.

house’s areas of expertise come together:

Blancs (Oger, Vertus), completed by the

wines from different years and villages.

Montgueux in the Aube. The addition of

the production of great white wines and the art of blending a large selection of Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs

is an exquisite blend made from a

majority of crus from the Cote des

Montagne de Reims (Villers-Marmery,

Trépail, Vaudemange) and the rare cru of

20% of reserve wines with an average age of five years, and a prolonged maturation of four years on the lees, bring to this

“We wanted to capture the minerality

and freshness of Chardonnay with the

vision of texture and generosity that is so associated with Charles Heidsieck. This

Blanc de Blancs is the perfect evocation of that: once you taste it you wonder why it has not been made before.”

Blanc de Blancs NV is released by Liberty

Wines on May 1 with an RRP of £69.99.

Feature sponsored by Charles Heidsieck, distributed in the UK by Liberty Wines www.libertywines.co.uk 020 7720 5350


Our Trophy winners We’ll unveil the winners of this year’s Wine Merchant Top 100 and all the Highly Commended prizes on May 21. But first, here are the wines that emerged from our 700-plus entries as Trophy winners

Best Red Wine Uvas Felices El

Best White WINE

Hombre Bala Old

Druida Reserva

Best Sparkling WINE

Best Fortified WINE

Vine Garnacha





(THE Knotted


Colheita 2005



Blanc de Blancs



Best Rosé WINE

Best-value White WINE

Best-value Red WINE

Best-value Rosé WINE

Bird in Hand

Cavit Bottega

Cantina di

Domaines Paul

Pinot Rosé 2017

Vinai Nosiola


Mas Claude Val



Brunito 2015





(Paul Mas)

Best-value Sparkling WINE

Best-value Fortified WINE





Spumante Brut



(Liberty WINE)

JUDGING THE TOP 100 Judges divide into teams of two or three in the first round to decide, in a blind tasting, which wines have the flavour and value credentials go through to round two. Some rejected wines, and those considered "maybes", are retasted by a team of senior judges. Teams are reshuffled in the afternoon and the remaining wines are reassessed, awarded points and given a written verdict. The Trophy winners are the wines that score the highest points in their respective categories.


wine merchant top 100 judging day Jess Scarratt, Borough Wines, Beers & Books

Callum White, Vagabond

Daniel Illsley, Theatre of Wine

Nichola Roe, Wine Therapy

Marc Hough, Cork of the North

Greg Pearce, Cloud Wine

Sam Howard, HarperWells

Janine Pert, Discover Wine

winners announced on may 21 Visit our stand at the London Wine Fair or check out our website


Matthew Hennings, Hennings

Paul Auty Ake & Humphris

Alexandre Bal, Authentique

Philip Amps, Amps Fine Wines

Richard Ballantyne MW, Noble Grape

Hal Wilson Cambridge Wine Merchants

David Williams Chairman

Clive Allen Stanton, Eton Vintners

Kelli Coxhead The Wine Shop Winscombe

Mike Boniface, No2 Pound Street

Nish Patel, Shenfield Wine


Duncan McLean, Kirkness & Gorie

For more information visit www.jeroboams.co.uk or call 0207 288 8888


2016 massal 1945, carmenere, clos de luz

RRP £19.95

2016 gavoty grand classique

2016 gaintus radical, sumoll, do


RRP £16.95

rosé, domaine gavoty, cotes de

penedes, mont rubi

RRP £14.95 Clos de Luz has got what’s possibly the oldest Carmenere vineyard in existence in Chile, dating from 1945. It’s all on its original roots; no clones. The vineyards are ploughed by horses because no machinery can get through the vines, which are all certified organic. It’s just the best Carmenere I’ve ever tasted – end of. The last few vintages have been spectacular. There’s no new oak on the wine at all and he picks about two weeks earlier than everyone else because he likes freshness. It’s totally pure fruit.

This is an old grape variety, Sumoll, which effectively died out with phylloxera. Hardly anyone replanted it because it’s a bugger to grow. The variety has big tannins and massive acidity: it makes Nebbiolo look shy and retiring. The challenge is balancing that. Tasted blind, you’d probably guess you were in Piedmont, perhaps a rich Barbera, yet the tannins are a bit full for that. The acidity gives a very Italian ring to it, yet there is a real warmth to the fruit. It’s somehow very un-Spanish, yet it is Spanish.

The wines are brilliant and should be more widely known. I love everything about the place. It’s been fully organic for 30 some years since Roselyne Gavoty took over from her father Bernard, who incidentally was the opera critic for Le Figaro. She learned everything from him. There are Roman ruins there so it’s assumed that wine was made there 2,000 years ago and the family bought it in 1807. Her husband farms rare breeds, Provencal donkeys and goats. It’s a very idyllic spot and they do everything the right way.

2016 langhe chardonnay, bissia,

2016 terra delle fate, fiano doc

2017 bouza tannat, sin barrica

RRP £24.95

RRP £17.95


la bioca

This is a new wine to us, not made in great quantities. It’s made by a Ukranian wine journalist, Bisso Atanassov, who always wanted to be a winemaker. Bissia is the name of the vineyard, where this is grown, in Piemontese. Bisso wasn’t happy with the Nebbiolo in the bottom section of his plot so he ripped it out and planted lowyielding Chardonnay clones. The wine spent a year in 500-litre French oak barrels and is just extraordinary. I’d genuinely put it up against the most famous Piemontese Chardonnays – and this is only the first vintage.

sicilia, feudo disisa

bouza bodega boutique,

RRP £15.95 There is so much more to Sicily than the cheap stuff grown around the coasts. DOC Monreale, where these guys are, is fairly new. It’s got the minerality and power of good Campanian Fiano but it’s just that little bit riper and gentler – you’re not going to have to wait five years for it to show its best. Some Sicilian Fianos are excessively fat and oily and too much. There’s a real tightness to this one, you would never guess it came from a supposedly hot climate, albeit at 400m altitude in the centre of the island.


Tannat in Uruguay is still a tannic variety but, in the right hands, you get massive generosity of fruit. Their view is that Tannat generally needs a bit of time in barrel to soften out, so the Sin Barrica is only made in the best vintages. They give the fruit slightly less extraction and don’t put it into wood at all. Tannat has got some lovely flavour profiles and doesn’t have to be aggressive and hard. Wines from Uruguay usually have a bright freshness to them that most of Argentina and Chile can only dream of. Tannat could easily be the new Malbec.

Peter Mitchell MW picks 12 personal favourites from the new Laytons agency range – wines that offer a genuine point of difference on the shelves of independents and generate up to 40% margin if sold at the RRPs below, which are Jeroboams retail prices

2017 hunter’s sauvignon blanc,

2013 moss wood cabernet

2015 chianti classico, casaloste,

RRP £14.95

margaret river, western australia

RRP £18.95

marlborough, new zealand

sauvignon, ribbon vale vineyard

RRP £29.95 Hunter’s was one of the first Marlborough wineries: Ernie Hunter planted vines in 1979 in the Rapaura district of the Wairau Valley, generally regarded as the region’s finest. They were the estate that got New Zealand Sauvignon noticed in England when they won best wine in show at the Sunday Times competition in 1986 (and again in 1987 and 1988!) Alongside near-neighbour Cloudy Bay and Montana, they brought Marlborough Sauvignon to the world. Still family-owned, the wines look spectacularly good value next to more hyped newcomers.

panzano, tuscany

Another fully organic producer – they are as lovely as their wines! They overlook the Conca d’Oro, one of the 10 best terroirs in Italy. Giovanni Batista d’Orsi bought some land with a wreck of a farmhouse and made the first vintage with tarpaulins over his bed to keep the rain off because it was more important to fix the winery. He did all the work himself. We were blown away by the quality 15 years ago and it’s just got better and better. It’s small, family-owned and run and happens to sit in one of the best Sangiovese terroirs in the world.

Moss Wood is an iconic pioneering producer, the second to plant in Margaret River. Their Cabernet has been recognised as one of the two best Cabernets in Australia for decades now; the wine ages phenomenally. Ribbon Vale Cabernet gets all of the same care put into it and the same time in barrel. It’s half the price of the estate Cabernet but it’s probably 95% as good.It’s a chance to get the Moss Wood style at not completely bonkers money: what does £30 get you in Bordeaux? It’s drinking well now but I would happily put it away for 15 years.

2016 petit pissarres, priorat,

2016 soave classico, monte tenda,

2014 amore e magia rosso di

RRP £14.95

RRP £14.95

RRP £31.95

costers del priorat

This is something that bears its tradition with enough modernity for people to enjoy. It’s three families who pooled their vineyard resources and some very old vines. They steer clear of Cabernet: they only work with Carignan, or “Samsó”, and Garnacha, and that’s it. This is their entry point – it doesn’t see any extensive use of barrel, it’s not extensively extracted. It’s meant to be an enjoyable taste of Priorat. You get some of that herbal edge and some of that dried fruit character. There’s a lovely freshness and lightness and it’s so easy to drink and enjoy.

gianni tessari

Monte Tenda is a really delicious and unoaked single vineyard ‘cru’. The daughter of the Pasqua family, which owns a merchant in Veneto, came to work for us some years back and I kept in touch with her. She recently said a family friend was making unbelievable wine and sent some samples. The packaging is great, the wine is great, so I was back on the email within about five minutes saying “yes”. When you taste something that isn’t expensive and makes you sit up because it’s bloody good, that’s a lovely moment. It’s a Soave as good as anything I’ve tasted at that price.


montalcino, podere le ripi

This is owned by Francesco Illy of Illy Coffee fame. He bought this chunk of land in the warmest corner of Montalcino as somewhere to relax and contemplate but friends suggested he plant vineyards. He makes a small amount of Brunello Riserva, and the Rosso is made in exactly the same way as the Brunello plot next door to it. Low yields and 36 months in old oak botte – it’s essentially a Brunello Riserva, made by an exceptionally talented young winemaker, that happens to be labelled as Rosso di Montalcino. An iconoclast in keeping with the owner!

round table

Loyalty works both ways The Wine Merchant teamed up with Santa Rita Estates for an independents’ round table discussion in Manchester. Our coverage, which continues next month, kicks off with the thorny issue of channel strategy and what happens when suppliers get it wrong


uppliers cross independents at their

peril – a fact that was all too obvious from some of the stories being

exchanged at our Manchester round table. Jane Cuthbertson of Barrica Wines

recalled the weekend when all 51 wines from one supplier were unceremonially delisted.

“They were also selling online and they

started having special offers, selling to the

me a few months, but I delisted them. They

sells. We are going to get behind it, we’re

to your guns I think they’ll realise that the

expect reciprocal support from them.”

were constantly coming back saying, ‘oh

no, we won’t do that again’ but if you stick independent sector is very strong.”

The merchants who came along to the

round table were agreed that, in the main,

public at a cheaper price than I could buy

potential new listings or new suppliers,

one of my first questions is, ‘do you supply multiples?’” Cuthbertson said.

promotion on exactly that line.

tasting to set up a wine club. So I rang the

“They were selling at a much cheaper

rep, who didn’t approve of the way they

price than I could possibly sell it and the

were working. I said, ‘could you arrange for

supplier really couldn’t see the problem,”

one of your vans to come and collect all the

she said. “They said, ‘it’ll raise the profile

wines on Monday morning?’

nationally and it’s not going to be in Aldi

“We were taking all the wines off the

very long, so people can then buy it from

shelf and two reps came in and said,

‘what are you doing? You’ve only just

Jane Cuthbertson delisted 51 wines in one go

supplier because they pissed me off’. It left a lot of holes, but not for long.”

suppliers are doing a decent job of looking

anecdote regarding a double-dealing

after their independent customers.

suppliers because for me it’s a two-way

I basically said, ‘I will delist you’. It did take

distribution. “When we are looking at

a customer to a Facebook ad for an Aldi

Then they came onto my patch and did a

a big company, probably 50 or 60 lines, and

out products that don’t have widespread

particular product, only to be alerted by

well, we want to have an online presence’.

supplier. “I was buying a lot of wines from

Like the majority of indies, Barrica seeks

she spent two years building sales of a

“When I addressed it, they said, ‘yes,

Corks Out boss Ruth Yates had a similar

put it on taste. But by the same token I

She recalled an episode in which

from them,” she explained.

remerchandised!’ I said, ‘I’m delisting a

going to talk about it and promote it and

“In general I’m quite happy with our

street,” said Cuthbertson. “They know that if we take on a new wine we’re not just

going to poke it on the shelf and hope it


you’. I said, ‘yes, by which time we’ve lost

all our credibility because Aldi are selling it £3 cheaper than we are’. The remaining

stock I sold at £1 less than Aldi, and I put it all over social media.”

Yates at Corks Out said: “I think there is

a communication issue amongst the big suppliers.

“There are lots of different reps and

they’re looking after different sectors and

OUR panelists Jane Cuthbertson

Barrica Wines, Samlesbury

Ruth Yates

Corks Out, Cheshire

Samantha Jackson Chester Beer & Wine

Salut in Manchester, our venue for the round table

don’t realise that someone else is selling to

Wine said: “We’ve all helped launched

few pallets, and it does cause a problem.”

happens more with spirits I would say, but

a vintage and they just want to get rid of a Jake Crimmin of Barrique Wine has worked on the supply side of the wine trade. “Usually you’ll have a channel

strategy: these SKUs are for the on-trade and independents and these SKUs are going into the multiples,” he said.

“I’d be looking after the independents

and my colleague looking after the

nationals. Someone would delist something and so we’ve got an overstock of that –

Barrique, Lytham

Sara Saunby

dozens and dozens of brands and then it’s, ‘thanks guys, we’re off to the big boys’. It also with wine.”

Yates added: “One that did it a long

Salut, Manchester

Edward Gillibrand Tiny’s Tipple, Manchester

time ago was Mondavi, which was only ever in independents and then they

Continues page 28


what are we going to do with it?’ ‘Oh, I’ve managed to get it into Aldi.’ Gold star.

“For [producers in] some countries, it

takes a while to get the channel strategy. They don’t see the problem.”

Jake Crimmin

Samantha Jackson of Chester Beer &

multiples, and assume the wine is exclusive to independents. Quite often it’s the end of

Kate Goodman

Reserve Wines, Manchester


Manny Doidge Santa Rita Estates

round table From page 27

went into Sainsbury’s because they

could sell so much more, and they lost

all their independent trade. And then the supermarkets delisted them.”

Independents may be offered different

wines to the multiples, but if the brand name is the same, there’s always a risk

of incorrect price comparisons. “It’s the

same with Chablis – people assume that all Chablis is the same,” Yates said.

There is sometimes confusion among

suppliers about the difference between an independent and a multiple.

“I’ve lost count of the number of times

I’ve said, ‘do you supply Booths?’, and

they’ve said, ‘oh yes, Booths isn’t really a

supermarket’,” said Cuthbertson. “They’ve

got 28 branches! What part of ‘multiple’ do you not understand?”

Some independents make an exception

for Waitrose, if they feel able to beat the price on a small number of brands that

are listed by their bigger rival. But Jackson sees no sense in that. “The market’s big

enough for us not to have to take them on,”

she said. “Why go poking the bear? There’s enough choice.”

That goes for Majestic as well. “That’s

because Majestic do crazy deals,” she

added. “One minute you’re competing and

the next you look really expensive, and you just get people coming in saying, ‘Majestic

are doing an offer, can’t you do the same?’” As the independent trade becomes

more congested, are merchants becoming equally nervous about listing wines that

smaller rivals also sell? For Yates at Corks

Out, this “isn’t an issue at all because we all want to make a margin”.

She added: “Kate [Goodman] and I have

done events together, and actually spoken to each other because we know that we

Clockwise from top left: Jake Crimmin, Barrique; Kate Goodman, Reserve Wines; Samantha Jackson, Chester Beer & Wine; Ruth Yates, Corks Out

have similar products and we both want to show something different. I think it’s

about communication. I’m not afraid to list anything that Salut has or Reserve has.” Goodman herself added: “You can’t

underestimate the loyalty that the independents have.

“It’s a big and buoyant sector. If you

support them, and have good brands that retain their quality, independents are

fiercely loyal I think. Just support us with tasting stock, with time, and all those

things that really make a difference to our bottom line.”

‘What part of “multiple” do you not understand?’ THE WINE MERCHANT may 2018 28


Setting our own trends

what works in london might not work in the north west

Graham [Holter, Wine Merchant editor]: Is there such a thing as a north west wine scene or does what happen up here tend to reflect what's happening in London?

almost not worth stocking it because you’ve got to put them right on so many points.

Sara (pictured): I don’t think we reflect what’s happening in London. For example the Sherry thing was huge in London. We love Sherry, and we tried and tried with Sherry. They’re just not interested at all up here. We go more for bang for buck up here. We’re not swayed so much by the new trends. We know what we like. That’s not to say we’re not adventurous up here but I think we’re a lot more canny about where our money goes.

Graham: It seems that there are more Manchester events now and that suppliers are trying harder to do justice to the north west. Is that fair to say?

Ruth: It's the same with tequila and vermouth I think. Jake: I’d agree. I think it’s much less trendled up here. I lived in London before I moved up to Lytham five years ago and every year it was all biodynamic, organic … up here people just don’t really care about that. Ed: It just takes time to filter through, surely? Jake: Yes, to a certain extent. But it doesn’t seem like people are swayed by trends so much. Kate: People are increasingly caring about sustainability and ethics. People care about lowintervention wines. Sam: There’s a lot of misconceptions in the press, which really irritates me. So people come in and say, "has the wine got any sulphur in it? We mustn’t have that because we’ll get a hangover." It’s

Jane: I think it’s baby steps. Jake: You don’t get anywhere near as much attention as you do in London. It’s so much more manageable in London: you can hit five independents in one day. I’ve got one or two suppliers that always offer to come up and do tastings. Ruth: I’ve noticed that suppliers are actually offering to pay for a couple of our staff to go down to London, and I welcome that. It’s much cheaper for suppliers to invite a few north west people and put them on the train than it is to bring all of their wines up here. Graham: Are tastings in Manchester well attended? Ruth: I think they are. Jake: SITT does particularly well. Ruth: I think the north west has been instrumental in being innovative and bringing new concepts on board. I just think it gets overlooked. Take the hybrid model, for instance: that started in the north west. Some of the things that [Reserve Wines] has done with the market, they've been absolutely fantastic. We all have these innovative things that we’re doing that bring the

consumer in. I don’t think we have to take on board all the trends that are going on in London. I don’t think they work as well up here. Jake: The north west is a huge foodie-centric place. Coming from the restaurant industry I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the restaurants and the bars, and how dynamic the hospitality industry is up here. I didn’t know about it at all, really. People are educated about food, ergo wine becomes a big thing for them. Sara: I think we’re a different character up here as well. It’s the old cliché, the northsouth thing. But we talk a lot to each other up here. When we first saw the Enomatic machines, we thought: they will work well in Manchester – people will get in front of those and start talking to each other. And they do. Customers will say, “have you tried that wine?” I have seen them in London and not seen people having the same interaction because that’s not something that’s done down there. Jake: The beauty of it for me is that Enomatics are fun, and that’s what wine should be. For the same price as a glass of wine you can try seven different wines. Ruth: And you can sell some expensive wine in there! Sara: We had Château Lafite 1990 in and it was gone in 20 minutes flat. We had a queue down the shop. We put a second bottle in and sold that as well. They give you so many opportunities. “By the time the invoice arrives we’ve sometimes sold the wine at a loss”


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More information from Liberty Wines: www.libertywines.co.uk THE WINE MERCHANT may 2018 30

020 7720 5350

merchant profile: connaught cellars

Anita Mannion, September 2017 David Farber with Cooper, April 2018



t’s hard to think of a wine merchant with a more central

location in London than Connaught Cellars. Yet despite being

a short walk from Hyde Park, with Edgware Road and Oxford

Street just around the corner, Porchester Place has a distinctly villagey feel about it.

Cooper, a precociously wise labradoodle puppy, hops

obediently onto a barrel outside the shop, keeping watch on the

neighbourhood, to the evident delight of passers-by. David Farber brings him to work each morning by motorbike, goggles on, snug in a papoose strapped to his chest.

French-born Farber began his career in Paris as a banker, and

developed a passion for collecting wine from his grandfather.

When he arrived in London, he started a wine investment business but found that clients wanted bottles for everyday consumption as well as a means of making money.

“So I started to sell these sorts of wines to them and the

demand grew,” he says. “I started to import them directly from the producers and because we had certain exclusivities we started to sell to some restaurants and bars.

“The private clients started to ask for tastings so they could try

the wines before buying them. We were operating from an office

so we started to organise tastings in bars and restaurants. And two years ago, I said, ‘OK, we could do with our own space’, so I opened Connaught Cellars.”

For inspiration, Farber “spent a lot of time visiting wine shops

in the south of France, Italy and Spain” and an interior design

Cooper keeps watch

What made you choose this location for the shop?

company quoted him a whopping £25,000 just to develop a

I didn’t want a bar, I wanted a shop, but I knew I wanted a tasting

says. “All the wine cabinets I had made in France, and the medicine

so here was roughly the middle of the triangle.

concept for his London store.

“So we ended up doing absolutely everything ourselves,” he

cabinets I found in an old closed pharmacy. This is what I wanted for my spirits.

“Downstairs for the tasting room I wanted something very

homey. When you have a party at home everyone ends up in the kitchen, so I wanted it to look a bit like a farmhouse kitchen. Upstairs I wanted it to look like a French pharmacy.”

The retail side of the business now accounts for a little under

half of Connaught’s £600,000 turnover.

room. We looked where our existing clients were based and they

were between the City, Chelsea, and Maida Vale/St John’s Wood – It’s a bit of a strange location because we are just outside of

Marylebone, and we are not in Notting Hill, but it is very central –

it is easy for us to do deliveries. No one minds coming by cab after work, to stop here to get their wine or to come for a tasting.

I also really liked the old features such as the high ceiling in the

basement, and the brickwork.

Continues page 34

David Farber’s shop is just a short walk from Marble Arch tube, a location that is quieter than might be assumed but ideal for the private clients based in various outposts of London

Fine wine on the Central Line THE WINE MERCHANT may 2018 2016 33

merchant profile: connaught cellars From page 33

Is there a community in this part of central London? There is a community, but a lot of people are here once every two months so there is not a lot of footfall. But the average spend is

quite high: I would say £300. People will buy cases if they have a dinner party or an event.

and with food. When people share wine, they want to drink the

wine and not talk about the wine – they want to talk about their lives. People want to learn about wine, but they don’t all care

about malolactic fermentation and whether the slopes are facing south west.

How would you describe the range?

There are so many places in London, not only in the wine world,

We specialise in French and Italian wine and maybe we’re a bit

Here we try to create a community because so many locals have

best producers so we have high-end quality wines.

where they make you feel like you are a wallet on legs. They are trying to squeeze everything out of you. fun evenings here at tastings.

Are your customers quite knowledgeable about wine? There is something that London has to give it the edge in the wine world and that is the WSET, which is a fantastic, fantastic tool.

The knowledge of wine has really increased; so many people are interested.

But young people studying wine tend to intellectualise the

subject a bit too much and forget that wine is supposed to be a

pleasure. Wine is something that is meant to be drunk with friends

conservative or old fashioned. The idea is that we have family-

owned wineries. Generally we take the top of the range from the

When we go to Burgundy, Bordeaux or Barolo the idea is to find

vintages which are ready to drink. We have five or six bottles from 2000; a 2010 is the youngest we have on the shelf.

I would say the plan is [to cater for] the classic type of drinkers,

so I wouldn’t have established myself in east London, for example. Here the area corresponds with the wines we are working with.

People ask why I have mainly French and Italian wines and I say

it’s partly due to space, partly because it is what we like to drink and also because we have to specialise in something. We have to get known for something, no?

Farber: “Young people studying wine tend to intellectualise the subject a bit too much”


How much of the range do you import direct? Between 50% and two thirds, and one third of that is small

producers, regional wines, so Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence, Tuscany and one third is all Burgundy, Bordeaux, Barolo. Where are you finding that kind of stuff?

Merchant to merchant, collectors … rarely auctions. I find that the auctions are too well covered and there are big merchants there.

It is impossible to get prices below market prices because you are

getting merchants bidding up to the market price, and people keep bidding. So the auction houses I find interesting are the smaller regional auction houses in the north of France.

‘There are so many places in London, not only in the wine world, where they make you feel like you are a wallet on legs’

Are you constantly looking for new producers to work with? We are. Even if we try to introduce more funky wines, or wines from the less-trodden path, say from Slovenia, we look at producers to import.

It’s not a huge place – I prefer to have a smaller range which

changes. We have been contacted a lot by people who want to be imported.

I’ve been to Vinexpo; this year, I didn’t go to Prowein but I might

go to Vinitaly, but this year is special because I’ve just had my first

wine. But for the number of people in London there are not a lot of wine shops.

If my clients don’t want to spend £200 a bottle, they want to

spend £20 to £40 a bottle – I think the trend is to drink less but

better quality. You can’t afford to go to the office with a massive hangover anymore.

Continues page 36


Last year I spent a lot of time launching the shop and tasting

room. This year we are developing the website and we are looking for a second and third site in London. I am looking towards

Hampstead or it might be Richmond or Notting Hill. I need to find the right unit in the right location.

You clearly believe in bricks-and-mortar retailing. When I launched the shop some people said I was crazy; that I should put more thought into developing my online presence because retailers tend to disappear.

With wine if you are looking at the cheaper end of the range

you are in competition with supermarkets and with big chains of wine merchants who do the £5 to £12 range and for that people go online and they can get mail order Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

The shop has been working quite well and most of the clients

coming into the shop want advice – “I like this and I like that, I’m

having beef stew tonight – what do you recommend?” – so I think the comment about retailers disappearing, for our market, has proven false so far.

When I looked at what the offer was in London, there are a lot

of online businesses and supermarkets, and there are some big established merchants at the higher end of the spectrum, and

there is a plethora of more trendy wine shops focusing on natural

Reclaimed from an old pharmacy – the ideal cabinet for spirits


merchant profile: connaught cellars From page 35

Instead of getting two or three bottles on a Friday night, people

want one, but they want something good quality and they are happy to pay a bit more.

The rent here must be pretty high. It’s not that high because the entire area, retail and residential,

is owned by the Church Commission and they just want the right

shops here, just independents to keep the village feel. So they are not unreasonable with the rents for the retailers.

I was visiting units in Hampstead last week and people were

asking for rents that don’t make any sense, and there are a lot of

empty units in London. The prices have got so high that only big chains like Pret a Manger and Starbucks can get them.

I think people start to get fed up with that. They want to go back

to small independent shops with good quality products.

Farber benefits from “not unreasonable” Church Commission rent

Does it annoy you sometimes that the wines intended for pleasure are now just investment vehicles? Yes, it does because it means that I or some other people can’t afford to drink them. I have the luck to be able to try some of

these wines at professional tastings, but some things became a bit insane in terms of prices.

How much access do normal people with normal budgets have to really good wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux? I think we are quite lucky in the sense that we have clients who

can afford to pay. The sweet spot here is £25 to £40 a bottle but

we have quite a lot of clients who are happy to spend up to £100 a bottle. If it’s an aged Bordeaux or Burgundy we sell a few bottles more expensive than that, but much more rarely.

What if someone comes in with a budget of £25 and wants to buy a Burgundy or a Bordeaux at that kind of level – do you move them onto something else? We have some young Burgundy in bottle in that range but

sometimes if they want a Pinot Noir they might get more value for their money in some other regions. There might be some Super

Tuscans that might be more suitable for their budget. There are clients who buy for the label or the region and others who are happy to try some Sardinian or Sicilian wines, or some other regions.

Are there any regions that excite you at the moment in terms of what’s happening there and the value you can get?

I still think there’s quite good value in the Rhône valley, the

northern Rhône mainly, and whites from the Rhône are still good value for money. I think some white Bordeaux is fantastic. There are still some gems to be found in Languedoc, in

Roussillon, which historically has been a weird region in France because there is the swimming pool of production; cheap wine.

There’s a few really fantastic producers and the young generation is making some amazing things there.

We import from Jura and I really like wines from there. Some of

the wines from the Jura are a bit too dry for my personal taste. I

can understand why some people like it. With certain types of food it is fantastic.

‘The sweet spot here is £25 to £40 a bottle but we have quite a lot of clients who are happy to spend up to £100 a bottle’


How have you found things since the pound lost value? It’s been tough. The duty has been increasing a bit every year, and that’s a killer. Everyone had to move their prices up. There were

different factors happening at the same time: the currency, a lot of

hail and smaller productions in greater regions of France for a few years in a row. So producers were already putting their prices up and we had to increase our prices.

If all the prices are going up and up because of exchange rates,

duty, import taxes, people will turn to cheaper products from other countries, or cheaper quality.

Have you settled for a reduced margin on some wines? Our margins have been lower and then went back to normal. We

try to work between 25% and 35%. The idea for me is that I really wanted to keep good prices and hopefully we can get known for that, even on the fine wine side.

I really prefer people to come and get two bottles and be happy

A popular feature among Connaught customers

and come back regularly as opposed to come here because they

not a huge interest for us to get wine from very large distributors.

How do you use the basement room throughout the week?

I can see that the economy is more difficult. People are more

are invited to a dinner and we are the only shop open at that time in the evening.

We organise tastings here and have private bookings three or four times a week. We can get 12 seated and up to 25 standing. We can cater food from the surrounding restaurants. When people come here we don’t charge corkage or apply a service charge. We just

ask for a minimum spend to pay for a private room. The minimum spend is £450 at the beginning of the week and £600 if it’s a Friday or Saturday.

We have a Coravin – it doesn’t really work for us because we

open bottles and we drink them. We don’t sell wine by the glass,

Has life changed for you since the Brexit vote?

careful and are spending less. I am a French national, I have been

here long enough that I could ask for my British citizenship. But if people don’t want us to stay here …

Are you enjoying being a wine merchant? I love my job. There’s not one morning when I wake up and don’t feel like going to work. People ask me if I miss finance and I say, “are you kidding? All my clients smile at me now!”

we’re not a bar.

You charge £150 for membership of your wine club, which is high by industry standards. It’s a one-off £150, not annual. People get discounts in the shops

and for the tastings. This evening we have a tasting for 11 people and the wine club members pay roughly 25% less.

We have roughly 300 members. They are sometimes invited to

free tastings, to try new arrivals, that kind of thing.

We have started to get locals who are wine club members and

we do special offers for them.

Do you buy from any UK agents? We work with Caves de Pyrene; Flint for Burgundy – they have amazing allocations; Thorman Hunt; we work a little bit with

Astrum, and some very small importers for Italian wines. There’s


French and Italian wines are the Connaight speciality

english wine tasting

Uncool varieties in a cool climate Making the case for Bacchus et al


t the time of writing, 68% of the

wines made in England and Wales are sparkling. That proportion

is increasing all the time. Wines of Great Britain chief executive David Parkinson predicted last month that eventually as

much as 90% of domestically-produced wine will be fizz.

That’s hardly surprising news – English

sparkling wine can be world-class, and it’s

only going to get better. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier thrive in our soils.

But where does it leave our once-maligned still wines?

The truth is that there’s some very

Chapel Down, home to some quality red wines as well as fizz

Lyme Bay Shoreline 2017 is based

interesting stuff out there, much of it on

on Bacchus, with Pinot Blanc, Seyval and

varieties; other examples are almost

fruit and a pure, mineral finish.

display at the WineGB annual tasting in London. Some of it comes from familiar

wilfully unfashionable in their make-up. Three Choirs Coleridge Hill 2016 is a

crisp, fresh blend of Phoenix, Madeleine Angevine, Solaris and Seyval, and a

thoroughly pleasant drop for £8.99. Another star was Three Choirs

Siegerrebe 2016, a grape variety that

seems destined for eternal outsider status but makes a vibrant, tropical-tinged wine with a biscuity undercurrent.

The Bacchus line-up was a revelation,

illustrating just how versatile the variety can be. It’s often touted as England’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc, and the

excellent 2015 example from Denbies

certainly goes down that path, with its

confident fruit and acidity. Others – such as Hidden Spring and Giffords Hall 2016 – go for a more modest, subtle style.

Chardonnay also in the mix. It’s a nicely-

judged blend, with fresh acidity, rounded Pinot Gris, another fringe variety in

England, was perfectly showcased by Denbies’ 2015 bottling: a classy and

sensuous slow-release sort of wine that makes you wonder why more growers don’t give it a go.

It was one of the free-pour stars along

with Gusbourne Guinevere Chardonnay 2014, full of ripe yellow fruit and a

sprinkle of spice, and not embarrassed by its £25 price tag.

The reds were admittedly more of a

challenge, rarely hitting the heights but occasionally showing promise. Chapel

Down Union Red 2016 (Rondo, Pinot Noir and Regent) is full of juicy red fruit and

nicely balanced, and fairly priced at £12.99. At about the same price, Brightwell


Oxford Regatta 2014 is 100% Dornfelder and is a savoury but juicy affair with no rough edges.

Of the pure Pinot Noirs, Gusbourne’s

2016 has racy acidity and looks destined to age beautifully. Denbies 2016 is lean and classic but the Chapel Down 2014 was arguably the stand-out, with its Burgundian balance.

WineGB is drawing parallels with

Oregon, a region which in 1992 produced 5.2m bottles a year, not far off the 5.9m currently released in Britain. Oregon

is now up to 37.1m bottles, and it’s not unreasonable to suggest that by 2040 England and Wales could be in that ballpark.

If that happens, it would be sad to

think that all the growth has come from Champagne-alike fizz, as lucrative and

logical as that must seem to growers. We should also be backing our Bacchus, and celebrating our Siegerrebe.

producer focus: E&J GALLO WINERY

Louis M Martini (right)

The famous five E&J Gallo’s top-end wines aimed at indies Look beyond E&J Gallo’s most famous wine brands and you’ll find a portfolio of premium wine estates – and wines that demand a specialist hand-sell


ine wine is “a huge focus” for E&J Gallo, and for good

reason. Over the past few decades, the company has been

welcoming some of the most prestigious wine estates from

California (and beyond) to its family.

These are wines that have never been intended for mainstream

distribution, and are most at home in specialist wine merchants.

And although the new acqusitions are cherished and nurtured by

the Gallo family, each one has been encouraged to do its own thing, in its own way. You won’t see the E&J Gallo name on either the front or the back label.

Leading the charge on fine wine for the winery is Jamie

Patterson, a former Majestic marketing manager who is relishing

the opportunity to bring Gallo’s premium wines to a wider audience.

“We’ve got these great wines and these great stories and great

selling points,” he says. “But we also have the marketing clout to

back up retailers and to give them whatever support they need.” Environmental concerns are at the heart of E&J Gallo’s

winemaking philosophy. The company recycles and produces its own glass, owns solar fields and creates sustainable landscapes around its vineyards.

The company is also serious about its channel strategy,

which means that some wines will remain out of bounds for

independents. Edna Valley, for example, is a Majestic line and Frei

Ranch has listings with Waitrose. But five other estates in the fine wine portfolio are aimed squarely at independent specialists and premium on-trade. Louis M Martini

A founding member of the Napa Vintners Association, Louis M

Martini, based in St Helena, was one of five Napa Valley wineries to be established immediately after Prohibition.

It joined the Gallo family in 2002, having established a

reputation for top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon. It has achieved

more than 125 90-plus scores from Robert Parker, including 100 points for its Lot 1 Napa Cabernet 2013.

The wines are available in the UK via Enotria&Coe.


Dave Phinney at Orin Swift

Stagecoach vineyard in Atlas Peak AVA

Orin Swift This iconoclastic winery was started in 1998 by Dave Phinney and has since grown into one of the most renowned boutique wine brands in the US.

“His Midas touch with grapes from seemingly anywhere in the

world is unusual,” says Robert Parker. “But the brilliance of the wines, his creativeness and unparalleled blending talents have

built an incredible portfolio … people looking for personality-filled wines of considerable character and complexity need to check out the Orin Swift offerings.”

The wines are available in the UK via Enotria&Coe.

MacMurray Estate Vineyards

MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg was built by actor Fred

MacMurray in 1941 and has been owned by Gallo since 1996. The family are still involved to this day, with daughter Kate

MacMurray working for the winery. MacMurray is best known for its cool-climate wines: Russian River Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and

Chardonnay are its specialities, all from estate-owned vineyards. The wines are available in the UK via Enotria&Coe.

Talbott Vineyards

All the wines are from one estate property, comprising three

vineyard sites.

Talbott is a leader in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and a pioneer

in the use of screwcap for premium wine in California. J Vineyards and Winery

Based in Sonoma, J is focused on traditional-method sparkling wines with wines from Russian River and other AVAs.

Owner Judy Jordan comes from a proud winemaking tradition

and set out on her own to create French-style sparkling wine from Californian – and specifically Sonoma – terroir.

The winery has always had a big

focus on pairing food and wine together.

• Feature sponsored by Gallo Fine

Wine. For more information about wines in this premium segment

Talbott is a pioneering producer from the incredible and unique Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.

and ploughing the soil himself.

Rob Talbott built the vineyard by hand, breaking up boulders

of the E&J Gallo portfolio, contact Jamie Patterson: jamie.patterson@ ejgallo.com.


The Wine Merchant Edinburgh Round Table in association with hatch mansfield

Looking for the upside to Brexit In the second and final instalment of our Edinburgh round table coverage, we look at how merchants differ in their predictions of post-Brexit trade – and consider whether the Scottish capital sucks too much energy out of the country’s drinks industry


ost merchants who attended

contact with its European counterparts

our Edinburgh round table are

about maintaining smooth trade after

struggling to see any positives

Brexit and he does not believe European

for their businesses as a result of Brexit.

wine producers – any more than German

But the sense of doom was not universal.

car producers – can afford to lose the UK

Andrew Lundy of Vino, which has four


Douglas Wood of WoodWinters in

shops in Edinburgh, fears an exodus of customers – and possibly staff.

Bridge of Allan agrees. “I’m not all doom

“On one side we’ve got lots of people

and gloom. I think we have to have

who work in the banking trade and on

confidence that it’s going to be OK,” he says.

the other lots of people who work in the

“People are going to keep on buying wine

university,” he says. “We’ve got our core

and the French are still going to want to

base of customers who live around us who’ve been unsettled.”

Matthew McFadyen of The Good

Spirits Company in Glasgow says his shop opened at the height of the 2011 crisis and has done well despite that. “But then we

started off lean and mean,” he points out.

“My fear is that we’re heading for a cliff

and the UK economy will crash badly once this all goes through, which will mean we are all badly hit. My concern is we’ve all

sell wine to us because we are one of their Another fall in the pound could potentially benefit British craft beers

built our own things up and we’re all trying to make our way in the world, and Brexit is going to absolutely shaft us.”

Mark O’Bryen of Hatch Mansfield

argues that “our economy is more robust than people talk about”. The WSTA is in

‘We have to have confidence … people are going to keep buying wine, and the French are still going to want to sell to us’ THE WINE MERCHANT may 2018 42

most important customers.”

The possibility was raised that some

wines imported from beyond the EU

– notably South Africa – may become cheaper for UK merchants and their customers.

Richard Meadows of Great Grog in

Edinburgh suggests that independents can “adapt quicker” to such a scenario than their multiple rivals.

“Suddenly we can start taking on more

South African or Chilean or whatever,” he says. “Tesco is a juggernaut. To change their wine range is horrendous.”

Meadows also argues that if the

economy does nosedive, and the pound

takes another hit, it will be an incentive

to buy more British craft beers and other domestically-produced drinks.

does edinburgh dominate scotland’s drinks scene … and is that necessarily a bad thing? Phoebe Weller Valhalla’s Goat, Glasgow There’s a far more vibrant scene in Edinburgh for natural wine but I think the appetite is building on the west coast.

Archie McDiarmid Luvians, St Andrews

Matthew McFadyen the Good Spirits Company, Glasgow If you look at the number of independent merchants in Edinburgh compared to Glasgow, it’s always been much more

diverse. Even the bar scene in Edinburgh is more diverse. Glasgow is getting better, but the wine lists are always the same.

Andrew Lundy Vino, Edinburgh In Glasgow, everyone spends the money they make. In Edinburgh everyone sits on it. Jim McQueen at Fountainhall Wines in Aberdeen sells so much Champagne it’s untrue. His Christmas trading is insane. There are economic centres as [Archie] said, Aberdeen being one of them; Bridge of Allan is one of them; North Berwick is another one. Scotland’s got a big footprint and that footprint does need to be centred somewhere. Edinburgh historically has had lots of wine coming in through the ports so lots of people are used to going to small independent merchants to buy their wine. It’s what their dad did and it’s what their grandfather did, and they like to do it too.

© petunyia / stockadobe.com

This tasting season I bought a multi-pass from Leuchars to Edinburgh because I knew I would be making 10 journeys in two months to Edinburgh to do tastings. For not a single moment did it occur to me that I’d be going to Glasgow for a tasting. It never occurred to me that I’d be going to Aberdeen, or Stirling. That is the problem with the Scottish wine trade. Don’t get me wrong, I think you could ask exactly the same question about the London wine trade. I know from good friends in various points around England that if you don’t go to London, you’ll never see a wine tasting; reps won’t come to you.

I do think that Scotland, although it has a smaller land mass, has a similar issue in that unless you are able to generate a real centre of gravity for yourself, nobody is going to come and visit you. Edinburgh draws people in. Having a hub of excellence is not a bad thing. Is it not the responsibility of the industry to say: right, here’s Edinburgh, one of the best wine and cocktail cities on earth, frankly. But let’s try and radiate it out. If you want to do really well in the drinks industry within Scotland, you wind up in Edinburgh. And then if you want to do better than that you wind up in London. Is there a way the wine industry in Scotland can get more people out to the edges?

Edinburgh is “one of the best wine and cocktail cities on earth”


producer profile

An Australian smorgasbord Australia’s wine regions are singing like never before, and one man who should know is Paul Lapsley, who works in about 40 of them. He talks to The Wine Merchant about the new-found confidence in the regional expressions of a land that’s been better known for generic blends


ew people can claim to know

Australia’s wine regions as well as Paul Lapsley.

He started out in the Hunter Valley,

which he describes as “the best place

in the world for Semillon and medium-

bodied Shiraz”. His career then took in the Swan Valley at Houghton, “dabbling in the

aromatic whites of Western Australia, and wonderfully complex reds of Margaret River and Frankland”.

Lapsley is the 19th chief winemaker

at Accolade Wines, the parent company of Fine Wine Partners, which markets

wines such as Petaluma, St Hallett, Grant

Burge, Croser, Stonier, House of Arras and Houghton in the UK. It’s a premium

range aimed squarely at independents and high-end on-trade.

“There are approximately 65 recognised

regions in Australia and we probably deal with about 40 of them,” Lapsley says. “From Tasmania through to Western

Australia and everything in between. We

don’t have a holding in Queensland, but we do straddle about 5,000km.”

There was a time when Australian

winemakers were happy to focus on crossregional blends or generic house styles.

There is still a place for these wines, and they represent some of Australia’s most commercial successes.

But Lapsley talks about a “sub-regional

and single-vineyard mania that is sweeping

through the Australian wine industry at the moment”.

He adds: “If you then look at the

footprint of Australia from Tasmania all the way up to Queensland, New South Wales,

Victoria, South Australia and onto Western Australia, the diversity and complexity of

our wine industry is both challenging and very exciting at the same time.”

Regionality has long been a buzzword in the Australian wine industry, though it Paul Lapsley: “challenging and exciting” times

has not always resonated with consumers.

But there’s no doubt in Lapsley’s mind that the country’s regions are expressing their


character like never before.

“The consumer is being offered a

delightful smorgasbord of flavours

and characters that we haven’t seen in Australian wine before,” he says.

“Essentially we’ve been learning the craft

for just 40 years and the exciting thing is we are making world-class Chardonnay.

The vines are only 20 to 30 years old, and

we mature as winemakers as well: how we

need to manipulate the canopy, the picking

criteria, and then in the making of the wine we’re more about finesse and elegance.”

Which regions are exciting Lapsley most

at the moment?

“I love dealing with some very well-

known ones: Margaret River for Cabernet and Chardonnay. There’s a small region

that’s probably only know by 0.001% of Australian wine drinkers, called Panton River where we grow wonderful red

varieties, especially Cabernet. A hop across to south Australia and McLaren Vale is truly exciting, especially its Grenache.

“I love the Yarra – it dances between

trying to be Bordeaux and Burgundy at

the same time so you can grow really good Cabernet, but also delightful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

“There’s other areas such as

Tumbarumba in the Southern Alps of New South Wales where a lot of the vineyards

are about 600m above sea level on granitic soil that grows wonderful Chardonnay.

© FiledIMAGE – stock.adobe.com

in association with

The Yarra Valley is a favourite of Lapsley’s. “It dances between trying to be Bordeaux and Burgundy at the same time”

“There’s a lot of diversity in Tasmania:

you can grow ultra-fine sparkling to highquality Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay

and Sauvignon Blanc. It really polarises the expression of the cool climate that we’ve been chasing: more finesse, better acid balance and lower alcohol.

“We’ve been in Tasmania as a company

for nearly 24 years, mainly with sparkling. And if you drive around Tasmania on the

east coast there are a lot of areas that are really truly exciting. You wish you could

just hop over the fence and buy a block of land and put a vineyard in.”

There is work to be done, however, to

communicate the diversity of the premium Australian offer to wine drinkers.

“I still think it’s a bit hit and miss with

consumers,” Lapsley says. “The informed consumers know about Barossa and

Margaret River and then there are people

who think they know the regions, but don’t

know the names of the wineries.

“The government and Wine Australia

explore australia's regions

at home you’ll find regional roadshows. So

Discover the Fine Wine Partners range

are doing a much better job now than they used to in relation to this regionality, and there’s a major drive to express what the regions are all about and how great they can be. There’s a lot of work still to do;

we’re very small on a global scale in terms of recognition, but we can go to market very confidently.”

Lapsley and his peers are certainly

convinced that Australia’s regions are performing at a new level

these days. “We used to spend a lot of money tasting and comparing ourselves to the great regions

of the world,” he says, “and I’ve

noticed in the last five years we don’t do that as much.

“We taste more of each others’

wine because we are actually

more confident in our wines now.”


of premium regional Australian wines. Contact Toby Spiers for more information. Email toby.spiers@accoladewines.com or telephone 07552 291045.

book review

101 Wines to Try Before You Die

we’re about to be surprised by the contents of the book.

The selected wines are treated to

thoughtful and informative pen-portraits.

Margaret Rand Cassell Illustrated, £12


There’s chatty background information

about the human beings behind the estates, and a genuine sense that Rand knows

these wines well enough not to rely on

the cursory Google searches that seem to bolster so much wine writing.

The pages are neatly arranged so that

ife, for most people, seems to

readers can take in at-a-glance information

get increasingly hectic and time-

about grape varieties, food matches and

compressed. Part of the problem

is all those books we have to get through,

instructing us on all the amazing things we need to do before we cark it.

The bucket list is not a new concept in

the world of wine. Indeed in 2011 Neil

Beckett published a book entitled 1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die, and it would be interesting to know how

many readers joined the choir invisible

while attempting this feat. In these days of responsible drinking, the decision of

Margaret Rand’s publisher to limit her to just 101 selections seems well-advised. What would any of us come up with,

presented with this kind of brief?

The temptation would surely be to

acknowledge some genuine classics, if

only to prove that one knows one’s stuff; throw in a good smattering of less costly

wines from proven regions and producers, to demonstrate the common touch; and then the inevitable esoteric wild cards.

V is for Vergelegen and Vega-Sicilia …

serving temperatures. The “what to say if

Even a writer with a track record as solid

fun that can often be absent from guides to

as Rand’s was never likely to stray far from this formula.

So what kind of wine does she like? “If

there is a thread running through these

choices it is one of balance, elegance, poise and precision,” she says. “I love freshness, I love acidity, and I love a sense of

authenticity.” Not much controversial there, then – it’s a manifesto that just about every wine producer and wine merchant has

subscribed to over the past decade or so.

(Whether they actually practice what they preach is, of course, another matter.)

Rand will “go along with the natural wine

movement part of the way” but does not

want “faults dressed up as virtues”. Again,

there’s not much to take issue with in that statement. And not much to suggest that

Some of the names that crop up are almost comically predictable, but leaving them out would probably be interpreted as a grandstanding sort of snub THE WINE MERCHANT may 2018 47

you meet the owner” bits are perhaps a

little forced at times, but inject a sense of

very expensive wines, which is what most of these are.

Some of the names that crop up are

almost comically predictable – Yquem,

Cristal, Dom Pérignon, Vergelegen, VegaSicilia, Gaja – but then again, leaving

them out would probably be interpreted as a grandstanding sort of snub. Maybe

a younger and more tattooed wine critic

would delight in that kind of iconoclasm, but few would expect it from Margaret Rand.

To be fair, there are some quirky

and original choices. England’s sole

representative is Wiston Estate rather

than the obvious candidate beginning with N. The Lebanese choice is Domaine des

Tourelles rather than Musar; and among

the American selections lurks an Oregon

Riesling. Croatia and Switzerland are also allowed to send forth their champions.

Are these genuinely the wines that we

should hunt down as our twilight years

approach? There are certainly worse ways to spend your final three months. Though

venturing a little farther off-piste might be more fun, and possibly eat into the kids’ inheritance a little less.

Graham Holter

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Beaujolais has wind in its sails Tasting follows quality vintages


igures released by Business France

assert that Beaujolais exports are on the rise.

Adam Bruntlett, Beaujolais and

Burgundy buyer at Berry Brothers &

Rudd and FMV, believes that the increase in interest is due to “an emergence of

young, exciting winemakers” – an opinion shared by Hal Wilson at Cambridge Wine Merchants.

“The wines are getting better, there’s a

lot of interesting stuff and young producers who we’re working with,” says Wilson. Bien Boire en Beaujolais, the annual

wine fair held in April, has become an increasingly popular destination for

buyers, sommeliers and press to meet

artisanal, small-production independent winegrowers. Last month’s fair, held at

Château de Pizay, Château de Corcelles and Château des Ravatys, showcased a total of 220 growers.

Tom Innes at Fingal-Rock in Monmouth

sells enough Beaujolais to justify shipping

Beaujolais exports are on the rise

it himself. He puts the increased popularity

decline that might have been predicted a

as Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages,

been good really since 2010,” he says. “’15

in the quality of the region to include Cru

of Beaujolais, starting at 3pm and hosted

down to some quality harvests. “There’s been a run of good vintages – they’ve all was delicious.”

While Innes has noted a “bit of a

resurgence” in Beaujolais Nouveau in

the last couple of years, with his stock

selling immediately, he says his corner

of the country hasn’t been affected by a

Beaujolais boom and wonders if this might be a London phenomenon.

If it is, it hasn’t yet reached Cambridge

just yet. Wilson says: “I don’t think it’s

boom time, but it’s not quite the terminal

little while ago.”

Bruntlett has been confident enough

Beaujolais in BBR’s Burgundy offer to

appeal to those customers who feel priced out. “2016 was the first vintage that we

included and we were delighted with the results,” he says.

“The act of putting them alongside the

best names of Burgundy gave a message that these are serious wines, and they didn’t look out of place at all.”

The London tasting features wines

from all crus, as well as wines classified


including many from the 2017 vintage.

There are two seminars: The New Faces

by Jamie Goode; and at 5pm Christopher

Piper leads a session entitled Destemmed vs Semi Carbonic vs Carbonic.

To register for the tasting or for either

seminar, contact Christina Rasmussen: Christina@westburycom.co.uk. Thursday June 14 The Trampery Old Street London EC1V 9EY

make a date

Bring on the black maiden Romanian varietals on show in London


sk anyone in the UK wine trade about Romanian wine and it

won’t be long before Pinot Noir is

mentioned. Yet the variety accounts for just 1% of plantings, as visitors to the Premium Wines of Romania stand at the London Wine Fair will quickly start to realise.

The new generic group unites 16 small

and medium-sized wineries from 10

regions of Romania. Its president is Ana

Rodica Căpăţînă, who is surprised at the association with Pinot Noir.

“Back in the days of state-controlled

agriculture, Romania had a tendency to produce wine to the tastes of specific

Probably not Pinot Noir

export markets and label accordingly,” she

sometimes blended with native varieties.

Italian and even English. We are lucky that

was enough to satisfy British palates.

practices as well as interesting local grapes

acting as consultants or flying winemakers.

says. “If it looked and tasted like Pinot Noir

and retailed at an affordable price then this “The country is not known for its cool

climate, which is best suited to such

a capricious variety. However, several

producers make Pinot Noirs that are both fruity and elegant across a range of price points.”

She is more keen to emphasise

Romania’s wealth of indigenous varieties

including Feteascӑ Neagra – translated as

black maiden – which is the signature red grape variety of the country.

“We also have some regional and

local white wines made from Mustoasa de Maderat, Tӑmâioasӑ Româneasca,

Crâmpoşie Selecƫionata and many others,” she says.

“International varieties remain

popular and well-established clones of

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are popular and

“We have a whole range of wine styles in

Romania that reflect modern winemaking

that are not cultivated outside of Romania.” Rodica Căpăţînă reports that since Romania joined the EU in 2007, the

number of wineries has grown rapidly. “The PGI and PDO systems have been

revised and wineries have invested in

modern technology and equipment,” she says.

“Traditions and histories are being

revived, although unfortunately a great deal of knowledge and history was lost

under the harsh dictatorship of Niculae Ceausescu.”

Premium Wines of Romania is a mix of

the majority of these winemakers are living and working in Romania and are not just

This gives the oenologists the advantage of really getting to grips with the terroir, but also the customs and culture of Romania. “Most of the progress in producing

quality wines has occurred as a result of pragmatic and well-informed investors.

In many ways, because Romania remains

largely unknown on international markets, it allows winemakers the freedom to experiment and try new things.”

Nine PWR members will be attending the

London Wine Fair, all of whom are seeking UK distribution.

• Wine writer Darrel Joseph leads

producers “from different backgrounds

pop-up tastings on the Premium Wines

young and old from Romania and of several

also leads a walk-up tasting at 10.30am

with different stories”, she says.

of Romania stand (D20) at 11am on

nationalities including French, German,

on Wednesday May 23.

“We are proud to have winemakers both


Monday May 21 and Tuesday May 22. He

Five great reasons to come to the fair The most important wine show in the UK is just days away. Here are some highlights to look out for


and an opportunity to discover rare and niche wines that aren't available from

refreshed, with new features, zones and

anyone else.

inspirational content aimed at making it

With a casual tabletop set-up, this

unmissable for independent merchants.

is your chance to get up close and

Taking place from May 21-23, free

personal with the best niche importers

trade badges are still available. Simply

and uncover some of the world's most

visit londonwinefair.com to reserve your

exciting wines.

place now. features.

as well as all the innovation we have an

Harpers Wine & Spirit and JF Hillebrand

the Rhône to Romania, Napa to Rothschild

A series of seminars and TED-style

talks, hosted by those driving innovation in all areas of business, will put you at the forefront of what is new and what

is coming in the wine trade today, and

explain how to use this knowledge to sell more wine more effectively.

The sessions cover everything from Big

Data to smart tech and social media, to how to sell more wine online.

2. An unbeatable line-up of tastings: Of course, this is London Wine Fair, so

Byass and more.

one of the buzziest areas of the show,

different fair this year, revamped and

thought-provoking sessions.

Boutinot, Accolade, Morgenrot, Gonzalez

Esoterica brings with it a reputation as

Although entering its 38th year,

inspirational, ground-breaking and

one swoop with exhibitors including

quality importers, the always-popular

visitors can expect to see a rather

ever Innovation Zone, packed full of

the Portfolio. Build your wine list in

Championing the very best small-scale,

corners of the wine trade.

to present London Wine Fair’s first-

including Hidden Gems and Stars of

years are returning.

thousands of visitors from all

1. Get innovative: We’ve teamed up with

wide-ranging importers, with themes

all the new features, the best of previous

opens its doors to welcome

a spotlight on just five outstanding

A dedicated area for the UK's most

4. Return of the favourites: Alongside

his month, London Wine Fair

To whet your appetite, we’re shining

3. Don’t miss the Trading Quarter:

outstanding line-up of tastings. Visit our

walk-up tasting area to sip your way from Champagne, while taking in Chile, Wales and plenty more.

Not to mention the premium

masterclasses, with exclusive sessions

on Lafite, Rioja, Prosecco, Uruguay, South

Africa and more. These are bookable: visit londonwinefair.com to reserve your place. Alongside the tastings run the Industry

Briefings. With no shortage of hot topics

dominating conversation in the trade, we have put together a crucial programme of debates, panels and expert sessions dedicated to keeping you up to date.

These include panels on mental health

from The Benevolent, the latest on Brexit,

and much more. Visit londonwinefair.com to book your seat.


5. Champagne Live: Champagne Live

is an immersive and interactive tasting

experience from the Champagne Bureau, which will be transporting the world of Champagne to London Wine Fair.

Three themed pathways will create

the heart of the tasting experience, with each signposted trail presenting a style of specific interest to the UK market: vintage, non-vintage and rosé.

Visitors will undertake their own

Champagne journey, discovering the

diversity of Champagne as they weave

through themed tables and displays. This is by application only – visit Champagne Live in the “What’s on” section of londonwinefair.com to register.

To enjoy all this and much more, register for your free entry badge now at londonwinefair.com Feature sponsored by London Wine Fair

© NoraDoa / stockadobe.com

make a date

Fortified wine? The castle at Carcassonne

Sud de France Annual Tasting

plenty of rich pickings for independent

The Occitanie region was officially

producers from the Languedoc, Roussillon,

formed just two years ago to combine the Languedoc-Roussillon with the MidiPyrénées, making it France’s largest winemaking region. Sud de France is the umbrella brand for

wine, food and tourism for the region and

its annual London trade event has become a mainstay in the tasting calendar, with


At this year’s tasting there will be over

300 wines to explore from more than 35

the south west and the Rhône Valley. Longestablished co-operatives and negociants as well as artisan producers will be showcasing their wines.

The event is designed for all UK wine

professionals including importers, wine merchants, sommeliers and agents.

There will be opportunities to discover


new wines not yet available in the UK as well as the latest vintages from UK importers.

Vins doux naturels will be on show

alongside a variety of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines.

Register for the tasting by visiting

the website: suddefrance.co.uk/ annualtasting2018. Tuesday, June 12

Manchester Square Gardens London W1U 3PB

focus on spain

Around Spain in 10 Wines From some of the best-value red wines in the world, to new styles from classic regions and a new wave of natural, organic and biodynamic wines, David Williams picks out 10 wines that represent the best of modern Spain

Basque Country Gorka Izagirre Arima Late Harvest (Boutinot) Txacoli has always been an acquired

taste. The unpretentious Basque white

wine is designed for seafood and can be

Pazo Barrantes, Zarate, Terras Gauda and

not one but two much-maligned local grape

wines deserve, Quinta da Couselo.

(900m above sea level) than Terreazo,

a consistent performer that doesn’t always get the attention its beautifully textured Rioja

as tart as a lemon, with little of the fruit’s

Bodegas Aldonia 100 (Top Selection)

with a few plates of pintxos, it makes

have been clamouring for attention

accompanying flavour. In situ, in a bar

At a time when new (or, rather,

more sense. Ripped out of context, you do

all over Spain, it’s not surprising that

in the back streets of San Sebastian, say, sometimes wonder if the wines have to

be quite so unrelentingly austere. Enter

Gorka Izagirre. Owned by the same people – star chef Eneko Atza and his uncle Gorka

Izagirre – behind 3 Michelin-starred Bilbao restaurant Azurmendi, this winery has

helped challenge perceptions of Txacoli. Galicia – Rías Baixas Quinta de Couselo Albariño, Rosal (H2Vin) As with all wine trends, the Albariño

fad that took off in the UK in the 2000s

has been something of a mixed blessing for the region of origin. A great

wave of so-so producers entered the market, making blandly

rediscovered) regions and grape varieties

varieties. He makes attractive whites from Merseguera in a vineyard even higher up

while the latter vineyard is where Sarrión

has earned his entirely justified reputation as the master of Bobal, making the very fine, ageworthy Quincha Corral and the

vividly succulent bargain Mestijaze Tinto. Yecla

Rioja has come to seem a bit passé to a

Bodegas Castaño Organic Monastrell

and modernists now largely a thing of

have done with Garnacha, producers in

certain kind of wine drinker. But with the

(Liberty Wines)

the past, and with legislation paving the

Murcia have looked to southern France

divisive debate between traditionalists

As winemakers elsewhere in Spain

way for single-vineyard wines belatedly

for inspiration, noting that a grape that

introduced last year, the wines have never been better or more diverse. A personal favourite is Bodegas Aldonia, which

represents a number of intriguing

trends in the region: small, family-

owned and terroir-focused (with some

very old, high-altitude vineyards), it

specialises in Garnacha, making wines of fabulously silky purity. Valencia

dominated their local vineyards was highly respected across the Rhône and in Bandol. In the Jumilla DO, the standout producer

is Casa Castillo, makers of the top-end Pie

Franco from ungrafted wines, but also such sumptuous but balanced and affordable

reds such as Casa Castillo Monastrell. In neighbouring Yecla, meanwhile, familyowned Bodegas Castaño continues to

make impressively rich but balanced and explosively fruity Monastrell that offers

industrial, cold-fermented white

Mustiguillo Mestijaze Tinto

similarly simple whites. But if

Mustiguillo has earned justified

Cillar del Silos Jovén (FMV)

of Terrerazo in the highlands of

wines seemed to be rather dated. Until

wines that rarely justified the


premium they commanded over

Toni Sarrión of Bodegas

wider than ever, so too is the

the potential of his Grande Pago

the base of the pyramid is now

tip, with names such as Pazo de Señorans, Palacio de Fefiñanes,

superb value for money. Ribera del Duero

plaudits not just for showing

The problem for Ribera de Duero has often

Valencia, but also for reviving

recently it relied on hefty oak and massive


been that, with one or two exceptions, its

concentration. It took a trip to the region

Spain: Extremadura, Almansa (near the

of single-vineyard Garnachas, Proyecto

up shop there over the past 30 years: the

projects from Montilla and Manhuela still

striking labels featuring photos of vineyard

what had led so many new producers to set quality of the Tinto del País (Tempranillo) fruit in this high-altitude plain can be

gorgeous – dark, vivid, blackberry and

loganberry cut with freshness – not least in Jovén wines where the oak is either minimal or eschewed altogether. It’s a

quality expressed beautifully by producers such as Quinta Milú (Indigo) and Cillar

del Silos, with the latter’s side project in

nearby Arlanza, Hacienda del Carmen, also worth a look.

sierra de Gredos Comando G La Bruja de Rozas (Les Caves de Pyrene) Comando G is one of the most exciting

wine projects anywhere in Europe at the moment. It’s the work of Daniel Goméz

Jiménez-Landi and his friend from wine school, Fernando García. Since 2008,

their mission has been to make the best

Garnacha wine possible from the plots of very old vines they have found high up

in the Sierra de Gredos mountains near

Madrid. But it’s the style of those wines

that has really captured the imagination,

rather than the extravagant juiciness that many have come to associate with the

city of Albacete in Murcia), Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, and the Canary Islands, with

in early stages. The often-tiny production wines all reflect their terroir. But there is a house style thanks to an approach that

is all about natural production. These are thrilling wines, among the very best in

Spain, with a recent favourite being the electric, eccentric, salty, spicy, mineral

Garnachas de España, and the Matsu range of old-vine Tempranillo from Toro, with its workers, of which the youthful, grippy,

lightly oaked Matsu El Pícaro sums up the excellent price-to-quality balance of all Vintae’s best work. Penedès Celler Credo Miranius

old-vine blend of Táganan Blanco from the

(Les Caves de Pyrene)


settle for a singular trend that, while very

remote northwestern tip of Tenerife. Vintae Matsu El Pícaro

Is Vintae the new Torres? Well there’s

certainly a lot about this ambitious Riojabased company that calls to mind the

evergreen Catalan producer. It’s run by

founder José-Miguel Arambarri and his

sons, José-Miguel and Ricardo. It has roots in one region but has projects all over

the north of Spain. And it has the Torres

family’s flair for clever, clear, appealingly modern marketing, but always allied

to well-made wines at excellent price

points. Highlights from the range include the ever-reliable, retro-labelled Lopéz

de Haro Riojas, the multi-regional range

There’s so much of interest going on in the various DOs of Catalonia. For now we’ll much a big thing in the wine bars and

merchants of Barcelona, is still somewhat

under the radar in the UK: dry white wines made from old Xarel.lo vines.

One of the masters of this style is also

one of the masters of Cava: biodynamic

Recaredo, whose still-wine side project,

Celler Credo is all about old-vine Xarel.lo

in the Alt-Penedès. There are six cuvées, all of them different but all sharing the same crystalline, cool, stony freshness, with

notes of white flowers, white-fleshed fruit and fennel, with Miranius, the cheapest of the bunch, fitting onto a list at a very reasonable £14.

variety. The Comando G wines are all about gentle extraction, fresh acidity, perfume, lithe tannins and subtle earthiness. Tenerife Envinate Taganan Blanco (Indigo) Envinate represents two of the more

interesting current trends in Spain. Like Comando G, it’s a partnership of young winemaking friends: Alfonso Torrente, José Ángel Martinez, Laura Ramos and

Roberto Santana who met at wine school in Alicante. Like Vintae (below), it’s a multi-regional operation, picking out

exciting terroirs in the four corners of

Dry white wines from old Xarel.lo vines: a big thing in Barcelona tapas bars


© rh2010 / stockadobe.com

a couple of years ago for me to finally see

supplier bulletin

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

Ferraton Père & Fils joins Berkmann family On the 1st April 2018, Berkmann Wine Cellars became the exclusive distributor of Rhône producer Maison Ferraton Père & Fils in the UK – the first time that this historic house has appointed a sole distributor in the UK.

Maison Ferraton was founded in 1946 by Jean-Orëns Ferraton,

the scion of family of vignerons with a small holding in Hermitage. Expansion of the family business continued at pace under his son Michel, who added to the family holdings with vineyards in St-

Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage from which it produces a number of critically acclaimed, site-specific wines.

Since 1998, this bijou producer has been a firm proponent of

organic and biodynamic farming, with an increasing number of wines produced according to these principles.

Ferraton Pére & Fils continues to invest in its historic brand,

having recently purchased new headquarters on the banks of

the Rhône in Tain l’Hermitage as well as adding to their vineyard holdings in St-Joseph.

department 33

Department 33 wines at The London Wine Fair (Esoterica Area) 2018

Frazer: 07557 053343 frazer@department33.co.uk

Showing Organic / Biodynamic / No Added Sulphur Wines

Chris: 07515 555807 chris@department33.co.uk www.department33.co.uk @department_33

Our most environmental tasting to date. All French, all great wines, all with their

own take on modern sustainable viticulture, vinification and of course enjoyable consumption.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Department 33.


contemporary French wines

We do import over 100 from independent producers for the independent sector. We don’t

Department 33 et la France WINES OF BORDEAUX -

have large minimum orders or awful terms.


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

Introducing Castello Banfi Family-owned Tuscan producer Castello Banfi has

joined the Louis Latour Agencies portfolio. Banfi was founded in 1978 in Montalcino and today produces a range of red, white and sparkling wines from its own

0207 409 7276

vineyards in Tuscany and Piedmont.

enquiries@louislatour.co.uk www.louislatour.co.uk

other family-owned properties in our portfolio. Banfi

We are pleased to be working with the Mariani family

whose business philosophy closely mirrors that of the is particularly known for its Brunello wines and the extensive research it has engaged in to explore the

area’s geology, climate and different Sangiovese clones. Over the last 40 years it has been at the forefront of a re-awakening of interest in this region.

A selection of Castello Banfi wines will be available

to taste at the London Wine Fair where we will also be presenting a tutored comparative mini vertical

tasting of the Brunello de Montalcino and Brunello de Montalcino Poggio alle Mura wines.

Please contact us for more information.

AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 orders@abswineagencies.co.uk www.abswineagencies.co.uk


London Wine Fair Once again ABS will be out in force at London Wine Fair, with around 40 of our growers

joining the team to pour their wines on stand E30 and our dedicated Australia’s Best Kept Secrets Stand, E25

Come and meet a new grower joining us for the very first time: Italy: Léon Femfert from Nittardi, Tuscany

Or simply swing by to catch up with old friends from the following wineries for the latest winery news and a taste of new vintages: Australia: The Hedonist, Stanton & Killeen, Lobethal Road, Sons of Eden, Philip Shaw and Simon Hackett Wines

South Africa: Bon Courage, Edgebaston, Jordan Estate, Tokara, The Saboteur and Zevenwacht

Americas: Finca Agostino, Casas del Bosque and Peter Franus Wines

France: Desprat St Verny, Champagne René Jolly and Domaine des Malandes Germany: Dr Loosen, Leitz and Louis Guntrum Austria: Allram

Portugal: J M Barbosa, Monte da Ravasqueira and Quinta do Portal Italy: Viver

If you would like to make an appointment to taste with any of our growers please contact your sales representative or get in touch with lg@abswineagencies.co.uk. We look forward to seeing you there!


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new generation mckinley

The London Wine Fair is almost upon us and, as always, the NGM stand is THE place

14 Kennington Road London SE1 7BL

Château la Mascaronne and Domaine Gayda (France), Casa Montes, Viňa Von

T: 020 7928 7300 london@newgenwines.com www.newgenwines.com

to be! We’ll be showing a wide range of wines from our inspirational winemakers and producers over the three days including Boekenhoutskloof, Reyneke and

Leeuwenkuil (South Africa), Bourgogne de Vigne en Verre, The Vinectar Group,

Siebenthal and Cousiño Macul (South America), Kalleske (Australia) Alpha Domus, Pegasus Bay, Main Divide, Auntsfield and Valli (New Zealand) Brancaia and

Guerrieri Rizzardi (Italy), Dr Thanisch (Germany) and Weingut Türk (Austria). But as it’s NGM, we don’t just stop at wines. You’ll

be able to taste the stunning Champagne from Manu Janisson as well as Cognac and liqueurs from ABK6,

Sherry from Bodegas Tradición, Port from Churchill’s and rum from Bristol Classic Rums.

Furthermore, we’ll be launching the fantastic Pyros

wines from Argentina, the new 2014 Rosé from

Hampshire’s Jenkyn Place and we’ll have a whole heap of funny, interesting and downright quirky winemakers and producers on the stand. As well as the lovely NGM

team. So whatever you do, don’t miss us – Stand B52 – see you there.

If you’d like to make an appointment to meet any of the team or taste any of the wines,

please contact your salesperson or email london@newgenwines.com.

buckingham schenk 68 Alpha Street South Slough SL1 1QX 01753 521336 sales@buckingham-schenk.co.uk www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk


Wines to put a Spring in your step After one of the longest winters in recent memory, it’s finally warming up and our

sights are set on the spring months ahead. It will soon be time to open up the fresh,

zesty whites and delicate, elegant rosés and enjoy the fleeting hot weather. With that in mind, here are two wines Team Buckingham can’t wait to sip al fresco. Our 2018 wine list is packed full of gems like these, so please contact us if you would like a copy. Kellerei Auer Alto Adige Pinot Grigio

The cooler, northerly region of Alto Adige produces some of Italy’s most

stunning Pinot Grigios, and this is a great example of just that. Beautiful stone

fruit flavours, hints of walnut and honey, and a clean, crisp finish make this the perfect sunny evening apértif.

Bodega Otazu Tempranillo Rosé A true hidden gem – a spectacular Tempranillo Rosé from Navarra.

Bright salmon pink in colour with pure aromas of citrus, red fruits and

blossom. This wine has a lovely balance between texture and freshness, with an array of delicate fruit flavours on the finish. Great with salads, charcuterie and soft cheeses.


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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.

info@hatch.co.uk www.hatchmansfield.com @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.

walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 orders@walkerwodehousewines.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com

Countdown to 31 Days of Riesling The 31 Days of Riesling Campaign returns from July 1-31. We have a host of new German Rieslings and these two producers are must-stocks for the summer!

Peth-Wetz epitomises the new face of German wine. Owners Christian and

Maja travelled extensively before returning to the Rheinhessen to make what they describe as “internationally styled wines of distinct regional character”.

Its 2016 Estate Riesling offers a delicate fragrance of white peaches, apricot

and ripe pears. The wine is an excellent introduction to the variety and offers great value. For the more experimental, the 2016 Unfiltered Riesling spent

12 hours on skins prior to pressing, and was matured for six months on its lees. The resulting wine has layers of sappy savoury fruit, with an elegant finish.

Joh. Bapt. Schafer from the Nahe produces a range of site-specific Rieslings, from

just eight hectares. The estate has been family-run for four generations, and in 2013

was accepted as a member of the VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter): an elite group of 200 German vintners who are committed to terroir-driven viticulture.

At 8% alcohol the 2016 Pittermanchen Riesling Kabinett expertly balances

sweetness and acidity, while the 2016 Rummelsheim Riesling offers a dry style with a complex blend of spice, acidity and minerality.

Contact your sales manager to sample wines from these producers and for pricing of our

full German range.


supplier bulletin

enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX www.enotriacoe.com

low for a swag of wonderful and whimsical wines to bolster our portfolio and brighten your shelves. Customers are reaching for zingy whites for al fresco dining, light reds to enjoy with charred barbecued treats, and refreshing rosés for balmy evenings. For each of these desires we have an answer, with a cool collection to herald the coming of those long, languid, lazy days to come. In amongst the mix, we’re particularly enamoured with

an elegant yet complex sparkling from Hattingley Valley,

020 8961 5161

Spring is upon us, and our buying team has been busy searching high and

Château Gassier’s magnum of blushing Provençal rosé, and a


velvety, indigenous Portuguese red from Casa da Passarella. However, it’s the wine that words don’t quite do justice to






Drink Sparkling RosÉ

that we’re most excited to share with you. With a passion for provenance, Fowles Wines represents the new face of Australian winemaking, and their latest endeavour is

a sparkling rosé emblazoned with an ever-so-rugged ‘Ginger Prince’. Only

recently arriving on our shores, we have a feeling this fearless fizz will fly off the shelves come Royal Wedding season.

Finally, we have a bevy of winemakers flying into the UK in the coming weeks,

who’ll be ready and raring to share their wines with customers. To find out how

you can make the most of these passionate producers when they’re in market, get in touch with your Account Manager for details on dates and producer availability.

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.

cdavies@lgcf.fr 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 ...


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liberty wines

The best of Vinho Verde

020 7720 5350

Two new wines from Quinta de Azevedo represent an exciting

order@libertywines.co.uk www.libertywines.co.uk

Vinho Verde something more than a light, lively white. His work in


development in Vinho Verde. When winemaker Antonio Braga took charge with the 2017 vintage, he realised the potential to make

the estate’s vineyard, where he selected parcels of the best quality Alvarinho from a 1.4ha plot to blend with low-yielding Loureira,

convinced him he could produce a wine with both depth and zest. The result is the Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde Reserva,

made solely from estate fruit. Using 40% fermentation on the skins for 10 days, with wild yeasts, it has greater depth and

texture than any other Vinho Verde we’ve tasted, while retaining the sheer drinkability that makes this so popular. Only 50,000 bottles were produced.

The second wine is made from both estate-grown fruit plus

fruit purchased from vineyards with which Antonio was happy. Like the Reserve, it is 70% Loureiro and 30% Alvarinho, with

5% of the grapes fermented on the skins. Strikingly refreshing and characterful yet clean as a whistle, it’s just right for when the sun comes out …

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.


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mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD

Central Otago growers of exceptional Pinot Noir In the heart of Central Otago, akitu’s 12-hectare

020 7840 3600

vineyard sits alone at 380 metres above sea level on a

stunning north-facing slope. The vineyard, dedicated


to Pinot Noir, produces only two wines:


‘A2’ (white label) is a generous wine full of succulent

plum fruit aromatics, subtle spice and floral complexity. The supple tannins and juicy acidity give

impressive length. It’s made with a percentage of whole-bunch fruit and aged in 12% new French oak. akitu ‘A2’ 2016, RSP £30

‘A1’ (black label), made with Abel clones, is aged in 25% new French oak. It’s an elegantly-crafted wine with precise fruit focus, brooding aromatics and velvety tannins, balanced by lively acidity and a long refreshing finish. akitu ‘A1’ 2016 RSP £40

maisons marques et domaines

We are excited to welcome Delas Frères, part of the Louis

Roederer group since 1993, to the MMD family. Founded 160

9a Compass House Smugglers Way London SW18 1DB

years ago in the heart of the northern Rhône, Delas Frères

today crafts world-class wines from both the north and the

christine.allen@mmdltd.co.uk www.mmdltd.com @MMDUK

Rhône Star Delas Frères joins the MMD portfolio



south of the region.

With steep sloping vineyards totalling some 30 hectares of vines, the team’s main focus is terroir and quality driven production.

Crafted by winemaker Jacques Grange (originally from Burgundy), the wines of Delas Frères epitomise finesse and

elegance. Recent vintages have been lauded in the press for their intensity of flavour and excellent value. And with a breadth of wines to cover key price points on shelf, Delas Frères is sure to become a favourite!

Get in touch with Christine Allen for more information: christine.allen@mmdltd.co.uk


supplier bulletin

marussia beverages 0207 724 5009 www.marussiabeverages.co.uk info@marussiabeverages.com

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 @marussiabeveragesuk @MarussiaUK

negociants uk Davenport House Bowers Way, Harpenden Herts AL5 4HX 01582 797510 neguk@negociants.com orders@negociants.com Twitter: @NegociantsUK Facebook: NegociantsUK

It’s time to get that chiller stocked up! We all know that as soon as the sun’s out, your customers want to grab a great bottle from your chiller and get out in the sunshine!

To help you and your customers get hold of the best perfectly-chilled Aussie and New

Zealand wines, Negociants UK is offering great discounts on a fantastic range of wines to get you going.

All you have to do is purchase one of the wines below to feature in your chiller and

Negociants will give you a FOC case* on your first order and 20% off for top-up stock! • Redbank Emily Brut Cuvée £14.95 RRP

• Brokenwood Cricket Pitch White £16.95 RRP

• Nautilus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc £14.95 RRP • Yalumba Y Series Riesling £10.95 RRP • Victoria Park Chardonnay £9.95 RRP

* Order minimums apply. Orders placed from 1st May – 31st August. FOC case on first order only. Place an order with orders@negociants.com or get in touch with your sales manager for more information.


supplier bulletin

richmond wine agencies

Richmond Wine Agencies will be present at the London Wine Fair with a number of producers on hand to meet you.

The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE

• Château d’Esclans, Provence, France

020 8744 5550 info@richmondwineagencies.com


This year we are proud to be showing wines from: • 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

• Chono Single Vineyard range, Chile • Pisano, Uruguay

• Familia Schroeder, Patagonia, Argentina Plus many others … find us on STAND C60.

Email mark@richmondwineagencies.com (south of UK) or

julia@richmondwineagencies.com (north of UK) to make an appointment.

• WHISPERING ANGEL 2017 is currently on offer at RWA. Contact us for a price!


From France’s leading biodynamic wine producer, Gérard

Bertrand, known locally as the “King” of the Languedoc,

we have introduced two new wines that are certified

Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538

organic and “Bee Friendly”. The Bee Friendly certification is issued by the French body for sustainable development,

sales@hnwines.co.uk www.hnwines.co.uk


Ecocert Environnement, and is based on specific criteria designed to protect bees and pollinators. Gérard Bertrand, Or

Gérard Bertrand, Or &

& Azur Rosé, Languedoc

Azur Rouge, Languedoc



A delicate pink rosé with

A silky wine delivering

aromas of wild red berries

layered aromas of wild

and juicy blackberry. The

strawberry and fresh

refreshing palate of citrus

blackcurrant. The fleshy

and grapefruit is layered

palate is full of ripe-berried

with delicate spice and a

fruit interwoven with an

touch of violet.

elegant mineral streak.

For details and pricing on either of these wines, or any others in our portfolio, please contact your account manager.


Profile for The Wine Merchant magazine

The Wine Merchant issue 69  

The Wine Merchant issue 69