Page 1

THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 71, July 2018

Dog of the Month: Harvey Hoults, Huddersfield

THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS Who’s up for a wine tasting trip to Chernobyl?

4 comings & GOINGS

Why wine lovers no longer need to pay a £25 taxi fare from Liverpool

6 tried & TESTED

It’s a family affair at Yardarm in Leyton, east London, where Dan O’Connor, Eliza Parkes and son Finn are reaping the rewards of a publicly-financed initiative to pedestrianise a oncefailing shopping street. Full story on pages 24 to 31.

Drought in South Africa means price hikes in UK Grape shortages in South Africa are expected income adjustment of close to 30%” to to put up prices in the UK and other export markets.

The 2018 harvest is down 15% on last year,

according to official figures. Frost damage and

the ongoing effects of South Africa’s drought are the main reasons for this, but in the longer term there are question marks about the viability of many of the Cape’s grape growers.

The number of vineyard owners in South

Africa has fallen by a quarter over the past

decade and overall plantings have declined every year since 2007.

Industry body VinPro is saying that growers

are under intense pressure and need “an

ensure South Africa’s viticultural industry is competitive and viable.

With Europe experiencing grape shortages of

its own, many in South Africa believe it is time

to start charging a more realistic price for their premium wines, which have long been praised in the UK as offering world-beating value.

Rico Basson of VinPro says: “The only way to

ensure a sustainable supply going forward is

increasing the prices we receive for our wines, so that wine grape producers have sufficient financial means to plant and renew vines.”

See main feature on pages 34-40

You say dirty fridges, we say strawberry fool

10 pinotage in sussex

Not a hoax, not a joke. So what on earth is going on?

14 david williams

What kind of merchant are you? Take the Williams test

16 finger lakes fun

In which we prove that New York wines are not all foxy

20 trip to alsace

Indies take a closer look at one of trade’s beloved regions

42 focus on cider

It’s a premium drink made from fruit. Ring any bells?

45 supplier Bulletin

Essential updates from agents and suppliers


BACCHUS

b Graves among the gravestones? Sam Owens at Thirsty Cambridge has a heavenly arrangement with St Giles’s church in the city. Every weekend from May to August, the company is setting up a beer garden in the churchyard. “We are co-existing with them,” says

Owens. “At certain times of the weekend there is a service going on in the church

and there’s a bar going on outside the front

door in the garden.

“We rig up these tables and benches

and we’ve got a big old Mercedes bus that

we’ve converted into a bar. We serve beers,

Wine tours as a dangerous sport

wines and cocktails on tap.”

Wine tours commonly conjure images

often in unusual venues – including the

men and their wives awkwardly making

Owens has run a series of pop-up

of couples sedately sipping wine in

events in Cambridge over the years,

Tuscan vineyards, or red-trousered

of an ironmongers” and the more middle-

Burgundian cellar.

insalubrious sounding “backyard car park

their way in hushed awe through a

fire-pits.

Matt Ellis at The Smiling Grape in St Neots

reputation so good that the local church

the unrecognised country of Transnistria

class staple of giant teepees complete with The business has built a reputation

for upmarket, family-friendly events – a came knocking.

Owens says: “I know that some of the

church people were nervous and against having us there but the rest of them

felt it was a good thing and pushed it

through. We give them money, obviously – we pay to be there – but it helps them to raise their profile in and around the

Cambridge community and into parts of

the community they would never normally reach.”

Anyone venturing on a wine tour with

is in for a totally different experience.

North Korea, Chernobyl, Kazakhstan and

are among the places he’ll be visiting with his curious customers this year under the banner Smiling Grape Adventure Tours.

In August Ellis will be leading The Soviet

Time Warp Weekend to Transnistria, the

country known as “Europe’s North Korea”.

There’s a quick breather back at his shop

before he sets out for The Kazakhstan

Indulgence Tour and The North Korea

Beer & Mass Games Tour in September. It makes October’s Wine Tasting Adventure in Morocco and The Lebanon Wine

Extravaganza look quite pedestrian, or at

Pupils earn vouchers for good attendance

least it would if Ellis hadn’t recently got a

bit lost in Lebanon and found himself alone and surrounded by Isis flags.

After one more trip in November: Off

The Beaten Track Philippines Adventure (warning – itinerary includes cockfighting) Ellis heads back to tackle

Christmas and probably his biggest challenge to date.

In February he leads the Around The

World Pub Crawl, a 17-day excursion from London to New York by way of Brussels, Prague, Dubai, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Honolulu and LA.

The trip takes in eight countries, four

continents and 25,000 miles. Ellis has Sometimes the beer garden is open while services are proceeding inside

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 2

already contacted Guinness World Records to see if it can qualify for the Longest World Pub Crawl By Distance.


The wine trade’s own Jilly Cooper Surrey merchant Felicity Pritchett has published her second novel – this time with a wine theme. Summer at the Vineyard, written under

the pen name Fliss Chester, tells the story of Jenna Jenkins who takes a summer job at the fictional Château Montmorency in Margaux and gets mixed up in flirtation and romance.

Pritchett, who runs Taurus Wines near

Guildford with husband Rupert, admits

that there are a “few stories” she picked up on several wine trips that have been adapted for fiction.

The novel is published as part of a

three-book deal – the third is out next

summer, for which she’s busy researching super yachts. “Sod the wine trade, I think

super yachts are where all the juicy things happen!” she says.

“Almost the best bit about writing is when you get to the editorial side of it. Lots of people would think that as a writer you are quite precious and it’s not very nice

to have an editor come and slash through paragraphs, but I love it – finally you’re collaborating with someone.”

The launch coincided with Bordeaux

Wine Month and Taurus marked the

occasion with a “high-end Bordeaux wine

tasting” for 40 guests who were each given an Enomatic card preloaded with £15 and a signed copy of Summer at the Vineyard. Any merchants interested in stocking

“Our Man with the Facts”

orionbooks.co.uk to order. The novel offers

winemakers, supposedly chosen

the book for some “light relief among the bottles” should contact charlotte.clay@ a 50% mark-up on the trade price.

• The wine trade’s literary prowess does

not end there. Bruce Evans from Grape & Grain in Devon has won this year’s

Crediton Literary Festival Short Story competition.

Regeneration is no use to Searles A Berkshire independent has been forced out of business because of disruptive regeneration work that had a catastrophic effect on trade. The Grape Escape, established in

Felicity with husband Rupert

“My brother introduced me to Terry

Pratchett, so I read a lot of sci-fi as a child,

then I educated myself on Jilly Cooper and Danielle Steel. I love Jilly Cooper, I think

she’s brilliant, but I love reading all sorts of genres.”

The solitary life of an author contrasts

starkly with a job in the wine trade.

Pritchett needs to “recalibrate” after a long day spent writing on her own. She adds:

Flying Füchs

Wokingham in 2014 by Sara and Keith

Searle, closed its doors last month. The shop and deli was on Denmark Street, which has been closed to traffic since March as part of the regeneration of Market Place.

The couple say the decision was taken

“with a very heavy heart”.

A note to customers read: “With the

• St Vincent is the patron saint of

because vignerons can identify with

his tortures as they combat diseases that afflict their crops. Legend has it that he came back to earth due to a

lack of quality wine upstairs, and when he failed to return to heaven he was

turned to stone – hence the “statue” of him at La Mission in Bordeaux.

• Like most grape varieties, Merlot has many alternative names. Synonyms

include Crabutet, Higney, Same de la Canan and Semillon Rouge.

• The science behind biodynamics

remains controversial but the lunar influence on agriculture has been

discussed and written about since at least the first century. Roman

naturalist Pliny the Elder said the

moon “replenishes the earth; when she

approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them.” • According to the Office for National

massive decline of footfall to Wokingham

Statistics, in May 2018 a 175ml glass

customers. We will miss you and we have

£2.90.

we just couldn’t stay open another day. “Thank you to all our fantastic lovely

loved serving you all.”

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 3

of wine cost on average £3.79. In

February 2011 the average price was


Female focus for Covent Garden shop Parisian Carole Bryon is set to open her first shop, Lady of The Grapes, in Covent Garden at the end of this month. All of the wines will be organic, natural

or biodynamic, available to drink in or take away, and made by women.

“When I first started in the industry I

realised there were not a lot of women, so I want to support all women in wine from the vineyard to the shop,” Bryon says. “I don’t want to make a point that

women are doing winemaking any better

or any differently to men – I just think they have more of a fight for recognition in an

List will extend to around 100 wines

environment that can traditionally be very

if she finds the time amidst her continuing

doing organic and biodynamic but not

“So when I’ve finished my Diploma I think

macho.

“There are a few shops and wine bars

enough, I say. For me it is very important because there are no ingredients listed on the bottle so if we can understand

the method of production we can expect something a bit healthier.”

Bryon is starting with 80 wines from

20 UK suppliers including Walker &

Wodehouse and Red Squirrel and plans to extend her list to around 100 wines. “We are using a lot of suppliers because we have a lot of boxes to tick,” she says.

Bryon hopes do some importing herself

WSET studies. “Once you start you just

want to know more and more,” she says.

I will want to start the Master of Wine, if

Fifteen years since leaving Merseyside

I find some time. That will be one of my

to live in a variety of places from

agency art director to manage The Grocery

place like home and returned to set up

goals in the next 10 years.”

Cornwall to Barcelona, via New York,

Wine Vault & Bar in Shoreditch for a couple

The Wine Club with her sister, Danielle

Bryon gave up a career as an advertising

Rochelle Garbutt has decided there’s no

of years before putting her long-term plans

Milnes.

the organic food menu has been designed

outside for up to 20 people.

for her own wine business into action.

The shop and bar in Rainhill has room

The shop has space for 29 covers and

for around 40 covers as well as seating

Victor Garvey, owner of the Soho-based

and for the opening at least the sisters

around the wine by chef and restaurateur

Catalan restaurant Rambla and cheese and wine restaurant Sibarita.

• One of the UK’s most enthusiastic sellers of Californian wines has abruptly closed for business. Calistoga, the Edinburgh restaurant which included the Sideways Wines retail arm, ceased trading with its accounts overdue at Companies House. A proposal to strike off the business is active. Gordon Minnis, who started the company Bryon has ambitions to become an MW

Sisters of Mersey put village on map

in 2006, resigned as a director in May.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 4

Garbutt has a background in hospitality

have been roping in similarly skilled

friends to run the bar and help serve the charcuterie and cheese boards.

Garbutt says: “The village has been

crying out for it – people have to go into Liverpool or Manchester if they want a

decent glass of wine, and that’s £25 home in a taxi!”

Surrounded by greenbelt and a good

half an hour away from Liverpool city

centre, the pair may well have tapped into a captive and fairly affluent audience but Garbutt is wary of scaring them off.


Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing wine bar owned by Bobby Fishel, she says: “I was thinking of doing something with

natural and organic wine, but it doesn’t fit with our demographic at all. Our village

isn’t ready for that – we’d be alienating half our customers.”

A more gentle introduction to natural

and organic wines is definitely on the cards though as Garbutt and Fishel have already arranged a ticketed tasting event for her customers later this year.

Garbutt’s extensive tour of Australia last

year, in which she visited most of the wine

regions from the Adelaide Hills to the west coast, consolidated her passion for wine. “I love wine so much because I love

geography and travelling – I’m obsessed with maps,” she says. This explains the

specially commissioned wine-map mural

in the shop by her friend who happens to be the renowned Liverpool artist Jessica “Jazzstan” Arrowsmith Stanley.

Other local friends include Devin Stewart

at Liverpool’s R&H Fine Wines who

supplies most of the wine for the retail side of the business, while Hallgarten has the drink-in list pretty much wrapped up.

“I want to keep the retail list separate

– you can still take away what’s on the

list and you can still drink in what’s on

the retail side but I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible,” Garbutt says. “In the

next few weeks we’re going to be looking

H

mm, I’m not convinced by this wine,” says the rosy-cheeked

gent as he swigs back another

mouthful of his rather generous sample. Only this time, it’s not me having to put up with this claptrap. It’s a keen-faced

young rep who has rashly agreed to do an in-store tasting on six “must-have” wines for summer. I am merely looking on and feeling relieved it’s not me.

Why can’t he just say he doesn’t like

it? If he had swirled and sniffed a bit

first, maybe he could have said it wasn’t well made – or had some sort of valid

opinion. Something. Anything. Except for

not being convinced by a wine that didn’t even touch the sides. Much as I adore the product I sell, I loathe how it can

turn people into the biggest idiots, even before they’ve got stuck into a bottle. I’ve never quite understood how

the great unwashed think it is fine to

label wine experts as “snobs” – people

with “horrible polystyrene ceiling, vinyl

flooring and about eight different layers of wallpaper”, into a bright, welcoming space with an industrial feel; a suitably trendy environment for this young business

duo, but timeless enough not to scare the horses.

shop in a blind panic when they are

going to his for dinner. Which happens

often. They always spend at least twice as much (and twice as long) as they would on themselves, desperate to

impress, asking bonkers questions.

Would he really like a Brunello? He only drinks French.

Not convinced by the wines? Maybe they would taste better if you took those blinkers off As I mull this over, it begins to fall into

his cellar. He holds regular dinners for

will drink any old rubbish so long as it’s French. Would they really pass over a

free glass of Screaming Eagle in favour of some Mouton Cadet? More fool them.

Their self-imposed limitations on what

anyone can have an alternative view. As

convert the former launderette, complete

one or two, who always come into the

drink a wine from the New World but

prejudice on a regular basis. They won’t

week while it’s quieter.”

The sisters have worked hard to

think he knows about wine. I recognise

place. His uncompromising, seemingly

depth – and then commit crimes of wine

at putting together hampers with wines,

really push the retail side throughout the

with a group of friends, all of whom

who’ve bothered to study the topic in

they will deign to drink has narrowed

cheeses and local chutneys – we’re going to

Oh, I forgot to mention. He has come

their wine experience to such an extent

that they simply cannot comprehend how a wine merchant, I have to indulge this pomposity if I want to make a buck – and end up reinforcing their blinkered wine beliefs.

Usually, this is done on a one-on-one basis –

there is no audience. Unlike tonight.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 5

misguided attitude towards what is

good wine is quietly helping him to fill

which he plans the wines – and usually

buys from me. His guests still feel obliged to bring a splurgy bottle to keep face,

knowing that their gift will be put to one side.

I smile warmly as I realise it’s not just

our boorish, flushed gent who is winning. It’s me. So long as he keeps supporting

me, he can remain

as unconvinced as he likes.

© Ozgur Coskun / stockadobe.com

An admirer of Bunch, Liverpool’s natural


tried & Tested Ktima Biblia Chora Ovilos Semillon Assyrtiko 2017

Fairview The Beacon Swartland Shiraz 2014

The blurb gears you up for “a tropical version of a

“Actually they should call it Syrah,” suggested one

aren’t too squelchy: underripe pears came to mind

farmed bush vines, and fermented in open-topped

merchant we tasted this with: there is indeed a definite

white Graves”, which isn’t a bad way of putting it. The

nod to the Northern Rhône here. Produced from dry-

texture is pleasantly creamy, and the fruit flavours

French oak with thrice-daily manual punch-downs, the

when we dug in. A wine that definitely comes into its

wine is rich, juicy and full of dark cherries and spice.

own with food, in our case cod goujons. RRP: £27.99

RRP: £26.99

ABV: 13.5%

ABV: 14.5%

Liberty Wines (020 7720 5350)

Hallgarten (01582 722 538) hdnwines.co.uk

libertywines.co.uk

Domaine des Marrans Vielles Vignes Chiroubles 2016

Domaine de la Verpaille Viré-Clessé Harmonie 2015

It’s no surprise to discover that the vines behind this

This tiny Maconnais estate has been in the same

last month’s Beaujolais tasting, it’s bursting with ripe

century old. The style is dry, but there’s a soft, cheesey,

family for five generations and was officially certified

wine are 50 years old – it’s a logical reason for the

as organic in 2009, though some of the vines are a

medicinal intensity of the fruit. One of the highlights of

rounded character that brings out the fruit, which

black cherry flavours and a sprinkling of spice, with

integrates beautifully with the French oak.

excellent balance and admirable length. RRP: £20.25

RRP: £15.75

ABV: 12.5%

ABV: 13.5%

Vintage Roots (0800 980 4992)

Awin Barratt Siegel (01780 755810) abswineagencies.co.uk

vintageroots.co.uk

Woodchurch Classic Cuvée

Tacuil Unoak Malbec 2016

The Woodchurch vineyard, established in 2009, is

Raul Dávalos Jnr, who carries on the family tradition of

is what conjures up the sea-shell aromas and gentle

if he ever aged wine in oak, he’d shoot him – hence the

situated on a south-facing hill overlooking Romney

Marsh with views towards the Channel, and maybe this salty tang of the Classic Cuvée. A Champagne blend

south west of Salta city, was once told by his father that cartoon on the label. Dad’s views may be as extreme as his vineyards, but the unfiltered, sumptuous purity of

dominated by Chardonnay, it’s brisk and sherbety with

the fruit here perhaps justifies his violent opinions.

delicate wafts of English herbs. RRP: £31.99

making wine in this remote mountainous oasis 250km

RRP: £19

ABV: 12%

ABV: 14.5%

Las Bodegas (01435 874772)

Connoisseur Estates (01344 862230) connoisseurestates.co.uk

lasbodegas.co.uk

Antoine Sunier Morgon 2016

Vincentin Blanc de Malbec 2016

This is only Sunier’s third vintage but already the former

“Pure strawberry fool!” declared one of our extensive

vineyards in Régnié as well as Morgon. There’s an

we all agreed on everything, and if every Malbec was

IT man is creating ripples of excitement in Beaujolais,

where he makes unfiltered, organic wines from rented

unforced, subtle character to this wine, which gradually starts to assert itself and tightens its grip with each sip. But it’s a softy at heart, with a friendly savoury edge. RRP: £25.50

ABV: 13%

Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391) indigowine.com

tasting team. “Ripe blue cheese and dirty fridges!” yelped the other. “And sea.” It would be a shame if

vinified as a red wine. This is an intriguing oddity, an

enjoyable summer plaything, and far more interesting than the England v Belgium game it accompanied. RRP: £17.90

ABV: 14%

Vindependents (020 3488 4548) tamarselections.com

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 6


bits & BOBs FAVOURITE

THINGS Cameron McKeown Oak N4 London

Favourite wine on my list Without doubt, the luscious red Carabantes from Viña von Siebenthal in Chile. It is a perfectly balanced Syrah/ Cab Sauv blend that just keeps giving. I describe drinking it as like being kissed on the cheek by an angel every time you take a sip.

An East Anglian wine producer has become the first in England to release a Charmat-method sparkling wine. Ben Witchell, who runs Flint vineyard

near Bungay with wife Hannah, said the sparkling wine differs from Prosecco, due to partial ageing in barrels and

more exposure to yeast to “achieve more

complexity and texture in the final wine”. Flint’s Charmat rosé is now on sale at

the vineyard and at stockists including HarperWells in Norwich.

East Anglian Daily Times, June 26

which can be really interesting thanks to the Gulf Stream flow,” the company said.

“The wine under the sea is in obscurity and in perfect humidity conditions.” Decanter, June 7

One glass fits all for Jancis Robinson Jancis Robinson has launched her own

“I love white wine as much as red and

have never understood why white wine

glasses are routinely smaller than those designed for red wine,” she said.

She was approached by London-based

Favourite wine trip

Phil Barnett from Les Caves de Pyrene. He is always relaxed and smiling. He has the most captivating stories relating to every one of the wines he brings in. This is great for us as we love to retell the stories to our customers.

temperature and pressure conditions,

suitable for all styles of wine.

A half-decent Champagne with a plate of natural oysters would be ideal. Close to the beach. 22 degrees. No agenda. All day long!

Favourite wine trade person

“The Channel is a real energy source with

brand of wine glass she believes is

Favourite wine and food match

I am still living vicariously through my wine consultant, Manu Fuschi, when it comes to wine trips. I have a beautiful young family (and an even younger business) and it has been too hard to leave them.

Magpie

At last, the UK’s answer to Prosecco

designer Richard Brendo for the project,

which also includes a water glass and two Maybe a bit too much energy on some days

Bordeaux estate has sinking feeling

decanters. The wine glasses retail at £70 for two.

The Drinks Business, June 21

• Storing wine on its side won’t prevent corks drying out, and may even accelerate degeneration, according to Amorim director

Médoc estate Château Tour Castillon

Dr Miguel Cabral. He says the headspace of a

is ageing 600 bottles of its 2015 wines

sealed bottle of wine is so moist that there is

off the Brittany coast in the English

no need to store bottles horizontally.

Channel.

The Drinks Business, June 11

Favourite wine shop Weinladen in Hannover, Germany. It was there that the idea came about for Oak N4, so it holds a special place in my heart. The store/bar is filled with boxes of wines with great stories, happily shared by the owner. We were dropping in to get a couple of bottles to take away … we left four hours later (and quite a few euros lighter) with magnums under our arms. A memorable night! (I think).

winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 winemerchantteam@gmail.com

Twitter: @WineMerchantMag

The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 869 specialist independent wine shops. We explain how we define these if you ask nicely, though the answer has a tendency to sound snobby. The magazine is edited by Graham Holter. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2018 Registered in England: No 6441762

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 8

VAT 943 8771 82


english wine news

Is England ready for Pinotage? It’s a grape variety that sometimes struggles to win the affection of British wine lovers. So why has it been planted in Sussex, of all places? Graham Holter reports

T

he wallabies at Leonardslee

Gardens in Sussex may look out

of place, hopping around, as they

do, in an alien hemisphere. But they’re no longer the strangest sight at this glorious 200-acre estate, sometimes described as England’s finest woodland garden.

A Pinotage vineyard has been planted

in the greensand-and-clay soil, a grape’s throw from the rhododendrons and

azaleas that once attracted charabanc-

loads of day-trippers. It’s a lovely spot, 96

metres above sea level and perilously close to the accepted limit for viable English

viticulture. But on a sunny day in June, as new owner Penny Streeter remarked, it felt almost like South Africa.

Streeter’s South African wine business,

The Benguela Collection, already owns nearby Mannings Heath Golf & Wine

Estate, where Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and

Pinot Meunier vineyards were established last year.

The decision to plant England’s first

Pinotage vines was driven by the head rather than the heart, according to

Johann Fourie and Penny Streeter already work together in Walker Bay

the grape in 1925 by crossing Cinsault

with Pinot Noir – suggested old-country

sentiment might also have played its part. Fourie says: “Not long

ago myself and Duncan

McNeill, our viticultural

winemaker Johann Fourie. But the appearance at

consultant, and our local

great-grandson of

and speculating about the

vineyard manager were

the press launch of Gerhard Perold – Abraham Perold, who created

looking at this piece of land

pros and cons not only of this

field but of planting vineyards in

the UK.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 10

“With all the challenges they mentioned

– the difficulties and the struggles that

there are in growing vines in the UK – I was thinking: hang on, Pinotage might be the answer to that problem.”

He explains: “Some of the challenges are

getting grapes to fully ripen, to accumulate enough sugar to get to full alcohol levels. If you leave it too long, cold sets in, disease sets in, rot comes in.

“Pinotage accumulates sugar really

fast and it’s got a short growing season. Typically the bud burst would be way


after something like Chardonnay, so

flavours – raspberry, red liquorice and even

growing season – it’s the earliest grape

ups and downs, closely related to South

that eliminates a large part of the frost

red bell pepper,” he says.

risk window. Then it’s got a quick, short

He acknowledges that “Pinotage has its

variety by a long way to be picked in South

Africa’s ups and downs”. But just like its

Africa.

developer, he declares, “it has a sense of

“It’s got a thick skin so it’s not as

humour. It’s loving and giving.”

susceptible to rot as Pinot Noir, its parent,

Fourie admits that nobody can be sure

for instance.

that this half-hectare experiment in the

“Because of the pitch-black colour, the

High Weald of Sussex, five miles north west

temperature within a Pinotage berry

of where Bolney Wine Estate makes its

would be typically 6˚C to 10˚C higher than

acclaimed Pinot Noir, will pay off. If it does,

the ambient temperature. That heat that it almost sucks in helps with tannin and colour development.

“Also it’s got a moderate canopy growth.

One of the challenges round here is high

2,000 or 3,000 bottles of English Pinotage Leonardslee House and the field of dreams

vigour.”

among UK wine consumers. Perold puts

isn’t exactly the most beloved variety

occasionally you’ll get those amazing red

All of which may be true, but Pinotage

its case. “It’s very common to find purple fruits and black fruits in Pinotage but

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 11

could be hitting the market in 2023. If

the grapes don’t ripen as well as the team hopes, there is an alternative strategy in place.

“The back-up plan is that it will go into

our base wine programme,” Fourie says, “which will hopefully give our sparkling wine a bit of South African spice.”


news

France on top – but are Portugal and Austria the real winners? The French would slide to sixth position if league table was based on the percentage of entries to make the Top 100

Top 100 placings

Highly Commended

Points

% of entries in Top 100

24

52

124

14%

2 Australia

12

25

61

13%

3

13

16

55

18%

4 Spain

10

16

46

18%

5

10

7

37

40%

6 Argentina

7

10

31

13%

7 South Africa

3

17

26

5%

8

6

5

23

17%

9 New Zealand

5

8

23

13%

10 Austria

3

1

10

30%

11 USA

2

4

10

6%

as the leading country of origin once

Country

I

t was no surprise to see France emerge again in this year’s Wine Merchant

Top 100. But was this, as some rivals have speculated, simply a result of entering more wines than other nations?

It’s a slightly cynical viewpoint, but the

claim bears scrutiny and puts a rather different complexion on our Top 100 leaderboard.

When we calculate the percentage

of each country’s entries to gain a Top

100 position, it’s clear that Portugal is

comfortably in the lead, with a hit rate

that’s almost three times that of France. Austria provides the other stand-out

performance, with 30% of this year’s entries picking up a Top 100 gong.

The percentage of successes provides an

intriguing alternative perspective of the

2018 competition, though it does have its limitations. The Republic of Macedonia,

for example, celebrated its first-ever Top

100 placing this year, with one of its four

entries joining the winners. That’s a 25% success rate, way ahead of France, and most other leading nations.

South Africa, meanwhile, will be

disappointed that just 5% of its entries

made the cut this year – a surprisingly poor return for a country whose wines are in vogue in the independent trade.

1

France

Italy

Portugal

Chile

• The table has been updated since

publication in our Winners’ Supplement to

Three points were awarded for a Top 100 place, and one point for each Highly Commended wine

include New Zealand, mistakenly omitted.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 12


> THE WINEMAKER FILES RJ Botha, Kleine Zalze RJ studied at the University of Stellenbosch and started his winemaking career at Nitida Cellars in Durbanville where he won the Diner’s Club Young winemaker of the year in 2010. He joined Kleine Zalze two years later.

I always loved farming and loved being outside. I wanted to be a doctor at one

stage and halfway through high school I thought maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. I phoned my dad and said, “I quite enjoy this wine thing”, and the words he uttered, I don’t think you can publish! I didn’t grow up in a wine-drinking family.

Stellenbosch is a wonderful place. It’s mainly a university town and the winelands around it have grown so much in the past couple of years. There’s a hell of a lot of diversity, with mountainous areas and different soil types. If you plant the right

thing at the right site you’ll make the best wines in South Africa in Stellenbosch.

We have about 80 hectares under vine on our property and in False Bay there

Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc RRP: £13.95 This is from a couple of vineyards from Stellenbosch. It has anything between 12 and 24 hours' skin contact. I don’t filter: as soon as the wine is chemically stable I know it’s happy and in a good place and we put it into bottle. It has a lovely fruit nose and a velvety character on the palate.

are two farms that we manage. We work with about 20 growers. We visit them once a month and then in harvest time we visit them every week.

We want to catch that terroir. Focus on a specific block and capture what is there. With the bush vines, there is not a lot of hard work. They grow themselves so

we maybe clean up a little bit around them just to get some air into the bud zone.

Bush-vine Chenin is a wonderful thing. In the vine itself there are so many different micro-climates. All of these little bunches have different flavour profiles.

We have definitely evolved the Kleine Zalze style; we’ve worked on texture and finesse. I don’t want to use the word structure as it can be a very broad, harsh term,

Family Reserve Chenin Blanc RRP: £23.30 This spends about a month longer in barrel. There is more density on the palate. The granite soil from two vineyards near False Bay gives it minerality on the palate. I love the chalky seam you get through the wine. From the other site, in Bottelary Hills, you get big yellow stone fruit.

for me. I want texture and a refined tannin.

We used to make these very big, almost botrytis-style Chenins, with a bit of sugar involved, and they were a bit on the yellower side. We’re moving away

from that towards a fresher style. We’re picking a bit earlier and put it in a little bit of old oak just to balance the palate out.

Chenin is actually quite easy to work with in the vineyard. But it’s hard

physical work because it’s all done by hand. Being older vines they tend to thin out quite easily and they’re healthy. We’ve had three years of drought now and these

vineyards held up so well. All the dryland vineyards have roots that are so deep. It’s not the first drought they’ve seen, so out of all the vineyards in South Africa, these

Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon RRP: £16.35 For me Helderberg is the best site for Cabernet in South Africa. The soils have granite and coffee stones in them; it’s very well drained. What I love about this wine is the very refined tannin. It spends about 18 months in barrel. There’s fruit and it’s got a herbaceous or spice character.

older bush vines were looking the best of them all.

Kleine Zalze wines are imported by Hatch Mansfield | 01344 871800 | info@hatch.co.uk

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 13


just williams

Which type of wine merchant are David Williams’s questionnaire will help determine where you fit into the modern wine trade

1. If you could sell wines from a single French region, which of

5. Complete the sentence. Natural wine is …

the following would you choose?

a) The work of charlatans, frauds and pious hippies; an aberration

a) Bordeaux

that future generations will look back upon in horror.

b) Burgundy

b) A brave but ultimately flawed experiment in challenging received

c) Vin de France

wisdom that has produced a handful of outstanding wines.

c) Whatever I want it to be. Find me a “1€ en vrac” rouge and my

d) Jura

2. What is your favourite grape variety? a) I don’t and won’t ever have one. The very idea of varietal marketing appalls me.

b) Pinot Noir at the head of a shortlist also featuring Riesling, Nebbiolo and Syrah.

c) At the moment, Malbec – can’t sell enough of the stuff.

labelling guys will have you a “natural” wine by lunchtime.

d) Real wine. Authentic wine. Emotional wine. Passionate wine. Wine you can drink and feel alive – nourished – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.

6. An opportunity to buy up one of four London merchants has come your way, but you have only the names and locations

d) Trousseau, Hárslevelű, Nerello Mascalese … but the really

on which to base your decision. Which of the following

3. With which of the following wine personalities do you most

b) Vins Vini Vinos (Battersea)

important question would be “what’s your favourite soil”?

businesses would be the most attractive?

identify?

c) The Big Booze ‘n’ Bottle Shop (17 branches in south London)

a) Prince Robert of Luxembourg (right)

a) Johnson, Grieve & Jarndyce Cellars (Belgravia) d) Terroirania (Hackney)

b) Aubert de Villaine

7. Which of the following have you

c) Ernest Gallo

d) Josko Gravner

worn on at least one occasion in the

matching is …

b) Beige chinos

past year?

4. Complete the sentence. Food and wine a) What used to be called (indeed, what sensible people still do call) “dinner”.

b) A skill (although not quite an art) that can greatly enhance a meal provided it doesn’t draw too much attention to itself.

c) Whatever combination of “white meat, fish and creamy sauces” or “pizza, pasta and charcuterie” fits on a back label without frightening the horses.

d) Essential (and sensual). They say that a meal

without wine is like a day without sunshine; but a wine without food is like a night without sex.

a) A club tie

c) A massive platinum-plated watch with a bafflingly complicated face d) A tattoo of an amphora

8. Complete the sentence. Scoring wines is … a) An American barbarism.

b) A fundamentally democratic, if occasionally irksome, reality of modern wine.

c) Fine if you can find the right person to do them for you for the right price.

d) OK if it’s done with colours and/or haiku rather than numbers.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 14


e you?

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

9. Which of the following tasting terms

11. How does your business source its wine?

are you most likely to use?

a) Auctions and en primeur; allocations like mine don’t happen overnight.

a) A wine of breeding

b) I do use some of the better UK suppliers, but I get as much as

b) Mineral

I can direct from the producers, many of whom I now count as

c) Decent juice

friends.

d) Soulful

c) The dark web.

10. What does the phrase “everyday wine” mean for you? a) A relatively youthful claret from a good producer in an unsung

d) I like to think that the wines source me. 12. If you hadn’t joined the wine trade,

vintage.

which career would have been most likely?

c) A great name for a bag-in-box brand.

c) Property

b) Crozes-Hermitage rather than Hermitage; Petit Chablis rather

a) The army

d) To paraphrase Sly and the Family Stone, I am everyday wine.

d) Barista

than Chablis.

b) Barrister

If you answered mostly As:

If you answered mostly Cs:

The Old School Merchant

The Commercialist

Having followed your father into the trade in the 1960s, you are

Are you a cynic or a pragmatist? Only you will know, but wine has no

a diehard traditionalist with zero tolerance for fashion and fads.

romance for you – and that joke about making a small fortune from a

Dismissing everyone and everything in the wine world of the past half-

large one has never really rung true. Your time in a supermarket buying

century as arriviste, you have no patience for attempts to democratise

department taught you that, so long as you’re not too precious and

wine, are still baffled by the rise of the New World and are capable

hung up on arcane jargon, or too fussy about where it’s come from,

of falling out with customers who fail to comprehend the importance of

there’s a decent living to be made from wine. Having said that, the

Vintage Madeira or Mosel Kabinett.

past couple of years have had you wondering if you’ve left it too late to go into gin.

If you answered mostly Bs: The Centrist

If you answered mostly Ds:

Reasonable to a fault, you pride yourself on your catholic taste and

The Naturalista

see it as your mission in life to increase your customers’ knowledge

Born in the 1980s or 1990s, you were crowd-funding a craft brewery

about and pleasure in wine. Having started out in the wine trade

before you saw the wine documentary Mondovino and became a

(most likely having left a stressful first career behind) in the 1980s or

natural wine true believer instead. Your mission is to rescue wine from

1990s, you have long considered yourself part of the cutting edge of

industrialisation and standardisation, and in doing so,

wine, cultivating a deliberately informal, casual style. But lately you’ve

help save the planet, too. Your spiritual home is Raw

started to wonder. There are things in wine today (orange wine; the

Berlin (London’s “lost its edge”), and you have a section

fashion for light, stalky reds; beards) that, like Brexit and Corbyn, you

in your shop devoted to wines for the “vegan curious”.

just don’t get; that make you feel the world has gone crazy; that make

You are considering branching out into vinyl records and

you feel old.

bircher muesli.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 15


wine merchant tasting

A New York state of wine It’s a cool-climate region once associated with foxy hybrids, but now it’s gaining a global following for classy Riesling and Cabernet Franc. A group of independents took a closer look …

V region.

ines like some genuine seasonal variation and they certainly get

that in New York’s Finger Lakes

“In the northern part of the Finger Lakes

we can get up to two metres of snow a year,” says Kelby Russell of Red Newt

Cellars. “It insulates the vines. The coldest you’d see would be negative 28˚C and the

warmest about 35˚C. It’s really rare to see

The lakes protect the region from frosts

and have a cooling effect in summer, but

“year on year there are vintage variations,” Russell says. “When you have that kind of

variation it leads to collaboration; you feel you are pulling against it together.

“As a winemaker it changes the way you

philosophically work with wine. When

anything above 36˚C.”

Russell, along with Shawn Kime of

Riesling leading the charge. “I feel that

Cabernet Franc is the red grape that has

increasingly the more familiar vitis vinifera

firmly grabbed the reins,” he says. “There’s

is gaining momentum, and producing

a distinct Finger Lakes expression of it

Franc are particularly successful.

Kelby Russell of Red Newt Cellars (left) with Shawn Kime of Thirsty Owl

it’s possibly Nahe, Russell suggests.

the vintage variation is all over the place

there is a chunk of limestone on the north

that vineyard and for that grape.”

You can have massive variations in soil type within the same block. As a winemaker it’s a lot of fun experimenting with that.”

including – belatedly – New York City.

identified the template it will stick to, with

vines and the famous “foxy” aroma, but

shale and topsoil. It’s a crazy hodge-podge.

Gradually the region is forging a

reputation in its domestic market,

Shawn Kime believes the region has

associate the area with vitis labrusca

of the lakes,” he says. “Mostly it’s really only

overwhelmingly positive.

through there.”

WSET students will immediately

about shale on the southern parts, and

and Cabernet Franc in particular was

local. It took a couple of decades to break

Ontario and east of Niagara Falls.

“In terms of bedrock we’re mostly talking

depth, and the reaction to the Riesling

them and you get no bonus points for being

from the Finger Lakes region south of Lake

Finger Lakes, at least in terms of climate,

had tasted Finger Lakes wines in such

Russell. “Everything in the world comes to

New York State wines, much of which come

If there’s a European equivalent to the

It was the first time any of the group

backyard because it’s so cut-throat,” says

part of a campaign to raise the profile of

the world stage. Riesling and Cabernet

and of Angelo van Dyk of Bedales.

“It’s not an easy market to have in your

Thirsty Owl, was in London last month as

varietal wines that can hold their own on

DVine Cellars, Tal Groinen of Friarwood

it changes the way you think about wine.

It’s your job to show what that year did for Inverarity Morton is bringing in a

number of New York wines, several of

which were sampled in London by Colin Thorne of Vagabond, Greg Andrews of

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 16

and it’s market-friendly. People seem to recognise it.

“I think you’ll see more of this and I think

you’ll see improvement in quality. There’s

been improvement in quality over the last

six or seven years, both in the wineries and in the vineyards.”

Some producers are achieving success

with Grüner Veltliner, and Russell says

“there are some beautiful Chardonnays coming out of Finger Lakes right now”. The tasting intrigued Thorne of

Vagabond. “Finger Lakes seems to be a

place in the process of rapidly discovering


Glacier Ridge Vineyard, source of grapes for Red Newt’s special labels

itself,” he says. “The claim that it’s 25 years behind Germany, as far as climate change goes, means we might have a chance

of discovering Rieslings of uncommon delicacy and precision.”

Thorne suggests retailers would have

something of a challenge to persuade

consumers that the US is capable of true

Red Newt Tango Oaks Riesling 2013 DPD: £17.30 The Red Newt house style. "We tend to sit on wine for a few years," says Kelby Russell. "It's a classic Riesling in the way it's presenting itself right now." Colin Thorne adds: "I can see the Nahe comparison; that softness around it."

Red Newt Dry Riesling 2015

DPD: £12.70

"This is always more opulent; a richer and full-bodied expression," says Russell. "Most of this would be a long, slow ferment followed by eight months in stainless steel." Groinen says: "I get a little saltiness on the palate. It's quite interesting. There's ginger on the finish. It's richer, but drier in style."

Fox Run Dry Riesling 2015 DPD: £12 "This is their house style, from estate fruit," says Russell. "Winemaker Peter Bell has been banging the drum for Riesling since the early 90s. He looks for something very lean, with more of an acid profile."

Anthony Road Pinot Gris 2016

DPD: £11.90

"Pinot Gris doesn't get the credit it deserves in the Finger Lakes," says Shawn Kime. "It's definitely one that's growing for us." Russell adds: "It's a textural wine but it has a freshness and a crispness to it."

Fox Run Traminette 2016 DPD: £10.85

cool-climate wines, especially as so many are used to California blockbusters. “This

is really marginal-climate winemaking,” he adds. “The move away from hybrid grape

varieties is to be encouraged, to my mind, though the off-dry fruit salad style may find favour in the US.

“I’ll be tasting and watching this region

more closely as there’s something pretty interesting happening here.”

The first hybrid of the tasting. "Traminette gives the aromatics you want from the grape with much more reasonable sugar than Gewurztraminer," says Russell. "There's floral and tropical aromatics."

Thirsty Owl Diamond 2016

DPD: £9.15

Concord (blended here with Iona) "makes a super-fruity wine," says Kime. "We run the sugar up as high as we can, based on the acid. Along with our ice wine, in Europe this is our biggest seller." Colin Thorne says: "I'm not sure what it is, but it smells like something in my childhood. Quatro?"

Fox Run Cabernet Franc 2013

DPD: £12.10

"There's an assumption that we have a hard time ripening Cab Franc in the Finger Lakes, which is not the case," says Russell. "It's quite reliable. For 15 years any hint of green in a red wine was death in the US, but we're a cool climate and we get those beautiful herbal undertones." Thorne adds: "The tannins are incredibly soft. A really pleasant Cab Franc – I'm surprised. Delicious."

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 17


> THE WINEMAKER FILES

Larry Cherubino, Robert Oatley Vineyards Larry is one of Australia’s most awarded and recognisable winemakers, whose work has taken him all over the world. He leads the winemaking team at Robert Oatley Vineyards, making wine representing many of the country’s key regions.

Bob Oatley’s view was that the most important thing is, and always will be: the wines we make have to be good to drink. That philosophy continues today. We’ve got to be really specific about what we grow, even within each sub-region. More importantly, how we get more flavour and how we get more

texture and more complexity in our wines and better selections of plant. There’s a lot of that going on as well.

Shiraz is very important for Australian winemakers and there has been a renewed interest in Grenache.

you look at the quality of Chardonnay

It’s a region that covers the distance

Really interesting, well-balanced, deep,

climate, geology and soils from within

right across Australia, cool-climate

from, say, Paris all the way down to

complex wines; layers of flavour delivered

the WA region, and why we grow certain

Australia, it’s the best it has ever been.

Provence. Explaining all the diversity of

with detail and balance. If you want to

varieties in certain places, can put that

work out what’s going on in Australia and you don’t want to be confused by any of

the experimentation that’s going on, just take Chardonnay. That’s the one variety that people have the most influence

over and if they’re delivering that sort of

Everyone in Australia has improved.

austere and you can’t be over-the-top.

conditions with moderate climates

in some shape or form. From a historic

now. I’ve been coming to the UK for 20

similar to many parts of Europe.

point of view the focus was always

Cabernet – it was Chardonnay. And if

sometimes seem a little isolated.

I think it’s certainly a lot easier to

quite thoughtful as well.

varieties have great ability to perform

reputation, it wasn’t Shiraz, it wasn’t

a population of 2.5 million and it can

Technically they are right up there

explain Western Australia to the trade

If you look at what made Australia’s

that’s 11 times bigger than the UK with

sensitivity, then everything else must be

Touriga and a lot of southern European exceptionally well in Australian

into context for people. We’re a state

and we are making wines that are still uniquely Australian. You can’t be too

If you can make it in the UK, you can

years and representing Western Australia

make it anywhere! It’s the hardest

orientated around Margaret River, but

market. What we were doing 10 years

some of the other areas, like Pemberton or the Great Southern, are gaining more recognition.

place to stand out amongst your peers. Robert Oatley is very committed to the

ago isn’t necessarily going to work today, so we’re constantly evolving and getting

out there to talk to customers. It’s tough.

Hancock & Hancock McLaren Vale Fiano 2017

Hancock & Hancock McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache 2015

Robert Oatley Finisterre Great Southern Syrah 2013

RRP: £14.50

RRP: £14.50

RRP: £23.50

The alcohol is relatively low, at 12%, and there's nice crunchy acidity. There's no oak as such – it's probably had half a dozen five-year-old barrels. Fiano isn't exactly a well-known grape but it's gaining popularity at home.

McLaren Vale extends right out to the coastal areas that make really fragrant, soft spicy Shiraz. Working with that and Grenache gives us wine with the right balance of fine tannins, with more red fruits and flowers rather than being black and dense, and a little bit of a black pepperiness.

The grapes come from several vineyards within the Great Southern region in Porongorup, Western Australia. The vines are on average 15 years old. The wine has wild cherry and plum notes with long, fine, silky tannins.

Robert Oatley wines are imported by Hatch Mansfield | 01344 871800 | info@hatch.co.uk

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 18


© Freepod / stockadobe.com

the wine merchant trip to alsace

It’s a long and winding road to UK success, but Alsace ticks most of the right boxes

Alsace: where (mostly) dry wines hit the price and quality sweet spot Darren Smith joins a group of independents on a trip to Alsace to take stock of what’s going on in one of the UK trade’s most beloved regions

I

t’s been said before but it warrants vigorous repetition: Alsace

is one of the most profoundly undervalued wine regions in the world.

We know the fundamentals of the story: the hugely varied

terroir, the extraordinary mosaic of soil types, the millennium-old viticultural heritage sustained despite wars and accessions and

religious upheavals; we know it’s a gastronomic heaven, drenched in cream and Munster and foie gras de canard – all these elements make Alsace one of the most appealing places on earth for a wine

lover. That the region’s wines still seem to be so niche in the UK

– which represents a mere 4.5% of exports for Alsace, placing it a lowly ninth in the global pecking order – just seems odd.

The quality and diversity of Alsatian wines became abundantly

clear at the fourth annual Millésimes Alsace fair. Run by the

Conseil Interprofessionel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA) since 2014,

this event gave attendees, including a crack team of intrepid UK merchants, the chance to taste everything from AOC Alsace to Grand Cru with 100 top Alsatian producers. Reports from the

merchants here were very positive, an oft commented-on surprise for some being the prevalence of dry styles.

“Most of the wines we tasted were drier than I was expecting,”

says Carlos Blanco of Blanco & Gomez. “This is something very positive as it will be easier for me as a merchant to sell them through, as in general the British palate is on the dry side.”

“Twenty-five years ago there was a race to have the highest

sugar levels,” says Jacques Sipp of Vins Sipp Mack in Hunawihr.

“There was a good market for sweet wines – Vendanges Tardives

was the top – and then, 10 to 15 years ago, the race went towards drier and drier wines. However, I think we didn’t go to the real dry wines, we went to the medium-dry – that means around

8g-10g of residual sugar, and often with a weak acidity, which

means we should have picked the grapes a little bit before. [Now],

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 20


the customer [base] has changed – we have more English and

in its favour with increasingly environmentally-conscious UK

Uncertainty over sugar levels in Alsace wines is possibly the

will always persuade customers to trade up. Here Alsace faces

Scandinavian customers who demand a dry style.”

biggest sticking point for consumers in the UK. To some extent the confusion is justified. Despite well over a decade of CIVA

petitioning for a universal sweetness scale to be implemented,

progress has been glacially slow. Some producers, such as ZindHumbrecht, have taken the initiative and introduced their own index, but consistency is lacking – it’s still not unknown for

an Alsace wine with 9g of residual sugar to be labelled as dry.

L’Association des Vignerons d’Alsace (AVA)’s formal application to the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) to

implement “sec” labelling based on EU criteria is progressing,

however, and CIVA hopes it will come into force “within the next two years”.

The younger generation particularly is focusing on wines made

in a dry style. But it’s often not as straightforward as they would like. Climatic conditions are changing: 30 years ago, the harvest started in the first days of October. This year it’s likely to be at

consumers, though from the merchant’s point of view, price is

also a fundamental consideration. Good-quality entry-level wines stiff competition from Austria, Australia and New Zealand. But

with strong co-operative wine offerings from the likes of Cave de Turkheim, Beblenheim and Ribeauvillé, and well-defined ranges from terroir-focused family producers, Alsace is able to offer a competitive price-quality ratio all the way from AOC Alsace to Grand Cru.

“When you think of the quality of the wines that we’ve had, if

they were Burgundies I think they would be a lot more expensive

than their Alsace equivalents. There is incredible value for money,” says BinTwo’s Kate Miller.

But how long will this price advantage last? At a masterclass

during the Millésimes Alsace fair Andre Ostertag stressed a need

for Alsatian producers to raise prices to reflect the quality of their

product. “The main problem here is that most producers don’t sell Continues page 22

the end of August. This is forcing some growers to adapt their

farming methods and to focus on cooler sites in order to achieve

the desired dry style. Hot years are a particular problem, Sipp says, for organic producers who tend to prefer to avoid selected yeasts. 2017, he said, killed many of the yeasts on the berries.

“That’s the dilemma between organic and non-organic,” he

explains. “Organic producers usually let it go [meaning more

residual sugar], like we do in our cellar. When you add yeasts then you are leaving the philosophy of organic a little bit.”

Organic and biodynamic viticulture has become a hugely

important part of the Alsatian wine identity. “We really take care of our environment,” says Jérôme Mader of certified biodynamic Jean-Luc Mader in Hunawihr, on a walk through the Rosacker

vineyard – one in which 80% of growers are organic. “For us it’s a richness and we have to protect it, and probably the organic

growing is a good way to put more terroir in the glass. And this is what we all want to do.”

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of growers working

organically shot up from 85 to 289, according to CIVA.

Biodynamics, too, has a strong heritage here. Rudolf Steiner was based in Basel, while the French arm of Demeter has its HQ in

Colmar. Many of the merchants’ favourite producers – Trimbach,

Zind-Humbrecht, Gassmann, Deiss, Ostertag and Josmeyer, among them – work biodynamically.

Alsace’s organic and biodynamics credentials should work

Carlos Blanco of Blanco & Gomez and Kate Miller of BinTwo

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 21


the wine merchant trip to alsace From page 21

Crémant d’Alsace, the second-most popular AOC sparkling wine

at a high enough price,” he says. “They don’t make the money they need to survive because they don’t trust themselves to ask for a better price. This is a problem.

“If you want to promote an artistic way instead of an industrial

way, you need to build a better margin because the only way to

survive with art is to make the money which makes it possible to pay what art needs to be made.”

Another important focus of the trip was the much-debated

Grand Cru classification. Introduced in 1983, it’s praised by many for providing clarity about Alsace’s multitude of terroirs, and

criticised by others as being too large (51 Grands Crus is a lot;

and as many as half of the current 150 lieux-dits candidates could become Premiers Crus), too lenient and lacking in consistency.

Crémant d’Alsace, the second most popular AOC sparkling wine in France after Champagne, is surely due for some action in the UK

With one or two significant exceptions, the producers presented a more or less united front in arguing it is good for the region, acknowledging that a project like this necessarily takes time.

“Alsace Grands Crus will become truly mature – and we are in

the process of trying to push in this direction – when everyone

finally really finds together an aesthetic representation of their own Grand Cru,” says Jean-Michel Deiss of Domaine Marcel

Deiss, who has been instrumental in establishing the Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim.

“Because today, for the majority of Grands Crus, if I want to buy a

vineyard somewhere, nobody is able to tell me what the collective aesthetic ideal of this Grand Cru is.”

Alsace excels with Rieslings. Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminers from good Alsace producers are among the best in the world – a fact reinforced many times over on this trip. But there are other categories that are developing very promisingly.

in France after Champagne, is surely due for some action in the UK, a country whose rapacious appetite for fizz apparently knows no

bounds. Though currently 90% of it stays in France, its popularity here certainly looks to be on the rise. Foulques Aulagnon from CIVA reports a 2.4-fold increase in export value in the last five

years, with an 82% rise in volume over 2017 compared with 2016. The merchants were treated to a succession of outstanding

crémants in Alsace – highlights included Domaine Muré Grand Millésime 2012, Domaine Schoenheitz Millésime 2010 and

Chardonnay Brut Nature 2010. Paul Ginglinger’s Chardonnay Brut Nature 2010, priced at €15 at the cellar door, seemed extraordinary value.

“The wines themselves are great,” says Archie McDiarmid from

Luvians. “[But] there’s always a leap in the British consumer’s

imagination between Champagne and anything else so a lot of it will depend on price. If it’s Champagne pricing, people struggle. You can get them there but if you can bring them in at that £15 mark it’s much easier.”

Alsace Pinot Noir is also showing considerable promise, the

merchants found. Although it represents just 10% of the region’s plantings, the quality shown by producers such as Domaine

Emile Beyer, Muré, Ostertag, Boeckel and Paul Ginglinger (Michel Ginglinger trained at Domaine Armand Rousseau in Burgundy) impressed the merchants.

“There’s a great comeback of Pinot Noir in Alsace,” says Christian

Beyer, who trained in Burgundy and whose own Pinot vines

were brought to Eguisheim from Clos des Epenots in Pommard. “We have been working with Pinot Noir for 400 years. We don’t have the same Pinot Noir culture as in Burgundy but we’ve got

great climate conditions, great soils, and now a new generation of people with more ambition for Pinot Noir – and that’s a big change. That makes the change happen.

“One of the things we still have to work on is the age of the

vines,” he adds. “When I came back 15 years ago we were planting new vines – a great selection of Pinot Noir coming directly from

Burgundy with low yields – but it’s going to take a bit more time

until we get 30 to 40-year-old vines, and that’s the age you usually need to get those great wines. But Pinot Noir will for sure get better. It’s a great new adventure for Alsace.”

Since last year, CIVA has been promoting a clear regional identity

focusing on Alsace’s unrivalled diversity of soils, the ancestral

savoir-faire of the region and the surpassing quality of its white wines. At the same time, a new generation of producers is now

really making its mark in terms of both winemaking and image. “What I’ve seen coming here and what I’ve really liked,” says

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 22


Özge Kaymaz, winemaker at Şarköy

> Sam Johnson, Whalley Wine Shop, Lancashire My highlights were the Rangen (volcanic) Riesling from Julien Schaal and the Mûré Pinot Noir; the best Alsatian Pinot Noir I’ve tasted and one of my favourite Pinots from anywhere in the world. The wines that work best for us are in the £10-£15 category. We do good volumes of dry Riesling, and Gewurz from elsewhere, and I think some good Alsatian examples would work well.

> PaolA Tich, Park + Bridge, Acton Tasting a Josmeyer Pinot Gris Grand Cru Brand on the slopes of that cru was a special moment. We were lucky to meet and taste the wines of so many stellar producers – Ostertag, Zind-Humbrecht,

Paola Tich of Park + Bridge

Albert Boxler ... the list goes on. A good discovery for a number of us was Paul Ginglinger.

Paola Tich of Park + Bridge, “is seeing so many of the younger

generation are coming in, and they’re not talking about old ways, they’re focusing very much on the terroir. They’ve not just gone to Burgundy to learn make wine, they’ve gone to New Zealand,

they’ve gone to California, and they’ve come back and seen this incredible terroir here and the diversity that can be achieved. I think that will bring about a change.”

The quality of Alsace wines was never in doubt. The history,

We could sell the drier styles of Riesling and Pinot Gris, and customers will pay for a good quality Gewurz from Alsace.

> Kate Miller, BinTwo, Padstow Firm favourites were Boxler’s Grand Cru Sommerberg Riesling 2013 and Ostertag’s Zellberg Pinot Gris 2008. It was great to learn about Alsace Pinot Noir and its evolution from winemaker Emile Beyer. Also to get a sense of camaraderie and pride amongst producers to achieve a solid identity for Alsace. I hope to introduce a Riesling by the glass, a Pinot Noir and a Grand Cru.

> Archie McDiarmid, Luvians Bottle Shop, St Andrews It’s not often you drink Clos Ste Hune at 9.30am so that was both awesome and a bit surreal. I loved the Schlumberger Rieslings. The Boxler Rieslings were superb. Talking biodynamics with an absolute wine hero of mine, Andre Ostertag, was pretty special. We are almost certainly going to add a couple of the Julien Schaal wines.

> Carlos Blanco, Blanco & Gomez, London I came across some producers who I have heard of, but have never

Ruby Willis of Theatre of Wine

had the opportunity to taste some of their range of wines, such

the gastronomic and terroir credentials were never in doubt. It’s

as Josmeyer, Rolly Gassmann, Ostertag and Loew. Some of their

clear to see that, marketed in the right way, Alsace could see very

cuvées I will definitely introduce to my portfolio.

manager of Theatre of Wine.

I have always loved Albert Boxler’s wines but when they are paired

positive growth in the UK.

“The quality-to-value ratio is very high,” says Ruby Willis,

“I think if Alsace could focus some attention on their export

markets and expose its wines beyond its cellar doors, it will not

> Ruby Willis, Theatre of Wine, London with Michelin-star food and Julian Schaal is at the head of your table, looking like a pin-up, they taste even better.

take people long to appreciate the quality.”

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 23


merchant profile: yardarm

Dan O’Connor and Eliza Parkes with son Finn, in 2017

Anita Mannion, September 2017

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 24


Dutch courage What happens when public money is poured into a failing shopping street in east London to make it feel a bit more like Holland? The answer is, you end up with a brilliant wine shop like Yardarm

L

eyton isn’t one of the trendy or particularly celebrated

enclaves of east London, yet in the summer sunshine it

exudes a relaxed, family-friendly vibe and a clear sense of

its own identity. It’s a place you can live and work in, rather than just pass through.

Arriving at the Tube station, one stop on from the Olympic park

and the giant Westfield shopping centre, it’s a short walk past the Turkish barbers and ethnic food shops of the High Road, close by

the ground of the now sadly non-league Leyton Orient, and a quick detour through prim streets of restored Victorian terraces until

you reach Francis Road. And here you find a little bit of Holland, in spirit at least.

A £30m investment from Transport for London and the

Mayor to encourage cycling and healthier living has resulted in the pedestrianisation of the street. Though such schemes can

sometimes sound the death knell for small traders, the imposed

continental aesthetic has breathed new life into Francis Road. This once moribund thoroughfare is now teeming with independents. It’s where Dan O’Connor and Eliza Parkes set up shop in 2015,

in a unit that had formerly been occupied by a Russian internet

café and pirate radio station. There weren’t many other traders

around at the time. “There were a couple of estate agents and lots of boarded-up shops,” says O’Connor, who grew up locally.

O’Connor built up a restaurant business called E17 that he later

sold to help finance Yardarm. Parkes, originally from Cornwall, has a wine-trade pedigree that has involved stints at Borough Wines and on the Decanter tastings team.

Gradually Yardarm has grown from a wine shop into a place

where locals can sit down and enjoy their purchases, or buy

No longer home to Russian pirates

coffees and pastries. There are three zones: the main retail space,

come back from the dead, especially in a place that has seen Asda

garden beyond that. The couple live above the neighbouring unit –

supermarkets and their tax-dodging ways and let’s support the

a sit-down area at the back where there are also craft beers and

a wide range of teas, olive oils, honeys and chocolate, and a small now a bistro that they let out – with their young son Finn.

At a time when neighbourhood shopping parades are facing

extinction, it’s amazing to witness one that has almost literally

and Tesco superstores spring up in recent years.

“I think a lot of people round here are saying, sod the big

independents,” O’Connor says.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 2016 25

Continues page 26


merchant profile: yardarm It’s a great name for a shop. It’s hard to come up with a name

From page 25

for a wine merchant that hasn’t been used before.

What’s the demographic around here – young families? Dan: Definitely. People who have been renting or maybe owned a small flat in Hackney, and they realise they can get a small house and a garden for the same money in Leyton.

Eliza: It seemed to happen post-Olympics really because there

were a lot of houses around here that housed the teams and so a

lot of properties came up. You can buy a house and try to restore it to its former glory.

It’s got quite a community vibe around here.

Was the plan always to have such a diverse retail offer? Eliza: The fact we sell other products, not just booze, was a definite choice. We wanted to have the £2 loaf so you could come into the shop and buy something that didn’t cost a load of money.

There are wine shops that make you feel really scared about

going in. I get that – I’m the nerviest wine shopper, even though I

know what I’m talking about! We both wanted it to feel welcoming. Dan: It evolved really. To begin with, it really was just a wine shop with a couple of craft beers and a few spirits and the bread. We opened in stages by asking people what they wanted.

Eliza: I grew up with the saying “the sun is over the yardarm” and

never met anyone who didn’t know what it meant – until we called our shop it! When it first opened people asked about it a lot and then we put the dictionary definition on the home page.

We came up with the name and started looking around for the

font and we found what we wanted, and blended a couple of fonts to come up with this.

‘You could look at us and think it was all natural wines and full of tattooed hipsters, but actually it’s not like that’ How did you make the selection for the original wine range? Eliza: Because of the location and because we wanted to be a

neighbourhood wine shop, value felt really important to us. We

didn’t want people to be intimidated by the prices or the rarity of the wine.

What we’re trying to do is provide an alternative to the

supermarket. We can’t compete on price – we can go a bit higher but we can give value for money in terms of quality. We go from £6.50 for our refill wines – that’s our house wine. Most of our

wines are between £10 and £15 and then there are some higher up, but they are present wines or treat wines. What suppliers do you buy from?

Eliza: We’re working directly with some UK vineyards and one of the French ones but for now it’s through a wide variety of

distributors. Caves de Pyrenes; the refills are from Borough, and the range is really good. Liberty, The Sampler, Red Squirrel. I

wanted the wine shelves to look like we choose the wine rather than someone comes in and chooses the wine for us.

Are there any wines that are purely on your shelves because Francis Road now offers foragers more than just £2 Kingsmill

you happen to love them?

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 26


“I like having my own coffee machine close at hand all the time,” Dan says

Eliza: Definitely there are a couple of wines that we love and have

perspicuity of style and be easy to buy. We have a few of those

of the Scholium Project wines because I met Abe [Schoener] at the

amounts of them.

meant a lot to us. Pommard we’ve got because we stayed there

when we were in Burgundy and had a lovely time. We’ve got some Raw Wine Fair a couple of years ago. The wines are just the most lovely things – they are way too high-end for our shop. Dan: Every now and then someone does buy them.

People in other parts of the country reading about a wine merchant in east London might assume all your customers are hipsters into their natural wines. Is there any truth in that? Dan: A little bit, but there are people who are in their 30s and they’ve got small kids and are looking at schools and being sensible. It’s maybe grown-up hipsters!

Eliza: You could look at us and think it could be all natural wines and full of tattooed hipsters, but actually it’s not like that. Again we want to be welcoming and open and for the wines to show

really funky things for sure, but in order to allow people to choose and be really confident in choosing wines, we don’t have huge

Everything has a label that has a really full description according

to the taste of it.

I think the aim is to be open and approachable. I want people

to be able to say, “I like a Sauvignon Blanc” and to be able to get a nice version. It might be naturally made or whatever, but that

won’t be the thing that’s put it on the shelf – that is the last thing

you mention because the wine is beautiful and the winemaking is there to back up the flavour. It’s not there to sell the wine. How often do you refresh the range?

Eliza: Constantly. It’s fun. It’s the joy of owning your own place

rather than working for somebody else. I’ve always done tastings

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 2016 27

Continues page 28


merchant profile: yardarm From page 27

and I can put my personal choices into wine tastings.

We have just been talking about orange wine – we have a few –

and we’ve been asked more recently for more. It does take a few years for it to hit the neighbourhood.

How do customers hear about things like that? Eliza: I think they hear about it from restaurant wine lists. A lot of people know of it but are a bit mystified by what it is.

East London is full of inquisitive people who want to try things

they haven’t tried before. But I’ve worked in some places where they are coming in for something they already know, they are

looking for quality, they know where to find it and they’ve decided that that’s what it is.

With other customers you can open up a chat, and I can ask

what they’re having for their tea. Someone came in here last

Christmas and told me they needed a wine to match to Strictly. It’s pure joy!

You only charge £5 corkage. That must be the cheapest in the country. Dan: Yes, I might have to put that up. It’s the price we used to do at E17 which was in 2005.

Eliza: There’s something nice about letting people try some wines and if they want to go for the high-end stuff and they can drink it

here for just an extra £5. It’s value. We want people to have a nice time.

“We started with our favourite things,” says Eliza. “It has to be delicious and something we would like.”

What prompted the decision to sell food as well as wine? Eliza: When we first thought about it we were thinking we’d like

a place to buy nice bread. We started with our favourite things – it has to be delicious and something we would like.

Dan: We’d actually moved in upstairs before we opened the shop and I used to walk out on a Saturday morning to the newsagents across the road, and there’d be people like me – just out of bed, looking to forage for their family and find some nice decent

breakfast stuff, and they’d be picking up the Kingsmill and you’d see them dying inside.

How do you source all the food items? Eliza: We have some English cheeses and a French dude brings some cheese and charcuterie over. Originally we had to seek people out – we knew a few.

Dan: There were a few suppliers of mine who we approached. The area at the rear of the store backs onto a small garden

Eliza: We did a little pop-up with the guys who make the honey.

The hives are in Leyton and we matched cheese and honey whisky. The honey is amazing – the winter one tastes so different to the

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 28


‘Someone came in here last Christmas and told me they needed a wine to match to Strictly. It’s pure joy!’

summer one, it’s seasonal. Either things are as local as we can get or as delicious as we can get.

How do the margins on food compare to the margins on wine? Dan: Probably better on food.

Some merchants worry that younger customers aren’t buying into wine in the way that they once did, and the trend is for craft beer and gin. Wine could almost be missing a generation. Do you feel like that? Eliza: I don’t feel like that at all. People are interested, they want to know. My tastings always sell out. I charge £25 and sell about

20 tickets and do that every couple of weeks. We taste through six wines, and have a bit of food on the table. Quite often they’ll buy a bottle or two of the wine they really liked.

People will buy craft beer because they like the look of it. But

with wine, if you’re asking people to spend £15, it’s a different

purchase and unless there’s some communication there it’s tough. When you’re running your WSET courses how difficult is it to inject your own personality into things, as well as sticking to the syllabus? Eliza: When I’m teaching WSET at the school it is a different vibe, but you can still teach with your own personality. When I was

learning there were some amazing teachers and then there were

us, that’s five days a week because we made a conscious decision to close Mondays and Tuesdays. I was pregnant when we first bought the place so Finn was always part of the story.

We were used to working 90-hour weeks in restaurants so we

know what that’s like and we said as long as the place is open,

we’ll be here. Those days off aren’t downtime but it means we can catch up.

We’re starting to get to the point where we’d like to do more of

that and some direct importing.

the ones who would just teach the syllabus. You just have to make

Continues page 30

the decision, according to who’s in front of you.

Absolutely and completely you have to teach the syllabus, and

it’s good because you can’t argue with it – you’re calibrating

global palates and that is the point of it, and that is what makes it brilliantly useful.

But then on top of that you have this whole other world

of different things. It doesn’t mention orange wine, it is a bit

outdated in some senses but they are working on it and it will be interesting to see where they go next.

They have a whole bunch of tutors who are well aware of that.

That’s why I choose to run the more casual tastings as well as the WSET. The last lot of Level 1s want to do Level 2. I teach 1 and 2 and the odd 3 at the school. The demand is for Level 1. How big a deal is social media for you?

Eliza: We have a nod to it – it’s a good way of chatting to people.

We use Instagram, we don’t use Twitter at all. Instagram is gentler and more creative.

Do you get to many tastings? Eliza: As much as we can we do. We do work every shift between

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 29

Dan comes from a restaurant background


merchant profile: yardarm

‘The deli stuff is great but there are items that will just sit there and gather dust while looking very beautiful’ One of Eliza’s favourite things is wine and food pairing

Dan: We knew exactly what the area needed. We didn’t want

From page 29

How does the business dovetail with the Kettle & Ryan bistro next door? Dan: It was an old Chinese takeaway when we took it on, with a

really derelict house and a garden. The format lent itself to a loft conversion.

Eliza: We were in a tiny flat upstairs with a one-year-old and we

wanted to stay local, and next door becoming available just felt like fate.

The restaurant runs separately – we rent it out to people. We

kitted it out.

On-premise sales contribute about 20% of turnover

to give someone a really long lease as we might want to throw ourselves back into it when the kids are at school.

It works quite nicely. We have couple of local start-up chefs

who wouldn’t be in a position financially to kit something out themselves.

They have to buy the wine from us and that makes sense for

them too. They are only doing three days a week and they have catering contracts that they run from there.

Eliza: The wine is chosen based on the menu, the wine is matched

to the food and that’s how I came to wine in the first place, through working with chefs – the joy of pairing wine and food. I really enjoy doing that. It seemed like a logical approach.

There’s always a role for sausage rolls

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 30


Are you looking to go down the wholesale route? Dan: No, more likely it will be importing.

Could you replicate the arrangement you have with Kettle & Ryan with other chefs in other parts of London if you found the right units? Dan: Theoretically. So far it’s been successful. I think the pockets

BR I N GI N G YOU T HE WOR LD ’S MO ST ICO N I C W I NE S

that are still untapped are quite thin and hard to find.

Do you think you’ll do more business online or is it not worth the aggravation? Eliza: We do have a really small shop section on the website and

at the moment people can buy tickets and vouchers and that’s it.

In terms of postage for online sales we haven’t really looked into that. Also all the space we have is used, and we do spill over into the house as it is. So we are a bit reluctant to do online sales. At

Christmas we want to do hampers online for people to come and collect. We’ll stay local for now, but it will come.

What’s the balance between on-premise and off-trade sales? Dan: About 80% retail. I imagine it will probably go towards

60-40. The deli stuff is great – but there are items we have learnt will sit there and gather dust while looking very beautiful. So we can amalgamate some of that and make some more room [for on-premise drinking].

12%

BUY

USER FRIENDLY WEBSITE

We’re looking at ways of using the garden through the milder

parts of the year.

Has the place paid its way from the beginning or did it take a while to break even? Dan: More or less from the off. We were lucky enough to have

the money from the sale of my previous company and we didn’t have the loan repayments that would be typical for this sort of business.

On average the turnover is between £10,000 and £11,000 a

week.

12% COMMISSION

RARE & MATURE WINES A FINANCIALLY ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO BIN-END DISCOUNTING

5% COMMISSION

5%

SELL

GLOBAL AUDIENCE BI-MONTHLY AUCTIONS

2018 JAN MAR MAY JUL SEPT NOV

Is it more of a lifestyle than a business? For example, can you ever see yourselves selling up? Dan: I don’t think we’ll ever sell this business. I don’t think anyone would be able to give us enough money.

Eliza: I can’t imagine it. It’s so much ours. The long-term aim for us would be to get ourselves out of the day-to-day shop floor so that we could expand the business so that this works as a

machine and we can oversee it. It makes logical sense for our

brains and ambitions. We can’t work 12-hour days on a Saturday forever!

buy or sell your wines at

www.wineauctioneer.com

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 31

Tel : (+44) 1738 245 576


12

wine programmes

Motorbikes, skin diseases, now wine

For years the trade bemoaned the lack of coverage its product received on the small screen. Now there are hundreds of wine shows. Well, 12 anyway, if you include YouTube and box sets

WINE LIBRARY TV

OZ & JAMES’S BIG WINE ADVENTURE

THE NAKED WINE SHOW

YouTube was in its infancy when Gary VAY-NER-

An ill-conceived road trip, first through France

Lads lads lads! Look! There’s a nudey lady

CHUK decided to take on what he perceived as

and then across California, in which the affable

on the internet pouring wine into a glass and

Robert Parker’s monopoly on authoritative wine

Oz Clarke assumes the role of a priggish wine

then describing what it tastes like! The show,

criticism through the medium of the internet.

snob while James May, more associated with

presented in 60-second episodes by Susan

Watching somebody sniffing, swirling and spitting

his a boorish minor aristocrat act on

Sterling, gets a generous 1.5 stars on Amazon.

doesn’t usually make for the most

Top Gear, affects to be his recalcitrant

Chrissie Starkey’s review:

compelling entertainment, but

apprentice and a “terrible scruff”.

“Firstly there is no visible nudity.

Vaynerchuk’s brash motormouth

Almost as uncomfortable as watching

Secondly, I don’t drink wine so

frankness won him an army of fans.

John Virgo squirm on Big Break.

the advice is no use to me.”

VINTNERS’ TALES

THE WINEMAKERS

WINE FOR THE CONFUSED

Jancis Robinson’s little chats with some of the

There’s a reality show for just about everything

John Cleese gets asked to present programmes

British wine trade’s stalwarts and eccentrics

else so at some point it was going to happen for

about everything from motorcycles to skin

are fondly remembered more than two decades

the wine trade, hence The Winemakers, which

diseases, because he’s a celebrity (his words).

after their original BBC2 screenings. The comic

aired in the US on the PBS network for two series

He accepted the wine gig, he explains, to

disorganisation of John Avery, the gastronomic

(sorry, seasons). Twelve contestants battle it out

help overcome his own self-doubts about his

feats of Bill Baker and the unlikely communism of

as they face a succession of challenges to test

understanding of a subject

Edmund Penning-Rowsell

their vinous credentials, and

that sometimes makes him go

provide the backdrop for a

the chance to make almost

“ahhh!” but other times makes

portrait of gentler era.

no money in the wine trade.

him go “aaarrrgghhh”.

VINE TALK

FOOD & DRINK

UNCORKED

Another PBS show, in which assembled guests

Jilly Goolden and Oz Clarke’s segment on this

Another reality programme, this time following

(usually a mixture of actors and a chef) chat

BBC2 show in the 1980s arguably did more than

the fortunes of six candidates in the Master

about wine and themselves in a very dark room

any other medium to popularise wine drinking in

Sommelier exams, a course easily as

deep inside New York City’s Lincoln Center. It’s

the UK, even if the pair’s theatrics were routinely

masochistic and emotionally damaging as any

all completely inconsequential and self-regarding,

lampooned by the entire nation. Wikipedia still

of Japan’s gruesome game shows. It’s a story

but it does make you wonder if Question Time

chortles that Goolden finds certain

that is arguably better told in the acclaimed

or Newsnight mightn’t

wine aromas “reminiscent of

2012 documentary Somm than

be livened up with a few

pear drops, liquorice and even

in this comparatively low-rent

bottles of Malbec.

rubber”. Hilarious!

Esquire Network show.

THE WINE SHOW

WINE

PLONK

Finally a wine programme has been given a

This beautifully-produced three-part BBC4

The seriousness that usually goes hand-in-

reasonably decent time slot on a terrestrial

documentary provided gratuitous 60-minute

hand with wine programmes is thrown in the

channel, though it’s pretty clear that it’s aimed at

commercials for Berry Bros and Château

bin with this more-hit-than-miss comedy show

the lucrative American market as well as British

Margaux, but in doing so painted a compelling

following the fortunes of a hapless crew making

viewers. Reaction in the States has been positive,

picture of two of the industry’s most enduring

a wine documentary. The stars are Aussie TV

even if the puns and bantz of

institutions. The third episode examines the role

personalities playing caricatures of themselves

Matthews Goode and Rhys in series

wine is playing in post-

and there are cameos from

one did get a bit wearing for viewers

apartheid South Africa.

actual winemakers in actual

on both sides of the Atlantic.

Time for a sequel?

wineries to add to the fun.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 32


BOOK REVIEW

A Celebration of English Wine

Liz Sagues Robert Hale, £16.99

that comes across in Sagues’ pen-portraits:

2080, parts of southern England may

the acknowledgement that mistakes

characters behind the artisanal producers,

the willingness to go head to head with nature in such a marginal climate, and

have been made, and trial-and-error will continue to shape the way grapes are

grown and vinified. Some brave souls,

E

nglish wine has, for so long, seemed like a work in progress: sites being

identified, vineyards being planted,

Germanic crossings being uprooted in

favour of Champagne varieties; brave new

wineries sprouting on southern downland.

such as Nick Wenman at Albury, even try to work organically, meaning yields are

15% to 20% lower than they would be for conventional growers. The late April frost of 2017 damaged 80% of his vines. “We won’t give up,” he insists.

staircase to climb, and we are in the middle

The view from halfway up a long staircase

Despite the book’s spirit of celebration,

and as Sagues points out, “in southern

a boon for English producers? Hotter

effectively reset to year zero.

Since then it’s been a case of enthusiastic

amateurs and mild eccentrics paving the

way, and then making way, for a new breed of investors and check-shirted vignerons waving their Plumpton certificates.

It’s the cheerfulness of these characters

the tourists at the farm gate have in their mind’s eye, but a sure sign that English

encouragement, sympathy and admiration.

times. Excavations at Wollaston in

which England’s winemaking clock was

afield as Dorset. It’s a far cry from what

discussed in a tone that’s a blend of pride,

to help make sense of what is there, and to

effect in the mid-20th century, a period in

and sources some of its fruit from as far

fledgling industry, and one that tends to be

was in need of a bit of sorting and ordering,

has waxed and waned, with devastating

picture-postcard Tenterden to Ashford,

than Champagne, this is still very much a

English producers, wineries and vineyards

one ‘vine’ street name”. Wine production

relocated its riddling and disgorging from

proclaiming an English wine to be better

Liz Sagues’ snapshot of the industry feels

both timely and necessary. The jumble of

England there is hardly a town with at least

near Gatwick Airport. Chapel Down has

and Decanter gongs, and every article

breath and to admire the view.

vineyard from the second or third century;

wines not in bucolic West Sussex but

For all the talk of PDOs, all the IWC

of it now”. But it’s a good time to pause for

Northamptonshire have revealed an 11ha

producers. Nyetimber now makes its

Eric Heerema of Nyetimber.

of Exton Park observes, “there is a long

heritage dating back to at least Roman

to the reality behind the larger English

consolidation of producers, according to

change is slowing. Indeed, as Corinne Seely

England has a genuine viticultural

the book also makes telling references

future of the industry could feasibly see

a plateau is in sight or that the pace of

A little history proves to be instructive.

While its natural focus is on the

wine is entering the big league. Indeed the

It would be fanciful to suggest that

provide clues about what’s coming next.

actually be too hot to grow wine grapes.

Sagues does pose at least one awkward question: is global warming really such

summers may be welcome, but certainly not the later frosts, vicious winds and

torrential rain that come with climate

change. It’s even been predicted that by

Sagues is no exception, though her

comprehensive approach to the subject is

something that has until now been absent. One day, Stephen Brook or someone like

him will write a definitive and brutally

impartial assessment of the state of English wine, but that point is probably at least a decade away. For now, we should just enjoy the ride, and Sagues makes for a companionable guide.

Graham Holter

Sagues’ comprehensive approach to the subject is something that has until now been absent THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 33


focus on south africa

South Africa’s vineyard area is shrinking, with 25% fewer grape growers than a decade ago

praying for rain South Africa’s quality credentials have never been more secure. Value for money is another of its trump cards, but drought and unviable vineyards are putting pressure on prices. By Graham Holter

S

outh African wine is in a happy place from an independent merchant’s

perspective, with quality and value

for money looking arguably better than

ever. “Where else in the wine world can

you buy a world-class Chardonnay at £15

or a serious Riesling at just over £13?” asks Devon merchant Chris Piper.

Simon Thomson of Talking Wines in

Cirencester says that “South Africa is on

the up, with some great value at entry-level and mid-range wines”, though Piper argues

it does even better than that. “It is still up

there with the best-value wine-producing

countries,” he says. “The middle and upper levels of South African wine production are driving its quality/value-for-money momentum.”

In The Wine Merchant’s 2018 reader

survey, once again South Africa was second only to France when the question was

posed: what country of origin do you think will see the biggest sales increase in your business this year? After France, Spain

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 34

and Italy, South Africa is the country that

independent merchants are most likely to specialise in, the survey found.

Ask retailers to explain their

enthusiasm and a variety of factors

become apparent. “South Africa is making a concerted effort to be more modern,

both in the branding and labelling and

in the blends and varietals offered,” says

Nick Howard of Blakeney Delicatessen in

Norfolk, which boasts a sizeable specialist


wine department within its store area.

“Even Pinotage has been updated and

tastes superb again after being a bit heavy and flat over the last few years.

“We are seeing new producers and

rebranded existing producers bringing some really good quality wines at competitive prices.

“The cooler climate of the Cape Peninsula

is making a lot of interesting Bordeaux-

style wines, and even Riesling, so I expect it to become more popular as classic French wine prices keep on rising.”

Chris Piper notes that “South African

Chardonnay is experiencing a big take-up at the minute, as are some of the drier aromatic whites, such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer”.

Among the reds, “Cabernet Sauvignon is

winning ground”.

He adds: “I have a sort of feeling that

Semillon might become a bit of a star in the future, but also watch out for Syrah.” Are consumers picking up on the

excitement? Howard at Blakeney thinks

that his clientele is “still a bit Stellenboschcentric” and although they’re aware that many varieties of grape thrive in South

Africa, people aren’t necessarily strong on the geography.

Piper says that “South African wines

are now held in quite high esteem by a

wide range of customers” – but

“unfortunately, selection is still

largely done on the basis of grape variety, although some of the key regions are becoming betterknown”.

He adds: “People

holidaying in South Africa

now understand the regions

and many have visited the winelands, which greatly helps.

“Wine enthusiasts clearly

follow producers and some

of these are becoming better-

‘The cooler climate of the Cape Peninsula is making a lot of interesting Bordeaux-style wines, and even Riesling’ known in the public domain. Ultimately,

this is work in progress but it’s heading in the right direction.”

Thomson at Talking Wines says:

“Consumer perception lags somewhat

behind, as ever, and many people still hark back to the tarry, burnt-rubber, over-

extracted reds of the past – although there are many of these wines still produced. “The new breed of younger South

African winemakers looking to make more

balanced wines are really making progress

time: the need to realise higher prices.

The 2018 harvest is down 15% on 2017,

according to industry body VinPro, which equates to 170m litres of missing wine. A

lack of rain, frost damage and a decrease in vineyard area are all factors in this.

“After years of financial pressure, wine

producers need a significant income

adjustment of close to 30% to ensure a

more viable and sustainable environment,”

and that is where we look for our range. “Although Pinotage has been a point

of difference, it has also held back public perception as it is not the most popular variety. There are some producers like

Perdeberg producing lighter, fine, complex Pinotage from high-altitude vineyards

which may be the future for this variety.” He suspects that the variety with most

potential might be Cinsault, from old vines. “It is capable of really complex, fine, lighter reds that can be slightly chilled and give a different take on South Africa,” he says. “The blends offer great potential as

well, both with whites and reds. If we

can communicate to consumers that ‘by

varietal’ is not the only way to select wine,

then South Africa has some brilliant blends giving great complexity and value.”

If it’s a happy time for those selling

South African wine, that’s not necessarily the picture in the winelands themselves.

Drought and grape shortages are likely to force an issue that has festered for some

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 35

Rico Basson of VinPro says growers achieve just 1% returns on their investment

says VinPro boss Rico Basson.

“At the moment they on average earn a

meagre 1% return on investment, which does not justify the establishment of vineyards.”

According to VinPro, more than a third

of South Africa’s wine grape producers operate at a loss, and the industry has

around 25% fewer growers than it could count a decade ago.

Continues page 36


focus on south africa © Dewald / stockadobe.com

‘The only way to ensure a sustainable supply going forward is to increase the price of our wines’ From page 35

Farmers are ripping out vines in favour

of more lucrative crops, which is one of

the reasons that South Africa’s vineyard area has shrunk by nearly 9% over the

past decade. The area of vineyard being uprooted has exceeded the area being planted in every year since 2007.

One UK merchant, who also imports

from South Africa, treats such statistics

with caution. “It’s generally the shite stuff

that’s being ripped out, and that’s the same anywhere in the world,” he says. “They’re still planting plenty of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”

But is that true? The latest edition of

South African Wine Statistics presents

the official picture. Pinot Noir has indeed increased its vineyard area, from 962ha in 2010 to 1,182ha in 2017. Pinotage is

very slightly up, to 6,979ha, but most red varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, are down.

Among the whites, Chardonnay has

declined from 8,278ha to 6,746ha over the period and even the mighty Chenin Blanc has lost nearly 1,000ha, at 17,543ha. The

picture is more stable for Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc.

Many producers are concerned at the

unviability of some growers. Kleine Zalze

Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc have seen declines in their area under vine, though Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc are more stable

winemaker RJ Botha says: “We make sure it’s profitable for the guys in the older

vineyards by giving them a block price, so they know that’s the minimum they can get, and anything above that is a bonus.

That’s the only way we can make sure the vineyards stay in the ground.

“There is definitely an upward trend

in pricing and you will see a couple of

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 36

high price hikes this year which is mainly

because of the drought. We have had a 20% drop in production this year.”

Basson at VinPro says: “The only way to

ensure a sustainable supply going forward is increasing the prices we receive for our wines, so that wine grape producers have Continues page 40


Long recognised for producing world-class wines, Meerlust Estate has been the pride of the Myburgh family since 1756. Today, the traditional dedication to the art of winemaking continues under the guidance of Hannes Myburgh, eighth generation custodian of this seventeenth-century national monument. Rubicon 2015 will be released by Maisons Marques et Domaines in August in limited quantities. www.meerlust.co.za

@meerlustwine_estate

@MeerlustWine


focus on south africa: RETAILER FAVOURITES

Nick Howard Blakeney Delicatessen, Norfolk Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Resolve Pinotage 2014, Paarl (Boutinot) Gorgeous classic fleshy Pinotage. This is dry-grown so the droughts didn’t affect it. It’s got me back stocking Pinotage again!

Klein Constantia Riesling 2015 (Mentzendorff) A bit of a revelation that this is possible in South Africa. Aromatic but plenty of grip and acidity.

Vuurberg White, Western Cape 2016 (Boutinot) Lovely blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Semillon. Nice fruit and a bit of minerality to sharpen it all up.

Waterkloof Circumstance Cape Coral Mourvèdre Rosé 2017 (Boutinot) If you close your eyes this is Provence rosé – but a bit cheaper and from Stellenbosch! Meerlust Estate Pinot Noir, Stellenbosch 2016 (Maisons Marques et Domaines) I love Pinot Noir and to get one this good from South Africa is just great. Good mix of cherry and strawberry fruits and it’s got the complexity to develop as it ages. Great alternative to French grand cru Pinots.

simon thomson talking wines, cirencester False Bay Slow Chenin (Boutinot) A perfect wine for our wholesale business that really over-delivers for the price. Great to get a natural-yeast ferment with such complexity at the price point. Perdeberg Roussouw’s Heritage (Boutinot) A great example of some of the white blends coming out of South Africa. Great texture and layers of complexity.

Braai Cabernet Sauvignon (Seckford Agencies) Great presentation and a touch of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot makes this a rich, complex, affordable Cabernet. Waterkloof Seriously Cool Cinsault (Boutinot) This wine show that South Africa can produce light, fine complex reds from amazing old-vine Cinsault.

Painted Wolf Maddach (North South Wines) A Rhône blend plus Pinotage from our great friend Jeremy Borg, with herby notes. A blend giving more than the sum of its parts.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 38


focus on south africa “Farmers are struggling a lot and this

From page 36

drought is like a double whammy. People aren’t planting that much vineyard, and

sufficient financial means to plant and

they’re trying other stuff.”

renew vines.”

Average bulk wine prices are expected

The fact that Europe’s wine production

to increase by around 15% in the coming

has hit a 40-year low gives South Africa

year. In South Africa itself, where duty

an opportunity to demand a fairer price,

and VAT have been hiked, consumers have

VinPro believes. The economic logic is

been warned to expect retail price rises of

hard to deny. If Cape wine producers can’t

between 8% and 11%.

increase prices now, at a time when they

The effect may not be as pronounced

hold so many of the cards, when will they

in the UK, but price increases are almost

have a better chance?

Anthony de Jager, winemaker at Fairview,

is hopeful that South Africa can shed its

certainly on their way.

reputation as a bargain-basement wine

Anthony de Jager of Fairview: “If we halve the crop, do we double the price?”

so we’re not really suited to lower price

at the lower price points.

that can sustain lower price-point wines. A

point on a wine list. It’s quite hard work for

producer.

“Inherently it’s a low-production country

points,” he says. “We’ve got very few areas

that are suited to higher production levels

lot of South African wine is, unfortunately,

“We do find it’s quite hard for South

African wine to end up at a higher price us to change perception.

De Jager thinks this is inevitable, but

predicts the impact in export markets

will be restrained. “If we halve the crop

do we double the price? In Bordeaux they probably would have done that but in

South Africa it doesn’t really work that way. “You will see price increases from South

Africa: there has to be, because there’s way less wine in all the viticultural areas. But you won’t see dramatic increases.”

john earle and chris piper christopher piper wines, ottery st mary, devon Paul Cluver Estate Chardonnay 2016, Elgin (Seckford Agencies/Christopher Piper Wines) Sheer class in this beautifully balanced wine. Supportive and discreet oak. Widely regarded as among South Africa’s best Chardonnays and great value. Villiersdorp Slowine Chenin Blanc 2017, Overberg (Christopher Piper Wines) We're not great fans of cheaper South African Chenins but this wine, made by Christo Versfeld, is a revelation. Slowine is a collaboration between Villiersdorp, Beaumont and Luddite, promoting the biodiversity of the Overberg region.

Peter de Wet Excelsior Estate Shiraz Stablemates 2016, Robertson (Christopher Piper Wines) Made for Christopher Piper Wines by Peter de Wet and his team, at Excelsior, this Shiraz reveals the true potential of this variety in South Africa. Thirty per cent of the wine goes into a mix of French and American oak for eight months and the rest stays in tank until bottling. This gives it a clear-cut purity and freshness.

Kanonkop Vineyards Pinotage 2014, Stellenbosch (Seckford) Winemaker Abrie Breeslar continues where Beyers Truter left off at this iconic Stellenbosch estate. This is one of South Africa’s finest Pinotages and would definitely be on our table, on a regular basis.

Jordan Wine Estate Riesling The Real McCoy 2016, Stellenbosch (Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies) Gary and Kathy Jordan make a whole host of delicious wines but for sheer pleasure over the summer, this Riesling has intense flavours of lime through to white peach and Granny Smith apple.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 40


focus on cider

switching fruits Forget grapes for a minute. Apples have huge versatility when it comes to making premium alcoholic drinks, as the current crop of British and imported ciders demonstrates. Nigel Huddleston reports

T

here are few drinks with as tricky an image problem as cider. The media coverage of minimum

pricing in Scotland focuses almost

exclusively on the scourge of cheap, massmade, white cider, a scapegoat product to

be eradicated to rid the nation of its alcohol misuse woes.

But there’s a side of cider that remains

© Delphotostock / stockadobe.com

largely hidden from view, an alternative

industry where producers invest the same

the skills of winemakers, such as at the

generated by craft beer. Its latest thing is

worked for Marchesi de Frescobaldi in

Sauvignon and ale yeast, named Graff after

London urban cidery Hawkes, where head

cidermaker Roberto Basilico has previously Tuscany, Kellermeister in Barossa and Nyetimber in Sussex.

Hawkes uses Sauvignon Blanc yeast to

ferment its ciders which are primarily

made from dessert apples, giving more

white wine-like acidity and fewer of the

tannins that can come with mainstream

a cider-beer hybrid, a 50-50 mix of cider and brewer’s wort co-fermented with a drink in a Stephen King novel.

“A lot of my influence comes from what

the beer guys are doing, not necessarily what traditional cidermakers are,” says Wright.

“The plan is to do more Graffs as

collaborations with different brewers

because there are no set rules about how you can make it. You can do different

worts, such as stouts or lagers, or different

percentages of juice with wort, or different apple varieties. There are 1,001 ways we could play around with it.”

While Wright looks to push at the edges of what cider can be, other producers are looking to stamp a modern footprint on cider’s tradition and authenticity.

Herefordshire cidermaker Oliver’s has

just come second in Camra’s Perry of the Year award with a product that comes in

wine-style bottles and delivers a refreshing alternative to white wine or fizz on a hot

Imports have added extra colour to the UK cider market

time and care in their product as self-

bittersweet ciders.

play a much more important role in the

commercial leg-up but insists he and his

respecting winemakers, and where the

fruit and the way it’s treated in the cidery finished product than a bangs-for-bucks ABV v price calculation.

Sometimes producers are actually using

Owner Simon Wright has just sold the

company to Brewdog to give it a bit of a team will retain a spirit of independent experimentation in attempting to give

cider some of the excitement that’s been

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 42

summer’s day, with a drinkable, light ABV and elegant Champagne-like mousse.

Smaller scale Gospel Green, based in

Hampshire, has a similar aesthetic for its

cider which has just returned with a 2016 vintage having missed a year through a change of ownership.

Continues page 44


focus on cider From page 42

“We’re almost a little category on our

own,” claims new owner Brock Bergius.

“We’re within cider but a style that is really

more aligned to Champagne or a really nice Blanquette de Limoux.”

Like many smaller producers in English

wine, cidermakers like Gospel Green give independents the chance to celebrate

in smaller-scale production around the

world, not just the UK. Some brands are making their way to the UK as part of

agency company portfolios, such as El

Gaitero and Maeloc Spanish cider through Bibendum’s Instil Drinks, or Bulwark of

Canada through Nottingham-based Brand Central.

Loïc Raison, the Breton cider imported

blend as we go through the year to give

within a mile of the orchards. The care

the right ratio of acidity, sweetness and

and attention we put into it is exactly the

tannins,” says Bergeron. “There’s a bit of

same as a Champagne house or a serious

batch-to-batch variation but we aim to be

winemaker would for their product.

consistent.”

from vintage to vintage as with a wine.

Put it in a vice and, hey presto: Devon cider

we may need to pull in another to get the

following for its Brut and Doux styles,

where it’s suffered through natural causes

by Le Bon Vin, has established a loyal UK

brewer that’s trying to make a beer to taste

Traditionnel. The Framboise variant,

UK market size at just under £3bn, almost

three times as big as the next largest, South

Africa. Two-thirds of UK cider consumption occasions are “with food”, which puts it

clearly into wine territory, though only 8% are at dinner parties, so it might have a bit of work to do there.

Other international cider markets are

growing quickly and that’s fuelling growth

cidery. It’s made exactly as if we were

staggered growing seasons. “We add to the

“All the fruit is hand-picked and it’s made

Cider Report, published in May, puts the

and bottle in-house; we’re not a briefcase

pressed and fermented at the end of

that a lot of scrumpies have,” says Bergius.

it is a substantial one. The latest Westons

Germain Bergeron says: “We press, ferment

The cider is a blend of five varieties

tannins and none of the harsh flavours

and maybe for wine merchants it is, but

Estate in Nova Scotia. Brand owner

right alcohol content.”

apples at all, which means it has very light

make the opportunity seem like a niche,

It’s made by fruit wine producer Muwin

enough sugar in the apple to reach the

“It’s made from dessert apples, no cider

All this talk of small producers might

on sparkling wine territory.

we don’t need to do that because there’s

Surrey and Quaff in Sussex.

exactly the same every time.”

merchants but Bulwark is impinging more

wines are chapitalised, whereas with cider

Bros Fine English Wines, Taurus Wines in

Gospel Green house style. We’re not a

face of cider for some upmarket wine

“The only difference is that our fruit

produce. Its listings include Hawkins

If one particular apple variety has a year

have long struck a chord as the acceptable

making a wine.

drinks that represent the best of regional

“There are nuances of fluctuation in taste

and worthy alternatives to dessert wines –

and increasingly for its cloudy, unfiltered

flavoured with raspberry, makes a popular summer quencher.

Canada’s expensive ice ciders – luxurious

FavouriTe ciders

Bergeron hopes to attract women

drinkers especially, tempting them away from Prosecco as an occasional treat

purchase, and cider’s naturally lower

alcoholic strength could be a key USP in

health-conscious times. “A lot of people are switching from wine to cider because they

can have a drink with wine-like properties

but with much less alcohol and lower sugar content,” Bergeron adds.

BRUCE evans, grape & GRAIN, CREDiTON, devon Sandford Orchards General. A proper vintage cider, 8.4%-plus, lovely weight and balance. A serious drink, rather than a session drink, and made in Crediton. Smith Hayne Orchards. Made five miles away in tiny quantities from one old mixed orchard, in a Normandy style, but using Devon apples. A light, refreshing mid-weight food cider. It does well as it is in 75cl bottles, and great for the dinner table. Sandford Orchards Iced Cider. Made by freezing scrumpy and retaining the apple and alcohol but dropping the water. A complete oddity, and very moreish and 20% alcohol. Great for cocktails, and sells like hot cakes, when it is available. Ventons Apple Vice. Get a good apple and squash it: this is how cider would have tasted 100 years ago. A proper rustic cider, from east Devon, with a lovely bite to it.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 44


supplier bulletin

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

0207 409 7276 enquiries@louislatour.co.uk www.louislatour.co.uk

News from Seresin Estate, New Zealand Introducing 2016 Seresin Estate Syrah Seresin’s newest red wine, the 2016 Estate Syrah, has just arrived in our UK warehouse. We tasted the first sample bottles at May’s London Wine Fair and are very excited to have this vivacious cool-climate wine to offer to UK merchants.

Seresin Estate Syrah comes entirely from the Raupo Creek vineyard located in the

Omaka Valley, Marlborough. The wine has lovely spice and red fruit characteristics, ripe tannins and a density that belies its 12.5%

alcohol, all underpinned by the typical Seresin savoury character. A new head winemaker

In time to oversee the 2018 harvest, Seresin Estate appointed

Tamra Kelly-Washington as their new head winemaker. Tamra is a

native of Marlborough and began her career at Seresin Estate before gaining widespread experience in some of the world’s most renowned wine regions including, most recently, almost 10 years as chief winemaker at Yealands Estate in the Awatere Valley. We are looking forward to meeting Tamra when she visits the UK this September.

For more information get in touch with your account manager or contact enquiries@ louislatour.co.uk

liberty wines

Surprise quality in Barolo 2014

by David Gleave MW

020 7720 5350

The 2014 Baroli were awkward children during their adolescence in barrels,

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

transformation the 2014s have gone through.

@liberty_wines

overshadowed by the more precocious 2015s and the outstanding 2016s. But part of

Nebbiolo’s allure is its ability to confound expectations by undergoing just the sort of Our recent Piemonte tasting at Somerset House showed off the success of a vintage in

Barolo few expected to be so good. A wet and cool winter and spring was followed by an average summer. But the weather in September took a turn for the better, and remained dry and sunny through to November, when the harvest finished.

In 2014, the viticulturalists rather than the vineyards were the deciding

factor. “It was a year of cancelled holidays,” explained Giuseppe Vaira. Those

like him who stayed behind to work in July and August ended up with ripe, healthy grapes. As a result, the G. D. Vajra Barolos have wonderful acidity with great balance and perfume. Likewise, Massolino’s wine is as good as

Barolo gets for the price, and after tasting the exceptionally balanced wines of Giovanni Corino from La Morra, we had to make room for a new Barolo.

Viticulture and winemaking have improved to such an extent that the best

growers are now able to obtain such quality even in difficult conditions. I

will certainly be raising a glass to them when I open my first bottle of 2014 Barolo. Available from October.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 45


supplier bulletin

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

Food friendly rosés for summer 2018 Rosé sales may have grown in recent years but the domination of Provence has come at the expense of some fantastic wines from elsewhere. Here are two excellent New World pinks that can redress the balance. Garage Old Vine Pale 2017 (Chile)

Derek Mossman Knapp’s Garage Wine Co has changed perceptions of

Chile in the UK with its dry farmed, low-intervention wines from Maule’s forgotten vineyards. One of the stars of the portfolio is the Old Vine Pale, a dark rosé (or light red?) made from Rhône grapes that is a world away from the palest pinks of Provence. Dry and savoury with a real bite of tannin, it is a superb all-rounder on the summer dinner table.

Spier Signature Chardonnay Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 (South Africa) Spier’s Signature Rosé is exclusive to independent merchants and turns a classic

sparkling wine blend into a brilliant dry, still wine. The red/white blend goes against the grain of rosé winemaking and means it can’t feature the word rosé on the label.

As with the Garage Old Vine Pale, this is a slightly fuller rosé that puts flavour and style above the current global obsession for the palest colour possible. Zippy and refreshing

with aromatic red fruit, it has a long, savoury finish that is best served alongside a braai.

fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB 07552 291045

Three Top 100 winners and seven Highly Commended wines in this year's competition

toby.spiers@accoladewines. com

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 46


supplier bulletin

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

@BuckSchenk

Argentina’s finest Bodegas Fabre is a family-owned winery in Mendoza set up by husband and

wife Hervé and Diane Joyaux Fabre. When it was established in the early 1990s, very few people believed Malbec was anything other than a blending partner. Having seen the outstanding potential of the Lujan de Cuyo terroir,

Bordeaux-born Hervé Joyaux Fabre had other ideas. He bought a number

of Argentina’s oldest Malbec vineyards and worked on producing the best varietal wine possible. In 1992, he became one of the first winemakers to elaborate a single-varietal Malbec in Argentina.

Today, the winery produces wines which have won praise from the critics and over

250 awards in the last 10 years alone. It won Argentine Winery of the Year at the IWSC last year and Herve J Fabre has just been shortlisted for Red Winemaker of the Year at this year’s IWC.

The Phebus range shows purity of fruit and clear

varietal expression with elegance and complexity. A

particular highlight in the range is the Phebus Malbec

which highlights Hervé skills and vision as a winemaker. With a lovely nose of black fruits and a full-bodied and rich palate, this Malbec is a great summer wine for a BBQ party!

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

@ABSWines

ABS appointed exclusive UK agents for Château Capion Based in the AOP Terrasses du Larzac in the South of France, with a history dating back to

1873, Château Capion boasts a 45-hectare vineyard with a unique terroir. Set 200 metres above sea level, the land around the château, winery and wine cellar extends over three

broad geological zones, the soils underfoot changing from Montpellier sandstone and clay to limestone gravels and alluvial silts. These habitats, the biodiversity present all around

and the climatic variations at Capion are nuanced in wines that express, in their power and finesse, their provenance.

Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre are used for red wines; for whites: Viognier, Roussanne, Vermentino, Chardonnay, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc. Together,

the average age of vines is 30 years. For further information and pricing please contact your sales representative.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 47

www.chateaucapion.com


supplier bulletin

hallgarten

Introducing Lake Chalice Wines

Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538

and certified ‘Sustainable Wine Grower’ Lake Chalice Wines. The

We have added nine wines to our portfolio, from family-owned

international varietal wines are made in Marlborough’s central Wairau Valley by Chloe

Gabrielsen, who has over 12 years of experience producing award-winning wine in the

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

@hnwines

region. Gabrielsen takes a boutique approach to winemaking, fermenting individual parcels of fruit handpicked from mature vines in single vineyards. The Nest

The Falcon

The Raptor

Representing classic

The mainstay and

Consisting of small parcels

Marlborough expressions from a

collection of

signature of the Lake

unique sub-

regions at an affordable price.

Chalice

portfolio.

of unique fruit, sometimes

Expressing signature flavours

unique to our vineyards

across a wide

range of grape varieties.

from a single

vineyard, that stand out

as excellent or superior

examples of a particular variety.

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 ...

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 48


supplier bulletin

mentzendorff

PORT & TONIC How to serve the drink of the summer Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port and Tonic is the

The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD

stylish and refreshing drink of the summer. By

mixing one part of Chip Dry white Port with two parts of chilled tonic, a sprig of mint or a twist

of lemon, this crisp, dry wine can be enjoyed all

020 7840 3600

year round as a lighter alternative to a G&T. Taylor’s introduced Chip Dry, a new style

info@mentzendorff.co.uk

of white aperitif Port, in 1934. Produced in

limited quantities, Chip Dry white Port is sold in

www.mentzendorff.co.uk

individually numbered bottles marked with the name of the cellar in which the wine was aged. Bom proveito!

How to make a classic ‘P&T’: 1/3 Taylor’s Chip Try Port 2/3 Premium Tonic Ice and fresh mint

For details and pricing please contact your account manager.

richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 info@richmondwineagencies.com

New Summer Wines AB Valley Wines An exciting range of Vinho Verde has just landed in time for the sun!

Loureiro 2017 A fragrant and expressive wine; Loureiro means ‘aurel’ due to the similar aroma of the berries to the laurel tree. This fresh and zesty wine has notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, acacia, apple and white peach.

Azal 2017 A light and zesty white from northwest Portugal. This Azal has delicate floral and citrus notes on the nose. The palate is very fresh with a zingy acidity and notes of green apple, white peach, grapefruit and a hint of elderflower.

@richmondwineag1

Avesso 2017 A pale lemon in colour, this Avesso has notes of melon, pear and blossom on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied with a silky mouthfeel and a balancing, fresh citrus acidity. White peach, ripe apple and honeysuckle.

Contact info@richmondwineagencies.com to order

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 49


supplier bulletin

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

Marussia Beverages UK are importers and distributors of the finest spirits from around the world. Since 1984 we have been sourcing rare and wonderful premium spirits to share with you and your customers. Sample Bourbon, Scotch, Irish and world whiskies, unique

American and London dry gin, superb French and Italian liqueurs, premium rum from Barbados and the highest quality traditional brandy from Cognac and Armagnac. These are just a taste of the range of spirits we supply.

@marussiabeveragesuk @MarussiaUK

Champagne Castelnau has bought a villa in Reims, which now becomes Villa Castelnau, its new visitor and events centre, due to open in spring 2020

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 50


supplier bulletin

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

something with a little more oomph in your bottle of white. Full of charm and heady aromas, these deliciously pungent varietiescare making waves across the

UK. The heartland of the category might be Riesling and Gewürztraminer, but we’re also particularly partial to some other characters, including Mar de Frades Albariño, Pffafl Grüner Veltiner Vom Haus and

Tamboerskloof Viognier.

The premium rum category has never been so exciting. As it continues to

020 8961 5161

Ethereal and alluring aromatic varieties are a special bunch for those of you looking for

grow and diversify, now is the perfect moment to launch RumJava in the

@EnotriaCoe

UK, bringing you a range of versatile and innovative tipples.

These artisan, quaffable blends of coffee and rum expertly capture

convivial Caribbean culture. Handcrafted in every sense of the word, the collection of fine rums are infused with five coffee

blends, resulting in silky smooth spirits. Whether you’re creating a twist on an espresso martini where the rum will give a warm depth of flavour, or drinking RumJava as a digestif where the coffee element shines through brightly, there are myriad ways to enjoy this all-new range.

Looking for something altogether more bright and breezy? Then the

handcrafted Australian vermouths from Regal Rogue, combined with ice-cool

tonic and laden with fresh, seasonal garnishes, are just the thing to while away your summer days.

hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800

Kleine Zalze – A unique Cape wineland experience ... Kleine Zalze is a family-owned winery situated in the heart of the Cape winelands.

Winemaking has taken place on a small scale since 1695 but it was in 1996, when Kobus Basson and his family purchased the property, that the modern Kleine Zalze was born.

In 1996 the estate’s soils were scientifically mapped, evaluated and replanted according to their specific terroir characteristics and potential. Continuous investment over more

than 20 years has seen the winery evolve into one of the most awarded in Stellenbosch. Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc

Vineyard Selection Cabernet

info@hatch.co.uk

A Kleine Zalze speciality. Hand-

Sauvignon

www.hatchmansfield.com

some of the oldest vines on the

vines on the Kleine Zalze farm.

@hatchmansfield

harvested premium grapes from

Sourced from over 30-year-old

estate are used to produce this

A fine Cabernet with classic

rich Chenin with a gently tropical

nose of honeysuckle and pineapple with fresh green apple and subtle oak.

blackcurrant aromas and a

smooth, richly fruity palate, well integrated cinnamon oak and a velvety texture.

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.

THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2018 51


The Wine Merchant issue 71  
The Wine Merchant issue 71  
Advertisement