THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers
Issue 72, August 2018
Dog of the Month: The Great Rustini BinTwo, Padstow
THIS MONTH 3 BACCHUS How to tell when a wine isn’t all it’s pretending to be
4 comings & GOINGS
New independents in Plymouth, Edinburgh and Staffordshire
8 tried & TESTED
There’s a new wine shop in Bishop’s Stortford and although the foliage may be artificial, the wine range is authentic. The selection has been compiled by former Ritz sommelier Jonathan Kleeman (centre) and owners Sharon Grice (left) and husband Joe (right). Full story on page 4.
Network Rail becomes arch enemy of merchants Wine merchants operating from railway arches say they fear for their futures following the decision by Network Rail to sell their freeholds. Already some archway tenants in London
have been hit by 350% rent increases ahead
of the sell-off of all 5,500 arches across the UK – and there are concerns that any new owner would want to push through major hikes.
Around a dozen wine merchants rent railway
arches as shops, bars or cellar space, including Latitude Wines in Leeds, whose owner Chris
Hill has joined the pressure Group Guardians of
the Arches to represent the interests of tenants. It has been reported that Network Rail
expects to receive between £1bn and £1.5bn
for the arches on a 999-year lease. Hill believes that even at current rent levels the new owner
would see a return on its outlay within 20 years. “It’s almost impossible to know what is going
to happen because it’s been such a closed bid,”
he says. “We got a letter as tenants saying they
were considering putting the commercial estate up for sale. That was last year and we heard
nothing about it until articles started appearing in the papers.”
Currently the rent for Latitude’s premises
is calculated on a multiple of inflation, with
Continues page 2
A wine to help contemplate the universe’s mysteries
14 david williams
How to select your Desert Island Wines
22 bristol round table
Can wine shops still survive on retail sales alone?
30 corney & BARROW
No, not that one. The one in Newmarket
38 trip to champagne
Gosset is our host for a flying visit to Reims and Epernay
41 make a date
Tasting season returns, and it’s going to be a busy one
48 supplier Bulletin
Essential updates from agents and suppliers
b Merchants’ anger at arches sell-off From page 1
Network Rail staying relatively hands-off. “It’s almost impossible to get them to
do anything – it took me three years to get them to put guttering in because we were having such a damp problem,” Hill says. “The contractors they use all agree
that these arches were never meant to
be inhabited, they were meant to hold up
railway lines. It’s not a purpose-built retail environment and we’ve had to spend a lot
of time money and effort turning it into a
Paul Burgess agreed a five-year lease for
finding the square footage with the parking
Hall is nervous about what will happen in
shop that’s secure and insurable.
“To replicate what we’ve got here, and
spaces that we have, would be ridiculously expensive because there’s a commercial
property boom in the middle of Leeds. For 10 years I’ve taken it on the chin that yes, we’re going to have some water leaking
through the walls, we’re going to have 60
trains a day above our head, we’re going to
have a really damp toilet and staff changing area – all of these things we’ve put up with
because the cost per square foot is cheaper than it is round the corner on the high street. But now it’s all in jeopardy.”
Chris Connolly, whose Connollys wine
business occupies arches in central
Birmingham, admits to being “spooked” by talk of a sell-off.
“Apparently they had 25 companies or
pension funds expressing some kind of
interest, which is some sort of indication of how undervalued the arches are,” he says. “It’s crazy. Railway arches are almost
exclusively taken by independents which actually breathes some character and individuality into a city.”
Rosamund Hall and business partner
their Burgess & Hall wine bar and shop in Forest Gate, east London, two years ago. three years’ time.
“The buyer is likely to be a single
large private investor such as Qatar,” she
predicts. “It’s going to be packaged up as
being a currently undervalued portfolio, ie
the rental that’s currently being charged is way below what can be expected.
“We’re all pretty small guys trying to
build a business in a community and that
could all potentially get undone if our rent goes up.
“We have no idea what we can expect
and communication from Network Rail has been incredibly poor.”
Guardians of the Arches is in the process
of becoming a tenants’ association and is
considering the possibility of a united bid
for the properties. Some local councils have also expressed interest in taking on local arches to help protect small businesses. “Were we given the opportunity to
purchase it we’d do it in a heartbeat,” says Hall. “We just feel we’ll keep doing what
we’re doing for the next three years, when we may well get stung and then maybe
we’ll have to close and find somewhere else. That’s a really horrible thought.”
Hill at Latitude adds: “As a tenant it’s
worrying and makes me realise how fragile
our lease is, and that what has been a really useful railway arch could become an empty railway arch very quickly.
“The bidders are going to have a really
irate bunch of organised tenants on their
hands as soon as they come in. I don’t think anyone at Network Rail expected us to be organised.”
Chris Hill of Latitude – damp is a price worth paying, for now at least
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 2
The Vincentin Blanc de Malbec 2016
reviewed in our July edition is distributed
by Gourvid, not Vindependents. Apologies.
“Our Man with the Facts” Stuart Campbell: “It’s often the very small tells”
Spotting the fakes is all part of the job Counterfeiting is an occupational hazard in the fine wine market. Stuart Campbell, director of Wine Auctioneer, is on a mission to spot the fakes before they dupe any of the 2,000 buyers registered to the site. Campbell, who formerly owned the Fyne
Wines independent merchant in Argyll,
says the authorities aren’t interested when
suspected counterfeits are brought to their attention. So he and others like him are
effectively policing the system themselves. “We are constantly refusing bottles that
we have any suspicions about,” he says. “We’re also in constant communication with a number of the producers – the
big Champagne houses and cult iconic wineries.”
Sometimes a fake can be obvious –
for example, Vega Sicilia hasn’t always embossed its logo on its bottles, and Campbell knows the date when the
practice started. “It’s often the very small tells,” he says. “Château Lafite-Rothschild has four identifiers within their label but
they don’t tell anybody what they are. I’m
fairly certain I’ve identified two of them.
So yes, we do get counterfeit bottles come through and we’re always on the look-out for them, and we see it very much as our responsibility to remove them from the market.
“The police aren’t interested – it’s too
small-scale a crime for them. Unless you
can get it into the press as a big sensational story, nobody’s interested.
“Very few counterfeit bottles are going to
be dangerous for consumption, it’s just the fact that you’re getting bottles that aren’t what you’re paying for.
“There was the whole thing with the
Rudy Kurniawan scandal – buyers were
fooling themselves into thinking the bottles were real because they’d never had the wine before.”
Campbell is keen not to overstate the
issue. “It is a problem, but not as big as a lot of people are making it out to be,” he
says. “A number of companies are popping up doing accreditations to guarantee your bottle. You’re paying a high price for that service, and sometimes that’s more than the wine is worth.”
Campbell reports a growing number of
trade users buying and selling on the Wine Auctioneer site, including independents.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 3
• The network of cellars and tunnels spreading under the Champagne
region has been estimated at 200km, or 124 miles – roughly the distance from London to Weston-super-Mare.
• In 2017, the proportion of British
adults who said that they did not drink alcohol at all was 20.4%, according to the Office for National Statistics. This
equates to approximately 10.4 million
people. A higher proportion of women reported being teetotal (22.6%) when compared with men (18.1%).
• Since 1952 when atomic tests began, all wines have contained some traces
of cesium 137 radiation, which entered
the atmosphere and became distributed evenly around the globe, settling
particularly on vines. The radioactivity is extremely low and experts say it poses no health risk.
• Until the 1960s it was traditional in
Britain for high-end wine merchants to
sell their wines purely from lists, and it was considered bad form to have the bottles on public display.
New wine shop has a vineyard twist Hertfordshire couple Joe and Sharon Grice were so fed up with the lack of decent wine on their local high street that they decided to open their own shop. The result is Twisted Cellar in Bishop’s
Stortford, which opened at the beginning
of July. Sommelier Jonathan Kleeman, fresh from his stints at Quattro Passi and The Ritz, is running the show.
Set designer Jay Cole was commissioned
to create the unusual interior. “It’s based
on a French vineyard house so as you walk through there’s an open-plan kitchen and living room area which is the main shop
floor,” explains Kleeman, “and out the back is a fake back garden with a barn and fake grass. It looks like the front of a vineyard
house with a tree growing up the side of it. “The furniture is all antique. We’ve got
real wood barrels but other stuff has been fabricated by Jay. The customers think it’s
Set designer Jay Cole was commissioned to give the store its distinctive look
amazing and I’ve never seen a wine shop
subscription package – a case of wine each
amount of artifice employed to create an
A licensing application has been made
While there may have been a certain
inspirational retail space, the intentions are pure and straightforward when it
comes to the wine on offer. Kleeman says: “I won’t be working with any of the big companies, I’m only focusing on small
producers. I’m working with three English vineyards already and I plan to work with
more. I’ve always been very pro-English as an English sommelier.”
Kleeman is importing some of his wines
direct from Italy as well as sourcing from UK suppliers including Flint, Alliance and Bancroft. “I’ve got the vision to
add another 100 lines but I want to see how things develop. We want to offer a
personal service, like buying fine wines for clients, and I’m looking at doing a custom
month based on a personal consultation,” he says.
Wine proves a hit at Staffs garden centre
to allow the store to offer wines to drink
A Staffordshire garden centre which
early success of its specialist drinks
Kleeman. “It’s more about advising people
family-owned Coppice Garden Centre in
by the glass and bottles purchased will
be able to be consumed on site for a £10 “We’re not trying to be a bar – we’re a
shop where you can drink stuff in,” says
and encouraging people to try new things.” He has plans to book time with visiting winemakers and distillers to offer the
customers a more “interactive experience”. Twisted Cellar will be offering a mobile
bar service in the shape of a converted horsebox, branded and kitted out
accordingly to enable the team to set up shop at festivals, weddings and other private events.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 4
recently opened a food hall is planning to double its wine range following the area. Forage @ Coppice is based at the
Middleton, between Sutton Coldfield and Tamworth.
General manager Danny Beardmore
says alcoholic drinks already account for nearly a quarter of the turnover of the
5,000 square foot hall, which also includes a butchery, a bakery and a deli.
“We’ve got 50 to 70 SKUs at the minute
on the wine and we’re looking to double
that within the next couple of months,” he
Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing says. Most of the range is currently sourced from Alliance.
• Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver of St John Restaurant in Spitalfields fame are set to open a bakery and wine concept store in Covent Garden. A spokesperson for the St John Group confirms that the intention will be to sell wine but an off-sales licence has yet to be granted.
Someone’s opening in Plymouth. Who? Next month will see the launch of Honky Tonk Wine Library in Plymouth. Fitz Spencer and Zoe Brodie have
chosen a location a little off the beaten
t was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of
endless sunshine, barbecues and
mega sporting events, it was the age of
relentless rosé and Prosecco sales. It was
the epoch of relief (all those sales), it was the epoch of incredulity (is this really
all people wanted to drink?). It was the
season of light nights, it was the season of darkness (my lack of success at pushing chilled reds). It was the spring of hope
that customers were choosing to buy at
their local independent, it was the winter
“It’s going to be a real adult community
hub. The concept is to have somewhere
for people to come and be educated about wine, have a bottle off the shelf, sit down
and have some nibbles, all in a very relaxed atmosphere.”
Spencer is a rep for Walker &
transpired. The one where I thought my lapped up by people bored with Veneto
will allow for 50 covers.
• The Art of Wine in Truro has gone into liquidation with debts of almost £80,000. Creditors include a number of suppliers including Justerini & Brooks, Hallgarten, Enotria&Coe and Vintage Roots. Its demise comes just over a year after the closure of fellow Truro merchant The Sanctuary.
thing. Where have you been? And I am
highly amused when people gush about how they love it because it is “so crisp and dry”.
events sell out in a flash – the highlight
continuing to rise.
I should be grateful in these challenging
a soda stream. I’ve tried selling fancier
The combined inside and outside space
Prosecco, like it is a rare and precious
when I realised that my sales were
peak Prosecco turned to sobs of despair
background will no doubt be invaluable to their joint venture.
come through the door asking if we have
very good for business and to date,
research suggesting that the UK was at
times, of course, except that I simply
wine knowledge,” her customer service
I’m always amazed that people still
Olympic levels. My whoops of joy at
Wodehouse and while Brodie admits
she’ll have to do some “catching up on the
acting is also involved.
Riding the Prosecco wave has been
It was the tale of two summers. The
value crémant de Bourgogne would be
might be detail – but a hell of a lot of
bubbles – only to find that it had reached
sort of clientele we’d like to attract and we want to make it a destination place,” says
recommend one above the other. Retail
new on-trend Pignoletto and terrific
the sub-£10 wines and that wretched
one I actually wanted – and the one that
deliberately because we have a certain
for Prosecco when I enthusiastically
What my Gleraglugging customers really want is an adult alcopop
of despair that all they were buying were
track, overlooking the marina. “It doesn’t have a massive footfall and we did that
customers also realise my disdain
cannot stand the stuff. It’s like drinking
tinned fruit salad that’s been put through Prosecco, the single-vineyard ones that are just about tolerable, or hip, cloudy col fondo. Waste of time. All my Gleraglugging customers really want is an adult alcopop.
None of them realise how I have
suffered in choosing my range, tasting dozens and whittling them down to
a handful of those I thought were the
least repulsive. Hopefully none of these
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 5
my push for profit has overridden my personal beliefs. My Prosecco tasting always being that moment when you
explain that a dry Prosecco means pretty
much the opposite. To be fair, it’s the only time I get to sell the better ones.
But it’s time that the Prosecco wave
crashed to the shore and let another
easy-drinking, good value fizz take its place.
I suspect I’ll continue to have a Dickens
of a job persuading my customers to try
other bubbles – and, like Miss Havisham’s wedding cake, will be going stale and
gathering dust by the time people
fall out of love with Prosecco.
Ronnie and Kyle Reid: wholesale business now has a retail channel
Edinburgh shop has an Italian flavour Father-and-son team Ronnie and Kyle Reid’s new One20 Wine Café in Dundas Street, Edinburgh, is focused on the Italian wines and food they import themselves. “We’re not an Italian company, we’re not
Italian, but it has ended up being mainly Italian wines, beautiful Champagne and Slovenian wine,” says Kyle.
“We spent several years travelling,
mainly in Italy, but France and other
countries too. We had our contacts and so we started the wholesale side of the
business, which continues to work away.
“We import all the wines with exclusivity
for Scotland and we’re very selective
about who we’re supplying – we’d shoot
ourselves in the foot if everybody around the corner has the same wines.”
Their bricks-and-mortar purchase has
allowed them to wholeheartedly invest in the look and feel of the new venture.
Ronnie says: “We looked for several
years to find exactly the right property
in Edinburgh. Being able to buy outright, rather than rent, meant we could design it exactly how we wanted. It was really important to us to be able to do that.” A team of Italian designers and
construction specialists were engaged to work their magic on the large two-story
building and the result is a modern, light interior complete with Murano glass chandeliers.
Building work still continues in
preparation for the second phase, which
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 6
will comprise the dedicated retail element, One20 Food & Wine Boutique.
“The project is in two stages. We opened
the wine café last week, and the actual
retail side will start at the beginning of
December,” Kyle says. “All the products that are available in the wine café are available
for retail and that’s why we feel what we’re doing is a little bit different.
“There’s a lot of displays and information
about the wine – we promote the producer. Each region in Italy will have a metre and a half of their wines on display with all
the information on their family and their winery etc. It’s all about them, not us.”
Sommelier Giovanni Mariani has just
arrived from Puglia to start work with the Reids and he will be organising regular
tasting evenings to introduce customers to the 250-plus wines they have listed.
Sherry ad supplied separately
MONDAY 17 SEPTEMBER AT OXO2, LONDON 11AM - 5PM
The worldâ€™s largest Sherry tasting is back. Join us for our annual trade event to taste over 200 Sherries from over 40 different producers, representing the very best of these unique wines from Jerez. The event will also include Sherry masterclasses and a feature on Sherry cocktails.
REGISTER ONLINE WWW.SHERRY.WINE #GreatSherryTasting
EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUND
A WAY TO MAKE EUROPE
tried & Tested Stonier Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2016
Eden Road The Long Road Pinot Gris 2016
Comparisons with Burgundy are redundant here: this
Adjectives are usually thin on the ground with most
acidity adds a spicy prickle. A perfect wine for late-
lazy afternoon, knowing dinner was in the pot and the
rosés and blush wines and we won’t pretend we have
is a proud New World Pinot that’s comfortable in its
a notepad full of wow-words for this one. But on a
own skin. The fruit is mellow and slightly gamey; the
ironing was done, its gentle summer fruits and creamy
summer wistfulness, navel-gazing and contemplating
texture struck just the right note.
the mysteries of the universe. RRP: £19.99
Hallgarten (01582 722538)
Fine Wine Partners (07552 291045) accoladewines.com
Los Tros Priorat 2015
McHenry Hohnen Laterite Hills Chardonnay 2017
A blend of Cariñena (55%) and Garnacha (45%) made by Robert Hunter, one of three Brits making wines in
Australian Chardonnay is quite a lot of fun these days
and evocative aroma of bygone village shops. Great
such a thoroughbred name. There’s a Sauvignon-like
Spain under the banner of The Three Amigos. It’s a
dense, smooth affair, with autumnal notes and a curious with grilled meats or possibly as an accessory during
offering is entertaining fare, as you might expect from
acidity and a keen mineral streak, with lime and apple notes, a smidgin of custard, and a minty freshness.
regression therapy. RRP: £17.99
and this unfiltered, whole-bunch-pressed, wild-yeast
Louis Latour Agencies (020 7409 7276)
North South Wines (020 3871 9210) northsouthwines.co.uk
Cannonball Chardonnay 2014
Wakefield Estate Shiraz 2016
The back label says this should taste of Meyer
So keen are Taylors – sorry, Wakefield – to persuade you
butterscotch-type flavours and some creamy vanilla.
to ensure you pick your moment. It’s a lip-smacking
to drink this wine slightly chilled that they have even
lemon, and we don’t know what that is, but we did
pick out some luscious pineapple, honeysuckle and
It’s a Sonoma wine and, as you’d expect, doesn’t get too tropical though the acidity is pretty restrained. A nice comfort blanket at the end of a hot, fractious day. RRP: £16.95
put a temperature-sensitive thingy on the back label
and moreish affair, with dark coffee and caramel notes, some plums, a whiff of smoke and a freshness that really comes alive at cooler temperatures. RRP: £12
Louis Latour Agencies (020 7409 7276)
Enoria&Coe (020 8961 5161) enotriacoe.com
Noelia Ricci Il Sangiovese 2016
L’Oie de Perigord Merlot 2016
“We have produced a wine as quick, stinging and
There were several reasons why this Bergerac beauty
Apennines. There’s no oak and no over-exuberant
Polished but unshowy, it’s an elegant and fruity Merlot
easy-going as wines used to be,” say the family running this 140ha estate at the foot of the Tuscan-Emilian
extraction and the result is a soft, pure and delightfully mellow Sangiovese, unspoiled by tight tannins or
alcohol burn. Simple stuff, but so easy to get wrong. RRP: £16.50
The Knotted Vine (07710 598340) theknottedvine.com
was highly commended in this year’s Wine Merchant
Top 100, with value for money near the top of the list. that’s ready to go now, ideally at lunchtime, after a
gentle bike ride, with some cold meats and olives and a leafy salad, near a river, with a view of the valley. RRP: £10
Department 33 (07557 053343) department33.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 8
bits & BOBs FAVOURITE
THINGS Wayne Blomfield
Park Vintners London Favourite wine on my list Changes all the time, but just now I’d say Casal de Paula, a cracking red from Ribeiro. It captures for me the diversity of Spanish red wines, medium-bodied with juicy, spiced berry fruits and a fleshy finish reminding me a bit of Loire Cabernet Franc but somehow still very Spanish.
Fake Vega Sicilia gang broken up Spanish police have taken apart a counterfeiting ring that has been making fake versions of some of Spain’s leading wines including Pingus and Vega Sicilia. The Civil Guard has arrested four people
and charged four others in connection with the fraud.
The gang is reported to have bought wine
costing about €19 a bottle and repackaged it as Pingus and Vega Sicilia which allowed them to sell it on for as much as €1,900 a bottle.
The Drinks Business, July 24
Favourite wine and food match
a record number of new wines, with over 100 bottles receiving awards internationally.
UK buying managing director Julie
Ashfield said: “We have a concise range of wines on offer, meaning that each bottle, which is bought specifically for the UK
market, is excellent quality and is sold at the best possible price.” Retail Gazette, July 23
Health warnings alarm the French Slapping bigger health warnings on
Manzanilla Sherry with rock salmon and chips.
bottles of wine will damage “the soul of France”, the country’s top chateaux have warned in response to government efforts to reduce alcohol consumption among pregnant women and minors. Sixty-four producers, including DRC,
Favourite wine trip A trip to visit Muscadet producer Bernard Chereau (above) about 10 years ago with Alex, my business partner, and Clive Ashby. I’m not sure I’ve laughed so much in two days before or since. Bernie is a real character and even has a tower in his garden.
Favourite wine trade person The trade is full of lovely people who don’t take themselves too seriously, but here I’d have to suggest Clive Ashby, Jack Chaddock and Phil Barnet. None of them are short of good advice, witty anecdotes or pithy put-downs.
Favourite wine shop I’d have to say The Wine Library by Tower Hill. It seems to me they’ve been doing for 20 or more years what everyone else is just discovering.
Cheval Blanc, Petrus, Yquem, Pol Roger
Where the real stuff comes from
Aldi named as top wine supermarket
and Roederer, signed a letter to Le Figaro
opposing the idea of bigger warning logos. The Telegraph, July 13
• French scientists have found that radiation levels in Napa Valley wines doubled in 2011
Aldi has been named Supermarket
following the Fukushima nuclear plant
of the Year at the International Wine
meltdown in Japan. The levels are still
considered extremely low.
Over the past year Aldi has launched
Forbes, July 21
winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836
The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 875 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 august 2018 10
VAT 943 8771 82
are back this September.
We’re at a brand new venue, but still showing a unique selection of delicious, authentic wines from 12 of the UK’s most exciting independent wine importers. To register and for more information visit: dirtydozentasting.co.uk
19th September 2018 10:00 — 17:30 Glaziers Hall, Montague Close, London Bridge, SE1 9DD
The Dirty Dozen are: Astrum Wine Cellars, Clark Foyster Wines, Flint Wines, FortyFive10, H2Vin, Howard Ripley, Indigo Wine, Maltby & Greek, Raymond Reynolds, Roberson Wine, SWIG, The Wine Treasury
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 11
Event: Franciacorta London Showcase Date: Monday 3rd September 2018 Location: 67 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ES Time: 10.00 – 17.00 The Italian Sparking Wine, Franciacorta, welcomes you to join Vice President of Franciacorta, Silvano Brescianini and Franciacorta’s UK Brand Ambassador, Tom Harrow, at its London Showcase on Monday 3rd September 2018. Franciacorta will be presenting exquisite wines seeking distribution in the UK from 10.00-11.30 and wines that are readily available in the UK from 13.30 – 17.00. Franciacorta produces some of the highest quality sparkling wines in the entire industry, having received the ultimate DOCG status in 1995. Focusing on stringent, hand-picked selections of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay grapes, it is crafted using the traditional method with secondary fermentation occurring in bottle. To attend the event, please email Lucy Ashton: Lucy@clementinecom.com or telephone: 020 7471 8730 This event is free admission.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 12
> THE WINEMAKER FILES Stuart Bourne, Soul Growers Soul Growers is an artisanal wine producer with five partners, including Stu Bourne (second from right), working with a small number of family growers to express the characteristics of Barossa’s individual subregions
If you look historically at the Barossa there’s over 500 families that grow grapes and the majority of them sell their grapes to wineries. Many of them
are fifth and sixth-generation descendants from the original Lutherans who settled there in the 1800s. They really are the soul of the Barossa Valley.
Twenty-one families are on board with us at Soul Growers. We’re trying to find little pieces out of each of the parishes so that we can put together wines that are
blended from individual grower parcels as well as wines that are separate single-site selections. Many relationships are based just on the good old-fashioned handshake.
The Barossa Grounds project started about 10 years ago, at regional level, not producer level. We started with the dirt and seriously mapping out what we had: the rainfall variants, the soil variants, all sorts of great nerdy things. Soul Growers has been involved in this project from the start – and continues to participate. It’s for the whole Barossa, not just us. The Barossa is this incredible jigsaw puzzle. Some of the oldest own-root vineyards in the planet are in the Barossa
because we never got touched by Phylloxera. Vines have survived drought, flooding rains, federal government-prescribed vine pulls … all sorts of things.
I always laugh about being in “the New World”, with the oldest Shiraz planted on its own roots on the planet, and some of the oldest Grenache. Where I live the soil varies between two or three million years old to 650 million years old.
Every parcel of wine that is delivered to us at the winery is open-fermented, basket-pressed, and barrel-aged. The other part of that process is batch
separation. That could be a barrel or 20-plus barrels. At the end of the harvest
we stand back and we look at all these little parcels, all in barrel. For the first 12
months, nothing’s blended. We want to understand each block and watch it develop. Then we can figure out whereabouts in our suite of wine this batch will end up. I love that millennials are so hungry to find out more about provenance,
sustainability, the people, the story. They want authenticity. They can smell bullshit a mile off. They’re all posting their thoughts. Our story is about a very
holistic approach that is always respectful of person and grape, and giving back
more to the earth than you took. We are smarter farmers than we’ve ever been before.
Soul Growers Equilibrium Grenache Shiraz Mataro RRP: £18 There’s lots of families involved, there’s lots of varieties, and it’s the hardest wine to make. You start with the Grenache then work out how much S&M you need. Some pretty bloody healthy discussion goes on about this one. It’s got aromatic freshness and soft tannins. It's approachable now but if you want to give it a few more years – sure. That's built into it.
Soul Growers Slow Grown Shiraz RRP: £35 It could be two, three or four of our best growers each year and the components will change with each vintage. There’s 40% new French oak and a component of Eden Valley, to give that elegance, softness and finesse we’re looking for. It’s never going to be shy but it can be demure some days. Again it’s approachable on release but cellaring potential is in-built.
Soul Growers Gobell Single Vineyard Shiraz RRP: £100 It’s actually the easiest wine to make because all you’ve got to do is find the absolute best wine in the shed. It’s a beautiful vineyard that’s been there for generations on red loam and clay. The thing I love about Evan Gobell is his attention to detail These are older vines that know where their feet are, down in the old soils, where the water would be sitting.
Soul Growers wines are represented in the UK by Artis Drinks www.artisdrinks.com
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 13
Drowning in nostalgia Think about your Desert Island Wines list. It might not include the best stuff you’ve ever tasted, or the most expensive – and that’s really the point
aced with a dauntingly long car journey recently, I
potent cheap music can be.” We don’t always choose the songs that
short snatches of music seemed to me just about the right thing
to tears when they emerge on the radio 30 years on, reminding us
downloaded a job lot of Desert Island Discs podcasts. The
programme’s mix of unchallenging chat and frustratingly
to accompany endless stretches of French motorway – soothingly informative without being fall-asleep-at-the-wheel relaxing.
After roughly 13 hours of weirdly moreish binge listening across
the decades from Roy Plomley to Kirsty Young and Dover to the
south of France, patterns inevitably emerged, and I soon realised that the interviewees’ music choices tended to fall into three categories.
The least interesting were those, such as the strangely insecure
Scottish thriller writer Ian Rankin, who were mostly concerned
with expressing their impeccable taste, as if they were still trying to look cool in the school playground, or sophisticated in the college common room.
Slightly more intriguing, albeit not in the way they might
have hoped, were those (mostly politicians) who clearly
had no real interest in music but wanted their selections
to make some kind of public relations statement. It’s fun of a sort, although one that soon gets a bit wearing, working out what Margaret Thatcher was really trying to say by
picking Bob Newhart’s Tobacco to Civilisation or raging at
Ed Milliband’s characteristically spin doctor-approved and entirely predictable pick of Jerusalem.
Most interesting of all, however, were those guests who
really understood the messy role music plays in life, and whose choices reflected the fact that it’s not always the
“best” music (whatever that might mean) that carries the
soundtrack the most important times of our lives. Songs that we
would otherwise dismiss as sickeningly sentimental can move us of that person, that time.
What does all this have to do with wine? Well, it’s often said by those looking to put the case for wine as an aesthetic object that
of all the arts the one wine most closely resembles is music. It has the power to move us in a similar way, the argument goes, one
that goes beyond expressing ideas or representing the world, and bypasses the conscious brain to elicit something like pure feeling.
Although I’ve met people who claim to have been moved to tears
by specific wines (and believed them to be sincere), I can’t say
I’ve had an experience that is even remotely so powerful. If I’ve cried after a bottle of wine it’s been because I’ve
overindulged and become, as Private Eye would say, tired and emotional.
But I do think there’s something in the suggestion
that there is a kinship between the way we experience music and wine, something that, in a world of scores,
competitions and rankings, and the endless discussions
over whether this is better than that, we tend to overlook: emotion.
Even those of us with a keen-to-obsessive interest in the
subject can, when contemplating, Desert Island Discs-style, our favourite wines, get caught in the “greatest-and-best” trap, recalling those moments we were lucky enough
to taste a 1982 Bordeaux or a 19th-century Madeira or
biggest emotional charge, or reaches deepest into our memories.
whatever approved classic it may have been. But if I were being
Cribbins ditty The Hole in the Ground – put it: “It’s strange how
get to see what might be on offer in the great big cellar in the sky.
As Noel Coward – whose favourite of his own choice of Desert Island Discs was the never-fashionable-in-any-way Bernard
honest, my own set of Desert Island Bottles would include only a
handful of the kind of things found in lists of wines to try before I
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 14
David Williams is wine critic for The Observer
I drank Leclerc Muscadet every lunch and dinner during a student holiday in Normandy
There would be choices of bottles that helped me “get” wine.
The Hardys Stamp of Australia Shiraz Cabernet I had back in the mid-1990s that was the first wine I can remember thinking was delicious and worth lingering over rather than being merely a
passport to merriness. Or the bottle of 1985 Lynch-Bages, left over from a tasting in my early days in the wine trade that taught me that some wines have a reputation for a reason.
But there would also be choices where the wine’s qualities were
almost incidental, wines that I loved because they were the wines
But there’s more to it than that. Our reaction to every wine we
I was drinking there and then: the Brown Brothers Tarrango,
drink is bound up with its surroundings at the moment in time we
I drank every lunch and dinner during a student holiday in
wines we’ve had in our lives before that point.
discounted at the local Sainsbury’s, that will forever remind me of the first summer I spent with my wife. Or the E Leclerc Muscadet Normandy.
There’s a commonplace observation to be made here, one that
has become a staple of lifestyle wine advertising: that the who and the where is just as important as the what when it comes to wine.
drink it: how we were feeling, what we’d eaten and who we were
with, but also the nebulous swirl we all carry in our heads of all the It’s a feedback loop of memory, atmosphere and emotion that
is private and intensely subjective – and at least as important in
shaping our response as the cold and meagre question that most of us spend most of our professional lives asking: is it any good?
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 15
innovations that will change wine forever
Get your hoverboots on!
Forget your qvevris and your sulphur-free pipe dreams. The future of wine is all about robots, polymers, interplanetary viticulture, and inflatable flamingos
WINE FROM SPACE
THE ELECTRONIC TONGUE
TALKING WINE LABELS
Only an idiot would see a problem in cultivating
Scientists in Australia were fooling around with
Those two-dimensional printed labels on your
vines outside the atmosphere and then
some gold, platinum and carbon electrodes
bottles will soon be museum pieces. The future
fermenting the fruit in microgravity. NASA is
when they invented a device that is better at
is all about augmented reality and winemakers
already working with dwarf fruit trees for use in
detecting flavours in wine than humans are.
who come to life and talk to consumers directly
space exploration, and the Chinese took some
As well as determining age and the type of
about malolactic fermentation and sandy loam.
Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet
oak used in maturation, the gizmo can make a
Download the app and point your
Sauvignon vines into orbit for
subjective judgement about quality,
phone at a bottle of 19 Crimes
research in 2016. Space wine is
having been preloaded with the
from Treasury Wine Estates to
coming! We just don’t know when.
prejudices of eight sommeliers.
see the future unveiling.
ROBOTS IN THE VINEYARD
PLANT-BASED WINE STOPPERS
It’s not easy monitoring vineyard health. All those
Do you really want all those casual workers
The cork v screwcap debate never quite finished
rows look the same, and they tend to be on hills.
slouching around your ripening crop, armed
and there’s now an environmental dimension to it.
Drones don’t mind: they can monitor canopy
with secateurs and moaning about back pain? If
Plastic corks don’t biodegrade, being made of the
growth, soil moisture, encroaching diseases,
you can mechanise picking, why not weeding?
world’s now most hated material after asbestos.
grape ripening and the whereabouts of that pesky
Mouton Rothschild has a vineyard robot called
Metal tends to end up in landfill. So expect to see
badger/baboon in effortless HD. Used effectively,
Ted. It once tried to suffocate a
more stoppers made from things like
they can pay for themselves
viticulturist whom it thought was
sugar cane, and agglomerated corks
in reduced water, pesticide
making an incorrect decision about
bound with beeswax or corn sugar
and fertiliser costs.
copper sulphate. (No it didn’t. Ed.)
rather than synthetic glue.
DOG DAYS HAVE ONLY JUST STARTED
WINE WITHOUT GRAPES
Dogs may not be better smelling than humans,
We can’t quite remember the name of the first
Yet more innovation from Aussie scientists.
but they are better at smelling. They are 100
person who claimed to turn water into wine but
Apparently magnetic polymers can rid a wine of
million times more sensitive to aroma than we
one California company has been at it again,
unwanted vegetal flavours, in particular
are. So who do you want to check that the barrel
creating wine, of sorts, by simply adding ethanol
the excessive bell pepper characters
you’re about to age your Barolo in for two years
and flavour compounds to H2O. The results so
that can sometimes overwhelm
is free from Brettanomyces: that bloke in the
far have been criticised for
Cabernet Sauvignon. There are
overalls, or a labrador? Dogs already
resembling the aroma of plastic
hopes the technology can also be
have a role in some wineries, and it
inflatables, so at least that’s
adapted to take away other off-
isn’t just posing for tourist snaps.
one step on from Blossom Hill.
flavours, like smoke taint.
DRINK THE WINE, EAT THE BOTTLE
IRIS RECOGNITION REVOLUTION
SELF-CHILLING WINE BOTTLES
Futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye, commissioned
Dr Gaye also suggests that iris-recognition
You can already buy self-chilling wine glasses,
by Armit to gaze into the crystal ball of wine,
technology will be deployed on wine vending
so the technology surely exists for self-chilling
predicts that glasses and bottles could be made
machines, not just to ensure users are of legal
wine bottles. Simply plug the charger, filled with
from corn starch, making them fully compostable.
drinking age but to remember their preferences
medical-grade freezer gel, into the dimple in
Edible bottles are also feasible, if they’re made
and previous choices. Sounds like a field day for
the glass (or the punt of the bottle) and you’re
from isomalt, a sugar substitute, or
anyone involved in GDPR or licensing compliance
away. So efficient and
perhaps papaya. They’ll still taste
to us – but then we live in a
eco-friendly you could
better than Blossom Hill! (You’ve
world where rhubarb gin is a
throw all your chillers
done that joke. Ed.)
thing, so what do we know?
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 16
Chinese whispers Lenz M. Moser’s Cabernets from Ningxia have a fan base among London sommeliers. A group of independent merchants took a closer look
here are many reasons to like Lenz
is my universe.”
about his twin daughters, he is
complete authenticity is best demonstrated
The determination to run the project with
M. Moser. He talks affectionately
by the fact that it took Moser two years
charming and funny, he joyfully engages
to find an English-speaking assistant
in conversation on a range of ubiquitous
winemaker, when an easier route would
British topics – the World Cup, Brexit and
have been to draft in fellow Europeans.
what the heck is up with our politicians
He explains: “I am working only with
– but the most admirable thing about the
Chinese people because I believe it is a
Austrian winemaker is that he’s a man who
Chinese wine, it’s a Chinese estate – I want
doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
to be Chinese as much as I possibly can.”
A self-confessed “Gruner guy” whose
Chinese wines may be unfamiliar in the
“DNA is practically wine”, Moser has spent
UK but merchants agreed that, with the
the past three years immersed in a Cabernet Sauvignon monoculture in Ningxia, and the results are likely contenders for that ever-
“When I talk about Chateau Changyu-Moser
elusive next big thing.
XV, I’m not talking about big Changyu with
China’s biggest wine company, comprises
Moser’s collaboration with Changyu,
Chateau Changyu-Moser XV, built with an
investment of €70m and named with nod to the 15 generations of the Moser family.
€750m turnover and 150 million bottles,” he “I’m talking only about the chateau which in
Ningxia is very far away from headquarters –
we are 250 hectares and 500,000 bottles. That
Chateau Changyu-Moser XV, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc de Noir 2016 RRP £16.99 Moser’s experiment, a white Cabernet Sauvignon, is a triumph and the star of the tasting. This peachy, aromatic number is already the darling of many a London sommelier. “We have 10 minutes to make this wine. We don’t even go to press with it: you capture the juice right after de-stemming. It is completely unique and I am the only one in the world producing this on a commercial basis.” Chateau Changyu-Moser XV, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 RRP £13.99 The entry-level red drinks as Cab should with hints of violets, pepper and eucalyptus. “This is something very simple, an easy-drinking wine completely unmanipulated by wood. The ’16 is more full-bodied but this is already a very good start.” Chateau Changyu-Moser XV, Moser Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 RRP £34.99 To give some perspective we tasted this barrique-aged Cab alongside Château Montrose, La Dame de Montrose, Saint-Estephe 2015. “I want to show how different we are from Europe but I want to give you an idea of what we’re aiming at in terms of quality.”
Chateau Changyu-Moser XV, Grand Vin, Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 RRP £65-£70 Moser inherited this vintage and put it into new oak barrels for two years. The result is smooth with notes of cherry and chocolate.
Chateau Changyu-Moser XV, Grand Vin, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 RRP £70 Rich with dark fruit and with a woody and smoky character, thanks to the use of new oak. “This was my first vintage. Wait for the 2016, it’s dynamite and if I die after the bottling of the ’17, it’s OK!”
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 17
help of entry-level wines to pique interest and a by-the-glass offering, consumers
will start to embrace this emerging wineproducing country. And if they like what they taste, there’s a decent chance that
they’ll venture up the scale towards more
premium offerings, where the potential of China really comes alive.
Kiki Evans, Unwined in Tooting “There are tentative steps going from the Grand Vin 2013 to the 2015 – you can start to see the change, and if you’re saying the 2016 and the 2017 are quantum leaps up then oh my god, it’s going to be amazing.” Emily Silva, Oxford Wine Company “The wines were in a style that we could all recognise but there’s something distinct about them, which is what Lenz was talking about. They are Chinese in nature but more in a terroir way than a gimmicky way. We have a lot of customers looking for something different, with a story behind it and that tastes good – Lenz delivers on all of those fronts.” Feature sponsored by Chateau Changyu-Moser XV www.changyu-moser-xv.de Twitter: @ChangyuMoserXV Instagram: changyumoserxv
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 18
Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine Kevin Begos Algonquin Books, £20.99
here are around 1,000 species
and Julia Harding, describes 1,368
varieties, many of them rare, some on the verge of extinction.
There would be countless others were it
not for the determination of viticulturists
to stop vines having sex with each other in
the wild. A free-spirited plant that survived the asteroid blast that killed the dinosaurs, developed multitasking tendrils and has
a prodigious ability to produce fruit with an almost limitless flavour profile is now reduced to factory-like conditions in modern vineyards.
disillusioned with a career spent trying
to have decreed as noble, along with four
to perfect Burgundian-style Pinot Noir in
or five others. You can call it a shrewd
The journey began at a hotel minibar
Vines rarely get the chance to reproduce
tasting Israeli wine in a hotel minibar and
from the seeds they produce, which would
the beginning of a journey that made him
that young plants are clones of the vines
Indeed there is. Wine Grapes, the 2012
book by Jancis Robinson, José Vouillamoz
for products that might offer a little more
Then there’s Randall Grahm, who is
grape varieties that the French happened
diversity? Wasn’t there more?”
Land or the Caucasus whet the appetite
been unfashionable for too long.
focusing their attention largely on the six
wines,” he says. “But why the lack of
just a few generations ago in the Holy
ageing and local grape varieties that have
exactly this kind of industrialisation,
– of course they make some wonderful
what wine would have tasted like even
are rediscovering the benefits of amphora
Wine producers have been guilty of
and Riesling. “I’m not against those grapes
provide. But Begos’s investigations into
wine producers, and winemakers who
lot more easily than Esopus Spitzenburg.
Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
more consistent in the quality of fruit they
contact with the new generation of natural
others whose names trip off the tongue a
realise there is a lot more to wine than
tend to be healthier than ever before and
Begos’s quest inevitably brings him into
Granny Smith, Red Delicious, and a few
encountered anything like it before. It was
the past few thousand years. Vineyards
identify, let alone track down?
on a handful of brand-name cultivars:
found himself asking why he had never
advances that viticulture has made over
varieties that are now almost impossible to
thousands of varieties to focus its efforts
grind until he came across an unusual-
there is a great deal to be said for the
Middle Eastern wineries give up on native
growing industry has turned its back on
Kevin Begos had no particular axe to
pandemic diseases to take hold.
grown in China, Begos wonders? Why did
90% of the global wine market. The apple-
nothing less than viticultural apartheid.
evolution, thus creating an opportunity for
staples. Why are French grapes being
variety – Cavendish – has cornered
consumer demand”. But for some, it’s
discovers, is to lock in tastes but shut down
excitement than today’s often boring
of bananas in the world, yet one
business strategy, or a “response to
heart of modern winemaking, Begos
give each new plant distinct characteristics. Instead, cuttings are taken which ensures that they came from. The secret at the
California, and is now devoted to a style of
farming that allows vines to breed on their own terms, yielding thousands of unique new mutations along the way.
Change is coming, Begos concludes. The
future of wine production will involve a reconnection with a past that has been unfairly disparaged.
A free-spirited plant that survived the asteroid blast is now reduced to factory-like vineyard conditions THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 19
wine merchant lunch
Anthony de Jager at Fairview’s Paarl base
Why variety is the spice of life for Fairview’s winemaking team
ew winemakers would volunteer
to showcase their wines alongside Indian cuisine – even when the
food is as delicious as the fare served by
Chokhi Dhani in London. But Anthony de
Jager takes it in his stride. Who knew that
Fairview Paarl Pinotage would stand up so well to Lamb Laal Maas?
The object of the exercise was not
strictly to pair the Fairview range with
spicy food. Instead it was a chance for a
group of independent merchants to learn more about the Fairview project,
and to hear more about how the
inventiveness of de Jager and his
team is shaping the wines that they make from four regions across the Cape.
Fairview is recognised as one of South
Africa’s pioneering wine producers – it was the first to plant Viognier, Mourvèdre and
Tannat, and is enthusiastic about old-vine Grenache and Carignan, and Shiraz-based Rhône-style blends.
It’s proud of its ethical labour practices
and is certified as a Fairtrade producer.
As founder Charles Back says: “Wine isn’t
just about the bottom line, there’s a social dimension too.”
Fairview has the seal of the Wine
& Africultural Industry Ethical Trade
Association; the Fair Valley Farm Workers
Association founded in 1997, was set up by 36 families who are employees of Fairview to develop and manage their own property.
The company is also signed up
to organisations committed to
sustainability and biodiversity.
One of the first wines we tasted was
Fairview Darling Sauvignon Blanc
2017, which impressed the retailers
with its rounded fruit and crisp finish. “Sauvignon is always going to have
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 20
a little bit of green, but we don’t want that
overwhelming grassy character and aim to get a more tropical flavour into the wine,” de Jager says.
“We had to change the viticulture quite
a lot, especially in the Darling area. The
idea was to get sunlight into the vine. South African sunlight is pretty intense so you
sometimes get almost burnt characters on the outside of the vineyard and the inside is still green.
“It’s still a trellis system but we allow
the canes to flop over. The effect is that you get sunlight through the day but you’ve got ripeness on the inside of the bunch as well as the outside of the bunch.
“With that you get extra
mouthfeel. Same thing
with the Viognier: now with the open canopy
we’re able to get ripeness throughout the bunch
and pick a little bit earlier and get the alcohol down as well. You get a more balanced fruit profile.”
in association with Another highlight was Fairview Paarl
Pinotage 2017, fermented in stainless
THE BURNING QUESTION
Have we reached peak gin … or is the boom set to continue?
steel and open-top foudres and aged in
that this year is going to see �theYes.endI figure of the boom. A lot of the smaller ones
oak for 10 months. It’s a good example
of what is now being achieved with this
suddenly have 10 different flavours. Do I need a blueberry gin? Do I need a strawberry gin? Producers like Conker Gin, who have focused on one good product, are the ones that will survive. There are far too many – over 800 or something like that. I’ve got 30 and that’s enough. My gin sales slowed a bit in the beginning of the year.
variety in the Cape, with a freshness and elegance that works well with the violet
and chocolate character. It was a surprise
hit as a match for the spicy food.
The Beacon Swartland Shiraz 2017
Jim Dawson The Jolly Vintner Too, Bournemouth
was another star of the show.
“Throughout the history of Fairview
we’ve always done Shiraz, it’s always been
the main variety on the farm,” says de Jager. “We’ve been making wine from this
vineyard since 2000, when it was 12 years
old. It’s a very low-production vineyard, all
bush vines, very rocky soil. There’s loads of wind and no diseases.
“We remove all overripe grapes – our
biggest problem in South Africa is raisin flavours – and we remove the green. We
I hope not, because we’ve just done a Grassington Gin. We use the sweet vernal grass from the hay meadows round here which is the same as in bison grass vodka – it only grows on limestone meadow. We took it up to Yorkshire Dales Distillery and they made a small batch for us and it sold like hot cakes. Gin still seems to be really popular. People are looking for the smaller artisanal ones.
Jackie Sugden The Wine Shop, Grassington, North Yorks
ferment in foudre and do manual punch-
downs. Because there’s a slightly cooling
I stock two and do click-and-collect for Isle of �Harris Gin so I only hold three gins, but that’s a
air we get more spiciness.”
The final wine was Fairview La Beryl
conscious decision. I get people offering me gin probably every week. I think we reached peak gin some time ago so it’s a question of what’s going to be the next thing – that’s what no one’s quite certain about. I’ve heard rum, but the beauty of gin is that it’s so very, very easy – and very cheap – to make.
Blanc 2017, the latest example of South
Africa’s original straw wine. It’s a beautiful drop, packed with pineapple and honey
flavours, but refreshing at the same time.
Sam Jary Black Hand Wine, Penrith
What’s next for the Fairview team? De Jager chuckles. Wines made in Georgian qvevris; low-sulphur experiments;
Marsanne; Petit Manseng; Verdelho – all of
these are in various stages of development. “We planted some Nebbiolo but
eventually ripped out the vineyard – then we tasted the last two barrels and it had
made stunning wine,” he says ruefully. “We try a lot of stuff, we try a lot of different
styles. Some work, most don’t. But you’ve got to start somewhere.”
• Fairview is imported by Liberty Wines. Call 020 7720 5350 for more information or visit
I think the boom will continue for a little while but then I �think it will tail off and something else will come up – I’m not sure what that will be. My colleague thinks rum but I’m not so sure. We have at least 30 gins and I stock as many Sussex ones as I can. People tend to ask for local gins and beers. Tom Cat Gin have just brought out a blueberry gin and their biggest selling point is that they do a 20cl bottle.
Gill Stenning Ninkasi Sussex, Burgess Hill
Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 21
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 22
Â© kvers / stockadobe.com
bristol round table
Reaching beyond retail Do traditional wine shops have a future or will they all eventually go the hybrid route, selling wine for drinking on the premises as well as off it? That was one of the questions considered by a group of independents at our Bristol Round Table, arranged in partnership with Santa Rita Estates
ccording to Wine Merchant survey data, 36% of
independents now sell wine for on-premise consumption and a further 4% expect to follow suit in the coming year.
But does this mean that traditional wine retailing is on the way
out? Our panel in Bristol featured indies with a mixture of trading styles, so the round table was a useful environment in which to take soundings.
Darren Willis runs Grape & Grind on Gloucester Road in Bristol,
a busy shopping street that has been altering in character in
recent times. “Particularly at my end of the road the environment is changing from traditional retail shops to a more on-trade environment,” he says.
Grape & Grind achieves almost all of its sales through retail and
there is no on-premise element. “I could do it, definitely,” he says, when asked about an on-premise offer, “although there is a little
wine bar a few hundred yards down the road from me and for me to change my business into that would be controversial.”
Julian Packer recently bought Totnes Wine Company as well
as Crebers delicatessen in Tavistock and is in the process of fusing the two businesses together.
“We are putting in a deli at Totnes and you will be able to go in
a coffee,” he says. “It’s to try and get more people coming through the door constantly and getting extra income.”
The Wine Shop in Winscombe is a pure drinks retailer though
owner Kelli Coxhead does find her imagination wandering
towards an on-premise offer. But for now she believes it would be impractical.
“I do a lot of tasting events, and for us those are really key to
encourage new people to come into the shop,” she says. “They are on site but we do them outside as well: we do go into people’s homes and different venues to do the tastings.
“We’re in a village, we have a pub, and another little café that
does bistro evenings, and I don’t think that I’ve got the footfall to open up [a wine bar]. It’s more profitable for me to do tastings.” Yannick Loué’s business, Le Vignoble, achieves 70% of its
turnover through the wine lounges in its Plymouth and Bath branches, though retail remains an important element. The
Frenchman is quick to dispel any suggestion that going the hybrid route is a quick and easy way to make money.
“My background is catering,” he explains. “The way I looked
and eat – a plate of meats, a plate of cheeses, a glass of wine and
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 23
Continues page 24
the wine merchant BRISTOL round table From page 23
at it when I opened is, if you open a wine shop you should do
other things to help it survive, and that’s why I went straight to
the wine lounge aspect and wine education. I could have gone in
the direction of wholesale but that’s not something I know much about. I knew much more about getting the ambience and the nightlife going. That was my forte.
“I think it’s down to the personality of the individual as well
because from what I’ve seen in the last six years, a lot of people are following the trend of the hybrid but if they’ve got no clue about
‘When I opened six years ago everybody tried to push me away from the hybrid model. Now a lot of people have shifted in that direction’
catering, that’s the danger.
speak. It’s definitely more of a traditional shop.”
been doing retail, or a nine till five, five days a week, to work until
a Thursday or Friday night, because there’s quite a lot of London
“I go to bed at 2am – it doesn’t matter – and I get up at 7am. It’s
been like that since I was 14 years old. But ask someone who has midnight: good luck, because it is not easy.
She adds: “I have thought about changing my opening hours to
shift the day later. There’s definitely a call for that, especially on traffic coming down to Devon.
“I also do a bit of wholesale, which is absolutely imperative for
my business, because without that I couldn’t rely on the footfall.” Kelli Coxhead says she was reticent about getting involved in
wholesaling because of the exposure to debt that it usually entails. “Our wholesale has grown organically with people asking to
work with us, which has been really nice,” she adds. “We work
with a buying group, The Society of Vintners, which makes it much more competitive. We’re at the point now where we’re going to develop that side of things. Because we’ve got access to all the wines, it would be stupid not to do that.”
Gemma Welden sums up: “I think the main message is that
something’s got to change. It’s not necessarily turning your
business into a hybrid – it could be doing more events, changing Yannick Loué of Le Vignoble and Kelli Coxhead of The Wine Shop
opening hours, taking on more wholesale … certainly no one that I know in the trade is a pure retail business anymore.”
“It’s interesting because when I opened six years ago everybody
in the wine trade tried to push me away from the hybrid model. Now a lot of people have shifted in that direction.”
MERCHANTS AGREE WITH the point that most, if not all, wine retailers need to offer something extra, even if that isn’t by-theglass sales or cheese platters.
Gemma Welden of The Jolly Vintner in Tiverton says: “I think
I’m quite limited in terms of (a) the location and (b) the size of my shop, because it’s tiny. I have made changes in terms of having a
bit of space in the shop for tastings. The location that I’m in is not somewhere people are necessarily looking for a wine bar, so to
Andrew Watson of Hallgarten and Fitz Spencer of Walker & Wodehouse
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 24
© Alessandro Biascioli / stockadobe.com
in association with santa rita estates
Özge Kaymaz, winemaker at Şarköy
How can wine appeal to the gin and craft beer generation? Festival wine bars show us the way
Cooler packaging would be a start
“When you were a student, you wouldn’t buy wine. Beer
“For me young people are very focused on craft beer,
and spirits were cheaper. I think it’s always been like
tequila, gin and the like. There are definitely wine
drinkers but the core audience, wine-wise, is definitely
“Wine tends to lend itself to sitting round a table having a dinner. You don’t generally stand around with a glass of wine in a club.
a little bit older – starting at around 30. “You can’t underestimate how attracted to cool things young people are. The packaging of craft beer
“Having said that, what we do see more of is mini
is unbelievable. It draws all sorts of people in. With the
festivals and that kind of thing with mobile wine bars.
exception of some of the younger producers around
There was a one-day festival down in Axminster run by
the world, natural wine producers and so on, wine
Castlewood Vineyard and the demographic for that was
packaging is pretty dull.
super-young because that’s the kind of environment
“There’s a couple of natural wine bars in Bristol and
that young people are in, isn’t it? And if wine is the
I’d say the demographic there is quite mixed – but there
alcohol on offer, that’s what they’ll drink.”
are some of the younger drinkers there.”
Gemma Welden, The Jolly Vintner, Tiverton
Darren Willis, Grape & Grind, Bristol
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 25
the wine merchant BRISTOL round table Appealing to the gin and craft beer generation Take the long view with wine serves “We’re doing a lot more experiential marketing with wine. We’re doing a big project with kegs at the moment, at festivals. With the younger generation it’s all about sustainability and we’re looking at making everything recyclable. The whole keg just crushes flat. “I’ve just signed up to sponsor a hoteliers’ ball in Manchester. They asked us for Prosecco but I said, let’s do something different. So we’re going to do a Sauvignon spritz – Sauvignon Blanc, tonic, mint and lemon. It tastes fabulous. It’s getting the younger generation to think about wine. “We’ve got to think of longer serves and ways to make the wine category fun. “When you walk into a shop and there’s 60 bottles of gin, they look fabulous, they’re all different shapes. Sixty bottles of wine on a shelf almost looks a bit dull.”
Your AWRS due diligence may not be quite as thorough as you think
erchants who are in the Alcohol Wholesaler
Registration Scheme should not kid themselves that they are necessarily doing enough due diligence on
their suppliers, says Julian Packer of Totnes Wine Company.
Packer is involved in a legal dispute with HMRC about his AWRS
licence, which he says stems from the grey-market acivities of a
previous wholesale business he ran, supplying commodity wines to convenience stores in the south west.
Although he insists there was nothing dubious about his
business, it has given HMRC enough ammunition to challenge his suitability to hold an AWRS licence.
“We did due diligence on all of our suppliers, but if one of our
suppliers or someone in his chain has paid his VAT late, his PAYE late, maybe his duty late, I can be deemed to be not a fit and
proper person, and that is what has happened,” he says. “But the
Revenue doesn’t have to give you any information about what the misdemeanor has been. So it’s a really hard thing to win the case. “The reality is that when they do descend on you and start to
question you about due diligence it becomes really onerous. In
Manny Doidge, Santa Rita Estates
theory I have to do a financial check on suppliers every two to
three months: I must go to a separate credit agency and look into
Start them young “We try to attract people from the age of 18. I think it’s because we engage with their parents. We are in a village, so families know us. The children come in when they’re 18 and buy for the parents and then start thinking, ‘ooh, I’d like to try that!’ “Also when they’re 18 their parents buy them wine tasting tickets, so that’s really good. I’ve actually thought about going into sixth forms to ask if we could educate students about alcohol.”
their financial wellbeing.
“As a matter of course HMRC comes to me every three months
and goes through all of our suppliers. In theory I have to visit my
suppliers at their place of business or inspect their warehouse and have all the home addresses of their directors. It is becoming so
onerous that I could spend all of my time doing the bits for AWRS and never sell anything.
“If HMRC walk into your warehouse you must be able to give
them a current stock list there and then – and how many of us have stock lists like that?”
Packer is convinced that HMRC is using the AWRS to weed out smaller wholesalers so it can simplify the licensing system and
Kelli Coxhead, The Wine Shop, Winscombe
focus just on a limited number of larger businesses. He suspects
More Bristol Round Table coverage follows in September
that those who remain on the register will eventually be charged an annual fee.
“I do little bits of wholesale at the moment, out of principle,” he
says. “Because I refuse to go away.”
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 26
Pictures from Julie Harris Photography
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 28
Love spreads from Sale to Stockport as Hough opens second branch
BR I N GI N G YOU T HE WOR LD ’S MO ST ICO N I C W I NE S ernard Sumner of New Order and Mani of The Stone
Roses – pictured centre left with owner Marc Hough –
were among the guests celebrating Cork of the North’s
second branch, which has opened in Heaton Moor in Stockport. “It’s exactly the same concept as Cork of the North in Sale – a
hybrid shop and bar with the focus very much on real wine sold by real people,” says Hough. “It has the same warm feeling and the same fantastic music.
“It’s twice the size of our Sale branch which means we’re able
to expand the range to 536 wines, all of which are available by the glass. We have a Verre de Vin machine which allows us to
open anything, or a Coravin for more expensive bottles. Every
bottle has four prices on the till: take out, drink in, small glass, large glass. We charge £8 corkage to drink in.”
One of the quirks of the new branch is Sherry from a barrel.
“Fernando de Castilla are making our own blend specifically
for us,” says Hough. “It’s called Rare Old India which is a blend
of Oloroso and PX – an old-style cream Sherry. When I told staff
USER FRIENDLY WEBSITE
and other merchants I wanted to do this they thought I was
absolutely bonkers but I sold three barrels’ worth within the first fortnight.
“We’ve got a really nice food menu: we do Gorgonzola with
walnuts with honey drizzled over them. When people order that
I say, ‘you’ll be wanting to have some of our special house Sherry with that’ – and they always do.”
The branch has been in the planning stage for some time.
“There was loads of aggravation,” says Hough. “It’s an old
Victorian building but the landlord gutted it. There was loads of drama – one of the walls collapsed but thankfully nobody was
RARE & MATURE WINES A FINANCIALLY ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO BIN-END DISCOUNTING
GLOBAL AUDIENCE BI-MONTHLY AUCTIONS
2018 JAN MAR MAY JUL SEPT NOV
injured. I wouldn’t want to open up a place where a builder had died. It wouldn’t add to the ambience of the place.
“We were quite frustrated by the planning process because
we are in a heritage/conservation area. I wanted to put a metal shopfront in but was told that wasn’t in keeping with the area
and we had to put in a wooden Victoriana one that took twice as long to construct and cost twice as much money.
“They also insisted on a 2.5m-high acoustic fence round the
outdoor drinking area but actually we love it because when
you’re out there it doesn’t feel like you’re in Manchester. You
could be anywhere in the world, in your own little wine haven.”
buy or sell your wines at
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 29
Tel : (+44) 1738 245 576
merchant profile: corney & Barrow, NEWMARKET
Corney & Barrow supplies wine to racegoers in Newmarket’s boxes
A racing certainty Having a name like Corney & Barrow above your door is a pretty safe bet in a town like Newmarket. But although the Suffolk satellite clearly benefits from its association with its London parent, it has a character all of its own
ine shop cellars are rarely pretty but there’s a furtive sort of pleasure to be had in exploring them. Only
the most hard-hearted visitor to Corney & Barrow’s
Newmarket shop would fail to experience a tingle of excitement as the trap door behind the counter is yanked up and the darkness below is revealed.
“Can you take a steep stair?” asks manager Ben Pym, leading the
way down. There’s been a wine shop on the site for over a century and much of the hefty metal shelving in the sprawling basement
looks like it’s original. In one corner there’s a niche that technically still belongs to the owner who sold out to the famous London
merchant in 1993. “In there you can find some 1947 Blue Nun and various other bits and bobs that James has kept,” Pym says. “He
didn’t sell everything so there’s a stash of stuff that still belongs to him.”
Back above the steep stair, the shop has an L-shaped sales area
and an office that completes the rectangle. It has a traditional,
classic sort of look, reassuringly scuffed around the edges and faded in parts, like a beloved tweed jacket or pair of brogues.
Pym once worked for Threshers in the town, during its dying
days, an experience he doesn’t appear to have particularly enjoyed. He jumped ship to Corney’s when the chance arose and, before
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 30
returning to manage the Newmarket branch, worked as part of the company’s catering and hospitality team in London for six years. How does this branch dovetail with the Corney & Barrow as we would know it in London? Our MD James [Long] managed a wine company called Linfords
based here, and in the early 90s Corney & Barrow were looking to expand. They ended up acquiring the business in Newmarket and around the same time they also purchased Whighams of Ayr.
We have London-based customers and James looks after a lot
of customers in Norfolk. My focus, and the shop’s focus, is more in the immediate area. We have a fair bit of on-trade supply locally
and some business and corporate accounts that we run out of here as well. The shop is the spearhead of our operation in the area. How much of your turnover comes through the shop?
Probably 30% or 40%. It’s quite hard to tell at the moment because one of the bits that we aren’t connected to is any
computer system with Corney & Barrow. That is what currently
makes us a separate part of the company: we aren’t linked to the rest of the company tech-wise.
We do regular manual stock checks and, in theory, within 12
months we’ll be absolutely on point with the whole system.
Do you have a massive list of things you can pick and choose
Manager Ben Pym and the former Linfords shop
from? Essentially it’s my call as to what we stock. In theory what we need to stock is Corney & Barrow products but we also provide a full off-licence service.
There are enough places to buy beer around here, so beers are
slightly on the periphery, but we do have a few specialist things.
Spirits are very popular and we do a fair amount of whisky and
Cognac and the like. Obviously gin is hugely popular. We support
the Newmarket Gin, which contains local botanicals, and we’ve got three from the Suffolk Distillery, which is down the road. Half-
bottles seem to work quite well. And we’ve got some stuff from further afield.
We can pull on anything that Corney & Barrow has – we can get
it delivered in a day or two.
How much does Corney & Barrow do under its own label these days? More than we ever have. We’ve got our own Rioja and Rhône, StEmilion, Pomerol, Margaux, Sauternes …
Continues page 32
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 2016 31
No longer home to Russian pirates
merchant profile: corney & Barrow, NEWMARKET From page 31
Does the company have really long-standing relationships with producers or does supply sometimes fluctuate? Generally, it’s really long-standing. So Sichel make outstanding
claret and have done for a long time. We’ve been working with a
great Rioja family for years now [Bodegas Zugober] and similarly with the Rhône – it’s people we’ve worked with for a long time, doing our own barrel selection.
The St-Emilion has moved around a couple of times but it
depends on the vintage and what’s available. It’s about making sure our selection is consistent for our customers.
I’m sensing an Old World bias – has the range changed at all over the last few years? People are more open-minded around here than they were. Our core customer base is still claret and white Burgundy. However,
we have quite a significant Italian selection now. New World: we
do the standard countries and we’ve also got [Intipalka] Peruvian wines – we haven’t got the space for all of them. We’ve got some
really interesting Argentinian and Chilean. It’s making sure that, we’ve got a representation here from Corney & Barrow’s range that suits what we can sell to people.
Ben Pym spent six years on Corney’s catering and hospitality team
Is there anything you’d personally like to stock but can’t because it wouldn’t fly in a place like this?
How does the buying work at Corney & Barrow?
I’d like to have a larger English range – it is very streamlined at
There are two buying teams and various different buying
trickier. Fizz works well but the other stuff doesn’t necessarily.
about five people and she concentrates more on the commercial
the moment. Retail-wise we have people who are interested in it,
they want to talk about it and they want to try it, but purchasing is
responsibilities. In some instances everyone gets involved.
Rebecca Palmer heads up our commercial buying team of
relationships where we are looking at wines for volume for supplying to on-trade.
The other side of that is the fine wine purchasing which is
mostly Alison Buchanan but also Adam Brett-Smith, our MD, gets
involved. Guy Seddon, who is on the final part of his MW, is doing a lot more. He is very good – he has a very good relationship with all the Burgundy guys.
It is diverse buying and quite often the sales teams will get
involved with the buying decisions because of what they feel they need to be selling.
Does the horseracing play a big part in your business? Yes, I think Newmarket is horseracing. There’s more to Newmarket A wine shop has stood on the site for more than a century
now than there used to be, in that it used to just be horseracing, but there is more to the area now.
It’s always been a very diverse town in the sense of haves and
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 32
have-nots and I think that’s changed a lot. There are a lot of young professionals living here and commuting to Cambridge.
We do a wine school evening where Camilla [Nash], who is our
wine educator, comes in and we’ve had good take-up for that in here. We set up some trestle tables and have a dozen people or
so, and none of the people who come to those kind of events are
necessarily connected to horses or racing. But certainly a lot of the events we do are to do with horses.
Newmarket racecourse is supplied by the Jockey Club and it’s a
nationwide contract, but we supply for those customers who want something a bit special in their boxes at the racecourse.
‘We don’t see a lot of our customers, necessarily – they know where we are by phone or email, but they don’t pop in’
How much contact do you have with the Ayr store?
Not as much as we should. We need to talk more. I’m in Scotland in July for family stuff so I’m going to go and see them. It’s not as good a connection as I want but we’re going to work on that.
Corney & Barrow in Scotland is a separate limited company and
we’ve all tended to revolve in our own circles.
This shop has got a timeless quality about it and I guess it’s some people’s template of what a classic wine merchant looks like. No wine dispensing, for example. The footfall doesn’t warrant an Enomatic. The people who are interested enough to come and use it – there aren’t enough of
them here. There would be in Cambridge but there aren’t here. I could be wrong. It’s a lot of money [as an investment] but
there’s a lot more to sort first. I’d love to have one in that window facing in, some kind of tasting set-up.
We don’t see a lot of our customers, necessarily – they know
where we are on the phone or by email, but they don’t pop in.
Do you get to travel and meet the producers you work with?
I would say that the average age of the people coming to the wine school is 30, which is fantastic. We do have a good number of younger customers who are coming through.
You see the people coming in nowadays with their Wine
Searcher and they don’t want to talk to you – they just want a
bargain. It would be nice to actually engage those people and talk
to them properly because there’s more to wine than just numbers. We don’t get too many quibbles about pricing generally but I do
have to be very careful on the spirits. Before I even list something I have to check whether we can be competitive. There is some good gin that I want to stock but I can’t.
Would you do a Corney & Barrow craft beer? I think it would be really interesting to do that. That would be fun.
Actually what I would like in the near term is a Newmarket Claret. That would sell well.
Not as often as I’d like, maybe once or twice a year. It’s a balancing act. I prefer to get them here because I like them to see my customers.
What’s your average bottle price? I would think we’re around the £12 to £15 mark. That’s separating the shop, which is retail, and probably a bit higher than when
we’re supplying a wedding venue at about £5.80 a bottle. There
are a lot of facets to this business that are all muddled together at the moment.
I would guess that the average age of your customers would be on the high side. Do you think it’s your job to get the younger people in or do you think they’ll get their wine education elsewhere and come in when they’re ready?
There’s an Old World bias to the range, but also some gems from Peru
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 33
First come the forms More and more independents are offering wines to drink on the premises as well as to take home. Our new series, in partnership with Enomatic UK, explores the practicalities, challenges and benefits of going the hybrid route – starting this month with the legalities and paperwork involved
planning and licensing
When residents object
Any wine merchant already based in
Some people are alarmed when an
a retail environment will have an A1
application is made for a wine shop in
classification for their premises.
their area. The prospect of a wine bar
To sell wine for consumption on the
premises, an A4 classification is required, which must be granted by the planning authority. There is also an A3 class,
which covers most cafés and restaurants where food is a more important element than drink. But a wine merchant which also serves cheese and cold meats falls
under the same A4 heading as wine bars and pubs – something that can create nervousness among local residents.
There is also the small matter of varying
the conditions of the premises licence. This is something that can be done at the same time as the planning application, though some legal experts suggest getting the
planning sorted in advance of the licensing.
can set even more alarm bells ringing,
Capacity (excluding staff) has been capped
at 24 and on-premise alcohol sales can only take place as part of a food order.
music might not cost you
and any application for on-premise sales runs the risk of opposition.
Many wine merchants now host live
Vins in Canonbury, north London, faced
One objector wrote to Islington Council
not take place outside permitted licensing
three objections when it applied to open its wine shop and bar in November last year. describing the application as “completely inappropriate” in a residential location.
No licence is required for live music,
providing that the entertainment does
hours, and that the audience is below 200.
It would lead to “noise and nuisance”, creating “a focal point for late-night
drinkers that would encourage crime and disorder” and spark under-age
drinking. All three objectors argued that
the neighbourhood already had a pub and didn’t need another one.
The licensing committee granted the
licence, but imposed strict conditions. Vins is required to keep noise to an agreed level and to display prominent signs requesting
Penguins perform at In Vino Veritas, London
If recorded music is being played, a
customers to be quiet as they leave the
licence is required. Visit pplprs.co.uk
must be kept to ambient background levels.
some businesses take a fairly nonchalant
Stand-up drinking is banned and music
It’s possible that on-premise wine sales could be permitted only as part of a food order
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 34
to find out more about the level of fees likely to apply to your store. Although
approach to PPL/PRS licences, there is a
50% surcharge levied on establishments
that have been playing unauthorised music and then later apply for a licence.
Hardly a magnet for under-age drinkers: yet residents may still object on that basis
case study: CONNOLLY’s Birmingham independent Connolly’s transformed its Livery Street premises into a hybrid shop and wine bar earlier this year. Working with a solicitor who specialises
in licensing smoothed the legal side of the
process, according to owner Chris Connolly. “The same solicitor looked after licensing
any sort of hit at all, which is one thing that really did concern me,” Connolly says.
“The other advantage is we used to close
at 6.30pm and largely speaking the shop is now open until 11pm when the bar closes. People come in for a glass of wine in the
bar and then want something to take away with them.”
and planning – he is a licensing specialist
case study: wine-boutique
the past when we used somebody whose
where there are already a large number
and he’s done all our stuff for the last six
or seven years,” he says. “I had an issue in
Licences can be hard to obtain in areas
principal speciality wasn’t licensing and it
of drinking establishments.
change of use from A1 to A4, and the
licence application is likely to be refused,
was just a bloody nightmare.”
In the end there were no issues with
licensing changes were made easier
by the fact that Connolly’s had already
recently gained approval for on-premise consumption during tastings and educational events.
The designers involved in the refurb
were also enlisted to project manage
the building work, which Connolly says reduced disruption to a minimum.
The project has been a success. “The
thing that pleases me more than anything
is that the shop doesn’t seem to have taken
Councils can introduce a Cumulative
Impact Policy which means any sort of
unless the applicant can demonstrate they will not have a negative effect on the four licensing objectives.
There are more than 200 CIPs in force
in England and Wales. Last year Loki was planning to open its second branch in
Moseley in Birmingham but the existence
of a CIP there made the licence application problematic. Owner Phil Innes eventually
focused his attention on a site in Edgbaston, where the planning and licensing proved to be relatively uncomplicated.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 35
Talk is cheap – and it can save a lot of aggravation We recommend openly discussing the business plan with local licensing authorities; each is different, each location is different, and being open to reasonable restrictions in order to be a good neighbour makes for a smooth process, and hopefully everyone being happy with the result. Doing your research prior to signing any lease or contract would be ideal – we’ve seen situations where licensing or change of use is the last consideration, causing delays in planning, build-out, and ultimately opening. Some delays are unavoidable, but planning ahead and anticipating as much as possible can avoid added expense and makes for a smooth start. Whatever your preference or licensing, our products lend themselves to the ontrade, the off-trade, or the hybrid. Back bar, tasting, or customer self-service options cater to any requirement. All models provide the same temperature control, preservation, wastage control, and increased profits – a win-win in any environment. Sally McGill Commercial director, Enomatic UK
spanish wine masterclass
Revolution in Rioja and Rueda Rodolfo Bastida, head winemaker at Ramón Bilbao, explains why Rioja wines will taste better from higher-altitude fruit – and why he’s so excited about the company’s white-wine project
odolfo Bastida is heading for the hills. Thanks to climate change,
there is little choice. The Ramón
Bilbao winemaker accepts that there is not much future for Rioja on the valley
floor. So instead, he’s focusing his efforts
on vineyards in mountainous areas of the region.
He joined the business in 1999, the
year that it was acquired by the Zamora
The soil on the mountains is also very
different to what is found on the plains.
“You are closer to the bedrock,” Bastida
explains. “It’s a more difficult area for
growing because the sites are smaller and
there is less organic material in the soils. In
the valleys we have more sedimentary soils and more richness than at higher altitude.
Garnacha we have a jelly character and a
higher percentage of balsamic and tannins. All these things are going to change the
rules. Flavours are going to be completely different.”
Working with smaller plots means
smaller fermentation vessels are required in the winery, and the increasing use of
Company. That was a period of big changes: separate vinification for individual parcels,
longer skin contact during maceration, less clarification and filtration, more oxygen.
But what lies ahead for Ramón Bilbao,
and possibly Rioja as a whole, is even more radical. It’s easy to assume that higher-
altitude viticulture simply means fresher flavours, but Bastida explains that the
entire rulebook is about to be rewritten.
The difference between minimum and
maximum temperatures is wider at the 500m to 720m altitudes where Ramón
Bilbao is now planting its vineyards, which means a fundamental change in the nature
of the fruit being produced. Stronger winds also have an effect, and to help keep plants free of fungus and disease.
“The ultraviolet variation is very
important too,” Bastida says. “Every time
we add 250m of altitude the percentage of
Rodolfo Bastida outlines his projects to a group of merchants and journalists in London
“Maybe in the future we are going to be
closer to the viticulture of our grandfathers than the modern conception of growing in big vineyards. When we move from
the valley to the mountain, the style of viticulture is going to change.”
Bastida is happy that pH levels in
ultraviolet is increasing by 4%. This isn’t
mountain-grown grapes tend to be lower,
the skins of the grape, and this produces
in the grapes we are growing in higher
only affecting photosynthesis but, more
importantly, it influences the thickness of different types of wines.”
which means less reliance on sulphur. “In
Tempranillo we have more floral character altitude, and more vibrancy,” he adds. “In
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 36
drones allows winemakers to determine the precise moment of ripeness, even within sections of a particular block.
You sense that Bastida wants everyone
to share his excitement for what lies ahead in Rioja. “Never forget we are in a very
traditional area with the same grapes that our grandfathers were growing,” he says.
“But all these things are going to produce
an important change in the wines that we
are going to obtain – in my opinion, in the best way.”
RIOJA TASTING Reserva 1981 Light in alcohol (12%) and elegant, with fruit flavours developing towards the finish. Reserva 1991 Bright and fresh with leather/cigar box characters. Gran Reserva 1999 Elegance and finesse but also some earthy notes and oak spice. Mirto 1999 Fresh, vivid, single-vineyard wine with cherry and caramel notes. Gran Reserva 2004 American oak evident on the nose. Structured but fresh; needs more bottle age.
Nick Underwood of Underwood Wines in Stratford and Sarah Wright of The 10 Cases in London
How best to age Rueda wines? The white-wine region of Rueda is undergoing a period of revolution, Bastida says – and Ramón Bilbao is determined to be part of it. It’s a “completely different
landscape to the rest of Spain, and particularly Rioja”, he says. Rueda has a continental climate that
provides a useful seasonal variation – it can go as low as -8˚C in
winter – as well as a big spectrum between daytime and night-time temperatures. The September
picking season is helpfully dry.
Vineyards are found at altitudes
of 700m to 800m. In 2010 Ramón Bilbao started working with a
partner producer in the region, and
invested in its own winery three years ago.
“Now we have a winery for making
fermentation in stainless steel tanks,
concrete vats and oak vats,” says Bastida. The company is still
experimenting with all three
formats as it veers towards what it
hopes will be the perfect expression of its Rueda terroir. Stainless steel
RUEDA TASTING Verdejo 2017 A fennel/aniseed character with texture from three months of lees ageing. Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Elegant, pure fruit flavours with an appealing grassy, not vegetal, character. Verdejo Foudre Wood 2017 (project wine) Wood rounds out the pure fruit flavours.
extra vanilla and spice.
Verdejo French Oak 2017 (project wine) Eight months in barrel creates a "hefty white Burgundy style", says Nick Underwood.
foudres do the same, though with
The way forward will reveal itself
over time as the company moves
away from grower-supplied fruit and starts working with its own grapes.
“Everybody has their own idea,” says
(which favours the sandy clay zones) and
Hungarian barrels would be a complex and
Verdejo (which is better suited to the more
Mirto 2010 A wine in evolution, according to Bastido, with intense ripe plum and balsamic notes.
Verdejo Concrete 2017 (project wine) A more literal expression of the fruit, with a more defined mineral aspect.
in a little beneficial oxygen. Oak
Bastida. “But, I don’t know: a blend of
before deciding where to plant Sauvignon
Gran Reserva 2010 Lively but elegant with nicely integrated American oak.
offers freshness; concrete allows
It also purchased a 60ha plot of land, which it spent two years meticulously analysing
Mirto 2004 Rich and complex, good structure and long finish – ready for drinking.
80% Verdejo and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, fermented in concrete vats and aged in interesting wine.”
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 37
Verdejo Hungarian Oak 2017 (project wine) A perfumed, elegant style described by Underwood as "subtle and interesting". Edicion Limitada Lías Verdejo 2017 Fermented in concrete and aged in French and Hungarian oak. "Complicated and sophisticated", says Bastida. Ramón Bilbao wines are distributed in the UK by Enotria&Coe www.enotriacoe.com www.bodegasramonbilbao.es/en
reader visit to champagne
Gosset’s main base is in Epernay, but its spiritual home is in Ay
the gosset way It’s sometimes observed that Champagne can be a little complacent, too wedded to tradition, too formulaic, too lacking in ideas. But you don’t come away from Gosset with that impression.The house has long had an affinity with the independent trade, which is hardly short of options when it comes to Champagne. So what could explain Gosset’s enduring appeal and how does it distinguish itself from other houses? A flying visit to its Epernay cellars provided many of the answers.
A vintage feel to non-vintage wines Bertrand Verduzier, Gosset’s international business director, takes pride in showing
us the gleaming tanks in the cuverie where 15,000hl of reserve wines are ready to go at any time. Then he informs us that the
juice inside hopefully won’t be required. “We don’t rely too much on reserve
wines,” he says. “There’s only 10% in Blanc de Blancs and 15% in Grande Réserve.
“We prefer to reduce the amount of
reserve wines and extend the ageing in the bottle. That’s how to develop more complexity and depth.
“You need to be prepared in case there’s
a bad vintage, but we don’t use a lot of reserve wine.”
The Gosset philosophy is to make non-
vintage wines as expressive as possible and the house is keen to dubunk the idea that
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 38
only vintage Champagne is ageworthy.
The cellars hold old non-vintage stock
disgorged many years ago and when the
bottles are opened up it’s clear there has
been plenty of evolution under the cork. A
Grande Réserve made primarily from 1985 juice was recently sampled and proved to be a revelation.
There’s a love of experimentation
throughout the business. “There’s nothing
in association with worse than saying ‘never’”, Verduzier says.
“We don’t say we’d never consider doing
something or never try. So far we haven’t made a wine from just one vineyard, but
that doesn’t mean we’ll never do it. Trying things is important.”
Five years in the bottle We follow Verduzier 80 metres
underground, where the chalk bedrock of Chouilly is visible in much of the 2km of
cellars and tunnels. It helps absorb some of the humidity and keeps the temperature at a steady 12˚C.
Here, and at Gosset’s original home in
Ay, there are 6m bottles slowly ageing –
effectively six years’ worth of stock. Grande Réserve spends five years here.
‘We use around half of the grands and a third of the premiers crus. But it’s not a recipe. The idea is to have diversity’ zesty orange notes. This aeration is
something Gosset recommends for most of its wines.
Verduzier says that Chardonnay is so
reliable and characterful the temptation can be to almost leave it alone. “It has freshness, structure, length, nice fruit purity – it’s fantastic,” he says. “But if
diversity rather than a recipe
you don’t work it enough it can be a
bit sharp and a bit green. The idea is to
create a cuvée with different colours of
Chardonnay: a rounder wine with more flesh.”
Low dosage, but no need for zero The wines made by Gosset typically have 5g to 7g of residual sugar – the style is
resolutely dry, with more acidity than most Champagnes. But winemaker Odilon de
Around 90% of the fruit that Gosset buys
Varine says: “I don’t think zero dosage is
comes from growers in the Côte des Blancs,
a good idea. The wine needs to have some
Montagne de Reims and various grand cru
polish at the end. There are not many
and premier cru areas, forming a kind of
consumers who understand zero dosage
question-mark shape on the regional map.
– but it’s a wonderful wine for journalists.
“And then we go and search for some
I haven’t tasted a very interesting zero-
other crus,” says Verduzier. “Places like the
Aube and Vitry-le-François.
“We use around half of the grands crus
available and a third of the premiers crus.
But it’s not a recipe: not always those crus,
One of the most intriguing wines we tried
can adapt. Make a blend with that, and then
It spent nine years in the cellar before
was Grand Blanc de Meunier Extra-Brut, a
and always those proportions. The idea is
rare expression of an underrated variety.
to have diversity. It’s a real choice and you
disgorgement in 2017.
you add reserve wines.”
“Meunier is trickier to work with than
Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, but if it was easy
A rounder Blanc de Blancs
it wouldn’t be interesting,” says de Varine.
Gosset packages its 100% Chardonnay in
“The vinification process is quite
a clear glass bottle. It’s tight and
different and you can’t do it every year. We
bracing on first sip – a pleasant
add Chardonnay lees during fermentation
jolt to the system.
and you can only do that in years when
Verduzier pours the remainder
Chardonnay is harvested before Meunier.
of the bottle into a carafe, swirls
That’s the interesting thing about
it gently, and tops up our glasses. The wine is suddenly opened
up and fuller, still recognisably a cousin of Chablis, but with
Odilon de Varine (top) and Bertrand Verduzier
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 39
vinification: each year is different.”
Continues page 40
reader visit to champagne
in association with
The General Wine Co Hampshire
The Grande Réserve is such a joy to drink and punches way
The wine that stood up best in my opinion was the Grand
above its price point. Gosset is the Champagne of choice when
Blanc de Meunier. It’s was a wine to think about – it showed
recommending something more premium to our customers. It always stands out from the crowd. We were treated to a Grand
Blanc de Noirs which was outstanding and a very limited edition Grand Blanc de Meunier which is maverick winemaking for the region, and a trial of patience and passion. This was a complete
revelation. It was delicate and expressive whilst maintaining the
unique Gosset house style. I will be ordering some for the shops,
as it is so rare. I think it will be sold very quickly indeed, and also have ordered a case for myself.
another side of this grape, which is usually left behind. What potential it’s got when it is well made!
In terms of the house I found it very interesting to see how
the dosage goes lower as vintages proceed – for example Grand Blanc de Blancs 2011 to Grand Blanc de Blancs 2013. It’s been
quite a clear trend in Champagne in recent years, and it leads to a different style: more precise with good tension and elegance, which I personally find exciting.
They were really top quality wines. The 15 Ans de Cave a
I definitely learnt a lot and it was a great insight into the
Dronfield Wine World South Yorkshire
Minima [a Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend cellared in 1999] stood out – and the rosés as well.
Corks Out Cheshire
region and the house. Before we went I only knew a small amount about Gosset and
I thought it was interesting that they use the Chardonnay lees
had never tried their wines, so nearly everything was new to me.
have things like Chilean sparkling wines made in the traditional
flavour profile with its subtle spiciness. I enjoyed the precision in
on the Grand Blanc de Meunier – that was absolutely fascinating. All the attention to detail definitely shows in the wines. We
way but they cannot match the house Champagnes, which are
far superior and have more finesse. I’d be able to sell the more unusual wines in the Gosset range. They are so unique and sophisticated.
The wines which stood out the most to me were the Grand
Blanc de Meunier which was really interesting in terms of the
the Grand Blanc de Blancs we tasted, and it was good to see the comparison between the slightly older wine we had at dinner
and the younger wine at the house to see how they develop with further bottle age.
For more information about Gosset Champagne, contact Louis Latour Agencies on 0207 409 727 or email email@example.com www.louislatour.co.uk www.champagne-gosset.com
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 40
make a date
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair
“Biddenden will be returning to Speciality & Fine Food Fair with our full range of estate-grown and bottled English sparkling and
The 19th Speciality & Fine Food Fair comes to Olympia next month, giving visitors an opportunity to catch up on artisan wine, spirits and food launches. The show aims to be “a hub of inspiration and innovation” for
wine specialists who are venturing into food sales and possibly offering wine for on-premise consumption.
The fair will provide access to more than 700 producers serving
the independent retail and hospitality channels. The organisers say the event will “showcase emerging trends and unique
pairings”, and feature “the latest NPD in fine wines and premium spirits through to high-end chocolates, cured meats, condiments and much more”.
This year’s fair includes a new feature, The Drinks Cabinet,
conceived with wine merchants in mind. Sponsored by Fentimans,
it is dedicated to “the most innovative and luxury drinks producers and distilleries in the UK”. The Drinks Cabinet will also house a space for visitors to network and host meetings and sample an array of products at the pop-up bar.
The feature reflects growth in the artisan drinks market. The
number of distilleries in the UK has doubled to 315 in the past
five years, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association. The
number of wineries has also seen steady growth, with the launch
still wines, including Biddenden Ortega, our signature white wine.” In the Savour the Flavour Theatre, sponsored by Brazilian
Flavours, sessions led by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust will
demonstrate how a practical approach to food and wine pairings can be applied to any menu and any wine list.
Another new feature for this year is The Ultimate Retail
Experience. The team behind the fair has surveyed 2,000
consumers to discover what they want from their shopping
experience and will reveal the results at the show, giving visitors
the exclusive opportunity to find out what consumers are looking for “from greetings to gift bags, counters to colour schemes and everything else in between”.
Also for the first time, Speciality & Fine Food Fair will publish
a market report based on both the consumer-facing survey and a bespoke study that looks specifically at independents.
The report highlights best practice and the key profitable areas
for owners, as well as offering insight and advice about market
trends and what retailers say are the key business challenges they face.
For further details or to register for a complimentary industry
ticket, visit www.specialityandfinefoodfairs.co.uk and check social media for updates.
Sunday, September 2 (10am – 5.30pm)
of 80 new facilities in 2017.
Monday September 3 (9.30am – 5pm)
of English sparkling elderflower wine, and Kent producer
English wines take centre stage in The Drinks Cabinet and
amongst the producers will be Renegade & Longton, the pioneers
Biddenden. The company’s managing director Julian Barnes says:
Tuesday, September 4 (9.30am – 5pm) Olympia London W14 8UX
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 41
make a date
Franciacorta Annual Showcase As sparkling wine drinkers look to broaden their horizons Franciacorta ticks a lot of boxes. It’s made in the traditional method and
aged on the lees for at least 18 months –
and in some styles for many years. There’s a depth and complexity that is famously absent from some Italian fizz, deriving
principally from Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco grapes.
Up to 10% of the blend can also now
Italian bubbles, but of a more interesting sort
contain Erbamat, an ancient, late-ripening
wines seeking distribution in the UK
take the spotlight.
consortium is monitoring the results
hosting a masterclass of Franciacorta
Monday, September 3
white variety originally from Brescia
prized for its acidity. The Franciacorta
of its trial inclusion in blends and may
eventually allow Erbamat to play a bigger
will be showcased at the London tasting. During this session Tom Harrow will be wines and the region.
The afternoon tasting will be held from
Email Lucy@clementinecom.com to
register or call 020 7471 8730. 67 Pall Mall
1.30pm to 5pm, when 18 producers whose
wines are readily available in the UK will
London SW1Y 5ES
Angelo Gaja with daughter Gaia
Ridge is another prestigious Armit agency
Delaire Graff, Fonseca, Gaja Piedmont, La
business focusing on top-end Bordeaux.
bought by the Dutch Baarsma Wine group
Armit was established in 1988 by John
The agency list spans every corner of
role in the region.
From 10am until 11.30am Franciacorta
Armit 30th Anniversary Annual Tasting Armit prepares to enter its fourth decade with a characteristically lavish tasting event featuring latest releases from an enviable roster of producers. The line-up includes names such as AA
Badenhorst, Billecart Salmon, Chapoutier, Rioja Alta, Matetic, Ornellaia, Pol Roger, Ridge Vineyards and Tahbilk.
Armit, whose first job was at Corney & Barrow, “where he spent many hours
sticking on wine labels”, according to the company’s official history.
He rose through the ranks to become MD
but left in 1981 to start a wine investment
John Armit Wines emerged onto the scene
seven years later, with a broader portfolio. the wine-producing world, though the
in 2008, which was itself acquired by the Invivo Group in 2017.
Register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
company has forged a reputation as an
Wednesday, September 5
names in the UK wine market, rebranding
as Armit Wines in 2005. The company was
London SE1 9PH
The business became one of the biggest
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 42
Level Two OXO Tower Wharf
make a date © fotobeam.de / stockadobe.com
The Great Sherry Tasting The great Sherry breakthrough has been predicted for what seems like decades, with sales figures frustratingly failing to keep pace with the optimism. In the trade itself, there’s no shortage
of love for what is often described as the
best value fine wine category. Yet getting
consumers to understand the affection and admiration for Sherry among those who sell it has proved curiously challenging.
UK sales now hover around the 10m bottle mark, compared to 22m bottles in 2005.
Are Sherry’s fortunes about to change?
Whisper it, but there are signs that a
younger audience is finally engaging. Last November Majestic said its sales of dry
Sherry were up by a quarter. One can only hope that chief executive Rowan Gormley
didn’t jinx it when he said “it’s being driven by the hipster generation”.
The tapas trend has been a significant
driver of sales, as has the fashion for
cocktails in which super-dry Manzanilla styles shine.
Innovation in the category is also playing
a part. For example, Gonzalez Byass plans to launch a new range of vintage Finos
Jerez, whose name sounds nothing like the wine we associate with it
intended to be sold in a two-bottle case to
Fattorini, and Marco de Jerez: Vineyards
a guided tour around the main tasting
International Sherry Week takes place
Fattorini will be guiding his guests
for the duration in order to showcase
encourage consumers to appreciate the vintage variation.
from October 8-14, giving merchants an
opportunity to run events and promotions that will receive free publicity on the Sherry Wines website.
The Great Sherry Tasting is the largest
event of its kind outside Jerez. More than
40 producers will be represented this year by the UK’s leading Sherry importers who will be showing nearly 200 wines.
Masterclasses include Palomino:
The Great Sherry grape, hosted by Joe
& Landscapes of Jerez, hosted by Jamie Goode.
through a range of eight wines from
Manzanilla to Oloroso to demonstrate that
there is more to the variety than just being a young, light base wine.
Goode will be discussing the soil,
landscape and unique vineyards in detail to give the audience an insight into the
provenance of Jerez wines – accompanied by a selection of wines that illustrate the importance of location.
Guests will have the opportunity to book
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 43
with one of the two Sherry Educators,
and the Sherry Cocktail bar will be open the versatility of all styles of Sherry in cocktails.
For more information about the tasting
or International Sherry Week visit www. sherry.wine.
Monday, September 17 OXO2 Level Two OXO Tower Wharf Bargehouse Street London SE1 9PH
make a date
Wine Source UK Portfolio Tasting
Red Squirrel Portfolio Tasting
An opportunity to taste wines from
Among the more familiar winemakers
Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy,
appearing at this annual tasting will be
Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône,
several newcomers with independent-
Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, Pfalz,
Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily, California and South Africa. A range of organic, biodynamic and
natural wine producers will also be on
show. Producers include Champagne Henri Giraud, Château Palmer, François Villard, Domaine Zusslin, and Tyler Winery. To register for the tasting email
email@example.com. Monday, September 3 Thomas House 84 Eccleston Square London SW1V 1PX
ABS Grosse Gewächs Vintage 2017 Tasting
Vinteloper from the Adelaide Hills, Dal Zotto from the King Valley, Bellwether
from Coonawarra, and British Columbia’s Okanagan Crush Pad.
To register for any of the tastings email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Tuesday, September 4
They include Filippo Ayunta from Mt
Etna, Lockhart Cellars from California,
China Exchange Gerrard Street
Môrelig from the Swartland and Black
London W1D 6JA
fellow specialist importer The Knotted
Chalk from Hampshire.
This year Red Squirrel joins forces with
Vine to continue the tasting in Bristol and
Thursday, September 6 Unit 4 The Boathouse, Gasworks Lane
by a selection of Knotted Vine’s finest and
Monday, September 10
and other New World stalwarts such as
Manchester M3 4LZ
Around 20 winemakers from Red
Squirrel’s portfolio will be joined in Bristol around a dozen will be at Manchester, including the new Californian wines
Bristol BS1 5AT
Castlefield Rooms 18-20 Castle Street
ABS will be showing Riesling and Pinot Noir Grosse Gewächs from a host of its top German producers. GGs are the top vineyards according to
the classification system that is overseen
by a group of producers called the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP). The tasting features VDP members
Dr Loosen (Mosel), Leitz (Rheinhau), Gunderloch (Rheinhessen) Dönnhoff (Nahe), Schnaitmann (Württemberg), Stodden (Ahr), and Fürst (Baden).
RSVP to email@example.com.
Vinteloper from the Adelaide Hills – part of Red Squirrel’s indie-friendly line-up
Charles Taylor Portfolio Tasting
at the event.
A wide-ranging tasting including wines
Sophie Chapman: email sophie@
Tuesday, September 4
from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne,
Rhône and the Loire.
9 Halkin Street London SW1X 7DR
New releases alongside mature vintages
that are drinking well now will be on show
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 44
The company stresses that this is
an invitation-only tasting. For more
information and location details, contact charlestaylorwines.com. Tuesday, September 4
Central London venue
make a date
Mornington Peninsula Winemakers Tasting The Mornington Peninsula has a
maritime climate and the region’s award-winning wines are made predominantly from Pinot Noir and
Taste Ten Minutes by Tractor wines at Australia House on September 6
Chardonnay, thoughcool-climate styles of Shiraz and Pinot Gris are also produced. Smaller family-run wineries dominate
the wine scene in this compact region and a group of them, comprising Crittenden Estate, Moorooduc Estate, Ocean Eight,
To RSVP or for more information email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Tuesday, September 11
Paringa Estate, Polperro, Port Phillip
UK tour to showcase their wines.
Les Caves de Pyrene Autumn Tasting
Estate, Stonier, Ten Minutes by Tractor and Yabby Lake Vineyard, will be on a second
The event will kick off with a masterclass
hosted by Matthew Jukes, followed by a free-pour tasting.
Registration is essential and photo ID
will be required.
com for more information. Thursday, September 6 Australia House Strand London WC2B 4LA
London WC2R 1LA
To mark its 30th birthday, Les Caves is presenting Restyling Wine, a tasting focusing on the variations of climate, grapes and terroir. RSVP to email@example.com.
Tuesday, September 18 The Hellenic Centre
Liberty Wines London W1U 5AS Australia Portfolio New Generation Tasting Autumn Portfolio An opportunity to meet the producers and taste the wines from a number of Tasting 16-18 Paddington Street
Australian vineyards including Cullen, Giant Steps and Mount Horrocks.
New vintages will be on show from many
including Clonakilla, Dawson & James and
There will be highlights from South
Africa including the unveiling of The Chocolate Block 2017 as well as the
launch of two new agencies: Pyros from
Argentina’s Pedernal Valley and Castello Tricerchi from Tuscany.
To register for the event email london@
Thursday, September 13 67 Pall Mall London SW1Y 5ES
Liberty Wines Portfolio Tasting Liberty will again be pulling in something resembling a who’s who of the indie trade at its autumn event. Expect to unearth new wines from any of
Liberty’s 113 French producers, 88 Italian partners or 47 Australian agencies.
Liberty also represents a growing
number of UK drinks producers, including Stopham Estate, Hush Heath and Bride Valley.
To register for the tasting email Abby.
Tuesday, September 18
All facets of the New Generation
portfolio will be on display at the
London SE11 5SS
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 45
make a date © jkraft5 / stockadobe.com
Wines of Chile Annual Tasting Chile is now the number five country
more mineral element. Colchagua Costa is proving to be closer to a Sancerre in style with interesting saline notes.
Chilean Chardonnay works best in
coastal regions, but is exceptional from
in the UK off-trade, and accounts for
12% of the red wine market, claiming
Over 24 of Chile’s best producers will be
the largest share of Cabernet Sauvignon
showcasing in excess of 300 wines. There
are three themed self-pour tables: one for
award-winning wines, a second focused on
Cabernet is king in Chile, but the style is
regional expressions and a third showing
evolving as producers experiment with less
the finest wines from participating
oak, and fresher wines.
Chilean Malbec is worth investigation.
There will also be an area dedicated to
The variety was planted in Chile before it
Chile’s boutique producers.
migrated to Argentina – indeed some of
For a full exhibitor list and to register
Chile’s Malbec vines are over 100 years
old. The best Chilean Malbec has elegance,
Chile has 12% of the UK red wine market
retaining the black cherry fruit flavours that make the variety so popular.
and Elqui in the north of Chile the style
production with Sauvignon Blanc the
tends to be more herbaceous, while in
tropical. Leyda/San Antonio is the closest
to a Marlborough Sauvignon with a leaner,
London SE1 9PH
minerality and light floral notes while still White wines account for 27% of Chile’s
most planted grape variety. Up in Limarí
Casablanca the variety veers towards the
visit www.lovewinelovechile.co.uk. Tuesday, September 25
Level Two OXO Tower Wharf Bargehouse Street
The Dirty Dozen Importer Tasting Around 300 wines will be on taste from members of the Dirty Dozen – a collective of 12 independent wine importers whose annual get-together has become a highly anticipated fixture on the tastings calendar. It’s guaranteed that new producers, new
wines and new vintages will be shown by all participating importers. There’s
no theme and no regional focus, but each “Dirty” is considered an expert in their individual field.
Astrum Wine Cellars, Clark Foyster
Looks like good clean fun to us
SWIG and Maltby & Greek rejoin the
Wines, Flint Wines, FortyFive10, H2Vin,
team and for the first time they will be
by suppliers on three guest tables to make
Indigo Wine, Raymond Reynolds, Roberson
Wine and The Wine Treasury will be joined up the full dozen.
joined by Howard Ripley, an importer
offering a specialist selection of German
Register for the 2018 tasting by visiting
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 46
www.dirtydozentasting.co.uk. Wednesday, September 19 Glaziers Hall 9 Montague Close London SE1 9DD
make a date
ROUND-UP OF THE REST Walker & Wodehouse is teaming up with parent business Bibendum for its autumn tasting, focusing on wines for the Christmas season, on Tuesday, September 11 at Phonica Records, 51 Poland Street, London W1F 7LZ. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place.
Richard Stávek, a Moravian natural wine pioneer represented by Basket Press Wines
Out the Box Young Importers Tasting This year’s event features more than 200 wines, including lots of new discoveries from a grouping of eight wine importers. The Knotted Vine, Red Squirrel, SWIG,
380 Old Street London EC1V 9LT
Crus Bourgeois du Médoc 2016 Official Selection
Basket Press Wines, Modal Wines, Nekter
Cru Bourgeois wines hail from eight
wines and growers they’ve discovered
Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-
Wines, Maltby & Greek and Uncharted
prestigious Médoc AOCs.
over the past 12 months, alongside their
Estèphe and Saint Julien. The classification
Wines have teamed up to showcase the portfolio classics.
“The extensive number of wines from
each importer, the quantity of new
producers and the shared philosophy on minimal intervention winemaking are
really the main features of Out The Box,”
says David Knott of The Knotted Vine, who created the tasting.
This year’s event will include a new
speed-pour section featuring a wine list
chosen by buyers from some of London’s best restaurants and bars.
Register at www.outthebox/london.
These are Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-
is about to change to include three
hierarchical categories: Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel.
The free-pour tasting, held between
10am and 5pm, is the first opportunity in
the UK to taste the 2016 Official Selection of Crus Bourgeois du Médoc.
To register for the tasting, email your
full name, company details and telephone number to email@example.com. Thursday, September 27 The British Academy
Tuesday, September 25
10-11 Carlton House Terrace
Shoreditch Town Hall
London SW1Y 5AH
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 47
Specialist Italian importer Mondial Wine is venturing to Birmingham on Monday, September 3 to showcase its portfolio at Birmingham City's stadium. To find out more email Massimo Pighin – firstname.lastname@example.org. Top Selection is planning a London tasting on Tuesday, September 13 though details were still sketchy as The Wine Merchant went to press. Email email@example.com for the latest information. Wiltshere independent Yapp Bros holds its autumn tasting at the Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8QG on Monday, September 17. Expect to find classics from across France as well as some German gems. Simon@yapp.co.uk has all the details. Domaine Direct's autumn portfolio tasting will take place on Thursday, September 20 at 67 Pall Mall, London SW1 5ES. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Genesis Wines is organising its portfolio tasting on Thursday, September 20 at China Exchange, 32a Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JA. Details from Alyssa Taylor: orders@ genesiswines.com. SITT returns for its autumn shows, featuring suppliers focused on the independent trade. Catch the London event on Monday, September 24 at the Honourable Artillery Company, City Road EC1Y 2BQ or the Leeds tasting on Wednesday, September 26 at Aspire, 2 Infirmary Street LS1 2JP.
Join us at our annual tasting
14 Kennington Road London SE1 7BL
The New Generation Autumn Portfolio Tasting will take place at 67 Pall Mall, London
T: 020 7928 7300 email@example.com www.newgenwines.com @newgenwines
SW1 on Thursday, 13th September. At this event we will be concentrating on our
extensive wine, Champagne and fortified suppliers, with highlights from South Africa including the launch of The Chocolate Block 2017 (a sure sign that Christmas is
on its way), the first showing in the UK of the new vintages of Boekenhoutskloof
Syrah, Boekenhoutskloof Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon, and Boekenhoutskloof
Franschhoek Cabernet Sauvignon as well as the incredibly rare Porseleinberg 2016. We will also be presenting the exceptional vineyard wines from Telmo Rodriguez
of Bodega Lanzaga including Las Beatas, La Estrada and Tabuérniga as well as a selection of Vintage Ports from Churchill’s, and Armand de Brignac UK ambassador Seby Gurrieri will be with us, pouring Brut Gold and Brut Rosé from magnum. Furthermore, we will be launching our two new agencies, Pyros from
Argentina’s Pedernal Valley and Castello Tricerchi from Tuscany as well as our not-to-be-missed Christmas offers.
If you would like to join us, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org and we look forward to welcoming you in September.
berkmann wine cellarS 10-12 Brewery Road London N7 9NH email@example.com www.berkmann.co.uk London, South, Midlands, South West 020 7670 0972 North & Scotland 01423 357567
Wines of Chile Tasting – 25th September We will be showcasing the latest releases from Morandé and Lapostolle.
Founded by Pablo Morandé in 1996, this winery has
continuously displayed a pioneering spirit in Chile. Morandé was the first winery to recognise and explore the amazing
potential of the cool-climate wine region of Casablanca and is at the forefront of the revival of the old viticultural regions of
Maulé and Itata, working with old dry-farmed bush vines and unconventional varieties such as Carignan, País, Cinsault and
Grenache. Wines on show include Pionero Reserva Pinot Noir 2017 and Adventure El Padre Cabernet Franc 2014.
The Marnier Lapostolle family has long been renowned for
its excellent wines, and in Lapostolle Wines, the philosophy
is to create world-class wines using the French winemaking
expertise with the magnificent terroirs of Chile. On show are the latest releases including D’Alamel Merlot 2017, Vigno Carignan 2016 and Le Petit Clos de Clos Apalta 2014.
For further information please contact Louise.Howles@
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 48
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
0207 409 7276 firstname.lastname@example.org www.louislatour.co.uk
Two new wines from McHenry Hohnen’s new winemaker Julian Grounds Based in Margaret River, Western Australia, McHenry Hohnen is owned by the McHenry and Hohnen families, and draws on three long established vineyards which are each managed following either organic or biodynamic principles.
Winemaker Julian Grounds has continued McHenry Hohnen’s working philosophy
adding in an increased focus on single-vineyard and single-block wines. 2017 Laterite Hills Chardonnay
A blend from the Burnside, Hazel’s and Calgardup Brook Vineyards,
handpicked, whole-bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeasts in mainly older French oak. Some barrels underwent natural malolactic
fermentation before extended lees ageing. Bottled unfiltered in January. 2016 Hazel’s Vineyard Reserve BDX
A Malbec-dominant blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot
added for complexity, savouriness and balance. This wine was made in
concrete fermenters and underwent wild-yeast fermentation. The wines were pressed to French oak barrels matured for 15 months. Unfiltered.
Julian will be visiting the UK in September 2018 and visiting many parts of the UK. Contact your account manager or email@example.com for more information.
richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 firstname.lastname@example.org
Terra Futura Merlot Marselan Domaine de Tavernel was first established in 1830 by the Tavernel family. Since 1925, the domaine has belonged to the Amphoux family who converted the vineyards to
organic in 1987 and no weed killer or any chemical fertiliser has been used since 1975. This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Marselan (a crossing of Cabernet
Sauvignon and Grenache), made without the addition of any sulphites.
It’s bright purple in colour with soft fruit flavours of black cherries and blackberries with a dark chocolate note and supple tannins.
The grapes for this organic wine come from a vineyard situated at
the foot of the southern slopes of the Costières, north of Arles on a combination of silt, clay and sandy soils. The packaging is all fully recyclable:
• Bottles in recyclable glass • Corks come from FSC-protected forests
• Labels made from recycled paper • Cases made from recycled paper • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans; sulphite free.
Please contact us if you would like to receive a sample for consideration.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 49
mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD
AIX Rosé is made from the renowned appellation AOP Coteaux d’Aix en
Provence. AIX nurtures its heritage and
020 7840 3600
has a passion and dedication to make the best Provence rosé.
Born from generosity, AIX is the wine
for people who enjoy life; for people who
enjoy celebrating in style. It brings people together to share a glass, a meal, a story, a moment. AIX is celebrates the essence of a great rosé: France, Provence, tradition
and quality. The perfect wine to enjoy on a long English summer day!
For details and pricing please contact your account manager.
fine wine partners
Fine Wine Partners wins Importer of the Year at the 2018 Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards
Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB
Australia’s cool-climate elegant and utterly delicious sparkling wines have been making
three places and our portfolio accounting for half the top 10!
waves and turning heads. Tasmania’s House of Arras and Adelaide Hills’ Croser wines cleaned up at this year’s Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards, with Arras taking the top Accolades for cool-climate wines aren’t limited to
sparkling, with Stonier Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
from the Mornington Peninsula receiving high praise in the press. Will Byron, assistant winemaker at
Stonier, will be touring the UK from September 4-9
as part of the Mornington
Peninsula wineries tour to the UK.
Please contact us if you
would like to discover more about Stonier, Arras or
anything in our portfolio.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 50
buckingham schenk 68 Alpha Street South Slough SL1 1QX 01753 521336 email@example.com www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
Pā Road: 800 years in the making We’re absolutely delighted to be working with New Zealand Producer Pā Road. Based in
the Wairau Bar in Marlborough, the heritage of the Pā Family Vineyards dates back nearly 800 years. Founder Haysley MacDonald’s family are descendants of the original tribe
who arrived in the area in 1350, and their approach to caring for their land has extended throughout multiple generations. Their family-owned vineyards total over 400ha, ensuring absolute control and care for their wines.
The Wairau Bar is situated between the Wairau River, the Cook Strait and Cloudy Bay, and the unique microclimate here gives the fruit parcels a soft acidity, pungent
aromatics and complex, ripe flavour profiles. These
characteristics shine through in the Pā Road wines – a
multi-award-winning range borne from the local tradition of enjoying fresh food with family and friends. The
pedigree of these wines really stands out above the usual Marlborough suspects and they are ideal partners to a wide array of food.
If you’d like some more information or a copy of our 2018 Wine List, then please get in touch.
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 firstname.lastname@example.org www.abswineagencies.co.uk
First Taste Grosses Gewächs Vintage 2017 Tuesday 4th September 2018 The Morrison Room, Caledonian Club, 9 Halkin Street, Belgravia, London SW1X 7DR 11:00 – 17:00 Join us for a first taste of the newly released 2017 Riesling GGs and 2016 Pinot Noir GGs from our family of German growers, featuring wines
from VDP members Dr Loosen (Mosel), Leitz (Rheingau), Gunderloch
(Rheinhessen), Dönnhoff (Nahe), Schnaitmann (Württemberg), Stodden (Ahr) and Fürst (Baden)
Please RSVP to email@example.com, alternatively call 01306 631155
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 51
supplier bulletin Island Wines
hallgarten Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hnwines.co.uk
Mallorca; Bodega Biniagual, 'Memories Negre' 2013 “Inviting juicy blackberry fruit and earthy aromas with hints of wild herbs and liquorice, beautifully textured and full of flavour.”
Brač, Croatia; Jako Vino, Stina 'Cuvee White', Dalmatia 2016 “A youthful yet complex nose delights with layers of floral hints with tropical notes of apricot and mango, full flavoured and refreshing.”
Tenerife; Bodegas Viñátigo, Listán Blanco 2017 “Green fruit aromas combine with an enticing hint of fennel. A lovely crisp, full bodied wine with great intensity and a long, steely finish.”
@hnwines Sardinia; Poderi Parpinello, Isola del Nuraghi, Cagnulari 2015 “A full flavoured wine showing spicy black plum fruit with a hint of herbs and liquorice, balanced and fresh.” 91pts, Joanna Simon
Crete; Idaia Winery, Dafnes, Vidiano 2017 “A delicate aromatic character of fresh ozone followed by fresh lime, mineral and lemon zest flavours.”
Santorini; Gaia Wines, 'Thalassitis’, Assyrtiko 2017 “A refreshing dry wine with a hint of flinty saltiness on the mouthwatering finish.” 95pts, Robert Parker
Famille Helfrich Wines
Famille Helfrich is the independent specialist arm of Les Grands Chais de
1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France
the leading producer and exporter of French wines and spirits.
email@example.com 07789 008540
the best terroir France has to
France ... yes, still a family – with real people! Joseph founded the company in 1979 with 5,000 fr and we have grown to become Don't let the size put you off, it has helped us create an independent portfolio of
over 400 wines and we now own over 45 domaines and châteaux across some of offer.
Having the infrastructure
allows us to consolidate all of our wines at one central
location in Alsace, where you
can either come and collect or we can deliver a single mixed pallet to you.
REMEMBER, we are a
producer, a family producer, not an agency as some people think.
Working with Famille Helfrich Wines gives you the ability as an independent to buy
direct from a producer from appellations all over France, with one delivery.
A perfect solution to help you grow and experiment with France and all it has to
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 52
supplier bulletin Four new agencies for FMV
FMV 24-34 Ingate Place Battersea London SW8 3NS 020 7819 0360 @fieldsmorrisverdin @fmvwines
This summer FMV is delighted to add four new producers to its list of exclusive
agencies. We are now home to five new top-rated, Pinot Noir-dominated Champagnes from Champagne Mailly Grand Cru. In northern Spain we take on Rafael Palacios
– the brother of Spain’s leading winemaker and FMV stalwart Álvaro Palacios. The jewel here is the white variety Godello, putting Galicia and Rafael firmly on any Spanish aficionado’s wine-map with two cuvées – the oak-aged Louro de Bolo and altitude-grown As Sortes.
In Italy we bolster our collection with family-owned
Mastroberardino, Campania’s most renowned winery. For 10
generations, the Mastroberardino winemakers have focused on sourcing and resuscitating native grape varieties such as Fiano,
Piedirosso, Greco, Falanghina and Coda di Volpe, and are most famous for their Taurasi wines – brilliant age-worthy Aglianico. Further
north, we welcome Giovanni Rosso to the exclusive fold, with some outstanding Piedmontese offerings and two new wines from Sicily – landing in the coming weeks.
For more information please contact Sophie McLean – Sophie.McLean@fmv.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org
Five awards at the IWC
020 7720 5350
International Wine Challenge Awards dinner in
successive year. The work behind the accolades,
preparing the next day’s orders. As such, we were
however, continued even during the ceremony
– our team back at the office was processing and
even more delighted to hear the judges comment that we “never rest on our laurels”.
Further comments on “getting the fundamentals
right”, our “really impressive range of wines”, “superb logistics”, and “excellent service” were
also gratifying, but we know we always need to do more, and that is our focus for the next 12 months. In the meantime, we thank you for your continued
support and urge you to check out our latest e-list for new additions to our portfolio from France, India and Italy, among other countries.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 53
overall Merchant of the Year title for the second
July with five merchant awards, including the
We were flattered to come away from the
LEN G E 2
MERCHANT OF THE YEAR
marussia beverages 0207 724 5009 www.marussiabeverages.co.uk email@example.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.
walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 firstname.lastname@example.org www.walkerwodehousewines.com
W&W Autumn Tasting Tuesday 11th September Our Autumn Tasting for indie retailers takes place at
Phonica Records, 51 Poland Street in London’s Soho. We have teamed up with sister business Bibendum to bring
in winemakers and wines from around the world with a
focus on new and exciting wines for Christmas. Ask your Account Manager for more details or email ggroves@ walkerwodehousewines.com if you’d like to be there.
Ever wanted your very own barrel of Royal Tokaji?
We are teaming up with the Royal Tokaji Company to
offer independent merchants the chance to taste, select and bottle their very own barrel of Royal Tokaji. There
are barrels of both 5 Puttonyos and 6 Puttonyos available and the wines are tasting amazing already. If you’d like to
know more about how to get involved, please speak to your Account Manager.
THE WINE MERCHANT august 2018 54
enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX www.enotriacoe.com
luxury, but there’s more to sparklers than Champagne. Don’t despair, as
not all bottles of bubbly will break the bank; our collection of alternative summer sparklers are fierce contenders for the iconic French fizz. From Hattingley Valley’s award-winning, home-grown English
beauties and the svelte Sparklehorse from South African heavyweight Ken Forrester, to Spain’s answer with Cava – we have a penchant for Torelló
– and finally a gorgeous bottle of Provence rosé from Rivarose with a fine
020 8961 5161
It’s the pinnacle of celebration, the elixir of good times and hallmark of
and elegant sparkle, we have the variety you’re looking for in spades.
After another option for apéritif hour? Then the quaffable, 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. Available exclusively through Enotria&Coe, Regal Rogue works marvellously as a wine-based alternative to gin in a delightfully simple three-step serve.
Each of their vermouths comes with a bespoke,
recommended serve, but this summer, you’ll find us sipping on Wild Rose with bitter lemon and fresh
strawberry, and the Daring Dry complete with Indian
tonic water, a caperberry and sprig of thyme. Thirsty yet?
hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 email@example.com www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield
Accolades for Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Wines ... The Errazuriz Estate was founded in 1870 when Don Maximiano Errazuriz planted his first vineyards at Panquehue in the Aconcagua Valley. Today, the tradition of quality lives on with Don Maximiano’s descendant Eduardo Chadwick. Eduardo is the fifth
generation of his family to be involved in the wine business. We are pleased to present
this pair of wines from the Aconcagua Costa, a region pioneered by Errazuriz, renowned for top-quality cool-climate varietals. ‘Aconcagua Costa’ Chardonnay 2017
‘Aconcagua Costa’ Pinot Noir 2017
“With an elegant nose of citrus and stone fruit, the palate is full of tension, with great refreshing and lingering acidity and excellent length.” Wine Merchant Top 100 “... Fine and reserved on the palate with focused acidity, apple rind and citrus flavors and a taut finish yet one with depth. Drink now.” 93 Points, James Suckling
“The intensity of pure blue fruit here in the form of blueberry tea and cranberries, combined with citrus rind and lavender is really impressive. The palate is very structured with lots of lovely darker berries and bright plums, expansive tannins that remain polished and a generous finish. So juicy and delicious. Drink now.” 94 Points, James Suckling
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 august 2018 55