Page 1

THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 74, October 2018

Dog of the Month: Blu Grape to Glass, Rhos on Sea

THIS MONTH 3 BACCHUS Boffins help match wines with insects

4 comings & GOINGS

Landlords and licensing officials force three closures

8 tried & TESTED

Yet more wines made from Merwah and Trepat

12 david williams

Nine-year-old Harry Boyne has been busy doing some important work at his dad’s wine shop in Cornwall. Read all about their project on pages 16 and 17.

Independent merchants still fear Brexit disaster Seven out of 10 independent wine merchants still believe that the UK should stay in the European Union – though 13% say they voted Remain and are now having second thoughts. A survey of 88 businesses conducted by The

Wine Merchant reveals that the overwhelming

majority of independents – 70% – still oppose

Brexit, and 61% favour a second referendum to settle the issue.

There are fears among merchants about

sterling plummeting, delays in shipping wines

into the country because of Customs disruption,

and a knock-on increase in wine prices at a time when the economy is weakening.

One merchant sounds a dire warning:

“Money will flow out of the UK. Inflation will be increasing due to the large extra sums needed to buy in food with a reduced-value pound.

People will have less money for extras such

as quality wine. Most medium to large-sized merchants, independent or not, will fold.”

Leo Bruton-Simmonds of The Salusbury

Winestore in London says: “We have already

put prices up at least twice since the pound has dived. I can’t see anything improving.

“It is a huge worry. Going round the tastings

recently I am trying a lot of wines which feel Continues page 2

Do bad grammar and lychees give wine yoof appeal?

20 cape wine 2018

Some great wines, but some big problems to address

30 loki wines

How the Birmingham business reached the indie premier league

42 reader trip to spain

Exploring the empire of Garnacha: Campo de Borja

46 FOCUS ON champagne

Sales are down, but there are reasons to be cheerful

48 supplier Bulletin

Essential updates from agents and suppliers


Trade still wants to remain in EU From page 1

like £25 wines on the shelf but are £20 to £25 cost.”

Just over 8% of respondents say they

voted Remain but now favour leaving the

EU as long as the UK stays in some form of Customs union.

Another 5% say they voted Remain but

are now unsure of their position on Brexit. Seven per cent of respondents say they

withdraw from the EU, including the Customs union and single market.

Few merchants involved in the survey

see any post-Brexit benefits for the wine

trade, but some independents believe there could be advantages.

Charles Wharton of Ellis Wharton

Wines in Cornwall adds: “If sterling drops against the euro, although wine imports

will get more expensive, more tourists will be attracted to the UK for holidays and hotels and restaurants will be cheaper for them, which could actually extend

the main holiday season beyond just the

school holidays. It could also keep more UK residents in the UK for their holidays.”

He adds: “I think English wine will see a

further surge in support and sales – all of which will be good for business.”

Roy Gillingham of Fareham Wine Cellar

says: “Europe is not the only place in the

world that produces wine and they know it. “New World wines have replaced many

of the stock items on restaurant wine lists

today in a way that 30 years ago would not seem possible. So if Europe wants to make things difficult then it will be them who

New World wines have already edged aside many European staples on restaurant wine lists


lose in the long run.

“Fine wine like Bordeaux and Burgundy

is a different matter as it is now purchased mostly for investment.”

Last month the Wine & Spirit Trade

Association reported that average wine

prices had risen almost 30p since the vote to leave the EU.

UK wine sales have been in decline, with

eight of the top 10 countries which supply wines to the on-trade seeing falls. The exceptions are New Zealand and Italy.

The WSTA calculates that, between 2012

and 2015, wine volumes in the UK declined by 5%, but between 2015 and now, volumes have slumped by 17%.

Chief executive Miles Beale says: “The

WSTA predicted that Brexit and the fall in the value of the pound, compounded by

rising inflation, would force the UK wine industry to increase prices. Sadly, this

is now a reality with the average-priced bottle of wine now at an all-time high.

“The Chancellor can take action to help

both our industry and the consumer by freezing duty in his November Budget.”

• More merchant views: pages 28 and 29. © Gorodenkoff /


voted Leave and still believe the UK should

© ivan kmit /

Flying Füchs

“Our Man with the Facts” It’s just crying out for a Jurançon Sec

Anyone for wasps and Vinho Verde? Cambridge Wine Merchants is stepping into the realms of entomophagy with an insects-and-wine evening this month. Charlotte Payne from Cambridge

University’s department of zoology will be responsible for introducing guests to the unique insecty flavours on the evening. The menu will include wasp larvae

blinis, grasshopper tsukundani and

silkworm sourdough toasts. The critters

will be paired with wines selected by Chris Kaplonski, a social anthropologist and

founder of a research project dedicated to wines and sustainability.

Sebastian Squire, Cambridge Wine’s

events manager, reported that almost all

40 tickets had been snapped up when The

Wine Merchant spoke to him in September. “I’ve been absolutely blown away by

how well it’s been going,” he said. “Similar

tastings have taken place in university halls in the past and some people couldn’t get in, so maybe it’s a spill-over from that.

“It’s something completely different and

completely new. You don’t really know

what you’re in for. Chris has chosen some amazing wines so regardless of whether you like the insects you’re going to get a good wine tasting anyway.”

There are over 1,000 varieties of insects

edible to humans, so the menu of three,

all wild-harvested by a family business in Japan, is a tiny foray into this particular epicurean adventure.

One guest who attended last year’s

tasting reported that the evening got off to a “gentle start” with the wasp larvae blinis, accompanied by Aphros Vinho

Verde Branco Loureiro 2016 and Arndorfer Grüner Veltiner Die Leidenschaft 2014. The most popular snack was the

grasshopper tsukundani skewers paired with Clos Lapeyre Jurançon Sec 2016

and Karl Schnabel Morillon 2014, though she admitted the dismantling of the grasshoppers was visually “grim”.

Silkworms have proven to be the trickiest

insects to stomach. For a handful of people in the room, “the silkworm paired with

the reds Château du Cedre, Camille Malbec

2016 and Strohmeier Trauben, Liebe & Zeit Rot No 6 was divine,” the guest reported.

“For the rest of us, silkworm was the most unbearable experience.”


• There are 3,029 wine producers in South Africa, according to official figures, and 546 cellars, but only

50 wine brands are owned by black people.

• The badgers which help themselves

to grapes growing at Rathfinny Estate in Sussex have a taste for Pinot Noir

and have so far worked around every

measure introduced to deter them from enjoying their favourite variety.

• Thirty-four per cent of the world’s cork forests are in Portugal, with

Spain, Morocco and Algeria the next

most important producers in volume

terms. The wine industry accounts for 72% of cork manufacturers’ sales.

• A Georgian company has developed a method of producing qvevri using 3D printers. The technology, introduced by QvevriXYZ, can make the trendy

clay winemaking vessels in a matter of hours, before kilning.

• The longest distance that a

Champagne cork has been recorded to fly after popping is 54.18 metres.

Sam’s sanguine as shop is relocated

“I have spent the last four or five years

getting it to a situation where it can be

rolled out as a brand,” explains Clayton. “There will be a very careful selection

Sam Jackson of Chester Beer & Wine has

process over the next four to five years.

been forced to relocate after 13 years in

There are lots of places on the cards.”


The venues all list pretty much the same

300-plus wines with a choice of 40 by the

“Our old landlord sold up to a new

glass. Around 50% of the stock is imported

landlord who is a property developer and

by Clayton and his team with the rest

he just wants to make a load of money and

sourced through a small number of core

move on,” she says. “I can’t really be angry with him – it’s the nature of the beast, but it is sad.”

Whippet up and start again

was not something she would have wished

Jackson has set up a GoFundMe page

Jackson has secured a new premises in

nearby Handbridge and although the move for, there are several silver linings.

There’s room for a dedicated tasting

area on the first floor, so the “palaver” of

moving chairs around and clearing space to accommodate events will no longer be an issue. The overall size of the shop is

similar to that of Hoole and the rent will be

appealing to friends and customers to help soften the financial blow.

Cork & Bottle may look beyond London

more or less the same.

For almost half a century The Cork &

away on a back street,” and Jackson says

more modern spin-off appeared in

The location is also more prominent,

being on a main road rather than “tucked

Bottle in Leicester Square had been positively singular. Then in 2017 a

the team is “very excited” about the added


keep a lot of our existing customers,” she

ambitious expansion project.

novelty of central heating.

“It’s a new challenge and hopefully we’ll

says. “It’s probably only a couple of miles

away but you have to go all the way round the ring road – people might find it a

mither. I think people will still come over

for tasting nights and we’ve been pushing local delivery too.”

September saw the opening of a further

venue in Hampstead, the third in an

Under the direction of Will Clayton, who

bought out founder Don Hewitson in 2010, the estate is set to grow exponentially, possibly beyond London.

The 17th century building, which will

suppliers including Hallgarten and Fells.

On-premise sales dominate. “Everything

is available for take-away, but the majority of people, when they come in, see the

atmosphere and think ‘stuff it, I might as well stay here’,” says Clayton.

Updating the look and feel of the original

concept was inevitable, considering it dates back to 1971, but the intrinsic character of the subterranean Leicester Square space has proved tricky to replicate. “It’s a real hidden gem – and you can’t find another

site like that in London,” Clayton says. “So we had to start looking at ground-floor properties.

“There are a lot more of those and with

that has come a modernisation of the

aesthetics of the wine bar. But it’s still got

the same philosophy and wine buying; the same staff and the same level of training, which is what we place a huge emphasis on. It’s the staff that make our venues.”

Vinoteca forced to say so long to Soho

become the new Chester Beer & Wine, is

Vinoteca has closed its Soho branch due

it as “a nice vibrant community,” with

imposed on them by the local authority, co-

in a busy shopping area with a butcher, a

to licensing restrictions.

“well-to-do” outlying areas.

owners Charlie Young and Brett Woonton

Rather than roll with the changes

greengrocer’s and a deli. Jackson describes

will instead find a new venue.

The unexpected nature of the move has

meant finances are somewhat stretched. In an attempt to raise funds to cover the estimated relocation costs of £20,000,

The Paddington branch opened in 2017


Marketing manager Nicole Trytell says:

“We were no longer able to serve drinks to

customers without them having a full meal,

Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing what customers are used to at the other Vinoteca locations.

“It was a tough decision as Vinoteca

Soho has been a cracking site for us,

but we are now looking for another site

somewhere in central London that doesn’t have the same restrictions.”

The Beak Street staff have been

relocated to the remaining four locations across London.

Leeds wine venue in landlord dispute Ipsum Vinoteca in Duke Street, Leeds, has had to close due to a major tenantversus-landlord dispute. Andrea D’Ercole, who set up the wine

shop and bar in 2014, is hoping the closure is temporary, and intends to take the matter to court.

D’Ercole has been advised that his legal

fees will be in the region of £30,000 and he has tried to raise the funds by setting up

a GoFundMe page. It states: “I always had

to fight with my landlord, every day of my tenancy. It has been an almost four-year long battle to stay in business.”

The litany of problems began with a


erome Aske is one of the wine trade’s biggest personalities. From humble

wine shop trainee to global critic and

commentator, he is constantly in demand. If you go to a generic tasting, chances are he’ll be doing at least one masterclass. Champagne, Sherry, the white grapes

of Friuli, the ageworthiness of Txacoli –

there is no topic on which he does not see himself as an authority. He is, admittedly, witty and entertaining – and holds forth

on Twitter on a daily basis (how does he have the time?) But he is everywhere.

He pops up regularly on those rare TV

wine slots. He travels the world judging at a host of obscure wine awards –

resulting in big, glossy stickers on the

winners he selects, and gushing emails from my suppliers who stock them. In between that, he pumps out a weekly

newspaper column, a longer monthly wine feature in a supermarket wine

magazine plus a book a year on how

to appreciate wine, how to taste wine,

cleaning fees have rumbled on and finally in August the landlord changed the locks, preventing D’Ercole and his staff from entering the premises.

D’Ercole says: “When you find yourself

in my situation you understand that unless

you have plenty of money, it does not really matter who is right or wrong, it is all about money and being able to afford a good solicitor.”

well-known personality, so they can feel it was money well spent. We merchants might form a long, geeky queue for a

vertical tasting of rare, aged reds from Barraida – but it isn’t down to the glamour and pull of the host.

I’m getting a bit hacked off seeing the same old journo hosting every wine event So, let’s give Jerome a bit of a rest.

discussions by wine merchants for

amateur wine lover’s Christmas stocking. In some ways I envy him, of course. He

entire façade of the building for over a Disagreements over parking and

I also suspect it’s because those who

pay the PRs and event organisers want a

I haven’t even mentioned his blog.

on what occasion – all aimed firmly at the

events. Are PRs and event organisers so

year, which carried paid adverts.


There are enough consumer shows

gets access to places, events and wines I

landlord erected scaffolding covering the

region and Jerome’s schtick is always

demystifying wine, what wine to drink

clause in the lease that prevented D’Ercole from having any signage. He also says the

the dronings of a president of a wine

can only dream about. On the other hand, I get fed up with his presence at trade

ignorant that they think the trade find him a draw? I know from experience

that many wine merchants who attend one of his masterclasses complain

afterwards how they knew far more on the topic than Mr Aske. So I suspect it’s

more down to the fact that he is a great

show pony. The PRs and event organisers do all the work and get Jerome to add

presentation sparkle. That makes more sense, I suppose. We’ve all sat through


where his talents are better suited.

Let’s have more case studies and panel wine merchants on the best ways of

selling particular wines. Let’s have more masterclasses run by people who really know their topic inside out. Let’s have

more focused sessions on food and wine pairings, so we can help our customers make better choices. Let’s have more blind-tasting sessions where we can

refresh and hone our tasting skills on wines from different regions.

If I’m going to take time out from my

business, I want it to be

valuable. And that doesn’t mean another

audience with Jerome Aske.

© Pierre brillot /

and this doesn’t fit with our brand and

Emotions run high at Horsham opening After working 11 years in the trade including stints at Selfridges, PLB and Les Grands Chais de France, Luke Smith has opened his own business in Horsham, West Sussex. “For the last five years it was my dream

to open my own business. I’ve spent

enough time planning it to give myself the best chance,” says Smith.

“We know the area really well and

Horsham was always the place I wanted to

open, simply because it is a town of 50,000 people and it to my memory it’s never had a proper wine and spirit merchants.

“I’m just thrilled I managed to get here

before anyone else.”

The Horsham Cellar is situated in a

prime retail location “in the middle of the market square”. The twice-weekly food

markets ensure plenty more footfall and Smith is keen to link in with the foodie activity.

The Victorian building, home for the past

25 years to Age UK, has been “brought back to life” by Smith and his wife, Jenny. They couple’s renovation work has revealed

some of the building’s original features, such as the floorboards and brickwork.

They have removed the suspended ceiling and created an inviting space for their customers to explore.

Next on the to-do list is the renovation

of the basement for use as a tasting and events room.

Just three weeks in and business is

looking good: the locals seem to have

welcomed the new arrival wholeheartedly. “I’ve had more customers interested

in the premium and quirky than I have in the under-£10 – hopefully that’s an encouraging sign,” says Smith.

“It’s hard to say but the average price

point has been floating around £15 a

The basement will be converted into a tasting room

bottle, which is great, and there are plenty of people who are not afraid of spending £25 to £30.”

Mid-October will see the arrival of a six-

Man in apron has non-hybrid idea

bottle Wine Emotion machine. Smith says:

If Rob Hoult at Hoults in Huddersfield

The range of 400 wines has been put

denim apron; has an idea,” but we will

“I wanted to get a strong relationship

There is plenty of space in the 3,000 sq

“People can’t wait for it to come – there has

had his way, then all we would be

together with the help of a few carefully

go a little further than that to disclose

with a handful of suppliers whose ranges I

ft premises to accommodate the changes,

been so much interest.”

reporting here is “odd bloke wears

selected suppliers.

future plans for a wine bar.

knew and loved and felt would be a really

which Hoult anticipates will come to

good fit for the business. So I’m working with ABS, Astrum, Les Caves de Pyrene, Fells and Hennings,” he says.

At the moment, now Jenny has returned

to her day job as an environmental

engineer, Smith is holding the fort but he

says he intends to recruit further down the line.

“Hopefully I’ll have one or two members

of staff within 12 to18 months, but my plan is always to be the face of The Horsham Cellar,” he says.


fruition early next year.

The shop and bar areas will be kept

separate, so although they will be on the

same premises, they will each have their own entrance. “If it’s not done like that,

then the bar will completely eat the shop,” Hoult explains.

Permission has been granted for change

of use for Hoult’s “non-hybrid, hybrid,” idea but he warns this is all only a “feasibility

study” at this stage and he may well change his mind.


tried & Tested Hartenberg The Stork Shiraz 2014

Astobiza Txakoli de Alava Blanco 2017

Spitfire pilot Ken Mackenzie, who revolutionised

Made with fruit sourced from 650m above sea level

vineyard Shiraz that honours him is beautifully

question. Its piercing green-apple notes and rustic

winemaking at Hartenberg from 1986, was nicknamed “The Stork” because of his long legs. The single-

mellow, with new French oak adding to the rich layers of dark cherries and plum flavours. RRP: £45

ABV: 14.5%

in Spain’s Basque country, this isn’t the kind of wine to slip down anyone’s throat without comment or

texture, and rich, fruity depth, make it a conversationstarter as well as an attractive table adornment. RRP: £17.29

ABV: 12.5%

Bancroft Wines (020 7232 5470)

Ehrmanns (020 3227 0700)

Succés La Cuca de Llum 2014

Château Combel-la-Serre Cahors au Cerisier 2015

The winemaking team at this aptly-named producer in Conca de Barberà, Catalonia, are in their 20s and

Had enough of Malbec, have we? Probably best not to

wine. It’s an appealing combination of grandad-shed

Julien Ilbert has crafted a warming, powerful, leathery,

already achieving great things with the region’s native Trepat grape, which is the only variety used in this

aromas, an almost frothy softness, deep red fruits and a cooling acidity. RRP: £13

ABV: 13%

make such rash statements without checking in on

how the variety is faring in its homeland. Winemaker plummy, herby wine that is balanced with modest

alcohol and fresh acidity. Ageworthy, but ready now. RRP: £27

ABV: 13%

Red Squirrel (020 3490 1210)

Uncharted Wines (07909 511064)

Floris Legere Atractylis 2013

Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2016

The nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air, and the bescarfed, behatted townsfolk are all demanding

Chile isn’t setting the pulse racing for everyone in

the ticket, bursting as it is with dark fruits and black

case in point: a polished, juicy Carmenère, with rich

the same thing with their condensing breath: meaty,

mouth-coating Syrah. This one, from Calatayud, is just pepper, but avoiding the perils of over-extraction and dial-it-up-to-11 gimmickry. RRP: £25

ABV: 14.5%

The Knotted Vine (07710 598340)

the wine trade right now but there are some things it continues to do very well, at modest prices. Here’s a

blackcurrant and violet aromas, a firm, smooth, fruity body and a lingering, savoury finish. RRP: £11.99

ABV: 13.5%

Ehrmanns (020 3227 0700)

Chateau Ksara Merwah 2017

Koerner Pigato Vermentino 2017

Merwah is definitely/probably/possibly a clone of

Semillon, depending on who you listen to, and seems

The Koerner brothers who run this Clare Valley

just as you’d expect it to: vital and invigorating, with

a jumping-in point as any. Theirs is a hands-off

to do well in Lebanon – often, admittedly, as a table grape or as the base for arak. Somehow this tastes

refreshing citrus characters but also some tropical depth and a textural minerality. RRP: £13.99

ABV: 12.5%

Hallgarten (01582 722538)

producer are doing fine things with Italian varieties and this peach-scented Vermentino is as good

winemaking style, with open-fermented fruit and no

fining or filtration. Fresh, but with a nice syrupy depth. RRP: £22.50

ABV: 12%

The Knotted Vine (07710 598340)



THINGS Laura Christie

Linden Stores, Oklava and Kyseri London Favourite wine on my list 2017 Lovamor, Valladolid. The wine is fermented using natural yeasts and spends around six days in contact with the skins during fermentation making it an orange wine; but it is so approachable and you don’t need to be a wine expert to appreciate its quirky style. It’s an absolutely knock ‘em dead wine that would make a brilliant gift or addition to a dinner party – a conversation piece in itself.

Chapel Down boss Frazer Thompson has unveiled plans to plant “the largest vineyard in England”. The producer is leasing 157 hectares

(388 acres) of land at Boarley and Abbey Farm in Boxley, on the North Downs in Kent.

It plans to plant vines on the site

between 2019 and 2021, taking its total vineyard area under long-term lease to nearly 319 hectares (788 acres).

Thompson added: ‘We believe this area

of the North Downs offers the finest terroir in England for sparkling varieties.” Decanter, September 6


Favourite wine trade person Sarah Abbott MW has been a real inspiration since I met her when setting up Oklava in 2015. She specialises in emerging regions (amongst other things) and has been such

Nyetimber releases £175 prestige wine Nyetimber has announced a new prestige cuvée under the name 1086 which will only be made in the best

vineyards, will be sold in Fortnum & Mason and Harrods, and some selected bars and

Favourite wine trip

close as it gets to drinking the wine of our

This is Money, September 27

from the best parcels of Nyetimber’s


grapes and minimal intervention, you are as

another 7p to the average bottle of wine.

The wines, produced from fruit picked

Braised Garlic, Hazelnut Yoghurt & Brown

you are drinking qvevri-method Georgian

in the Autumn Budget, which would add

and £175 respectively.

dishes from the menu: Veal Sweetbreads,

wines made with wild yeast and indigenous

The WSTA figures do not take into the

account a hefty 3.4% duty rise expected

a 2010 rosé, retailing for a suggested £150

wine on the list at Kyseri with one of our

seems to be imbedded in their DNA. When

from £5.40 before the referendum.

The first releases are a 2009 white and

Currently Vita Vinea 2016 Georgian qvevri

wine is not just part of their culture but

the UK is now at a record high of £5.68, up


Favourite wine and food match

Georgia. I was bowled over by how much


Chapel Down plans 388-acre vineyard

A Chapel Down vineyard in Tenterden


Decanter, September 26

Average wine price hits record £5.68

• Nicholas Faith, the eminent authority on Cognac, has died aged 84. Originally a business journalist for The Sunday Times

The average price of a bottle of wine has

and The Economist, he was the author of

risen by nearly 30p since the UK voted

23 books and also wrote extensively on

to leave the EU.

Bordeaux, Champagne and Australian

The average-priced bottle of wine sold in


an invaluable contact with Oklava and 01323 871836

Kyseri’s wine lists.

Favourite wine shop

Twitter: @WineMerchantMag

My partner Chris and I love Highbury

The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 897 specialist

Vintners just up the road and near to our flat.

independent wine shops. There were only 660 when we launched in 2012,

A great selection from everyday to special celebration wines, friendly staff and an exciting programme of events.

but we don’t claim credit for the increase. The magazine is edited by Graham Holter. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2018 Registered in England: No 6441762


VAT 943 8771 82

Bulgaria as you’ve never seen it before. Discover the Modern Wines of Bulgaria on 1st November at the Bulgarian embassy 186-188 Queen’s Gate, Kensington, London SW7 5HL 10.30 to 4.30pm

This trade and press tasting and masterclass will showcase a range of new wave producers, some of whom have never been seen in the UK before. A new generation of wineries is making waves with great quality and exciting wines, and worth a fresh look. There will be both international varieties with a Bulgarian interpretation, as well as the country’s native grapes: Mavrud, the Melnik family (broadleaved, 55, 1300), Rubin, Ruen and Misket. Caroline Gilby MW has spent most of her career in wine following the challenges faced and enormous progress in Bulgaria’s wine industry and has recently published her first book, The Wines of Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova. This tells the story of Bulgaria’s long wine history, challenges overcome and the stories behind where Bulgarian wine is today. Caroline compares this with Bulgaria’s neighbours to reveal why Eastern Europe is today’s hot topic in wine. Caroline will also lead a masterclass at 1.30pm with some of her favourite wines and will be available to sign copies of her book and answer questions. Pre-registration is essential. Email to reserve your place

or call 07925 818744 / 01452 835804.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2018 11

just williams

Yo, added sugar We all know that young people don’t drink wine because they don’t like the taste, and they don’t like rules. They prefer sweet things and rap and hangin’ with their homies. Or something. The point is, we’re all puzzled, and the launch of Château Jacked edges us no closer to a solution

troubling the wine business for some time now. But in

the past decade, the quest for an answer seems to have

jumped from “we really should do something about these baffling

young folk” to “quick, find me something, anything, to get them on board before it’s too late”.

The reasons for that are fairly straightforward: young people

are not drinking anything like the same amount as they used to –

indeed, more than a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds are now teetotal.

But when they do join the olds in a drink, they tend to want

something other than wine. Gin – sales of which exceeded £1.5 bn in the UK alone this year – or beer – which is still riding the crest of the craft wave – or cider, flavoured or otherwise.

One response to the youth challenge is best characterised as the

“Nozin’ Aroun’” solution. Named after the pastiche of shouty youth TV in 1980s comedy series The Young Ones, it involves the launch of a product that has been focus-grouped to within an inch of its

life, but ends up saying much more about what older people think

Some young people, complete with headphones, baseball cap and funny bracelet, all supplied by a photographer in his 50s


© Syda Productions /


ow to appeal to the youth? It’s a question that has been

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

young people like than it does about the reality of Millennial and

post-Millennial lives out there in the real world. All of which leads to results that are embarrassing to all involved.

In the case of wine, the Nozin’ Aroun’ solution generally seems

to translate into the use of poorly-understood street jargon, a label that riffs on graffiti, tattoo or comic book art, and a drink made

palatable with lavish doses of sugar. All of which are present and

correct in the latest desperate and undignified lunge for the youth vote, Château Jacked, a new range of fruit-infused wines from the usually reliable Concha y Toro.

Everything about this release is uncomfortably yoof. There’s

the grammar pedant-baiting strapline, “Less Rules, More Flavour”

because, I imagine, skool’s out and only squares use “fewer” these

days. There’s the ludicrous brand story, there in its full unglory on

the Tesco website: “Rules don’t go down well at Château Jacked. So

You haven’t really got new people liking wine in itself. You’ve just expanded the category of fruity alcoholic drinks

if you’re expecting flowery tasting notes and rigid serving regimes, you’ve come to the wrong bottle.” Yeah, daddy-o, away with your

rigid serving regimes (like, presumably, a glass?), let it all hang out and feel the giddy exhilaration of transgression as Jacked helps

you to “break away from wine convention” as you enjoy its mix of

move in the drinks market: a “rigid serving” of Cabernet Sauvignon

My problem with Château Jacked isn’t so much the excruciating

to me, is a kind of trick – sneaking a few wine sales by disguising

“premium natural flavours” (lychee) and Chilean rosé.

marketing nonsense, which is as annoyingly ingratiating in its

way as the jaunty zaniness of Virgin Trains’ toilet voice (“Do not flush your boyfriend’s sweater, goldfish, hopes and dreams” etc), and as far from its stated

or Rioja or a single-serve bottle of fruit cider? I know which one

my money’s on. All that’s really achieved in this scenario, it seems it as something different. You haven’t really got new people liking

wine in itself. You’ve just expanded the category of fruity alcoholic drinks.

And really, when it comes to marketing

to youth, I do wonder if wine companies

intention of being “cool” as the trendy teacher

sometimes forget what they were like when

introducing students to Shakespeare through

they were young. I certainly don’t remember

the medium of hip-hop. Neither do I think the brand will have too much trouble finding a

market: with distribution in 500 Tesco stores

being particularly receptive to products that were explicitly targeted at my age group:

already assured, the drink will no doubt find some takers – of all

outright disdain would have been a better description of my

wrong with the concept of mixing fruit flavours and wine.

passport into adulthood, maturity, and, embarrassing as it is to

ages – among those who find wine itself insufficiently fruity. And I’m certainly not arguing that there is something fundamentally But I somehow rather doubt it will achieve its stated aim of

bringing young people into the wine category proper. I mean,

if you were a young drinker attracted to Château Jacked by its

packaging and general air of noisy wackiness, and then actually

enjoyed its sweet fruitiness, what would be your more likely next

views on such offences against taste as WKD and Hooch. Wine, by contrast, and the more traditional the better, seemed like a

think of it now, sophistication. Are young people today really so

different? I’m not the right man to ask. But I’ll bet the equivalent of a fruit-infused wine brand’s launch budget that, like me when I were a lad, the one thing that really turns them off is being patronised.


A super support structure The technology keeps advancing and the installations continue at a rate of knots. But customer service is still the most important aspect of Enomatic’s business


he personal touch is often the first casualty of technological

advancement. Large companies

increasingly choose to siphon off

customer enquiries and complaints

through call centres, their “customer

service” box ticked by having faceless

operatives stripped of both autonomy and responsibility doing no more than logging a call.

Enomatic is a business at the forefront

of progress in the drinks industry; the

McGill says: “Our R&D department

worked to develop the 2.5 version of the

Elite model, incorporating improvements to the refrigeration system, changing the

touch-screen to be a glass panel much like

the size of the business and finding the sweet spot to ensure sales.”

She adds: “If you’re thinking of having

an Enomatic wine dispenser we would

discussion and recommendations from

around using them in the best way for your

from push buttons of the past, acting upon distributors and customers, and changed some internal components to further the

already-impressive longevity of the systems. “The modular Eno One dispenser was

most recently introduced to the market. The

of its clients. The company is proud of its

units can be connected together to create as

commitment to its customers, upheld by

depending upon the quantity of positions,

your smartphone, moving even further away

technological advancements of its systems continues apace, but not to the detriment

at six to 10 months in some instances – all

temperature-controlled two-bottle back bar

suggest developing the business plan

location and clientele demographic. The dispensers will work as a helpful tool to

eliminate wastage and boost profits in any

business. It’s just a matter of marketing the wines and the concept to the customers.

“Some of our best ambassadors are the

independents and our work in that sector

its in-house teams in the UK and Ireland. Commercial director Sally McGill says:

“We operate a service desk seven days a week and our technicians respond

quickly to answer any questions. We

never outsource our services, not even the transportation of the equipment.

“We complete our own installations,

working with our customers throughout

Enomatics take centre stage at Salut in Manchester

the process; reviewing plans and drawings, speaking with owners, contractors, IT

personnel, etc, and liaise throughout the

many bottle positions as you would like to

has been steady over the past nine years.

following up with staff after install and

environment, and remains an effective tool

the heart in the indie trade. We’re always

design and works process to installation, training to ensure smooth operation.” To date Enomatic has around 450

customers across the UK and Ireland and

on average there are 75 new installations

offer. It’s proven to be popular in the back bar for sampling and upselling for wine shops

and the off-trade. Its ‘plug and play’ design

and versatility means that they are also very popular for home and private cellars.”

each year.

Enomatic recognises that its customers

important part of the business as this

keen to make that outlay manageable by

Listening to customer feedback is an

allows the R&D department to remain ahead of the trends and evolve the products accordingly.

It’s where we started and we appreciate happy to work alongside them in their

business, and welcome them on board in ours.”

are making a significant investment and is offering finance options, the most popular

being the lease purchase terms. McGill says:

“The return on investment has been reported


Feature sponsored by Enomatic UK 01603 768046

retailer news

Git proves a hit in Cornwall A little bit of serendipity led to the creation of BinTwo’s first own-label wines, and owner Mike Boyne has used trademark self-deprecating humour in its branding, as Claire Harries discovers


eople-watching at Padstow’s

BinTwo must have been quite

entertaining of late. It’s pretty

common for customers to spot a particular bottle and do a double take. They pick it

up and examine the label more carefully. Who is that dapper chap sporting a gold

monocle? He looks faintly familiar. Could it be that beardy fellow behind the counter? The design of BinTwo’s own-label

Merlot, Jammy Git, manages to walk the

fine line between frivolity and elegance. The name is “a playful nod to the

serendipity that led us into ownership

of BinTwo nearly five years ago and the

general, all-round jamminess that we have

broadly enjoyed since”, according to owner Mike Boyne.

He admits he was “a little bit concerned

about whether there would be a mismatch between the quite playful branding and

the price point of the wine,” but has been pleasantly surprised that the bottles retailing at £22 are flying.

“People pick it up and ask about it and

nine times out of 10, once it’s in their /600 N




he describes it as a “happy



into own-label wine and




This is Boyne’s first foray



hands, it’s been a sale,” he says.

Jammy Git

coincidence,” the result of

his visit to Château Civrac,

run by a friend in Bordeaux,

Mike Boyne: “It’s characteristic mucking-about on our part”



THE BURNING QUESTION three years ago. “I tasted the wine he’d just

put into barrel and said, ‘I might have some

How important is social media for your business? We’re trying to keep costs down as the �business is new, so I’m trying to build up our

of that when it’s ready’,” he explains. “I bought the whole barrel in the end.”

social media strategies myself. I haven’t tapped into Twitter yet but Instagram has brought us a good local following and we advertise our wine and gin nights on it. We’ve got just over 1,200 followers since we opened [in May this year]. Facebook has really helped with events and getting feedback from customers. I post pretty much every day. I really enjoy it.

The Merlot is bottled in Bordeaux and

hand-labelled by Boyne, ably assisted by

his nine-year-old son, Harry. And although he admits the project was initially “a bit of a roll of the dice – a bit of fun,” he is

planning to expand the operation and

Thomas Johnson The Grape Variety, Chipstead

introduce a number of wines under the Jammy Git label.

“I don’t think we want to have too many

Jammy Gits at the same time in case they lose their impact – I think a handful of wines will be enough,” he says.

“The idea is that when they’re gone

they’re gone and we move onto the next

thing, which might sometimes be with the same winemaker or we might move onto something new.

“I’ve got a Côtes du Rhône in mind for

It’s a necessary, and unnecessary, evil. I try to �make our Instagram feed a little more lifestylefocused rather than just bottle pictures. Twitter used to be more of a conversation; it’s morphed into a bit of a shouting arena. One of the best responses I had was when I tweeted that I was camping with my kids, drinking a bottle of Pinot Noir and eating some Wotsits in a field in Yorkshire. It’s about humanising that platform.

Jefferson Boss Starmore Boss, Sheffield

next time. It’s a vineyard I visited last

autumn – I love what they’re doing and I’ve

I hate it. It’s massively time-consuming. We put �things on Instagram and Facebook and duplicate

also got a Spanish producer in mind.”

The label is also intended to act as a kind

it on Twitter. I can’t handle Twitter! I’d rather talk to customers – I think it’s rude to be on your phone on the shop floor. Stupid stuff gets a lot of engagement. We’ve had some explosions – I think it’s heat and over-carbonation – so we’re pretending we’ve got a shop ghost at the moment. The Goat’s Geist! That gets a lot of people interested.

of quality kite-mark for the business.

“Underneath the fun branding there is

the message that the wine comes with our personal endorsement and that we were

lucky enough to be there and discover it,” says Boyne. “It’s characteristic mucking-

about on our part but it’s meant to signal that this is a good ‘un.

“I don’t want to buy a mass-produced

wine and just stick a label on it. We have

to have an authentic connection with it, so we’ve been to the vineyard, spoken to the winemaker and love the wine.”

As the project expands, there will be

plenty of opportunity for designer Matt

Durston to play around with the Jammy Git concept and Boyne hopes that will include a caricature of his colleague, Kate Miller. “I’d be keen to give Kate some of the

glory,” he says. “It’s not just a massive egomaniac trip for me.”

Phoebe Weller Valhalla’s Goat, Glasgow We use Twitter and Instagram a fair amount. Facebook is �more of an afterthought. It’s relatively easy to stay on top of but that’s because we don’t do anything in a structured or scheduled way. We have had a handful of people who have come in having seen us post something that morning, like ‘last chance to get this wine by the glass’. It’s slightly better than traditional print media, but you still don’t get a lot back.

Duncan Findlater Smith & Gertrude, Edinburgh

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584 THE WINE MERCHANT OCTOBER 2018 17


That’s The Spirit! 100 of the World’s Greatest Spirits and Liqueurs to Drink with Style Jonathan Ray Quadrille £14.99


obody can ignore the meteoric

vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, niacin and

the past to memory, renders men joyous,

Armagnac are “effectively health drinks,”

modern-day viewpoint. Recent studies

dietary fibre”.

Ray joyfully reports that Cognac and

backed up an anecdote he ascribes to Bernard Hine, who “once adamantly

assured me that Cognac was good for one

because the alcohol doesn’t go straight into the blood stream as it does with an aperitif drunk on an empty stomach, and because it kills the fats from the meal and doesn’t make one sleepy.”

Some of the claims are amusingly

rise of gin and the steady growth

That’s The Spirit! is, then, a well-timed

etc,) for ease of reference. The Essential

Home Cocktail Kit section is a thoughtful

addition and the section of cocktail recipes

book contains plenty of juicy titbits and

Essential advice on how to shake your Dry Martini to waltz time

funny, Ray’s descriptions are one part

spurious: in the 1300s Cardinal Vital

quotes throughout adds to the pleasantly

restores the paralysed member by

spirits and maintains “there really is one for every occasion in life”. The Bloody

Mary, he contends, is “able to stand in for

any meal of the day … just think of all that

drinking responsibly, encouraging the

grouped into categories (ie whiskies, gins

Part of the pleasure of drinking is the

Undoubtedly, this is a man who loves

message is very much on the side of

of all 100 subjects, the drinks are further

“browsing and sluicing”.

hand, at one of his favoured haunts.

a welcome breath of fresh air. Yet the

As well as providing an alphabetised list

– the result of three decades’ worth of

lounging with the author, Martini glass in

the nation’s alcohol intake, the book is

foxtrot time or a Bronx to two-step time.

favourite” spirits, liqueurs and digestifs

which at times creates the sensation of

initiatives and grim warnings about

“shaken to waltz time”, or a Manhattan to

and welcome guide to Ray’s “100 absolute

gossipy and confidential tone of the book,

At a time of grumbling government

perfect Dry Martini as advised by Ray,


The liberal sprinkling of famous drinking

attacks and thrombosis.

or may not involve the preparation of the

quirky cocktails shows no sign at all of

travel guide, to two parts fun facts.

moderation”, aids in the prevention of heart

maximum enjoyment from it. This may

Gin, “our collective thirst for classic and

Erudite, self-deprecating and effortlessly

Armagnac, if “consumed regularly and in

respect alcohol and thereby extract the

The Spectator and co-founder of Brighton

light-hearted alcohol-related chit-chat.

from Bordeaux University suggest that

provenance of what they consume, to

According to Jonathan Ray, drinks editor of

and the stories you’re hearing, and Ray’s

But Ray also invites us to consider the

reader to understand the quality and

in sales of spirits in general.

enjoyment of the company you’re keeping

preserves youth and retards senility”.

Dufour declared that Armagnac “cures gout, cankers and fistula by ingestion,

massage and heals wounds of the skin by

application … it enlivens the spirit, recalls

gives readers a reason to keep the book close to hand.

In the midst of Stoptober and as Dry

January looms, That’s The Spirit! might

be enough to tempt the weaker-willed,

the hedonists and the forward planners

to delve right in and take the plunge with

something they’ve never tried before – or at least stock up the cocktail cabinet.

Claire Harries

‘The Bloody Mary is able to stand in for any meal of the day. Think of all that vitamin C, niacin, dietry fibre …’ THE WINE MERCHANT OCTOBER 2018 18

© dpreezg /

special report: cape wine 2018

Old vines make up just 3.4% of Cape winelands

Time for the old guard Instead of ripping its old vineyards out of the ground, South Africa is finally realising the role they can play in export markets as it tries to move its wines into premium price points


ld vines are a big deal in most wine-growing areas of

the globe. In South Africa, their importance is perhaps

being recognised only belatedly. The Cape has been losing

vineyards at an alarming rate for a decade or more, and there’s a sense that precious resources are being thrown away.

South Africa is desperately trying to accentuate its premium

credentials, and urgently needs to achieve more realistic prices in international markets, where many exporters feel their products

have been undervalued ever since the end of apartheid. Old vines cannot pull off that particular trick by themselves, but they are a trump card that producers would like to play more often.

The Old Vine Project was established by Andre Morgenthal two

years ago to promote vineyards that are at least 35 years old – and the wines they produce. It builds on the work of Rosa Kruger, a

viticulturist, who since 2002 has been painstakingly documenting South Africa’s oldest sites. Around 3,200 hectares of old vines – roughly half of them planted to Chenin Blanc – have been identified, representing just 3.4% of the Cape winelands.

Around 45 paying members have started packaging their old-

vine wines with a Certified Heritage Vineyards bottle-neck seal

and Morgenthal predicts that eventually 60 or so producers will be signed up.


Each seal declares the planting date of the vineyard and has a QR

code taking consumers to the producer’s website.

At Cape Wine in September there was a tangible buzz around

old-vine wines. It’s easy to to romanticise ancient vineyards, but making money out of gnarled, low-yielding vines is not always

straightforward or indeed possible, which is why in recent times

South Africa has ripped out 85% of its plantings aged 20 years or more.

Nobody is going to leave those vines in the ground simply for

the benefit of tourists or sentimental wine writers, especially in a country in which just 14% of wine growers make a profit worth

Old vines don’t automatically produce good wines, but vines normally get old because they were good to start off with

the name. The economic backdrop is depressing: South Africa has just entered recession, and unemployment is lumbering towards the barely-conceivable figure of 40%.

Marco Ventrella of KWV compares older vines to older humans:

they become more conservative with age and accumulate

more wealth and gravitas along the way, he suggests, and these characteristics carry through to the resulting wine.

The vines greedily horde carbohydrates in their deep anchor

roots and deploy this stored energy to trigger bud burst in spring. Photosynthesis then kicks in, but the vine’s leaves are smaller

than they were in youth, and yields much lower. The vine races

to ripen its meagre collection of berries before going to sleep for the winter, typically earlier than any nearby youngsters. A neat

bonus, particularly for a country experiencing water shortages and gearing up for profound climate change, is that old vines tend to be better equipped to handle heat waves and drought.

Crucially, old vines have to deliver in the glass. But deliver

what, exactly? It’s hard to generalise, but admirers often talk of

a gentleness on the palate, as well as a hallmark complexity: no flare-ups on the front or finish, but instead a slow, consistent

release of flavour. Aromatics are dialled down. The taste can still be intense, but the best examples are unshowy and unreliant on winemaking gimmickry.

Old vines do not automatically produce good wines, and

Morgenthal and Ventrella certainly aren’t making that claim. Some vineyards have been starved of investment or badly farmed and

might be better off replanted, perhaps with other (more lucrative) crops. But Ventrella argues that old vines “normally get old because they were good to start off with”.

Most in South Africa’s wine industry appear to applaud the

current focus on old vines, even if they don’t actively participate in the initiative. But Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines in

Stellenbosch, who specialises in Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, is concerned about some of the messages being sent out.

Most of Raats’ recent wines which have picked up the biggest

awards have come from six-year-old vines. He talks about

achieving “quality by design” and sees no point in persevering

with unproductive old sites where historically soil management may have been poor. “I don’t want to go sideways,” he shrugs. “I want to go forwards.”

But the Old Vine Project team insist they are not merely

fetishising what South Africa already has in its treasury. They also have a role in influencing the way growers plan new vineyards, and encouraging what Kruger describes as “better, smarter

viticulture” so that more Cape vineyards can reach their dotage. Morgenthal takes up the point. “Planting to grow old is

important,” he says. “This is also about looking at the younger

vineyards – and having a vision for them to grow old elegantly.”

Three old-vine superstars Sadie Family Wines Skurfberg 2017 An old dryland vineyard in Olifants River provides the fruit for this rich and intense Chenin Blanc. UK importer: FMV Naudé Wines Old Vine Cinsaut 2015 Thirty-seven-year-old vines from a farm near Darling create a pure, gentle and slightly grainy wine with red berry characters. UK importer: Dreyfus Ashby KWV The Mentors Chenin Blanc 2017 Classic Chenin with creamy, textured depth as well as apple and lime flavours, derived from old vines in Paarl. UK importer: North South Wines


special report: cape wine 2018

Back in the saddle: Fairview owner is naturally upbeat


harles Back was on fine form entertaining international guests at his Fairview estate in Paarl, having survived a

brutal attack in February in which six intruders at his home

beat him with a crowbar and left him for dead.

The 62-year-old needed 60 staples in his skull and suffered

broken ribs and a damaged eye socket. He has ongoing issues with his vision and hearing, but plays down his injuries.

Inevitably there have been suggestions of a racial dimension to

the incident. The ANC government has sent shivers throughout the wine growing community with its newly-adopted policy

of nationalising selected farms without paying market value –

“expropriation without compensation” – to give black people a

bigger share of the country’s wealth. There has also been a spate of attacks on white farmers to add to the sense of unease.

Back is quick to shut down talk of heightened racial tension and

Cape wine growers are leaving the industry, WOSA boss admits

Gous spells out South Africa’s profitability problem There were few punches pulled by Carina Gous, Wines of South Africa’s non-executive chair, in her opening address.

dismisses his assailants as “common thugs” rather than politically-

“Profitability remains a huge problem for us,” she said.

target for activists: Fairview has a strong track record in ethical

profitable areas to work in than grapes.”

motivated goons, and insists the attack has changed neither

“We’ve seen almost a quarter of our primary grape producers

his worldview nor his love of his country. He makes an unlikely

leaving the industry in the last 10 years. There are far more

ownership of the business to its workers when he retires.

but prices per litre on the world stage are among the lowest of any

and empowerment projects, and Back’s plan is to hand over the Fairview was the first

winery to bring Viognier

to South Africa and Back’s restlessness in the cellar

has now led him to natural wines. Grenache grapes

have been barrelled and

producing country. “This is the biggest challenge that we face in terms of the sustainability of our industry,” said Gous.

Cape producers intrigued by Italian varieties

effectively left to their

Italian varieties aren’t quite making the same splash in the

this work in progress,

“We are at the start of something that has legs,” says Roberto

own devices: visitors

Cape as they are in Australia, but there’s a smattering of

responding with mostly

Bottega of Idiom Wines, whose father arrived in South Africa from

philosophical about how

largely to Pinot Grigio, with Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo

were allowed to sample

plantings producing balanced, characterful wines.

favourable reviews.

Friuli after World War II.

Back himself is

big a leap this actually represents. “There’s absolutely nothing new in wine,” he says. “We just seem to forget about things sometimes and they just get recycled.”

South African wine exports have settled at 52% of production

Italian varieties account for little over 1% of plantings, thanks

leading the charge for the reds. Primitivo is also achieving good results. Idiom’s own offering is an excellent example, with its

herbaceous notes moderating the explosive power of the fruit.


Pinotage plus what? Getting to grips with the Cape Blend Cape Blends continue to confuse and delight. The style requires, by convention, a Pinotage component of between 30% and 70%, and producers are free to use whatever else they like to make up the rest of the blend. Generalising about the style is therefore pretty much impossible. Beaumont Family Wines in Bot River uses 44% Mourvedre in

its Vitruvian 2014, along with Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, in addition to the obligatory Pinotage. The flavour is surprisingly balanced and nothing like as full-on as Frans Malan 2015 from Simonsig, which has a 29% Cabernet component.

Rijk’s Pinotage-Syrah 2014 has an appealing sweetness to the

palate while Môreson Pi Not Age is made with old-vine Cinsault and has a lighter, earthier quality.

The broad spectrum of styles is either a help or a hindrance

in marketing, depending on your standpoint, but from a UK

perspective the wines arguably hold more appeal than the stillmaligned straight Pinotage.

Stellenbosch Cabernet ‘better suited to Asia than the UK’ Simon Tam (below), Christie’s head of wine in China, put the cat among the pigeons with his criticism of the pricesqueezing UK market. Speaking at an event focused on Stellenbosch Cabernet

Sauvignon, Tam urged producers to concentrate on export

destinations “where people want your products and are prepared to pay for them”, adding that “the time has to come when quality is recognised and rewarded”.

Alheit La Colline Vineyards 2016 Chris and Suzaan Alheit (above) are attracting the sort of global following that Adi Badenhorst and Eben Sadie might recognise, working their magic on old vineyards that they discover. La Colline is a Semillon-based massal selection from vines planted in Franschhoek in 1936, spontaneously fermented in barrels. The wine is zesty but restrained, with a gentle earthy character. UK importer: Dreyfus Ashby Mother Rock Force Majeure Chenin Blanc 2017 A silky, pure, single-vineyard Swartland Chenin, bottled unfiltered after nine months of ageing in old oak. The grapes are produced organically on the Paardeberg Mountain in the Western Cape, mainly from dry-farmed bush vines. UK importer: Indigo Wine David & Nadia Chenin Blanc 2017 This acclaimed young producer is regarded as one of Swartland’s gems. The fruit is sourced from seven old vineyards dotted around the region, creating a minimal-intervention wine with amazing yellow-fruit purity and a lovely texture. UK importer: Justerini & Brooks Bosman Optenhorst 2016 The Bosman family nearly ripped out the third-oldest Chenin vineyard in South Africa and are now glad they didn’t. Optenhorst is made using concrete eggs and has old-vine depth and great length. UK importer: WoodWinters

Tam believes that

Stellenbosch Cabernet

deserves to be mentioned in

the same breath as Bordeaux, Napa and Coonawarra,

particularly since the breakthrough

2015 vintage. Producers need to “up

their game” and focus on Asian markets rather than the UK, where he seems to believe Chenin Blanc is routinely sold for £3.50 a litre in supermarkets. “Are they the right market for your top-quality deluxe cuvée?”, he questioned.

Four Chenins and a Semillon: highlights from the 2018 show

Silwervis Terracura Smiley Chenin Blanc NV A Jura-style Chenin from Swartland, with a proportion produced under flor. A pungent, rich and juicy wine, blended from a range of vintages, that sometimes seems to resemble undiluted orange squash but also displays an earthy quality. UK importer: Carte Blanche Wines


© Mingis /

wine merchant reader offer

Join us in Australia We’re taking a group of independents to McLaren Vale and Tasmania in February for two weeks of wine, food and culture. Want to be part of it? Here’s how …


eave the UK winter behind and spend some time in McLaren Vale and Tasmania next February. Visit wineries, taste new

wines, take part in masterclasses and enjoy great Australian

hospitality. Get to know the people, discover something new and get a sense of place.

Our trip departs from London or an airport nearer to you if

available and easier. We meet up in

Adelaide late on February 3. The next

day will be free to catch up on sleep if needed and enjoy this lovely city and meet up for dinner.

We start the itinerary with a

briefing on Australian wine: its

regions, exports, new developments

• Visits to boutique family-owned wineries such as Battle of Bosworth, Hedonist, and Geoff Merrill • A visit to Port Willunga Beach

• A regional overview/introduction at Jackson Hill Lookout

• Lunches and dinners featuring a range of regional produce and wines

• A visit to the fabulous d’Arenberg Cube restaurant (pictured left) • A Shiraz masterclass

• A Mediterranean varieties tasting • A Grenache tasting

• A visit to Wirra Wirra

Then, after a free day to catch up and explore Melbourne, it’s on to Tasmania where Wines of Tasmania is organising a trip

and more. After this we head off to McLaren Vale for three nights

taking in the north and south of the island, including:

The McLaren Vale visit includes the following:

• Visits to some of the key wine producers

to enjoy tastings, winery visits and meet the winemakers.

• Structured tastings of Tasmanian sparkling wine • Structured tastings of Tasmanian Pinot Noir



Tasmanian sparkling wines and Pinot Noir will be a highlight of the trip





• Meals with the wine producers, focusing on Tasmanian produce, and interaction with a food producer or two

• Time at MONA, the amazing modern art gallery with the fabulous Moorrilla Estate wines

• There will also be an opportunity to get on to the water,

perhaps by ferry up to MONA, along the Tamar River or another cruise option.






All of this for a cost of approximately £1,799 for the two weeks. This covers all flights and accommodation, plus lunches and

dinners in the winemaking regions (you can make your own arrangements on free days).

Please register your interest with Hazel Murphy AM to ensure we send you a more

detailed itinerary and confirm costs. You can extend the trip

after February 15 at your own expense by discussing with Andy

our travel guru. If you like you can come back via another city or spend a few days elsewhere. It’s all possible!

buy or sell your wines at


Tel : (+44) 1738 245 576

wine merchant visit to nyetimber

The estate dates back to 1068 and was once held by Anne of Cleves

The home of English sparkling A small group of independents was invited to England’s premier wine producer’s Sussex estate, not just to taste the wines but to get some mud on their boots too


he narrow, shady lanes around West Chiltington encapsulate

the England that foreign visitors

frequently have in mind. Thatched

cottages; sleepy meadows; horses clip-

clopping along the road. And, you never

know: maybe a world-class wine estate. This is home to Nyetimber, whose

pioneering work 30 years ago has put

it at the vanguard of English sparkling

wine production. It was the first winery in England to focus all its efforts on the

Champagne varieties – Pinot Noir, Pinot

vineyard, planted with Chardonnay vines

which are currently producing viable

distant South Downs and with poor, well-

Meunier and Chardonnay. Its vineyard

holdings now stand at 260ha, 170ha of grapes. The rest will enter production when they get to four years old.

We visited in late September, when

some grapes had already been harvested.

Just as in Champagne, which has so much geological resemblance to Sussex, the vintage was the earliest on record.

Our tour began at the original Manor


that date from 1988. It’s a sunny, exposed site, sheltered from the elements by the drained greensand soil that forces the

vines to seek out nutrients and water from deep below.

Naturally, nobody can resist tasting a few

berries. The Chardonnay is bursting with

zesty fruit flavours; the Pinot Noir is sweet and succulent on the tongue, as is the

thicker-skinned Meunier in the lower (and

cooler) Barn Field. It’s an intense variety

that Nyetimber uses judiciously, conscious of its ability to upset the balance of its finely-tuned Classic Cuvee.

We drive across the estate to the

gleaming pressing centre, which first saw service in 2017 and has a calm-beforethe-storm air about it. Cherie Spriggs

and Brad Greatrix, the husband-and-wife

winemaking team who joined in 2007, are busy checking that all the equipment is

spotlessly clean and ready to receive fruit from Nyetimber’s holdings in Kent and Hampshire as well as its native Sussex. Spriggs was recently named IWC

Sparkling Winemaker of the Year – the first

time anyone outside Champagne, or indeed a woman, has won the accolade.

The harvest is done by hand, parcel by

parcel, with the juice entering 90 different fermentation tanks.

Hopes are high for a bumper vintage.

Nobody wants to see a rerun of 2012,

a summer so mediocre that Nyetimber

left the fruit to wither on the vine. It was a bold decision, but made secure in the knowledge that 15% of the wine from

every year is always kept back as reserve. It’s an insurance policy of sorts, and one that means that Nyetimber never has to compromise on quality.

Our guests, pictured from left to right, are Toby Hope and James Betts of Hope Wines in Lincoln; Phil Innes of Loki in Birmingham; Alison Dowse and John Mitchell of Mitchells in Sheffield; and

The Nyetimber wines we tried Classic Cuvee Multi Vintage Nyetimber’s most famous wine was originally from a single vintage but now owes its consistency to blending from a number of years: our example contains wines dating from 2008 to 2014. It always spends at least three years on its lees, to help bring out the autolytic characters that Spriggs is looking for, and to integrate the acidity. It’s a complex wine with aromas of honey and pastry and for John Mitchell’s money, the pick of the bunch. “Quite a versatile wine,” added Greg Shaw of SH Jones.

Blanc de Blancs 2010 Nyetimber imposes its own rules for how long its wines age and this 100% Chardonnay spends five years on its lees. A portion sees new oak and a small percentage is fermented in Burgundy barrels. It’s a wine that has a definite Chardonnay character – Greg Shaw found some echoes of Chablis. For Phil Innes it was “the stand-out wine for price and quality … it developed very lovely toasty notes after a bit of time in the glass,” he said. “A really serious wine.”

Tillington Single Vineyard 2013 There’s a parcel of vines in one of Nyetimber’s Sussex vineyards that produces particularly ripe and intense Pinot Noir – to this date nobody is quite sure how or why. The decision was taken to vinify it separately rather than lose it in the blend, along with a 20% Chardonnay component from the same vineyard. The result is a wine with elegance and richness – and which now attracts a devoted following.

Rosé Multi Vintage Cherie Spriggs fell in love with Pinot Noir in Oregon and was keen to produce a sparkling rosé that derives its main characteristics from the variety. Pinot accounts for just over half the blend in this “sunset-pink” wine but it feels like more: there is a dominant red-fruit character, and an elegant, silky finish. The verdict of Toby Hope: “It’s beautiful – stunning.”

Greg Shaw of SH Jones, Banbury.

Demi-Sec Multi Vintage Nyetimber was the first winery in England to make sparkling demi-sec wine and it stems from a simple desire to have something to serve with dessert. The residual sugar is 38g/l but it’s moderated nicely by the acidity, making the wine a good partner for desserts such as panna cotta or meringues, but also savoury courses such as liver or even spicy dishes like Thai curries.


wine merchant brexit survey

The hopes and fears of the wine merchants who will sink or swim as Brexit becomes a reality

Steve Hodden Artisvin, Eastbourne Voted Remain; now favours leaving but staying within a single market. Concerns: “Recession. A slowdown in

With 70% of the trade still wanting to stay in the EU, our survey responses are dominated by warnings of price rises, supply disruption and a weakening economy

luxury goods would hit us pretty hard and unstable currency would lead to inflated prices, thus harming consumer confidence.” Opportunities: “It could weed out weaker and larger competition. I think that some of the larger wholesalers could be at serious

Chris Piper, Christopher Piper Wines, Ottery St Mary Voted Remain; still favours EU membership. Concerns: “That the UK economy will flounder at best and go into paralysis at worst. Customs barriers and slowdowns will make our lives a misery. The pound’s ongoing weakness will put pressure on pricing.” Opportunities: “Absolutely none.”


Oliver Gauntlett, Eynsham Cellars,oxfordshire

Carlos Blanco Blanco & Gomez, London

Anthony Borges, Great Horkesley Wine Centre

Voted Remain; still favours EU membership.

Voted Remain; still favours EU membership.

Voted Leave and still favours Brexit.

Concerns: “Major delays importing wines;

Concerns: “Logistics costs will increase;

Concerns: “That Brexit will not happen and

price increases as a result of any tariffs on

tariffs might be put in place. Duties and

either we remain in the EU or leave in name

imported goods, and a likely further drop

taxes will increase as the government

only, as some sort of vassal state.”

in the value of the pound. I also worry

will need more money. The weakness of

that there will be lots of redundancies and

sterling, so the economy will be weaker.”

companies going out of business.”

Opportunities: “The opportunities for business will come when the economy turns

Opportunities: “In the long term, 20 to 30

for the better, which will happen if and

Opportunities: “Hard to see positives,

years, we might or not might see a better

when the collective has a positive attitude

though small businesses like ours could be

business relationship with countries outside

of mind. Please God an end to Project Fear.

quicker to adapt to the harsh conditions.”

the EU.”

It’s so, so bad for business.”


Chris Connolly Connolly’s, Birmingham

David Perry Shaftesbury Wines, Dorset

SAM and CHARLOTTE BROWN Vino Vero, Leigh-on-Sea

Voted Remain; still favours EU membership.

Voted Remain; still favours EU membership.

Voted Remain; still favour EU membership.

Concerns: “New tariffs, further falls

Concerns: “Weak pound. Higher costs.

Concerns: “A drop in the exchange rate.

in sterling, significant delays in arrival

Economic uncertainty leading to consumer

More difficult importing arrangements.

of shipments resulting in increased

reluctance to spend.”

Potentially higher taxes and import tariffs.

stockholding and demurrage charges. The

Customers having less disposable income/

hospitality industry will be badly hit as the

Opportunities: “Scrapping of personal

being made redundant. A longer-term

economy falls into recession.”

imports. Probably won’t make a lot of

plan was to have a project making wine

difference in the till but at least people

abroad, so we’re now concerned about

Opportunities: “I’m sure the fledgling

won’t keep telling me how much cheap

visa problems in France, Spain or Italy.”

unicorn racing industry will provide all

wine they brought back.”

manner of opportunities.”

Opportunities: “None.”

Chris Hill Latitude Wine, Leeds

Jim Dawson, The Jolly Vintner TOO, Bournemouth

Andrew Lundy Vino, EDINBURGH

Voted Remain; still favours EU membership.

Voted Remain; still favours EU membership.

Voted Remain; still favours EU membership.

Concerns: “Inflation and our supply of

Concerns: “Since the referendum over

Concerns: “The way we will be viewed

stock. Either our customers will tighten their

two years ago I have seen a decline in my

by our European friends. Anyone with a

belts further, or we could face problems

trade. The price rises due to currency issues

British accent is going to struggle to get the

because of supply disruption. Neither is

have hit badly. The ongoing poor political

best deal. Tailbacks and shipping are a

easy to manage and both simultaneously

situation does not help.”

concern. Economic damage from the whole

could drag my business under.”

process will take a generation to repair.” Opportunities: “The only opportunity I see

Opportunities: “I suppose we can sell

is after March 2019: people may start to

Opportunities: “Certain online merchants

more gin produced in this country, but even

spend again as the unstable situation may

will be unable to trade with a tax-free wine

then the ingredients have to cross borders.”

have been resolved.”



merchant profile: loki

Minnie-Mae Stott and Orson Warr, July 2018

Phil Innes, Birmingham, July 2018

Arcade games Loki has come a long way in a short space of time, starting out in a lonely Birmingham shopping gallery six years ago. Now it takes its place in the premier league of independent wine merchants, with a second shop in Edgbaston recently giving the business a new dimension


hil Innes remembers his formative wine trade years with a

grim chuckle. He managed branches of Threshers, Bottoms Up and Wine Rack in various locations around the UK

before a stint at Oddbins. “It really taught me how not to run a wine shop,” he says.

Even at Oddbins? The company where so many of today’s indies

cut their teeth?

“I was there right at the end, so it wasn’t great,” he says. “What

both of them taught me was, don’t rely on deep discounting.

“We don’t have any offers on anything. The idea is to give a

good price for the customer – once you start relying on slashing

prices you devalue the product. We offer a personal service with people who really know what they’re talking about, giving good

advice. You can’t get that online or in a supermarket, so why try to compete on price on that?”

Innes established Loki in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade


in 2012 and wanted Enomatics to be central to the offer from

the outset. They provide a focal point at the original shop, both downstairs and in the first-floor wine lounge, and are also a

foundation of the larger branch in Edgbaston, which opened in February and sets the blueprint for further openings.

The Great Western Arcade branch has also seen development,

extending into a neighbouring unit originally occupied by a branch of The Whisky Shop.

A proud Brummie, Innes is excited by the way England’s second

city has rejuvenated itself in recent times and is happy to be part of the action.

“Birmingham has changed so much; it’s become a lot more

vibrant,” he says.

“I feel really positive about Birmingham. When I went to

Manchester for university in 2004, I thought there was no chance at all that I’d be here now because there was nothing going on in the city. But now there is so much amazing stuff going on.”

When you opened this place, did you have investors behind you? No, it’s 100% mine. I set up a data business in university and sold that for enough money to launch this. I’m in a really nice position

‘We don’t have any offers. Once you start slashing prices you devalue the product’ You abandoned plans to open in Moseley. What happened? We had a problem with the landlord – there were some works

that they reneged on and we also had some problems in terms

of planning. Due to anti-social behaviour and too many drinking

premises, you have to prove to the authorities that you should be granted a licence.

Things proved to be too complicated and Edgbaston came online

quicker than we thought, so it was a simple decision – do we want to open two at the same time? No. Which one is more likely to open fastest? Edgbaston, certainly. So we ditched Moseley.

Continues page 32

in that my second store is entirely self-funded through this first one, and the first one was 100% self-funded. There is no one I

need to keep happy apart from myself and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Business is one of those things where you get relationship

breakdowns – and I only have myself to fall out with!

Birmingham has really boomed in the last six years and when

I moved into this arcade I had a choice of 75% of the units – they had 75% vacancy rate. Rents are high, we are in a city-centre

location, but the customer hadn’t quite caught up with it. The

arcade is almost 100% full now. It was built by the Great Western Railway Company.

When The Whisky Shop moved out of next door, did you have to think about acquiring the unit for more than a couple of seconds? The landlord wanted us to take the unit because we are one of the anchor tenants of the arcade and they came up with a deal. There was a bit of negotiation but we got there in the end.

You can see how important spirits have become. When we

started off just two shelves held spirits and now we’ve got a

whole array. We didn’t really have Champagnes on display, which was a real shame just because we didn’t have the space. So

we’ve increased our sparkling wine and Champagne range quite significantly by moving in here.


Food is a key ingredient for Loki at both branches

merchant profile: loki

Loki has helped reinvigorate Great Western Arcade

The original city centre store

We are an hour and 20 minutes from London. Hallgarten have

From page 31

done a Midlands tasting for two years in a row now. We get little

How much wholesaling do you do? I do a bit for my mates, but I don’t really want to get involved with it – I want to focus on the consumer and selling to customers rather than businesses. You get the money up front with

customers whereas with restaurants and bars you hear horror

stories all the time about people not being paid for ages and ages. A lot of the wholesaling is already sealed up either by Chris

bits and pieces but not very much. It’s a real shame. I think there are not enough independents at the moment in Birmingham so there’s less incentive for people to turn up to these things.

We do loads of tastings now – no one else in Birmingham does

this amount of wine and spirit tastings. If you look at the price

points on them, these are not cheap tastings. Our standard is £35 a ticket. Here the capacity is 32, and Edgbaston is 36. We sell out pretty much all the time.

‘I don’t really want to get involved with wholesaling. You hear horror stories all the time’ [Connolly, of nearby Connolly’s] – back in the day it used to be him

What do you think will be the next big thing in the wine

people like that who are hitting on-trade even more than off-

I just don’t see it happening. One thing I’ve already seen a trend

and Churchills and they sold to everyone in this area. Now there’s



towards – it’s not a single category – is Italian whites. In particular

a lot of pressure from Matthew Clark, Hallgarten and Enotria and

People have been saying German Riesling for about 10 years now.

How much happens in Birmingham in terms of visiting wine

whites around Campania, so Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, Fiano …

trade and tastings?

these are generating a lot of excitement with customers. Will they create as much excitement as Pinot Grigio? I don’t think so.


Outside the Edgbaston store, which has around 100 covers

I genuinely don’t know. Portugal is ripe for it. I would be very

surprised if we didn’t see Portuguese wine really jumping up in

volume in the UK over the next few years because they have the

capacity – you can’t get the really low prices but if you look at the trends recently, Malbec and New Zealand Sauvignon are not low-

ticket values. Which means there is an appetite for something a bit more premium.

Do you enter wine awards? I’m doing IWC and maybe Decanter. You can spend so long doing

The city centre store has Enomatics upstairs and down

interesting to see.

I’ll always love Ruth at Corks Out, and how she has managed

to change the business model so many times and still make it

successful is obviously something I can learn a lot from. I’ve been

doing this for six years, she’s been doing it for years and to keep a business relevant over that time I think is really important.

I love Le Vignoble as well – I think what Yannick [Loué] is doing

is great and he is a really nice guy as well.

How have you tried to make the Edgbaston store different

it and filling in applications for these awards and I don’t feel I

from the one in the city centre?

entered our category every year … would we have won it?

interesting things.

necessarily need them. If the same people enter and win it every year it makes it a bit dull and boring for everyone. If Berry Bros I think when you’re starting up it gives validation – I do think

that’s important. But at the same time, it’s a lot of effort to do them and it’s very expensive.

Do you get much chance to go out and see other independents around the country? Every single time I go to a new place I always visit a different new indie because I’m first and foremost really enthusiastic about

wine and I love to see new stores. I like to see how other people

sell wine. Quite a lot of the time it won’t fit my ethos but it’s still

We are trying to keep it a bit more focused than in Great Western Arcade but really trying to have a strong range with some

We are still trying to work out what works for us and what

doesn’t work. Because the clientele in Edgbaston is what you

would genuinely describe as old money so there’s Rioja, a tiny bit of southern French stuff … it’s a bit more traditional.

We’ve got a few natural wines – that is an area that is still

popular here. The university is based just five minutes away.

We’ve got a big focus on spirits and we’re going to extend the

range here. I always think about wine first and then I think I


Continues page 34

merchant profile: loki This is a great room for tasting because you can close the doors.

From page 33

should probably have thought about the spirits. We do a lot of Champagne here.

If you include inside and outside there must be 100 covers here,

so obviously it has that extra potential. This is my new model, basically – this is what any future stores could be.

When you took this place on, how did it affect your buying? Initially I started buying more of the same but now we’re starting to do other things. We’ve got beer on draught but hopefully when

you walk in here you still see the focus is wine. Craft beer is really popular at the moment.

We can comfortably fit 36 in here.

What’s the ratio here between on-premise drinking and takehome sales? I’d like it to get to more 60-40, so off 60% and on 40%. I went into this business to sell wine at retail, not to own a wine bar.

I love the drinking-in aspect, but I think you can go too far

towards the bar side and then it ends up being slightly detrimental

to the retail side. At the end of the day I want people to buy wine to take home and enjoy as well as enjoy here.

Is your roster of suppliers constantly changing? I’ve got a steady group and I’m trying not to take on any more. Then something comes along that you really want.

I’ve got a core that I get on really well with and they’ve been

really good to me. Hallgarten have been fantastic, a really great

support mechanism. They’ve got a huge portfolio and some really interesting stuff. Enotria have been very good and given a lot of support and have got some great products.

Carte Blanche and Indigo give us some really interesting things

that are a little bit different. I love Red Squirrel – what they are

doing and their ethos. People like Fells and ABS are really steady and have really great products.

The Vindependents have some really good products –

Burgundies are good, Chianti … there’s lots of little things we

bring in. We get together every couple of months. I recently went

to Rioja with them. There’s a good network of people and we can share ideas.

Would you consider going beyond the heartland of Birmingham?

‘I’m 32. At the moment selling is not a consideration. I love what I do, I love Loki. Why would I want to sell it?’

I could do. I want to do a couple more in the West Midlands. Lots of people say I should open in London, but I have no desire to open in London. They think it’s a magical place – there’s lots of footfall and lots of people with money but I prefer it out in the regions. What kind of margin do you to try to achieve?

The bar margins are 60%-70%. Our [retail] margins are 35%

minimum – I don’t see the point in going any lower than that. What’s your turnover for the whole business?

Loki Great Western Arcade – if you include the Enomatic sales,

which we actually split off in our accounting – is £1.5m. Edgbaston

is trading currently at about three quarters of a million. Edgbaston has the potential to be higher just because of the space and the ability to accommodate more people.


© Kris Kuzniar / © goir /

Innes did not think he’d return to his native Birmingham – but “there is so much amazing stuff going on”

You’re young – have you got an end game in sight? You’ve already sold one business and created another one. Might you do that again? I’m 32. At the moment it’s not a consideration. I love what I do, I love Loki. Why would I want to sell it?

The wine trade affords you, maybe not the riches, but a lifestyle

that is substantially different to other professions. In how many

dinner party”, that is what gives me the real pleasure.

You can fall into that trap and make it all about spreadsheets

and the business – but you know what, I think you still need to do the things that make it fun. What’s the point? if it was just about spreadsheets and numbers, I might as well be a banker.

other professions do you get to travel to some of the most

beautiful places in the world? One of the biggest enjoyments in life is wine and food and that’s what the wine trade is about.

You can make money and there is definitely money to be made

but if you think you’re going to be a millionaire, that’s not going to happen.

Are you still involved in the business in a customer-facing way? I try to do two days here [in Edgbaston] and two days at Western Arcade – I have my laptop and mobile.

I hope the time never comes that I’m just sat on a laptop at

home. The reason I set this up is because I love the customer-

facing role. I love talking through the wine with them and if they

come back and say, “that was a fantastic choice, it really made my

The Edgbaston interior provides a blueprint for future stores


cheese roadshow

your bite-sized guide to cheese success Lizzy Parrott of Fine Wine Partners has been meeting dozens of independents as part of a roadshow to help maximise cheese sales – and gain a deeper appreciation of the trade’s favourite food. So how is cheese made, and what makes a perfect cheese board?


heese may be going through a

golden era in the UK – we now make more varieties here than the French.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that

customers are familiar with every style and every name.

One of the most common ways of

choosing cheese is by milk type – cow, sheep, goat or buffalo. Beyond that,

consumers may well make their selection by country of origin, or according to

whether the cheese is pasteurised or unpasteurised.

Understanding the differences between

the milk types and their different flavour

profiles is of paramount importance, and

from experience most questions asked by

customers relate to milk! It’s important not to overlook the milk component in cheese, as certain cheeses may not be suitable

for people with intolerances and allergies

Guests at our cheese roadshow in Winchester, hosted by Wine Utopia

whereas others can be enjoyed without

to understand shelf life to guide their

milk from whichever animal the cheese

culture, rennet and salt. The starter


The basic ingredient of cheese is

maker favours. It may be skimmed or

unskimmed, or have additional cream or natural flavouring added. The milk may

or may not have been pasteurised and the impact of pasteurisation on both flavour and shelf life needs to be understood.

Customers may need help to understand

how it affects flavour and the retailer needs


The other ingredients are a starter

culture is added to the milk to turn it sour, converting lactose into lactic acid. Rennet is added to coagulate the liquid, creating

curds and whey. Keeping the temperature

high will create hard cheeses, while cooler

conditions promote softer styles. The curds are separated out, and salt is added to

them. This is partly for flavouring, but also


to help preserve the cheese and regulate acidity. The curds are then placed into moulds and pressed before ripening.

Traditional rennet is derived from the

stomachs of calves making it unsuitable for vegetarians. However, non animal-

based rennet can be used and although

this sometimes seems to affect the flavour, many would say there are some excellent vegetarian cheeses on the market. Of

course, some vegetarians and all vegans avoid any dairy-based product.

in association with


© Deno /

Why less can be more with cheese boards t’s easy to go overboard with a cheese board selection, but a less-is-more

approach is usually more sensible, for

two reasons.

The first is that there’s no point

overwhelming customers’ palates: people second is not to offer too many options

because, if customers are not familiar with the cheeses, it just becomes confusing.

For an individual cheeseboard, Lizzy

recommends three or four cheeses, each

piece being around 25g to 35g. “That seems to be the amount that people expect,” she says. “Per person I would be looking to

serve a total of about 100g – it’s enough to enjoy without being overwhelming.” Three is the magic number when

it comes to cheese board selections: “something hard, something soft,

something blue” is Lizzy’s suggestion,

though a fourth option (or an alternative

to the blue) would be a goats’, or a washed

rind, cheese. “People are looking for a lot of

Being too generous with the selection risks eating into precious margins

encouragement when it comes to a cheese purchase,” Lizzy says, and this sort of

selection will cover all the familiar bases.

She adds: “There are some great margins

to be made, but it’s important to keep track of what you’re using. You’re looking for a 50% margin, which covers wastage and

the overheads. It’s the wastage that’s the biggest concern, particularly if you are

doing cheese boards or pop-up events.” Her advice is to “buy little and often”.

She says: “I’d rather have three deliveries

a week and know exactly what I’m getting hold of. A good supplier will allow you to

Star match

Petaluma Nebbiolo Rosé with Brillat-Savarin Brillat-Savarin is a soft, white-crusted triple cream Brie which works superbly with the Coonawarra wine. “This is what a good Brie dreams about at night,” says Hansi Baumann of Fine

Wine Partners. “It’s a really nice pairing.

“I find that a rosé like this just keeps on bringing out the flavour of the cheese.

The milky creaminess goes really well with the slight tannin and the soft red fruits in the wine.”

For more information about the premium Australian wines in the Fine Wine Partners range email or visit


reject it at the door and send it back if the use-by date is too soon. I find if you work with the reps really closely they can tell

you the use-by date beforehand and make sure you get something with the right longevity for your retail business”.

For a Christmas cheese board to

be enjoyed as a meal in its own right,

the quantity can be upgraded to 150g or 200g per person. When it comes

to accompaniments, again resist the

temptation to go overboard. One type of

cracker, and one type of chutney, could well be enough.

© GuillaumeN /

can always ask for more if they want it. The

© Tierney /

on-premise sales

“They told us that they only sell French Champagne. Avoid”

When customers are revolting Just about everybody who sells wine for on-premise consumption gets a poor online review at some point. Four independents explain how they deal with the one-star brigade on TripAdvisor


etting a bad review online is part and parcel of operating an on-

premise business. It seems that no

matter how much effort goes into running a wine bar or café, a keyboard warrior

somewhere will find fault, or happen to

arrive at the precise moment your service goes haywire.

Glance through the TripAdvisor reviews

for just about any wine merchant serving

wine on the premises and you’ll generally find a smattering of “incredibly rude service” or “never again” comments.

The question is, do you respond to the

criticism or ignore it?

The site’s own advice is that it’s

“generally a good idea to respond to reviews that are negative, as well as

those where you can correct any false

statements, or write about an action you’ve taken to correct problems addressed in the review”.

If you don’t agree with the reviewer, or

feel they are being unfair, “relay your side of the story in a polite and unemotional

way … the last thing you want to do is turn off potential visitors with an aggressive or defensive management response”.


It adds: “Another best practice is to

always have at least one management

response amongst the 10 most recent

reviews you’ve received. That will help

ensure that travellers don’t have to dig too far into your property’s review history to see a response from you.”

Wine merchants tend to have a love/

hate relationship with TripAdvisor, with

some refusing to engage at all and others diligently responding to every review

– sometimes with a cut-and-paste thankyou that can look rather jarring beside a customer’s vitriol.

Darren Shield at Vesuvio in Darlington

is rather nonplussed by the TripAdvisor phenomenon, an attitude that stems

from his ranking as the town’s secondbest restaurant, according to the site,

long before the premises actually started offering food. “As soon as you do start

doing food you open yourself up to all kinds of criticism,” he says.

“I think there were only about three

reviews that I ever responded to, and I still

think the responses I gave at the time were quite funny.

“We once had a four-star review that

complained that we didn’t have chips on

our classic French menu, so I launched into a big one.

“Another one complained there was a

young guy behind the bar that didn’t know

about wine. The guy was trained by me and did know about wine and he now works

for Buckingham Palace serving wine there. Some things just get your back up a little bit. You probably shouldn’t respond, but sometimes you feel you have to.”

Martyn Emson of The Angel in Ludlow emphatically “doesn’t bother” with

TripAdvisor. “I don’t even look at it. I’m not interested,” he says. “The staff sometimes

get a bit excited by it but I don’t bother. I’ve been in the business 48 years, I’ve heard everything and seen everything.

“I’ve got friends that have had a bad

review and they ask a couple of people to write a good one – it’s just so easily

manipulated. I don’t want to join in, thanks. “On TripAdvisor someone said I was

rude and nasty – but I never even opened my mouth.”

Emson feels it’s too easy for customers

to vent their spleen – “but nobody actually says anything to your face. It’s just a © Monkey Business /

nightmare. Why can’t they do it the right

way and say what they believe?”

Symposium Wines in Lewes, East Sussex, has only had one “properly bad review”, according to co-owner Henry Breeze.

“This woman came in wanting a sweet

rosé and at the time I thought, for my

palate, the Court Garden had a sweetness to it, even though it said dry. She wasn’t

very happy and gave us one star. But it was an honest mistake and I said so in the reply. “She was adamant she wanted to buy

something but really I should have sent her down to Waitrose to get a bottle of

blush Zinfandel or something. Instead of coming back to us she put the review on TripAdvisor and called me a liar.

“I should probably write more replies

but I always think when people put ‘thank you for your nice review’ it’s just a bit … blah.”

Julian Kaye of the Wright Wine &

Whisky Company in Skipton also gets overwhelmingly upbeat reviews.

“I’ve always said that if you come in here

and spent an enjoyable two hours, we’ve

watered you, we’ve made you laugh, we’ve given you a good time, please be so kind

as to spread the word,” he says. “If you can tell one, two, three or four people about us we really appreciate it and that’s our marketing done.

“I can take constructive criticism on

the chin – however I do not know how restaurants survive and how they can

live with the threat and the blackmailing

impact. People are so brutal when it’s not face to face.

“I respond to absolutely everything,

every review – we mention that it’s their shop, not our shop. It’s them that pays

our mortgages, it’s them that clothes our children and it’s them that gives us the

treats and luxuries in life and we’ll never They’re all smiles to your face …

forget that. We are here to serve.

“But it does amaze me that you never get

a response to your response.”


Defending against false statements can add to the negativity


ot taking negative reviews and comments personally is hard, especially if you’re a business that goes out of its way to be fair, do the best and most for your customers, and provide the best customer service possible. On the flip side, it does allow for a business to stand back and review how things can be done differently or better; to take action if necessary. And, if you feel that a person should be compensated, allow them a chance to experience your business in a different light. Unfortunately, it’s hard to defend against false statements without adding to the negativity. It’s been Enomatic’s practice not to bad-mouth others, and to only extol the virtues of our own products, explaining how we distinguish ourselves in the industry. Nearly every comment that we respond to is verbal or via email, so when we are told that something has been incorrectly stated about an element of the design or functionality of our dispensers, we just explain the way it actually works. Easy to explain, but again, hard not to take the incorrect comment personally – fair competiton is fine, but unfair comment is not and we choose not to engage, trying always to stay positive and inform any potential customer correctly. Obviously, we sell a serviceable product, so one way that we distinguish ourselves is to have an in-house staff. It seems unreasonable not to, given the investment that businesses make in our product. We operate a service desk seven days a week, and our technicians respond quickly to answer any questions. We do our own installations, transport the equipment to you ourselves, and train your staff, and we do not ever outsource our services. Sounds cheesy, but that’s our commitment to our customers. Julian Kaye’s attitude is best – do the best for your customers, show them respect and good service, and be grateful for their business. Sally McGill Commercial director, Enomatic UK

panel tasting

The verdict on Ventoux Ventoux wines are known for their easy-going nature and value for money. But how do they stack up in the UK independent market? Our panel of merchants put a selection of wines to the test


entoux wines owe their freshness and elegance to many things, the

most noticeable of which is Mont

Ventoux itself: “a kindly giant who watches over the aromatic garrigue scrubland and carefully-tended vineyards”, according to sommelier Christophe Tassan.

Ventoux lies to the east of the Rhône

Valley, spreading across 51 communes.

The region has a temperate Mediterranean climate and is protected from the Mistral

winds by the mountain. The microclimate is characterised by cool nights, slowing down the ripening of the grapes and

sealing in Ventoux’s hallmark vibrancy and acidity over an extended growing season.

© David Bouscarle

It’s a landscape where wildlife of all

kinds thrives – indeed the Mont Ventoux

site is listed by UNESCO as a biosphere

reds, white and rosés intended to showcase

and are made principally from Grenache,

Albans was pleased to find the “light, clean”


Red wines make up 68% of production

Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Carignan. The wines are typically fresh and easy-

drinking but can be rich and complex, with flavours of red berries, spices and truffles. Rosés account for 28% of Ventoux’s

output and have won a loyal following for their subtlety and versatility, and hints of cherry and blossom. Just 4% of Ventoux wines are white, with Bourboulenc,

Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne the main varieties.

The Wine Merchant invited a small panel

of independents to sample a range of

Ventoux wines: a representative range of

the region’s offer to independents.

Julia Jenkins of Flagship Wines in St

characters she expected to find in the white wines but also enjoyed the rounded fruit flavours that emerged from some of the wines.

Rosés were found to be in tune with the

British palate with restrained, refreshing

fruit, while the reds impressed with their

earthy, savoury, herby qualities. The wines are designed for early drinking, though

an increasing number also demonstrate ageability.

Jancis Robinson MW is an avowed

fan of the region, which she notes has

been making steadily fuller-bodied reds since the 1970s. And crucially for an

independent trade in search of value, Ventoux wines are modestly priced.

“Ventoux’s top wines are less expensive

than the most famous wines of betterknown southern Rhône appellations,”

Robinson wrote in the Financial Times.

It’s a region that ticks most of the boxes

for the UK independent trade – and one

that certainly warrants extra scrutiny by

merchants who may not have sampled its wine for a while.

• Find out more at www.rhone-wines. com/en/appellation/ventoux. From left: Rudi Honjo, Lant Street Wine, London; Yassine Saleh, The Sampler, London; Julia Jenkins, Flagship Wines, St Albans

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2018 40

© Christophe Grilhé

in association with

Mont Ventoux: “a kindly giant”

Grandes Serres, Lullaby 2017 Yassine: Quite floral and aromatic; it

jumped out the glass. A little bit of lanolin. Rudi: Nice and crisp at the start, with pear notes, and I did pick up on the sherbet.

refreshing. It really does the job of what a rosé should do.

Julia: It’s quite correct in both presentation, smell and taste. It is light and refreshing. Marrenon Vignobles en Luberon et

Château Pesquie, Quintessence Blanc

Ventoux, Okris 2017


Julia: A nice hint of strawberries and some

Julia: I think it’s a nice correct wine and fairly typical of what I expected. The

Roussanne gives it that slightly softer,

rounder texture. There is some acidity so the balance is OK.

Domaine du TIX, Les Restanques 2017 Rudi: It’s dry, crisp and refreshing with some floral notes and I think a bit of

ripe berries, but with some acidity and

structure which comes from the Syrah. An easy-drinking dry style of rosé.

Yassine: I found it to be simple, fruity and easy, nothing too complicated. I would happily drink it on a night out.

Domaine de Fondrèche, il était une fois 2016

grapefruit at the start. I’d be perfectly

Yassine: Really lovely macerated plums. It’s

Vignerons du Mont Ventoux, O’ Rosé 2017


happy serving that on a hot summer’s day. Julia: It is a more obvious wine with

more mouthfeel and much more texture

with definable fruit aromas and flavours – strawberries with a bit of redcurrant

coming together with some nice acidity. Cave Cooperative La Romaine, Tradition Rosé 2017

Yassine: A nice bit of spiciness and it was

inky with that lovely sweet fruit – I would be happy to drink that wine even without Julia: This was one of the stars of the tasting for me. Cherries and lovely

blackcurrants all coming together really

structure and a little bit of herbiness

towards the end. Very satisfying and I

could drink this on its own without food. Domaine Allois, Infiniment 2016 Yassine: I thought the fruit came out really nicely. Some nice olive character, quite smooth and well managed.

Julia: Appealing and outgoing and easy to enjoy. Damsons, with a mineral lift; some herbs and pepper.

Ogier, Les Ocres du Ventoux 2016 Rudi: It was nicely balanced. I liked the

mouthfeel: there was enough grip. The wild fruits I felt were coming through made it more engaging for me.

Julia: There’s some lovely blackcurrant

and herbs and some nice fruit notes there. Yassine: I quite like the savouriness in

there. It is definitely quite young and the potential to evolve is there. Delas Frères 2017

well, nicely integrated with balance and

Julia: Initially I thought it was closed but it

Domaine de la Pigeade, Les Sables 2016

Rudi: It’s quite floral with some really


Rudi: I thought it was very good. There

was a little bit of defined fruit. Some good

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2018 41

has opened up now and I was surprised at how soft it was.

harmonious fruits. There is lots of potential.

reader visit to campo de borja

The empire of garnacha Last month The Wine Merchant led a trip to the Spanish region of Campo de Borja, an area where cooperatives rule the roost but a small band of independent wineries are also emerging


short 40-mile drive north east of

Zaragoza sits Campo de Borja, on the southern tip of Navarra and

south east of Rioja, in view of the majestic Moncayo mountain range. It’s what locals have come to know as the “empire of Garnacha”.

an extensive piece of geographical and

environmental research, funded by the DO, that has provided a more detailed understanding of the region’s terroir.

The information is so new that the six

The oldest vineyards in the DO date back

dry climate. Garnacha represents 53% of

Between 350 and 450 metres above sea

total plantings, with Syrah and Tempranillo

level, the soils here are dark and limey and

coming in at equal second with just under

this is where the grapes are quickest to

13% each. You will find white varieties, but

ripen. The wines are typically structured

they cover fewer than 300 hectares across

and aromatic.

the whole DO.

One hundred metres higher is the Zona

Currently there are 18 wineries

Media. Here the wines are full-bodied,

registered in the appellation and it

fleshy and fruity. Vineyard plantings here

is significant that six of these are

stony and iron-rich clay. The zone’s gentle

Aljoscha Wright of The Oxford Wine Company

the Zona Alta vineyards are on the lower

individual areas identified don’t yet have

most elegant and spicy. In addition to the

02-TU and so on.


OVER THE PAST year the growers of Campo de Borja have benefited from

and 450mm. The famously blustery Mistral

in the poor, though mineral-rich, soils and

altitude vineyards planted in the Zona Baja.

red clay, the Alta also has grey and red slate

rainfall is limited, varying between 350mm

its natural adaptability, allowing it to thrive

into three distinct areas with the lowest-

Garnacha harvested here is the region’s

vines shivering in -8˚C conditions. Annual

The success of Garnacha here is down to

Campo de Borja can be neatly divided

slopes of the Moncayo range and the

temperatures, whilst the winter can see


30 and 50 years old.

Reaching 700 metres above sea level,

some of the country’s highest summer

part of Spain, too, where it is known as the

Garnacha vineyards, over half are between

slopes are well exposed to the sun.

continental, with Zaragoza often recording

wind of the Rhône blows down to this

to 1890 and of the near-4,000 hectares of

are typically more dense and the soils are

Climatically Campo de Borja is highly

marketing-friendly names: they are still

being referred to as 01-TU (Terroir Unit), It’s early days, but it demonstrates the

DO’s drive for increased knowledge which will almost certainly result in ongoing

improvement in viticultural practices and clonal selection.


cooperatives, which between them make 95% of the wines in the DO. It is hardly

a surprising statistic when you consider

that there are an estimated 1,195 growers here with an average holding of just 0.53 hectares.

Nevertheless, small-scale, independently-

owned wineries are present. They benefit from the presence of quality cooperative wines in the international market,

which betweeen them have helped this sometimes overlooked Spanish region achieve global recognition.

THE EMPIRE OF GARNACHA Bodegas Aragonesas Aragonesas was established in 1984 to

market and sell wines produced from a

number of cooperatives. Each has its own premises and winemaker, but coupage, ageing and bottling all take place at Aragonesas.

The range on offer was particularly

diverse, with the visitors most

enamoured with the Fagus de Coto de

Hayas – a 100% Garnacha wine that has

been aged in new French oak barrels for nine months.

There was overwhelming agreement

that the Aragonesas wines all

represented very good value for money, with the easy-drinking style that many had expected Campo de Borja to offer. Bodegas Borsao A familiar name to some of the buyers,

Borsao works with Boutinot in the UK.

Another cooperative, Borsao unites 375 growers, all of whom use an indigenous Garnacha clone. Harvesting in the key

vineyards is carried out manually and

The wineries we visited 2015: another Garnacha (80%) and Syrah blend that had elegance and a striking mineral quality.

Bodegas Alto Moncayo A joint venture between Bodegas Borsao and other investors, including Barossa winemaker Chris Ringland.

The property has 102 hectares of

old-vine Garnacha located across three

oak is used judiciously and modestly, and

villages where the soil is predominantly iron-rich red clay, though it has some calcareous sites too. Alto Moncayo is

a project set to showcase Garnacha at

its very best with the wines expressing

terroir and vintage variation. There are

three wines, each undergoing malolactic fermentation in new French and American oak.

The priciest of the trip, there was no

denying the wines’ appeal, though the Veraton with the least amount of oak

ageing was considered to offer the best

only when it will add complexity. Robert

ratio of quality to price.

Parker is a fan: “My favourite value

winery not only in Spain but in the world

Crianzas y Viñedos

is Bodegas Borsao,” he has said.

Santo Cristo S. Coop

Smartly presented, the wines uniformly

A “vineyard safari” through some of

impressed with their varietal expression

region’s mountainous sites led to an

and value. Standout wines included the

outdoor tasting of Santo Cristo’s wines.

Bole 2015, a blend of Garnacha (70%)

Also a cooperative, it was the smallest

and Syrah that was balanced, fleshy with

Continues page 44

good length. Also praised was the Berola


reader visit to campo de borja

From page 43

of the three visited. The focus here

is on delivering competitively-priced

wines. It has recently joined forces with a Rioja cooperative as part of a drive

towards improved winemaking, sales and marketing.

Arguably delivering the best-loved

white wine of the Campo de Borja visit,

Santo Cristo’s Garnacha Blanco 2017 got

a big thumbs-up, the buyers enjoying the wine’s minerality and texture. The Late Harvest Peñazuela 2015 was also not

short of fans with its black fruit, tobacco and coca flavours. The wine is aged in

French oak barrels of varying sizes for

eight to 10 months and the wine is tasted regularly to ensure that the optimum

balance between fruit and oak is reached. Pagos del Moncayo A very traditional producer, the estate is part of the Eco-Prowine project,

acting as a pilot winery to implement

initiatives to reduce the environmental

impact of winemaking. The family-owned

vineyards contain some 80-year-old

2016 Garnacha Selección was noted for

it’s believed this is the most effective way

oak coating that adds cigar-box notes.

vines. At Pagos del Moncayo foot-treading of the grapes has been reintroduced as to maximise the grape’s potential and

colour extraction. Fermentation takes

having a cool, floral and aromatic nose

with ripe red and black fruits and a lovely Bodegas Román

place in open vats and afterwards the

Founded in 1999, this modest property

The mellow-fruited and soft-tannin

can be found in Bulbuente and its here

wine is separated from the residue using a traditional pressing system.

Fusión (65% Garnacha/35% Syrah)

found favour with positive comments about the wine’s freshness and juicy,

fruity character that for many epitomised Garnacha.

Bodegas Ruberte This third-generation family winery

is located in Magallón where it has 24

hectares of vineyards. The winery has remained faithful to the old traditions

with ageing in oak barrels and further maturation in an underground cellar,

the largest single-room cellar in the DO. Bodegas Ruberte makes young, crianza, reserva and gran reserva wines.

It’s another property that is clearly

delivering good value for money. The

has old-vine vineyards planted on the

slopes of the Moncayo peak. The winery that the family make their artisanal wines. They have 26 concrete and

stainless steel vats of varying sizes. As

a result they’re able to vinify the grapes

from different sites separately. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel.

The fresh and generously-fruity Ilusión

– 100% Garnacha – was widely liked

and is a wine that has scored well in the

Guía Peñin, Spain’s most comprehensive wine guide. The Pasión – another 100% Garnacha – is a full-bodied, robust

wine that shows the variety at its most powerful.

Bodegas Palmeri Sicillia The newest winery in the DO, Palmeri

Sicillia is very definitely Spanish despite the slightly confusing name (a reference to the winemaker’s time working in

Sicily). With only 13 hectares of Garnacha vineyards, production is small but is

projected to increase over the coming

years. Organically managed, the property has high-altitude vineyards.

The wine is named Palmeri Navalta

because the Sierra de Tabuenca (where

the vines are located) is known as Nava

Alta. Fermented in traditional, 4,000-litre vats, the wine was aged in French and American barrels.

Exceptionally pretty with bright, ripe

Adam Sillman, Aljoscha Wright, Chix Chandaria and Steven Flory taste wine at source


red fruit and a strong mineral character,

this was a delicious wine that showed its high-altitude origins.

The merchants give their verdicts After two days of intensive tastings, some clear favourites emerged …

OUR GUESTS • Amy Pickering, York Wines • Adam Sillman, Mumbles Fine Wines, Swansea • Aljoscha Wright, The Oxford Wine Company • Chix Chandaria, The Wine Parlour, south London • Steven Flory, Amps Fine Wines, Oundle • Euan McNicoll, McNicoll & Cairnie, Broughty Ferry


ith only The Oxford Wine Company and Amps Fine

Wines currently listing wines

from Campo de Borja (both from Borsao), this was very much an unknown region

to the buyers. There were high hopes of

finding both good-value wines and some with more complexity and a sense of terroir at the top end.

After two days of intensive tastings it’s

fair to say that the visit had shown Campo

de Borja to be a source of exciting wines for independents.

Whilst volume expectations and an

existing presence in wholesalers meant that some of the cooperatives didn’t

necessarily have a suitable offering for

this group of buyers, everyone agreed that tasting these wines had offered a good

overview of the area and a demonstration of the varying wine styles that Garnacha – both as a single variety and blended –

can make. In our buyers’ view, the Borsao

wines stood out amongst the cooperatives

for their stylish consistency.

In general, the Garnacha wines that

were blended with Syrah were amongst

the buyers’ favourites. McNicoll said that “the Syrah added structure … the wines

were much more interesting”. Stylistically those that had brighter acidity offered a

welcome alternative to the wines of Ribera del Duero, he suggested, and he thinks

customers could be easily persuaded to move from one region to the other.

Sillman agreed about the blended wines

but did say that “some of the single-varietal Garnacha was just stonking”. There was no

question that the premium wines from Alto de Moncayo had made an impression but

the hefty price tag was too much for some. Pickering was equally doubtful about

the potential to sell Campo de Borja wines at that price. Wright felt that “Pagos del

Moncayo wines were exactly where we’d

want to be and they’d fit in our range”. He

observed that the region’s Garnacha wines were a good bridge between the Old and New World.

The Palmeri Navalta – another single-

vineyard Garnacha – hugely impressed all of the buyers, and at half of the price of

the cheapest Moncayo wine it was a firm favourite. For Chandaria it encapsulated the “character and quality” of the wines that came from the non-cooperative

wineries. She believes that customers

who “want to try something new” would welcome these wines.

The only negative murmurings were

to do with the unsurprising high-alcohol

levels of the wines. The group noted that


Amy Pickering of York Wines

wines of 15% and above could be tricky to sell and it would be important to focus on the balance and structure of the wines. That said, the feedback was

overwhelmingly positive and merchants felt there was quality on offer across

a range of price points. The empire of

Garnacha left a favourable impression.

Our trip was organised in partnership with DO Campo de Borja. To find out more about Campo de Borja and its wines, visit

focus on champagne

Old traditions, new challenges For independents, the Champagne category is changing. Price rises and supermarket discounting are two of the unhelpful forces at work. But there is also a wealth of styles, and no shortage of indie-friendly brands and exciting growers, to keep the market invigorated



hampagne finds itself at something of a crossroads in the UK, with

sales value falling by 5.7% in 2017,

according to the CIVC trade body, and volumes down by a worrying 11%.

“The Brexit effect” is what the CIVC

blames for the downturn: a shorthand for higher prices as a result of the pound’s

post-referendum slump against the euro. But that has pushed up prices of wines

from pretty much everywhere. What’s also eating away at Champagne sales is the

juggernaut that is Prosecco, and to a lesser extent a growing taste for crémant and

English wines. Even cava is seeing a revival

The UK is the most important Champagne market after the USA

among some retailers.

houses whose quality and brand strategy

chance to showcase Champagne in all its

regarded as a market correction after

comparable quality, and keen value, even

zero-dosage offerings to the demi-secs that

But don’t write off Champagne too

soon. The current decline might well be

years of booming sales – and the UK is still the most important export market for the Champenois after the United States.

Independents may be rightly wary of the grandes marques which allow their retail

prices to yo-yo around in the multiples, and some famous names are disappearing from specialists’ shelves. But there are plenty of other options available to them.

Where a recognisable brand name is

important, the independent trade has kept faith with the likes of Pol Roger, Drappier (Berkmann), Gosset (Louis

Latour Agencies), Henriot (Fells) and Deutz (Gonzalez Byass), to name just a handful of

chimes in with the mindset of indies. Grower Champagnes can offer

if their names are not as well known. An increasing number of independents are

importing such wines direct from source, and achieving impressive numbers with

the hand-sell, but many are also available

from UK agents. Armit has proved a useful source of grower Champagnes, with

Geoffroy and Pierre Gimonnet & Fils both

attracting a following among independents. A small but growing band of Champagne

producers are focusing on single-site

wines and thinking more deeply about

sustainability and environmental issues. It’s a trend that is likely to gain more momentum over the coming decade.

The festive season gives merchants a


multi-faceted glory – from the artisanal to the international; the piercingly-dry

taste surprisingly less sweet, and more

food friendly, than many realise; the ever-

reliable non-vintages to the latest prestige cuvées. And of course the magnums and jeroboams that come into their own as Christmas and New Year approach.

Champagne is rooted in its traditions,

and these won’t be given up any time soon. But the market in the UK independent

trade is evolving, in a way that will benefit some producers more than others. Where

pricing is carefully controlled, and matches quality expectations, Champagne is a

category that ought to have a bright future in the indies.

Hoults, Huddersfield Saying goodbye to a few sacred cows as range evolves

£75 and is their super cuvée – it’s delicious. Vintage Roederer, Vintage Henriot, Vintage Taittinger – no problem there; great wines. “We are set up more for people to come

in and do a bigger shop – we are not high footfall so we really want people buying

cases of things. When you’re looking at £45 for a Veuve Clicquot as a regular price …

even with the slightly ostentatious nature there.

“We always used to have Krug, Cristal

dmittedly, Champagne sales are

and Dom Perignon in stock, but we’re not

down at Hoults – “we don’t do

interested any more, to be honest. Krug

anywhere near as much as we

used to do”, says owner Rob Hoult. But over the summer there was a small recovery in sales, particularly for weddings, for

which Prosecco has fallen out of favour.

“Champagne will always say ‘Champagne’

on it, so it’s much easier to sell,” Hoult says. The company’s best-selling Champagne

at retail is Lallier from Boutinot. “You’ve

got a 100% grand cru: really good quality, sensible price, looks smart, tastes great.” Hoults also maintains a selection of

grande marque Champagnes for customers buying gifts.

“They’re going to look at Veuve Clicquot,

and Taittinger works well,” says Hoult.

“For the brands we probably sell more

Taittinger than anything else. We’re just

about to put both feet firmly in the Henriot camp for Christmas and see how that

works. It’s a soft brand – some people are aware of it. It’s a terrific Champagne first and foremost.”

Hoult: a demi-sec and scrambled eggs guy

specialises in as an independent.

“In days gone past when Tesco would let

me buy online in tangible quantities I had

no problem with buying a pallet of Moët &

Chandon when it was cheap enough. When we had a corner shop, before we were a

wine merchant, we used to sell Moët by the dozen at £119, but that was 1986.

“We’ve got Veuve Clicquot on the shelf,

but I don’t stock Moët now. It’s like Laurent Perrier Rosé used to be a thing that

everyone had to have, and now it isn’t.” Hoult is happy to list a few prestige

and luxury cuvées, but makes a judicious selection.

“We do Ouvrage from Lallier, which is

Grand Cru is a delicious drop and all that,

but there are other places in Huddersfield that do stock them and we can get access

to them if people want them to order. But

you’re running the risk of shelf ornaments if you’re not careful.”

Hoult has little time for the zero-dosage

fad. “I’ve just no interest in it,” he says. “I tend to find it a bit too clever for its own good – a bit like ‘look what we can do because we’re bored’.

“We should be pushing demi-sec. If my

chronology is correct, Champagne was

originally rich rather than demi-sec, so that

lower dosage to get to brut is a fairly recent addition.

“If I want a bottle of Champagne for

Christmas, it’s demi-sec. Christmas day morning, demi-sec Champagne, with scrambled eggs on toast.”

Hoult is wary of relying too much on

big-name Champagne because of the

risk of being undercut by supermarket promotions.

“I’m happy to have brands on my shelf;

I’m very happy to have Taittinger on my

shelf even with what happens to the price

because the Champagne is very good,” says Hoult. He argues that it’s useful to have

“some known brands that people can relate to” as well as the more esoteric fare that he

Who wants Prosecco at their wedding?


© IVASHstudio /


of spending these days, it’s still a bit out-

focus on champagne

Whitebridge Wines, Stone, Staffordshire Happy between the grandes marques and bargain bins


hampagne sales are “going very

well”, reports owner Francis Peel. “We’re definitely up.

“We’ve picked up a few good accounts

with Champagne and we’ve got a couple of good small récoltants that we ship from,” he adds.

“I think we’re getting more French-

like in that we’re not just going for the grandes marques. People are actually

quite interested in finding small grower Champagnes. I think that is where the market lies: in between the grandes

marques, which are very expensive, and the supermarket bottom-end stuff.”

Whitebridge’s best-selling Champagne

“by a country mile” is Nominé Renard,

which the company has shipped for more than 20 years. “They are relatively big,”

says Peel. “I think they have about 20ha, which by récoltant standards is quite a large holding.

“We do another small grower

Champagne, Autréau-Lasnot, but it’s the Nominé that we’ve always had the big

following for. We also do a Blanc de Blancs and a Blanc de Noirs and a vintage.” There are some bigger names on

Whitebridge’s shelves. “We do a lot of Pol Roger and a lot of Gosset, because they

support the independents and I like the style of Champagne that they produce. “We list Veuve Clicquot but we sell

very little of it. We also sell Roederer

Gosset vineyards at Ay

but my interest lies more in the grower

Champagnes, and I’m trying to increase the range that we do.”

Customers are baulking at some of the

grande marque prices, Peel reports, but that has been happening ever since the crash of 2008.

“We used to sell a lot more grande

marque Champagne but once it gets to a

certain level it knocks it on the head a bit,” he says. “People aren’t going to pay £35 to £40 a bottle on a regular basis – certainly not in Staffordshire.

“At one time my house Champagne


was £13.99 and a bottle of crémant was £10. But now I sell crémant at £11 and Champagne at £20, so if you’re doing a

wedding or you’ve got a big party, there is a substantial difference.

“We’re not greedy on the margins and

I don’t do anything silly when it comes to Christmas.

“It looks as if they are going to have the

most fantastic vintage for many years;

the Nominé looks fantastic. I think it’s an

exciting time and from my point of view, if I can keep my house Champagne around the £20 mark it’s good value for money.”

focus on champagne

Louis Roederer

Pol Roger Champagne been




“From the outset, the texture of the


Champagne Louis Roederer Brut


Premier NV is full and generous and

Champagne for over 165 years. The




integrates characteristics of maturity


with fruitier, more refreshing tones.


independent and unrivalled in its

“The wine has a fresh, festive finesse

reputation for quality. The Maison

and, on the palate, has structure,

owns 92 hectares of vineyards in

richness and exquisite length. It is a

prime sites across the Vallée de la

full, complex wine that is both modern

Marne, Montagne de Reims and

and powerful, whilst remaining a great

Cote des Blancs. The cellars run

classic.” – Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon,

for 7km and the deepest, known as the ‘cave de prise de

Chef de Cave at Champagne Louis

mousse’, is 34m below street level where the temperature is


9°C or less, thus prolonging fermentation and contributing to the unmistakable quality and style of the wines and their famously fine bubbles. Contact: 020 8812 3380

Contact: 01432 262800

Lallier R.014 Brut 2014

Drappier Immersion Box On the 5th November, Drappier

Founded in Aÿ in 1906, Champagne

will be hosting a one-of-a-kind

Lallier has significant holdings of

masterclass to mark the official

Grand Cru vineyards and a high

launch in the UK.

tech cellar, yet is wholly owned by


winemaker Francis Tribaut. Free to




craft wine in the spirit of an artisan

wooden box, containing one bottle

domaine, Francis vinifies each parcel

of either Carte d’Or NV, Brut Nature

using a “house” yeast and keeps

Zéro Dosage NV or Grande Sendrée

dosage low to create Champagnes with

2008, aged 30 metres below sea

real character and finesse.

level, and one bottle of the same innovative

cuvée aged in parallel in Drappier’s

spirit; representing Récolte or vintage

cellars. Michel Drappier will take you

2014 (enhanced with reserve wines

through the incredible journey of

from 2005, 2008 and 2012) it is a

these rare bottles. To register, please

Champagne to rival the major houses.





Contact: Boutinot Wines

Contact: 020 7670 0975

0161 908 1300

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2018 50

Taittinger Nocturne Sec NV An



Deutz A founding member


cuvée from the Taittinger



prestigious Grandes




softness that a touch of




Champgane Deutz of


Aÿ, France, has been





perfect to enjoy late into



the evening. Not quite as

Champagnes marked

dry as Brut, but not sweet

by finesse, elegance

by any means, Nocturne

and complexity since

is elegant and beautifully


balanced, with soft, mellow orchard fruit characters and a lingering fruity finish. A crowd-pleasing Champagne ideal for parties, weddings, afternoon teas or before, during and after dinner. Contact: 01344 871800

Contact: 01707 274 790


Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy is the third

With a history dating back to 1750,

generation of his family to make top

the Gimonnet vineyards cover 28

quality grower Champagne. They

hectares exclusively in the Côte des

have a mosaic of 35 plots scattered

Blancs. Cuis 1er Cru is the signature

across 14 hectares in the Vallée de

Champagne of the house.

la Marne.

Beautifully pure, floral nose. On

Expression is the perfect proponent

the palate a racy, energetic feel with

of the Geoffroy house style. The rich fig

nuances of stone fruit, acacia, brioche

and red apple fruit create a compelling

and underlying minerality. Lovely purity

contrast with the crisp acidity and

and vitality run like a vein through the

lemon notes. Three years on lees

wine, which has a long, crisp, slightly

makes for generous maturity and a

nutty finish. Exemplary Blanc de Blancs

deliciously creamy texture. Wonderful,

and great apéritif style.

easy-drinking freshness.

Contact: 0207 908 0600

Contact: 0207 908 0600

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2018 51

focus on champagne

The Wine Press, Stourbridge Brands are pricing themselves out of the market

very good quality, but people just want

grandes marques, partly to champion the

billions on.”

discounting in the supermarkets.

that name, that brand. They believe in that brand and that’s what owners have spent

With Christmas approaching, The Wine

Press will be broadening its Champagne offer, with special cuvées and limited-

editions. “We have a good small customer base who invest in all of them,” Wilson


rosecco and the gin boom have taken their toll on Champagne

sales at The Wine Press, but Eddie

Wilson believes some of the damage is self-inflicted.

“The Champagne houses don’t do us any

favours – annually putting up the price is ridiculous,” he says.

“I mean look at Laurent Perrier last

year, re-aligning the brand and putting on a hefty price increase: they’ve put

themselves outside the market now. Once

you start going over 40 quid for a bottle of

says. “They are not going up in value like

I think they initially did – the market has

flattened out with those, unless you keep them for a long, long time.

“We do have quite a lot of limited-

editions, but you can’t keep up with them.

Look at Dom Perignon with its P2 release: there’s always an annual release, special

edition, vintage change … you can literally have a shelf of DP.

“Veuve are the masters of marketing with

their post boxes and travel bags. You could have a double shelf of Veuve.”

bubbles, it’s just not accessible.

£29, we’ve got Moët at £32 … everything With Laurent Perrier currently priced

Grower Champagnes have proved to be a tough sell so far. “Unless you’ve been to

Champagne, you don’t really understand,” says Wilson.

“I quite often tell people I think 10% of

Veuve is produced by Veuve and 90% by

growers, but it still doesn’t really hit home. If you’re going to spend that sort of money, you want a bit of name, don’t you?

“We do sell grower Champagne and it’s

all,” he says.

“We keep pushing the growers and

there’s certainly an increase in more

interesting bits and pieces, and a greater breadth of styles, coming from growers.

“To generalise, we tend to be a little bit

heavier on the blanc de noirs or red grapedominant styles.

“We are doing quite well with the

Levasseur wines, which we buy through

Red Squirrel. They are a very terroir-led

project and they are almost more wine-like than Champagne-like, so they show very interestingly at tastings.

“It’s those kinds of things that are

interesting to talk about. The Pinot

Meunier-heavy styles seem to work quite

but shipped direct by Charles when the

around £50 on shelf, The Wine Press’s

says Wilson.

offer, so we tend to not play the game at

which is available from Thorman Hunt

upwards, especially for the pink stuff.”

is always my preferred Champagne house,”

houses have a rotation when they’re on

Champagne, Gallimard Cuvée Reserve,

else is mid-thirties and onwards and

do like working with Hatch, so Taittinger

“Pretty much all the grande marque

The company’s best-seller is its house

under 30 quid. We’ve got a Taittinger at

now include Taittinger and Ruinart. “We

does not want to be embarrassed by deep

well for us.”

“There is very little now, branded, that’s

best-sellers in the Champagne category

smaller producers, but also because he

Who can keep up with DP releases?

The Dorset Wine Co, Dorchester Focus on growers helps us avoid the deep discounting


rower Champagnes lead the charge at Jonathan Charles’ business,

based on the fringes of Dorchester

at Poundbury. He steers clear of most


exchange rate is favourable.

“We do Billecart-Salmon off and on but I

don’t deal with them direct – I usually join forces with Simon [Smith] at The Solent Cellar when he’s placing an order with Billecart in the UK.

“We usually order together and once it’s

gone, it’s gone.”

He adds: “We’ve done Bollinger for years

and years and it is our most prominent

grande marque. We keep it because of the name.

“I could probably get away with delisting

it but people ask for things by brand rather than style. I have noticed that

their discounting activity seems to have

increased recently, so that might help us change our minds.”

© FreeProd /

The UK’s most advanced and reliable wine dispense system • 30 day preservation technology • Card & cloud app-based payments

Record winter rainfall but a good summer for Champagne growers

• Increase your sales and margins by offering “Try before You Buy” For further information, please contact: WineEmotion UK Tel: 01635 282230 Email:

Growers excited by an ‘exceptional’ harvest Unsurprisingly, 2018 is being hailed as “exceptional” by the CIVC, with harvesting beginning in some vineyards as early as August 20. The winter was particularly wet – in fact it was the rainiest on

record, worse even than 1964-1965. But after April, temperatures rose to well above the 10-year average.

The yield was set at 10,800 kg/ha, the same level as in 2017.

“This volume meets the needs of the Champagne producers and maintains a balanced overall stock level,” the CIVC says.

“It should also make it possible to reconstitute the Champagne

reserve, widely used in the last two years.”

Supplier of wine boxes and literature • 12 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £1.69p each • 6 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £0.98p each • 12 Bottle carrier boxes with dividers from £0.99p each Prices are subject to VAT • Delivery not included

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© francescomou /

make a date

Taste some Sardinian wines with Buckingham Schenk on October 23

Le Club Des Grands Domaines, Vignobles & Signatures

Sardinia, Alto Adige, Puglia, Veneto and

This is the first time this grouping of 16


French family businesses has organised a trade tasting in the UK. The members come from across the

country, representing Champagne, Alsace,

Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhône, Provence, Bordeaux, Armagnac, Languedoc-

Roussillon, the Loire, Calvados and the south west.

Email to register

or for more information. Tuesday, October 23

University Women’s Club 2 Audley Square London W1K 1DB

The regions of Montepulciano, Tuscany,

Sicily will be represented, offering a chance to try an exciting and comprehensive range

place, email Thursday, November 1 Embassy of Bulgaria

of wines from the Buckingham Schenk

186-188 Queen’s Gate

to register or for more information.

Real Italian Wine & Food


Tuesday, October 23 Bocca di Lupo

London SW7 5HL

12 Archer Street

A selection of wine and food, some

London W1D 7BB

already with UK distribution and some

Modern Wines of Bulgaria An opportunity to discover wines from a range of new-wave producers, many which are not yet on sale in the UK. International varietals will be shown

without. Contact: Thursday, November 8

Church House Conference Centre London SW1P 3NZ

H2Vin Rhône 2017 En Primeur Tasting

Italian Wine Extravaganza

alongside the perhaps less familiar native

For registration details email Antoine Thursday, November 22

Buckingham Schenk is showcasing its

masterclass at 1.30pm to guide guests

through some of her favourite wines from

Italian producers and presenting their wines alongside a selection of cicchetti.

grapes such as Mavrud, Rubin and Misket. Caroline Gilby MW will be leading a

the country.

Pre-registration is essential. To reserve a


Salley: The Westbury Hotel Conduit Street London W1S 2YF

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

0207 409 7276

Two Grenache gems from the Southern Rhône Nestled in the hillsides of Côte-Rôtie, Vidal-Fleury is the Rhône’s oldest wine house,

established in 1781. Over the past decade Guy Sarton du Jonchay has transformed the company’s wines, which are given ample time to develop in the cellar before release.

Our October wines of the month are from the southern Rhône valley. Speak to your

account manager or get in touch with our office on 020 7409 7276 to taste. Vacqueyras

A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre. Fermentation with

indigenous yeast was followed by six months in large foudres and natural

clarification. The wine is dominated by blackberry, heather, rosemary and

violet aromas. The palate is redolent with dark berry fruits and spice with silky tannins and grip on the finish.


A blend of 70% Grenache 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre from the Dentelles de Montmirail. After long traditional maceration and indigenous yeast

fermentation it was aged in large oak foudres and stainless steel, naturally

clarified and bottled unfiltered. Aromas of coffee, chocolate and cherry and a

palate with fresh acidity, good structure and cherry, black pepper and cumin.

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


Two new wines to RWA Lenoble Brut Intense NV ‘Mag 14’ For the very first time, Champagne AR Lenoble is releasing its Intense NV

wine containing reserve wines that were aged in magnums under natural cork.

This is the result of a very long evolutionary process that started in

2010. At this time some of the reserve wines, traditionally stored in

225l barrels and 5,000l casks, were transferred to magnum bottles to

promote yeast autolysis and therefore greater complexity.

These new base wines were then used for the first time in the blend after the 2014 vintage harvest; hence the term Mag14.

Geoff Merrill ‘Parham’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Limited Availability “Named after my grandfather Bill Parham, who lived for 102 years and

one month. He always attributed his longevity to smoking, drinking and having fun! This youthful red wine has the same essence of longevity.

Aged in brand new American oak hogsheads for 27 months from fruit

grown in two of our premium, company-owned vineyards.” Geoff Merrill


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mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD

Mentzendorff expands Italian portfolio with pioneering Piedmont producer Ceretto Since its foundation in the 1930s Ceretto

020 7840 3600

has been at the forefront of development in

the region, with Bruno and Marcello Ceretto

responsible for building up an enviable vineyard holding in the key Cru of Barolo and Barbaresco

and pioneering the modern style of winemaking. Ceretto now owns four wineries across the

region and makes a wide range of styles from its

160 hectares of organically-cultivated vineyards; from the racy freshness of 100% Arneis, Blange, to juicy Barbera d’Alba and the complexity and

depth of the single Cru Barolo and Barbaresco. Mentzendorff is the exclusive agency for

Ceretto in the UK. 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

07552 291045

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.

Please contact us if you would like to discover more

about Stonier, Arras or anything in our portfolio.


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buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

Italian Wine Extravaganza On Tuesday 23rd October, we’ll be hosting our Italian Wine Extravaganza at the fantastic Bocca di Lupo in London. The restaurant will be providing cicchetti to accompany wines

from our best Italian producers, who will be over to meet our guests. If you would like to

attend, please get in touch. To whet your appetite, here are a couple of favourites that will be available to taste.

Lunadoro, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG The Tuscan estate of Azienda Agricola Lunadoro sits in the stunning natural park Val d’Orcia. The state-of-the-art winery produces super

wines, with their flagship being the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. A complex nose bursts with plum jam, pepper, violet and

chocolate. The sweet tannins and good acidity give this wine balance and depth of flavour.

Brunilde de Menzione, Brindisi DOC Produced near the historic town of Brindisi in Puglia, this wine

is a blockbuster! Made from Negroamaro grapes that have been

aged in oak barrels for 10 months, this is a full-bodied and intense wine with flavours of cherries and dates, and hints of vanilla and liquorice.


ABS Christmas Offers 2018 Save up to 15% per case across a selection of 60+ wines from our range.

28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810

@ABSWines For full information please use your smartphone camera to scan the QR code, or

alternatively ask your sales representative for further details. Including wines from:


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FMV 24-34 Ingate Place Battersea London SW8 3NS 020 7819 0360 @fieldsmorrisverdin @fmvwines

Top Chilean producer joins the FMV family This October we are excited to announce the exclusive addition

of Chilean producer De Martino to our growing agency portfolio. From Chile’s Maipo Valley, De Martino is a winery at the top of its game with a range of wines that span from Limarí in the north

to Itata in the south. De Martino works sustainably across all its vineyards, and its Itata and single-vineyard wines are de facto organic.

Between brothers Sebastian, Marco and one of Chile’s finest

winemakers, Marcelo Retamal or ‘Reta’, they have transformed

the family business over the past decade. The wines are defined by a freshness, purity and focus that sets them apart from the rest of Chile.

Join us from 10.30am-12pm on Wednesday, 10th October in the historic Berry Bros & Rudd Cellars for a De Martino Masterclass,

hosted by Sebastian himself (email or speak to your Account Manager for further details.

Famille Helfrich Wines

Famille Helfrich is the independent specialist arm of Les Grands Chais de

1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France

the leading producer and exporter of French wines and spirits. 07789 008540

the best terroir France has to

@FamilleHelfrich @family_helfrich_gcf_wines

France ... yes, still a family – with real people! Joseph founded the company in 1979 with 5,000 fr and we have grown to become Don't let the size put you off, it has helped us create an independent portfolio of

over 400 wines and we now own over 45 domaines and châteaux across some of offer.

Having the infrastructure

allows us to consolidate all of our wines at one central

location in Alsace, where you

can either come and collect or we can deliver a single mixed pallet to you.

REMEMBER, we are a

producer, a family producer, not an agency as some people think.

Working with Famille Helfrich Wines gives you the ability as an independent to buy

direct from a producer from appellations all over France, with one delivery.

A perfect solution to help you grow and experiment with France and all it has to

offer ...


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Autumn is a time for rich dishes, chilly nights and meaty reds so we have hand-picked a range of meaty reds from Michele Chiarlo, one of Piedmont’s truly

Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538

great winemakers, to fit on your shelves in the run-up to Christmas. Michele Chiarlo has insisted on total quality since his first vintage in 1956, an ethos

which his sons Stefano and Alberto adopt today. The Chiarlo style is highly elegant: they

make complex wines that can age for decades but above all reflect their provenance – some of the finest vineyard sites in Piedmont. Michele Chiarlo, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza ‘Cipressi’ 2016


A silky Barbera showing aromas of ripe cherry and raspberry with sweet notes of tobacco and a lovely ripe fruit expression on the palate. RRP: £20.49

liberty wines

Michele Chiarlo ‘Reyna’, Barbaresco 2014

Michele Chiarlo, Cannubi, Barolo 2012

Rivalling Barolo as Piedmont’s best red wine, this wine has delicate, refined savoury aromas with baked sour cherry and earthy tones.

Powerful and full flavoured, this classic Barolo Cru has baked fruits with hints of herbs, tobacco and leather through to a dry, austere finish.

RRP: £32.99 90 Pts, Wine Spectator

RRP: £74 95 Pts, James Suckling

India’s ancient soils and Europe’s modern winemakers By David Gleave MW

020 7720 5350

Despite the long tradition of winemaking in India, which dates back to the 4th

and three international producers marks a big step forward for Indian wine.

of decades. The release of two new joint ventures between Fratelli Vineyards Steven Spurrier of Bride Valley English sparkling wines and Piero Masi

(formerly of Isole e Olena) are collaborating with Fratelli owners Kapil

and Gaurav Sekhri to launch M/S wines. From high-altitude vineyards in


Maharashtra, their Akluj Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc, Akluj Sangiovese Rosé and Akluj Sangiovese/Cabernet Franc/Shiraz all fulfil Spurrier’s aim of producing a trio that are “fresh, vibrant, unoaked and balanced”.

At the same time, Burgundian producer Jean-Charles Boisset was captivated

by the Fratelli vineyards, and J’NOON was born. Jean-Charles Boisset’s Burgundian influence can be seen in the barrel-fermented, Mâconnais style

of J’NOON’s Akluj White (Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc), while the oak-aged







century BC, modern wines have only been produced there in the last couple




Akluj Red (Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot/Marselan/Sangiovese) has a structure and ripeness of fruit rarely seen in Indian wines.

These small, highly specialist ranges are perfect for bolder, more

adventurous retailers with a genuine interest in what India’s ancient soils and Europe’s modern winemakers can produce.


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bancroft wines Woolyard 54 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7232 5470

Bancroft Wines expands its portfolio In the past few months an unprecedented number of exceptional producers have joined the Bancroft Wines portfolio. Here are a few highlights.

Azienda Franco Conterno is a family-owned and run estate in the heart

of the Langhe, producing world-class wines that reflect its exceptional

microclimate and terroir. Bancroft’s range includes a Chardonnay and a

Nascetta of great typicity and freshness, a bright but nicely structured Freisa, a Langhe Nebbiolo and three expressions of Barolo: one from Pietrin, a

Riserva Bussia.

Our California range now includes Black Stallion Estate Winery. Its 32

hectares cover some of Napa’s most prestigious vineyards. Dedicated to


producing small-batch, site-specific Cabernet Sauvignon, it has built a stellar

reputation for its ageworthy, expressive wines with dense, dark berry fruit and medium high acidity. The Chardonnay is also fantastic.

Widely considered to be one of the best producers in Slovenia, Edi Simčič’s

wines are truly unique, stoically traditional and proudly Slovenian. Among the most unique wines are the Sivi Pinot, the local name and style of Pinot Gris and the Rebula, the true jewel in the Edi Simčič crown.

Please contact for more information.

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

Bodega Norton’s Signature Winemaking blends scoop medals and trophies in recent competitions Privada Family Blend remains an iconic Malbec blend from Argentina: the

latest release has picked up Argentinean Red Trophy AND Luján de Cuyo Malbec Blend Trophy at the International Wine Challenge 2018.

Originally this elegant wine was produced for the Swarovski family to enjoy

with their friends and reserved for the family’s private cellar. The blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is selected from grapes from the

winery’s oldest vineyards, between 50 and 90 years old in Lunlunta, Agrelo and Perdriel. RRP £19.99

Lote Negro Malbec-Cabernet Franc 2016 Winemaker David Bonomi has created a pure expression of the terroir of the

Uco valley. The high-altitude vineyards of Los Chacayes and Los Arboles are the source of the Malbec and Cabernet Franc grapes, the latter giving elegance and perfume to this distinctive wine. RRP £26.99

Both wines form part of the Signature Winemaking series of premium wines from Bodega Norton and available for distribution in independent retail. For further information please contact


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enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX

announce two new spirits partnerships to bolster and invigorate our portfolio. Innovation and quality sit at the heart of these two artisanal distillers, RumJava and Bache-Gabrielsen, and their rums and Cognacs are perfect for autumn. The premium rum category has never been so interesting, and as it continues to grow and diversify, now is the perfect moment to launch RumJava in the UK.

Their artisan, quaffable blends of coffee and rum expertly capture convivial Caribbean culture. Handcrafted in every sense of the word, these fine rums

020 8961 5161

As the temperature drops with the changing of the season, we’re delighted to

are infused with five coffee blends, resulting in silky-smooth spirits.


Maison Bache-Gabrielsen is one of the world’s best-selling and most

innovative Cognac houses, both family-owned and run. Founded in 1905 by Thomas Bache-Gabrielsen from Holmestrand, Norway, the brand has a bi-cultural heritage of deep Scandinavian roots and Cognac tradition. This unique marriage has helped shape the century-old

house over many decades, as well as determined its core

values of innovation, tradition and passion. To coincide with its entry into the UK, Bache-Gabrielsen is marking another milestone as it

launches a first-of-its kind expression to the UK: American Oak – the first Cognac ever to be aged in American oak barrels.

RumJava and Bache-Gabrielsen are now available through


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

Louis Jadot 2017 En Primeur Tasting We are pleased to announce that the

Louis Jadot 2017 En Primeur tasting will take place on @hatchmansfield

Monday 12th of November 2018 at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London

Please contact Katarina Luciakova for further details

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.


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new generation 14 Kennington Road London SE1 7BL T: 020 7928 7300 @newgenwines

As most wine suppliers would agree, sourcing a range of great value, excellent quality wines with attractive packaging is rather more difficult than it sounds. So, when faced with this challenge the New Generation team decided, to quote

Napoleon, “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself” and we set about creating our own range of wines. After several months of hard work, lots of tasting and only a few minor disagreements, Trastullo was born.

Trastullo is made exclusively for New Generation by a leading cantina based in

Verona, and was launched at the end of 2017 with a Pinot Grigio and a Rosso (a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Merlot and Cabernet

Sauvignon). We have now added a Bianco

(Garganega, Trebbiano and Chardonnay) to

the range and hot off the press (or out of the

cellar) is the Trastullo Primitivo. If you’re yet to taste our handiwork then please do get in touch for samples – we’d love to know what you think.

Trastullo is a character in Commedia

dell ‘Arte, but it also happens to mean something which gives you great enjoyment in an archaic Italian dialect, which we thought was a great description of these wines. Hopefully you, and your customers, will agree.

marussia beverages 0207 724 5009 MarussiaBeveragesUK

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

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

@marussiabeveragesuk @MarussiaUK


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walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665

Walker & Wodehouse Christmas Promotions – end of October W&W’s Christmas promotions exclusively for independent merchants will kick off later

in October. Look out for great deals on Champagne and sparkling from Palmer, Llopart and Ridgeview, special offers on Old World classics from Chablis, Rhône and Rioja,

as well as New World stars from Australia, Chile and South Africa. Ask your account manager for more details.

New: Château Saint Cosme Les Deux Albion Vaucluse Principaute d’Orange 2017 A new addition to the W&W portfolio and shown for the first time at our recent Tasting Notes event in Soho’s Phonica Records, this white Rhône is our pick of the month. It’s made by owner Louis Barruol (pictured)

from organically-certified vines grown on

the limestone soils of Saint Martin in Violes, right on the border of Gigondas.

A blend of 50% Viognier, 20% Marsanne

and 30% Picpoul, this 2017 is fresh and aromatic, with dried apricot and violet

flavours, and a typical salinity from the

limestone soils. Ask your account manager for more details.

ehrmanns Unit 23, The Ivories 6-18 Northampton Street London N1 2HY 0203 227 0700 @ehrmannswines ehrmannswines

Introducing Bodegas Palacio and Astobiza Estate We are delighted to introduce two new Spanish wineries to our portfolio this October. This includes two new ranges of Rioja from Bodegas Palacio, founded in 1894 in

Laguardia, in the heart of Rioja Alavesa.

• The Glorioso brand was introduced in 1917 and faithfully reflects the personality of

Rioja Alavesa. Elegant, smooth, expressive and rich in flavour, Glorioso wines are aged in French oak barrels for a unique vibrant and fresh style.

• Cosme Palacio honours the innovative spirit of Bodegas

Palacio founder Don Cosme Palacio, who played a leading role in the development of Rioja. The best grapes are selected and aged in new French oak barrels, replaced each vintage, leading to wines of great elegance and finesse.

• Astobiza Estate is a boutique Txakoli producer in Okondo,

just 12 miles south west of Bilbao. It focuses on artisanal winemaking and produces a classic Txakoli from a single

vineyard, with characteristic zesty acidity and mineral notes. The winery also produces a single-plot wine from exceptionally ripe Ondarrabi Zuri grapes: the first Txakoli to have been aged in a concrete egg-shaped tank. Also from Astobiza is a single-vineyard lateharvest white from 100% Izkirota (Gros Manseng).

For further information, please contact your account manager.


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