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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 75, November 2018

Dog of the Month: Rory Lancaster Wine Company

THIS MONTH 3 BACCHUS What’s happened to independents’ allocations?

4 comings & GOINGS

The merchants who’ve gone from two sites to one

10 tried & TESTED

© goodluz / stockadobe.com

Bordeaux’s harvest is back to normal levels after the frost damage of 2017, according to Allan Sichel, president of the Bordeaux Wine Bureau. The region is increasingly focused on specialist merchants in the UK as it withdraws from lower price points – see interview on pages 18 and 19.

Business rate cut won’t solve trade’s problems Independent wine merchants have given a muted reaction to the Chancellor’s cut in business rates for small retailers.

independents. Wayne Blomfield of Park

Vintners in west London describes the Budget as “reasonably balanced” and accepts “it helps

The cuts come at a time when the government small businesses a little bit”.

has announced an increase in wine duty, rents

But he says that although the business rate

are soaring and there are fears in the wine trade cut is welcome, “it’s just a short-term fix”. about the impact that Brexit will have on the

He adds: “I think it’s noticeable that no one

economy – and their sales.

actually said what the problems are – they are

in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or

want to say that – they don’t want to have to

Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed a tax

cut to business rates of one third for all retailers less, coming into force next April. The measure will apply for the next two years, until the next re-evaluation of rateable values in 2021. There was a mixed response from

all blaming online shopping, but it’s not online shopping, it’s greedy landlords. But they don’t reform the tax system properly. It’s a sticking plaster.

Continues page 2

A wine that will give you a Ready-Brek glow

14 david williams

The bad science behind Stoptober and Dry January

22 travels in tuscany

Vermentino Nero is a new experience for most

30 the wright wine co

Why Julian Kaye sometimes dresses up as Baron Samedi

44 roaming in romania

Indigenous grapes are the stars of our first buyers’ trip to Dealu Mare

48 make a date

The January tastings that you’d be mad to miss

48 supplier Bulletin

Essential updates from agents and suppliers


BACCHUS

b Mixed blessings from Budget From page 1

“Your business rates are only a function

of what you pay in rent and pretty much

every shop on the high street has upwardsonly clauses in their leases. It’s set up for

greedy landlords, and nothing is going to change that.”

Oli Gauntlett, of Eynsham Cellars in

© JackF / stockadobe.com

Witney, Oxfordshire, says: “The third off

business rates is good but the relief that

we’ve had means that we don’t pay huge

negative. I’ve had two price increases

has been put up by 60% in the past year,

… that kind of thing.

business rates anyway. But the fact is we

could pay higher rates because our value so it is much needed and a very positive thing.”

Gemma Welden of The Jolly Vintner

in Tiverton, Devon, adds: “I have small

business rate relief anyway – I’m glad that it’s potentially helped other people, but it doesn’t affect me, unfortunately.”

Welden is one of many independents

who are angry about the 7p increase in still wine duty and the 9p hike on sparkling wine – rises effective from February 1

and described by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association as “grossly unfair” and “a hammer blow”.

She predicts that the duty increase will

be magnified by the time it is applied

to retail prices. “That 8p on the bottle translates to between 30p to 50p on

the shelf, and that’s huge for customers because if you’ve got a bottle of wine at

£8.99 and suddenly it’s £9.50, that’s a huge mental jump for them – especially if it flips it over that £10 barrier,” she says.

“I hate to say it, but I do feel quite

already this year from various suppliers,

because of the exchange rate, poor harvests “The amount of duty that our

government gets from wine compared to any other country in Europe is just

ridiculous. Brexiters can’t claim that is

another thing Europe is doing us over on,

because that’s not down to Europe – that’s our government doing that.”

Gauntlett at Eynsham Cellars adds: “I feel

that raising the duty on wine is poor timing because of the further pressures and taxes that might be placed on wines when we

leave the EU next year. I feel that maybe

they should have held fire and waited until after March before looking at raising duty.” Gerard Richardson of Richardsons

of Whitehaven in Cumbria strikes a

philosophical note. “I think the budget was OK overall,” he says.

“In terms of the duty increases, I

don’t think it’s too bad and we will

just be absorbing the duty increase on this occasion rather than passing it on ourselves. I guess the Chancellor has

noticed the growth in the industry and

thinks he can squeeze it a little without too much damage unlike the beer market.

“The business rate support is welcome

but the devil is in the detail and I guess it depends on how complicated they

make the process. Personally, I’d rather they focused solely on increasing duty

on tobacco and I would also welcome a

minimum price per unit as in Scotland.”

Wine importers contacted by The Wine

Merchant say they will pass on the duty increases in full. But Nik Darlington of

Red Squirrel tweeted: “The Chancellor’s decision to single out wine for an excise duty rise is crass and crude logic.

“Wine merchants, bars and restaurants

Merchants may have to ask customers to face price increases that are bigger than the duty hike

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 2

have enough challenges at the moment.

Red Squirrel Wine won’t pass on the duty rise.”


© Nejron Photo / stockadobe.com

for. Why wouldn’t you do that?

“Why would you want to show your wine

young in a restaurant? A restaurant isn’t

Flying Füchs

going to hold on to it for 10 years, whereas a consumer, or an independent, maybe would.”

Pip Gale of Gales of Llangollen says: “My

experience of allocations is that they are

getting smaller, and therefore less useful. “It is probably self-fulfilling: the less

allocation someone gets, the less likely it is to see their list. Prestige on-trade gives the producer visibility.”

Matt Harris of Planet of the Grapes in

High-end restaurants offer a quick PR hit

Where have our allocations gone? Are top wine producers and negociants reducing their allocations for independent wine specialists in the UK? A number of retailers believe so, and they say it’s not simply down to short vintages and depleted inventories. Phil Innes of Loki Wines in Birmingham

says a growing number of premium wines

are being channelled almost solely towards high-end restaurants.

“A lot of these vineyards don’t

understand the UK independent trade and how it is actually quite prestigious,” says Innes.

As an example, Loki no longer receives

an allocation of a particular Grand Cru Burgundy.

“We’re being told basically that we can’t

have it any more because the allocation has to go to Michelin-star restaurants,” says Innes.

“But Michelin-star restaurants can

broker some of the older stock of these

wines – mature stock – for not a hell of a lot more than you can buy the new vintages

London agrees “there is definitely a move towards the on-trade – that is a fact”.

Harris is “bored with allocations”, despite

“doing OK” with what he receives, and

is dismayed at how much wine seems to be available to high-profile merchants

and venues with a shorter track record of buying than he is able to demonstrate. Not all merchants report the same

problems – indeed the Oxford Wine Company says that, if anything, its

allocations are becoming more generous. Philip Amps of Amps Fine Wines in

Oundle says: “Yes, we get smaller allocations – but then there are a lot more merchants out there wanting to sell the wines”.

Chris Piper, of Christopher Piper Wines

in Devon, says it’s important to follow

estates from year to year and not merely cherry-pick top vintages, and to import direct if possible.

He adds: “We have numerous long-term

agencies and distribution agreements and

part of these relationships is the guarantee of a decent allocation. Sometimes we have allocations reduced due to climaticallyaffected vintages, but this really hasn’t impacted on us very much.

“In Bordeaux, we always get good

allocations from our negociants and

châteaux and in Italy, top Brunello di

Montalcino, and the Tuscans are always forthcoming.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 3

“Our Man with the Facts” • Italy has the world’s greatest

diversity of grapes, with 80 varieties

accounting for 75% of the area under

vine, compared to 12 in the equivalent area in France and 10 in Spain.

• Spain ships more of its wine in bulk than any other country, exporting 10 million hectolitres in this way

compared to Italy’s 7 million litres and Australia’s 4 million litres.

• The area under vine in France is

800,000 hectares, a mere third of the total recorded in 1870, but thanks to

modern winemaking practices, yields

are almost exactly the same and quality

is considered better than 150 years ago. • Finland has 10 hectares of vineyards and is able to ripen Regent and Solaris

grapes thanks to its prolonged daylight during July and August.

• It has been calculated that a grape-

harvesting machine is a cost-effective investment for a vineyard owner with

more than 15 hectares, and that handpicking typically works out five times more expensive for grape growers.


London indies are happy to downsize

“We’ve been running a wine bar, where

people can take wine away, and a shop

and tasting room about 500 metres away,” Andrews says.

Park + Bridge, the west London

“The lease on the shop, which we’ve held

merchant, has taken the decision to

for six years, ran out a couple of months

consolidate its wine bar and wine

ago. A few things in the shop were not

shop on a single site – a move that has

maintained as well as they should have

also been made by D Vine Cellars in

been, from a property perspective, and I

Clapham.

finally got the feeling my landlord wasn’t

As well as the original Park + Bridge

keen on working with me going forward.”

shop, Paola Tich’s business includes

The bar has been rebranded as D Vine

neighbouring bar Vindinista, which she

opened two years later. She says the shop lease coming up for renewal “crystallised things,” and helped her re-evaluate her

Cellars, with a retail area on the ground Paola Tich: focus on Vindinista site

business model.

the hours are greater,” Andrews explains.

four years, we’ve pretty much got to know

“I would never label wine retail as easy – it

what works, what doesn’t work and where

is a very competitive market. But on the

we think we are strongest, especially in the

retail side I have found it easier to maintain

neighbourhood we are in.

consistent staff who are able to establish

“We are in a more residential area, more

proper customer relationships. Bar staff

family-oriented, and I definitely see the

generally turn over a lot quicker, around

pendulum swing a bit in terms of people

every six months, so as a result you are

deciding whether they are going to go out

constantly retraining and revisiting. That is

and spend money or buy some great wine

very draining.”

and stay in.”

business in its entirety from the bar site, is

an opportunity to have the shop model she

Andrews says staffing issues will also be “Having two sites is hard work in that

almost six years and the bar for almost

to renew the shop lease, and to run the

coffee shop is opening on the top floor. eased.

She says: “After running the shop for

Tich explains that the decision not

floor and a wine bar in the basement. A

D Vine Cellars completed its transition

Greg Andrews: three-storey approach

last month while Vindinista hopes to be open in its new guise by February.

originally envisioned.

20 outside and an awning is now top of her

• The Tasting Room in Bath, a wine shop

cheese and charcuterie. The opening hours

think people are still going to want wine

unfortunately have found it impossible to

Vindinista will become a wine shop with

a drink-in option offering small plates of

will be reduced, but the premises will be

open later than is the case at Park + Bridge. “When we opened Park + Bridge, our

plan was for a wine shop with a drink-in

option,” Tich says. “At the time, we couldn’t find a site to accommodate this. It’s a reboot and a rebrand.”

The rent savings means Tich can invest

in the exterior seating area to capitalise on the warmer months. There is space to seat

shopping list.

which also operated as a wine bar and

and they are not going to run off to Lidl,”

continue trading and leave Bath with happy

continue doing those.” She does not rule

• The Kingsbridge Wine Rooms in Devon

Tich is optimistic about the future. “I

brasserie, has closed after 15 years. “We

she says. “People want experiences and

memories,” a statement says.

out opening a larger premises at some

has changed its name to Barrel & Still.

at D Vine Cellars has closed his shop and

expansion into e-commerce and a likely

our events work really well for us, so we’ll point in the future.

Owner Alan Norchi says: “The new name

focused all efforts on the site on Voltaire

second branch early next year, so we wanted

Meanwhile in Clapham, Greg Andrews

Road near Clapham High Street station.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 4

reflects increasing spirit sales, and also

to move away from the local identity too.”


Adeline Mangevine Food and wine mix at VineKing store

Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing

Reigate shop on Church Street.

W

Glass machines plus two open fizzes, and

campaign promising special seasonal

Surrey’s VineKing has launched its fifth venue, and this time it’s a hybrid. Owner Erik Laan says: “It’s something

we’ve been thinking about for years, it was just about trying to find the right site.”

As luck would have it, the “right site”

happens to be just four doors up from the There are 38 wines available by the

glass, courtesy of a configuration of By the the wines on the shelf will be available to drink in for a corkage fee of £7.50.

Laan is particularly excited about the

enoteca-style offering. The charcuterie is

sourced from nearby Tempus Food, run by Masterchef winner Dhruv Baker and Tom Whitaker, while Partisan in Guildford is providing an array of cheeses.

The basement will be transformed into

an event space and tasting room. “There

e’re coming up to what should be the most

wonderful time of the wine

year. If it weren’t for the great unknown facing most of us in the coming 12 months.

So, in a keep-calm-and-try-to-pretend-

it’s-2015 kind of mood, I’ve busied

myself with getting a Christmas wine

brochure together super early, launched it at a customer tasting, accompanied

by a local leaflet drop and social media

case discounts – AND the chance to win a double magnum of Burgundy. If that isn’t tempting enough, I’ve also littered the brochure with guilt-inducing middle-

class phrases such as “shop local” and “support independent businesses” to

shame those who are still tempted to

seek out those barely-legal deals from the multiples. The struggle is real.

are three distinct rooms where we can

I feel exhausted having done this in

new site to accommodate the business’s

when – a couple of days later – one of my

operate tastings,” says Laan.

The access at basement level allows the

warehouse facility too, meaning the existing Horley facility is closing.

Laan says: “In these tricky times you’ve

got to be working your rent as hard as possible.”

can’t wait 30 days for the money (eek). Perhaps they want to get wine writers

hot under the collar for producers these journos would normally never cover

because of the price. Or perhaps trade sales has a toxic relationship with the retail division. Whatever the reason,

they’ve managed to make me feel like

the bottom-feeder in the wine trade food chain. Lack of account management on their part has meant dwindling orders

I’m done with any supplier that treats its trade customers as competition

record time, but I also feel rather smug.

from me. Except for this one wine.

suppliers launches their own consumer

excuse of “crossed wires”. In the short

This self-satisfaction turns to anger

campaign seriously undercutting one of

my selected wines. My super-early timing has clashed with their pre-seasonal mega “we need to shift some stock pronto and get some cash in” deal.

When a supplier also sells direct to the

public, there is always the risk this could happen. Yes, I did track down my rarelysighted account manager to check this

through, who assured me that this wine

I’d selected for my Christmas promotion wouldn’t feature in their own festive offer.

So why not come back to me and

say they’d changed their minds? Why The Reigate venture has 38 wines by the glass

and get double bubble? Perhaps they

not offer me a slashed wholesale price

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 5

I call to complain and am fobbed off

with a paltry credit note and a pathetic term, all I can do now is hope that my customers don’t do internet searches on this wine and – if they do – forget

instantly what they have seen. It has been known to happen.

In the longer term, I am done with this

supplier – and any other that treats its

trade customers as competition. If they

can’t make a decision on who they want

to be, I’ll do it for them – and I’ll increase my spend with suppliers who see us as vital to their existence, even those who sell direct.

As for that wine, I will be blame its

disappearance on Brexit. Finally, an upside …


Building work is nail in indie’s coffin

Owner Rob Bagot says the intention had

always been to consolidate the business at the new, smaller site.

The Settle branch had two floors, and

A Kent wine merchant has been forced

Bagot says he was essentially paying for

to shut up shop after eight years, with

space that didn’t generate any income.

ongoing building work playing a major

Now he has “massively” reduced his

part in the decision to close.

rent bill but he still has plenty of space to

Henry Rymill, who opened the

Tankerton Wine Room near Whitstable

eight years ago, says the landlord of the property started the work in February,

which “severely impacted” on business

and compounded problems caused by “a difficult retail environment” and “a long, tough winter”.

He adds: “We fought very hard to trade

our way out of our difficulties and looked

at other ways of saving the Wine Room. But

display 800 wines. Sam Devaney of the The Rural Vintner

Chester merchant expands its offer After trading in Chester for almost two years, Covino is moving to larger

the building works, which are still ongoing,

premises to include a restaurant.

voluntary liquidation in September with

him to diversify into the restaurant and bar

left us with no other choice.”

The business was subject to a companies

debts of just over £49,000. The liquidator estimated the remaining stock would

realise £250 and furniture and equipment a further £900.

Creditors include Bancroft Wines

(£3,940), Enotria&Coe (£1,141), Jascots

(£2,889) and Lea & Sandeman (£1,724). HMRC is owed VAT of £15,566.

Rymill says he wants to say “a huge

thank you to our customers, suppliers and supporters”.

He adds: “Over the last eight years we

have had a lot of good fun and good wine. “Our wine tastings and events have

always been successful so I am now

going to pursue that avenue and conduct regular wine tastings in various venues

in Whitstable, Tankerton, Canterbury and other places around Kent, as well as seek

For now Bagot is happy to stick with the

one shop and develop his online offering. “We’re in the middle of nowhere –

someone called it a wine shack the other

day, which is a good name for it because it’s a tumbledown-looking building, but inside it’s a contemporary city-style wine shop,

all quite minimalist with tons of bottles,” he says.

Owner Chris Laidler says that retail in

Chester is “almost dead,” which prompted arena with more cocktails and gin.

“We were getting asked for a more

substantial food offering, so we wanted to find somewhere to accommodate a

The new Blossom Street Hangingditch store

restaurant, wine bar and shop within one.”

Stephenson puts a rocket into Ancoats

people, as well as a separate stock room.

Hangingditch owner Ben Stephenson

The cellar space is big enough to house

a private dining room seating up to 14

All the wines available for retail will be

displayed on a shelf, which will run around

and father Roger have unveiled plans

the perimeter of the shop, and there will be

for a project in the Ancoats area of

region of 10% to 20%,” Laidler says.

entertainment and social space that

a take-away list of wines.

“I hope the retail element to be in the

Buon Vino will focus on Austwick

out other opportunities in the wine trade.”

Natural wine specialist Buon Vino,

• Sussex independent The Rural Vintner,

Austwick, North Yorkshire, earlier this

owned by Sam Devaney, has closed its only

year, has now closed its original shop in

branch, at Sheffield Park.

Settle.

which opened a second shop in

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 6

Manchester. They are creating a “wine retail,

works from morning to night” to be called

Blossom Street Social. It will feature guest chefs and street food.

Ben Stephenson says: “Finally! Having

looked at sites all over Manchester we’ve decided there’s no better place than

Ancoats to open our new concept. We’re

hugely excited to expand on the success of Hangingditch and can’t wait to welcome our new neighbours.”


Prohibition couple sell to Jeroboams

“We’ll supply little disposable plates and stuff. Everyone is really excited about it

– we think it’s a really fun thing,” Mannis says.

Prohibition Wines, the north London

She remains tight-lipped about the

independent, has been sold to

precises location for the upcoming fourth

Jeroboams.

store. “There are loads of places we could

The Muswell Hill business was

possibly move to, but for the minute we are

established in 2013 by Paul Shanley and

staying in London,” she says.

Louise van der Straeten, who are now

A treasure trove of fine wine in Mayfair

exploring “new opportunities”.

Shanley is continuing to work in the

store during a transition period before it is rebranded as Jeroboams’ eighth branch in the new year.

He says: “Jeroboams, being very locally

minded, will be keeping the Prohibition

spirit alive and it’s certainly where we will be buying our wine.”

Jeroboams managing director Hugh

Sturges describes the shop as “a real gem”. He adds: “Paul and Louise have worked

hard to ensure the shop is filled with

quality, independent producers. We have a similar philosophy, and 95% of our wines

are sourced directly from producers, most of which are family-owned, and we intend

on working with Paul and Louise to ensure there is a smooth transition.

“We will bring in our expertise and

learning from our other seven shops, to

add extra services such as local delivery, wine storage and valuation facilities.

“We are committed to maintaining the

values of the individual shops and their localities. We are extremely excited to

extend north beyond our Hampstead site, into Muswell Hill.”

Sampler opens wine bar in Putney The Sampler is flying high, with a new shop opening in Putney last month and a fourth store in the pipeline. “It’s slightly different to Islington and

Part of the rebranding of Mews of Part shop, part bar: the new Sampler store in Putney

Mayfair, the chic foodie courtyard behind Bond Street, will include the revival of a long-forgotten wine shop.

Wimbledon in that half of it is a shop

Derryn Nel, boss of Mews of Mayfair,

and the other half is a wine bar. We did

admits that when she joined the company

The unit is situated beside Putney

project to rejuvenate the wine shop, which

a similar thing in South Kensington

originally,” explains director Dawn Mannis. mainline train station, and Mannis feels the inevitably high footfall justifies the addition of a bar. She says: “There are so many things written at the minute

questioning the survival of wine retail. We

do really well on the retail side, but we just think that this location is more suited to have a wine shop and bar.

“We’re trying it out and if it works we’ll

do it again in our next shop, which we’ll be opening next year.”

The bar and shop areas are clearly

defined within the space and there are

Enomatics in both, including what Mannis refers to as the “Old, Rare & Random

Machine,” which contains older vintages and “more fancy” wines.

The Putney site also offers cheese and

charcuterie, something the team have been unable to provide in Islington due to the inconvenient location of the kitchen. So

the new initiative allowing customers to

bring their own cheese and charcuterie to Islington is expected to be well received.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 8

five months ago, she took the job largely

on the prospect of getting her hands on the came complete with a treasure trove of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Over the past 12 years the wine shop

“slowly faded away to nothing,” to the point where it was only used as an event space. Nel has clearly enjoyed liberating the

bottles, including a 1982 Château Latour,

which was raffled off on the opening night. “We have quite a lot of special things in

our cellar and I’ve brought in some Rhône and some South African – it’s a rolling list because it’s things I can only get a small allocation of,” says Nel.

Thanks to a Coravin, these small,

carefully curated parcels will be available to drink in, alongside some cheese and charcuterie, although Nel says she is

unlikely to be opening the £1,000 bottles.

The shop caters to all budgets and wine

styles as the main list ranges from £11 to £190. “We have customers who want a

Pinot Grigio to go with their pizza and we

also have people who come in and buy two bottles of really nice wine,” Nel says.


AUSTRALIA TRADE TASTINGS With more than 100 grape varieties grown across 65 distinct wine regions, we have the freedom to make exceptional wine, and to do it our own way. Join us in January to taste our diverse, exciting styles of wines, from classic to contemporary, rogue to the refined.

London

Edinburgh

Dublin

22 January 2019

28 January 2019

30 January 2019

11am – 6pm

1pm – 6pm

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The Balmoral Hotel, Princes Street

The Round Room, The Mansion House,

WC1B 4DA

EH2 2EQ

2 Dawson Street

Mark your diary and watch out for more details coming soon. www.wineaustralia.com/whats-happening/events uk@wineaustralia.com

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 9


tried & Tested Château Gigognan Côtes du Rhône Vignes du Prieureé 2017

Holden Manz Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2017

Half Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, with

A Meursault-style Chardonnay, in the words of its

affair packed with red fruits and a sprinkling of herbs.

depth and richness on the palate, which is full of

fruit sourced from what is reportedly one of the driest vineyards in the Rhône valley, this is a bold and juicy Definitely not the shy retiring type, but neither is it

showy or bombastic. Drink it and get a Ready-Brek glow. RRP: £14.95

ABV: 14.5%

creators in Franschhoek, which owes some of its

vanilla and spice to French oak. But there’s a natural passion fruit and peaches. Gloriously old-school

Chardonnay, but with the acidity to stop it being flabby. RRP: £26.99

ABV: 15%

Swig (07973 553343)

Vindependents (020 3488 4548)

swig.co.uk

vindependents.co.uk

Château Grand Pré Brouilly 2016

Pierro LTC Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Made by a family-run Beaujolais estate blessed with

old vines, crafting wines as naturally and organically as

Western Australia is achieving impressive results with

that takes you by surprise. There’s also an intriguing

burning Scalextric aroma. The palate itself is no less

they can, this is as pale as the wispiest of wispy Pinots.

But it has a depth of juicy red-fruit flavour and a length bass-note duskiness lurking in the background, which adds to the excitement. RRP: £19.88

ABV: 13%

its Sauvignon/Semillon blends. This is supposed to

smell of wild flowers but we thought it had that joyous electric, fizzing as it is with zesty citrus fruit, but a

creamy undercurrent keeps everything suitably earthed. RRP: £18.95

ABV: 13.5%

Laytons (020 7288 8888)

Uncharted Wines (07909 511064) unchartedwines.com

laytons.co.uk

La Rioja Alta 890 Selección Especial 2005

McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard Reserve BDX 2016

In Rioja there’s a lot of excitement about 2005, which

There’s so much to admire in this biodynamic Margaret

soon to form a definitive conclusion. But it’s hard to

finish. Quite why it invites comparisons with Bordeaux

may yet rival the legendary 1964 vintage. Thirteen

years on, as with the French Revolution, it may be too know how this sumptous, complex and elegant 890

could be bettered – except by yet more time in the bottle. RRP: £120

ABV: 13.5%

Armit (020 7908 0600)

River wine: the silky, juicy dark fruit; the approachable come-and-drink-me style; the clean, mineral-tinged

is hard to fathom, especially with Malbec doing most of the heavy lifting here. No matter. It’s gorgeous. RRP: £22.99

ABV: 14.5%

Louis Latour Agencies (020 7409 7276)

armitwines.co.uk

louislatour.co.uk

Riglos Gran Cabernet Franc 2017

Roger Goulart Cuvée Gran Reserva Cava 2011

The winery’s commercial director talks hopefully about Cabernet Franc being “the new Malbec” in Mendoza,

Goulart physically shakes the cava bottles once a

have contributed towards an intense and lively wine,

evidence it’s doing the job. This is an eminently

and it’s examples like this that make the hyperbole

less fanciful. The consultancy services of Paul Hobbs

a world away from the Loire, but with a distant stalky greenness and a moreish savoury note on the finish. RRP: £22.99

ABV: 14.5%

Vindependents (020 3488 4548) vindependents.co.uk

year during the wines’ five years on the lees in order to extract more flavours and aromatics, and on this

drinkable Xarel-lo dominated fizz, lean and elegant but rounded off by just the right amount of sweetness. RRP: £20.15

ABV: 12%

Hatch Mansfield (01344 871800) hatchmansfield.com

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 10


bits & BOBs FAVOURITE

THINGS

A research project in southern Chile has identified 26 previously unknown grape

Robert Boutflower Tanners Shrewsbury

Magpie

Researchers find new grapes in Chile varieties, and over 60 “uncommon”

bill for vignerons could be estimated. Decanter, October 24

varieties growing in Bío Bío. The project was led by Viñas Inéditas-

Terroir Sonoro winemaker Juan José

Favourite wine on my list

With over 1,200 lines to choose from, this is a moveable feast. Consistently good, affordable, friendly yet with a touch of class: Vacqueras Cuvée des Templiers from Le Clos des Cazaux. Jean-Michel Vache describes himself as “the wine cowboy”.

Favourite wine and food match

I recently had a slab of fruitcake with Tanners Cream Sherry. Outstanding. Also present were the vicar, my grandmother, several ladies from the WI … and our favourite match is a quarter bottle of Rioja with a small cheese sandwich.

Favourite wine trip

Taken by two-man helicopter down

the Colchagua Valley, the winery owner pilot mentioning that he’d fly back over the ocean and there’s no such thing as a free helicopter trip. Luckily we liked the wines.

Favourite wine trade person

The trade is packed with great people but it took Johnny Bingham, of Jackson Nugent, four years to get a listing at Tanners – he never gave up and still visits with a smile on his face!

Ledesma, who has been researching the

hundreds of unidentified vines in Bío Bío since 2011.

“Most of the varieties have been planted

in at least three different vineyards, which

means they have been intentionally chosen as wine grape varieties rather than just being a local mutation,” says Ledesma,

who plans to make wines from these small vineyards of unknown varieties next year. Decanter, October 25

Aude vineyards face flood damage Whole vineyards were submerged by water following mass flooding in the Aude region of southern France, which is reported to have killed 14 people and caused tens of millions of euros of damage to property. Frédéric Rouanet, president of the Aude

Winegrowers Union, estimated that 40% to 50% of the region’s vineyards were

affected by the “catastrophic” floods. He

said it would be weeks before the repair

It saves money on print costs, anyway

Mindfulness and wine ‘don’t match’ Marks & Spencer has been accused of trivialising alcohol addiction by selling wine advertised as stress relieving. The new bottles feature a label for adults

to colour in which the retailer said was “a fun take on the growing trend for adult colouring books that are said to relieve stress”.

But addiction specialist Eileen O’Kellaigh

said: “Whilst I think that mindfulness and meditation can be very helpful, I don’t

agree that it should be accompanied by wine.”

The Telegraph, October 24

winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836

Favourite wine shop

No favouritism on this island, but there’s a cracking shop in Lakka, on the island of Paxos, which is stuffed with different Greek wines – even Jancis has been there.

winemerchantteam@gmail.com

Twitter: @WineMerchantMag

The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 900 specialist independent wine shops. There were only 660 when we launched in 2012, 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

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 12

VAT 943 8771 82


> THE WINEMAKER FILES

Tamra Kelly-Washington, Seresin Estate Tamra began her career at Seresin before travelling to Europe and later settling at Yealands. This year she returned to the Marlborough estate where it all started, which is still owned by renowned cinematographer Michael Seresin

Every winemaker has a different style and a different interpretation of the fruit. I am acutely aware of the philosophy of Seresin and of Michael and the previous team and I really want to hold on to that.

It’s about making the best wine possible from the site; making the wine in the vineyard and just translating that fruit into wines. It’s kind of like the old

saying, “if you’ve got great fruit you don’t need to do too much” – which is true. It’s a

more Old World approach, which is right up my alley because I’ve spent a lot of time working in Europe. Michael has a place in Tuscany and he loves the Italian way of doing things, and I understand that completely.

Seresin Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 RRP: £17.99 This is a classic Marlborough Sauvignon. It's made with natural yeast, and there’s some Semillon in there, which is wonderful and always gives it a bit of definition. It’s gone through malolactic, so it's very atypical. It’s had a bit of barrel work as well: 15% is aged in barrels, which gives it a lovely savoury texture.

It’s not necessarily about exercising the primary fruit of the wines. We’re

making wines with complexity and that comes from our more hands-off approach: using natural yeast; using a lot of other vessels apart from stainless steel. There’s

quite a big oak programme – a neutral oak programme, using larger-format oak, and using clay pots as well, which has been quite fun.

Of course it is a business and you want to make money. But absolutely we want to give the wines time so we don’t do early releases or anything like that. We give

them skin time on lees, particularly the whites. I think already Seresin is leading that charge because they release the wines later and let the wines sit for longer. You’ve automatically got that age without having to put anything down.

Seresin Estate Leah Pinot Noir 2016 RRP: £21.99 It’s bright, vibrant and feminine; it’s beautiful. Fruit largely comes from the Raupo vineyard and parcels from the home vineyard. The Pinot is 100% destemmed but not crushed. It all goes into the opentop fermenters. It’s not screaming "this is a New World Pinot". There’s some structure behind it.

I’ve always been a huge fan of making Sauvignon. It’s not that cool to have

Sauvignon as your number one, but I think for me, particularly seeing the Raupo vineyard and the many different styles that we’re getting from the same site, it’s fascinating and I enjoy working with these different plots.

I’m on a big learning curve with organic fruit, especially with Seresin. But I worked with one vineyard that converted to organics and the change in quality

was just amazing in three to four years. The soundness of the fruit; less disease, the thicker skins are more resilient and just the flavour … I couldn’t believe it.

There are lots of things going on at Seresin and these are really exciting times. I feel honoured to be working with such an iconic brand. I look at it and I think, gosh

Seresin Estate Raupo Creek 2013 RRP: £38 This is coming from some small select plots. Here we have almost 20% new oak, and extended time on skins. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered so it’s very much a true expression of the site. This has had time – and it’s ageing beautifully.

– even the packaging is still so relevant today.

Seresin Estate is imported into the UK by Louis Latour Agencies www.louislatour.co.uk 020 7409 7276

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 13 11


just williams

Nothing like the real thing Public campaigns to encourage us to take a month off from alcohol are patronising and scientifically flawed. And to make matters worse, nobody has yet produced a non-alcoholic wine that replicates the taste experience of what we’re used to

A

s I write this, we’ve had three weeks of the tenth month of 2018, and so far, a few days of illness-enforced abstinence aside – and for all the best efforts of the ubiquitous

posters, ads, articles and radio segments imploring me to do the contrary – I have managed to avoid going sober for October.

A part of me wants to write a letter to the organisers of autumn’s

now-established festival of sobriety to tell them that, thanks to their patronising intervention, I’ve actually chosen to drink far

more than I normally would. That I’ve been getting “falling-down drunk for the fall”, “rat-arsed for the harvest”, or something else

that’s as silly and trite as their own infantilising instruction, and

that their whole campaign has brought out the Spectator-reading reactionary in me.

At least the organisers of Dry January – another event I’ve

always taken a perverse pride in ignoring – have the decency not

to try to dress up their event with a happy-clappy title: there’s no joy in “dry”, no false promise that the dark, dank first days of the year will be anything but a joyless trudge made all the worse by

having to forgo so much as a weekly drop of wine. Have yourself

a dry little January: dry like a desert. Dry like a mouthful of sand. Dry like a compendium of Alcohol in Moderation press releases. I am not being entirely flippant. I write as someone who has

Of course, alcohol is a key part of wine’s allure much of the time – but not all of the time

actually taken steps to reduce my alcohol intake quite significantly in the past few years, and who has some sympathy for those

public-spirited types who would like to help us all live a healthier life.

But the fact is there’s no evidence that periods of abstinence

are any good at all for our health. Like extreme diets, they tend to

lead to swings of consumption – a purge-binge cycle – that, as the Royal Academy of Physicians says, actually does more harm even than regular mildly excessive drinking. Far better to spread your

abstinence in a regular pattern through the year – a few days off, a

few days of sensible drinking on – than to delude yourself you’ll be able to somehow clean up your liver while you’re polishing your halo and eating too much compensatory chocolate for one long month.

The cynic in me might suggest that wine merchants shouldn’t,

therefore, be too worried about the effects on sales of these two

high-profile campaigns, since booming business at the beginning of February and November, as the “binge” part of the cycle kicks

in, should compensate for any loss of sales during the “purges” of January and October.

Of course, in reality, what really worries wine merchants is not

the immediate loss of business caused by these voluntary periods of prohibition, so much as the general move against alcohol that

they represent. There’s a creeping and justified anxiety about the tobacco-fication of their trade, a fear that the drip-drip of anti-

alcohol feeling will lead to a delegitimising of alcohol sales that,

as Ernest Hemingway said of bankruptcy, will happen slowly and

then all at once. After all, it took 50 years for campaigners to bring about the smoking ban in pubs in 2007. Just eight years later,

smokers had to ask retailers to open their secret portal of shame

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 14


© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS / stockadobe.com

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

Some of David Williams’s friends on October 1

to get their hands on a £10 pack of 20.

While they may be significantly better than the vast majority

That fears about the future viability of alcohol are very much

of low-alcohol wines, these best in class would score poorly in a

greatly expanded their ranges of low and no-alcohol wines in the

comparative line-up. Clever use of hops, it seems, can do a lot to

front of mind in the trade was particularly evident at this autumn’s round of supermarket press tastings. All of the supermarkets have past couple of years, and there were numerous opportunities to

see if a category that has grown by between 10% and 20% in the past year (depending on which market researcher you believe), has become any more appetising.

The answer was not especially encouraging. Torres Natureo, a

close-to-zero-alcohol brand that was launched by the Spanish firm in 2008 and has steadily improved ever since, remains by far the

most palatable. These are no-alcohol wines that actually taste like

wine rather than some kind of sulphury fruit juice. Penfolds comes next, with a creditable range of which a sparkler (maybe because of the distracting, volume-bringing bubbles) was a standout. And then there’s Adnams, which, intriguingly, made

lower-alcohol (including a pair of lithe and drinkable,

Kabinett-like 9% abv whites from Forrest in Marlborough) a focus of their table at this year’s Bunch tasting. The

company’s own-label 0.5% Garnacha Rosé, also from Spain (Valdepeñas), is another that scores for giving a relatively

convincing impression of a wine-type sensual experience.

blind tasting with conventional wine. Much more poorly, I would suggest, than their equivalents in the beer world in a similar

fill in the palate-gaps left by taking the alcohol out. Winemakers, by contrast, have yet to find a truly satisfying way of making up

for the loss of body and texture caused by even the most sensitive spinning-cone technology.

I don’t, unlike many in the wine trade, have an ideological

conviction that wine has to contain alcohol to be wine. Of course, alcohol is a key part of its allure much of the time – but not all the time. I would genuinely welcome a product that offers the

same complexity and texture and food-matching and digestive

properties of wine without the accompanying mind-and-moodaltering hit. But this particular Holy Grail seems a long way off. Where does that leave wine merchants, trying to hold on to

increasingly health-conscious but flavour-loving consumers? A big and varied range of fine tea could be one possibility. Kombucha

may, I’m afraid, be another. But at a time of dry and sober months,

one thing is as clear as a hangover-free morning: low-alcohol wine is not yet the answer.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 15


12

song lyrics that mention wine

‘The sun is yellow, I’m drinking Brunello!’

For an industry that consumes more than its fair share of the product, the pop world has produced some pretty rubbish lyrics about wine. Here are a dozen of our, er, favourites ERIC CLAPTON: BOTTLE OF RED WINE

STEREOPHONICS: CARROT CAKE AND WINE

The guitar god certainly lives up to his “slow

Controversial food matching advice from the

EMMYLOU HARRIS: TWO MORE BOTTLES OF WINE

hand” nickname when it comes to retrieving

Welsh rockers. “I’d just like to try some carrot

A sad story of rejected love: “Two months later

drinks from the kitchen. “Get up, get your man a

cake and wine,” pleads Kelly Jones, though

got trouble in mind. My baby moved out and left

bottle of red wine,” he demands. “I can’t get out

he’s ready for the inevitable rejection from those

me behind. But it’s all right ‘cos it’s midnight,

of bed with this crazy feeling in my head. Get up.

stuffy wine-trade squares. “Can’t I taste my

and I got two more bottles

Get your man a bottle of red

carrot cake? Why can’t I try?

of wine.” Perhaps she

wine.” There is such a word

Why should I lie? Try some of

should give Eric Clapton a

as “please”, Eric, even at six

my carrot cake and wine.” Oh

call – sounds like his ideal

in the morning.

go on then.

woman.

BARBARA STREISAND: HOW DOES THE WINE TASTE?

NWA: DON’T DRINK THAT WINE Probably best not to ask the Compton hip-

JERRY LEE LEWIS: DRINKIN’ WINES SPO-DEE-O-DEE

Beautiful singer, accomplished actress, bloody

hopsters to cover for you in the shop during your

“Way down in New Orleans everything’s fine,”

awful WSET tutor: “How does the wine taste?

annual holiday. “Don’t drink that wine, coke would

assures Jerry, before contradicting himself. “All

Does it stain your lips? What is the fruit like? Just

be better. It’s easy to find. If that won’t do, smoke

them cats just drinkin’ that wine. Drinkin’ that

beyond my finger tips? Just

a joint or two. But don’t

mess is sure delight … when they

out of reach I see so much.

drink that wine, woooaahhh

get slop drunk they sing all night.”

I cannot taste and mustn’t

that wine.” But those artisan

It’s probably a really entertaining

touch.” It’s your class, Barbs,

crisps are quite nice, aren’t

YouTube clip, but completely

you can do what you like.

they lads?

contrary to RSPCA guidelines.

NIRVANA: BEANS

VAN MORRISON: STOP DRINKING

DEMIS ROUSSOS: SUMMER WINE

It’s back to school for Kurt Cobain and friends,

Sensible drinking advice from the old Belfast

“Strawberries, cherries and an angel kissing

specifically to the science lesson where the

curmudgeon: “You gotta stop drinking that wine,

spring – my summer wine is really made from all

teacher should have explained the difference

sonny boy,” he warns. “If you don’t stop drinking

these things,” boasts the hirsute Greek crooner,

between solids, liquids and gases. “Wine, wine,

that wine, it’s gonna poison your mind.” Could

somewhat improbably. Just put it with the rest

wine. Jessie had some wine. He was happy,

Van be the temperance

of the rosés, Demis, and

happy, happy. And he ate

movement’s new poster boy?

please don’t write any

some wine.” To be fair, maybe

Probably not: “You drink

of that stuff on the shelf

it was one of those really

Champagne, it’s gonna be

talker. “Good picnic wine”

dense Uruguayan Tannats.

better for you,” he confides.

will suffice.

THE WHO: OLD RED WINE

THE BEE GEES: ALL THIS MAKING LOVE

TORI AMOS: STRONG BLACK VINE

We go live to Roger Daltrey’s cellar. “Old red wine,

Pop stars have it tough. “I can make it to the top,

Lyricists normally duck out of the big issues

well past its prime, may have to finish it, after

but then I gotta stop,” pants an exhausted Barry

facing vignerons with their “kisses sweeter than

crossing the line. Dusty old wine, two thousand

Gibb half way up the

wine” nonsense, but Tori Amos is prepared

a time, an inch of black mud always left behind

stairs. “But I’m all right,

to discuss viticulture and namecheck actual

… Expensive old wine, 40

I’m really fine. It’s just

appellations in her work. “Take a

years lying; mice chewed

the wine and all this

strong black vine and you’ll drink

the labels, don’t know what

making love.” Get the

good red wine,” is her hot tip.

we’re buying.” Er … got

poor guy a chair and an

“The sun is big and yellow while

any Jacob’s Creek, Rodge?

ice-pack, someone.

I’m drinking my good Brunello.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 16


> THE WINEMAKER FILES Marcos Fernandez, Doña Paula Doña Paula was founded in 1997 in the Luján de Cuyo in Mendoza. Head winemaker Marcos studied winemaking as Don Bosco University and worked in California and across Argentina before taking the reins in 2014

I wanted to be a doctor. I went to a

I remember it was impossible to sell

or any kind of product for tartaric

lab of a winery. It was supposed to be two

independents.

producers. All our wines are suitable for

school in Mendoza with a lot of chemistry which offered the chance to work in the

weeks, half days. I was working for three months, 12 hours a day. Wines are like

Argentinean wines above £20. Now we

have a lot of space in restaurants and in One of the reasons I moved to Doña

stabilisation. We don’t use enzymes, and

only about a third of the sulphur of most vegans and vegetarians, and gluten-free.

people: they are born, they grow, they can

Paula was that I knew the potential of

I started my career from scratch, from

are in the cooler areas of Mendoza.

higher. An Italian variety we planted

at harvest time. Every year we are

to Bonarda. We are extremely surprised

be sick. I want to be the doctor of wines.

the bottom, working in the lab and the cellar. I always say if you want to be a

good chef you first have to learn how to clean the dishes.

Argentina started making good wines at the beginning of 2000. Now a younger generation is making wines

the vineyards. It’s a 100% estate-owned

We are planting more Cabernet Franc now, and more Pinot Noir in our lowest

producer. The four vineyards that we have vineyards – we used to plant it much I love being in the vineyards, especially picking a little bit earlier and paying more attention to the freshness in the fruit. After two and a half years we now

have the certificate of sustainable

that are fresher, less over-ripe, less oaky.

practices which covers viticulture

I feel that we are writing the first pages

produce, from entry-level and up, is very

four years ago and are really happy with is Ancellotta. It’s very close genetically

with the extreme density of colour, the

low alcohol, the texture and the aroma.

It’s less fruity than Malbec but with more spice complexity.

We are very independent in the

Wines that represent their place.

and winemaking processes. That’s

winemaking process. We have an

of the story of high-end wine from

minimal intervention. We don’t use any

in to the viniviticultural director of Santa

Mendoza. I can see the premiumisation in my last two trips to the UK. In 2006

important to us because everything we chemical products for stablisation. We don’t use any kind of fining products

exchange of ideas with Santa Rita and

Carmen, and of course we have to report

Rita Estates, but I feel lucky that we have

beautiful vineyards, and a lot of freedom.

Doña Paula Estate Riesling 2016

Doña Paula Estate Blue Edition 2016

Doña Paula Seleccion de Bodega 2015

RRP: £12.99

RRP: £12.99

RRP: £35

We are having great success with our Riesling from high-altitude vineyards. You have texture, length and a long finish – it goes very well with fish and ceviche. This Riesling can carry everything connected with seafood and it also goes very well with anything citric or with lime.

This is a beautiful full-bodied blend of Bonarda, Pinot Noir and Malbec. We are famous for single-vineyard blends and different altitude blends. We call this a velvet blend because it's so soft, feminine and elegant. It's creamy with a great mid palate and high-intensity aromas.

We pick grapes from our highest vineyard in Gualtallary, which is like the grand cru of Mendoza. Our flagship wine is the result of multiple steps of selection, in the vineyard first and in the winery later and then the ageing. Every barrel that goes into the selection is a very lucky barrel.

Doña Paula wines are imported into the UK by Hallgarten www.hdnwines.co.uk 01582 722 538

THETHEWINE WINE MERCHANT MERCHANTnovember november 2018 2018 15 17


bordeaux briefing

Quality assurance Allan Sichel, president of the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (CIVB), talks to Graham Holter about the decision to pull away from bargain-basement price points, a complicated but exciting vintage, and why the UK will still be a major focus, whatever Brexit brings

B

ack in about 1991, aged 22, a

took the easy route simply because they

weekly treat was a bottle of Irsai

knew they could label their wines as

Oliver, a Sainsbury’s own-label

Bordeaux? Sichel accepts this may have

priced £2.19. One day, finding some extra

been the case, simply because “competition

cash in my pocket, I decided to triple my

was not as fierce as it is today”.

wine spend. I headed to the fine wine

“All this has changed now with the

section and selected a £7 Bordeaux.

new generation of winemakers,” he says,

It was a crushing disappointment. If

“and with the quality-control procedures

that’s what Bordeaux tastes like, I decided,

we have changed radically. And with the

I’ll stick to the cheap Hungarian stuff.

benefit of successful vintages, we are at a

I relate this to Allan Sichel. Could that

new level of offer which is completely in

story be reliving itself every day in UK

line with consumer expectations. We feel

supermarkets, even now? What kind

that all that competition has spurred on

of quality can consumers expect from

Bordeaux to produce a more reliable bottle

Bordeaux at the bottom end of the price

ladder, and isn’t there a risk that countless

of wine from vintage to vintage.”

young consumers are being turned away

Allan Sichel: “We know disappointing wines did reach the market”

Sichel says the Bordeaux has made a

wine in UK supermarkets. We feel that at

from what must still be regarded as the world’s premier wine region?

“strategic decision” to move away from

bargain-basement wines. “That is with the realisation that we cannot produce cheap wines in Bordeaux,” he explains.

“If you try to aim for higher yields

or shave off costs, you end up with a disappointing wine.”

Sichel regards the realistic entry point

for Bordeaux in the UK as £7, but says just a little further up, at £10 to £15, “we are always very proud of the quality”.

“We have to set the threshold somewhere

and that is why we are saying £7, because it’s above the average price of a bottle of

£7 we can produce a good bottle of wine that won’t disappoint the consumer.

“Now, is that always true? It might not be

the case – we cannot monitor every bottle of wine that is put on the supermarket shelf, although we do have a control

process in Bordeaux in that whoever

bottles the wine is forever responsible for the quality of wine in that bottle.”

Sichel admits that “10 or 15 years ago,

a lot of wines might not have been up to

scratch”. He adds: “We know disappointing wines did reach the market.”

Is there a sense that too many producers

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 18

It was a complicated year for Bordeaux

vignerons which ended in an early harvest: the first white grapes were picked on

August 20 and the reds were in by mid September.

“We had fantastic weather in August

and September, right through to October,” says Sichel. “We had a little bit of rainfall

recently which was probably a good thing for the last Cabernet Sauvignons.

“Those warm temperatures in August

and September were balanced out

with cool nights, which is good for the

complexity and the aromas in our wines.” Sichel is “very excited” by red wine

quality this year, with berries typically

arriving with thick skins, concentrated

flavour and freshness. Quantity is a slightly


?

THE BURNING QUESTION

How do initiatives like Stoptober and Dry January affect your business? lot more people seemed to do Dry January �thisA year. I always thought Stoptober was a smoking thing. I think there is generally a trend for people to drink a bit less, especially when they reach middle age and start to exercise a bit more; drinking less but hopefully drinking better. We’re meeting the demand for better low and non-alcoholic drinks and we’ve expanded our range of non-alcoholic beers and mixers. Seedlip is popular.

different issue. Last year there were severe frosts in Bordeaux, which resulted in a

small harvest. Mildew caused problems

this year, downgrading what should have

been a bumper crop to an average one.

Ben Watkins Guildford Wine Company

“We are back to a normal 10-year

average with the 2018 vintage in terms of

volume. That keeps us in a nicely balanced situation,” says Sichel.

How important is the UK? Sichel insists that, as well as looking after its American and European export markets, Bordeaux

is still focused on British trade. “From an

individual exporter’s point of view, we are

seeing a lot of people who want to be more present in the UK market,” he says.

Boo-hoo to that I say – it’s not good for us. I have noticed that the alcohol-free market has increased. In the window display we have our Oktoberfest beers and a whole alcohol-free section saying ‘ready for Stoptober’. January is a double whammy because people don’t need to buy alcohol as they’ve probably over-bought at Christmas or received bottles as gifts. The first three months of the year are just horrible.

Aimee Davies Aimee’s Wine House, Bristol

Many of these exporters are “seeing

a difficulty in doing business with the

doing Try January so you have to try a �newWe’re wine every day during the month. October

supermarkets” and so their attention

is turning naturally to more specialist

is usually a steady time for us. Nobody has really mentioned Stoptober – we’ll probably use a lot of the samples we get in October from our suppliers to try out on our customers. If we get something new we always invite the customers to try it to see if we want to stock it. We’ll promote that they spit it out! We took more money last October than we did in September.

customers. The CIVB is doing its bit with an ongoing campaign to raise awareness

of Bordeaux, while producers are making a “new style of wine that is perfectly in line

with consumer expectations”.

Will Brexit derail any of this work? Sichel

believes that exporters will soon adapt to

any administrative changes on the borders and predicts that UK customers will take

an equally businesslike approach. When it

comes to exchange rates, all anyone can do is hope for the best.

“We are hoping the relationship won’t

change,” he says. “The British people are pragmatic and business-orientated and inclined to find ways of doing trade.

“The UK trades so much at the top end

of the market – it imports a lot, it exports a

lot, so we feel that we need to find a way to make sure Bordeaux remains a big part of the UK wine trade.”

Tim Watson The Grape to Glass, Rhos-on-Sea I think more so. Stoptober hasn’t really reached �theDryruralJanuary depths of West Sussex. People tend to cut back in January for financial as well as health reasons. Wine sales are only about 20% [of the business] and so people continue to pop in to buy other things. There has been more interest in vegan or vegetarian wines so people are more interested about what is in their wine, and they definitely want quality rather than quantity.

Mark Robinson Pallant of Arundel

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584 THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 19


> THE WINEMAKER FILES Gordon Russell, Esk Valley Gordon might have become an architect or joined the music industry but he got the wine bug and started out as a cellar hand. He is celebrating 25 years as Esk Valley winemaker, where concrete-fermented reds and aromatic whites are his hallmark

I took a love of wine and turned it into a job, and that turned into a career and that turned into my life. Sir George Fistonich bought Esk Valley in 1986 and

he gave me the winemaking job in 1993. It’s quite a good innings really.

I’ve always employed assistant winemakers whose interest is far more scientific than mine. I know

what happens when I do something.

Why it happens I’m not necessarily that

interested in, but I surround myself with people who will have those answers if

needs be. It’s about learning about your vineyards and the possibilities they can

provide. It’s about trying to interpret the

vintage. I try to bring some consistency of

ever but we use a lot fewer new barrels,

think it was very boundary-pushing. In

and to age wines naturally.

it sums up everything I really like about

and barrels of varying sizes and ages for different levels of contact with the lees

The red wines are very much defined by fermentation in concrete. That’s what we’ve done at Esk Valley since

2007 we turned the irrigation off and

never turned it on again. It’s organic and wine, trying to capture the essence of the place.

I feel I have total independence in

1993. We have learned to cherish that

terms of wine style and quality. For

We are picking earlier now. We have

with a smile that I spend the money and

opportunity that we have.

a preference to make wines which are

fresher, brighter and more delicious, and also perhaps appreciate acidity more these days than in the past.

The Terraces is an amazing vineyard

25 years I’ve pretended I own Esk Valley and I’ve been encouraged to do so! I say Villa Maria pays the bills. The benefit of being part of a bigger company is

the resources I have access to that a company of our size wouldn’t have.

We’ve been selling to independents

quality and an Esk Valley signature.

on the north-facing flank at Esk Valley,

and regional wholesalers from

whites and reds. Our whites get

getting 100% of the sun. It’s very close

harvest it as a field blend, in a single day.

day one. We’ve never sold to any

I knew no one else in the world who was

is one of Hatch’s biggest suppliers to

We use lees a lot more now for both regularly stirred and we try to fill them out, and there’s less hurry to bottle

them. We use probably more oak than

to the ocean, on shale and limestone. We mad enough to harvest Malbec, Merlot

and Cabernet Franc at the same time so I

Esk Valley Verdelho 2018

Esk Valley Pinot Gris 2017

RRP: £13.75

RRP: £13.75

Selected in The Wine Merchant's Top 50 New Zealand Wines 2018. From absolutely zero knowledge of the variety it’s been a voyage of discovery and interest. Anything between 30% and 50% we will barrel-ferment with wild yeast to give the wine texture, flesh and richness.

In a sea of Chardonnay in a Hawke's Bay vineyard called Keltern I have a plot of Pinot Gris. Dare I say it, I make it more like an Italian Pinot Grigio than an Alsace wine! It has creaminess, richness and complexity but also nerve and the backbone, and peach and apricot aromatics.

supermarkets. Patrick [McGrath at Hatch Mansfield] would suggest that Esk Valley independents in this country. They’ve

been a very loyal bunch over the years. Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet 2013 RRP: £25.05 A very famous New Zealand wine. We originally went the Merlot, right-bank route; Malbec then crept into the blend – it just seemed to make the wine more fulfilling. Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon allow us to layer-up the complexity.

Esk Valley wines are imported into the UK by Hatch Mansfield www.hatchmansfield.com 01344 871800

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 20


BOOK REVIEW

Coffee and Wine Two Worlds Compared Morten Scholer Troubador, £30

I

t’s understandable if the wine trade sometimes casts an envious glance

at the coffee business. It’s taxed less,

the margins are higher, there’s no anti-

caffeine lobby asking awkward questions

and its consumers appear knowledgeable, aspirational and evangelical.

Yet it seems the envy flows in both

directions. In his preface, Morten Scholer

bulletpoints and tables, some of which are more illuminating than others.

At times the effect is rather like

being machine-gunned with nuggets of information, much of it familiar to

anyone who has ever read a wine (or

perhaps coffee) textbook. Scholer’s cup is certainly overflowing with the results of the research he’s done and he’s eager to share it. Anyone ever in search of a “did you know?”-type titbit to throw into a

newsletter or tasting evening will find rich pickings indeed within these 300 pages.

It turns out that as well as vin de merde

being a thing, there is also “shit coffee”,

processed from the digestive systems or saliva of Brazilian birds, Thai elephants,

There is a similar chart for wine, but there

as they do in the wine business?”

is little evident correlation.

Scholer, a Dane who served as a senior

adviser at the United Nations for 14 years,

Are there any conclusions to draw?

is well qualified to talk about coffee. His

Perhaps, though their practical use is not

UN role involved assisting growers and

immediately apparent. The “value chain”

exporters and he has served on the boards

for coffee is far longer than it is for wine –

of more than 30 companies, some of them

seasonal vineyard work in his youth and an evident enjoyment of the end product.

Yet for all his coffee know-how, Scholer

considers himself a neutral outsider, well placed to make comparisons and present contrasts. The approach is less scholarly than it might sound: in the book, a brief section on coffee is followed by a brief

section on wine covering broadly the same themes (coffee production by country/ wine production by country; acidity in

coffee/acids in wine). Occasionally, but not often, the two worlds collide in a shared

section of narrative, and it’s here that you

sense that a denser, geekier and ultimately more stimulating tale might lurk. But

instead the focus is on factoids, graphs,

is among the lowest in Europe, at 3.5kg

but half of what the Germans knock back.

at coffee conferences is “why don’t we do

about any wine expertise, aside from

and Danes. In the UK, coffee consumption per head, twice as much as the Russians

reports that a question he regularly hears

in the coffee industry. He makes few claims

Scholer worked for the UN for 14 years

“Get a move on, the Finns are coming!”

Indian monkeys, Indonesian cats and Costa Rican bats. It certainly makes the natural

winemaking trend seem rather less radical, though that won’t be enough to impress any vegans.

The world league table of coffee drinkers

is led by the Scandinavian countries, with

the Finns consuming 12kg per head every year, followed by the Norwegians, Swedes

the product is processed, bought and sold

many times before reaching the consumer. The big wine companies are smaller than the big coffee companies. And Scholer

argues that, regardless of how much some people will pay for a berry that emerges from a cat’s rear end, coffee has fewer

opportunities than wine to enhance quality and realise higher prices. Perhaps the wine industry should be happy with its lot after all.

Graham Holter

Anyone ever in search of a ‘didyou-know?’-type titbit will find rich pickings indeed within these pages

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 21


© Photocreo Bednarek / stockadobe.com

reader visit to tuscany

There are worse places to be without a satnav

Travels in Tuscany It’s been a while since we took a group of merchants to enjoy the legendary Tuscan hospitality and taste wines aimed at independents. Sarah McCleery reports on an eventful few days

Day 1: Satnavs and serendipity

L

ike certain grape varieties, some road signs are

international. From the tour bus, we see a red circle

with a horizontal white rectangle at its centre. The not

unreasonable expectation is that we are going to turn the other

way. We don’t. There’s the obligatory shrug of the shoulders from our Italian driver, Giacomo, who carries on regardless, has a nice

chat with the equally ambivalent driver of an oncoming Fiat Panda

and then grumbles and mumbles accusingly at both the satnav and

iPhone he has switched on – both of which tell him to go the other way.

Forging an independent path is, as it turns out, a trait that

Giacomo shares with many of the winemakers we meet on our

three day whistle-stop tour of Tuscany. Giacomo has set the tone – we are set to be surprised at almost every turn.

Our first tasting is a seaside affair with Ivan Giuliani, owner and

winemaker at Terenzuola. With coastal vineyards in the DOCs of

Colli di Luni and Cinque Terre Bianco, the focus is on Vermentino. The wines have a style and flair that’s more haute-couture than

high-street; sophisticated and made with great attention to detail,

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 22


None of us have tried Vermentino Nero before … not unlike a lighter Beaujolais Cru, it is a much-admired surprise they are textured and mineral. For some, these will be the best Vermentino wines of the trip.

But the stop-sign moment – the one where we are all taken by

surprise – is the Vermentino Nero. None of us have tasted one

before. The grape came perilously close to extinction after the

Second World War but was rescued by a handful of producers in the Massa in the 1980s.

What impresses the buyers is the wine’s bright scent, minerality

and crunchy red berry fruits. Not unlike a lighter Beaujolais Cru

or Pinot Noir, it is a much-admired surprise. Giuliani is one of only five producers working with the variety in the DOC.

With palates refreshed, we head to Bolgheri, home of the so-

called Super-Tuscans.

The Fornacelle red wines are classy but the estate’s IGT Bianco

– a 50/50 blend of Sémillon and Fiano – is a wine that captures

the imagination. As owner Silvia Billi explains, the feeling was that as Bolgheri had proven to be a successful spot for Bordeaux red

cultivars, it was worth trying with the whites. They had planned to make a sweet wine but, well, it didn’t quite end up that way

and instead this dry blend was born. Full-bodied, textured and

with ripe apricot fruits, it isn’t what anyone was expecting from Bolgheri.

A presence of Cabernet Franc in

the vineyard isn’t surprising but the Foglio 38, made uniquely

from the grape, most certainly is. Elegant and with a strong

varietal character, it is deeply

impressive.

Heading north, day one

finishes at La Regola, close to the

town of Riparbella. When you see the

word “surprise!” on any itinerary, it would be wise to be cautious, but there isn’t a body who doesn’t do what they’re told and enter the barrel-ageing room with their eyes tightly shut.

Before opening our eyes, it’s the resonating, vibrating sound

that hit us and then comes the 45 metres of fresco walls which

depict a cosmic dance along both long sides of the room. At the

opposite end there is a great illuminated planet on the centre wall with an array of human faces whose eyes are closed, symbolising man looking inward and feeling infinity stretch out beyond him.

The creation is Stefano Tonelli’s and is, without doubt, one of the most unique barrel rooms most of us have seen.

Day 2: Clones and caves

W

e are an eager bunch and opt for an early start the next morning so we can have a brief stop in the

hilltop town of Montalcino. Giacomo embraces the

extra time allowance, seemingly plotting a route independent of the screens in front of him. There’s another no-entry drive, this

time down a cobblestone street that is barely wider than the bus and precariously steep.

Tommasi is a slick, quality producer, familiar to many. With

wineries in Veneto, all the way south to Puglia, the family have

a knack for identifying quality vineyards and snapping them up. They have two Tuscan ventures: Casisano in Montalcino and Poggio al Tufo in Maremma.

The consistency across the Tommasi wines is impressive. The

2010 Brunello di Montalcino and the 2012 Brunello Riserva

Brunello di Montalcino both steal hearts. Not quite in the same

league but “good fun” is a 100% Alicante Bouchet from Maremma, which is both super-concentrated and fresh.

Brunello di Montalcino is clearly a good seller in the UK but

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a trickier prospect. There is

customer confusion over the name, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano being all about the Sangiovese grape and not, confusingly, the Montepulciano variety. Perhaps the future of Vino Nobile de

Montepulciano can be secured by artisan winemakers like the

de Ferraris at Boscarelli who have analysed every vineyard plot, sought out superior clones and preserved indigenous varieties

such as Canaiolo, Colorino and Mammolo for blending purposes. The Nocio dei Boscarelli is a Vino Nobile cru, coming from a

four-hectare plot where different types of Sangiovese vines have been nurtured over the past three decades to produce a very

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 23

Continues page 24


reader visit to tuscany

Bottom left: Antonio Spurio of Nittardi; top right, Nic Rezzouk of Reserve Wines and Jake Crimmin of Barrique

Day 3: Tractors and Tempranillo

From page 23

unique selection of Sangiovese Prugnolo Gentile. It makes for

extraordinary drinking: richly fruited, complex and broad, with amazing vitality and sense of terroir.

The endearingly inquisitive Fabio Cenni, owner of Colle Santa

Mustiola is, you sense, a man who follows his nose. A scientist and a researcher, his programme of clonal selection in the vineyards

has been fastidious. In the 1980s he caught sight of what looked

like a cave on the property, obscured by decades of vegetation. He eventually dug his way clear to an Etruscan tomb, complete with

funerary artefacts. It’s an extraordinary sight and a very cool way to get to any barrel room.

A stunning, almost Bandol-like rosé kick-starts the tasting of

IGT Sangiovese wines. The red Poggio ai Chiari is fermented for 45 days, 25 of which are “cappello sommerso” (submerged cap fermentation) and spends between five and six years in both

barriques and 20-hectolitre Slavonian oak barrels and two years in bottle before release. The patient, non-interventionist winemaking does, in this instance, yield impressive results.

T

he next morning it is extremely tempting to abandon Giacomo and his bus because we are at Tolaini, a

property owned by Pier Luigi Tolaini who left Italy for

north America where he made his fortune in transportation and logistics. This is significant because he is the inventor of a truly

great thing: a mini tractor on caterpillar wheels that each of the 22 pickers has for the harvest. The seat faces the vines and the basket for the fruit is towed behind. There’s even an umbrella that can be attached on hot days, to protect the workers from the sun.

Ingenuity, inventiveness and a determination to be the best

are evident in the Tolaini wines; international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot have a

strong presence but there’s a 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico

that comes from a single vineyard. Across the board the attention to detail is evident.

Up into the hills we head to visit Nittaridi, famous for the labels

and wrapping paper that it commissions an artist to create each year for its Casanuova di Nittardi wine. It’s worth a visit to the

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 24


winery to see just the original artworks both on the walls and in

the gardens. It’s a winery that’s very much in the forest, with the vines sitting among and below olive trees and woodland.

Nittardi’s Chianti Classico wines woin the prize for quality and

value for money. It is a tasting dominated by oohs and ahhs of

approval. We also taste the wines they make in Maremma. Nectar Dei is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot that finds favour amongst the buyers.

Quercia al Poggio is breathtakingly beautiful, with stunning

views at every turn. It’s also certified organic and uses many

biodynamic practices. Director Paola Banchi hosts one of the most

Tuscan treats: indie highlights Gemma Welden, The Jolly Vintner, Tiverton “Vermentino Nero I’d never had before and I thought it would work well with my customers. When it came to the more traditional wines like Chianti and Brunello, it wasn’t until we tried the more accessible styles, ready for drinking now, that I felt they were wines I could sell. My customers want a bottle theny can drink the day they buy it.” Jake Crimmin, Barrique, Lytham “Nittardi was a magical place – I loved the story. Super-Tuscans: the moment has passed, and it seems like this is a turning point with more focus on going back to traditional varieties, which is a reflection of not just winemakers’ interests but also customer demands.”

impressive vineyard tours of the trip with detailed descriptions of the various plots and their characteristics.

The wines of Quercia al Poggio are classic Chianti and showcase

the potential of Sangiovese; structure, elegance and longevity. It is

here that we try our first 100% Ciliegiolo, Canto della Pieve, which comes from the single vineyard La Fonte. Ciliegiolo means “little

cherry” and it’s aptly named, giving much of the fruit on the nose and palate. Fun to pronounce and delicious to drink.

Faced with a 100-year-old, ungrafted Tempranillo vine, you

might think Giacomo had finally ditched the satnav and taken

us to Spain but no, we arrive at Pietro Beconcini, producer of

Tempranillo and Sangiovese. For 13 years winemaker Leonardo Beconcini made a wine he called X, simply because he’d no

Kelli Coxhead, The Wine Shop, Winscombe “I can drive the wines that I am excited about. Ciliegiolo – of course! – and Nittardi because of availability: great wine and a lush story. They had some very affordable wines, though maybe stylistically the Chianti Classico wines wouldn’t be what my customers were expecting.” Cat Brandwood, Toscanaccio, Winchester “I’ll definitely revisit my list, based on what we’ve tasted. The Tommasi wines were a highlight for me because they’re so polished and they sell well. Customers are willing to pay a bit more for Tuscan wines but some of what we tasted were too expensive.”

idea what the vines were. In time he came to realise they were

Tempranillo and as a result of his research and lobbying, the grape became an allowed variety in Tuscany in 2009.

The three 100% Tempranillo wines have all of the grape’s

natural juiciness but with a decidedly Tuscan feel. IXE comes

from younger vines, whilst the Vigna Le Nicchie is a powerful expression of pre-phylloxera vines.

Beconcini’s Sangiovese wines are amongst the most supple and

juiciest of the tour and find fans among the group.

We arrive at Fattoria Fibbiano in the dark, the cypress trees

illuminated by the bus headlights alone. A vineyard tour will

have to wait for the morning. It is easy to stay focused, such is the enthusiasm and passion of owner Nicola Cantoni.

This is a man who is determined to work with and promote

indigenous varieties at the same time as delivering well-made,

Lloyd Beedell, Chesters, Abergavenny “I loved the heart in Fabio’s [Colle Santa Mustiola] wines. Also, seeing and tasting the Tempranillo was a real highlight and because of the wonderful story I think they’d be good for the UK market; the wines were approachable and of place. Some of the Chianti wines would be a challenge to sell at the prices. I think we’ve all fallen in love with Ciliegiolo a bit… it’s nice to see something different from the Cabernets and Merlots.” Nic Rezzouk, Reserve Wines, Manchester “There’s a Sangiovese and Tuscan wine for everyone … from big, international styles to super-fresh wines. Some of the prices would be tricky but the styles of the wines you just won’t find anywhere else.”

clean and correct wines. It makes for an impressive line-up. The

white Fonte delle Donne is a blend of Vermentino and Colombana (which we’d tasted undergoing fermentation in the morning)

is salty, mineral and aromatic with good weight. As at Quercia

al Poggio, there is a 100% Ciliegiolo that further enhances the

group’s impression of the grape and its potential as a single variety. Another first is Sanforte, a wine from the Sangiovese clone of the same name and yet another expression of Tuscany’s red grape.

Our trip was organised in partnership with Emilia Marinig of PR Comunicare il Vino (em@pr-vino.it)

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 25


At home among Chile’s elite Viña Requingua’s wines are recognised internationally as some of the best in Chile. Who better to present them to a group of independent merchants than winemaker Benoit Fitte?

A

Michelin-starred restaurant seemed the natural setting

for an evening in the company of winemaker Benoit Fitte. Viña Requingua is one of the top 20 producers in Chile,

making wines at a range of price points that have found a receptive audience among UK independents.

The evening, organised by importer Condor Wines in partnership

with Viña Requingua and export body ProChile, took place at

Simpsons in Birmingham, where a group of merchants from the east and west Midlands sampled a selection of Fitte’s creations.

These included the enigmatic Laku, a “secret blend”. Each year

Fitte and winery president Santiago Achurra spend three days

tasting barrel samples. Only seven of their 3,200 barrels are chosen and Benoit then makes a blend from these vessels drawn from

vineyards across three valleys: Curicó, Maule and Colchagua. The

only way to discover the blend is to open the bottle and read what has been printed on the cork. Just 2,300 bottles are produced.

Santiago Achurra Larraín founded Viña Requingua in 1961.

Along with new generations of the family, he has taken the business into Chile’s premier league. The company focuses on sites with varied soils and a mild, Mediterranean-like climate with dry summers, radiant days and cool nights.

The family winery was established in 1961

Fitte, who left his native France to join the winery in 2001, has

been instrumental in the development of premium wines.

Condor has been working with Requingua since 2014 and owner

Lee Evans says the wines have been “very successful” in the UK. “Much of the volume sits within the popular Merlot and

Sauvignon Blanc pair,” he reports. “But we have seen a lot of interest in their lightly-oaked Pinot Noir and Carmenere and also wines among their more premium offer.

“My favourite wines in the range are under

the Toro de Piedra label: a Petit Verdot-Cabernet

WINES ON TASTE at the simpsons dinner • Toro de Piedra Sparkling (NV) • Patria Nueva Reserva Chardonnay 2017 • Arte Noble Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2018 • Toro de Piedra Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2016 • Toro de Piedra Gran Reserva Petit Verdot-Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Wine Merchant Top 100 winner)

Sauvignon and Carmenere-Cabernet Sauvignon

• Potro de Piedra Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon-

Sauvignon Blanc [RRP £9.99]. They are superb

• Laku 2011

[both RRP £13.49] and the late-harvest Semillonwines with an excellent price-quality relationship

and which offer a very satisfying glass of wine –

Cabernet Franc 2009 • Toro de Piedra Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2017

particularly during these colder months.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 26


Merchants impressed by quality and value

DEDICATED TO THE VALUATION AND AUCTIONING OF FINE AND RARE WINES

T

he Toro de Piedra Gran Reserva Petit Verdot-Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 proved a real favourite among the guests.

“Of all of them, this is working the best for us,” says Chris

Connolly, of Connolly’s in Birmingham. “It’s an absolute star. It’s sensibly priced and it really over-delivers.

“It is very approachable – I don’t think it takes itself too seriously

and it isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. It does offer great value.

“The Requingua wines are well-balanced and offer decent value

for money. There is an interesting range of grape varieties as well;

they are not just sticking to the mainstream. They’ve only recently come into stock, but so far so good.”

Barry Starmore, of StarmoreBoss in Sheffield, agrees that pricing

for the wines is “spot on”.

He adds: “They are really well made, not just fruit bombs. There is

really good structure to them and longevity as well. I really like the

MATURE AND INTERESTING WINES WITH NO MINIMUM ORDER

winemaking because it’s letting the fruit speak.

“We’ll certainly be getting some in time for Christmas. We’re

getting the Late Harvest and Petit Verdot-Cabernet Sauvignon, to get the ball rolling.

“The Arte Noble will be on the next order, the Sauvignon Blanc

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and the Reserva Chardonnay – they will retail at £15. We had the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc, which was

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outstanding. They are stocking the 2015 which we’ll probably have a go at and leave in the cellar for a little bit.

“We will probably go for half a dozen bottles of Laku, if allowed.

We’ll also definitely stock the Patria Nueva Reserva Chardonnay.”

Monique Worth of Worth Brothers in Lichfield and Derby adds:

“It was a fantastic night. Benoit is very informative, passionate and knowledgeable about Chilean wines and that comes across in his winemaking.

“All three red wines were fantastic but we will be definitely be

stocking the Toro de Piedra Gran Reserva Petit Verdot-Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 and will also look at the other two.”

• Feature sponsored by Condor Wines. For more information contact Lee Evans on 07508 825 488 or email lee@condorwines. co.uk.

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THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 27


PORTFOLIO HIGHLIGHTS

Boutinot ‘La Fleur Solitaire’, Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2017

Boutinot ‘Les Cerisiers’, Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2017

RRP £9.99 - £10.99

RRP £9.49 - £10.49

Following an experiment with a micro cuvée crafted in

Winemaker Julien Dugas works with growers south of

2009, we source from selected vineyards in the southern

Tavel and around Valréas to source varieties naturally

Rhône. To a base of Grenache Blanc we blend Viognier

suited to rosé – Grenache Noir for body, Cinsault for

with Roussanne/Marsanne and Clairette/Bourboulenc.

freshness and a drop of Syrah for a touch of spice. To

Over the years we have increased the proportion of

maintain the delicate style, the wine is vinified using the

the blend vinified in stainless steel. For the 2017 vintage

rosé de presse method as soon as the grapes are picked,

just under a third is matured in French oak for six months

and vinified at cool temperatures to preserve the delicate

to add texture and vinosity to this very drinkable white.

aromas and flavours of this elegant, gastronomic rosé.

Boutinot ‘Les Coteaux’, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2015

Boutinot ‘Les Six’, Cairanne AOC 2016 RRP £15.49 - £16.49

RRP £9.99 - £10.99 Initially conceived by Boutinot’s Eric Monnin, 2016 is the Côtes du Rhône Villages can sometimes be an

sixth vintage of ‘Les Six’, and the second to be released

afterthought after making a Cru or Village wine – not so

under the recently-created cru Cairanne AOC.‘Les Six’ is

here! Grenache Noir and Syrah are expressly sourced

always made from six hand-picked varieties: the classic

from some of the best village vineyards within the Côtes

‘GSM’ together with ancient Carignan Noir, Counoise

du Rhône Villages. ‘Les Coteaux’ is mostly unoaked; a fifth

and Cinsault. ‘Les Six’ requires ultimate skill and patience

of the blend, sourced from Séguret and Cairanne, is aged

in the cellar, fermented in varietal pairs with indigenous

for 22 months in a nursery of barrels of varying age and

yeasts in open-topped tronconiques and matured in the

size to bring depth and subtle complex notes to this wine.

same 6,000-litre oak tanks before bottling.

Boutinot ‘La Côtes Sauvage’, Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages 2015

Boutinot ‘Les Deux Barriques’, Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages 2011 Magnum

RRP £14.99 - £15.99

RRP £65 From the smaller, intensely-concentrated 2015 vintage, ‘La Côte Sauvage’ 2015 retains complexity due to the

In 2005, during the assemblage of ‘La Côte Sauvage’,

famous argilo-calcaire (limestone pebbles over clay)

two particular demi-muids (600-litre barrels) deserved to

found in Domaine Boutinot’s higher vineyards. Old-vine

be bottled in their own right and ‘Les Deux Barriques’ was

Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan Noir are

born. Made only in exceptional vintages, the wine was

vinified using traditional methods – natural yeasts, manual

bottled in limited-edition individually-numbered magnums

remontage and pigeage – then gently matured for up to

and is available now in a single-bottle wooden gift box.

22 months in 228-litre and 600-litre French oak barrels.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 28


Here’s a collection of wines very close to our hearts. Wines that we enjoy making as much as we enjoy drinking them. Find out more at www.boutinot.com

Boutinot Cairanne Sans Artifices, Cairanne AOC

Crocera Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 RRP £9.49 - £10.49

RRP £15.99 - £16.99 2016 has been earmarked as a potentially ‘great’ Barbera A blend of Mourvèdre (90%) and Grenache Noir (10%)

vintage. The grapes are sourced from six hectares of vines

sourced from Boutinot’s domaine vineyards which,

on south-east and west facing slopes in the Monferrato

blessed by a combination of cleansing winds and strong

hills right in the heart of the Asti zone. Aged for 12 months

sunshine, are managed as naturally as possible and

in French oak (15% new), there’s a lovely ripeness and fruit

produce exceptional fruit. Fermented only with the wild

concentration coupled with tremendously bright acidity on

yeasts present on the grape skins, and vinified traditionally

the finish.

in tronconiques (large oak vats) the wine is, as the name suggests, made with no added sulphites.

Rive Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 RRP £14.99 - £15.99

D’Annona Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2014 RRP £18.99 - £19.99

Perfectly-sited vineyards, rigorous fruit selection, rotary fermenters and extended ageing in new oak give rise

D’Annona is a single-vineyard Barbera from a beautiful

to this fairly posh, reasonably modern style of Barbera.

site close to Nizza right in the heart of the best area for

Plenty of layers of flavour, subtle spice and a bracing

Barbera d’Asti. D’Annona is wilder, more expressive and

crackle of acidity. In good vintages like this, this is an

more feral-edged than Rive. It’s not quite so plush but has

outstanding bottle for the money.

an excitement and more corners to go looking into.

Henners Brut NV

Henners Native Grace Brut NV

RRP £29.99

RRP £49.99

Produced solely from grapes on our outstanding estate

A brand new wine from the Henners estate. Native

in Herstmonceux, East Sussex. The combination of well

Grace’s debut launch is a limited production of 980

drained soils and a southerly aspect results in a very

bottles of a multi-vintage blend comprising 53%

favourable microclimate. Vine clones and varieties are

Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir and 19% Pinot Meunier. It

fermented separately to allow a broad palette of wines for

is a reserve blend of wines from vintage 2009, 2010 and

final blending. A proportion is fermented in aged oak to

2011. Final assemblage took place in August 2014 before

add subtle character, and 48 months on lees ensures great

disgorgement in March 2017, bottling at a pressure of 4.6

texture and length.

bar so as not to overpower its delicate complexity.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 29


merchant profile: the wright wine company

Minnie-Mae Stott and Orson Warr, July 2018

Julian Kaye with faithful companion Ardbeg

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 30


The rewards of a 90-hour week Julian Kaye doesn’t mind working hard in a trade he loves and has a great relationship with his customers. But just occasionally he’s forced to dress up as a terrifying voodoo character to call in debts. Nigel Huddleston meets him in his more traditional attire

T

he Wright Wine Co’s postal address is the Old Smithy in Skipton in North Yorkshire. It will come as no surprise

to learn that it’s a former blacksmith’s, but the gradual

expansion of the footprint of the business over the years means

the current premises also include the town’s one-time fire station

(from the horse-drawn days), two former dress shops and a knockthrough to an old flat.

One of the dress shops was owned by Ros Fawcett, one of the

original WI Calendar Girls, since immortalised in the 2003 film. Wright’s was a £50 sponsor of the very first calendar.

“We said it would never work,” says owner Julian Kaye, “but,

begrudgingly, we gave them 50 quid. It turned out to be the best 50 quid we ever spent because they went on to raise £20m and

she became so busy with the charitable foundation that she didn’t have time for her shop and asked if we’d like it. Miss October. She was the short one.”

The first wine merchant on the site was Peter Hopkins’ Manor

Wine Shop in 1975 before Bob Wright took over in 1983 and gave it the name it retains to this day.

Kaye joined the business in 1991 and was initially granted a

10% stake as a junior partner, increasing this when Wright and

They are the 10 full-time staff and four part-timers who help

generate £4.4m of annual turnover, £1m of which comes from the shop, a low-ceilinged labyrinth with three-foot thick stone walls

that provide natural temperature control. There are seven rooms on various levels, housing 2,600 wines and 1,000 whiskies, of which 250 bottles are open in a walk-in tasting cupboard.

The hundreds of gins have their own room and there’s a “B&B

Room”, housing Bordeaux and big bottles. The latest change at the back end of 2017 saw the introduction of a separate Burgundy room.

“It displays probably a third of all our Burgundies,” says Kaye.

“We have extensive holdings but most we don’t sell or list, we keep them for ourselves – historical stuff which we keep for rainy-day money.”

A brandy room in the shop houses Cognacs and Armagnacs from

vintages spanning 1934 to 2000, and there are vintage ports going

back to 1955, Madeira to 1907 and Rivesaltes to 1909, all products that form part of the separate online Vintage Drinks business.

The shop is owned freehold and a nearby warehouse is rented.

Where’s your own day-to-day focus in the business?

wife Eileen divorced and she insisted her shares be split between

I don’t like selling. Bob was always the salesman; he liked being

through an agreed annual share purchase formula.

doors. We buy incredibly well and we’re not afraid to invest [in

her ex and Kaye.

When Bob died in 2012 Kaye’s stake had increased further

“I had 49% of the company and he had 51%, but even when I

had 49% he thought he was the 100% shareholder, so we had a

very fiery relationship,” says Kaye, who subsequently bought the remaining shares to become sole owner.

One of his first acts was to invite Eileen back. “She’s the

matriarch of the Wright Wine Co. She first employed me 28 years go, she’s always looked after me and she’s like a mum to all of us.

She’s my HR department. She’ll come in and make a cup of tea for everyone, chat to them, see how they’re getting on and sort out any problems.”

out on the road. I am the salesman but I don’t really go out. Our

price list is our CV. We have 5,100 products. That’s what opens the

stock] but I live a very meagre lifestyle. I often laugh at people who go along on all the buying trips. It’s always the same people who clearly can’t be arsed to work.

Katie Pinder, our shop manager, is wonderful, and there are

three others who run it with her fantastically well. People come in, whether they’re regulars or tourists, and they interact, they smile, they allow people to taste whatever they want. It’s well-organised and it’s got a nice atmosphere. But when you’ve got seven rooms

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 31

Continues page 32


merchant profile: the wright wine company favourite costume for collecting debt is Baron Samedi, the voodoo

From page 31

full of alcohol like that it’s the easiest thing in the world. The shop really takes care of itself.

We’re probably one of the few provincial wine merchants who

employ an MW, Nick Adams, on a consultancy basis. I speak to

him every day. He’s in Cambridge and attends all the big tastings for me. It’s easier and cheaper for him. He’ll find things and

recommend that the team taste something, but I can’t afford a day or two out to go to a tasting. He’s far better than me; he’s anal and anoraky and he won’t be seduced by a price. This is why we don’t taste with principals or suppliers. If it’s not good, we won’t list it. So you don’t sell and you don’t run the shop and you don’t

travel to far-flung places to look for wines. So what does your

priest from Live & Let Die. I have a top hat which makes me stand eight and a half foot. I have a five-foot stuffed snake going round my neck and if I come into your restaurant at eight o’clock on

Saturday night, you as the debtor are going to be sick of people asking you: “What’s that guy standing there for?”

I always pay my bills and I always collect my debts. I’m not

bothered about whether you pay me or not because I can use your

debt against my corporation tax, but I will cause you the maximum amount of embarrassment.

You’ve always got to be prepared to say no. If someone lets me

down once with money, I’ll forgive them. If they let me down twice, that’s it. I don’t need them.

I do a 90-hour week for a 3% return and tying up £2m of my

money in stock. I can think of better things to be doing. Such as?

day look like? My purpose in life is to bring in the £14,000-£15,000 a day in trade

I wanted to be a gamekeeper.

phone, I chase [wholesale] debt. Don’t ever owe me money. My

I love the industry. It’s great fun and you meet some great people.

on the days we’re open.

I load vans, check them off, I drive the forklift, I answer the

What drives you, then?

‘If someone lets me down once with money, I’ll forgive them. If they let me down twice, that’s it’ © Andrey Kiselev / stockadobe.com

I’m very fortunate to have some very loyal customers. My word

is my bond, it always has been. I open accounts on the shake of a hand. I’m rarely let down.

What’s your wholesale spread like geographically? [Examining a war-game style map of northern England with pins in it] Liverpool, Chester, south Lakes, Dales up to Richmond,

Northallerton, Selby. We cross people’s territory but I respect

traditional old-fashioned boundaries. I’m great friends with Peter Fawcett at Field & Fawcett in York. We do some buying together.

If I get any enquiries from potential new York customers, despite

the fact we’ve got longstanding customers in York, I’ll always refer them to him.

Where do you buy from? We deal with every UK agent apart from Boutinot and Bibendum. Why? “My favourite costume for collecting debt is Baron Samedi”

I don’t like Bs. For 20 years I always believed Boutinot were a

bit too frivolous at running with the hare and hunting with the

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 32


Amazing what you can do with an old fire station and a couple of dress shops

hounds so I said we wouldn’t buy from them. Eventually we had

How has currency panned out over the past two years?

a three-hour meeting only for them to go away and tell us they

Don’t mention Brexit.

we deal so much with Liberty, for example. I deal with Liberty

It took me six months to talk to my parents. My father [an

agents will just go straight to your restaurant customers.

there were always four extra places set at the dinner table.

wouldn’t supply us.

Bibendum? For obvious reasons. People get upset and ask why

because I like them. Liberty respect us and don’t tread on our

toes. I’d hate to be a merchant in London, though, because the big Do you buy direct?

We have people we’ve always bought from in France, Spain and

Italy. We broker a lot with a couple of people in Bordeaux to buy

historic allocations, and buy in Burgundy. We always buy historic

allocations of Chapoutier. We buy every declaration of Taylor’s and Fonseca and have done for the last 40 years.

We bring in 40-foot containers from New Zealand and South

Africa and use Rarter Bond at Leeds-Bradford Airport. They’re cheap, cheap, cheap.

I monitor currency five or six times a day. It’s incredibly

important for us.

You don’t like B words. antiquarian bookseller] was the most cosmopolitan person I’ve

met in my entire life. I used to go back for Christmas dinner and Typically there’d be a Chilean dissident who’d been kicked

out by Pinochet, a Medicins Sans Frontieres doctor on their way to Somalia who he’d met on the train, a Chinese student and a Buddhist monk. But he handed out 30,000 leaflets for Leave.

I’m not really worried about tariffs but currency is the most

important thing in my life. A strong pound, I make money; a weak one, I lose money.

Currency affects shipping – and we run four vans of our own.

Unless you have seriously deep pockets you’re a fool if you start

wholesaling now. My insurance is £20,000 a year, my warehousing

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 33

Continues page 34


merchant profile: the wright wine company

‘The website doesn’t look professional. But, bloody hell, we are professional. We’ve got 5,200 products and we’ll service you like you’ve never been serviced’

From page 33

is £40,000 a year, and four vans costs a lot in fuel.

Tell us more about the shop. It’s only about a quarter of your turnover but for most people £1m in turnover would be phenomenal. We know 60% of our customers as regulars. We know their tastes and take them on a journey. It may be a £6.50 bottle every Friday night or three grand’s worth of Bordeaux and a bottle of whisky.

People travel a long way and we get a lot of retail customers who

come from our restaurant customers because they had a wine that we’ve supplied them.

Our whisky customers will come in and spend half an hour

tasting to choose a bottle. It doesn’t work so well with wine but we do wine tastings on Saturdays.

We haven’t got the footfall to justify an Enomatic machine and

nor would I want to sell a card to Mr and Mrs Smith who spend

10 grand a year with me. I’d rather give them the card, and that is kind of pointless.

If you put us next door to Hedonism with our stock we’d do

rather well. But we wouldn’t be able to afford the rates. Or the rent.

What about the web? We’re running a trial with a new site at vintagedrinksonline.co.uk. It has 400 items that date from 1900 to 2000 for people looking

for presents for anniversaries and 50th, 60th, 70th birthdays. This is a forerunner of what our new main website’s going to look like. Our main website is 15 years out of date.

What sort of contribution does it make? Bugger all. I want people to go to the website and realise we’re a

serious offering in the north. That’s it. If you’re visiting Leeds for the weekend and you do a search you’ll find the Wright Wine Co

and decide to pay us a visit. The new one’s going to be full of pretty pictures to attract people into the shop.

Ten years ago everyone thought their website was going to be

their saving grace against falling sales. How wrong they were.

We will need to employ someone to constantly be doing the

website. If that costs us 30 grand and gets us £150,000 of business in the shop or two new restaurant accounts it will be worth it.

Its real importance is in making an impression rather than sales.

The shop has seven rooms on various levels

We were asked two months ago to supply a restaurant that we

stopped supplying 15 years ago. The wine consultant they were

using wanted Wiston English sparkling wine and Wiston told them

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 34


“If you put us next door to Hedonism we’d do rather well. But we wouldn’t be able to afford the rates. Or the rent”

there were four merchants but we were the last choice because

sure your fingers are still there when he’s shaken it.

you out of the manure, we’ll service you like you’ve never been

Aside from work I’m the least competitive and egotistical person

Eve at 10pm, even on my 40th birthday when I had 40 people

Is that because there’s so much goodwill wrapped up in it?

the website was shit. We don’t look professional. But, bloody hell, we are professional, because we’ve got 5,200 products, we’ll pull serviced.

I’ve delivered on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, New Year’s

Why did you keep the old name for the business? you’ll meet. I’ll never change the name. Why would I?

round for a party. But because we didn’t have a decent website the

No. If you ask half the people in Skipton what they thought of

back in there with 80% of that restaurant’s list.

Within three weeks of his death we had them back. For about

assumption was we were just playing at it. We’ve got a Master of

Wine. We’ve got 150 years’ experience among the staff. We’re now Who do you admire most in the wine trade?

Jonathan Hammond at Hammonds of Knutsford. Shrewd operator. I would say to someone coming here to sell to me: “Give me the

price you quoted John Hammond. I’ll let him do the negotiating for me, then I’ll stock your product”.

Phenomenal business taking on the big boys at wholesaling:

fantastically smart buyer, pays his bills. Shake his hand, but make

Bob Wright they’d say he was a cantankerous shit. We had 10

restaurant businesses in Skipton who refused to deal with us.

20 years Bob tried to buy our building off the landlady and she

refused. Within four weeks of him dying I’d bought the building. But despite that, and despite the fact that I have a nightmare

about Bob every two nights, and have done for the last six years,

I’ll never ever change the name. The only point would be … if you

ever look down lists of wine merchants in magazines or stockists’ lists we’re always down the bottom. You couldn’t have a worse letter than W, then R.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 35


winemaker profile

A London hello to Godello Mar de Frades is one of the biggest wine growers in Rías Baixas, and also one of the most innovative. It’s recently claimed two firsts: it’s starting to age some of its wines in granite, and also launching the region’s first single-varietal Godello wine

R

ías Baixas may be a region

are bacteria and other components that

that’s synonymous with one

can make the wine smell not so good! I use

grape variety (Albariño) and, to

only the fine lees and we have to taste the

an extent, one style of wine. But Paula

wine at least twice a week.”

Fandiño is an adventurer. Spend even a

Mar de Frades is reducing its use of oak,

short time in her company and you become

ageing a greater percentage of its wine

aware that she’s a winemaker with a

in stainless steel and working a little less

natural curiosity about the world and who

with old French barrels. The big news is

is excited by new challenges.

that the company has invested in a granite

Fandiño is head winemaker at Mar de

vat to give Fandiño more ageing options.

Frades, established in 1987 in the granite

“We want to see how Albariño behaves in

hillside of Salnés Valley of Galicia, facing

ancestral and native materials,” she says.

the Ría de Arousa estuary where a seafood

But progress is not being rushed.

industry thrives. The Atlantic influence

“Although we will start working with wines

is strong here, contributing a hallmark

from the 2018 vintage, it is not planned to

acidity to the Albariño grapes and keeping the pergola vineyards amply watered.

Already one of the largest growers in

the region, Mar de Frades is gradually decreasing its need to buy contract-

launch any new project until at least 2020. Paula Fandiño: an adventurous spirit

grown fruit. Already 50% of

and the land she works with. “I’ve changed

famous Finca Valiñas vineyard

if the grapes were ripe, but now I’m looking

the grapes it uses come from its own sites, including the

on the southern face of the

Valiñas mountain. It has planted another 30 hectares of vines, which means that at some

point soon it will be selfreliant.

Fandiño has adapted

her winemaking style

over the years as she has learned how to get the

best out of the grapes

my mind about ripeness,” she says. “I used

to look for 13% or 13.5% alcohol to decide for a balance between sugar content and acidity. Other wineries only go by sugar

content and think 13% is better than 11%.” Fandiño is typically finding aromas of

apple pie, jam and marmalade at the end of the ripening season.

Lees ageing is something that Fandiño

has enjoyed experimenting with. “I began to work with lees six or seven years

ago,” she says. “It sounds fantastic and

wonderful, but it is dead yeast and there

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 36

It is a very demanding project in which we do not want to be in a hurry.”

Guests at a recent tasting in London were present at a landmark moment in Mar de Frades’ history: the first tasting, outside

Spain, of the company’s wines made solely from Godello.

The variety is rather overlooked in

Rías Baixas, and until now only used for

blending. But Fandiño is intrigued by what the grape can offer and, after abandoning a “horrible” fermentation in 2015, is

encouraged by what she has achieved since 2016.

The wines have “a distinctive salty,

Atlantic character”, with a slightly oily

mouthfeel and a complex, tropical palate.

The 2016 vintage (only 2,100 bottles have


in association with

been made) is arriving in the UK in the next few weeks, and will retail for around £30. Can Godello ever challenge Albariño in

its heartland? Fandiño chuckles at the idea. Albariño accounts for 95% of production

in Rías Baixas and so far there is only one hectare of Godello in the ground. More

might follow if the reception to the first vintages is favourable.

For Fandiño, it’s all part of a continuing

quest to experiment and innovate. “It’s just a question of trying to evolve and to do different things,” she says.

• Mar de Frades wines are imported into the UK by Enotria&Coe. For more information, visit www.mardefrades.es/ en or www.enotriacoe.com.

The state-of-the-art Mar de Frades winery in Salnés

Wines for drinking; wines for watching and waiting FLIGHT ONE: finca valiñas 2015-2017 The 2015 wine was showing beautifully, with fruit, spice and saline components in perfect balance. Fandiño presented oaked and unoaked versions of the 2016: both were steely and piercing, with oak only making a marginal difference between the two. The 2017, destined for release in three years, was still a little closed but had a zingy, electric character.

FLIGHT two: merchant favourites Three single-vineyard wines from 2017 were shown, which may be blended or released individually: Finca Lobeira, with a subtle peachy palate; Monteveiga, with its floral and balsamic notes in the nose; and Ribadulla, with a more mineral aroma and extra zip on the palate. The 2018 Finca Lobeira and Monteveiga were bursting with tropical notes.

FLIGHT three: godello The just-released 2016 was an object lesson in fruit/acid balance, combining nutty flavours with vanilla, coconut and pineapple notes. The 2017, which has yet to see oak, is a work in progress, and tasted juicy and sweet. The 2018, the first vintage in which Mar de Frades has used all its own fruit for a pure Godello, was lively and displayed apricot, orange skin and candy characters.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 37


wine merchant visit to calmel & Joseph

A ride through the vines Forget the 4x4: the best way to experience Calmel & Joseph’s southern French terroir is on horseback. A group of indies saddled up and explored the amazing depth of this award-winning negociant’s range

A

small party of independent

merchants ventured to Montirat

in September to meet negociants

Laurent Calmel and Jérôme Joseph.

The award-winning duo have been

working together since 2007 and the

company was named Negociant of the Year 2018 by the Revue du Vin de France.

“They are unique because they manage

absolutely everything from the vineyard to the winemaking,” says Carl Davies,

business development manager of UK importer Daniel Lambert Wines.

From its own domaine, which Calmel &

Joseph purchased three years ago, to the

carefully-selected vineyards and growers it works with across the Languedoc-

Roussillon region, the philosophy remains

the same – to make wines with “freshness, finesse and elegance”.

The estate has been farmed organically

since Calmel & Joseph took it on and the emphasis on agricultural biodiversity

Jérôme Poussin of Askewine gets to grips with a tank sample

and polyculture is well suited to the 200

biking all on offer and Rogers is planning

domaine.

of the wines. “It’s going to be hard to pick

hectares of woodland and Mediterranean scrub that makes up the company’s own

The visiting merchants soon discovered

that the best way of negotiating the wild

and rocky terrain is on horseback. Jonathan Rogers of Vin Wine Merchants admits

that despite being a novice rider “it was

fantastic and a great way to see the vines. It was more remote than I expected. The vines are varied and there are lavender Laurent Calmel and Jérôme Joseph

fields and olive groves.”

The estate is geared up for tourists, with

gîtes, a swimming pool and mountain

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 38

on taking some customers out there next year once he’s introduced them to a few

which wines to work with because all of them are perfect examples of the area;

really expressive and great quality,” he says. The newly-released St Chinian Blanc,

made from the grapes that grow in “odd pockets” among lots of red vines, was a

hit with everyone. Davies explains: “The idea was for them to create something that represents the white wine of the

Languedoc. This is completely unique and they didn’t have any reference point for


in association with white St Chinian so they have basically

had to create what they felt was right for the region. It’s delicious with an apricot richness – a real Rhône style.”

Simon Clarke of Hay Wines was

particularly impressed with the Crémant

de Limoux. “We’ll definitely get that in for Christmas – it was gorgeous, lovely and

soft,” he says. “You can’t go wrong with it, it will please everyone – it’s a fun fizz and it’s not a Prosecco!”

Both Clarke and Rogers were fans of the

Villa Blanche Picpoul with its “oily texture” and “tropical and citrus fruit,” and Andrew

Kinnersley, of The Grape & the Good, found the Vielle Grange wines “pretty hard to beat in terms of value”.

The sheer scale of the region, stretching over the departements of the Aude, the Gard and the Hérault, means there is

a wide range of terroirs and Calmel &

Joseph is committed to producing wines

that reflect this. The intention is that the

company’s own estate, as well as producing its own remarkable wines, becomes a

centre for its winemaking partners to share ideas and experiences.

The organic practices and hands-off

approach, which have accentuated the

estate’s attractive wilderness, really tick

the boxes for many of the indies and their customers.

• For more information about Calmel & Joseph, visit www.calmel-joseph.com/ en/ or contact Daniel Lambert Wines: call 01656 661010 or email daniel@ daniellambertwines.co.uk.

Some personal highlights Andrew Kinnersley, The Grape & The Good, Wells “There are some lovely wines as you move through the range but of particular interest to me were St Chinian Blanc, Caramany, Côtes du Roussillon Villages and La Ruffe, Vin de France. “There is some very interesting work and planting taking place at Calmel & Joseph with a firm eye on the future. They have a genuine belief that you can only create good wine if you follow organic methods, which makes a lot of sense. “I will definitely be stocking some of the wines; most likely the Crémant and we’ll then rotate a couple of whites and maybe three or four reds. Villa Blanche Wines will work well by the glass as well as retail.”

Simon Clarke, Hay Wines, Ledbury “There were outstanding ones in each range. The Picpoul from the Villa Blanche range was amazing, and we’re very interested in the Marselan because we don’t do one at the minute. They were both cracking. The Faugères, Corbières and the St Chinian from Les Terroirs range were all excellent.”

Jonathan Rogers, Vin Wine Merchants, Emsworth “Generally the wines were all amazing. The Villa Blanche Chardonnay was full of creamy fruit and had a lovely elegant finish. The Villa Blanche Marselan was the stand-out red. Something different in the way of grape varieties always appeals to me and this was classic style: farmy characters, good fruit balance with tannins and a huge finish. I’d like to put together an order for several wines. They are a bit premium but I can sell that and especially at Christmas. They are quality wines and people are happy to pay as long as they’re getting a good wine.”

Jérôme Poussin, Askewine, London “Both Jérôme and Laurent have a great understanding of the region and its terroir. They value biodiversity and organic farming, which is essential for them and their partners to elaborate wines with depth and structure. I look forward to taste future vintages from Les Cuvées Rares range, as I am positive these single vineyards have great potential. “Askewine already stocks the Chardonnay and Syrah and we’ll add Marselan, Caramany and La Ruffe. The Chardonnay is doing very well and I’m positive the Marselan and Caramany will too.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 39


cheese masterclass

in association with © Tim W / stockadobe.com

Celebrate the versatility of cheese

its own. Lizzy Parrott, Fine Wine

Partners’ in-house cheese expert, says, in

her experience, in the week leading up to

Christmas, cheese sales can “pretty much double each day”.

To prepare, she recommends emailing

customers at the beginning of December to encourage orders ahead of time. “I suggest offering a pre-prepared board of three

cheeses: one firm, one soft and one blue. Individual washed rind and goat’s milk

cheeses are easy to wrap and price and provide tempting additions.”

Marrying the traditional and the

experimental can create some drama.

on the challenge and go boldly with a new suggestion. Try slowly filling a Fourme

d’Ambert with Montbazillac each week and invite your customers to monitor progress week by week.

Of course, cheeses need a good wine

match. Stilton is traditionally matched

with port, (try the Grant Burge 10 year old tawny) but consider a wine that will go Make a feature of Stilton truckles arriving

It’s also a prime opportunity to sell

accompaniments such as crackers,

chutneys and honey – even better if these can be sourced locally.

Offering a different lure each week,

perhaps a range of truffle cheeses or a

pairing week (see some examples below),

helps to build interest. Creating a sense of

theatre around cheese draws customers in. Stilton is a Christmas tradition, so make

a feature of the truckles arriving. Perhaps

Star matches • Parmigiano-Reggiano and an intense sparkling like House of Arras Grand Vintage 2008 (just arrived) or Croser 2013. • Bosworth Ash Log goat’s cheese with Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling. • Cheddar and Cabernet Sauvignon is one of those classic, simple but fantastic pairings – Grant Burge Corryton Park is a great example of a wine to elevate Cheddar. For more information about the premium Australian wines in the Fine Wine Partners range email info@finewinepartners. co.uk or visit www.finewinepartners.co.uk.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 41

with the main course as an alternative – St Hallett Faith Shiraz or Grant Burge Holy

Trinity are two such wines that stand up to Stilton.

Cheese can also be the basis of a

wonderful celebration cake for Christmas and other celebratory events including weddings and those special birthdays.

Essentially a cheese cake comprises a big

round of Cheddar at the base, topped with layers of different cheeses to provide the

desired size and shape. Fruits, and almost anything else that works, can be added to

match the customer’s taste preferences and to highlight the occasion itself.

© Sea Wave / stockadobe.com

T

at Christmas cheese comes into

Stilton truckles as they arrive in December. Whilst you have a captive audience take

Christmas is a time to wheel out some traditional favourites and also maybe some less wellknown cheeses

reat cheese as a celebration and

invite customers to come and taste the first


on-premise sales

Curating the inhouse wine list Most independents have a wide range of wines on their shelves. But how do you narrow it down to a by-the-glass offer, or a selection for your dispensers – and how often should it change? Three merchants tell us how they approach this conundrum

McKeown. “The customers appreciate it –

it’s the way our store is set up. The shelves are arranged not by country or price, but by light-bodied to full-bodied.”

Varieties such as Malbec, Pinot Noir or

Sangiovese might appear in more than one section of the wine list, depending on the

particular style of the individual wine. The system means that customers bump into varieties that they might not otherwise have considered.

“We have a Bobal on our list, for example,

and people haven’t heard of it before

but it’s really rich and full-bodied,” says

McKeown. “People will say, OK, I’ll try that,

OAK N4, LONDON At Oak N4 customers have a choice of 30 wines by the glass, which represents a decent cross-section of the 190 wines on the shelf. There’s a seasonal feel to the list. “In

summer there are more whites and rosés

and lighter reds,” says Cameron McKeown. “Moving into the autumn, we’ll have more reds and some richer whites coming through.”

He adds: “We rotate our wines from the

shelf every one to three months – we’ll take

because they feel like a full-bodied wine and they don’t want a Malbec.”

one off and put it on [the on-premise list].

CORKAGE, GUILDFORD

that everyone is right: it’s not that good

personally enjoy and we like to show

If a wine by the glass isn’t selling, we’ll take

it off and we might taste it again and decide and we’ll remove it from the full list.”

Wines are offered in 125ml and 175ml

measures, ranging from £4 to £11.40.

“We arrange our wines on our menu

from light-bodied to full-bodied, so

people can choose their style simply,” says

“We want to show some things that we some unusual grapes,” says Claire Feuillatre. “So at the moment we have a Pais from

Argentina. We also have a fun project from Australia – a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurtztraminer. The wines we

choose are often small-scale production or quite unusual for the region. We are

trying to encourage customers to go for something different.”

Corkage offers a different selection in its

Enomatic machines to the ones it sells by the glass.

“We don’t want the wines in the

Enomatics to clash with the wines we

serve by the glass,” says Feuillatre. “They’re usually bottles around £20 on our shelves,

so not too expensive, although at Christmas we like to put a little bit more expensive stuff like a nice Meursault, or an Oregon Pinot Noir. Loki in Birmingham offers extensive notes on all its wines sold from Enomatics

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 42

“We try and freshen up the Enomatic

every month so we offer a different range every month. I think the Enomatic keeps


the wine fresh for up to 30 days but

obviously we change the bottles as soon as they are empty so it could be two or three days.

“With our wines by the glass, we know

what our customers expect and what they

heavier white like an unoaked Chardonnay – you have to give people lots of different styles,” she says.

Currently all wines are sold at £7.95 for

175ml. “I might have to review it in the

new year because I’d like to put some more expensive wines on there to give people

even more of an option,” says Champion.

enjoy drinking so we tend to stick to the big names like Argentinian Malbec or

Valpolicella or Chilean Pinot Noir. We try to introduce new stuff pretty regularly, so we

change this list around every three months. “I think people are more confident

drinking a glass of wine here rather than

picking up a bottle from the shelf to drink

in – which they can do too, but they like to try different things, which is why they go for wine by the glass.”

As at Oak N4, allowing customers to

drink glasses or small samples does

translate into full-bottle sales. “That is

why we try to push the Enomatics because people can, if they like, have a 25ml

measure and then they think, ‘that’s lovely – I’ll buy a bottle of that.’”

CHAMPION WINES, CHISLEHURST Wines enjoyed on the premises can take customers out of their comfort zone

Penny Champion normally offers 10 wines by the glass – five whites and five reds, though in the winter the bias shifts slightly in favour of reds. “We’re constantly changing the selection,

normally every couple of weeks,” she says. “It’s really about giving people things they are not used to.

“For instance we’ll put Valencay on by

the glass, and that’s a really good way of

introducing something new to the public. It would be pointless sticking Sauvignon

Blanc on there all the time. I want to show stuff people haven’t had before.”

However there are some styles that

Trying something new might give customers the confidence to take home the whole bottle

I

t’s the natural order of things, isn’t it? Wine tastes changing by the season, and of course replicated in the Enomatics according to anticipated sales, current stock or wine lists. We love the ability to sample before you select a larger measure – especially if the wines may be new to the customer at the beginning of the season. Try a little, move on to another, or pour a 125ml or 175ml to enjoy. And of course, samples help bottle sales in the same way. As Claire from Corkage says, it gives the customer confidence. If you want to buy something a little special it may be an unknown to the customer at first, but by sampling it becomes a known quantity and trying something new, or spending a little extra for a gift, or special dinner isn’t a risk. This time of year we see a lot of customers putting on something a little special – ‘tis the season, after all!

customers can always expect to find on the wine bar menu, which is annotated with

Sally McGill Commercial director, Enomatic UK

taste descriptions written by Champion.

“I will always have a dry crisp white and a

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 43


reader visit to romania

Eastern promise Romania is making some increasingly impressive wines, particularly from its native varieties. The Wine Merchant took a group of independents there to catch up on progress. Tim Andrews joined them

I

f they know Romanian wine at all, most Brits think of inexpensive,

easy-drinking wine from comfortably

familiar varieties such as Chardonnay,

Pinot Noir and Merlot. The 16 members of Premium Wines of Romania are trying to change that.

Rodica Căpăţînă founded Premium

Wines of Romania in 2015 to bring

together small to medium-sized producers from across the country to develop and

promote quality wine production, at home and abroad. This year they turned their attention to the UK market and, after

debuting at the London Wine Fair in May,

invited a group of independent merchants to Romania to discover their wines.

Yields have been reduced as growers focus on quality

Most produce wines from international

wine, in particular at the higher end, is not

struggle to break into the already-saturated

to British consumers through hand-selling.

varieties which sell well domestically. The visiting merchants suspect that these will British market. Rather, it was the native

varieties, either individually or in blends,

yet well-known in the UK. He believes the indies are key to introducing these wines The three “maidens”

which the group thought had the most

Fetească Albă and Fetească Regală (literally

two indigenous varieties which are the

wines with varying degrees of sweetness

potential.

Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră,

most planted in Romania, may not yet be

familiar to British consumers. However, as

Julia Jenkins of Flagship Wines in St Albans points out, they “give producers a point of

difference, which make the wines easier to introduce to consumers”.

Silviu Rotarescu from SERVE, a PWR

member, acknowledges that Romanian

the “white maiden” and the “royal maiden”) have traditionally been used to produce for the domestic market. But the group

discovered that they are also producing fresher, drier, yet perfumed wines with

“bags of character” as François Dupont of Stone Vine & Sun in Winchester puts it.

Inspired by the success of these varieties,

plantings of their cousin, Fetească Neagră, are also increasing. The “black maiden”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 44

The visiting merchants Penny Champion Champion Wines, Chislehurst Chris Connolly

Connolly’s, Birmingham François Dupont

Stone Vine & Sun, Winchester Bobby Fishel

Bunch Wine Bar, Liverpool Julia Jenkins

Flagship Wines, St Albans Heather Naismith

Cornelius Beer & Wine, Edinburgh Andrea Viera

Last Drop Wines, London


has quickly established itself as a signature variety, producing rich, fruity wines.

Winemakers are starting to harness its affinity for oak, making increasingly

ageworthy wines. Alongside the usual

French and American, some producers use

local oak, which, if not overdone, can add a degree of spicy complexity.

As well as making varietal wines, the

three “maidens” are often blended with

The visiting group sampled wines from all across Romania

international varieties. Fetească Neagră, in

particular, is widely used in Bordeaux-style blends alongside Cabernet and Merlot.

Andrea Viera of Last Drop Wines felt that these offered a “good starting point” to introduce her customers to Romanian

wine, “with the Fetească Neagră adding

a difference”. Indeed, some of the blends tried by the group, such as Budureasca’s Noble 5, SERVE’s Cuvée Charlotte and

Davino’s Flamboyant, were as complex as those from more established regions.

The merchants also tasted different

expressions from various parts of the country. Wine production is spread

throughout Romania from the cool, high

central plateau of Transylvania at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains to the warm plains to the south and west, from the

terraces above the Danube to the short stretch of Black Sea coast.

The indies were particularly impressed

by the cool-climate wines of Transylvania, which Dupont felt “offered something

completely different, capable of competing

diverse range of indigenous grapes, many

Diversity and innovation

and Grasă de Cotnari have long produced

with any other country”.

The three “maidens” are not the only native varieties showing promise. Romania has a

Merchants thought the native varieties had most potential in the UK market THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 45

of which are specific to particular regions.

Varieties such as Tămâioasă Românească

sweet wines. Those of the Cotnari region, in particular, were once as celebrated

in the European royal courts as Tokay and Sauternes. While producers are

increasingly making dry yet perfumed wines from these grapes, there is

also a revival of dessert-style wines,

Continues page 46


reader visit to romania A brief guide to some of Romania’s leading wine regions Since joining the EU, Romania has

developed a PDO/PGI system, the main influence of which has been to reduce yields. Notable PDOs include:

Dealu Mare: a long swathe of relatively flat vineyards south of the Carpathians and north of Bucharest; the warm

climate gives full-bodied reds and rich whites.

Drăgășani: west of Bucharest, slightly higher and cooler than Dealu Mare, giving fresher whites but still full-

bodied reds; look out for local varieties such as Negru de Drăgășani and Crâmpoșie Selecționată.

Târnave and Lechinţa: two DOCs on

the high, central Transylvanian plateau; cool-climate region best known for

fresh, aromatic whites, although elegant reds are starting to emerge.

Cotnari: in the Moldovan hills to the

The group has 16 members who were all represented in Dealu Mare, where the trip was focused

From page 45

such as Liliac’s Passito-style Nectar of Transylvania.

The group was also impressed by a

number of sparkling wines. Again, the

indigenous varieties caught the attention,

for example Casa de Vinuri Cotnari’s zesty and honeyed sparkling Frâncușă.

Rob Marshall, a consultant on the

north east of the country, famous for its

UK export market who has been

aromatic, drier wines.

diversifying and bringing their own ideas

sweet wines, once as popular as any in the world; now also producing fresh, Miniş: on the plains close to the

based in Romania for many years, has seen producers “grow in confidence, and philosophies” to winemaking.

Producers such as Budureasca are

Hungarian border in the west;

starting to produce organic wines, and

varieties such as Furmint, Cadarca and

varieties as diverse as Syrah, Blaufränkisch

the strong Hungarian influence is particularly noticeable in grape Blaufränkisch.

Mehedinți: in the south west, the warm climate and gently-sloping hills are

particularly suited to full-bodied reds with real ageing potential.

the natural wines of Nachbil were a firm favourite among the group. Made from

and the extremely rare Grünspitz, Bobby Fishel, of natural wine specialist Bunch Wine Bar in Liverpool, described them

as “exciting, vibrant and pure, showing

Romania’s potential for natural wines”. Building from scratch

Although viticulture in Romania dates

back over 4,000 years, the modern wine industry is in its relative infancy. As

Căpăţînă explained, “a lot of traditions

and knowledge were lost under the harsh dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu” when

vineyard land was confiscated to feed the vast state-owned co-operatives which cared more for quantity than quality.

Vineyards started returning to private

ownership in the 1990s and the shift back to quality wine production was

considerably boosted by EU membership

in 2007. Grants helped new wineries invest

The shift back to quality wine production was boosted by EU membership THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 46


in modern technology and plant higher-

quality vines and opened up the market to smaller, family-owned businesses. It also

attracted winemakers from other member states, such as France, Germany and

Austria, who brought their experience and more modern approach with them.

While the domestic market remains important, Căpăţînă acknowledges

that the producers need to adapt for

the challenging UK market: promoting

native varieties, lowering alcohol levels, improving labelling and taking a more pragmatic view on pricing. But the

producers are clearly open to feedback:

The grape names may be unfamiliar but the flavour profiles sit well with the indie trade

Marshall is pleased that, following the London Wine Fair, one producer has already modernised its labelling.

Romanian wine is still a work in

progress. However, as the vines mature and the producers gain experience,

quality is improving with every harvest.

Some Romanian grape varieties to look out for

Anyone interested in seeking out good

quality wines from native varieties should

Whites

general, and those of the PWR members in particular, in the coming years.

Fetească Regală: Romania’s most planted

The group was hosted over two days

white variety which can produce aromatic garden herbs). The best are fresh but

keep an eye on the wines of Romania in

by Budureasca and Licorna wineries in Dealu Mare. For more information on Premium Wines of Romania, including details of its members and the regions where they produce wine, visit premiumwinesofromania.com.

wines (white flowers, citrus to exotic fruit, rich-textured; some oak-aged wines show potential for ageing.

Fetească Albă: almost as widespread but tends to make lighter wines than its regal cousin. In cooler spots, it gives delicate

floral and fruit aromas; in warmer areas, it can lack acidity.

Tămâioasă Românească: a local clone of Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains; widely used

for highly aromatic dessert wines but some dry examples still express its floral and exotic fruit characteristics.

Grasă de Cotnari: the “fat” grape, an

aromatic variety traditionally used to make

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 47

the sweet wines of Cotnari. Interest in the variety has been revived, with some drier yet honeyed wines now being made.

Crâmpoșie Selecționată: also traditionally used for sweet wines but now being used

for lighter, drier wines. The best are fresh and elegant with green and citrus fruits

and a slight bitterness on the finish, similar to some Italian whites. Reds

Fetească Neagră: Romania’s signature red grape. The best offer ripe red and

black fruit flavours, especially plums and cherries; aged in oak, they can develop

velvety tannins and complex spicy notes.

From cooler regions like Transylvania, the

wines can show remarkable freshness and elegance.

Negru de Drăgăşani: a recent cross

from Drăgăşani that is already showing an ability to produce powerful yet soft reds with sweet dark fruits and, in the

best examples, complex notes of spice, chocolate, and even violets.


make a date

Burgundy En Primeur 2017 A second good vintage after some tough years

“After a couple of hard years, Burgundy

has had two good vintages in a run now

and with ’18, they’ve got the yield now too.” Merchants can assess the vintage for

themselves at a series of en primeur tastings in January.

Sophie@charlestaylorwines.com Tuesday, January 8 Venue TBC

Flint Wines Contact Melanie Brandy. Email melanie@ flintwines.com

Tuesday, January 8

One Whitehall Place

G

2 Whitehall Court

London SE11 4AA

rowers in Burgundy were

Awin Barratt Siegel

heartened by the increased yields of 2017. With the exception of

Contact Lesley Gray. Email lg@

Chablis, the frosts were deflected by

abswineagencies.co.uk

bale-burning and the use of frost candles.

Tuesday, January 8

According to BIVB figures, despite being hit by frost again, Chablis production was up by 52% on 2016, Pinot Noir rose by 41% and white wine production by 21%.

Sam Jary of Black Hand Wine in Cumbria

The Mall Room Sam Jary’s production was up almost 30%

has been making wine in Burgundy for

Upcoming Burgundy En Primeur Tastings

in Pommard was up to 90 barrels from around 70 in 2016.

Lea & Sandeman

2017,” he says. “Everything we picked was fantastic – really good quality. One of the

leaandsandeman.co.uk Monday, January 7

over 10 years and he says his production

“We definitely had a better time of it in

big features of 2017 was that the nights were cool, which keeps that acidity.

“Our top-tier 2017 stays in barrel for a

year but we actually do some drink-now,

Contact Lucy Marcuson. Email lucy@ 67 Pall Mall

London SW1Y 5ES Goedhuis & Co

unfined, unfiltered and no-added-sulphite

Contact Laura Michelon. Email lm@

actually bottled in March and it’s been

Philip Mould & Co

wine. The Côte d’Or Bourgogne and the Haute Côte de Beaune Pinot Noir are fantastic. The Haute Côte de Beaune

Pinot Noir was lighter than usual but

has fantastic power and the Côte d’Or

Bourgogne, the Gamay, was absolutely

goedhuis.com

Monday, January 7 18-19 Pall Mall

London SW1Y 5LU Armit Wines

10-11 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AH Liberty Wines

Contact Ana Bolivar. Email ana.bolivar@ libertywines.co.uk

Wednesday, January 9 Location TBC

Corney & Barrow Contact Events@corneyandbarrow.com Trade session: 2.30pm – 4.30pm Thursday, January 10 One Belgravia

9 Grosvenor Place

London SW1X 7SH H2Vin

Register at info@h2vin.co.uk

Trade tasting 2.30pm – 6.30pm Thursday, January 10 The Westbury Hotel Conduit Street

beautiful.

Contact marketing@armitwines.co.uk

has higher acidity than a Chardonnay but

Shaftesbury Place

Contact Nerea Sanz. Email nsanz@

Charles Taylor Wines

67 Pall Mall

“The Aligoté from Bouzeron is my only

non-sulphite white. Obviously Aligoté

it’s got beautiful tension and some lovely

creaminess from lees contact so I’m really pleased with our 2017 whites. It was a great year overall.

Tuesday, January 8 Ironmongers’ Hall

London EC2Y 8AA

Contact Sophie Scott-Clarke. Email

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 48

London W1S 2YF Bancroft Wines

bancroftwines.com

Thursday, January 10 London SW1Y 5ES


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make a date

Close your eyes at Grange Tower Bridge Hotel and you could almost be in a French vineyard

Liberty Wines Annual Portfolio Tasting

French Wine Discoveries

New Zealand Annual Trade Tasting

More than 100 producers, family

The largest New Zealand trade tasting

estates, co-operatives and associations,

in Europe provides visitors with an

Liberty has extended its range to

from a wide array of regions, will be

opportunity to take their pick from a

include wines from the Kanaan Winery

presenting their wines.

line-up of more than 400 wines.

in China, and these will be available to taste alongside more than 700 others from around the world. Arranged geographically, and with

winery representatives on hand, this is the ideal opportunity to learn more about the stories and people behind the wines. Contact Roxane Marty: events@

libertywines.co.uk.

Most of the exhibitors do not yet have UK

representation.

Contact Anne-Catherine Vigouroux at

london@wine4trade.fr to register for the tasting.

For more information about what to

expect at the event, visit www.wine4trade. com/london.

Regions guaranteed to be well

represented include Waiheke Island,

Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago.

To register or for more information

contact Sarah Shepherd: sarahs@nzwine. com.

Wednesday, January 16

Tuesday, January 15

Etc Venues

Tuesday, January 15

Grange Tower Bridge Hotel

County Hall

The Kia Oval

45 Prescot Street

Belvedere Road

Kennington, London SE11 5SS

London E1 8GP

London SE1 7PB

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 5o


Australia Trade Tasting

Hallgarten & Novum Winetraders Italian Wines Trade Tasting Portfolio Tasting

Australia will be visiting both London

Hallgarten welcomes its many

Much of this decade has seen

and Edinburgh in January.

producers from around the world

Winetraders carefully expand its wine

to showcase their wines and share

range from beyond its traditional Italian

their passion with independent wine

base.

The London event is the largest annual

tasting of Australian wine outside of

Australia, showcasing more than 1,000

merchants.

350 wines in Edinburgh, but both locations

regions of the winemaking world.

wines from around 90 exhibitors.

The tasting is scaled down to around

will have themed tastings, masterclasses and focus tables incorporated into the programme.

For more information contact Kirsty

Savory. Email kirsty.savory@wineaustralia. com.

Tuesday, January 22 B1,Victoria House Southampton Row London WC1B 5HR Monday, January 28

As a result, its line-up has been extended

The company has added an array of new

to include wines from countries including

This year’s wine trails are based on

range.

wines from the traditional and esoteric

the four elements, and designed to offer merchants inspiration for their shelves. Pick one wine from a trail, write an

inspired tasting note and you could win a “truffle trip of a lifetime” to the south of France.

Independent traders from Kerb will be

cooking dishes inspired by street food. Register at www.hallgarten-2019.

eventbrite.co.uk.

Monday, January 28 & Tuesday, January 29

1 Princes Street

1 Marylebone Road

Edinburgh EH2 2EQ

London NW1 4AQ

© Ricant Images / stockadobe.com

The Balmoral Hotel

Spain, Germany and New Zealand.

Smeaton’s Gin has also recently joined the But this tasting will focus purely on

Italian wines, for which the business is best known.

To RSVP and for more information

about the wines on show, email kristina@ winetraders.eu.

Wednesday, January 30 Terrace Gallery Museum of London 150 London Wall London EC2 5HN

Louis Latour Agencies Annual Tasting The event will be showcasing a selection of wines and Cognacs from a portfolio of family-owned producers. The Louis Latour Agencies line-up

features producers including Henry Fessy, Simmonet-Febvre, Vidal-Fleury, Seresin, Morgenhof Estate, Champagne Gosset,

McHenry Hohnen, Banfi, Momo, Wakefield and Isonto.

To RSVP contact Rebecca Fraser. Email

enquiries@louislatour.co.uk. Wednesday, January 30 OXO2 Bargehouse Street Go along to the Hallgarten tasting and a truffle adventure could await

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 51

London SE1 9PH


make a date

new generation 14 Kennington Road London SE1 7BL T: 020 7928 7300

Bourgogne de Vigne en Verre was established over 30 years ago when its founders recognised that by outsourcing the commercial side of their business they could spend more time in their vineyards making wine and doing the things they truly loved and enjoyed. Today this group of around 20 producers covering over 300 hectares of vines offers a unique take on modern Burgundy.

BVV will be holding their En Primeur Tasting on

london@newgenwines.com

Tuesday 8th January 2019 at St James’s Room, 67 Pall Mall, London.

www.newgenwines.com @newgenwines

The tasting will include the wines of Domaine du Meix-Foulot,

Domaine Edmond Cornu & Fils, Domaine Christian Clerget,

and Domaine Georges Lignier & Fils among others.

For further information, please contact

Louise du Bosky on louise@newgenwines.com.

seckford agencies

Seckford Agencies are delighted to announce that they have been appointed as agent for Kanonkop wines in the UK. Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015 has become the first South African

Old Barn Farm Harts Lane, Ardleigh Colchester CO7 7QQ

wine to receive 100pts in the annual report on the South African

01206 231686

and Seckford Agencies are delighted to be able to make this range

julie@seckfordagencies.co.uk

KADETTE

@seckfordagency Seckford Agencies Ltd

wine industry by Tim Atkin MW.

This has understandably raised interest levels in this iconic estate

available to premium independent merchants. 2017 Pinotage Rosé

2016 Cape Blend (Cab Sauv/Pinotage/Merlot/Cab Franc) 2016 Kadette Pinotage ESTATE RANGE

2016 Pinotage Tim Atkin 94pts

2013/2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Tim Atkin 93pts

2015 Paul Sauer (Cab Sauv / Cab Franc/ Merlot) Tim Atkin 100pts PLATTER 5* – 2016 vintage available early 2019

2017 Black Label Pinotage Greg Sherwood 96pts; PLATTER 5* – UK release late November 2018

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 52


supplier bulletin

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

Winning wineries in the Louis Latour Agencies portfolio

Congratulations to Banfi who have been recognised as Winery of the Year (Imported) by sommeliers in

0207 409 7276

the United States at the 2018 Sommelier Challenge.

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

Best Brunello di Montalcino.

They received 98 points for their 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle

Mura which was awarded Wine of the Year (Imported), Best Red Wine and Banfi joined our portfolio earlier this year and we now have a wide range of their Tuscan and Piedmont wines in our UK stocks. Also in the news, Henry Fessy have been awarded Star of Beaujolais by Harper’s Wine Stars for 2016

Château des Reyssiers Regnie. Judges commented:

“A fantastic mid-range Beaujolais, showing youthful, juicy, and fresh Gamay fruit, with a long well-

balanced finish. A Beaujolais with bags of character for bistros, gastropubs and indie merchants.”

walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR

Christmas Promotions W&W’s Christmas promotions exclusively for independent merchants will run until the end of December 2018. We have more, and deeper, offers than ever before, including

20% off wines from Burgundy and the Rhône, with deals on great New World wineries, including Some Young Punks, Spier, Carmen and Catena. Fizz is well covered with

0207 449 1665

offers on Ridgeview, Codorniu Cava and Bisol Prosecco, and we even have some

orders@walkerwodehousewines.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com

20% off Chablis with La Chablisienne

@WalkerWodehouse

specials on Port and Sauternes too.

With an incredible history dating back to 1923, La

Chablisenne produces some top quality and great value Chablis – and just in time for Christmas, we’re offering 20% off the Chablis Sereine 2014, and 15% off the

Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2015. The 2014 Sereine has a

crisp, mineral character with honey and peach flavours on the palate, while the 2015 Vaillons has a beautiful

balance of fruity and floral notes, with great finesse and a touch of salinity.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 53


supplier bulletin

AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES

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 orders@abswineagencies.co.uk www.abswineagencies.co.uk

@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:

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!

info@finewinepartners.co.uk www.finewinepartners.co.uk

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.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 54


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buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 sales@buckingham-schenk.co.uk www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

Trademark Hawke’s Bay Wines A trademark – “a recognisable design or expression that identifies

products of a particular source from those of others”. For Hawke’s Bay pioneer Rod McDonald, his Trademark wines are the ultimate expression of his region and his winemaking ethos. Complexity,

ageworthiness and concentration are some of the hallmarks of Rod’s wines and they shine through in these examples.

Rod McDonald Trademark Syrah, Hawke’s Bay The Trademark Syrah is multi-award-winning, and one of the most stunning examples of Hawke’s Bay’s signature red variety. With beautiful

ripeness and depth of flavour, the pedigree of this wine is evident.

Full-bodied flavours of violet, spice, black cherry and plum showcase the best this unique terroir has to offer.

Rod McDonald Trademark Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay The Trademark Chardonnay is full of stone fruit, lemon, and nectarine fruit

flavours with hints of flint, lees and stone. The palate is supple and seamless with a long, lingering finish.

mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600 info@mentzendorff.co.uk www.mentzendorff.co.uk

The connoisseur’s choice

Fonseca has belonged in the first rank of Vintage Port producers since the 19th century with the wines being made by the Guimaraens family since its foundation in 1815. The

consistent quality of the wines derives from respect for the vineyards within the unique environment of the Douro Valley. Fonseca’s strategy makes it ideally suited for the

independents for whom we have the above selection of Ports and Gift Packs available for the festive season.

For details and pricing please contact your account manager.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 55


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

RWA Annual Portfolio Tasting 2019 5th & 6th February 2019 Join us at The Vintners’ Hall where we will be showcasing our portfolio of wines from around the world for you to try. Email info@richmondwineagencies.com to register your attendance

020 8744 5550 info@richmondwineagencies.com

@richmondwineag1

Famille Helfrich Wines

Famille Helfrich is the independent specialist arm of Les Grands Chais de

1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France

the leading producer and exporter of French wines and spirits.

cdavies@lgcf.fr 07789 008540

the best terroir France has to

@FamilleHelfrich @family_helfrich_gcf_wines

France ... yes, still a family – with real people! Joseph founded the company in 1979 with 5,000 fr and we have grown to become Don't let the size put you off, it has helped us create an independent portfolio of

over 400 wines and we now own over 45 domaines and châteaux across some of offer.

Having the infrastructure

allows us to consolidate all of our wines at one central

location in Alsace, where you

can either come and collect or we can deliver a single mixed pallet to you.

REMEMBER, we are a

producer, a family producer, not an agency as some people think.

Working with Famille Helfrich Wines gives you the ability as an independent to buy

direct from a producer from appellations all over France, with one delivery.

A perfect solution to help you grow and experiment with France and all it has to

offer ...

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 56


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hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 info@hatch.co.uk www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield

Taittinger Nocturne An exciting and stylish cuvée from the Taittinger family, the easy drinking

softness that a touch of sweetness brings makes these versatile bubbles perfect to enjoy late into the evening.

Not quite as dry as Brut, but not sweet

by any means, Nocturne 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 and beyond.

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.

bancroft wines Woolyard 54 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7232 5470 marketing@bancroftwines.com www.bancroftwines.com

Bancroft Wines bolsters Australian portfolio with exceptional agencies In the past few months Bancroft Wines has made key additions to its Australian range. They join long-standing Bancroft agencies Hay Shed Hill (Margaret River) and Ten Minutes by Tractor (Mornington Peninsula).

Skillogalee is a family-run winery in the Clare Valley, widely recognised as one of the

region’s top estates. Owners David and Diana Palmer’s tireless dedication to their craft, careful vineyard work and small-batch winemaking is reflected in their wines, which honestly reflect the place and soils in which they are grown.

Founded in 1970, Brokenwood has achieved global

recognition for producing some of Australia’s best

@bancroftwines

wines, including ILR Semillon and The Graveyard

Shiraz. Celebrating 35 vintages at the helm, Iain Riggs

has overseen the winery’s expansion while remaining fiercely committed to unique and high-quality expressions of Australian terroir.

Seppeltsfield has built its reputation on exceptional fortified wines, some of which

will be imported by Bancroft. Also joining the range are Barossa still wines including

an Eden Valley Riesling from the estate’s coolest vineyard, an unoaked Grenache and a Shiraz from the Barossa’s Western Ridge. Wines are due to arrive in January.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 57


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Appellation Marlborough Wine

liberty wines 020 7720 5350

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has long been the envy of wine producers everywhere,

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

name but shipped in bulk and bottled elsewhere.

In recent times, this reputation has been threatened by wines sold under the Marlborough

In response to this concern, a group of top producers have taken an important step

to protect their reputation with the recently launched Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW). This initiative will establish an appellation with the aim “to protect the integrity,

@liberty_wines

authenticity and brand value of wines produced in Marlborough”, safeguarding the region’s reputation for premium wines via certification.

To be certified as an AMW wine, a wine must be made entirely from grapes grown in

recognised sustainable vineyards in Marlborough and, most importantly, be bottled in New Zealand. Yields will also be taken into account. Initially, the AMW certification will relate only to Sauvignon Blanc and certified wines will carry the logo on their label.

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maintaining its premium price point and high-quality image amid ever increasing sales.

0 E2

MERCHANT OF THE YEAR

In keeping with their quality ethos, our Marlborough producers (Tinpot Hut, Greywacke,

Blank Canvas, Framingham, and Ribbonwood) will be

certified, with the logos appearing on bottles in the New Year*.

*From the 2019 vintage for Greywacke

Well, that’s us done for another year. The Wine Merchant now takes its annual break and returns on January 15 for the usual mix of news, opinion, interviews, reviews, business ideas, reader events, diary dates and occasional silliness. Thanks to everyone who’s played so nicely with us throughout 2018. We wish all our readers and advertisers the very best for the festive trading period and a successful new year.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 58


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

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.

@EnotriaCoe

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

Enotria&Coe.

hallgarten

Pioneering Prosecco producer Carpenè Malvolti is this year celebrating its 150th anniversary, founded in 1868 by notable scientist, chemist and

Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538

researcher Antonio Carpenè.

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

3 The oldest family-owned Italian winery for sparkling wines

3 The first winery in Italy to produce Prosecco as a sparkling wine

3 The first to label the region’s sparkling wine with the term Prosecco The perfect Prosecco for New Year’s Eve and the festive season!

@hnwines

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 59


The Wine Merchant issue 75  

The Wine Merchant issue 75

The Wine Merchant issue 75  

The Wine Merchant issue 75

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