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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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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
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
Swig (07973 553343)
Vindependents (020 3488 4548)
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
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
Laytons (020 7288 8888)
Uncharted Wines (07909 511064) unchartedwines.com
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
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
Louis Latour Agencies (020 7409 7276)
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
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
Hatch Mansfield (01344 871800) hatchmansfield.com
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 10
bits & BOBs FAVOURITE
A research project in southern Chile has identified 26 previously unknown grape
Robert Boutflower Tanners Shrewsbury
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
contrary to RSPCA guidelines.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
Coffee and Wine Two Worlds Compared Morten Scholer Troubador, £30
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.
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
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-
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
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
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.
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 (email@example.com)
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?
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
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
USER FRIENDLY WEBSITE
and the Reserva Chardonnay – they will retail at £15. We had the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc, which was
RARE & MATURE WINES
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.
GLOBAL AUDIENCE BI-MONTHLY AUCTIONS 5% COMMISSION
2018 JAN MAR MAY JUL SEPT NOV
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THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 27
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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].
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Trade tasting 2.30pm – 6.30pm Thursday, January 10 The Westbury Hotel Conduit Street
has higher acidity than a Chardonnay but
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
Thursday, January 10 London SW1Y 5ES
© milosk50 / stockadobe.com
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Supplier of wine boxes and literature • 12 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £1.69p each • 6 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £0.98p each • 12 Bottle carrier boxes with dividers from £0.99p each Prices are subject to VAT • Delivery not included
The iconic Hospices de Beaune
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THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 49
ÂŠ rh2010 / stockadobe.com
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@
Most of the exhibitors do not yet have UK
Contact Anne-Catherine Vigouroux at
email@example.com 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,
Hawkeâ€™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
Tuesday, January 15
Grange Tower Bridge Hotel
The Kia Oval
45 Prescot Street
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
The London event is the largest annual
tasting of Australian wine outside of
Australia, showcasing more than 1,000
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
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.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
Tuesday 8th January 2019 at St James’s Room, 67 Pall Mall, London.
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 email@example.com.
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
and Seckford Agencies are delighted to be able to make this range
@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
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.
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
20% off Chablis with La Chablisienne
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
three places and our portfolio accounting for half the top 10!
waves and turning heads. Tasmania’s House of Arras and Adelaide Hills’ Croser wines cleaned up at this year’s Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards, with Arras taking the top
Accolades for cool-climate wines aren’t limited to sparkling, with Stonier Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula receiving high praise in the press.
Please contact us if you would like to discover more
about Stonier, Arras or anything in our portfolio.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 54
buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 email@example.com www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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 email@example.com to register your attendance
020 8744 5550 firstname.lastname@example.org
Famille Helfrich Wines
Famille Helfrich is the independent specialist arm of Les Grands Chais de
1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France
the leading producer and exporter of French wines and spirits.
email@example.com 07789 008540
the best terroir France has to
France ... yes, still a family – with real people! Joseph founded the company in 1979 with 5,000 fr and we have grown to become Don't let the size put you off, it has helped us create an independent portfolio of
over 400 wines and we now own over 45 domaines and châteaux across some of offer.
Having the infrastructure
allows us to consolidate all of our wines at one central
location in Alsace, where you
can either come and collect or we can deliver a single mixed pallet to you.
REMEMBER, we are a
producer, a family producer, not an agency as some people think.
Working with Famille Helfrich Wines gives you the ability as an independent to buy
direct from a producer from appellations all over France, with one delivery.
A perfect solution to help you grow and experiment with France and all it has to
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 56
hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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
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
Appellation Marlborough Wine
liberty wines 020 7720 5350
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has long been the envy of wine producers everywhere,
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,
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.
maintaining its premium price point and high-quality image amid ever increasing sales.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2018 59
The Wine Merchant issue 75