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THE WINE MERCHANT. Issue 76, January 2019

Dog of the Month: Max Vindinista, Acton

© Daniel Ogulewicz

An independent magazine for independent retailers

The room in the Elephant

Sunny Hodge brings psychedelic wines to south London

Indie numbers increase by 7% Despite concerns about Brexit and a possible economic downturn in 2019, the number of specialist independent wine merchants hit a new high as 2018 drew to a close. The number of premises now stands

at 914, boosted by a surge of openings in the final quarter of last year. The figure compares to 857 at the end of 2017,

representing an annual net increase of 57 –

a rise of just under 7%.

Tooting – opened additional branches.

of these are operated by new entrants in

further three reducing their store numbers

Twelve wine shops opened for business

over the October-December period. Seven the market, including Diogenes the Dog

in London’s Elephant and Castle district,

Grape Minds in Oxford and Brandy for the Parson near Brighton.

Meanwhile seven businesses – including

The Vineking, The Sampler and Unwined in

The picture was not entirely rosy, with

three merchants closing down and a

from two to one. Prohibition Wines in

north London sold up to Jeroboams while 21 Wines in Brighton and The Tasting Room in Bath sold to Amathus.

• Comings & Goings – pages 6 to 13.


Inside this month 4 welcome to january Consumers drink less but better, and cider gets serious

6 comings & Goings People are opening wine shops

The one thing you can say for sure about indies is they’re independent


eneralising about the

independent wine trade is a dangerous sport. So it’s

interesting that quite a few suppliers still seem happy to indulge in it.

“Independents really respond well to

pretty much everywhere

such-and-such,” they will tell you. “But one

14 tried & tested So, our new favourite white

thing they struggle with is insertdegree: falling into the

18 david williams Why a wine may be crunchy, but never masculine or well-bred

Celebrating new talent in the independent trade

trap of assuming that


very often food. Lines are getting blurred. Is the business a wine bar that happens to do a bit of retail on the

side? Is it really a restaurant

that allows its clientele to

take home a few extra bottles in a doggy bag? These are

judgement calls that we make when calculating the total

similar working lives, a

approach to sourcing and

selling, and a shared vision for

number of independent wine

merchant lighting up Lancashire

Our new feature is a well-stirred

changes several times a week).

For all these reasons and

more, this year’s annual reader survey,

divide between the traditionalists and the

important one yet. With your help, we’ll be

newer breed in the independent trade – it began with rugby shirts in about 1989

40 the spirits world

shops (a figure that typically

where their sector is headed.

all of those ideas. There has long been a

From shed to chic: a wine

Supplier Bulletin, page 56

offer wine to drink on the premises, and

independents all have

The past few years should have exploded

Make a Date, page 48;

will reveal that the bulk of new entrants

fixed set of values, a common

26 rising stars

mix of news and views

Merchant over the course of the past year

a-concept-of-your-choice-here.” We’re all guilty of it to some

grape is Thrapsathiri

A glance through the pages of The Wine

and now extends to things like natural

wine, free jazz and artisan bread. For some independent wine merchants, wine isn’t even the biggest part of their business,

despite the fact you’d struggle to find a

more specialist selection within a single charge of your electric car.

once again sponsored by our friends at

Hatch Mansfield, is going to be the most

able to paint a picture of the independent

trade of 2019 in all its nuances, capturing

the texture and complexity – and perhaps contradictions – that will always elude

those who trade in generalisations. For

the past seven years the response we’ve

had from readers has been phenomenal.

Please make it so again this year by visiting Thank you.

THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter Assistant Editor: Claire Harries Sales and Business Development: Georgina Humphrey Accounts: Naomi Young The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 914 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2019 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 2

hillebrand ad supplied separately


Public continues to infuriate It will come as little surprise to most wine merchants to learn that only 14% of regular wine drinkers make their purchases at independent wine shops. Indies occupy a rarefied niche in the wine market rather than the mainstream, a fact borne out by the latest Vinitrac research by Wine Intelligence. In fact the percentage of consumers

attracted to independent specialists is

down slightly, from 15% in 2015 and 2017, though this is not necessarily a cause for alarm. Even supermarkets have seen a

small erosion in their share, from 88% to

84%, as have convenience stores (27% to

23%) and off-licence chains (24% to 22%).

Discounters, meanwhile, are up from

25% to 37% and supermarket websites up from 20% to 22%. Indeed 19% of regular wine drinkers are buying from Aldi, and 15% from Lidl.

Are there reasons for independents

to be cheerful? The report echoes the

general feeling in the drinks trade that

consumers are shifting to “less but better”

in their wine choices, and the research has found that just under half of regular wine

drinkers can be classified as “adventurous” in their wine buying habits.

The proportion of consumers feeling

“competent” in their knowledge of wine has been steadily increasing, and now

stands at 40%, up from 35% in 2015. Yet

30% still maintain they “don’t understand much about wine”.

An encouraging 58% say wine is

“reasonably priced”, though 35% believe


it’s an expensive pleasure.

Grape variety is still the most important

buying cue for wine drinkers, Wine

Intelligence says, with 74% of regular drinkers citing it as a factor in their

purchase decisions. Inevitably, nearly

six out of 10 say the promotional offer is important – almost twice as many as are prepared to take on board

recommendations from shop staff, either verbally or in written form.

The latest research also reveals that

nearly half of regular wine drinkers claim to be actively reducing their alcohol

consumption. But most prefer to do so by

not drinking at all rather than seeking out lower-alcohol drinks.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents

say that alcohol content is an important

decision when buying wine, compared to 33% in 2010-12.

© hansenn /

Cider is Wine members must stick to strict quality protocols

“Our Man with the Facts”

Like comparing apples and grapes

a ban on pasteurisation; and audits on

Gin exploded onto the trendy drinks

makes traditional-method sparkling cider;

scene after decades in the doldrums. Craft beer’s meteoric rise would have seemed unlikely only a few years ago. Cider’s fortunes were turned around in the mainstream market by Magners, and now some believe there’s an opportunity for more artisanal ciders to make a big splash in the specialist retail market. Alistair Morrell is one of them, which

is why he has set up a not-for-profit body called Cider is Wine. The aim is to make

it easier for consumers to identify ciders with genuine quality credentials and to

differentiate them from mass-market rivals which currently claim the lion’s share of the UK’s £2.8bn cider market.

“People just don’t see cider in the same

way they see wine, and yet there is every

reason to do so,” says Morrell, a one-time

BWS buyer for Asda who has also run his own wine import business.

The campaign has developed a tamper-

proof hologram for its signatories to

use on their bottles. To join the alliance,

members must stick to a list of protocols. These include making ciders only from

freshly-picked and pressed apple or pears, never concentrate; restrictions on dosage;

production practices.

Members recruited so far include

Hampshire-based Gospel Green, which

Brannland, which produces ice cider in

Sweden; and Locksley, which makes cider and perry in Nottinghamshire.

“It is very early stages and we are

in producer recruitment mode at the moment,” says Morrell.

“We’re actively campaigning for and

creating a distinct category that’s got defined limits. That’s not to say that

people who aren’t members aren’t making fine quality products – they may well

be, and that’s absolutely fine. But here is something that people can clearly recognise and identify with.

“We’re using our best endeavours to get

some sort of financial structure and then

we’d love to be doing consumer and trade fairs and be more active on the PR side of things.”

Unsurprisingly, given the alliance’s title,

part of the group’s mission is to encourage

consumers to serve cider in much the same way as they would wine.

“Our ideal is that people are serving

these ciders in wine glasses,” Morrell

says. “It’s about appreciating the different

flavours, vintages and the terroir. It’s about minimal intervention and letting the fruit do the talking.”


• The number of people drinking wine at least once a month in the UK has fallen by 1 million in just three years, from 29.5 million in 2015, according to Wine Intelligence.

....... • The earliest recorded wine imports in Britain took place in the second century BC when Italian wines arrived in Dorset. The wines, stored in amphorae, completed the final stages of their journey from the Gironde and along the Atlantic coast to Brittany before crossing the Channel.

....... • The wire device holding Champagne corks in place, known as a muselet, was invented by Adolphe Jacquesson in 1844. Traditionally the wire requires six half turns to free the cork.

....... • Bentonite, a clay formed by volcanic ash which is one of the most popular fining agents used by winemakers, is mined in the United States. Its particles are negatively charged when immersed in wine, attracting positively-charged protein.

....... • Just over 95% of the wine made in Japan comes from imported wine that is reprocessed on arrival in the country, or from concentrated grape must.

© Daniel Ogulewicz

Psychedelic wines in south London A wine merchant who launched his first bar and shop in November looks to have hit the demographic jackpot. Sunny Hodge opened Diogenes the Dog

in Elephant and Castle in south London

and is delighted at the welcome he’s had,

as well as the enthusiasm and knowledge of the locals.

“I wanted and dreamed of a customer

profile like this, and I expected to have to

build it over a couple of years. But to have it flooding through the doors …” he says. The majority of residents could be

described as young professionals. The area, close to Elephant Park, one of the biggest

housing projects in Europe, is a mix of “oldschool council estates and shiny brand-

new builds, with a few Victorian houses tucked away”, Hodge says.

The wine range, most of which is

imported direct, is described by Hodges as “psychedelic”. “The wines are not unusual

because they are unfiltered or biodynamic or quirky – they are unusual because they are really good, and a lot of them are the best of their own domestic market that

doesn’t always make it to the UK,” he says. The range is being kept “trim” with

around six reds and six whites by the glass,

Sunny Hodge is importing most of his wines direct

as Hodge feels a larger list would be more

cool because they want to work in a place

is working with to supplement his own

have in three days. People have gone crazy

Prices range from £5 to £14 by the glass

intends to purchase all his wine direct.

intimidating. He explains: “We’ve gone

through 36 bottles of the orange wine we for it but if I’d had a larger list of maybe

a couple of rosés along with the orange, it wouldn’t go because people would probably choose a rosé.”

Customers are testing the knowledge

of Hodge and his team with their eclectic requests.

“There are things that staff are being

asked that I haven’t taught them and

which they’ve had to look up, which is

where they can push themselves and learn more about wine,” he says.

and from £14 to £34 for a bottle. The wine bar and the retail areas are completely

integrated with no “physical restriction”

between the two. Hodge says while retail sales are higher than he imagined, most customers tend to stay for a couple of glasses before buying a bottle to take home.

Basket Press and Carte Blanche are

among the small group of suppliers Hodge

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 6

importing, but he says that once he “gets to grips” with the rhythms of importation he In the next six years Hodge plans to

open another two sites but any new shops would “definitely be without an obvious connection to Diogenes the Dog”.

He says: “I don’t want anything to feel

like a chain and sometimes it’s better to

understand how something performs on its own, so you can look at it objectively rather than off the back of the name of something else that has done well.”

Adeline Mangevine Majestic escapees in Oxford opening Majestic’s loss is the independent trade’s gain as two former employees open their own shop in north Oxford. Michael Jelley and Graeme Woodward

left their day jobs in October to enable

them to concentrate on their new venture. Grape Minds opened at South Parade

initially as a “rough and ready” pop-up

Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing


even pence. Doesn’t sound much. But, boy, what a kick in the teeth. A significant chunk of the wines

that keep me in business have now

passed the £10 mark thanks to the latest

duty rise. I can’t swallow the increase. So, I steel myself for the inevitable. I’ll have to search for some new cheap – I mean “lifestyle” – wines.

The problem is that I’ve been in the

at the end of November, in time for the

business too long to appreciate the cheap

reopening in full.

with one-dimensional flavours, low acid,

Christmas trade. This month the refit

and decoration will be completed before Jelley describes the list of around 400

wines as “eclectic but approachable” and aimed at a wide range of customers. “We want to make people feel comfortable;

most of our range will be in the £8 to £20

mark,” he says. “North Oxford is an affluent

stuff. With access to so much good wine, it is quite a shock to go back to products hollow middles and short finishes. I’ve

always had a rule that if a friend served

me one of my under-£10 wines, I would happily drink it. I fear those days are over.

I call in a couple of dozen samples. It

area and we’ll certainly have the ability to

is still possible to find a range of wines

of their stock and are excited about being


cater for those people as well.”

The pair are importing a small amount

able to share their discoveries.

under £5.50. All the shipped-over-in-

a-container favourites. Hurrah for bulk Then I have a brainwave and call on

Jelley says they also have “a really nice

some customers to form a tasting panel.

He admits the hybrid model doesn’t

the boat out and always try to get a deal.

range of suppliers,” including Buckingham Schenk, Liberty, BBS and Malux.

really appeal. “I think it’s very difficult and subtle to manage the balance between on

and off-trade if you combine it on the same site,” he says.

“There are some nice wine bars in the

Obviously, I select those who think

spending £8.95 on a bottle is pushing Funnily enough, all but one say yes.

Aren’t we in Dry January? Ah, the lure of

free wine. No matter how cheap and how nasty.

We sit down once the shop has shut

area anyway, so we’re sticking with retail,

and work our way through the miserable

• Wines @ West End in Woking has closed.

Chenins. I want to cry, they are so awful.

which is what we’re good at.”

Owners Gerry and Ann Price opened the shop in 2011, next door to their pub, The Inn @ West End. Both businesses have ceased trading and the couple are relocating to Granby in Nottinghamshire. Gerry Price says he may continue to sell wine online, but has yet to formalise any plans.

Merlots, tinny Tempranillos, nasty Nero d’Avolas, souless Sauvignons and shitty But I can’t because I can hear some

positive noises being made around the table.

“This isn’t bad at all ,” says one chap,

holding up a southern French blend. I ask him to elaborate and he begins to


wax lyrical, flinging around phrases such as sois bois, harmonious structure, and rustic finesse. Well, he’s right on the rustic bit. Positively farmyardy.

“I can imagine drinking a lot of this

with my friends,” says a lady, pointing to one of the Sauvignons. “I would drink it a lot colder though.” Yes. I can imagine

serving it just above freezing will mask those boiled-grass flavours.

My panel manage to select 10 out

of 24 that they would drink and buy

Duty calls: it’s time to seek out drinkable wines I can sell for under a tenner at the price I’ve specified. I’ve made

copious notes of their comments to use on the shelf talkers. Customers love

recommendations by other customers,

right? And the more I can distance myself from these wines, the better.

I reward my panel with a glass of

something decent. As they drink I can see their faces changing and I swear I catch a couple of looks of horror at the samples we’ve just tried. But when I tell them it

costs £16, I hear mutterings of “delicious, but a bit expensive”. Can they tell the difference? Of course. Will they pay the difference? Never – even though I know they could all afford to. For them, price trumps taste every time.

Gentlemen can now buy liquor legally Brandy for the Parson opened in the East Sussex village of Rottingdean in November. The village, east of Brighton, has a rich

history of smuggling and its many famous residents have included Rudyard Kipling. This explains the name that partners Ian Wilson and Philip Rees have chosen for

their new venture, which references a line from a Kipling poem about contraband. Already running the nearby Queen

Victoria pub, the duo identified a need for an independent wine merchant. “We’ve

been in the village for six and a half years and we need a second string to our bow,” says Wilson.

Wines are displayed according to the

American piece of kit that Wilson describes as “not quite as posh” as Enomatic or By the Glass. The Cruvinet will enable 16 wines to be sold in 50ml measures.

“The idea is not so much try before you

buy but to explore wines,” he says. “We’re planning on getting some bits and pieces, so we’re looking for the really unusual high-end wines at auction.

“We’ll always have one or two wines on

that we aren’t selling by the bottle, that you can only taste by coming in to the shop – a sort of once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, so

you can spend £20 or £30 on a little splash of wine that you’ll only be able to taste here.”

Evans and Aitken meet their Waterloo

occasion they are intended for. “We have

Kiki Evans and Laura Aitken had their

special occasion wines and wines to drink

half years in the planning, Unwined in

four main categories,” Wilson explains.

sights set on a second shop in Waterloo

with friends.

Waterloo opened its doors in October.

“Everyday wines, dinner party wines,

“We have tried to design and orientate

the shop so that when you come in, it only takes a couple of seconds to stand in the

for a long time. Finally, after two and a

The premises is based on the ground

because it was a shipping container build we were expecting it to be a bit quicker than that.”

The team had the luxury of having a

hand in the design of the shop. “We’ve

definitely made it our own. We wanted to

keep the cosy and homely feel of Tooting,” Evans says.

There are managers in place at both

Tooting and Waterloo allowing Evans and Ward to “slot in” when and where they’re

needed. “We’re just getting into the swing

of things,” says Evans. “It’s been really nice getting to know some of the locals and

regulars. Lower Marsh is a bit of a hidden gem.”

Being in Tooting Market allows the team

to spread out a bit and use the outside space in the evenings to cater for 40

covers. At Waterloo they have capacity

for 36 covers with another possible 12 if

they use space in the adjacent hotel. Evans estimates they can fit another 30 people on the terrace for “casual drinking or a tasting”.

Unwined specialises in wines from

smaller producers and Evans admits it is

middle and you can direct yourself to the right section. We’ve done everything we can to create an atmosphere that’s easy and fun.”

Manager Chris Saunders says the focus

is on European wines and, where possible, there’ll be a leaning towards minimum carbon footprint, vegan and organic options.

The business is keen to work with

local producers, with its craft ales and

gins mostly hailing from Sussex. “On our

opening day the thing we sold most of was

English wine,” says Wilson. “We have a few, our nearest being Court Garden.”

Brandy for the Parson also has an on-

sales licence which will allow the team to utilise their “wine explorer machine,” an

Kiki Evans and Laura Aitken at the original Tooting branch

floor of a shipping container complex in Lower Marsh. The remainder of

the building belongs to StowAway, an unstaffed, concierge-less hotel.

“It’s been a long project,” admits Evans.

“The build was almost 18 months and

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 8

proving a little difficult to spread those small parcels between the two sites, so

inevitably the wine lists are not identical.

Is a third shop on the cards? “Never say

never, but we are very happy with the two,” Evans says.


Annual Portfolio Tasting Date: Tuesday 19th February 2019 Location: IET Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL

This Fells annual portfolio tasting will be held between 10.00 and 5.30 on We are delighted to announce that the following wineries joined the Fells portfolio in the spring of 2018 and that we will be showcasing them at our 2019 Portfolio Tasting for the very first time:

Tuesday 19th February at the IET Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL

Yalumba • Oxford Landing Estates Hill-Smith Family Vineyards • Dalrymple Vineyards • Heggies Vineyards • Jansz Tasmania • Pewsey Vale Vineyard • Vasse Felix • Nautilus Estate • Two Paddocks

• To see the full Fells portfolio under one roof, including our newly added wineries from

This will be the only opportunity during 2019 Australia and New Zealand • To meet many members of our wine producing families and their winemakers

To help with the planning of this event, please confirm your attendance at the earliest opportunity to

Gonzalez Byass UK Portfolio Tasting 2019 Join us at our 2019 portfolio showcase to taste our entire range of brands from Spain and beyond. Find out more at Monday 11th February 10am – 5pm Level 2 (side entrance), OXO Tower, London Email to register your attendance. Trade only.

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 9

Somerset is a good location for Kent Frome will welcome its first wine merchant in February. Kent Barker, formerly of The Beckford

Bottle Shop, will open Stony Street

House next month. He will be joined by

sommelier Sarah Halliwell as head of wine and training and Olivia Taylor as head of operations.

“I’ve always loved Frome,” Barker says.

“In the whole of the high street there are only two national chains – everyone else

is an independent and we are part of that.

There are 26,000 people [in Frome] and we are the only wine merchant.”

Stony Street House will also be the only

wine bar and the sole pizzeria in the area. “It’s a very good demographic in that

there are a lot of arty people who will be

more than comfortable spending £10 and upwards on wine,” Barker says.

There will be around 400 lines on sale

as well as 10 wines on tap, which Barker

Westerham is home for Iles’s solo debut

predicts will be popular. “The wines on tap

Matthew Iles started his career at

biodynamic edge,” he says.

Tunbridge Wells. He has now opened

will range from entry-level to smart New

Oddbins before working for Thorman

World. We’ll have a strong organic and

Hunt and then The Secret Cellar in

including Hallgarten and Berkmann, and

Westerham, Kent.

The team will work with core suppliers

Barker is already importing direct from Spain with France and Italy to follow.

The two-storey 4,000 sq ft building sits

on a picturesque cobbled street and looks

deceptively ready for business, but Barker is busy building a new bar, installing oak

flooring and the new shelving for the shop and says he is investing a “substantial” amount of money on the refit.

Despite the extensive renovations,

Barker managed to run two pop-ups on the premises in the run up to Christmas.

his first shop, Quercus Wines in “Westerham had always struck me as

the ideal place – it’s the right size, nice

clientele, plenty of money to go around, but it didn’t have a wine shop,” says Iles.

“You’ve got to pitch it right,” he adds. “I

think if you came in here very sleek and

shiny and modern it might put people off a bit. I didn’t want it to be old-fashioned, but

I wanted it to fit in with the look and feel of Westerham, which is in the nicest possible way a fairly conservative place but with lots of nice independent retailers.”

While waiting for the right unit to come

along, two fell through during the planning phase, giving Iles time to develop his

website. “I think if I’d had the shop first,

the website probably would have lagged

behind. If the right premises hadn’t come

along, I would have focused on the website, but I think the two will complement each other,” he says.

On opening in late November, Quercus

had around 250 lines but with some room to expand. “I’m just getting a feel for what people want to see on the shelves and I’ll build up from there,” Iles says.

He is working with importers such as

Las Bodegas and, unsurprisingly, Thorman

Hunt. He mentions Liberty too: “They are a bit more generalist but they are very, very good – it’s hard to fault them.”

Iles intends to direct import at some

point. “The logistics of it at the moment

would be almost impossible to deal with Kent Barker was once a shareholder at The Beckford Bottle Shop

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 10

but in the future I’d like to be able to, at least from Europe. I think it will be an

important part of the business,” he says.

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 11

Restaurant sees rise in wine retail Evuna will be opening its fourth branch in February as well as launching an online shop. Jane Ajilowura-Dowler and her mother,

Frances Dowler, founded the company 15 years ago with their first restaurant and shop on Deansgate, Manchester. Since

then Jane and her husband, Bosun, have

expanded the business out to Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and to Knutsford in Cheshire. Altrincham will be home to number four and Liverpool is under consideration as the next location.

Ajilowura-Dowler explains that the

retail element of the business – which is

primarily a Spanish restaurant and tapas

bar – “started off as an affordable impulse purchase option for customers to buy a bottle to take home”.

She adds: “But as we’ve grown, we’ve

developed the retail side. It still only

accounts for 10% of the turnover – I’m

probably looking at £400,000 of wine retail sales a year, so there’s room to grow.”

All of the wines are directly imported

from small family-owned Spanish wineries. Boutinot is the go-to for Sherry and Morgan Rowe for dessert wines.

Evuna runs tastings and food-pairing

events, built around Ajilowura-Dowler’s

latest discoveries. “In January the region

will be Extremadura and the food concept changes with that,” she says. “We’ve got a

ticketed event set for pay-week in January. The winemaker will come over to do the

wine tasting and on the day, we usually sell

Evuna’s executive head chef

split one pallet four ways and I can sell it

in an average of three months. Across the

group we are selling around 1,000 bottles of house wine a week.”

So far, the family have built their

business without having to depend on

Finally, a win for Crystal Palace Kenrick Bush, one of the original cofounders of south London’s BOB Wines,

loans or outside investors, funding it

has formed a new partnership with

sell up one day. “Since the Altrincham news


entirely through cash flow.

Ajilowura-Dowler admits she’d like to

broke I’ve had about eight emails from

Stephen Tabbener and together they have opened Urban Cellar in Crystal The November launch was a little later

investors,” she says.

than Bush had anticipated and he admits to

Ajilowura-Dowler says shop number four

Deer has opened a wine shop called Ruby &

so glad I’ve done it.

take me too long to sell – but now I can

charging corkage of £3.50 a bottle.

about £1,000 worth of wine.”

The combined restaurant and retail

sales ensures a fast turnover of wine and

is making things easier. “I wasn’t able to by a pallet of Priorat for example – it would

• Former Cockburn & Campbell buyer Clare Claret in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire. The premises includes a tasting room

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 12

things having been a little more “complex”

than he would have liked. But he adds: “I’m “Stephen and I took our time to put the

range together. We wanted to make sure

we had the right wine at the right price for

people, and begin to serve wine by the glass.

According to Bush there are so many

local breweries – “about 18 within five

miles of Crystal Palace” – that all the craft beers will be local.

“The area is very residential and there

is a very strong local community. We will have a wine club and tasting events,” he

says. “I still have to work out my clientele. It’s a real mix of customers. Most of

our range is around the £10 mark but

But director Simon Bradbury insists

this does not signify the start of a huge expansion. “We haven’t got a strategy

Department 33 and Walker & Wodehouse

to provide around 180 lines. Space is tight,

so Bush says the list won’t increase: rather, he will rotate according to the seasons.

There will be two wines on tap, priced

between £9 and £15 a bottle, and two beers for refill.

“There is a demand for it – once people

understand it, they are fully behind it,”

explains Bush (pictured).

Once Christmas is over,

the pair will be kitting out the small outside area, which will

seat around 12

promotional week to celebrate next

year: Bottle Conditioned Beer Week. Bottle-conditioned beer is defined as an

Amathus ventures beyond capital and Brighton.

range of suppliers including Alliance,

their way we’ll all have another

ago it was about the only badge of quality

of London with new openings in Bath

The duo are working with a very small


f a group of interested brewers get

ale which gets its sparkle from a secondary

Amathus Drinks has expanded outside

the area.”

The beast from the yeast

yesterday I sold a lot of bottles for above £20.”

Arek Milanowicz and area manager Natalia Samsonuik

. T H E D R AY M A N .

that says we’re going to open X number of stores … it was just coincidence that

Brighton and Bath came up at the same time,” he explains.

Brighton and Bath are hardly lacking

in wine merchants, with a total of nine and eight respectively, but in both

cases Amathus has taken over existing businesses.

After six years at 21 Wines in Brighton,

Philip Priddle has decided to cease trading

fermentation inside the bottle, rather than through carbonation. Twenty or so years that passed muster in packaged beer, a genuine sales tool that separated the wheat from the chaff in beer retailing. You don’t hear so much about it these days, which is a bit odd, because the number of bottle-conditioned beers on the market has actually gone up massively. Beer writer Jeff Evans started the Good Bottled Beer Guide with 177 of them in 1998 and reckons there are over 2,000 – and counting – today. Other characteristics – like hops, crazy labels, localness and the nebulous notion of “craft” – have all become concepts that brewers find easier to sell, even though many of the young upstarts that have come on to the market routinely bottle-condition some or all of their brews. It’s just not much of a “thing” for them.


he penny-dropping realisation (even among its own executive) that the Camra doctrine that

only live beer is good beer just wasn’t true certainly helped shunt it into the background, but freeing bottle-conditioned

for now while he works out “what Brexit

beer from the dogma to talk up its

Will Baber.

a buzzword in wine, beers in which

spells out for us all,” and 14 years trading as Tasting Room in Bath was enough for Two re-brands later and Amathus is

up and running. Bradbury says that the

company has “significantly” changed the

ranges in both stores to reflect Amathus’s own portfolio and adds the advantage of

both premises is the opportunity to build on the existing clientele.

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 13

attributes could make it the next big drinks renaissance. In an age when “natural” is such secondary fermentation is still taking place in the pack give geeky retailers another beguiling mystery to unravel for customers, and bottle-conditioning provides potential for ageing that could help define a genuine “fine beer” category as the first cracks in the kudos of “craft” start to appear.


Bruno Paillard Dosage : Zéro

Foncalieu Ensedune Marsanne

Some zero-dosage fizz stops abrubtly and lacks polish.

It hails from “one of the warmest and driest climates

Meunier-dominated arrival contains a whopping 50%

the wine is remarkably light and fresh: a sour, limey

But if you do want a little more depth and length, it’s not simply a question of adding sugar. Paillard’s new

component of reserve wines, some dating back to 1985 and fermented in barrel. Up to four years of lees ageing adds extra richness to a pretty splendid wine. RRP: £49.80

ABV: 12%

of France” in the Pays d’Oc and is made with a variety prone to vigorous growth and sturdy tannins. Yet

attack quickly calms down and reveals gentle, rounded apricot, floral notes and minty, herbal flavours. Enjoyably uncomplicated. RRP: £9-£11

ABV: 13.5%

Albion Wine Shippers (020 7242 0873)

Bibendum (0845 263 6924)

Ventisquero Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir 2017

Zapallares Selección Privada Gran Reserva Carmenere 2016

There’s no disguising the 12 months in oak here –

The 60-year-old Colchagua vineyard that provides

two elements combine nicely, in a well-balanced Leyda

that’s meaty and spicy, but somehow fairly light-

there’s a spiral of smoke entwining with the raspberry

notes and frankly the barrels are bang to rights. But the Valley Pinot that takes its name from the seahorse, and captures some of that hippocampic elegance. RRP: £12.99

ABV: 14%

the grapes is clearly pretty special. A rich aroma of

blackberries, green pepper and herbs heralds a wine bodied at the same time, with friendly tannins and a finish that is – to used a banned word – smooth. RRP: £14.95

ABV: 14%

Davy & Co (020 8858 6011)

Seckford Agencies (01206 231188)

Idaia Winery Ocean Thrapsathiri 2017

Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

This native Cretan variety is hardly the name on

The best Margaret River Cabs have just enough weight

balanced mineral elements. Idaia is a family winery in

shows how it can be done. Violets on the nose and

everybody’s lips but it’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this fruity, zesty wine with its perfectly-

the Malevizi district of Dafnes, doing great things with calcium-rich soils in vineyards 500m above sea level. RRP: £15.49

ABV: 12.5%

Hallgarten (01582 722538)

to them but also a lightness of touch, and this juicy,

fresh example, matured in French oak for 18 months, black fruits and chocolate on the palate give way to a dark, lingering finish. RRP: £16.75

ABV: 14.5%

Enotria&Coe (020 8961 5161)

Deep Woods Hillside Chardonnay 2015

Les Cordeliers Crémant de Bordeaux Exclusive Brut Blanc

The Reserve comes in at about twice the price but

If 2019 turns out to be the year when crémant makes

has warmth and a peppery prickle, and a crisp but

too acidic, and fruity enough without veering towards

its big breakthrough it will be wines like this one that

for our money this is the real deal: a Margaret River

Chardonnay that’s not propped up with oak but still

gentle mineral finish. A great advertisement for wholebunch pressing, wild fermentation and lees ageing. RRP: £18.99

ABV: 13%

Carson Wines (020 3488 4548)

lead the charge. It’s crisp and refreshing without being Prosecco sweetness. Why, there’s even a custardy note of vanilla in the background. A simple pleasure. RRP: £15-£16

ABV: 12%

Department 33 (07557 053343)

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 14

Independents are a pretty varied bunch. Every year, The Wine Merchant's reader survey reveals exactly how varied. It's the biggest study of the independent wine trade conducted by anyone, and our landmark project of the year. This year's survey is perhaps the most important yet and will help us map out all that's happening in a rapidly changing market. Once again our partner is Hatch Mansfield, which has kindly supplied prizes for five randomlyselected participants. Each will receive a Coravin device and a bottle of stunning RĂŠsonsance Pinot Noir from Oregon. Please take part by visiting

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 15



Organic growth is expected by 2022 Organic wine is expected to double its market share in the UK by 2022, according to a study by the Institute of Wine & Spirit Research. The study, commissioned by the French

organic viticulture association SudVinBio,

Simon Evans The Naked Grape Alresford Favourite wine on my list It depends on who I’m drinking it with or the event. Today it’s Château Batailley 1995. I love this estate and am currently finding every year between 1996 and 2000 to enjoy.

Seedlip sister is made from grapes Non-alcoholic spirit company Seedlip is setting up a sister

showed that organic wine sales increased

business producing no-ABV

averaging 11% annual growth.

with English-grown grapes, and

Jose Luis Hermoso. “This is good news at

three flavours and be sold in 50cl bottles, is

by 70% between 2012 to 2015, up

from 3.36m 9-litres cases to 5.72m and

“There is a big margin for organic wine

to keep rising,” said IWSR research director a time when global wine consumption is stagnating, even declining.” Imbibe, December 4

Favourite wine and food match Old vintage Champagne with fish and chips. They are an odd pair on the face of it, but the rich nutty flavours with a

aperitifs made with grapes. Æcorn Aperitifs are made

aromatised with herbs, roots and bitter

botanicals. The drink, which will come in designed to be enjoyed with food.

The Drinks Business, December 10

Yealands caned for sugar law breaches

gentle fizz are a perfect flavour match.

Yealands Estate Wines has pleaded

There’s also something that makes

guilty to “unprecedented offending”

me smile about enjoying an expensive

under New Zealand’s Wine Act 2003 and

Champagne with a modestly priced fish

copped a $400,000 fine.

and chips.

The 39 charges relate to false statements

Favourite wine trip Bordeaux in January about 15 years

Organic wine sales rose 70% in three years

ago. Staying at a château in southern Médoc, we were told it never snows in Bordeaux. Next morning we awoke to a stunning ice-cold white landscape covered in snow. We even wandered through the vines whilst it snowed at -2˚C. So memorable!

Wine on the Tyne at £16 a time Tyneside mother-of-two Elise Lane is opening the north east’s first urban

Favourite wine trade person Nicola Robinson at Hattingley Valley in Hampshire. We’ve worked with Nicola and her husband Simon since the first days of their wine project. If everyone in the trade was like Nicola, we would all benefit.

Favourite wine shop Les Delices Champenoises, opposite Reims Cathedral.

winery in the middle of a Gateshead industrial estate.

in export applications and omissions in

wine records relating to the use of added sugar – a breach of EU regulations.

Former general manager Jeff Fyfe and

former chief winemaker Tamra Kelly-

Washington were each fined $35,000.

Founder Peter Yealands was fined $35,000. The wines involved were not sold under

the Yealands name.

New Zealand Herald, December 13

“We get our grapes from Leicestershire

• Government-hosted parties in 2017-

She’s hoping to soon bottle The Winery’s

in the annual report on the Government

and we bring them up to process here,” she

18 slurped up 20% more wine than in

first batch, which will be 6,000 litres of

Hospitality Wine Cellar, which holds just

The Chronicle, December 8

The Register, November 18


the previous year. The stat is revealed

white and rosé wine. The wine will be

over 33,000 bottles of wine and spirits worth

priced at around £16 a bottle.

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 16

about £3m.

> THE WINEMAKER FILES Francisco Baettig, Errazuriz

Francisco studied in his native Chile and in Bordeaux, then worked for wineries in France, Argentina and Chile before linking up with Eduardo Chadwick, originally at Caliterra before promotion to the top job at Errazuriz

I’ve been working in Errazuriz for 15 years. I started at Caliterra and after three

months I was offered the position of head winemaker. I said no, because I thought I was too young to take care of the Errazuriz brand. But finally Eduardo said, I’m not asking – I’m telling you!

We get along well. We have our “encounters” but it works well. From day one

Eduardo has tried to position Chile in a better place. He’s always been frustrated

with the general perception of Chile. Chile has always produced safe, entry-level, not very ambitious wines and he wanted to develop a brand that was different to that. We own 75% to 80% of our vineyards. In the past few years we’ve reduced the number of cases we make because we cut out some products at the bottom end.

The alcohol level in Chilean wines traditionally was 12%, 12.5%. It went to

15% because the main market at the time was the US. We had very few experienced winemakers and when wineries became bigger they had to employ very young people and you just follow what the owner tells you to do. Now that’s totally

Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay 2016 RRP: £17.10 2016 is slightly sweeter and slightly more floral than 2015 and 2017. But you feel the tension – it’s not super-heavy. It’s 100% barrel-fermented. We work a little with the lees because I want a little creaminess. It's 100% wholecluster. The profile on the nose is dried fruit and a little floral.

Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2017 RRP: £17.10

But in 2008, I had a tasting with a very good winemaker and we were like: are you

In the soil there’s a lot of manganese and iron and we get a little bit of an iron note – a bloody character. I like the finegrained texture on the palate, and the nice freshness and tension. I think in the nose it’s more lifted New World aromas. You can decant and it will express a bit better with time.

been travelling and trying a bit more wine and so I started to get closer to what I

Don Max 2016

changed. Winemakers are more experienced today and they have their own taste. Now I enjoy my own wines quite a lot. When I was making the American style

of wine, I thought that was very good in the beginning. Very ripe and soft and rich. sure this is the right way to go? Don’t you think this is too sweet? Too oaky? Too

alcoholic? And I thought, yes, I’m not very happy with what we are doing today. I’d wanted to produce. I have changed my style big time.

For me the most important thing in a winery is having a lot of little tanks. In the vineyard you can see the difference in half a hectare and if you put it together you ruin it.

In the vineyard we avoid exposure to direct sun and encourage more vigour. We want the leaves to cover the fruit. In the past we wanted some water stress at

some point, because we wanted to concentrate the fruit – nonsense! If you do it the wrong way you lose all the leaves and all the bunches are exposed to the sun. You

RRP: £63.85 Don Max used to be 100% Cab but since 2004 I started to add a little bit of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and then in 2008 a little bit of Carmenere. It’s fresher and lower in alcohol because of the vintage. It has sweetness from the fruit but it’s not heavy, with nice tension. A little spicy with some balsamic notes.

totally lose the expression of the Pinot – the fruit, the acidity and the freshness.

Errazuriz is imported into the UK by Hatch Mansfield 01344 871800

THE THEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANT november january 2019 2018 17 11


No schist, Sherlock Language evolves all the time, and phrases that once struck a chord can quickly become dated or even offensive. It’s no different in the world of wine. So which tasting descriptions should we jettison, and which ones should we keep, even if they might annoy the pedants and purists?


he animal rights lobby group PETA has a way of making

enemies out of potential friends.

Generally speaking, it’s the group’s shock tactics – dressing up models in blood-

spattered furs, inflammatory straplines

about “grabbing pussies” etc – that make some wonder if PETA isn’t an agent

provocateur formed by the meat industry to turn as many people as possible away from veganism.

But its latest campaign invited ridicule

rather than disgust. Arguing that certain English phrases cement and perpetuate

animal cruelty in a way that we wouldn’t accept with racist or sexist language, the

group proposed a list of alternative idioms to help us eliminate “speciesism”. We

should bring home the bagels rather than

the bacon, PETA suggested, take the flower by the thorns rather than the bull by the

horns, and, most cringeworthy of all, feed two birds with one scone.

Daft as these suggestions may have been,

it did get me thinking about the way we

use language to talk about wine. As PETA (uncontroversially) says, “words matter … as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves with it”.

And there are wine-words that make me wince every bit as much as PETA’s scone does. Not all of them are offensive in a

moral sense; many are simply aesthetically outrageous. Other phrases are annoying

to others, but in my totally arbitrary and subjective opinion, worth defending. So,

having appointed myself for the purposes of this column Wine-Language Czar with the power to censor tasting notes as and

when I see fit, which terms would I banish,

wine with lots of tannins and alcohol

versus a pretty light floral and delicate

style. But most of us also know that the implications of this metaphor are, how to put this, a little passé. When even

the silk-scarfed old roué in the export

department at your Champagne supplier

has stopped describing his blanc de blancs as a “temperamental mademoiselle”, it’s

probably worth conceding that this way of

describing wine – which also takes in such titillating terms as buxom and voluptuous

– is best consigned to the same fetid corner of Room 101 as Miss World contests and Confessions of a Window Cleaner. Breeding

and which would I grant a permit to

In a world in which Jacob Rees-Mogg is

Masculine and feminine

people among us who can, in all sincerity,


We all know what these two descriptors

mean in the wine context: a big powerful

In a world in which Jacob Rees-Mogg is taken seriously, I shouldn’t be surprised that people use the phrase ‘of good breeding’ as a statement of praise THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 18

apparently taken seriously, I probably

shouldn’t be surprised that there are still use the phrase “of good breeding” as a statement of praise. That it still crops

up, along with “nobility”, “aristocratic”

and “class” in tasting notes that, in one of my other day jobs, I have to edit,

may seem amusingly dated rather than

dangerous – but it’s not confined to the

older generation. In any case, and however

casually it’s used, should we really be using something as blameless as a tasting note

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

to perpetuate the idea that being born into wealth, power and status confers natural

superiority? Is this the 17th century, or the

A temperamental mademoiselle hopes for masculine salvation


Mineral A sub-editor friend of mine has quietly put mineral and minerality on the banned list

of his style guide. His justification was that that on too many occasions their use was

lazy and imprecise, a kind of placeholder or synonym for quality, particularly in white

wine, rather than a reflection of the wine’s actual characteristics. Many others are

bothered to the point of thin-lipped rage by the terms’ scientifically hazy implications, that their use perpetuates the erroneous

impression that the taste of a given soil’s

mineral content is translated directly into

The meaning of the term itself is so

people for the simple reason that it’s

tastes of schist”. All of which are good

whole panoply of local inputs, up to and

such as flaccid, flabby, graceful, elegant,

the wine to the point where people will come out with such absurdities as “this arguments for banishment, perhaps.

But I’m going to spare this one. It could

do with being used a little less casually,

perhaps, but I can’t think of a better word to describe those hard-to-pinpoint non-

fruit flavours we sometimes find in wine.

More than that, I reckon its widespread use over the past 10 years has been good for

wine appreciation, spreading the message that there’s more to quality than gobs of fruit.

Terroir Rather like mineral, using terroir in

a tasting note is a pretty good way of

guaranteeing a withering eye-roll from

the more scientifically minded end of a

the wine trade – and with good reason.

disputed and ill defined – does it mean

simply the soil, as it often seems to, or the

including the climate and local winemaking traditions? And how often, really, does

someone who claims to taste the terroir really taste terroir, even if they’re clear on what it means? As with minerality

on occasion, too often it’s used simply

to lend weight to an assertion that the

wine is good. In tasting notes (journalism and discussion are a different matter), I

much prefer the less loaded term coined by American wine writer Matt Kramer.

“Somewhereness” captures the pleasant

sensation that good wines always give of

reminding you of the place in which they

were born, without the baggage of “terroir”. Crunchy

Crunchy is a term that bothers some

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 19

being used to describe a liquid. But like other logically impossible descriptors

brooding, bruising, energetic, nervy and

gutsy, crunchy is actually a hugely effective and vivid term that reminds us that wine is as much about texture, mouthfeel and its overall sensory impression as it is

about flavour. That the tasting note has now moved beyond the fruit-spotting

competition, and is much more than the spiralling list of arcane fruits and other

scents that it was threatening to become in the Parker era, strikes me as being an

entirely good thing, and the increasingly widespread use of textural words like

crunchy is something to be celebrated. It

proves that tasting notes are often at their

best when they go beyond the literal. Even po-faced, politically correct wine czars are capable of appreciating that.


A pilot programme for a Level 3 Award in Spirits is launched next year

has been running WSET courses for the past five years. Colin Nicholson admits the business originally introduced the

programme to enhance its offering to its

trade customers. “When chasing new trade accounts in our area it made sense to be able to offer something extra over our competitors,” he says.

Like The Vineking, Hennings recognised

the benefits of having in-house training for its own staff.

“WSET qualifications have always been

a requirement for our staff to obtain as

quickly as possible and now we can train any new additions to our own team at a

Lesson learned Indies are realising there are benefits to offering WSET courses – which explains why a growing number are doing just that


onsumer thirst for a better

understanding of the world

of wines and spirits is on the

increase – and plenty of independents are making the most of the opportunity.

Around 30 UK independents are WSET

Approved Programme Providers – and they believe benefits are clear.

The Vineking in Surrey has been running

WSET courses since April last year and views it as “an important part” of the

company’s growth and development. It’s a valuable add-on that can be offered to

retail and trade customers alike – as well as its own employees.

“Being able to offer the qualifications

to our own staff was also a factor in our decision to become an APP,” says the

company’s Rebecca Lawrence, “as in-house

training is not only cost effective but boosts staff morale as they realise that a greater investment is made in them.

“Plus, when they’re led by a fellow team

member, it shows them just how much

their wine knowledge will grow and the potential it has. And obviously being

linked to one of the global leaders in wine education does no harm.”

In 2018 Lawrence says The Vineking ran

two courses for Level 1 in Wines and Level 2 Award in Wines & Spirits. This year the

company will be rolling out the education programme to the Weybridge shop “with the aim to run three or four of each per year as demand increases”.

Hennings Wine Merchants in Sussex

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 20

fraction of the cost of sending them to another provider,” Nicholson says.

By their very nature, indies offer an

ideal environment for wine education, as

Kira Milmo at The Wine Parlour in Brixton

points out. “Students really appreciate that the courses take place in the tasting room

as opposed to a formal classroom, and also that we are a wine business rather than an education organisation,” she says.

“They can walk straight out of a course

and into our wine bar, interact with our

qualified team of staff, taste new wines and put their knowledge to test.”

change of course at wset Next August will see the launch of WSET’s enhanced qualification programme, completing the separation of its courses into three distinct subjectmatter streams: wine, spirits and sake. The Level 3 Award in Spirits will undergo an intensive pilot programme and materials will be finalised for the Level 2 Award in Wines and the new flagship Diploma in Wines. Further details about these courses will be announced in the spring. According to figures from WSET, there were 19,460 candidates for the qualifications in the UK last year.



‘WSET courses offer immediate profitability when costed effectively’

How hard is it to recruit and retain good staff?

The best staff come through word-ofmouth recommendations. The only time we advertised was a nightmare and we’ll never do that again, because we got a psychopath. The majority of the hard work in the shop is serving drinks, making up cheeseboards and washing dishes. We can’t afford to put them through the qualifications but lot of people seem to have basic knowledge that we can build on. One of our main full-timers is Polish and, let’s face it, they work harder than the Brits!

Students are also allowed to use the

tasting room and the wine library for

informal study and tasting sessions free of charge.


he Wine Parlour started

offering WSET courses in 2015 and feels that this highlights

its commitment to, and belief in, wine education.

“Our aim is to provide a space where

people can enjoy and develop a passion

Claire Carruthers Carruthers & Kent, Newcastle

It’s difficult outside of London to find people who are happy to work in the middle of nowhere. There’s a natural transience with staff in the wine trade. Retail is about building a rapport and regardless of whether you are a big or a little company, staff will work for a good manager. There are perks you can build in quite comfortably: time off or supplier-led trips and events to get involved in as part of their training and development.

for wine, and enable people to learn about

Dan Kirby The Suffolk Cellar, Wrentham

wine is a key part of this ambition,” says Milmo.

“We want to create more ambassadors

We can always recruit good people. It’s difficult to recruit people with the right qualifications so we put our staff through the WSET training. We are really fortunate that we have a very low staff turnover. It’s difficult for me to say why that is, but it is a nice place to work and we have fun. If you don’t have good staff, you have nothing. They are involved all the way with everything we do. If you isolate them and they just become somebody serving over the counter then you’ve lost them because they can do that anywhere.

for good wine and exploring new wines.

Having a programme of wine courses also means The Wine Parlour is a place for

people to come to interact with other wine enthusiasts.”

Lawrence at The Vineking agrees

that having gained their qualifications, customers are “more comfortable and

confident in the shop,” their increased

knowledge making them more likely to

repeat their custom, “not just buying wine, but also attending events”.

She adds: “WSET courses offer

immediate profitability when costed

effectively from the start, assuming that

you can get a minimum number of students to attend the course.”

Hennings funds the Level 1 Award for its

wholesale customers. Nicholson says: “As

far as our trade accounts go, the more we

train the front-line staff, the more they will sell and the more wine we supply. It really is a win-win scenario.”

Julie Mills Vinomondo, Conwy

There’s just me and I have a couple of reliable, flexible and dependable part-timers. It’s better if they do already have some specialist wine knowledge, but it’s more important that they are keen and honest. I tend to hold on to people for about five or six years – they’re very loyal. They go to events and tastings and they can buy the wines here at a decent price.

Nick Chadwick Nick Chadwick, Winearray, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 21

Bacchus 5p for a gin bottle

Members of the Vindependents aren’t obliged to take all (or indeed any) of the products that the group sources. But there’s an extra incentive for retailers to put The Eclectic Gin Society, the group’s own-label gin, on their shelves. The bottle’s label, designed by BD Creative, features trinkets and artefacts put forward by Vindies members. The Cornish pasty was nominated by Truro-based Old Chapel Cellars; the cricket bat by Toby Peirce of Quaff, a former Sussex player; the Sid James toby jug by Noel Young, in homage to his comedy hero; and the 5 pence piece by the chaps at Eynsham Cellars, which is apparently the toll payable on the bridge separating them from Oxford. The lucky cat comes from Phil Innes of Loki, who has Chinese heritage. “A lot of Chinese businesses display these,” he says. “The cat is meant to usher customers into the shop. A few years ago one of the staff put one on display in the shop, and then suddenly customers started bringing me in lucky cats, so it’s turned in to a bit of a running joke with Loki and its customers.”

Butler’s ink

Henry Butler is delighted with the red blend produced for his Brighton wine business by Pieter Walser of BLANKBottle in South Africa. It’s a mash-up of Tempranillo from Stellenbosch, Nebbiolo from Breede River and Carignan from Tulbach. The Tempranillo vineyard has

now been ripped out, making the wine a one-off – hence the name, It is What it Is. Butler is amused by Walser’s sketch of him on the label. “The initial design involved a machine gun, but we decided that might be a bit much for the good vegans of Brighton,” Butler says. “[The drawing] could be edited – I wasn’t having a good day. I was sweating a bit.”

For ducks’ sake

Just because a wine contains no animal derivatives, and nothing furry, feathery or scaly was harmed in its production, does not mean it can be called vegan. Reyneke, the biodynamic and sustainable Stellenbosch estate, has impeccable environmental credentials. Its land is fertilised by cow manure, and ducks are employed to control pests. And therein lies the problem, as importer New Generation Wines has discovered from the Vegan Society. “We are guaranteed that animals were used in the production of the wine, which means it’s not vegan,” explains spokeswoman Dominika Piasecka. “Perhaps the best the manufacturer could do is clarify on the label that only vegan ingredients were used in the production, but the production methods involved the use of animals. Some vegans would consume wine produced this way, but I think most wouldn’t.”

Life on the farm sui


aviste in Hampshire has undergone quite a transformation since its early beginnings.

Established in 2003, the business was originally part of

the same entity as Carte Blanche but in 2015, Mark Bedford took over and Caviste became a purely retail proposition.

The Overton shop, managed by Hayley Steward, had an extensive

refurbishment last March and a third of the space is now occupied by the Honesty café group.

Steward says they have made good use of the considerable size

of the branch in Overton, which she describes as “probably four

times the average size” of a typical wine shop. The café and wine

retail areas are clearly delineated by the clever use of shelving on which the extensive gin range takes pride of place.

The bottles are arranged by flavour, with chalked-up

descriptions signposting the main groups of citrus, herbal spice and floral. “This was a result of customer feedback,” explains Steward.

“They wanted identifiable gins, to help them find something

similar to what they already had. We’re not shocked when people say they have 20 or 30 gins at home.” A Caviste own-label gin is

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 22


The Overton shop was refurbished last March

its Caviste just fine “on the horizon,” she confirms.

Matthew Parris manages the Hook store, which has recently




been liberated from inside Newlyns farm shop to take up residence in a purpose-built two-storey unit, created to accommodate four



This has allowed Caviste to spread out into to a bespoke retail

space. It can still enjoy the parking facilities that a farm location has to offer, while being more independent in terms of opening hours. It also has new flexibility to run events and tastings.

There’s a free car park in Overton in addition to ample street

parking, which Steward says encourages customers to pop by.

“We serve wine by the glass as well as gin and tonics,” she says.

“On a Friday evening we have a wine bar, so we’re open late to

about 10pm to serve tapas boards, and we have a small corkage charge of £6.”

Caviste directly imports a number of wines. Steward says: “We

import wine from a South African producer who happens to be an old university friend of Mark’s. He makes some interesting

Sangiovese, Sauvignon and Shiraz. They are entry level and we retail them between £10 to £13 – they are quite unique.”








THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 23

Sponsored Feature

A HARVEST FOR THE WORLD Paul Hobbs makes wine in many different countries, and has an intimate understanding of his vineyards across three continents. But you sense that Argentina, where he started his Viña Cobos project more than 20 years ago, is particularly special to him

Paul Hobbs, a native New Yorker but these days equally at home in Mendoza or Armenia


inemakers all over the world are obsessing about smaller and smaller plots of land as they delve into their terroir to perfect their craft. Paul Hobbs is no exception, but his life is far more complicated than that. It’s bound to be, simply because he works in so many different places. He has projects in California, Mendoza, New York’s Finger Lakes, Cahors, Galicia and Armenia, so there’s a lot of soil to sift, holes to dig and meteorological data to pore over. Then there’s oak: an afterthought for some winemakers but certainly not for Hobbs, who is fascinated by the subject and has studied it at length. He shuts down any suggestion that it’s less complex than the wine itself. “The chemistry of oak is very similar to the chemistry of wine,” he insists. Hobbs has put in place protocols in all his wineries which means there are standardised working practices for employees in every part of the world. That suggests a homogenous style of wine, but nothing could be further from the truth. Hobbs wants his wines to reflect not just the soil and the weather but the culture of the place in which he’s working, and if that means leaving his comfort zone in the process, so much the better.

Hobbs – wiry, smiley and full of energy – is as keen to ask questions as to answer them when we meet over dinner in London. A hectic international schedule clearly doesn’t faze him.

Is Argentina the place where you spend the most time, after California? Yeah, I make four trips a year: two during the harvest and then another one in July and one’s coming up [in late 2018]. We’ve expanded Viña Cobos quite a lot in the past three or four years. We didn’t have a lot of vineyard in the early going. But if you want very high-end wines, the only way you can control the quality is to own the vineyard. We’re planting mainly red Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. We’re doing a little bit of Chardonnay as well. Cabernet Franc does well, especially in the mountainous regions. You could argue that it’s all mountainous, but I’m talking about right along the limit of agriculture. High elevation, really rocky soils, and cold. Franc does beautifully in these sites. We get a lot of maturity and a lot of sun, 330 days of sun, and more radiation so the skins are

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 24

thicker. It’s the ideal combination: thicker skins and lower sugars. What appealed to you about Argentina in the first place? First of all, I love the culture there. Very warm and friendly; artistic, hard-working. As a group of people, they will work like you can’t imagine. They have a passion for beauty and they have style.

what gets me out of bed in the morning. We can make better wineries, we can grow better quality grapes. It doesn’t always mean pushing the frontier in terms of finding a new site. It’s about incremental improvement to what’s already been uncovered. I can assure you that there’s a lot of stuff that we don’t know or can’t understand or can’t envision.

You’ve talked before about the crucial importance of the decision of when to pick. Is that style only recently coming into the Argentine wine Every harvest I drive over 7,000 miles seeing the vineyards. culture, would you say? Harvest is five to six weeks and I’m clocking more than 1,000 miles It’s not been in the wine culture, unfortunately. There are several a week. reasons for that. One is that they were isolationist, so wine has You do a lot of driving but also a lot of walking – and a certain always been part of the fabric of their daily life but it didn’t have to amount of running. You can’t just go once and say, OK, it’s ready to be good wine, it just had to be wine. They drank a lot of wine. pick. It’s more like landing an airplane. You can’t just say, OK, we’re Now they’re drinking a lot less but they’re drinking better going to land the airplane – boom. You have quality. That’s over the course of time that to glide in. I’ve been there, which is 30 years. When I To know that perfect moment means first got there, wine was ubiquitous, hardly I love the Argentine you’ve got to be watching it, watching it, anything under cork, and almost everything culture. Very warm watching it. There’s a lot of factors that are was oxidised. And now they’re drinking changing. It’s not just the grape, it’s the quality wine and almost everything is corkand friendly. They have plant. finished. a passion for beauty So that’s part of what I liked about it, and they have style How can you have such an intimate but finally it’s a great viticultural region. knowledge of so many vineyards across Mendoza is a high Andean plain, roughly the world? 1,000 to 1,500 metres in elevation, a long My mother has 36 grandchildren and she alluvial fan that comes off the mountains, a seems to know them all very well, not to mention her own 11, so climate that’s continental but really Mediterranean in that there’s she’s dealing with almost 50 kids. She seems to know them on very low rainfall – and you have a culture that appreciates good a personal level. She can tell you their personal characteristics wine. They appreciate quality. and so on and so forth. And I don’t think that vineyards are so In the Andes, it can rain and in a minute the soils are dry. So different. you have great conditions for growing grapes and low disease There’s hardly anything that gives you more satisfaction than pressure. And relatively speaking you can make high-quality wines when you taste the complexity of a vineyard in a wine. It’s a single at relatively reasonable prices. Land is still not that expensive, and entity that reflects a unique personality. You could not duplicate it’s not over-burdened with regulation. that anywhere. In California or France the land is very expensive, there’s a lot of Think of the city of London. Every area or borough has its regulation and labour’s more expensive. own personality and you guys know what that is. King’s Cross or Westminster, or wherever it is, it has its own personality and you You work in so many parts of the world. Are you a restless know what that means, and viticulture is no different. And that’s soul? what makes it beautiful. Viticulturally there’s so much that we can do better and that’s

THE VIÑA COBOS LINE-UP Viña Cobos was established 20 years ago with

• Bramare Appellation, highlighting the

vineyards in Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco and

richness of Mendoza regions and the differences

has helped push the boundaries for Malbec in

between Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley

Argentina. The range, available in the UK via • Felino wines, characterised by their freshness

Alliance Wine, includes:

and fruity expression. The range includes Malbec, • Cobos, the flagship range from single blocks in

Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

the Marchiori and Chanares vineyards • Bramare Vineyard Designate, capturing the For more information visit

aromatic power, intensity and complexity of unique

or or call 01505 506060.

vineyards in Mendoza

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 25

Rising Stars Emily Silva The Oxford Wine Company


mily arrived at the Oxford Wine Company with a degree from Cambridge in English and a “phenomenal wine knowledge”, according to owner Ted Sandbach. She had started “a very ill-advised law conversion course”, in her own words, but fancied a career in wine. “I said to her, everyone who joins the wine trade has to do the hard yards – working in retail for a couple of years so you really understand the wine business and the people,” says Sandbach. “She did that for two years and was very good at it.” Emily was later fast-tracked into a marketing and PR role. “Just as with my role as a shop manager, I came into my marketing role with pretty much no experience, and both have been a steep learning curve – although that’s what I enjoy,” she says. “I have just taken on a new responsibility as a co-ordinator of the retail side of the business. “I also spend time talking to journalists, attending tastings, as well as organising events and travelling between our shops to make sure the managers are kept in the loop about what’s going on in the company. “I still spend one day a week in the shop serving customers. It’s really important – as someone involved in marketing – that I’m familiar with what our customers are asking about and buying. Ted has given me the freedom to sort of build my own role, which is fantastic.” Emily is currently redesigning the company website and, having gained her WSET Diploma, is considering the “rather terrifying and exciting prospect” of studying to be an MW. “Emily’s got modern ideas, she’s got energy, she’s got enthusiasm – all those things you want in young people,” says Sandbach. “And I’m a massive believer in giving young people their head and letting them do what they want to do. “The whole secret is having people who are brighter and sharper than you are, and that’s exactly what I’ve got with Emily. She communicates beautifully, she’s hard working, very well organised, very thorough and very clear. She’s brilliant.”

Emily wins a bottle of Pol Roger Champagne. To nominate a rising star in your business, email

Grays & Feather

A sparkling addition


hampagne is strictly off the menu at Grays & Feather in Covent Garden.

Andrew Gray, founder of the new wine bar and shop

which opened in November, is a specialist in sparkling wine and

while the shop boasts a large library of fizz from Patagonia, Japan,

South Africa and England, to list just a few, Champagne doesn’t get a look-in.

“I have a lot of respect for Champagne, but they’ve had 400 years

of very good PR and I don’t need to be marketing for them,” says

Gray. “I’m going after the small winemakers and other territories.” The Covent Garden location is the first bricks-and-mortar home

for Gray’s business, which has been active as a distributor and

importer for the past seven years and has an established online offering.

“We grew up on street markets and food festivals and now we’ve

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 26

has fizz from Patagonia, Japan and England – but not the place you might assume

n to Covent Garden put together this little space that showcases everything we do,” Gray says.

Grays & Feather currently has the “world’s biggest list of

international sparkling wines from around the world,” but Gray

admits that is not too hard to accomplish simply because nobody else is specialising in the same way.

“Sparkling is our USP and we started doing it because no one

else did, or would, and I thought that was strange.”

He is an avid fan of English wines, over-indexing on English fizz,

and plans to run a lot of events for the English wine trade at the shop.

As he continues to discover new lines he will keep rotating

the list based on his most recent finds. “What excites me at the

moment are the sparkling reds,” he says. “We have some different styles. Some are juicy, some are spicy.”

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 27

Perfect additions to any i

This month marks one year since Jon Worsley joined Bancroft Wines as CEO. Of Bancroft’s portfolio, Jon says: “What has really impressed me as I have learned more about our portfolio is the fantastic quality across the board. “We have a great selection of wellmade and beautifully packaged shelf fillers that will absolutely stand out in any independent merchant. We are also well-known for our fantastic Burgundy range and our benchmark producers from Australia, South Africa and Spain. “Bancroft’s focus is on family, quality and sustainability – arguably we have the best collection of organic-certified producers in the UK trade today. I’m proud that sustainability is at the core of everything we do.”

Delos Grand Cru Mesnil Blanc de Blancs

Chapeau Melon Blanc and Rouge

Champagne Champagne Pierre Moncuit NV RRP £34.99

Loire Jérémie Huchet 2017 RRP £10.99

The Grower Champagne that overdelivers. The

The crowd-pleasing Loire duo at a great price

Moncuit family has been making superb wines

point. Chapeau Melon is made by talented

in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, in the heart of the Côte

up-and-coming winemaker Jérémie Huchet

des Blancs, for over 100 years. They farm a total

(he also makes some mind-blowing cru

of 20 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards. All their

Muscadets). Châpeau Melon Blanc is a blend

wines are very delicate and complex, but the

of Sauvignon Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne,

Delos has a great sense of energy and tension,

while the Rouge is Pinot Noir with Gamay. Pure,

while also being quite generous. A Bancroft

bright fruit, no oak influence and dangerously

team favourite for all the good reasons.


Los Tros Chenin Blanc

GrUner Veltliner 'Felix'


Swartland Marras 2017 RRP £10.99

Kamptal Weingut Weszeli 2016 RRP £13.49

New Wave South Africa for everyday drinking.

The cool-kid Gruner Veltliner. The ‘Felix’ is

Dave and Diana Palmer left corporate life for wine out of sheer passion, and it’s reflected in

Clare Valley Skillogalee 2017 RRP £14.99 A world-class Clare Valley Riesling. Owners

Martin Lamprecht is a rare bird: a very talented

often noticed first for its label – owner Davis

winemaker with no ambition to make expensive,

Weszeli is even patenting this method of vertical

their wines. Located in the heart of the Clare

award-winning wine. He just wants to make

labelling. But I have selected it for what’s in the

Valley, Skillogalee is known for the quality of its

great, honest wine to drink on a weekday. He

bottle: great Gruner typicity, with plenty of fruit

whites and reds alike; this Riesling is a great

knows his vineyards in the Swartland intimately,

intensity, acidity, and length. With parcels in

introduction. Grown on low-yielding vines, on

is serious about organic farming, and most

some of the Kamptal’s best and oldest vineyards,

the highest slopes of the estate (about 500m),

importantly, makes some high-quality quaffable

Davis is committed to organic farming (they will

it has citrussy character while the palate has

wine. This Chenin Blanc is no exception.

soon be certified) and using only the best fruit.

considerable weight and texture.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 28

independent’s range 020 7232 5470



old vine zinfandel

Hemel-en-Aarde Ataraxia 2016 RRP £23.99

Terra Alta Herència Altés 2016 RRP £15.99

Lodi Gnarly Head 2016 RRP £15.99

The New World that could be Old World

The under-the-radar Spanish gem. Terra Alta

The moreish crowd-pleaser. Gnarly Head is

Chardonnay. Kevin Grant of Ataraxia is one of

is only about an hour west of Priorat, and

classic Lodi Zinfandel: intense, vibrant, and

Bancroft’s superstars. Not because he has a

shares the same rugged terrain. The region

smooth. The project was born out of a desire

blockbuster brand, but because I have yet to

makes fantastic Garnacha-based wines and

to make premium Zinfandel from some of the

meet someone who has tasted this Chardonnay

Herencia Altes is its top producer. This is made

oldest vines in California, and indeed the fruit

and not been blown away. A farmer first and

from a special strain of Garnacha, Garnatxa

used is exceptionally good. Over the years the

foremost, Kevin’s wines are true reflections

Peluda, which produces a lighter, fresher wine.

wines have gone from strength to strength,

of Hemel-en-Aarde terroir; the salinity and

Winemaker Nuria Altes considers this the Terra

and today it is a Bancroft portfolio go-to for a

freshness is balanced by mature fruit and

Alta version of Pinot Noir for its thinner skins

delicious, crowd-pleasing and food-friendly red.

perfectly integrated oak.

and potential to make elegant, ageworthy wines.


Los Miradores

Barossa Valley Seppeltsfield 2016 RRP £17.99

Mendoza Bodega Luigi Bosca 2015 RRP £19.99

Langhe Nebbiolo 'Cascina Sciulun' Piedmont Franco Conterno 2016 RRP £20.49

Barossa Shiraz from a legendary producer.

A future classic from the Uco Valley. Luigi Bosca

Seppeltsfield built its name on the legendary

is one of Mendoza’s most traditional producers,

Para range of fortified wines. Recently it

and one of the few to stay in the same family

Conterno is a traditional organic family

launched a small range of Barossa still wines

since its founding in 1901. They make several

estate; meticulous work in the cellar produces consistent, high-quality wines. This wine has the

Tradition and modernity in Piedmont. Franco

that we have been lucky to launch in the UK. All

terroir-driven wines, including this single-

three – a Riesling from Eden Valley, a Grenache

vineyard cuvée from Finca los Miradores. The

loveliest perfume, food-friendly acidity, and is

and this Shiraz – are beautifully crafted, and the

vineyard is biodynamic and yields are kept very

firmly within its drinking window. It’s a faithful

packaging is stunning. I highlight the Shiraz

low, which coupled with the extremely high

reflection of the region’s terroir and testament

because it is such a great example of the style:

altitudes gives the wine structure and flavour

to the family’s commitment to quality and

full-bodied and generous yet fresh and nuanced.

intensity but also lift and drinkability.


THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 29


Sake and the Wines of Japan Anthony Rose The Infinite Ideas Classic Wine Library, £30


espite the title, wines take a back seat as the majority of the book

delivers a thorough schooling in

the craft, culture and history of sake. Richard Geoffroy, in the foreword,

describes Japanese sake making as “the

challenge when it comes to food matching.

own age,” says Rose. A prime example is

sake only goes with sushi and sashimi,” he

styles of fizz and, despite the addition of

“There can be few greater cliches in the

world of gastronomy than the saying that

says. “Pasta with tomato sauce and grated parmesan is already rich in umami so it’s

no surprise that an umami-rich junmai or

honjozo sake is an ideal complement. With honjozo sake I have happily washed down curries that would have overwhelmed a wine. As for desserts – fruit, even ice-

creams and, whisper it quietly, chocolate, with a refreshingly zesty yuzu sake or

a rich plum-scented ume-shu sake is a

marriage of more than just convenience.” Westerners have embraced Japanese

relentless, obsessive pursuit of an ideal, the

From its beginnings as an offering to

advancement that happened along the way.

cuisine, so it does seem remiss that sake

rice lacks in variety (only 400 types as

generation of sake artisans are putting

purest water sources. “Location, location,

location, preferably close to a river, lake or mountain, is as much the sake brewery’s mantra, as the estate agent’s,” Rose observes.

Sake’s umami flavours should not be a

subsequent nuclear accident changed

everything, as some countries banned

Japanese exports, including sake, which

whipped up support for domestic products. Of today’s sake brewers, Hawtin says:

ratios (who knew?) and rice moulds Brush up on your rice polishing ratios

relocated to enable direct access the

moonshine. The tsunami of 2011 and the

at what temperature, rice polishing

ubiquity and depression, to the current

present. Whole breweries have been

sake, which they viewed as their local

alcohol content, how to enjoy them and

the deities made from rice chewed by

terms of the infinite possibilities they

more “exotic” western cocktails over

Details on sake types, grades, their

you will ever need to know about sake.

other three components make up for in

Japan’s youth once tended to favour the


This book probably contains everything

compared to 1,368 grape cultivars), the

company, ENTER.Sake. He thinks that

they approach brewing, marketing and

neither does he stray from the job in hand.

are the four main elements of sake. What

Richie Hawtin is a British-born DJ and

“sake samurai” who runs his own sake

inspiration from the wine industry in how

comparisons between the two crafts, but

Rice, koji (rice mould), yeast and water

are said to be in a “Prosecco-like vein”.

one and at the same time they have drawn

Rose doesn’t shy away from the obvious

a detailed tour, describing the technological

sugar being illegal, some of the sparklers

some of the pitfalls that beset the previous

too dissimilar to winemaking, perhaps, and

wave of renewed popularity, Rose provides

producing since 1998. There are varying

“This generation has been able to avoid

harnessing of nature and technology”. Not

priestesses, via alternating periods of

sparkling sake, which brewers have been

has not been accepted as part of the

package – not yet, anyway. The younger

their stamp on the industry and shaking

things up. “With attractive packaging and

an often sweeter taste aimed at Generation X, they are making [sake] modern and

finally fun and relevant to people of their

are all discussed by Rose in painstaking detail. There can have been few stones

left unturned in his pursuit of fact-giving perfection. The result is a book ideal for

anyone wishing to immerse themselves in an exacting and fascinating industry, rich

in tradition and as pernickety as hell. The directory of breweries, restaurants, bars

and hotels is a clarion call and Rose’s way of telling us that we need to go and see (and taste) for ourselves. Kampai!

Claire Harries

What rice lacks in variety the other three components make up for in the infinite possibilities they present THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 30


FAMILY FRIENDS ACROSS THE GLOBE Pol Roger Portfolio covers plenty of bases for independents in search of premium wines


inston Churchill, arguably Pol Roger’s most famous devotee, once described a political opponent as “a modest man with a great deal to be modest about”. Pol Roger Portfolio might be described in slightly different terms. The agency business is certainly modest in terms of the noise it makes about itself. Yet its winery roster contains a wealth of treasures that slot in perfectly to independents’ ranges. In April 2019 the company will host its first portfolio tasting for six years, giving merchants chance to take stock of a range of wines and spirits that has been steadily finding favour with indies. Managing director James Simpson MW (pictured below) reports that the company now does up to 40% of its trade with independents, adding “it’s where the growth has come in the past five years”. The company gets an annual allocation of just under 30,000 cases of Pol Roger. “And so to make the business work as a bigger portmanteau agency business, we’ve found friends round the world,” Simpson says. “A lot of the people we’ve been working with are old mates of the Pol Roger family or they share agencies all over the world. And so we’ve ended up with a really good, really interesting selection of family producers.” Simpson has been careful not to let the list of agencies get too unwieldy, partly to simplify the conversations that his team of reps have with their independent customers. “They’ve only got half an hour to talk to a customer and so a nice round dozen is a whole lot easier than a huge portfolio of 57 different agencies,” he says. “We think the wines we have are pretty decent for the independents and we are trying to provide the one-stop shop for top-end wines.” The minimum order outside of London is 10 cases, and the company is keen to support its independent customers in a variety of ways. “We’ll bend over backwards to do events

Artadi, a new addition to the portfolio, against its spectacular backdrop in Laguardia

and tastings,” Simpson says. “At the moment the guys are out three or four nights a week, and most weekends, doing all those tastings that we think are important – and it allows us to meet our customers’ customers and open a few bottles. We live or die on the quality of the booze. “We’ve got a really great sales team and we spend a fortune on training. We reckon any of our guys are good enough to do a tasting on anything.”


he company is 5% owned by Glenfarclas and has a firm toehold in the spirits category. “We were lucky we got involved in the spirits business 10 or so years ago with Glenfarclas, and that has revolutionised where we are at in terms of bigger business, because whisky has been relatively flying for the last five or so years,” says Simpson. “What’s extraordinary is how educated consumers are in terms of whisky – they are fascinated, and fascinating. These guys are not afraid of spending significant amount of money on decent whisky.”

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 31

The range • Abreu Vineyards, Napa Valley • Artadi, Navarra and Alicante • Grand Tokaj, Tokaji • Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley • Drouhin Vaudon, Chablis • Gallica, California • Joseph Drouhin, Burgundy • Josmeyer, Alsace • Pol Roger, Champagne • Robert Sinskey Vineyards, California • Staglin Family Vineyard, Napa Valley • Glenfarclas, Highland malt whisky • Kilchoman, Islay single malt whisky For more information visit or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger


Ben Fullalove started his wine business in a shed in a garden centre but outgrew the space and now operates from a converted stable block in Ribchester. The hybrid model is working well, he tells Nigel Huddleston – and a second store is not out of the question

mezzanine space that was crying out to be a function room that still manages to keep guests connected to the public part of the venue.

Ben previously worked as an executive

for an architectural lighting firm, and it was while visiting various countries on export

business for them that his interest in wine evolved.

“I travelled around the world on the back

of it. I met lots of different people and saw different cultures.


ine shops in garden centres have become something

of a trade micro-trend in

recent years. It was the garden path first

chosen by Ben Fullalove when he decided

to convert his love for wine into a business back in 2013.

In early 2017, after four years of trading

in Stydd Gardens in the Lancashire village

of Ribchester, Ben and wife Andrea decided to move to a site of their own a few

miles up the road in the larger village of

Longridge, midway between Preston and Clitheroe.

It’s an unconventional site for a wine

merchant, just off the high street, down an

abrupt cul-de-sac in part of what was once a cornmill, specifically the stable block,

that had more recently served time as an antiques shop.

“It had become more of a workshop

and storage facility for the guy, who was doing auctions in Skipton,” says Ben.

“It specialised in repairing grandfather clocks.”

That sort of thing requires a lot of space

and what is now the Fullaloves hybrid wine shop and bar certainly has plenty of it.

Big doors open up onto a stone-tiled

ground-floor bar, retail area and two of the biggest chalk-board wine lists you’ll ever come across.

An iron spiral staircase leads up to a

“You’re being wined and dined and a

lot of them have wine producing regions they’re very proud of. Going to Australia and around Europe, your conversation

would often turn to wine, and I got taken

to wineries on hospitality. It was a little bit of a seed that just grew, and I thought, ‘is there something in this?’”

Back home, he began attending tastings

at another wine merchant, Turners Wines in Barrowford, about 20 miles away from where Fullaloves now trades, and he was pulled further into wine’s orbit.

Around 30% of the business is retail

take-out sales and almost all the rest is consumption on the premises. The bar

is decorated with lights from his former employer and he does sell these too, though not in an overt way.

So far, the move from garden centre to

stand-alone stable block has worked a treat.

“It’s been fabulously successful here,”

says Ben, “much better than we imagined.

We had a plan of what we needed to do and a plan of what we’d be really happy with and we’re notching above that.

“Turnover last year was £250,000 and

we’re set to crack that by another 10% this

year [2018]. The investment in moving into here is pretty much taken care of now, so in 2019 we should be able to gauge how we’re really doing. There are all sorts of

improvements we can still make without expansion.”

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 32

From shac up the Lan


ck to chic: lighting ncashire wine scene

Was there an epiphanal moment when you decided wine was going to be your future? It was really from going to the small wine shop in the village where we lived, which was similar to what we do now. Friends and I used to go to their wine tastings. I

didn’t realise at the time, but thinking back

that did switch my thought processes more towards it.

A lot of the detail stuck in mind about

grape varieties and I remembered things that I wouldn’t normally remember with

other topics. And I think that was because this passion had grown inside of me.

When did you take the step to start your own wine business? I’d always worked for smaller, family-run businesses so I was used to that set-

up. I decided after a stint in Dubai that,

rather than carry on with lighting, I’d do

something of my own – and it just clicked that wine might be the thing.

I carried on working in lighting while

setting up the first place in Ribchester,

which was much smaller than this. It was just a cabin which we built from scratch

at the garden centre. That’s a good way to

try your trade and see if there’s mileage in it and push on from there. It did relatively well for the size. My employers were kind enough to let me carry on working parttime while I was setting up. I was going

to use their lighting in the shop but they

said if anyone’s interested in buying them we’ll give you the trade price and you can sell them on at retail. It’s been a bit like a showroom for them because the lighting company was only ever online. And are people interested?

We’ve had a number of projects: one or two offices that we’ve done break-out spaces Ben Fullalove, October 2018. “There are all sorts of improvements we can still make without expansion”

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 33

Continues page 34


‘We were lucky. We saw the spiral staircase and the exposed brickwork and just fell in love with the place’

From page 33

for. It’s a little bit of addition to what we do. It’s great for people to be able to come in

and see the lighting and love it, and to be

able to help them transfer that to what they can achieve in their own home or office. How were the first few years at the garden centre? The first place in Ribchester was an

opportunity because the garden centre was in a period of transformation in opening a

café and building cabins for retail outlets to drive business as a destination. We started off supplying the wine for the café and

about three months later we opened the retail space.

It got us off the ground and enabled us

to see if demand was there. It was pretty soon we realised that people wanted to

come to a destination like that. We started opening bottles of wine for people to buy

and changed the licence to allow people to

buy by-the-glass and did a bit of food: nuts and olives, nothing major.

About 18 months in, a local couple

came to ask if they could hold a birthday

celebration there. It was an ideal space so

we did our first-ever wine tasting. It went fantastically and off the back of that we were doing three or four a week where

we’d try half a dozen different wines. Our menu developed to Spanish tapas-style

food and we talked about how wines went with certain food. We didn’t have any idea about doing food when we started. Why did you move?

There were a few different factors. Being

a garden centre, it was incredibly seasonal and really quite difficult to manage

sometimes. It was always a drive to get

tastings booked in and they became the

core, but it just didn’t justify two full-time positions so we wanted to take the next

The premises is in a courtyard-style space away from the main shopping area

step. When we found this place we knew

You’d be going up against D Byrne in

that this would have to be the sole place to

that neck of the woods.

How did you find it?

the fact you’ve got other styles of bars, and

be. It would justify hiring other staff.

Customers and suppliers said what we

We were lucky. We looked at a property in

Byrne in the same area, because it was

Clitheroe but it wasn’t quite what we were after.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 34

wanted to do would work there, despite a different concept. The property was a

Greek restaurant business that they were


trying to sell, and in the end we thought spending £20,000 on it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

One of our customers in Ribchester got

wind of what we were doing and they

owned this, so they’re now our landlords. We saw the spiral staircase and the

exposed brickwork and just fell in love with the place.

A friend of ours who’s a steelwork

engineer came along and looked at it, and

he took it upon himself to project manage for us.

It’s an unusual site and location. What was the attraction? It’s not on the high street and almost a

courtyard really. That was probably the only thing we were worried about. We

loved the size and the layout. It was a great size but still small enough to be intimate

for the wine tastings, but had atmosphere for people coming and going to the bar. We hadn’t done a great deal of

advertising but the first day we opened

Booths – the Waitrose of the north – are right opposite here. Was that a concern?

a bottle away with them as well. Tell us a bit about your range.

A little bit. As a convenience thing people

We built up from our older days with

what we’ve got as well. Our retail relies

there was no real speciality as such. Over

do buy in there but more and more we are getting people coming and trying

on the fact we’re happy to open bottles for people, so when they’ve tried them

hopefully they’ll like them and carry on buying from us. More and more, we get

people asking us what we recommend and those customers wouldn’t get the same service in Booths.

You’ve installed a dispense machine in addition to doing a normal by-the-glass list. How is that going? We’ve had it a year and around 150 cards have been issued with an average of £20-

£30 on each card. People do use them and then keep topping up. Often, if we have

something of interest in them, they’ll take

Liberty Wines who helped us put the first

range together. It covered a lot of bases but

time we added to that. What appeals a little bit more are modern styles of wine. I try to cover a lot of bases and there are a lot of

regions and countries bringing out more elegant, easy-drinking and less alcoholic styles but still with plenty of interest. What’s going well?

Our best-sellers are on the board and there are one or two that are quite surprising. The latest ones are Spanish wines, but

outside of Rioja, styles that are similar to Rioja but are as good if not much better.

Continues page 36

we were so busy it seemed everyone

already knew it was happening. We believe we’re better off now than being on the high street. We wouldn’t get the same

quirkiness from being in a normal shop. How did the move to Longridge work out? What we love about Longridge is the

community aspect. Everyone knows what’s going on. There are plans passed for a

lot of residential development. There are three main sites and probably more to

come. People I’ve talked to estimate the population will increase by 20%-30%

within five years, and other surrounding towns have developments going on.

They are forgoing a lot of what used to

be green belt land to develop on. There’s a lot of development going into Preston too. It’s being thought of as an up-and-coming city.

Fullalove’s retail business is driven by opening bottles for customers to try

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 35


From page 35

Rioja can just rely on the name a bit and

they should often be better than they really are. Other regions have to make the best

they can because they’re competing with

that reputation. We have one Tempranillo from Cigales which is beautiful [Finca

Museum Cigales Reserva 2012]. It’s £16.95 but I’d have to pitch that at twice the price if it came from Rioja.

We put on a Puglian Primitivo which is

different from what people are used to,

just to fill in a gap really, but it’s 50% more popular than any other red wine – after people have tried it. It’s the only thing

some people will drink when they come in here.

In the whites, we’ve got a Sauvignon

Blanc from Moldova. People come in and ideally want one from New Zealand and

they’re not sure about Moldova. But when they try it … it’s a lighter, delicate, more easy-drinking style than New Zealand

tends to be and it’s been vastly popular.

Fullalove is wary about wholesaling. “You’ll have to give cred

Have you stayed loyal to Liberty?

We’ve stayed with them. They’ve got a

great range but we use five or six other suppliers now. The next biggest is New

Generation Wines and Dreyfus Ashby has

been interesting with specialisms in South African and France: interesting stuff from smaller vineyards, and it’s been a bonus

Malbec rosé which is frighteningly lovely

and his daughter Hayley, who was on The

What about the events side of things?

turned for her. They come in regularly to do

and so smooth. It looks like Provence wine but without the chalky, mineral side to it.

for us because you don’t see those labels

We do an open mic night once a month

us and concentrated on all the different

a bit of northern soul dancing, which was

anywhere. We’ve started using Las Bodegas for South America. They did a tasting for varieties from Argentina, including a

and tend to have live music once a month

too. The last night we had a chap who did

interesting. We had a local guy, Geno Eccles,

‘The cogs are turning. I’d love to have a second place. But at the moment it’s an ambition rather than a plan. If we get this right the opportunity should arise’ THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 36

Voice a couple of years ago. She got through to the second round because

a spot. We’re trying different things all the time. Whenever suppliers have producers over we’ll get them in for tastings as well and they go really well as well. It’s a real mix of different sorts of evenings.

Who do you most admire in the wine trade? Steve Turner [at Turners Wines] was a bit of an influence. When we started going

there I always wanted to know more and

he was always happy to give advice. Even

when I decided I wanted to do something


might produce an episode of 600 bottles

and when they’re gone, they’re gone. He’s showing what South Africa can achieve. Do you wholesale?

No. If I did it would be on a small scale.

There’s a bit of turnover if you can get a

few accounts in, but I don’t see us as box

lifters. I was always warned off it a little bit by people who said getting into wholesale was a different kettle of fish compared to this. The margins are relatively minute

and you’ll have to give credit terms that

are better than you get off your suppliers. If you’re not setting your stall out to do it, don’t do it.

And the internet? It’s fairly time consuming but the range is

on there. But it is more like a shop window, so people who have visited us and have

tried to remember a wine, but who might be further away than just being able to

pop in and pick some up, might order on there. Sales are more the specialist stuff

dit terms that are better than you get off your suppliers”

of my own in wine he was a bit of a mentor, and it was reassuring to know that what

we were doing and the decisions we were taking were along the right lines.

An MW who I have a bit of admiration for

is Miles Corish, who used to have the Inn

at Wightwell and has opened a wholesaler [Milestone Wines] in Clitheroe.

Richard Kelley at Dreyfus Ashby is a

that people don’t tend to see on wine shop shelves or in restaurants.

We’ve sold a reasonable amount of

Joseph Cattin Alsace Riesling and Pinot Noir and most of it comes through the

website. It tends to be the more specialist

things and older vintages that we’ve got a

bin end of that we see getting snapped up.

We had a couple of cases left of a Cabernet Sauvignon from Francis Ford Coppola’s estate that had been delisted in the UK which we sold online.

Will we be seeing Fullaloves number

really interesting guy and what he doesn’t


wine in The Liberator. He does something

But at the moment it’s an ambition rather

know about South African wine isn’t worth

It’s always in the back of my mind. The cogs

totally different; he’s not just producing

than a plan. If we get this right hopefully

knowing. He’s even got his own portfolio of the same thing every year. He has a bank of wineries he works with and finds out

what quirky stuff they’re working on. He

are turning. I’d love to have a second place. the opportunity should arise. There are

enough towns around here where there isn’t this sort of facility.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 37


1. Michel Parisot Cellar Master In January I begin working on the blending, especially on the classic range. We taste through each tank, and make a final selection based on the characteristics we seek: finesse, freshness, and ageability. Only vineyards which follow sustainable viticultural practices are used for Devaux, and our ambition this year is to increase the number of vineyards following these practices. In the vineyard, we continue to work plot by plot in selected parcels. Being as close to the vineyard as possible is one of the most fundamental factors in obtaining high quality grapes, and therefore high quality wines. You can never wholly understand a vineyard or a cru. You need 10 years or more of working with a particular vineyard, and after that you begin to understand it and its personality. Our aim is to produce wines that are ever more elegant and complex with great ageing potential, and are always in the Devaux style. It often takes many years of trials and tastings before we adopt a new vinification method or technique. In the same way as a perfumier, I search amidst our wines vinified in different ways, a diversity of olfactory notes that will bring complexity and enhance our house style. We vinify some of our selected parcels in 300- litre barrels, but we also use oak vats for our reserve wines. These two different ways of working with oak result in very different wines. Those vinified in barrels are toasty and have notes of vanilla and a lot of freshness, whereas those from the oak vats display more dried fruit character, with great length.

CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX A premium range of Champagnes from the Côte des Bar, including the Cuvée D: a Pinot Noir-dominant multivintage blend of 15 different vintages, aged for a minimum of five years on lees. Distributed by Liberty Wines

Sponsored Feature

FAMILLE HELFRICH: A GENUINE ONE-STOP SHOP FOR FRANCE Famille Helfrich is building up a loyal following among independents for its vast portfolio of wines – mainly from France but also across Europe and the New World. There’s a chance to see them at the company’s first UK tasting next month, where the new exclusive Calvet wines for indies and on-trade will take centre stage


t’s been a slow burn for Famille Helfrich in the independent trade, which is perhaps not surprising: what the company offers isn’t like anything else in the market. On the face of it, what it says it can do for indies sounds too good to be true. A one-stop shop that allows merchants to source wines from leading estates all across France (and indeed beyond), mixing and matching cases within a single order – it’s a formula that makes a lot of sense. But if it’s that simple, why isn’t everyone doing it? It’s a fair question. What surprises some new customers is that Helfrich is still a family-run affair, part of the Grands Chais de France business started by Joseph Helfrich in 1979. It’s not an agency business but a producer in its own right, with around 50 properties – mostly in France but also in Spain, Germany and Hungary. The New World is also well represented. Chris Davies (below), who heads up the Helfrich business in the UK, now works with a good mix of independent merchants up and down the country and is hopeful of recruiting more when the company hosts its first-ever portfolio tasting in the UK in Birmingham in February. “We’ve never felt confident enough before but over the past six or seven years our name has gained stature because of the quality of the wine and our offering is getting out there into the trade,” he says. “I see independent merchants as a high-profile part of our business.” One of the highlights of the tasting will be the recently-launched Calvet range created exclusively for independents and the ontrade. It includes Héritage (AOP wines from the most popular French appellations) and Cuvée 1818 (a premium Bordeaux icon wine at the top of the range). The company owns properties in every region of France other than Champagne: “We are the number one producer of crémant, so why would we?” says Davies. Indeed crémant will be a major focus at the Birmingham tasting, reflecting

‘Over the past six or seven years our name has gained stature because of the quality of the wine’

Domaine de la Baume, which joined the GCF family in 2003

its increasing success in the independent channel. Helfrich’s approach is to take on estates that need more investment and to keep faith with the existing growers and winemaking teams. It means that there is no homogenous style, and that wines from the Loire, Alsace, Bordeaux, the Languedoc and elsewhere retain their personalities and sense of place. “Joseph was the first person to offer long-term contracts of up to 25 years to the growers. We don’t buy with the headline price of the market,” says Davies. “We are the number two negociant in Burgundy now. We have so many wines.” In some cases, GCF does not actually own the property but has struck a deal to distribute the majority, or sometimes the entirety, of the wines it produces. “For example we are working with Domaine Clavel, a Rhône producer, at the moment. She will give us a percentage of her vintage – we are working closer and closer with her every year. She’s an excellent winemaker and really knows her stuff.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 38

“So there are lots of different ways we The list available to work with producers Davies is vast. ‘I’d say and they become part of the family. There the core range is about are 2,000 people in 700 wines and the our business and nucleus of that is 300’ 700 of them are in the vineyard every morning at 6am. It revolves around the terroir completely. Joseph is only interested in the terroir – it’s all about the land.”


s French producers adapt to changing market forces and a challenging vintage, Helfrich is helping them to find new ways of appealing to consumers. “If we take Languedoc as a typical example: there are lots of small growers. Lots of families would go to the local cooperative and sell their grapes on weight. That would go into the big cooperative vat and there you go – you have IGP wines at a pretty low price. “As the vintages have got tougher over the last few years, families and the smaller sub-regions of the sub IGP regions want to promote themselves. We’re all for that, and our work in the vineyards reflects that. “We’ve added a new IGP Cité-de-Carcassonne red under a brand called Frog’s Return. It’s a lovely red, really juicy. Also we’re just in the process of launching several new South of France rosés to capitalise on the success, but limited availability, of Provence. “These new wines will be under IGP Cap d’Agde, IGP Mediterranée and AOP Languedoc. They’re just a few examples of how we are working with the French families, the individual growers, to help them differentiate themselves. There are lots of smaller IGP regions that have great quality.” The minimum order from Famille Helfrich is a half mixed pallet – a quantity that Davies acknowledges is a big commitment for smaller indies, but one that can become manageable if shared between a few like-minded merchants. It’s an arrangement that’s increasingly common for independents who source wines direct. Wines can be bought DPD and shipped to the merchant’s address or purchased ex-cellars. The list available to Davies and his team is vast, but he’s in the process of fine-tuning the offer to make it more meaningful to specialist independents. “I’d say the core is about 700 wines and the nucleus of that is 300,” he says. Once the relationship with a merchant is established, Davies is keen to offer support to ensure the wines succeed. “Obviously we look at the opportunities: if the merchant is keen and wants to develop their range with us then our team can provide training and help run events.” There are plenty of characters within the GCF winemaking community, including the likes of Pierre-Jean Sauvion of Domaine du Cléray, whose infectious enthusiasm for Muscadet is already well known to several independents. ‘’We have a core of key winemakers that are happy to visit the UK and share their passion with our indies,’’ says Davies. “Whether it’s store visits, tastings, staff training or winemaker dinners, the support is there.”

Meet chef and Calvet brand ambassador Glynn Purnell

THE FIRST-EVER FAMILLE HELFRICH PORTFOLIO TASTING Monday, February 25 – Wednesday, February 27 10am – 5pm Warwickshire Suite, Edgbaston Stadium Edgbaston Road, Birmingham B5 7QU Around 300 wines from 50+ premium French domaines, as well as from Spain, Germany, Hungary and the New World, will be on show, covering the entire spectrum of styles and regions, destined exclusively for the on-trade and independent merchant channels. Specialist sections will include crémant, vegetarian, vegan and organic wines, and 0% abv options. There will be a culinary demonstration by Calvet brand ambassador and local Michelin-starred chef, Glynn Purnell, to celebrate the launch of the new Calvet range created for the on-trade and independents. Key GCF regional winemakers will be on hand to share their expert knowledge and advice.

For more information call Chris Davies on 07789 008540 or email

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 39 15

Twitter: @FamilleHelfrich


© santypan /

headaches on the buying front for retailers trying to sort the wheat from the chaff,

but makes gin an attractive opportunity for budding and fully-flowered drinks entrepreneurs alike.

The burning question of the day is

whether we have, or are about to, hit peak gin, the point when things start to slide

into reverse. But with latest Wine & Spirit Trade Association figures putting annual growth at 38%, and 49 new (mainly gin) distilleries opening in the past year, the answer clearly is that we haven’t.

Market dynamics tend not to slam

the brakes on a trend to the extent that

30%-plus growth rates turn into instant stagnation or decline. Annual sales growth is up 38% according to recent figures


brought the arrival of a lemon

gin from the City of London Distillery,

a claimed world-first from Nelson’s in Staffordshire for a gin made from the

Maverick Drinks, whose extensive gin

Ableforth’s Bathtub and That Boutique-y

Gin Co, which offers customers the chance to do short-run gin collaborations under

It might be assumed that we reached peak gin with the arrival of a spit-roasted pineapple flavour. Far from it, says Nigel Huddleston

The last quarter of 2018 alone

insists Michael Vachon, co-founder of

portfolio includes the Finnish brand Kyro,

Still life nd they just keep on coming.

“We’re still a long way from peak gin,”

Nepalese timur pepper, the Indian craft gin Jaisalmer, a French gin made using

“perfume extraction techniques” and East End gins aged in cider and ginger beer barrels.

The bonkers pace of growth causes

the brand’s quirky umbrella identity.

“In the trade, people are becoming fed up

with being presented with new gins,” adds

Vachon, “but most consumers are only just beginning on the journey of discovering

what they like – and they are thrilled that there’s just so much choice out there.”

Part of gin’s appeal is its broad reach

in terms of flavour profiles, styles and

sources of origin, which enables importers and distributors to assemble portfolios of products with distinct USPs rather than




cognac dives into rum market

Emporia brings stock home

skye whisky is not the limit

Sweden is the latest entrant to the craft gin market. Stockholm’s first gin distillery, Bränneri, has launched its Dry, Pink and Oak gins in the UK through Sussex-based importer Emporia Brands after all three picked up medals at last year’s (2018) International Wine & Spirit Competition. Keynote botanicals include heather and lingonberries.

The Isle of Skye is already world famous for its Talisker whisky but it now has its first vodka too. Misty Isle is being made by Isle of Skye Distillers and is the fourth bottling after a trio of gins from brothers Alistair and Thomas Wilson, who founded the distillery in Portree in 2016.

Biggar & Leith’s Malfy Italian gin has become a favourite with independents in recent months and the company has now followed up with a rum that bears something of a family resemblance. Spytail is blended and bottled in Cognac and named after one of the world’s first submarines, tested in the Charentes in the 19th century.

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 40

‘The trade is getting fed up with new gins, but consumers are just beginning their journey of discovery’ just fill in a generic gin tick-box.

“We segment them by flavour, price and

by provenance,” says Vachon.

Hi-Spirits has put together a flavour

map in an attempt to help both retailers and shoppers navigate the increasingly complex maze of gins.

“Some want to know about the flavour,

others the botanicals, others still the region or provenance,” says managing director Dan Bolton. “Some staff and customers

are very confident about understanding

the difference between a classic London dry such as Broker’s or a modern craft

citrus gin like Brooklyn, while others need different guidance and will understand flavours more easily than styles.”


lavoured and coloured gins were the big thing in 2018, with pink stuff to the fore, led by Warner

Edwards Rhubarb and Pinkster but

followed by several of the big brands.

“We see huge growth for us in flavoured

gins,” says Vachon. “Under That Boutique-y Gin Co we have a spit-roasted pineapple gin that’s absolutely flying. It’s far and

away our best-selling line’.”

The other big trend was in the

emergence of alcohol-free “gins”, though

the absence or scarcity of juniper in such

products means the term should be applied quite loosely.

Diageo and Pernod Ricard have got their

claws into this market but independent brands are out there too.

Tom Tuke-Hastings, founder of Borrago,

says: “It’s not cheap [£19.99 for a 50cl

bottle] but it’s a premium product and very well-made. We’re not pushing it on a value proposition; it’s quite important to have a

stronger flavour. When people are making cocktails we want them to know the

legend Douglas Ankrah, the Pornstar Martini is now officially the nation’s favourite cocktail according

product is there, to be able to really taste

to number crunchers CGA. Ankrah

is the emergence of producers that reflect

version retains the spirit of his

Borrago in those drinks.”

One big appeal of “proper” gin for indies

the social fabric of their locations.

In a market with premium power

brands like Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire

has now launched his own readyto-serve version but this twisted original recipe aside from ditching Prosecco for more elegant and wine merchant-friendly English fizz.

and Hendrick’s, and a sturdy second tier

emerging that includes the likes of Warner Edwards, Monkey 47 and Silent Pool, it’s

the smaller, local players that seem most vulnerable to rationalisation when the market eventually cools down.

The trick will be to recognise their

limitations and play to their niche

Two passion fruits 60ml vanilla vodka 15ml Passoa passion fruit liqueur 15ml vanilla sugar syrup 15ml fresh lime juice Shot glass of English sparkling wine

strengths, says Vachon at Maverick.

“It’s only going to get more local,” he

adds. “You can be a sustainable business and a small business, just like local butchers or bakers.”

english whisky


london calling rye drinkers

mine's a large whinger

A whisky from East London Liquor Co claims to be the English capital’s first to be commercially available since 1904. London Rye is a combination of pot and column still spirit aged for a year in new French oak, followed by two in bourbon casks and finished for a month in Pedro Ximénez Sherry barrels.

Created by London bartending

The Great Marvolio is the alter ego of Sussex-based biotechnologist Joel Gallagher – yes, that’s Joel Gallagher – who’s created a trio of small-batch liqueurs with the apothecary look under the name Marvolio’s Nostrums: Whiskoffy (single malt and Arabica coffee beans); Tequilomile (tequila, herbs, chilli and orange); and Whinger (whisky and ginger).

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 41

Scoop the flesh and seeds of one-ana-half passion fruits into a shaker. Add all the other ingredients apart from the fizz and shake with ice. Strain into a Martini glass. Serve with the shot of sparkling wine on the side and the remaining half of fruit as a floating garnish.


© auremar /

Getting the essentials in place

advice on maturity and window-of-sale opportunity. Buying cheeses that are

ready to sell means they simply need to be refrigerated at a consistent temperature between 5˚C and 8˚C.

Small whole cheeses, such as Tunworth,

are easy to display and sell but most

customers will want small portions of

larger cheeses. There is an art to cutting

The kit you need to sell cheese isn’t expensive, but you do need to buy the right equipment

cheese in order to maximise the quality in each portion; for example, every slice of a

creamy cheese such as a Brie should have a “nose” of the softer, gooey centre.

The first cut of a round, soft cheese


etting up a cheese counter makes

should start at the centre and move to

minimal demands on a typical wine retailer, so long as a little space can

be freed up for storage and serving. It is a

the outer edge. The next cut will create a

very effective way of increasing footfall.

There’s an art to cutting cheese correctly

retailing cheese. The essential items are

smoothly through all types of cheese,

Lizzy Parrott at Fine Wine Partners says

there is very little equipment required for

or stainless steel cutting board will slice

wrapping, a sharp cheese knife or cheese

inexpensive piece of kit, easy to maintain

a fridge, a clean surface for cutting and

wire and a set of scales. Cut cheese needs to be wrapped, and waxed paper is ideal because it allows the cheese to breathe.

A cheese wire integrated within a plastic Stonier Pinot Noir Elegant and perfumed Pinot from the southern side of Mornington Peninsula.

Petaluma Evans Vineyard Sophisticated wine that is pretty, exhibiting all the classic Coonawarra characteristics.

avoiding crumbling and wastage. It is an and will make light work of cheese preparation.

A reputable supplier will take care

of ageing the various cheeses and offer Croser Vintage An expression of everything great about South Australia’s sparkling production.

Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz Punchy, vibrant and classic Barossa Shiraz.

In association with Fine Wine Partners For more information about the company’s premium Australian wines email or visit


suitably sized slice whilst maintaining the integrity of the remaining cheese.

A good supplier will advise the best way

of portioning cheeses according to the

price and provide a range of information

about their cheeses. For anyone who wants to go deeper into the subject, the Academy of Cheese has been set up to promote

knowledge to industry professionals and to the wider public. Its open days and

masterclasses are a great place to further a journey into cheese retail.


As well as clearly labelling the cheese by type and adding any additional information to aid the customer, it is essential to clearly state that the product contains dairy. This is a legal requirement and applies to all allergens so it is important to bear it in mind for potential allergens beyond dairy. This would apply to any other products such as biscuits and retailers should check what cheese rinds are made from. Some rinds, such as that of Manchego, may contain egg, so this has to be clearly labelled.


Tills and thrills Merchants who move into on-premise sales tend to find that an upgrade is required to their existing EPoS systems. Luckily, the latest technology is geared up to handle a variety of prices for the same product and can even link with dispense devices. But if you still can’t find exactly what you want, you could follow Sara Saunby’s lead and develop your own bespoke system


ill branching out into on-

premise sales require huge changes to till technology?

Probably, because not all EPoS systems are created equal – as Sara Saunby from Salut Wines in Manchester discovered.

“We started as a hybrid so we initially

looked for a system that would cover both aspects,” says Saunby. “We went for an

off-the-shelf one because all the ones that could have been built for us would have cost tens of thousands of pounds.”

Costing £1,000 plus a monthly tariff, it

soon transpired that i-Zettle was not up to the task, as far as Salut was concerned.

“The trouble with this business model

is that it has so many facets,” Saunby

explains. “We want table service – so we want all our tables on there. We’re also

retail, so we want a drink-in and a take-out price and we also want access to a 25ml, a 50ml, a 125ml, a 175ml, a 500ml carafe … so every single product needs six or eight prices attached to it.”

Ali Rees from Tabology, an EPoS and

self-service technology provider, explains

that most retail EPoS systems struggle with specifics, and the language of units and measures can be tricky. Sara Saunby at Salut Wines resorted to developing her own EPoS solution

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 44

“Pubs buy in firkins or kegs but sell

that stock in thirds, halves and pints,” she says. “A retail EPoS system might well be

effective enough to handle sales but for a

longer-term plan it might be worth looking at an EPoS that caters more for this hybrid niche.”

The Tabology systems link with

Enomatic machines as well as accountancy software such as Xero and Quickbooks. They are also compatible with Apple, PayPal and Paymentexpress.


aunby has “trawled all over”

looking for something to suit her

business; a piece of technology that

will access myriad products to be sold in

different configurations and that won’t be

Enomatics at Salut, where pricing is complicated by drinking-in as well as various serve sizes

a “flippin’ nightmare” to change the prices when duty goes up or when she wants to run a promotion.

“I’ve spent three years looking for

someone to accommodate what we do. I want it to give us good stock control,

reporting, integration with my accountancy system and integration with the Enomatics,” she says.

Saunby’s ideal was so elusive that she

resorted to doing it herself. Since June

last year, she has been working with an American developer to build a bespoke

Tabology’s devices link with Enomatics as well as accountancy software

EPoS system. It has cost around £10,000 to develop a product, which she says finally

meets all her requirements as a wine bar and wine shop operator.

Rees at Tabology says the most common

mistakes that newcomers to on-premise

sales make are “either investing in cheap kit which doesn’t fulfil the needs of the

business, or expensive kit with long-term tie-ins that are hard to escape from”.

She adds: “You need a decent company

who will provide good, ideally real-time, support and have flexibility to help with your requirements as they arise.

“If a company insists on locking you into

The technology is developing as the needs of retailers are changing


ltimately we want our customers to find the right solution for their business, which can change and grow if necessary from the initial opening. Ali Rees’s comments are well taken and borne out by what Sara Saunby is experiencing. We work well with Tabology and continue to evolve and expand the services available within the integration. Their support ethic mirrors ours, so we’re happy to work with them in any location, large or small, knowing our customers will be well taken care of. As technology continues to develop in this area, I believe it will be easier to integrate between the EPoS and other systems, and maybe have a type of in-built cafeteria menu within the options available from EPoS providers so that companies can tailor the product to their needs without being limited as they change or expand.

a long-term contract then that should be a red flag: they should offer a good enough

Sally McGill Commercial director, Enomatic UK

service to want you to stay rather than

catching you out with contractual terms.”

THE WINE MERCHANT january 2019 45


The high-altitude northern Spanish region has an inhospitable climate but it’s the home of some of the country’s most interesting white wines – and there’s plenty to appeal to specialist independents as well as their multiple rivals. Liz Sagues reports

85% of 2018’s record harvest of 130

million kilos. Crucially, Verdejo creates

the individuality in the wines from this high (700m-800m) plateau two hours

to the north west of Madrid, where icy winds swirl in winter, summer brings

A cruel la Verdejo h

sweltering temperatures and a steep day/ night variation ensures acidity as well as ripeness.

Verdejo is tough, and flourishes in

adversity – there are plenty of pre-

phylloxera survivors, some perhaps

200 years old, their roots deep in the


hree days on a wine tour in Spain

and never a single sip of red wine: what’s going on? All is explained

by the location: this is Rueda, the country’s

most important white wine appellation, yet one which falls rather under the radar as far as the UK is concerned.

It shouldn’t. The area is big, the

production is massive – some 90 million

bottles a year, representing more than 40% of Spain’s white wine – yet quality matters. Much is drunk locally, but the UK is among

the export targets of the DO Rueda consejo regulador, alongside such potential giant consumers as China.

sandy, stony soil. That hardiness, and a

climate inhospitable to pests and disease, encourages low-chemical growing practices.

In visits to eight wineries, ranging from

multi-million-bottle Diez Siglos, which supplies two major UK supermarkets, to the niche Bordeaux chateau-style

operation of Beldondrade, plus a tasting

of a broad spectrum from others at the DO headquarters, it was intriguing to see the

versatility of the vine. We met traditionalmethod fizz, even an ice-wine sticky and

rare examples of the oxidised Sherry-style staple that was the favourite of Spain’s kings and flourished until the 1970s.

Blanc has influential supporters, and Viura


predominates, responsible for more than

contenders, showing off much investment

Essentially, this is an appellation of a

single grape, the native Verdejo. Sauvignon and Palomino Fino are also allowed in the

denomination, but Verdejo overwhelmingly

Icy winds swirl in winter, summer brings sweltering temperatures and a steep day/night variation

oday, dry and still is the Rueda

norm. At the basic, big-scale level

the wines are generally easy, fresh

and softly aromatic; go small and specialist and there are serious top-category

in individual plot vinification and new oak. But between these two, where Verdejo is allowed to express its herbal complexity,

its serious fruit, its tasty edge of bitterness on a lingering finish, comes something UK consumers most deserve to discover.

Time on lees is crucial in these wines,

as is natural or neutral yeast (intriguingly, Palacio de Bornos creates its own

yeast from winery waste), and the best

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 46

Above: Javier Sanz at Herrero Vedel Right: Sara Bañuelos and her concrete tulips Below: Sandra Martín Chivite of Diez Siglos

andscape where its the high notes

winemakers will blend from many batches.


lenty of money is making its way into the area from elsewhere in

Spain: Ramón Bilbao, for example,

provides an array of barrels, foudres

and concrete tulips for winemaker Sara Bañuelos’s adventurous ambition. But

there are other operations with, literally, long roots into the past – such as those pre-phylloxera vines at Hererro Vedel

and Javier Sanz, the latter also making palate-rewarding efforts to bring an

ancient Verdejo clone, Malcorta, back into production.

Wine tourists remain, for the moment,

mostly Spanish, but there are efforts to

welcome a wider spectrum. One intriguing experience is exploring the labyrinth of

man-dug cellars beneath Rueda town that

Grupo Yllera has opened up and decorated with a mythological Greek theme. Another is the immersion in all things pointy and painted at Gotica.

Outside, the plain may not be as

picturesque, but Castilla y Leon region has Spain’s largest concentration of

historic monuments, wonderful castles and churches as a cultural foil to

vinous pleasure. And the wine and food experience is memorable, the oak-aged whites superb with the signature roast baby lamb. More relevant for the UK is

that in Spain, Rueda Verdejo is the second choice, after Rioja, to drink with tapas. UK importers

Beldondrade: FMV

Palacio de Bornos: Boutinot

Ramón Bilbao: Enotria&Coe Hererro Vedel: H2Vin

Javier Sanz: Hallgarten

Grupo Yllera: Corney & Barrow

Liz Sagues visited Rueda as a guest of the consejo regulador.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 47


Australia Trade Tastings

Australian Wine Discovered, a new

education programme that provides free resources for retailers, will see its global launch at the London tasting.

Australia strikes out with three trade

To register email kirsty.savory@

tastings in London, Edinburgh and

Dublin at the end of this month. With more than 1,000 wines from 250

producers, these three dates constitute

the biggest and most diverse showcase of

The party is heading north this month

Tuesday, January 22 B1, Southampton Row London WC1B 4DA

Australian wines in Europe.

compounds commonly associated with

McLaren Vale and a Women in Wine focus

Hill, Gilbert Family Wines, Kirrihill Wines,

Princes Street

House of Arras, who leads the sparkling

Wednesday, January 30

Each of the three tastings will include

masterclasses on alternative varieties in table, featuring iconic producers and emerging stars.

The London event will include an

Interactive Aroma Wall, a joint venture

between Wine Australia and the Australian Wine Research Institute. The installation will showcase some of the key aroma

Wines of Hungary Furmint Tasting Ahead of the UK launch of Furmint February, Wines of Hungary has organised a tasting of more than 60 Furmint wines from 20 different producers. There will be a wide range of styles

available to taste, from dry to sweet, and a chance to meet many new-generation winemakers from Tokaj.

For 10 years, Furmint February has been

organised in Hungary to celebrate the country’s flagship grape.

Caroline Gilby MW says: “One exciting

thing about Furmint is its versatility. It

has some similarities to Riesling – it’s able to go from bone-dry, crisp and vibrant to

intensely sweet, always with its hallmark steely acidity.

“At the same time, it has a touch of

Chardonnay’s nature about it – it’s

capable of fine sparkling wines and is able

Australian wines. First-time exhibitors at

London ATT will include Patritti, Levantine Soul Growers and Barristers Block.

Winemakers will include Ed Carr of

wine masterclass; Chris Thomas (Dowie Doole); Rory Lane (The Story Wines);

Monday, January 28 The Balmoral Hotel Edinburgh EH2 2EQ

The Round Room The Mansion House

Bob Berton (Berton Vineyards) and Inga

2 Dawson Street

Lidums (Lobethal Road).


to respond well to oak and malolactic

attendance to show their new wines

fermentation to give layered, complex,

alongside some old vintages.

adds: “We’re looking forward to getting


almost Burgundian wines.”

Lilla O’Connor of Wines of Hungary UK

UK-based wine drinkers excited about the

wide range of styles Furmint can produce.

We’re encouraging venues and retailers to

Around 140 wines will be available,

about 30% of which will be Spätburgunder. Monday, February 4

The Army & Navy Club

join us in promoting Furmint February at

36-39 Pall Mall

with a trip to Tokaj in 2019.”

Origin and Originality

Wednesday, January 30

Carte Blanche Wines and Savage

67 Pall Mall

Selection present a tasting based on the

London SW1Y 5ES

themes of Origin and Originality.

their outlets, and we will be rewarding the

best performing venue for their promotion RSVP to Lilla O’Connor: email lilla@

London SW1Y 5JN

For more information or to register

Wine Barn Annual Portfolio Tasting


The WineBarn’s full complement of

St James’s

German wine producers will be in

London SW1Y 5ES

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 48

Tuesday, February 5 67 Pall Mall

Austrian Flight Tasting

Enotria&Coe Annual Ellis Wines Portfolio Tasting Portfolio Tasting

This tasting, organised by the Austrian

An opportunity to explore the

Ellis Wines has increased its range in

Wine Marketing Board and the Austrian

Enotria&Coe portfolio – comprising

premium wines from South Africa and

Trade Commision, features only

more 500 wines and 200 spirits – and

seen growth in niche areas such as

indigenous Austrian red and white

talk to the people behind the products.

Portugal, Uruguay, Hungary, the Czech


Gin takes centre stage with an entire

Guests have the opportunity to explore

gallery dedicated to the spirit of the

There are two tasting sessions: from

popular trend for low and non-alcoholic

over 100 wines arranged in 19 flights, in whatever order theychoose.

11.30 am to 2pm and from 3pm to 5.30pm. For registration, email west@

Republic and even India. This two-day tasting, which always

moment. There will also be a focus on

draws large numbers, will host over 40


of the UK trade.

Mexico, craft beer and the increasingly RSVP to

Tuesday, February 5

producers from around the world who will be showcasing their wines for the benefit

For more information or to register email

Tuesday & Wednesday February 5 & 6

Monday, February 4

The Saatchi Gallery

Institute of Directors

King’s Road

The Vintners’ Hall

116 Pall Mall


68 Upper Thames Street

London SW1Y 5ED

London SW3 4RY

London EC4V 3BG

Davy’s Wine Merchants Annual Portfolio Tasting Davy’s is a fifth-generation familyowned merchant, which continues to grow and develop its reputation as a specialist and classic fine wine stockholder. Working predominantly with small

growers and holding long-standing

relationships with top producers in

Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône and Portugal, the company is able to secure UK

exclusivity for many of its products.

This tasting will showcase more than 200

wines, encompassing a wide range of styles and price points.

Focused free-pour areas will include

Small is Beautiful: wines made in tiny

quantities and rare parcels from the cellar. Meanwhile The Indie Top 20 and By the

Glass Top 10 are both designed for buyers who only have a short time to taste.

Five generations have steered the Davy business

There will be a sneak preview of the

New Zealand producer Te Kano and an introduction to amphorae wines from Alentejo.

Two tutored tasting masterclasses will

also take place: Beaujolais by winemaker

Jean-Paul Brun and The Art of Blending in Tawny Port by Quinta da Silveira.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 49

For more information or to RSVP email

Wednesday, February 6 Royal Overseas League Park Place St James’s London SW1A 1LR

MAKE A DATE © Alessandro Cristiano /

Borsa Vini Italiani Producers from all over Italy will be visiting Dublin and then London to present their wines at this hotlyanticipated annual event. Dublin will see a wide range of wines

from around 30 Italian winemakers while London will be host to representatives from more than 70 wineries.

A wine masterclass will be taking place

on both days for anyone interested in

learning more about indigenous Italian grape varieties.

The majority of the wines will be seeking

UK distribution.

Contact Antonietta Kelly:

Tuesday, February 5

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel

Winter in Barolo

Golden Lane Dublin Thursday, February 7 Stamford Bridge Stadium Fulham Road London SW6 1HS

Top Selection Portfolio Tasting Established in 2000, Top Selection’s portfolio has grown to include 75

(Mosel), Istvan Szespy (Tokaj), Baron

Thenard (Burgundy), Pares Balta (Penedes, biodynamic), Nathan Kendall (New York Finger Lakes), Terenzi (Tuscany), Paolo

Basso (Switzerland), Boroli (Piedmont), Casa Mariol (Terra Alta), Champagne André Jacquart (grower), Adelphi

(Scotland) and Grosperrin (Cognac).

There will also be new wines from

several new producers and regions

(including Italy – Friuli and Gavi – and Morocco) plus Grands Crus such as Château Palmer and Las Cases.

RSVP to Melodie Konforti: email news@

Wednesday, February 6 The Music Room South Molton Lane London W1K 5LF

producers from 20 countries. This tasting presents the opportunity to explore the complete range of more than 300 wines. A large part of its collection hails from

Europe but in recent years the company says its portfolio has become “truly

international” as wines from Canada,

the USA, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand have joined their Old World counterparts.

More than 30 suppliers will be pouring

in person on the day, including Egon Muller

The team at Top Selection, which entered the supply scene in 2000

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 50

North South Wines Portfolio Tasting Celebrating its fifth birthday, North South Wines will be on the road visiting Oxford, Manchester and Brighton showcasing wines from its specialist areas of organic and sparkling wines from Italy and Australia. Newly-launched wines will be on show.

To register, contact Kimberley Davenport:


Wednesday, February 13

Level Two Oxo Tower Wharf


Bargehouse Street

2 Infirmary Street

London SE1 9PH

Leeds LS1 2JP

Berkmann Wine Cellars Tasting

Koshu of Japan Trade Tasting

This year’s tasting takes place in

This is the ninth annual Koshu of Japan

London and Leeds and features

trade and press tasting in the UK.

450 wines from 60 producers in 17



Thursday, February 7

Yarra Valley and Domaine Tournon of

Malmaison Oxford Castle 3 New Road Oxford OX1 1AY Tuesday, February 12

Two new Australian agencies have joined

the line-up. They are Yarra Yering of the Pyrenees/Heathcote.

Contact Serena Gasparini at events@ to register or for more information.

Tuesday, February 12

KOJ was established in 2009 by leading

wine producers of the Yamanashi

Prefecture, Japan’s premier wine-growing region.

This year the wines at the tasting all

come from the vineyards of Yamanashi, lying at the foothills of Mount Fuji.

To RSVP or for more information on

the exhibiting wineries and the planned

masterclass, email

The Brighton Harbour Hotel

The Brewery

64 King’s Road

52 Chiswell Street

67 Pall Mall

Brighton BN1 1NA

London EC1Y 4SD

London SW1Y 5ES

Tuesday, February 12

Thursday, February 14 King Street Townhouse 10 Booth Street Manchester M2 4AW

Gonzalez Byass Portfolio Tasting This year’s event showcases the entire range of brands from Gonzalez Byass’s extensive Spanish wine and Sherry list, global premium brands and more recent additions. This includes Domäne Wachau from

Austria, which joined the portfolio last year. The latest releases will be on show

together with a selection of special bottles from the cellars.

RSVP to Emma Jones at

Monday, February 11

Domäne Wachau recently joined the Gonzalez Byass portfolio

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 51


The Root of it All: Bancroft Wines Portfolio Tasting

Vineyards of Hampshire Tasting The group comprises eight Hampshire

Bancroft will be showcasing wines from

producers including its newest member,

30 of its leading growers.

Black Chalk, whose sparkling wine has been earning rave

There will also be a special Burgundy

focus table, and two masterclasses.


Stallion Estate Winery (Napa Valley),

wines will be available to taste

Many new producers will be present,

New vintages and releases

including Gnarly Head (Lodi), Black

Franco Conterno (Piedmont), Edi Simcic (Slovenia) and Weingut Schwarztrauber (Pfalz).

Bancroft classics such as Herencia

Altes (Terra Alta), Bodega Luigi Bosca

(Mendoza), Ataraxia (Hemel-en-Aarde) and Champagne Joseph Perrier will be showing new wines and vintages.

To register or for more details, contact

of English sparkling and still Masks are optional on February 12

Nerea Sanz: Tuesday, February 12 The Dutch Centre

harvest will be underway, those producers won’t be in London but their wines will do the talking for them.

As well as high-altitude mineral

mountain wines from Chile, expect

offerings from Marlborough and the Yarra Valley alongside a “short, sharp” list of

wines that Indigo has chosen to represent

wines from the Indigo range.

“real value – the sweet spot between

Over half of the winemakers – or farmers

quality, character and drinking pleasure”.

as many prefer to be described – under

Craft beer will be represented by a

the Indigo umbrella work organically or with a further 10 certified biodynamic.

Taste Adalia Vini wines at the China Exchange

traditions of their regions.

“with a vivid sense of place” from Viña

“beautifully balanced, structured Pinot

Indigo family will also be present, including

Noir-focused Champagnes”, and Château du Mourre du Tendre, which makes “graceful” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Discover biodynamically-produced Pinot

from Pfalz made by Frank John, Godellos

Wednesday, February 13

southern hemisphere producers. As

attendance, offering a huge cross-section of

portfolio are Remi Leroy, who is making

London SW1Y 5ES

Forty of its producers will be in

Among the new faces joining the

to register contact events@

67 Pall Mall

and new vintages to taste.

harmony with their environment and the

For more information or

London EC2N 2HA

Indigo has new producers to showcase

These artisanal producers work in

terroirs across the county.

7 Austin Friars

Indigo Wine Portfolio Tasting

biodynamically and 30 are certified organic

from a variety of different

Somoza and Gaintza Txakolina from Spain. Some of the familiar names from the

Terroir al Limit, Suertes del Marques, Colet, Telmo Rodriguez and Vitor Claro. The

Fedellos do Couto team will be showing their new project named Peixes.

Free-pour is back, with a focus on

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 52

selection of breweries sampling their

wares. Nick and Theresa from Biercraft

will be on hand at the Biercraft Hub. Nonalcoholic beverages are represented by

Lucky Saint, Jarr Kombucha and Square Roots Sodas.

For more information or to register,

contact Jo Lory: Tuesday, February 12 The China Exchange 32 Gerrard Street London W1D 6JA

Fells Annual Portfolio Tasting The tasting will be the only time this year that the entire Fells portfolio will be represented under one roof. Many of the agent’s producers will be

present, including the owner of Yalumba, Robert Hill-Smith, who will be attending for the first time.

Last year Fells took on the distribution of

all brands previously handled in the UK by Negociants, which means that in addition

Sam Neill’s Two Paddocks wines are now part of the Fells portfolio in the UK

to Yalumba there will also be wines on

Symington Family Estates, Miguel Torres

contact Mark Symonds: email ms@fells.

Vineyard, Vasse Felix, Nautilus Estate and

Te Mata Estate, Jackson Family Wines,

Tuesday, February 19

show from Dalrymple Vineyards, Heggies Vineyards, Jansz Tasmania, Pewsey Vale Two Paddocks.

Existing favourites from the Fells

portfolio will be on taste. These include

Spain, Champagne Henriot, Bouchard,

Famille Hugel, Pellegrino, Tyrrell’s Wines,

Wente Family Estates, Chakana, Vergelegen and Janneau Armagnac.

For more information or to register,

© saiko3p /

Wines of Portugal Annual Tasting

The Riverside Room IET Savoy Place London WC2R 0BL

Alliance Wine Spring Portfolio Tasting

The buzz around Portuguese wines,

Alliance is marking its 35th year and

mostly driven by their value and variety,

plans to show 350 wines from “new

continues to build in the independent

producers, old friends and some of our

wine trade.


This is an opportunity to taste over

“There is a bit of a street art theme to

1,000 wines from across the country.

bring energy, creativity and difference to

the tasting, firmly ensconced in the familiar

street food throughout the day and a DJ

More than 50 producers, representing 11

the proceedings,” says marketing chief

different regions, are expected to attend

James MacKenzie. “We will also be offering

surroundings of the RHS-owned Lindley

will be on hand to add to the fun.”

Hall, a short walk from Victoria station.

RSVP to James.MacKenzie@alliancewine.

There will also be a number of


masterclasses taking place throughout the

Tuesday, February 26


Fruitmarket Gallery

To register for this year’s event, email

Edinburgh EH1 1DF

Wednesday, February 20

Wednesday, February 27

The Lindley Hall

Factory 45

Elverton Street

44-46 Newington Causeway

London SW1P 2QW

Get a flavour of Portugal on February 20

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 53

London SE1 6DR


Famille Helfrich Portfolio Tasting February will mark the first portfolio trade tasting by Famille Helfrich, the premium arm of Les Grands Chais de France. More than 300 wines will be on show

from the company’s premium French

domaines and new properties in Spain, Germany, Hungary and the New World covering the entire spectrum of styles,

destined exclusively for the on-trade and independent merchant channels.

The three-day event will kick off with

a round-table discussion on crémant

in association with The Wine Merchant

Find stars from the Loire, and beyond, at Edgbaston next month

(interested merchants should email

Monday, February 25

and restaurateurs.

Manchester M60 7HA

well as non-alcoholic wines. All GCF’s

The Lindley Hall and the

The Principal

last day will be dedicated to sommeliers

Oxford Street

vegetarian, vegan and organic wines, as

Wednesday, February 27

share their expert knowledge.

London SW1P 2QW

Specialist sections will include crémant,

regional winemakers will be on hand to

Elverton Street

by Calvet brand ambassador and local

Lea & Sandeman Italian Tasting

There will be a culinary demonstration

Michelin starred chef, Glynn Purnell, to celebrate the launch of the new Calvet range created for the on-trade and independents

To register contact Chris Davies:

Monday 25 – Wednesday February 27 Warwickshire Suite Edgbaston Stadium Edgbaston Road Birmingham B5 7QU

SITT The annual tasting showcasing wines aimed at the independent trade. Register at

Luigi Maffini will be presenting his cult

Campanian wines and from Sicily, and

there’s a first UK visit from the ground-

breaking Etna winery Palmento Constanzo. By invitation only. Contact Lucy

Marcuson – – for availability.

Tuesday, February 26 Foyles Sixth Floor

A number of producers from estates in Piedmont, Tuscany, Montalcino and Chianti will be on hand to pour their

107 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0DT

Flint Wines Portfolio Tasting

wines, including new releases and

There will be more than 100 wines on

current vintages.

show at this training and tasting day.

Super Tuscans from Le Macchiole in

Bolgheri and Castello del Terriccio will be

in attendance as well as Monteti Estate and Fattoria di Magliano in the Maremma.

Other stand-outs this year will include

top Lambrusco producer Monte delle

Vigne, Sangiovese from Cantina Bissoni in

Emilia-Romagna and the Friuli superstars Azienda Agricola Visintini and Azienda Agricola Zuani.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 54

Flint Wines has added an array of new

wines to its portfolio which will be shown along with a few of its “old favourites.”

To register email melanie@flintwines.


Wednesday, February 27 China Exchange 32 Gerrard Street London W1D 6JA


buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

New Year, New World And so, on to a New Year. It may or may not be a comfort to think of our antipodean

friends, who will almost certainly be basking in warmer weather, but also gearing up

for a very busy time of year, as the vineyards spring into bloom. Here are a couple of our favourite wines from down under, that are sure to bring a bit of sunshine to your lists. If you’d like to see more, then do ask us for a copy of our full Wine List. Pipers Brook Vintage Sparkling

It’s difficult not to get excited by Tasmanian sparkling wine. Stunning scenery, ideal conditions and dedicated quality-focused producers have brought

international renown for Tassie fizz. The family-owned Pipers Brook produces one of Tasmania’s best examples – subtle hints of honey, lemon

sherbet and lightly toasted bread combine with a long, rich and mineral finish full of zesty peel fruits and shortbread. Rock Ferry Sauvignon Blanc

Everything a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc should be – expressive tropical

fruit aromas, floral notes, and crisp mineral acidity. Rock Ferry is an organic

winery, and this enlivening wine is sure to shake off even the most stubborn January blues.

seckford agencies Old Barn Farm Harts Lane, Ardleigh Colchester CO7 7QQ 01206 231686 @seckfordagency Seckford Agencies Ltd

At Flavours of New Zealand tasting on January 16 Seckford Agencies is

delighted to be launching to the UK independent trade Vine Whisperer:

a 9.5% alcohol, fully flavoured Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, made by the innovative Dr John Forrest.

“Our naturally produced Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is all about

innovation and experimentation,” he says.

“Simply put, we’ve perfected a delicious full-flavoured wine by

slowing the grape plant’s ability to make sugar but not its ability to

make flavour. And it’s all done in the vineyard – no chemistry tricks or

genetic engineering wizardry here. Just sustainably grown, naturally produced lower-alcohol wine.”

Vine Whisperer is produced for the independent trade to

retail at £11.50.

The Australian Trade Tasting on January 22 features wines from two of Seckford Agencies’ innovative ‘Women in Wine’ on the Focus Table. Impressive owner/winemaker Rebecca Willson at Bremerton will present Selkirk Shiraz (RRP £15.99) and Mollie and Merle Verdelho

(RRP £14.70) as prime examples of Langhorne Creek fruit and style for independent merchants.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 56

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

0207 409 7276

Join us at our 2019 Annual Trade and Media Tasting on the 31st January in London to get to know our range of wines, Champagnes and Cognacs better. This year’s masterclass will be given by Castello Banfi and is called A Tuscan

Experience. It is an introduction to their eclectic range of Tuscan wines paired with produce from their estate and the surrounding region. Booking is essential.

Meet visitors from Louis Latour, Simonnet-Febvre, Henry Fessy, Champagne Gosset,

Cognac Frapin, Vidal-Fleury, Castello Banfi, Viu Manent, Wakefield Wines and Seresin Estate. New wines will include:

• Seresin’s soon-to-be-released Dry Riesling made by new winemaker Tamra KellyWashington.

• From McHenry Hohnen we will have two new single vineyard wines. The lightlyoaked Burnside Sauvignon Blanc and Hazel’s Syrah, a departure from the typical

Margaret River style with its hyper-perfumed nose, with lifted violets, lavender and mulberries entwined with a savoury note of olive tapenade.

• From France we will have new Auxois wines from Simonnet-Febvre including a 100% Pinot Gris.

• Banfi will have samples of its dry Tuscan rosé Cost’é. New to our list for 2019. • Highlights from our 2017 Burgundy En Primeur tasting will also be available. For more details and to reserve your place at the tasting and masterclass please contact

mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600

GUARDIANS OF TIME-HONOURED COGNACS The family-run house of Delamain is one of the oldest Cognac producers, established in 1824. Based in Jarnac. the House of Delamain has for generations,mastered one of the ingredients essential to the creation of great Cognacs: time. With art and patience, Delamain works to craft Cognacs which are recognised as being among the very best in the world. The House is rare in that it produces no VS or VSOP Cognac, and specialises in ageing and maturing only the highest quality Cognacs exclusively from the Grande Champagne region.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 57


AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810


AUSTRALIA DAY TASTINGS 2019 London 22nd Jan 11:00-18:00 Tables 65-70 Edinburgh 28th Jan 13:00-18:00 Tables 2-5 The ABS Australian Portfolio offers a myriad of styles stretching across all the key winegrowing regions of Australia. Visit us at the Australia Day Tastings and taste through the range, from cool climate Tasmanian wines, through ripe rich Barossa reds to the luscious fortified wines of Rutherglen. Our Australia’s best Kept Secrets initiative has its own table offering limited production wines from small, boutique producers. Joining us from Australia this year are Rory Lane (The Story Wines), Inga Lidums(Lobethal Road) and Troy Jones (Payten & Jones).

For further information, please contact Lesley Gray at

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

Join us at the Australia Trade Tastings London on 22 January Edinburgh on 28 January Dublin on 30 January

Sign up at

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 58

bancroft wines Woolyard 54 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7232 5470

@bancroftwines Bancroft Wines’ Annual Portfolio Tasting is back to the Dutch Centre for another

jam-packed day. Join us on Tuesday 12th February from 10am to 6pm to taste with over 10 new producers and a collection of Bancroft classics, in addition to masterclasses, a Burgundy Focus Table, our blind tasting competition, and much more.

New year, new wines

liberty wines

As we begin 2019 we are delighted to welcome to our portfolio Bodega Garzón from Uruguay and the Segal Levant wines from Israel. Both offer customers something more

020 7720 5350

esoteric for Try January and beyond.

Israel is one of the countries that lays claim to being the birthplace of wine, and a

popular source of wines for the Egyptian Pharaohs dating back to the 14th century BC. Now there are around 5,500ha under vine. Alberto Antonini began consulting at Segal

two years ago, and his impact is immediately evident. The Levant wines, produced from


two vineyards in the high-altitude Judean foothills, are the result of this collaboration. The Argaman, a cross of Cinsault and Souzão developed for Israeli

growing conditions, is deep coloured, soft, supple and highly

attractive, while the Colombard is fresh, scented and lifted. Both are certified Kosher.

Bodega Garzón is not only one of the leading wineries in

Uruguay, but also in the whole of South America. We have long admired their wines, so are







by David Gleave MW




delighted to add them to our portfolio. While Tannat is their flagship red variety, as one would expect from Uruguay, they also produce fine examples of Albarino, Viognier, Petit

Verdot and Petit Verdot and Malbec. Their success with these grapes was confirmed by the recent accolade of ‘New World Winery of the Year’ bestowed upon Bodega Garzón by the Wine Enthusiast magazine.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 59


richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550


New agency for RWA Brookfields – An historical Hawke’s Bay estate Founded in 1937, Brookfields Vineyards is Hawke’s Bay’s oldest boutique winery, transformed by Peter Robertson into a leading premium wine producer. Brookfields Bergman Chardonnay 2016

Straw gold in colour with notes of ripe stone fruits on the nose. The palate has depth

and weight from nine months in old French and American oak. Ripe peach and apricot

notes combine with toast and a hint of flint, all complemented by a fresh, citrus acidity. Brookfields Back Block Syrah 2017

The “back block” at the Ohiti estate is a shingle, free-draining terrace which faces northeast perfect for Syrah. A dark ruby colour with sweet berries on the nose. The palate is

round and approachable with notes of blackberries, cloves, pepper and earthy tannins. Brookfields Ohiti Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

The Ohiti estate vineyards lie in an inland heat trap on the bed of the old Ngaruroro

River on gravel soils. An intensely dark wine in the glass with an abundance of black fruits on the nose. The palate is rich and full with notes of ripe bramble fruits, dried herbs and tobacco with some subtle spicy oak and vanilla from 10 months in oak.

Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich

Introducing Calvet Cuvée 1818 – the new Bordeaux AOP icon wine exclusive to the indies Made from a selection of the very best parcels owned by our partner growers

across Bordeaux and transformed into a premium example of Bordeaux style with a contemporary twist by our Calvet winemaker, Benjamin Tueux.

Calvet 1818 is a new launch exclusively for independents, created to

celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Calvet in Bordeaux 200 years ago. To celebrate this major launch, Famille Helfrich is giving indies a special introductory offer on Calvet 1818; buy 11 cases, get one free.

This exciting new icon wine aims to give consumers the opportunity

to discover a stand out AOP Bordeaux that is typical of the region. With his unique blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Benjamin Tueux encapsulates the Bordeaux style.

Full-bodied, well-balanced with silky tannins and a long fruity finish,

Calvet 1818 is approachable as a young wine whilst still having the potential to age exceptionally well for around seven years.

Try before you buy and taste Calvet 1818 at its launch and meet

Benjamin Tueux at the inaugural Famille Helfrich Portfolio Tasting on

25-27 February at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham. Contact to register.

Special introductory launch offer exclusive to indies: Buy 11 cases, get one free.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 60

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

Inspiring wines for Veganuary ... Taittinger Brut Réserve NV Simply put, Taittinger Brut Réserve defines the Taittinger house style. Dry, light and graceful with small, fine bubbles. Fresh citrus fruit and subtle, weightier notes of peach and brioche combine to provide elegance in a glass.

Domaine Carneros Avant Garde Pinot Noir The vanguard of the vintage, heralding the distinctive bright berry qualities of Carneros. Bursting with sumptuous fresh red fruit, this is the freshest of the estate’s Pinot Noirs and is richly fruity and hedonistic. Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon Les Thureaux Great value Sauvignon Blanc from this upand-coming region, packed with intense citrus and pineapple flavours. A must for every Loire lover.

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, Te Awa Collection and Esk Valley, New Zealand · Kleine Zalze, South Africa.



Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538






Win A Trip

New Wines

Keeping our portfolio at the forefront of the industry, we have added an array of new wines from the traditional and esoteric regions of the winemaking world for you to taste for the first time.

Taste through our elemental wine trails, pick one, write a tantalising tasting note and you could win a truffle trip of a lifetime to the south of France!


Elemental Wine Trails

Kerb,Street Food

Based on the four elements, our wine trails are designed to give you inspiration for your wine selection.

Making our event taste better Flavour-packing independent traders, straight from the streets to our tasting.


THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 61


walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665

Catena launches new label for Malbec Argentino Inspired by the history of Malbec, leading Argentinean producer Catena has unveiled a

new label for its Malbec Argentino. A joint venture between Laura Catena and her sister

Adrianna, a historian, the label design depicts four women representing four landmarks in Malbec’s history, including Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is seen at a bridge in Cahors. Two of Catena’s stand-out wines include: Catena Zapata Argentino


Aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, this is a refined and elegant

wine. With mouth-watering flavours of mocha and dark berries leading

to a well-defined and long finish of sweet spice and blueberries, this is a fantastic representation of Argentinean Malbec. Nicolas Catena Zapata

Setting a new standard for Argentina, this is Catena’s iconic wine made

from a careful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Rated highly by Parker, this wine is only created in outstanding years and its inaugural vintage in 1997 won a series of blind tastings against First Growth

Bordeaux. With its complex palate of black cherry and liquorice, and

delicate undertones of violet and spice, this is amazingly concentrated with fine tannins. If you’d like to taste the Catena range, please speak to your account manager.

enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX

Join Enotria&Coe at the

Saatchi Gallery on Tuesday 5th February as we set the agenda for 2019 with an

unrivalled selection of wines and spirits.

020 8961 5161

This year’s extravaganza will

and more than 200 spirits –

be a beautiful, bright and


buzzy blend of over 500 wines something to fill every gap on

your list for 2019 and beyond! If you, like us, are infatuated with the world of wine and

spirits, then this is an event not to be missed. We look

forward to seeing you there, and helping you to discover

the UK’s most comprehensive premium drinks portfolio.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 62

You’re invited Join us as we set the agenda for 2019 with our show-stopping selection of wines and spirits from across the globe. Come along and explore our range of over 500 wines and 200 spirits, talk to the people behind the products, and excite your senses with an entire gallery dedicated to the spirit of the moment – gin.

A day not to be missed! Saatchi Galler y D u ke o f Yo r k ’s H Q K i n g ’s R d London SW3 4RY

10.00 - 17.00 Register now

berkmann wine cellarS

Introducing Yarra Yering and Domaine Tournon Berkmann Wine Cellars is pleased to announce new exclusive agency partnerships with Yarra Yering of the Yarra Valley and Domaine Tournon of Pyrenees/Heathcote.

10-12 Brewery Road London N7 9NH

Yarra Yering

In 1969 Dr Bailey Carrodus founded Yarra Yering after a lengthy search for the perfect

site. He chose deserted but promising territory at the foot of the Warramate Hills in the

London, South, Midlands, South West 020 7670 0972 North & Scotland 01423 357567

Yarra Valley, Victoria. The estate is famous for its iconic red blends: Dry Red Wine No.1

and Dry Red Wine No.2. The cellar door only opens for two days and most of the annual production is sold within the hour. The wines are now crafted by winemaker Sarah Crowe, who in 2017 was named Winemaker of the Year by James Halliday. Domain Tournon

The Chapoutier family has long been a leading light of the Rhône, but in 2009

Chapoutier purchased the Shays Flat and Landsborough Valley estates in the Australian

Pyrenees, giving birth to the wholly-owned Domaine Tournon. Unsurprisingly, the focus

is on Shiraz, which under Chapoutier’s skilled hand manages to evoke the minerality and elegance of the Northern Rhône, whilst still expressing the soil and climate of Victoria. Come and try the wines at the Australia Day Tastings in both London and Edinburgh.


customers we could do without

1. Leonard Bengeda QC … I see you have a bin end. Seems like in your case that’s rather too near the old knuckle, is there anything in here that wouldn’t be out of place in my bin? … Of course I never use a bottle bank, it’s just a detour on the road to landfill on some godforsaken island in the South China Sea, that’s what Sir Norman told me after he chaired the committee … Are you trying to tell me this Beaujolais isn’t past its best? I’ll leave that one for the nouveau fools. A cru you say? I think you may be confusing Beaujolais with Burgundy dear man. Not the same thing at all. So what would you recommend in here? … I once bought a bottle of D.R.C. in a Berry Brothers bin end. Now that was a bin, and that was a wine! And all for the cost of a nice meal at The Swan! Would need a mortgage now … dear me, no, I will not drink Pinot Noir from Chile, no thank you very much, not for all the recycled organic tea in China, if I wanted blackcurrant juice, I’d go to Waitrose, although I hear those Argies are …

(To be continued, inevitably)

This year we are planning buying trips to Hungary, Romania, Austria, southern Italy, Champagne and several other wineproducing regions.

THE WINE MERCHANT January 2019 63

Follow us on Twitter to keep updated: @WineMerchantMag

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