Page 1

THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 77, February 2019

Cat of the Month: Links Bentley’s, Ludlow

Meet Brigitte Bordeaux

Kathryn Stead says goodbye to teaching to start a career in wine: page 20

Independents: a £560m category The independent trade is now worth just under £560m, according to findings in this year’s Wine Merchant reader survey. Although the figure represents an

all-time high for specialist indies, and

comes at a time when store numbers are

continuing to set new records, the total is

just 2.5% above that registered in the 2018 survey.

Per business, average revenue now

stands at just over £832,000, down from

just over £869,000 last year. The median

figure is £435,000, not far off the £431,500 recorded last year.

The figures equate to takings of around

£612,500 per shop, down from £634,700

in the 2018 study. The numbers illustrate that independents have largely struggled to make progress in the past 12 months

and that the growth in the category is

essentially being driven by the contribution of new arrivals and new stores.

This year’s reader survey, organised in

partnership with Hatch Mansfield, had a record response, with 189 independent wine businesses taking part.

• Full survey analysis begins in our March edition.


Inside this month 4 welcome to FEBRUARY Are wine critics really biased

Shed a tear for Oddbins staff – but the truth is, the old model is broken


ddbins is back in administration and, as we went to press, its

against independents?

future looked uncertain. There’s

6 comings & Goings Philglas & Swiggot sold to the Irish off-licence chain O’Briens

14 tried & tested Who wouldn’t love a Riesling by a winemaker called Crazy Fang?

18 david williams What would happen if you put Tim Martin in government?

a great deal of industry affection for

the name – though not necessarily the

modern-day incarnation of the business. And nobody wants to see any more redundancies in drinks retailing. Yet any white knights on the

horizon need to think carefully about what exactly they’re taking on. The trade may

A Brighton institution who’s sick of the sound of his own voice

Rum’s sales are already increasing, so how far can it go?

38 wine on tap Bottles are suddenly looking expensive, and not very green Make a Date, page 42; Supplier Bulletin, page 48

some of them based loosely on the old

Oddbins formula, others which have been fine-tuned to deal with the challenges of the 21st century wine market. But they

add up to a sizeable chunk of the trade, in a sector that has

boomed while Oddbins has


A centralised chain like

Oddbins could never be

dynamic enough, responsive

about Oddbins, and in many

enough or local enough

cases fond memories of

little evidence to suggest that

the wine-buying public feels the

to do what the best indies are doing. Its volume

requirements are too big. Its

infrastructure too clunky. Its


marketing too forced. This is the way wine

First Quench proved that point fairly

terms of its estate. Retail profits are static

To put it bluntly, specialist drinks chains

on the scale of Oddbins no longer work.

32 the spirits world

running specialist independent stores –

have sentimental instincts working there. But there’s

26 butlerS

counted the number of former employees

dramatically in 2009. Supermarkets have cornered the market for everyday wines. Specialist independents, wine clubs and online merchants have gone after the

higher spenders and those who regard

wine as a leisure pursuit. Oddbins, like

Thresher and Victoria Wine before it, is caught in no man’s land.

The irony is that many of Oddbins’

problems have been exacerbated by some of its own people. Nobody has accurately

retailing used to look, but not any longer.

Even Majestic is looking shaky, at least in

and it admits the best it can hope for in

2019 is a performance that is “flat at best”. Long term, it’s hard to see how the stores fit into the plans of an ambitious PLC. So redundancies at Oddbins seem

inevitable, but talent need not be wasted.

The independent trade is not yet saturated and there are opportunities for Oddbins’ best people to join the indie revolution.

They did it in droves in 2011 – and they could probably do it again now.

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 913 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2019 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82



Maybe no tax to pay on cooked wine

for three years.

According to wine importer Daniel

Lambert: “It’s only been rolled out to

two or three freight forwarders and I

Until Brexit is sorted – and that prospect

understand in the first few hours of it

seemed as far away as ever as The

being used it completely collapsed.

Wine Merchant went to press – many

“So CDS doesn’t work and the head of

independents are taking a cautious

HMRC said they wouldn’t be ready for

approach to direct imports.

seven years with a CDS system that does

Although the appetite for shipping from

work for all declarations – not just wine,

producers has been growing, merchants

but everything. People forget there’s

are nervous about over-committing at

40,000 commodity codes on the EMCS

a time when a currency shock remains

system [the EU’s Excise Movement &

possible, and customs arrangements

Is the new Customs Declaration System ready?

machinations and posturing, one importer

British ports once the UK leaves the EU.

thwarted, because there is no system in

Handling of Import & Export Freight


But regardless of the political

believes there is a strong chance that Brexit will be pushed back, and possibly even

place for collecting tax on goods arriving at

The new Customs Declaration Service

(CDS), which replaces the Customs

(CHIEF) system, has been in development

Control System]. And all of that’s got to be replicated, and work, and they need

to collect tax from that. And if they can’t

collect the tax, you’ve got one big problem. “That’s why despite everything that’s

going on I’m convinced they won’t be able to do it. If you can’t collect tax, then the nation’s screwed.”

2nd European Independent Winegrowers Trade Tasting, London The Lindley Hall | Royal Horticultural Hall | Elverton Street | SW1P 2PE London Thursday, 21 March 2019, 10:00am – 6:00 pm

The European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers is the only international association which represents independent winegrowers in Europe. More than 60 estates and 500 wines to taste from family-run estates in France, Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Luxembourg. They will be showcasing a wide range of grape varieties and blends, sparkling and still. Please join us between 10am and 6pm to discover the fantastic and innovative wines that the ECIW members have to offer. BOOK YOUR PLACE ON EVENTBRITE AT: FOR BOOKING VIA EMAIL OR FURTHER INFO:


Tom Innes of Fingal-Rock in Monmouth

is concerned about the prospect of border delays and is bringing forward his orders

from France to avoid any post-Brexit chaos. “I don’t think tariffs are a problem

because after all you get wine from Chile and Australia and all sorts of places,” he says.

“The border thing is going to be a bit of a

problem and so I want to ship immediately before the end of March. I don’t want to

ship during the summer, and I’ll ship in the

autumn, because if there are 50-mile traffic

jams down the auto route, my wine is going

all six of its recommendations to Iceland, though the supermarket that emerged

in pole position was Waitrose, with eight namechecks. Lidl was mentioned four

times, including two reviews for the same wine.

That was the cheapest wine in the

analysis, Chemin des Cigales Grignan-

Les-Adhémar 2017, available for £4.99

in the discounter and suggested by both Fiona Beckett in The Guardian and Jane MacQuitty in The Times.

• Scandinavian wine production has increased due to climate change. In Sweden there are approximately 40 commercial vineyards compared to two just 15 years ago. The Danish can boast an increase of around 80 vineyards since the year 2000.

to cook.”

Criticising the wine critics

It’s a commonly held belief among many


independents that mainstream wine critics give them a raw deal. But is the perception different to the reality? We analysed 10 sets of wine

recommendations published or

broadcast in the final week of January to get a snapshot of the state of play. The publications included the main

Olly Smith’s £40 wine was the week’s most expensive option

Kitchen show.

Naudin-Ferrand Côtes de Beaune reviewed

strike rate of 77%. Fourteen (33%) were

that far in his appearance on Saturday

broadsheets, as well as The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and the BBC’s Saturday

There were 43 wines recommended in

all, and of these 33 came from multiples, a attributed to independents. Nine were from online merchants or wine clubs.

(Some wines were from more than one channel.)

Independents arguably over-indexed

in terms of namechecks. There were 23 indies mentioned in all, ranging from larger concerns such as Oxford Wine

Company, Berry Bros and Yapp to the likes of Vineyards of Sherborne, Chesters and Fareham Wine Cellar.

On January 25 The Telegraph devoted

“Our Man with the Facts”

The most expensive wine was the £40

by Olly Smith in the Mail on Sunday.

Smith didn’t push the boat out quite

Kitchen on January 26. His two wines on that occasion were both from Tesco and priced at £6 and £9, which is unlikely to pacify those who feel the show’s wine

recommendations regularly fall short of the ambition displayed in its recipe ideas.

The average retail price of the 43 wines

in the selection was £13.55. The Sunday Times, with the most expensive set of

recommendations in the selection, came

in comfortably above this with an average price of £18.50.


• The British can take credit for introducing wine to New Zealand. The first grapevines were planted in Kerikeri by Rev Samuel Marsden, a missionary to the North Island, in 1819. It wasn’t until another Brit, James Busby, established his vineyard at nearby Waitangi, that wine was actually made. Busby then found an eager clientele among British troops.

....... • Starlings can eat up to 80g of grapes a day and are among the most voracious bird pests for vignerons.

....... • Sultanas, raisins and currants are viticulture’s second most common commercial product. The UN Food & Agriculture Organisation reported that in 2016, from an available global grape production of 72.6 million tonnes, 35.9 million tonnes went into wine production, and there were 26.8 million tonnes and 6.2 million tonnes of table grapes and dried fruit respectively.

Philglas & Swiggot sold to Irish firm

Knock joins fellow Master of Wine

One of the most beloved of London’s

on Northcote Road in Battersea by Mike

independent wine merchants has been bought by an Irish off-licence chain. Philglas & Swiggot has been acquired by

O’Briens, which has 34 branches across the Republic of Ireland.

Justin Knock MW and business partner

Damien Jackman, who bought the company in 2014, have been kept on by O’Briens.

Lynne Coyle, who works for O’Briens, in overseeing the group’s wine range.

Philglas & Swiggot was founded in 1991

and Karen Rogers and also has a shop in Marylebone. A third shop, in Richmond, was closed.

O’Briens was established in County

Wicklow in 1944 and describes itself as Ireland’s largest family-owned drinks retailer.

The company imports “directly and

exclusively from over 75 wineries

worldwide” and has a range of more than 1,000 wines.

Brendan and Marcus O’Brien are now

listed at Companies House as directors of Philglas & Swiggot, with Knock and Jackman stepping down.

Cohens buzzing at wine opportunity After five years of trading, Janine Pert has sold Discover Wine in Denmead, near Portsmouth. The business has been rebranded by Andrew and Yvonne Cohen, who officially launched Cheers in early January. “We took over in November and wanted

to make the most of Christmas, so we

opened the shop as we found it and ran it to the end of 2018,” explains Andrew. “Then we closed for a couple of weeks

while we did a major refurbishment. It’s quite exciting to be open with the new shop and new name above the door.”

The Cohens previously had a restaurant

and, after selling it two years ago, found they were missing the “buzz”.

“Our main job was to sell food to people

but we realised we really enjoyed selling the wine and that gave us the impetus to open our shop,” Andrew says.

The couple have put together a very

small list, totalling 30 wines at most. They are not selling by the glass – “we haven’t tried to do the wine bar thing, although

it’s something that could develop in the

future” – but all wines will be available to taste.

Andrew says: “We rely on the Vacuvin,

which is enough for us. We had to think

about it carefully because there is a cost

involved in that but the sales we make and Justin Knock MW continues to be responsible for the two London shops


the happiness we generate makes up for the cost of a few tasting samples.”

They found the less-is-more approach

Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing was successful in their restaurant.

“Customers didn’t want to struggle to

make a choice, they wanted a handful of

options at the right prices,” Andrew says.

The emphasis of the business will be on

events and tastings. “It’s a place for people to come and have a good time and meet

friends. It’s a social, enjoyable experience rather than just a shopping experience.

We want to get people excited about trying

some new things and seeing just how good good wine can be.”


’m at the hairdressers, flicking

through a pile of women’s glossy

mags to save myself from being asked

what I’m doing at the weekend (working – just like you). I pick up one called

Rouge with an over-airbrushed actress on the front who swears she’s not had

any work done and glance at articles on a fashion designer describing her favourite things – winters in the Caribbean, eating out at Michelin-star restaurants, £1,000 handbags; “essential” clothes for spring including a fair amount from chi-chi

independent shops; beauty products no

woman can live without – with exclusive creams costing £80 upwards.

Then I come to the Living section.

Weekends in boutique rural retreats;

inside a 30s bungalow converted at no

small expense into a Scandinavian luxury Pastures new for Janine Pert

Pert is now trading as Tipsy Events, a

business model that will allow her to focus on tastings, festivals and wine courses.

She says: “I will still have accounts with

all my suppliers and will be attending lots of London tastings. I am hoping to supply

wine to barn-style venues for weddings etc and I will be running ‘wine experiences’ from a local restaurant.”

Pert will also continue to work

with Debbie and Mick Watts, who are

celebrating their first year at their shop, The Wine Bank in Lee on Solent.

• Totnes Wine Company has completed the addition of its new delicatessen area at its Devon store. The company, bought from Nigel Pound by Julian Packer, is capitalising on the synergies created by Packer’s ownership of Creber’s delicatessen in Tavistock, which is in turn is expanding its selection of wines.

cabin; recipes urging readers to ask their butcher for the best organic meat and liberal use of hard-to-get condiments.

And then I spot a small section on wine –

upsetting its readers – but it isn’t exactly the Guardian. Or maybe it’s because the

editorial team has grown up reading the

glossies and wine is just what you add to fill that pesky single right-hand column

in a food feature. It’s no wonder so many women have a tortuous relationship with wine, vacillating between the

thrill of bottomless Prosecco brunches, Sauvignon-fuelled girls’ nights out

and slavishly following Dry January,

Stoptober, NOvember etc. If these paltry

A millionaire lifestyle, but it seems the wines can’t cost more than eleven quid

250 words on what to drink this month.

wine features focused more on taste,

and every single one from a multiple.

seeing wine as little more than a social

All but one of the wines are under £9,

with the “treat” costing a princely £11

Now I know I have banged on before

about newspaper columns, and wine

merchants do all love to bitch about the obsession TV has with supermarket

cheapies when it actually covers wine.

But in a magazine filled to the brim with

aspirational products and lifestyle goals, why does wine escape such treatment? Why is price the determining factor on

wine but not on anything else within the

pages I’ve just read? Why are women still so short-changed when it comes to wine recommendations in magazines like this (especially when the piece is written by a woman)?

Perhaps the editorial team is scared of


sensation and stories, not just cost,

then perhaps more women would stop lubricant.

I’m so irritated when I get back to the

shop, I fire off a letter to the magazine. In my head, I’ve forced an emergency editorial conference and I’ll soon be included in a feature on

“women in the world of wine”. New female

customers will flock through

my door, asking me to recommend some

top-shelf whites. In reality, I hear nothing for months until one day I receive a short email congratulating me on winning star

letter. The prize? A £25 Majestic voucher.

The acid test for natural wines Huddersfield is on the natural wine map thanks to the efforts of Duncan Sime and Ola Dabrowska, whose Kwas shop and bar has recently opened in a railway arch in the town. Sime will be continuing in his full-

we’re not competition and we’ll send each other customers.

“We don’t have a massive amount of

knowledge about wine but this is our

journey and we’re taking people with us.

We’ll have some fun, and what’s the worst that could happen?”

• Bridport independent Wessex Wines is on the market following the decision of owner

time job at Magic Rock Brewery while

Michael Farmer to retire. The business is

was inspired by Buon Vino in Settle and

mix of trade and retail customers.

Dabrowska takes charge of the day-to-

day running of the new venture, which

based on a trading estate off the town centre and has been open since the 1970s, serving a

on castors so the space can be opened up

for events. The shop will be rebranded as NY Wines.

Young says the move has been in the

offing since August 2017 but the buying

and planning process has taken a while to complete.

He is planning a more ambitious food

offer than most wine bars and says

the business hopes to offer hot meals

rather than just the familiar cheese and charcuterie platters.

• Olde World Wines, the shop and wine

Wayward Wines in Chapel Allerton.

bar based in Rye, Sussex, is up for sale.

lambic beers,” says Sime. “I got a bit bored

of £19,000, according to sales particulars.

The business has a turnover of just under

“My love of natural wine has come

through beer, especially the sour and

£100,000 and achieves an annual net profit

Orla really liked wine so we found a middle

Au revoir but not adieu to Timperley

of the hoppy stuff that was around. And ground in some of the stranger wines.

“But it’s not all weird stuff – I got warned

by our distributors not to go too crazy on

Corks Out has closed its Timperley

people because they might not get it.

branch, which had been trading in

“Natural wine is a loose tag – we’re

calling it ‘real wine’. We’re telling people

Stockport Road for 10 years.

not to alienate people. If someone comes

bar, which was sandwiched between a

it’s chemical-free and they’ve been quite

The company opted not to renew

surprised by that. We’ve got to be careful

the lease on the hybrid shop and wine

made a conscious effort to try and play it a


in and wants a Malbec or whatever we’ve tiny bit safe.”

Les Caves de Pyrene and Under the

Bonnet are the main two suppliers to the

business. “We’re interested in getting some Czech wines,” Sime says. “Basket Press,

Newcomer Wines and Modal Wines are next on our list.”

Sainsbury’s Local and a branch of Costa Huddersfield’s newest wine venue

Hot news: Noel Young to relocate

In a Facebook message, Corks Out said it

was “on the look-out for a new site in the south Manchester area so hopefully we’ll be back open soon”.

• Warren Wines in Twickenham is closing, blaming the bumpy economic climate for

Noel Young Wines is set for a major

its decision. Owner James Hamlett says:

the Polish word for acid – has already

transformation this spring, with a

“With Brexit, the decline of the high street

move from its Trumpington base on the

and people’s uncertainty of the direction of

Huddersfield’s most famous merchant,

outskirts of Cambridge to the village of

the UK market we have decided it is time to


Great Shelford a mile and a half away.

close our doors.”

mentioned us in his newsletter,” says Sime. “I’ve got a lot of time for Rob – he’s been

be two-thirds shop, one-third bar, with

covers for around 30 people, as well as 20

Kwas – which takes its name from

struck up a friendly relationship with

“Rob’s been so supportive of us and he’s

there and done it. He’s amazing. He knows

The new 1,600 square foot premises will

outside seats. Shelving will be constructed


The decision had been taken “with heavy hearts”, he said. The business launched in March 2015 and will cease trading next month.

Mentzendorff Annual Portfolio Tasting Thursday 14th March 2019 10:00am - 5:00pm One Great George Street London, sw1p 3aa featuring A sustainability seminar & panel discussion Hosted by Peter Richards MW a buffet lunch will be served between 12:30 and 14:30

RSVP to rebecca herbert t: 0207 840 3600 e: rebecca@mentzendorff.


Former Cooden site is a wine shop again Eastbourne has a new wine shop with the opening of Levels, a sister business to the Sussex town’s Cru restaurant. Cru owner Hardy Ovaisi has teamed up

with Alistair Coulthurst, until recently

operations manager at Las Bodegas, to establish the new business.

Levels occupies the unit at the back of

the Grand Hotel that was once home to

Cooden Cellars, the independent wine shop which closed in 2014.

The premises includes ground floor

seating and a refurbished basement

that will be used for tasting events and

possibly live music. Entertainment above

stairs comes courtesy of a turntable and a selection of LPs.

Ovaisi says he was interested in the unit

as soon as he heard it was available but would not have proceeded without the granting of an on-licence.

“People might just come here for a coffee

but they end up talking about wine and

Alistair Coulthurst and Hardy Ovaisi

buying a couple of bottles,” he says. “Or

week for retail.

Real Ale on its way to Notting Hill


he says. “We saw that at Cru – and at Cru we’ve got food. We haven’t got that here,

Real Ale is set to open its third shop

for wine, but when they do they’ll have an

about the new location in Notting Hill.

business can coexist with Eastbourne’s

but it’s still got its soul. It’s buzzy and

people come in for a corporate do or a

fondue night and again end up buying a “We love music and it certainly helps

having music on in a wine shop. We’ve all been in that old-school wine shop

where you open the door, the bell rings

and immediately somebody gets up from behind a desk and you feel awkward straight away. Music just breaks that barrier.

“We’ve got a really eclectic range of vinyl

and the idea is that anyone can come in

“Eastbourne’s a really tough market

to captivate with something like wine,”

so it’s about finding other ways of getting people in who wouldn’t necessarily come enjoyable experience with wine.”

The pair say they believe the new

existing independent wine shop, Artisvin.

• The English Wine Centre near Alfriston,

and put on something they like.”

Sussex, is on the market for the second time

Although the majority of wine is sold for

shop and restaurant, is expected to fetch

Wine plays a central role at Cru, which is

in just over a year. The business, which

just under a mile away in the town centre.

trades as a wedding venue as well as a wine

that Cru typically sells six to 15 cases a

Blackman acquired the business in 2018.

on-premise consumption, Ovaisi reports

up to £1.3m at auction. Robert and Annette


in March and its retail manager, Tim Peyton, says the team is “very excited” “Golborne Road is one of my favourite

roads in London,” he says. “It’s gentrified very multicultural. It’s ideal for what

we’re doing: craft beer, natural wine and interesting fun things.”

At 1,500 square feet, the premises

is larger than the Maida Vale and

Twickenham branches and Peyton says this has enabled on-premise capacity to double. Ale on tap to take away has long been

part of the business at the original


THE BURNING QUESTION Twickenham store, and is also a feature at Notting Hill, along with wine by the glass.

How hard is it now to find decent wine to retail under £10?

A four-bottle Enomatic will be installed at

I sell significant quantities of wine for under 10 quid but it is harder to source. I’m gradually trying to push them up over the £10 mark and for some things that’s fine. Ten pounds is a bit of a barrier and people quite often won’t pay more. Years ago, £10 bought you a very nice bottle and some people still have that in their heads and so that is their limit. If they have been buying something regularly and they like it and it goes up from £9.95 to £11.95 they will still buy it.

the Golborne Road site and customers will be able to help themselves while listening to records in the seating area.

“We think the Enomatic will work well

for the more expensive wines. It’s a good

way for them to try more expensive things

without us having to open a bottle and worry about wastage,” says Peyton.

“We are tweaking the look of the new

store. Our other shops have very functional scaffolding planks, but we are going

slightly more bespoke, with slimmer

scaffolding and shelving and we’re using a local designer to do the work for us.”

The business would “definitely like to

open some more branches, maybe another one this year or another couple next year,”

Tom Innes Fingal-Rock, Monmouth

We’ve got quite a lot under £15 and probably about three under £10. We used to have a lot more under £10, but is it really worth trying to compete with supermarkets and corner shops? Our most popular wines are priced between £15 and £20. Bizarrely, the best value ones we have come from Italy. We’ve got a pair from Puglia, a Trebbiano and a Sangiovese, and they are the cheapest – which is unusual, because normally you would expect Chile.

according to Peyton.

Ben Williams In Vino Veritas, Walthamstow, London

Ely closing day for Oz-bound couple

It is becoming harder but we’ve got quite a lot of wines still hovering in the £9 area. When we import direct, that definitely helps. You have to start looking further afield. I’ve bought wine in Moldova before and although the transport costs were very high, the quality-value ratio was excellent. Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova … I’d love to be bringing stuff in and wholesaling to get the numbers up, but we’re not at that scale yet.

Anglia Wines in Ely has closed following the decision of owners Matthew and Kate Street to return home to Australia. The couple bought the business in 2014,

four years after it first opened.

Dylan Rowlands Gwin Dylanwad Wine, Dolgellau

We ship most of our wine direct, which helps. In the shop our entry-level wine retails at about £8. We mainly look to France [for value], southern France particularly – Chile also comes into it and there is some good entry-level stuff from Spain. South Africa is under a lot of economic pressure at the moment and so prices are rising. The serious drought has meant that supplies of red wine in particular have been difficult. But there is still tremendous value in South Africa if you like heavy reds. Peter Watts Peter Watts Wines, Colchester

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584 Store first opened in 2010


End of an era at Wine Utopia

Owner Tony Miceli is a Hitchin native

and says he identified the need for a venue where people could enjoy a quiet drink.

“Hitchin has lots of lively environments,

Counting Christmases is as good a

but nowhere where someone can actually

way as any of expressing longevity in

speak to their partner,” he says. “I’m

a career at the coal face of wine retail.

creating an ambience where you can have

When Rachel Gibson at Wine Utopia in

a conversation and drink some very good

Hampshire calculated that she had just

quality wines.”

“racked up 20 years of Christmas retail

Miceli admits that he knows “nothing”

management in wine,” she thought it

about wine, but he has ensured the

was a good time to move on. Rachel Gibson

business is populated with staff who do

that kept the relationships, but meant

which has branches in Winchester and

wine list and who will be on hand, along

manager for Huia arose “completely out of

for tastings and events in a consultancy

“I love all my New Zealand stuff and I

wanted to do something in the wine trade stepping away from retail,” she says.

An opportunity to be the UK brand

the blue”. Huia was the first winery in New Zealand Gibson visited 15 years ago and she attributes her love of premium New

Zealand wine to that experience and the subsequent friendship she has with the winemakers Claire and Michael Allan.

Her new role, will be providing support

to the account managers at Bibendum,

“doing events, tasting and training with

independents and restaurants,” she says. Gibson says although she no longer

has a formal connection to Wine Utopia,

. T H E D R AY M A N .

Stockbridge, they are “maintaining a close relationship and I will still be around capacity if they need me”.

Richard Milward has stepped up from

his role as commercial and sales director at Wine Utopia to MD.

Art of conversation thrives in Hitchin Hitchin welcomed Uva, a new wine bar and shop which opened just in time to benefit from the Christmas trade.

have plenty of wine knowledge. He has

a sommelier, Mark, who has curated the with the manager, Francesca, to advise

customers both in the shop and at local events.

“We’ve got an Enomatic machine, which

is the only one in the area. We’ll vary the eight bottles in there,” says Miceli. “We

currently have a range of 60 wines, 50 of which are available by the glass. We’re

definitely getting good trade at the bar and more people are starting to come in to buy and take away as well.”

Uva also stocks a range of vodkas and

craft beers – and so far the coffee machine has proved to be a welcome addition with the locals.

Beavertown, which Heineken took a £40m

issues at stake here: what’s the point

stake in last year, takes its name from the old

of continuing to sell Beavertown’s

cockney corruption of De Beauvoir Town in

undoubtedly fine Gamma Ray, just as a for

the East End.

instance, if Big Beer’s involvement fires the

Such deals have been the cause of

potential for it to have multibuy deals in

considerable consternation among the

Tesco and slabs of cans in Asda?.

greater beer community and, it has to be

customers have at least a toe or two in the


t clearly helps small brewers to have

former category, however, and such deals

to occupy their space on independent

a reference in their name to London,

have been enough for many bars and some

shelves. Boycott-esque shot selection is

or somewhere in it, if the exit strategy

off-trade retailers to turn their backs on the

the watchword because not all of them will

one-time hip micros.

be making great beer – but many will and

said, great swathes of indifference from most

Big beer, little beer

of the beer drinking population. Chances are that many independent drink shop


is to sell all or part of the company to a major. Camden Town, Brixton and London

This is usually reported as being some

he good news is that for every Beavertown that takes the money there are dozens of local brewers

– over 2,000 nationally and counting –

deserve their chance to put somewhere

Fields have all been on the shopping

form of moral stance against “selling-out”

other than a trendy London borough on the

lists of multinationals recently, and even

though there are more straightforward



Wine Shop Porn Tables await diners at Bottles Italian wine bar in Old Spitalfields Market. The business is a joint venture between wine merchant Bottles & Battles and SOOD Family, the pop-up restaurant operator.

Quadrupled shop space for Watts Peter Watts Wines has dramatically increased its sales area to include room for tastings – and the eponymous owner of the Colchester business says it has given the company “a lot more scope” to develop retail sales. “We opened a new shop just before

Christmas on the front of our building,” explains Watts. “The old shop was on

the back of the building and hadn’t been changed for 35 years. It was really small

and our new shop has now given us about

four times that size.”

that Christmas proves to be an exception.

business accounts for just 20% of turnover,

for something special. In some cases they

Mainly an importer and wholesaler,

Watts says that the retail side of the

but he says “the profit margins are much

higher, so we do want to increase that side, which will affect our overall profitability”. To be sole agent for many of the wines

shipped, and to have the advantage of

working with the same producers for over 30 years, is a covetable USP and Watts is hoping the increased tasting events and

retail opportunities will capitalise on that. He acknowledges the role the

supermarkets play in the buying habits

of his customers but is pleased to report


“We find a lot of our private clients coming into the shop over Christmas are looking don’t come to us much during the year,

they go to the supermarkets and get the cheap stuff, but they come in December

and they don’t seem at all worried about

paying £20 or £30 a bottle for something a bit special.

“The multiples don’t have the special

wines, the top quality small domaine Burgundies, which we have.

“We sold a lot of white Burgundy over

Christmas: Puligny and ChassagneMontrachet, things like that.”


Kanaan Winery Ningxia Riesling 2017

Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2016

Winemaker Wang Fang – known as Crazy Fang – is on

Pinot fan failing to enjoy the flagship wine of Sam

a mission to produce great wines in China’s Ningxia region, and on this evidence it’s looking like an

achievable goal. Beautifully fresh, with acidity that

balances rather than pierces the fruit, it’s a wine with a lovely texture and a gentle spicy tang on the finish. RRP: £25.99

ABV: 14%

It’s hard to imagine anyone who calls themselves a Neill’s Central Otago project, which continues to

showcase New Zealand’s deftness with a capricious variety. Spicy, herby and supremely elegant, with a

long and consistent palate, it’s a warm and savoury

affair that rewards some hard work from Neill’s team. RRP: £29.99

ABV: 13%

Liberty Wines (020 7720 5350)

Fells (01442 870900)

Domaine Faiveley La Framboisière Monopole 2017

Viña Echeverria Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2017

Maybe the name inspires a little auto-suggestion, but

There’s almost a decadent thrill tasting Cabernet that’s

producer’s Mercurey monopoles since 1933. Gentle

juicy, bloody sweetness is quite arresting and makes

even so – there’s no mistaking the explosion of pure red fruits here. Framboisière has been one of this family accents of leather, and maybe flowers, and a classy

restraint on the palate help explain its enduring success. RRP: £30.50

ABV: 13.5%

Maisons Marques et Domaines (0208 812 3380)

unencumbered by wood (this Curico Valley wine gets three to four months in neutral oak, but hey ho). The

the mind wander far from vegan ambitions. Apparently named by an American magazine as “best burger wine”. RRP: £9.99

ABV: 13.5%

Hallgarten (01582 722538)

Loveblock Pinot Gris 2018

Segal Judean Hills Levant Argaman 2017

Another New Zealand producer that continues to impress, Loveblock is Kim and Erica’s Crawford’s

Winemaker Avi Feldstein sounds like our kind of guy

Gris, with the palate filled out – though not dominated

with Argaman, a crossing of Souzão and Carignan,

organic winery in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough.

Naturally fermented in stainless steel, it’s quite a bold – by 7.1g of residual sugar. A wine that makes you salivate for spicy food. RRP: £18

ABV: 13%

– a former journalist, poet and barman now doing

his thing at one of Israel’s oldest wineries. Working

he’s crafted a breezy, medium-bodied red with a slight candy cushion and a savoury note on the finish. RRP: £12.99

The Knotted Vine (07710 598340)

ABV: 12.5%

Liberty Wines (020 7720 5350)

Gérard Bertrand Terroir Picpoul de Pinet 2018

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2016

Six months of lees ageing certainly leaves its mark

Admittedly we’re at the (relatively) budget end of the

seem to owe something to the landscape as well as to

effortless and regal-tasting wine – rounded and

on this delicious and refreshing release from the

Languedoc legend, but the firm, stony texture would

Bertrand’s undisputed winemaking nous. A lovely sour, herbal element adds to the fun. RRP: £13.99

ABV: 13%

Hallgarten (01582 722538)

Schlumberger scale here, with a variety that doesn’t

always set the pulse racing. But what a simple, almost

pleasantly creamy, with melt-in-the-mouth apple fruit and a distant bitter note as it gently fades. RRP: £16

ABV: 13.5%

Maisons Marques et Domaines (0208 812 3380)



THE NIAGARA GARAGISTES From humble beginnings, Westcott Vineyards is now making world-class cool-climate wines


ost UK merchants who get to try the best wines from the Niagara Peninsula are impressed by the quality, but often put off by the prices. Westcott Vineyards, a family business run by Grant Westcott and Carolyn Hurst, has taken a more pragmatic view of the UK market. At £20.99 on the shelf, the Estate Chardonnay and Estate Pinot Noir being brought in by Daniel Lambert Wines represent staggering value for such world-class wines. “They’re already proving to be really popular in the UK,” Lambert reports. “We’ve opened 12 accounts in the first two weeks. The feedback we’ve had from all of the indies who’ve taken these wines so far has been far and beyond what we’d expect to see on something that’s new. “It’s a fantastic product that’s really giving Burgundy a serious run for its money. The Pinot Noir is on a par with something like a Volnay, style-wise and quality-wise.” The wines have won favourable reviews from Jancis Robinson, Stephen Spurrier and Jamie Goode. “We have also had waves of UK and Hong Kong-based sommeliers touring the Bench area of the Niagara Peninsula,” says Hurst. “So hopefully the word is slowly getting out that the Niagara Peninsula is a great place to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the Bench is developing as the sub-appellation to watch.”

DISCOVER THE WINES 2015 Estate Pinot Noir £20.99 Earthy, woodsy and smoky, this delightfully rich update on Westcott’s earlier vintages greatly benefits from whole-cluster native fermentations. The oak is muted, encouraging fresh fruit flavours of blackberry, violet, sweet spice and black liquorice. Pleasant tannins and bright accents of vanilla, toast and dark berries. 2017 Estate Chardonnay £20.99 Notes of baked apple, spice and an edge of pineapple leaves the palate wonderfully stimulated. The wine is simultaneously dry and sturdy, yet creamy and rather curvy. The delightful texture and bottom notes hinting of honeycomb and brioche are followed by a sustained finish.


riginally from London, Hurst considers herself a Niagara native and had a career in tech before she and Westcott – a former senior executive in the banking and federal government sectors – decided to create a wine business. They found a 40-acre site in the Vinemount Ridge Appellation, south of Toronto, which they knew would be ideal for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards they had been planning, and set to work. The first vintage, in 2012, was made, garagiste-style, in a barn with no electricity as permission had not yet been granted for the new winery which is now home. The vineyard, by nature and design, produces about two tonnes to the acre. Sustainable viticulture practices are in place and the team works painstakingly to produce a natural balance in the soil and the vines. Wine production in 2018 from estate fruit stands at about 4,000 cases. In 2018, the Butlers’ Grant Vineyard joined the Westcott family. It’s another 40-acre property, set on Bench land with its back to the escarpment in the south. Facing north, the view is of Lake Ontario and the Toronto skyline in the distance. The couple’s children, Garett and Victoria, are both now part of the business, and the family is striving to enhance its growing reputation for cool-climate expertise. Taste the Westcott wines at the Daniel Lambert Portfolio

Tasting on February 18 at Novotel Hotel, Paddington. RSVP to Westcott will also be attending the annual Wines of Canada trade tasting in London on May 16.

Keeping it in the family: Garett, Victoria, Grant and Carolyn Westcott




Oddbins calls in the administrators Hundreds of jobs are at risk as the owner of Oddbins and Wine Cellar lines up administrators for the second time in less than 10 years. European Food Brokers, which has

owned Oddbins since the chain’s previous

Richard Constantinou The Square, Warwick Favourite wine on my list Though we have an ever-changing wine list we do have a few stalwarts. My favourite is the Ontañon Organic Rioja: fruity and spicy with a smooth and long finish. It always seems to suit my mood.

Favourite wine and food match Around the corner is a beautiful little restaurant called Lobster. I love sharing a fresh spicy gingery chicken noodle and some dim sum takeaway with customers and it sits so nicely with our Gavi di Gavi from La Battistina.

collapse in 2011, has filed a notice of

intention to appoint Duff & Phelps to handle an insolvency.

The move threatens more than 500 jobs

at the company’s subsidiaries, including Wine Cellar Trading and Whittals Wine Merchants.

Operating just over 100 off-licences, EFB

is preparing for a pre-pack administration, under which a buyer would be lined up to

cocktails, coffee and beer too.

Wetherspoons ban on European wine The boss of JD Wetherspoon, Tim

Champagne and Prosecco and replaced

and beers from his 900 pubs in favour

Last year, Wetherspoons removed Moët

them with sparkling wines from England and Australia.

The Drinks Business, January 23

Online wine seller suspends trading Online retailers Wine Direct and Just in Cases have ceased trading after their

support since. I can’t speak highly

fantastic wine, but also provides brilliant

Telegraph, January 28

Sky News, January 28

to July 31.

our first menu and has been a constant

Wine Company in Bude not only has

sent cost prices rocketing

and Chile.

was instrumental in working with us for

which is perfect. The North Coast

had outpaced supply which in turn had

net loss of just over £4m in the 18 months

Two stand-outs have been Hamish

have a light snack with a few bottles,

for bottles – particularly green bottles –

of bottles from the UK, the US, Australia

Robertson from Moreno wines, who

lovely selection – you can also sit in and

According to industry sources, demand

prospective buyers, the business made a

According to information seen by

Favourite wine trade person

Favourite wine shop

faced “dire” cost increases.

Brexit, has removed all European wines

winery. Such lovely people.

In Vino Veritas in Walthamstow has a

course to surge after suppliers said they

& Phelps’ appointment.

to Mallorca and the Bodegas Macia Batle

always with new exciting things to share.

The Grocer said wine prices were on

Martin, an outspoken supporter of

One particularly nice occasion was a trip

either. Another constant support and


take on the business immediately after Duff

Favourite wine trip

enough of Daniel Whiskin from Boutinot

steep increases in costs caused by

Don’t drop it, they cost a fortune

Glass shortage may push up bottle costs A glass bottle shortage is likely to push up the price of wine, a report has predicted. Wine industry experts issued the

warning after glass suppliers predicted


parent company, Fermentation Ltd, was placed into administration. Administrators are weighing up the

options available to the company with

respect to the sale of its businesses and

assets. While this is taking place, trading has been temporarily suspended.

The news follows months of complaints

relating to alleged missing orders and overcharging.

The Drinks Business, January 29

> THE WINEMAKER FILES Ed Carr, House of Arras

Ed, English-born but an Australian since the age of eight, now heads up Accolade’s sparkling wine production down under. He is the driving force behind the House of Arras brand, making award-winning sparklers from Tasmanian fruit

I graduated in chemistry and microbiology and just assumed I’d be in the food industry somewhere, in a white coat, for the rest of my life. That was in the late 70s. There was a job going at a winery called Seaview and I thought, this looks a

bit different, a bit daring. Because it was a small concern I got more involved in the winemaking.

Seaview was a progressive sparkling wine company. They wanted me to look at issues to do with secondary fermention and I later became sparkling winemaker. From there I joined BRL Hardy in 1994 and we started Arras in 1995 to try and

make a really good Australian sparkling wine. And it’s evolved into this whole brand. All our top-end wines are traditional method. I think transfer method does

get unfairly maligned. If you put the same wine through both methods and your

filtration system from tank to tank is modern, you’d see very little difference. You’d lose a little bit of texture. Traditional method is I think gentler on the wine.

Tasmania has the ideal climate for the style of wine we want to make at Arras. Our style is pretty rich, I guess; we get the fruit quite ripe. We try to build on that with 100% malo and about 10% new oak in the blends so it’s not a shy sort of

style. Then building that extra age on it makes it really what the brand’s all about.

We want them to have elegance and structure but they’re not that lean, pale, acidic aperitif sort of style. They mix pretty well with a lot of good food.

We’ve got some really aged wines that have got down to 2g and 3g as final sugar level. Our current releases are in the extra brut band, around 5g and 6g. We don’t have a zero dosage label. We try and get a balance of tannin, sugar and acid.

I’ve always been a fan of old complex sparkling styles. The biggest surprise for

us with Tasmanian sparkling wine is its longevity. We’ve got a 2001 museum-release blanc de blancs which was 15 years on lees and it’s as fresh as a daisy.

We do keep referencing Champagne because people always want to talk about it. We’re using the same varieties and the traditional method but we’re trying to

make an elegant sparkling wine that represents the terroir it comes from. It’s not a

copy of Champagne. I’m quite happy for any of our sparkling wines to be put on the

House of Arras Brut Elite RRP: £28 This is the youngest of the wines, with a red-fruit drive on it – about 45% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Meunier. We’re one of the few producers finding that Pinot Meunier works really well in some of the younger blends. The balance of that is Chardonnay. The wine has plushness and relatively early drinkability.

House of Arras Grand Vintage 2008 RRP: £35 This was the original wine of the whole Arras concept. It’s always been predominantly Chardonnay. It’s a minimum seven years on lees so it’s really pushing that flavour profile into aged Chardonnay, which for Tasmania is toast, mushrooms, oyster, butter and biscuit. A very fine and elegant wine.

House of Arras Late Disgorged Vintage 2004 RRP: £99 For this wine we use the same base wine as the Grand Vintage but we keep it back on tirage for longer. We work pretty hard on the wines to make them lean and tight so they don’t blow away. It is down to the natural acidity of the cold-climate fruit.

bench next to a Champagne. This is our interpretation and style – you choose!

House of Arras is imported into the UK by Fine Wine Partners

THE WINE MERCHANT november FEBRUARY 2019 2018 17 11

07552 291045


Real people, real lager The future is bright in post-Brexit Britain as a new political class wrests control from the liberal elite and bans imports of anything that reeks of the dark European age. What follows is a forecast of how events will play out in the glorious new era


t’s late 2020, 18 long months after the UK has left the EU without a deal. Tim Martin, the newly appointed business

minister in the emergency government

headed by Prime Minister Piers Morgan

(or PM2 as he now prefers to be known), is launching his first major initiative to

an enthusiastic audience of yellow-vested followers from the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe.

The initiative he has chosen to kick off

his ministerial career deals with a sector that is dear to the pubco boss-turned-

politician’s heart – and the speech draws on the content of a series of pro-no deal

Brexit talks he delivered in a countrywide

tour of more than 100 of his Wetherspoon pubs in early 2019, months before the

Britain, no claret, no Burgundy, Sherry,

or Port – and most certainly no German bloody Riesling!”

Once the cheers and chants of “lager,

lager” subside, Martin continues: “We don’t need them, do we? We can broaden our horizons, by looking the other way!

‘We demand the right to get pissed on our own booze, from our own country and our own empire!’ “And you know what? Our customers

Battle of Dover and the Scottish Rebellion

don’t miss any of it. And why would they,

Party’s now-familiar logo (a bulldog

and, yes, British BRITISH sparkling wine.”

had begun. Taking the stage dressed in a

T-shirt emblazoned with the Real People’s flicking two v-signs) to loud cheers, he

when they’ve got Aussie Shiraz, Kiwi

Sauvignon Blanc, Californian Cabernet –



shown what a truly global Britain can truly

bray “hear, hear” as they uncork a bottle of

begins with a declaration. “January 1, 2021, will be day zero for the drinks

“As some of you, most of you – no, all of

you! – will know, in my own pubs we have look like.

“There is no Champagne in this global

ore loud cheers fill the

Southbank sky. To the right

of the stage, Culture, Sport &

War Minister Ian Botham and Chancellor of the Exchequer Aaron Banks grin and

Botham’s McLaren Vale Shiraz. “Well, this

government, which as you know is run not


by politicians, but by real people, with real skills, and real life experience in the real world, is now going to bring that policy

to all drinks companies in the UK. In my

white paper Making a Global British Drinks

Industry: More Global, More British, we will introduce a ban on all prejudicial drinks

imports.” More cheers, more chants, and

a fecal stink as packets of Brie and Parma ham are burned in the audience.

“For too long, European drinks producers

have had too much say, too much power, in British pubs and off-licences. As ever

with the Europeans, it’s all been a bit sly. They’ve been tricky buggers – Brussels knew that the way to enslave us was

through our mouths and stomachs. But

the tongues and bellies of Britain have had enough! It’s time that came to an end. We

demand the right to get pissed on our own booze, from our own country and our own empire!

“And so, from January 1, 2021, in this

glorious independent country we now

thankfully live in, it will be illegal to trade, buy, or in any way access or distribute

wine, beer, spirits or alcoholic drinks of

any kind from any country in the European Union. For the first time in this proud

country’s proud history, we will be free of pretentious French reds where you don’t

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

even know what grape variety you’re

drinking, free of Italian wines that you

can’t really trust where they’ve come from quite frankly can you, and free of anything German at all!”


s Martin finishes, his beaming

red face glistening like a freshly glazed ham in the bright

theatrical lights, he is embraced by Botham and Banks, and the Real People’s Party’s familiar anthem, Status Quo’s Whatever

You Want, pumps loudly, endlessly from the speakers, while an animated RPP bulldog

flicks its Vs repeatedly to the rhythm on the screen behind them.

The reaction in the press later the

following day is supportive. “Up Yours Côte d’Or” is the headline in The Sun, while new trade press title, The Great British Harpers Drinks Business & Trade Review Weekly or

Sometimes Monthly goes for “Government’s

ban on European alcoholic drinks including

wine, spirits, such as gin, vodka and

brandy, beer and cider is widely and indeed warmly welcomed by the trade.”

What the press and the public don’t

know, however, is what happens after Martin leaves the Globe that evening.

Eschewing his chauffeur-driven ministerial car, Martin instead slips through the stage door and takes the unlit, crime-infested

path along the Southbank, past the latest, vast Wetherspoons (formerly the Tate Modern).

Soon he comes across a group of

haggard-looking men and women huddled round a flaming dustbin outside a burnt-

out pizza restaurant in what was, but a few months before, known as Gabriel’s Wharf. “Come, come inside,” a particularly

wild-eyed member of the group, dressed in stained and ragged Paul Smith shirt

and jeans, says. “We have Burgundy, the

good stuff, Vosne-Romanée, Riesling from Hengst, ham from Bayonne, Comté. We


have natural Nebbiolo and mature Gran Reserva Rioja.”

Martin follows the scraggly man to an old

store cupboard, where a figure wrapped in blankets is sitting at a card table, sipping from a chipped mug of Madeira. He pulls out an envelope filled with 100 crisp

50-pound notes. “Give me a bottle apiece

of the Lynch-Bages ’96 and the Salon ’02,” Martin says.

“That’ll be £5,000, or €50 – we’d prefer

the euros, obviously,” the shadowy figure

says. “Plus a little extra to keep things nice

and secret, Mr Martin – shall we say £1,000 or €10 – your choice. Either way it’s a snip compared to what we charge Boris and

Nigel. Atkin – find the gentleman his wines, please.”

Martin hands over the euros, and stashes

the bottles in an inside pocket of his

voluminous RPP-branded anorak. “Thanks Mrs Robinson,” he says. “A pleasure doing business with you.”

Bacchus Carving up cava

Dafydd Morris at Cheers in Swansea has been working hard for the past few years to get Prosecco lovers to trade up to cava. Vilarnau, with its Gaudi-designed label, became a particular success story. “It looked amazing and for a long time it was the easiest sell,” says Morris. “People loved the bottle. The fact that it was £9.99 didn’t matter, even though Prosecco was £7.99 at the time.” Even when the retail price crept above the £10 mark and the Cheers team had to go back to hand-selling, the hard work paid off. Although the price was now a penny short of £11, Vilarnau was still one of the company’s top-selling fizzes. When a customer pointed out that Vilarnau was now gracing the shelves of Tesco, Morris was “a bit miffed” but initially not overly worried, since the supermarket price was a quid dearer at £11.99. “But then three weeks before Christmas it was down to £8.99 in Tesco with 25% off if you bought six,” he says. “It worked out you could buy a bottle of Vilarnau for £6.25. So after all that work I’d done over two and a half years, getting a product over a tenner to still be worth its value, the rug has been pulled out from under us.” Supplier Gonzalez Byass UK has clarified that the Tesco version of Vilarnau does not have the organic credentials of the wine supplied to indies. But Morris isn’t pacified by that sort of detail. “How the hell am I meant

to convince a customer that a bottle that looks exactly the same has got different juice in it and that’s the only reason it’s cheaper?” he says. “It’s absolutely wiped the market clean and everybody thinks you can buy cava for £6.25 again. Why would you do that as a cava producer? It’s completely devalued the product. “The worst thing was I had just sold an estate agent 110 bottles of it to give to their customers as Christmas presents. I sent him an invoice for over a grand and technically he could have gone to Tesco and got the wine for £625. It’s made me look absolutely stupid.”

Brigitte the second

Original names for wine shops are in short supply, with most available puns either already taken or deemed too uncool and obvious by a new breed of Instagramming indies. So the arrival of Brigitte Bordeaux in Sherwood was met with a polite round of applause in the Wine Merchant office, especially when it was explained that among the rejected names was Marilyn Merlot. But wait! Was there something familiar about the handle of Kathryn Stead’s new venture? It turns out that there was. There’s no reason why Kat would have known it, but down in the Surrey Hills, Brigitte Bordeaux is the moniker lovingly applied to the 1972 Citroen H van used by Taurus Wines as its mobile bar.

School’s out as wine


athryn Stead is not missing life as a secondary school

English teacher – a career that came to an end after 15

years with the opening of her new wine shop and bar in

Sherwood, Nottingham.

“It definitely feels like the right decision. It’s a completely

different lifestyle and a big change but I’m loving it so far,” she says.

The shop is called Brigitte Bordeaux, a name that will already be

familiar to many wine lovers in the Nottingham area.

Stead has been jointly running a local wine club for some time

and blogs under the Brigitte Bordeaux nom-de-plume. When the

opportunity came along to open her own business, it seemed like the natural choice of name.

“This was always something that I wanted to do but never really

thought it would happen,” she says. “I just saw the premises last

January and thought it would be ideal for what we wanted to do, so started investigating.




The own-label wines are sourced from small producers in Bordeaux


e dream comes true


“We opened in December and it’s been great so far. The local


community seems really positive about it and really pleased to have it in Sherwood.”

So far the business has seen a 50-50 split between its retail

and on-premise revenues. “We’re just sucking it and seeing how

it goes,” Stead says. “We get a lot of people in the shop during the

day to buy wine and in the evening it’s more of a bar. We’ll need to analyse the figures but at the moment both seem to be working.” Stead is hoping to start offering meat and cheese platters this

month once the small kitchen area is completed by builders.

The 200-strong wine range includes a bespoke selection of

Bordeaux wines under the Brigitte label, sourced for the business

by a small Derbyshire-based importer with connections to organic producers in the French region.

The best-selling wine is currently Brigitte Rouge, made by

Château Haut Roc. The range also includes own-label crémant, rosé and white wines and is likely to be extended, Stead says.









Rising Stars Sandy Whitford Cheers, Swansea


obody can be in two places at once so there comes a time in every growing business when it’s crucial to let go and entrust someone else with a key role. Dafydd Morris at Cheers in Swansea describes Sandy Whitford as a “godsend” and says his appointment as on-trade accounts manager has meant the wholesale business has grown by 50%. “Sandy joined us from his family shoe business,” explains Dafydd. “I was quite happy that he didn’t have any wine knowledge because, coming in fresh, he had no preconceptions and he’s learned so much about wine in the year and a half that he’s been with us. “He had the same ethos as us in terms of care and attention to customers, which is what we like more than anything.” Sandy says: “It was a new role at Cheers, so it was a little bit of trial and error when I began. Andrew and Dafydd have been very trusting in allowing me to make the role what I feel it should be – obviously with their guidance.” Morris admits he was spreading himself a little too thinly, running two shops and a warehouse while expanding the wholesale operation. “We had to find someone and Sandy was the perfect guy. He’s brilliant. He’s such a nice guy and the most accommodating person I’ve worked with. We didn’t realise at the time how important someone like that could be and it’s made us look at other roles in the business and whether we need to fill those with suitable people as well. He’s been a bit of a revelation for Cheers,” says Dafydd. Sandy adds: “It’s been fantastic because the people I deal with have been very forthcoming and positive, which makes my job much easier. Dafydd and Andrew have been very positive, not just towards me but to all the staff. They are very keen for us to learn and progress. They send us on courses and they are always available to answer any queries. I love working in the wine industry and feel very fortunate to be able to do so for Cheers.”


‘I cannot drink

Mike Oldfield is a successful wine merchant. He’s also a rec how he came to recognise he had a problem, how he’s deal


usiness is booming for Mike Oldfield. At a time when

Sandy wins a bottle of Glenfarclas ‘105’ Cask Strength Single Highland Malt. To nominate a rising star in your business, email

many wine merchants are happy just to be treading

water, takings at M&M Personal Vintners in Evesham are

up 20% over the course of the year. It’s a year in which Oldfield has not consumed a single drop of alcohol.

The benefits aren’t just financial. “I don’t shake,” Oldfield says.

“I remember all my conversations now, and I’m not losing clients because I’m sending them the wrong thing.”

Oldfield, 46, is honest enough to identify himself as a recovering

alcoholic, dealing day by day with a problem that once threatened


© TheVisualsYouNeed /

‘Some people would say I wasn’t a true alcoholic because I wasn’t on a park bench. But the only difference between me and a park-bench drunk is that I had a company sofa’ “So that’s already getting up to 90 units, but in between times I

might also have a brandy, or a whisky, or a beer. It got to the point when I was actually having a brandy at 10 o’clock in the morning. Brandy in coffee … it’s very European, isn’t it? Very dignified.

“I caught myself once actually drinking from the bottle. And

I thought – ooh, I might have a problem here. I thought, that’s

OK, I know how to correct it – I’ll get myself a glass. This is how the mind works. It’s delusional. Alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful.”

If family, friends or clients noticed there was a problem, they

didn’t want to mention it, and Oldfield had ways of disguising his alcoholism.

“Some people would say, ‘you’re shaking a bit’. Yeah, I’m a bit

cold. You make excuses. ‘You OK Mike? You seem a bit nervous. You’re shaking.’ Oh, it’s all right, it’s a bit chilly. It’s denial.”

The word “alcoholic” wasn’t one that Oldfield associated

says alcoholics are often also workaholics. “They’ve got to do everything to excess”


covering alcoholic. In this candid interview, he explains ing with it, and why he won’t be changing career

to destroy his business as well as his family life. As with

everybody in the wine trade, surrounded by alcohol all of the time, temptation was never far away.

“Some people would say I wasn’t a true alcoholic because I

wasn’t on a park bench,” he says. “I hadn’t lost my house, I hadn’t lost my job, I hadn’t lost my wife, I hadn’t lost my family – yet.

“I would have a couple of glasses of wine at lunchtime; a couple

of glasses of wine maybe in early evening. I would basically have a

bottle of wine throughout the day, and then I’d have another bottle of wine at home, so that’s 14 bottles of wine a week on average.

with himself at the time. He was just about holding together a

successful business, not sleeping rough. But now he accepts “the

only difference between me and a park-bench drunk is that I had a company sofa”.

He adds: “Generally speaking you’ll find that alcoholics are

successful business people dedicated to work – workaholics – and they’ve got to do everything to excess.”

He’s able to laugh at what brought him to his lowest ebb.

“Some people believe they were born with it. I don’t believe so,

personally. I just think at the end of the day I was a greedy bastard and I just liked it too much.”


ldfield decided to seek help. The recovery plan

essentially involved cutting out alcohol altogether.

“Alcohol is a poison and will kill you quickly if you’re

lucky and kill you very slowly if you’re unlucky,” he says. “I cannot drink responsibly so that’s why I cannot drink at all.”

Oldfield has learned that alcohol is mentally as well as physically


“You’ve got to bear in mind that alcoholism is actually a

progressive disease. It’s not just about stopping, it’s about


Continues page 24

‘I wasn’t a vommer. I hadn’t got to that stage. But even 11 and a half months on, I would say a good day is when I don’t have a thought about alcohol’

Wouldn’t it be easier to find another job? Maybe, he says – if

someone could identify another career that rewards him as

well as his wine business is doing. Why, he asks, should his wife and family be expected to get by on a lower income because of problems that they were in no way responsible for?

Life, and work, have improved dramatically. “When I look at my

results now on the business front, by not drinking I’ve got that

head start because I haven’t got that hangover in the morning,” he says.

“I can remember everything. I don’t need to apologise for my

actions. I don’t need to worry that I’ve upset a customer with a

From page 23

addressing why you drank to that level. I’ve known people go into rehab and be drinking within 24 hours. Because it’s a compulsion and it’s about learning how to deal with that compulsion to pick up the drink.

“When you’re an alcoholic and you haven’t had a drink for that

day, your mind will start to deceive you. Let’s say for example

you’ve gone a week without alcohol, or a month without having a drink at all, and you’ve got through that physical reaction, the sweating, the insanity of it, the shakes. You pass that – so the

physical addiction has gone. But then your mind will tell you that it wasn’t as bad as it really used to be.”

In the early stages of abstinence, Oldfield (pictured below) would

literally measure his success by the hour. Days came later. “I wasn’t what they term a vommer,” he says. “A vommer is someone who

would drink alcohol and then basically throw up and then drink more alcohol so it would stay down and they could get on with their day.

“I wasn’t like that. I hadn’t got to that stage. But I was still an

alcoholic because even 11 and a half months on, I would say a good day is when I don’t have a thought about alcohol.”


ow can anyone running a fine wine

business continue doing their job, and stay sane, as a recovering alcoholic?

Oldfield’s answer, in part, is to maintain a slightly abstract view of the product he sells.

He’s still responsible for buying, but limits his tasting duties to eight or 10 wines at a time. The spittoon is back in active service and

he’s careful to rinse his palate thoroughly between wines. The process is made

easier by the support he’s receiving, and

by tapping into what Oldfield describes as

“a higher power”, though he’s quick to point out that in his case this isn’t necessarily

a religious experience. It’s just a way of

feeling less alone in his struggle not to slip

back into old habits.

flippant remark.

“If I put how I feel today out of 10 I would say 9.5, and the only

thing that I have to do is not pick up that drink today. That’s what

you have to do. I can’t think about not drinking in 10 months’ time or three years’ time. I’m not designed to deal with that.

“The only problem is that once you stop drinking, how do you

deal with situations that used to baffle you? Because I was actually pissed most of the time, or just topped up, I used to deal with situations in a different way than I deal with them now.

“My tolerance levels are a lot higher. I haven’t had an argument

with my wife in 11 months. Not an angry word. Because I’ve

learned tolerance, I’ve learned respect, and I’ve learned about putting other people first before myself. At the end of the day they’ve had to deal with all sorts of shit that I mostly can’t remember, because I was drunk.”

KNOW WHEN TO SEEK HELP “People working in the alcohol trade, whether it’s bar managers or brewers, have a unique relationship with booze,” says Mark Leyshon, senior policy officer at Alcohol Change UK. “For bar staff, who will spend most of their working day surrounded by alcohol, the jury is still out whether the amount of alcohol readily available actually equates to a higher risk of problems. “For those running an alcohol business, being ‘the boss’ can mean long hours and financial pressures that can lead to stress and anxiety. What might begin as reaching for a relaxing glass of the stock at the end of a tough day can quickly descend into heavy drinking to cope with the pressures of managing work and family life.” Irrespective of occupation, there are clear tell-tale signs when drinking is becoming a problem, Leyshon says. “For example, if you find yourself drinking alcohol earlier in the day than you used to, you are hiding your drinking from others, or you are choosing drinking over your other responsibilities, then it may be time to reach out for help.” Anyone who wants to check how healthy their drinking is can complete a drinking quiz at “Think of it as an alcohol MOT,” Leyshon suggests. “If you would like more support, your GP is a good place to start, but you can also go directly to your local alcohol services. “Find out about the many options available on our website. There’s lots of information there if you’re concerned about someone else’s drinking too.”



Butlers is a Brighton institution, run by a man in nail varnish who sometimes uses images of Ming the Merciless for publicity photos. But don’t look for gimmicks. This is old-school wine retailing in a residential area of the seaside city, and Henry Butler has been embedded in the local community all his life

be the generation that lets it slip out your hands.”

His father’s health issues meant Butler

was effectively running the shop with his mother for a while. Later he bought their shares in the business.

Muesli Mo Henry Butl

The shop isn’t in a part of Brighton that

casual visitors would know. It’s near the top of a steep hill, on the fringes of the

trendy residential Hanover area (at one

time known locally as Muesli Mountain)

and a short hop from the racecourse. It’s


enry Butler considers his

earliest experiences of alcohol. “The first wines my brother

and I would have enjoyed would have been German wines or sweet Loires, but nice

ones. Looking back at it realistically,” he

suggests, “they were probably way better than I could afford now.”

Butler’s father started a wine business

in Brighton as a sideline to his day-job in

the London whisky trade. “I’d be in there helping out for pocket money,” Butler

remembers. “I sort of got into it. I knew

all the first growths and got to see all the German wines and tried to pronounce them.

“I’d help make up the orders, which

a compact space, though bigger than the satellite branch in nearby Kemp Town. Bottles are stacked on the floor and

displayed in rudimentary wooden shelves, without tasting notes or many obvious

buying cues. Clearly this is a place where

talking to staff is difficult to avoid, and you

get the impression that suits Butler and his team just fine.

With the business about to celebrate its

40th birthday, it’s fair to call it a Brighton institution, though Butler is the first to

acknowledge that the city’s wine scene is now much more vibrant and competitive than it once was. He’s also keen to share any credit for his success with partner

Cassie and the rest of the Butlers team.

What kind of learning curve did you go

would come in by letter. People would

through when you were starting to go it

collectors. The house was full of wine all of

I learnt and that was OK. You don’t fully

come in and collect or dad would send


the time.”

understand it, but you learn enough to

things across the country or abroad to

Henry: I was out of my depth. The wine bit

A career in wine was by no means

keep things going. But then learning how

inevitable. “I’ve done stupid jobs,” Butler

says. “I got up to A-levels but mainly I was

playing football and organising club nights. I did part-time jobs and then dad needed help here, so I thought I’d do it for six months and didn’t really leave.

“That’s a good thing and a bad thing,

really. It’s good to take on a family business and the responsibility in one sense. But

also a bit of a burden as you don’t want to

to run a business and do everything – that was quite hard, and mum and I muddled through.

bought her out.

away. People might assume it was handed


she didn’t want to, but she stayed on to

maybe too scared to change it and make it

The turning point was when mum and

dad separated around 2000 and dad moved

Do you think you made any catastrophic

to me, but I had to buy him out at market

Henry: I think maybe it was an error not

make sure I was OK. Then she left and I

my own. I thought I should carry it on as

value. Mum stayed on. Really in hindsight


to be bold enough. I was too cautious and


ountain memoirs: tler’s life in wine

because if at some point we sell it that will be a problem.

When did the Kemp Town shop come along? Henry: That was about eight years ago at a time where there were loads of empty units and all the rents were revised

downwards. It’s still not ideal but it raised our profile a lot because people see us on the high street.

You don’t come up to this area unless

you’re really ill and you’re on your way

to hospital. Parking is OK if you live here, but it’s so complicated. We have to move vehicles three times a day and there are

multiple different restrictions on one road

and people see signs and just don’t pull up. In Kemp Town it’s pretty tough as well

and the bigger lorries won’t deliver there

at all – you can’t leave a pallet by the road. They either leave it here or last year we took on Big Yellow Storage, which is a

similar cost to the rent of the shop really, but it removes all the logistical issues. It

has coincided with increased wholesaling so logistically it’s made life a lot better.

What’s the breakdown of wholesale and retail? Henry: It’s 75% retail including internet and 25% wholesale.

On your website you list some pretty impressive on-trade accounts. Are you cherry-picking the ones you want? Henry Butler and Cassie Gould, Brighton, January 2019

it was. I ended up thinking “I don’t really

the place now?

probably carry on”. I should have made a

long I do know a lot of people and I do a lot

want to do that, but that’s the way we’ve

Henry: The team and Cassie run it really,

bit more of a dramatic change to things. I

of stuff in Brighton so people know who I

done it for years and it works so I should sort of regret that.

Do you feel that you have your stamp on

but because I’ve been in Brighton for so am.

I do realise that I’m the character of

the business, I suppose – I try not to be,


Cassie: They are coming into us rather than the other way round. It’s not just

coffee shops who are wanting four random bottles of Merlot and Pinot Grigio.

We are going to be more selective going

into this year. We’ve got some quite big

accounts and we import quite a bit of our

own wine so we can buy better and supply Continues page 28


From page 27

our numerous accounts more effectively. The Grand Hotel has become a really

good account. That was bought by an

‘I’d like to import more but I can’t always afford it and logistically it doesn’t always make sense’

independent so it’s got some buying power at last. So we’ve got our own wine list in the GB1 restaurant and we do training there.

Henry: Cassie has built up the wholesaling. It’s dominated by Bibendum and Enotria

here; HT White as well. I assume reps just walk around with wads of cash in their

back pockets and chase us around to see

if they can undercut our accounts. But we

have found that some of the independents wanted a different wine list.

Cassie: We have exclusivity on lines as

well, where we import stuff. We have some funky stuff and we’re very competitive on

pricing. I don’t know whether people have

suddenly realised we are not an expensive

independent or whether it’s that everyone has had to increase prices and ours have been fairly consistent …

How do you manage that? Surely everyone has had to put their prices up? Cassie: I think it’s because we were slightly

higher than some of them previously – now everything has sort of come back full circle. We import a lot ourselves and we are

part of the Vindependents so we can add margins onto things that no one else has got.

Brighton now has a wealth of wine merchants and wider eating-out options

How does your importing work? Henry: A lot of it is through the

Vindependents and we do bits and bobs ourselves but I guess we have become a

bit more cautious with that during all this

nonsense going on. We’ve held back a little. When the exchange rate is so shite and

we have to hold a large amount of stock,

you think for the returns it’s probably not worth it.

I got a bit caught out [directly after the

referendum] and didn’t adjust pricing

quickly enough so we took a bit of a hit. We probably made a loss on some of it.

It’s constantly trying to manage cash

flow. Because we are quite small, all these things are chunky bills. And sometimes when we’ve imported wines, you think

they’re going to work and they are slow


and sluggish and you’re not shifting them quickly enough and it takes a while to

establish them. I’d like to import more but I can’t always afford it and logistically it doesn’t always make sense.

Are you buying more stuff through the Vindies? Henry: We are. It hasn’t always worked for


us I would say. I guess I didn’t get the wines to work properly but recently, particularly over the last 18 months, we’ve really

kicked on with it and we are ordering regularly and we’re not finding we’ve

clashed with other Vindependents in our

area [Toby Peirce at Quaff, which has shops in Brighton and Hove, is also a member].

Cassie: With wholesale it’s good because of the margins and we can give people exclusivity on things, but we normally

have to have a three-month order lead for shipping. So if they suddenly start flying

through hundreds of bottles you have to be really careful.

Cassie: A supplier had clearly run out

There are more Brighton wine

bottles for an event on Saturday, and

Henry: I remain positive and I’m not going

of lines, but we had no notice. We’re

merchants than ever – do you see the

nobody’s told us they’ve run out of stock.

to say anything negative about any of these

supplying trade accounts who need 60

others around town?

They must have known they were low.

people. It has changed a lot and being a

There are some suppliers who have

taken on new business. We’ve been

with them since the beginning but we’re

bumped down the list of priorities and our stuff is going wrong.

Henry: We’re not asking for anything over the top – it’s just communication.

Brightonian and a consumer, it’s got to be better to have more exciting things to do. It’s the same with restaurants – the

quality level and the offering is much better. It’s annoying I suppose when

Continues page 30

Henry: We’ve got a bit more synchronised with the Vindependents and have a bit

more of a plan and they are holding more stock in bond. It’s just trying to get into a

rhythm with the ordering and the shipping times and making sure we’re thinking ahead.

What’s your relationship like with UK suppliers? Henry: It’s always tricky when there’s a

bit of a crossover and they say a wine is

not going in a supermarket, but it does. If

someone just supplies supermarkets, then that’s brilliant because you know where

you are. If they just supply independents, brilliant – you know where you are. It’s

simple then. The crossover bit just makes it awkward.

We’ve got so many suppliers, way more

than we need, and it’s nice to have them

and the opportunity to buy loads of nice

wines. But as soon as people are rude or start cocking up that’s a reason to stop. Cassie: We do a lot of our business on

the relationships with the people and it

becomes personal. But if we’re selling your wines we expect honesty in return, that’s the least you can do.

Henry: That was the potential downfall

of this Christmas – we had some supply issues.

Butler bought the business, which is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary, from his parents



From page 29

someone else opens up; it just dilutes our customer base a bit and whatever people say, they are generally quite lazy and will

just go to the nearest, most convenient one. There was a period of time when tiny

little internet-only things were popping up and that’s annoying because they’re not really working and they probably

don’t need to make the money out of it

but they’re doing a bit of damage. At least when it’s bricks and mortar and you can see it, you know people are committed.

Cassie: There’s room for everybody and I

see the competition as a challenge, so let’s do something different. Let’s make sure

The shop is between Muesli Mountain and the racecourse

our suppliers aren’t supplying the same

wines to the other independents – that’s key for us.

Henry: If we haven’t got something,

we always send them to another local

independent. Especially if they’re awkward – we tell them to go and speak to Toby!

People might expect to find lots of really weird and eclectic stuff but there are some real classics on the shelves. Henry: We’ve got 1,800 different lines but we mainly sell Prosecco, Malbec, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

When dad was involved it was lots of

vintages of Bordeaux, lots of vintages of Burgundy, Port and German wines, old

Champagnes, stuff like that. We haven’t got so much of that – I’d love to have some of

those but they are so expensive now I don’t think we have punters who would take

The retail area is compact, but bigger than that of its Kemp Town satellite


With Portugal people can have a

come in they see expensive wines. But we

Henry: A little bit. We’ve found that with

. I guess we have a massive quantity of

problem pronouncing the grape

Burgundy and Californian and when people

varieties – do you just bypass that?

probably one of our success stories.

regions are they can think about the

have shit loads of Portuguese which are

In terms of shelving – I’m crap at doing

the shop, and making it look cool.

people visiting and knowing where the

weather and we can tie that to the style of the wine. If it’s near the Atlantic it’s a bit


cooler and crisper; if you go inland a bit it’s really hot, so the wine is a bit bigger and

richer. And they can get their heads around that.

Vinho Verde: we’ve never sold as much

as that in a lifetime as we did this last

year. It’s a winner. There’s one for £9.99 from Raymond Reynolds, you can’t get


‘My friend, an estate agent, uses us as a selling point: This is why you need to move to Hanover. I’ve always seen us as being part of the community’

enough of it. They can get their heads

raising awareness and money for charity

Rioja, which to them means all red wine

housing estate.]

around Albariño and we can have that

conversation. They come in and ask for a

as well. [Butlers raises funds for the Crew

Club youth centre in Whitehawk, a nearby

from Spain; they’ll ask for a Douro red,

Henry: That’s been brilliant actually. We

them onto other bits.

involved with other things which we’ve

which we don’t have a lot of, but that’s a

conversation starter and then we can guide Let’s deal in some Brighton stereotypes for a moment. Are you selling lots of vegan, biodynamic and natural wines? Cassie: People don’t understand it, but they are asking for it. We are just developing

our website now and we are trying to be a

lot more educational with the information we are putting forward. And we’re doing a lot more blogs and sending things out with our mailing lists, so there’s a little bit more information so

people can know what they

have to run a business as we have to

make an income, but it’s allowed us to get always wanted to do. We supplied wine

to the old people at Christmas. The kids

dressed up and served them tea and cake and sherry.

Cassie: Henry was invited as a local

celebrity to take part in a Strictly Come

Dancing competition. He had to train for

eight weeks and learn a dance routine and get on stage at the Hilton and dance with some professionals.

Henry: People don’t want us to close down, ever. My friend who is an estate agent uses us as a

mean when they come in,

selling point: “This is why

and we can deliver on their

you need to move into


Hanover”. I’ve always seen us as being part of the

Are you doing a lot of


outreach work? Is it a constant job to take the

What comes next for

business beyond the four



Henry: The business has

Henry: Yes it is. I do quite

a lot of speaking stuff and

I do like it but towards the

changed over the last

couple of years and if we

could swap the two shops

end of last year I was bored of my own

for one big all-singing, all-dancing shop,

sharing the load.

property to be available. So there’s a lot of

voice and I didn’t want to talk about wine

anymore. It’s PR really and I could do with

Cassie: We use the business as a vehicle for

that would make our lives easier.

That requires a load of money and

ifs and buts.



2. Pascal Dubois President Pascal joins Champagne Devaux as incoming president, taking over from Laurent Gillet, who retires in March after over 30 years with the company From first contact with Devaux, I was impressed by the work of Laurent Gillet and his team in the Côte des Bar. I was seduced by the quality of the wines and the family spirit of the winegrowers who have worked for generations to raise the profile of this region. Devaux is supplied by 80 winegrower families that have worked with the brand for decades and know how demanding we are in the vineyard, in order to make a “Terroir Champagne” that respects the environment. Today, we have more than 169 hectares that are certified sustainable. In addition, we have 30 hectares that are certified organic, and our Coeur des Bar cuvée (currently under Organic conversion) will be officially labelled as Côte des Bar Organic from the 2018 tirage. Champagne is a very much about the blend. And that is key at Devaux, given that our Collection D wines comprise 40% reserve wines. That said, all our blends have at their heart the Pinot Noir of the Côte des Bar. Authenticity is the signature of the Côte des Bar and Devaux is an artisanal Champagne made by growers. Our authenticity provides an alternative to big brand champagnes. Devaux is known as a gastronomic Champagne thanks to its long ageing of a minimum five years for the Cuvée D, and seven years for the Cuvée D in magnum.

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


© lizfernandezg /

William Grant Market Report put off-

trade value sales ahead by almost 5%

on volumes that rose 1%, a performance that in normal circumstances would be considered perfectly reasonable for a £350m category.

But these are far from ordinary times.

Though the fortunes of various spirit

types don’t have the wider socio-economic significance of Brexit, the phenomenal

rise of the nation’s juniper-based – and

arguably most quintessentially British –

spirit has left the trade looking not just for the next big thing, but the next gin.

Charlie Gibbs, boss of Gateshead’s

Steampunk distillery, which released

Voodoo spiced rum last year, is realistic Rum sales were up 5% last year in the take-home trade

The rum deal What are the chances of rum succeeding gin as the hottest property in the spirits market? Nigel Huddleston considers its prospects


part from football managers, there are probably few jobs

where the weight of expectation

hangs as heavily as on someone trying to flog rum in the UK. The sugar cane

spirit in all its various guises is the drinks

industry’s eternal next big thing, an

albatross that weighs a little heavier on the shoulders after the unprecedented recent

growth trajectories achieved by the likes of gin and Prosecco.

In truth, rum is doing OK. Last year’s

and says expectations have to be reined in. “I don’t think rum will be as big as gin in

the UK because it does not have the same

history for British drinkers as gin does,” he says.

“The rise of gin festivals helped make

gin drinking an event which people bought into. Whenever new demand is created,

new suppliers will spring up to meet that.

But he suggests: “There are rum festivals

now which people may attend because

they’ve attended gin festivals in the past

and that virtuous circle may begin again.”


t’s perhaps helpful when assessing rum’s potential to deal in specifics.

Rum’s strength lies in its diversity of

styles and its versatility for mixing, and

some types of rum have been contributing


scotch whisky


brewer and distiller hop to it

a rye smile from the highlands

coming for clooney

The worlds of small-batch gin and craft beer collide in a collaboration between Purity Brewing of Warwickshire and Turncoat, a distillery set up by the founder of Liverpool Craft Beer Co. Cascade gin is made with hops of that variety from Purity’s own stores and has a “cardamom backbone”.

Scotland’s Arbikie distillery has launched what it claims is the first rye whisky produced in the country in over a century. Arbikie Highland Rye also has malted barley and wheat in the grain bill, using crops grown on the farm run by the Stirling family that owns the distillery, based near Arbroath. The whisky is finished in ex-Pedro Ximénez wine casks.


The latest entrant in the burgeoning tequila market is a British-owned start-up openly declaring its intention to “take on giants such as [George, founder of Casamigos] Clooney and Diageo”. Enemigo comes in 89 Añejo Cristalino and 00 Extra Añejo styles, aged for one and three years respectively.

‘Consumers are discovering different styles, production techniques, regional characteristics and alternative serves’

more than others to recent growth.

Spiced rums are up by about 13% a year

and golden rums by 11%, but dark rums

are slightly off the pace of rum growth as a whole. White rum, the Bacardi-dominated segment, is actually in decline.

Neptune is a golden rum made from pure

sugar cane molasses at the acclaimed Four Square Distillery in Barbados and takes a little bit of inspiration from other spirits

categories by being aged in bourbon casks for up to eight years.

“We want consumers to be aware that

there are other brands out there to explore and not focus on the obvious big brands,”

says founder Richard Davies, “but instead

to look for something of higher quality and taste.”

Davies thinks Neptune is good enough

to drink neat on the rocks as well as in a host of rum cocktails. Just as is the case

with wine, he says it’s important to talk to consumers about things like provenance and back stories.

“Shoppers now specifically look for

spirits that do this,” he says. “This has

evolved into a trend where they are buying

into premium and craft options, something that is true not only for the rum market, but the entire category.

“Shops need something to stand out and

up to the discerning customer.”


mily Gosling, global brand ambassador for Gosling’s

No. 2

Bermuda rum, sold in the UK

through Love Drinks, is convinced that

2019 really is the year for rum to dominate the trade’s thoughts.

“I do get the feeling that we are on the

cusp of something big,” she says. “There is strong growth, plenty of innovation

and most importantly, a UK consumer

captivated by the craft behind food and drink products.

“While many consumers have only just

started to scratch the surface of rum,

others are now discovering the different styles, production techniques, regional characteristics and alternative serves.

“It’s such a versatile drink with great

The growing popularity of the classic Negroni has brought a welcome sense of gravitas to a cocktail market increasingly drenched in frippery and novelty, and done wonders for Campari sales into the bargain. Replacing gin – yes, you heard – with mezcal, from the rustic, earthy end of the Mexican spirits spectrum, ratchets things up a bit further. Mezcal is to tequila what Islay is to the rest of Scotch whisky, so it gives whole experience a smoky air of mystery.

depth and heritage to the category, which is what consumers are searching out.”

It will be a bold retailer, however, who

immediately takes their rum range down the same route as many have done with

gin. But it might just happen, says Gosling. “Rum menus have been very successful

25ml mezcal 25ml Campari 25ml sweet vermouth Orange slice halved

in the on-trade so I see no reason why

similar promotions couldn’t work in retail

to tempt consumers to discover something new,” she says.

Put all the liquid ingredients in an Old Fashioned glass or tumbler and fill with ice. Give the whole thing a good stir and garnish with the orange. Simple as!

scotch whisky


scotland meets sicily

a taste of galicia

The Highland distillery Tullibardine has released its second wine-barrel finished whisky. The Murray Marsala Finish takes a whisky aged in Italy in first-fill bourbon casks and puts it for a final year in wood previously used to store the Sicilian wine. The 2006 whisky follows a Murray Châteauneuf-duPape whisky released last year.

A gin with a spirit base made from Galician Albariño grapes has been given a UK launch by Craftwork, the fledgling agency company headed by former Gonzalez Byass marketing boss Jeremy Rockett. Six of the 11 botanicals in Nordés Atlantic are also from Galicia, including samphire to add a salty, maritime feel.



A SINGLE MALT FROM A SINGLE DISTILLERY Glenfarclas has won a following among independents by keeping things simple


ow does George Grant, sixthgeneration custodian of

Glenfarclas Highland Whisky,

take his Scotch? He responds with a

knowing laugh. “It depends where you

are,” he says. “People say serve it on its own at room temperature, but room

temperature in Scotland is different to room temperature in Delhi. There’s a 25-degree swing.

“You could add an ice cube to a whisky

– but in Scotland, the next morning it will still be there.”

The truth is, Grant is relaxed about

however people choose to enjoy

Glenfarclas or any other Scotch. Have it

with Coke if that’s what you enjoy – “but if you’re buying a 40 or 50-year-old

Glenfarclas buys used Oloroso sherry barrels to add extra character to its Highland malts

Glenfarclas and mixing it with Coke, then

or advertised on television with prices

is exactly what it says on the label: a single

have more of a connection with them.”

that’s definitely wrong,” he concedes.

Glenfarclas is, Grant says, “a whisky that

malt from a single distillery. We don’t add any colouring, we don’t add any caramel. It’s matured in sherry casks and it’s a

whisky that has a very good balance to it.” Distributed by Pol Roger Portfolio,

Glenfarclas has found an eager audience

in the independent trade. “The last thing that independent shops want to do is to

stock brands that are sold in supermarkets

quoted,” Grant says. “Independent stores want things that are more exclusive and

Sales are booming in the UK and around

the world, with the acclaimed ‘105’ Cask Strength Single Malt leading the way,

followed by the 12-year-old and 10-yearold expressions.

“Quite often we’ll do bottlings specifically

for the independents,” Grant reports.

“Three different merchants might get together and buy a cask. But we also

continue to bring out new and exclusive items. The 22-year-old ‘105’ was only

available through independent retailers. Family casks continue to come out – the 30- and 40-year-old are sold through independents as well.”

With interest in spirits in general on

George Grant

the increase, Glenfarclas is tapping into a

consumer mindset that’s keen to make new discoveries and to learn about the product.


“You’re definitely seeing more and more

independents starting up their own whisky clubs, certainly up here in Scotland but down south as well,” says Grant.

“We’re able to do special bottlings for

them and things like that or let them buy limited-edition whiskies. Independent

shops are even bringing tour groups – in some cases 20 or 30 people every year.

You’re building up ambassadors within that club, and with that retailer.”

Find out more For more information visit or or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Glenfarclas; @Pol_Roger


The staff of dreams Any merchant who broadens their offer to include on-premise sales has some decisions to make about staffing. Even if the project doesn’t extend to hot meals and table service, it’s likely that changes to employee numbers – and duties – will be required


taff can make or break the

reputation of any business. It’s

perhaps particularly true in an on-

premise environment, where the quality of service will either ensure customers enjoy themselves or they don’t.

Any merchant that makes the

progression from classic retail to a hybrid format will have to make a call about

whether or not to take on new staff, and what roles they will perform.

Jon Campbell at DeFine Food & Wine

in Sandiway, Cheshire, has been there and done that, expanding his shop to

include a deli and kitchen. “I was just a wine merchant for the best part of 16

years,” he says, “so it’s much more … not

overwhelming, but you are spinning a lot of plates, quite literally.”

Zoe Brodie and Fitz Spencer’s Honky

Tonk Wine Library in Plymouth offered

table service from the start. They haven’t yet worked a summer, which the couple

predict will be their peak trading time, so they currently have four staff members,

three of whom are happy to operate on a casual basis until the summer kicks in.

Brodie explains. “At the moment they

have other jobs and what we’re trying to

do now is get them in occasionally, as and when we need them, because we know

come the summer time, we will need them The extension at DeFine Food & Wine in Cheshire had implications for staffing


a lot. We want to know by the time we get

busy that they understand the system and know how we work.”

© Igor /

Brodie puts time into the recruitment

process. “We have a look at their Facebook page to see what type of person they are socially,” she says. “We want people who

can interact well with our customers and make them feel comfortable. When they

join us, it doesn’t matter if they don’t have any wine knowledge – that’s something that can be learned.”

“It is a different skill set from a

traditional retail assistant,” says Campbell at DeFine. “We go predominantly for

personality – people with a bit of spark

Specialist HR consultants can help manage staff contracts

and who are engaging in some way. Wine

that, it’s really difficult to put your prices

we’re doing Level 2 at the moment so we

and admits she lost a bit of trade as a

knowledge is something we can build on

and share. We run WSET classes here and put our staff through that. Everyone has

a certain amount of wine knowledge and there are experts on hand if need be.”


he “burden of red tape”, as Campbell describes it, is something that requires

considerable attention and monitoring,

and this applies to staff contracts as ell as higher-profile issues like food hygiene.

“Maternity leave and things like that for

a small business can be quite troublesome,” he says. There are specialised services

available to smaller businesses to ease that burden. For example, Campbell has a parttime HR consultant to ensure he remains on top of contracts and staffing issues. But staff costs are a burden that not

every business can sustain. In Newark, Ann Hayes at Ann et Vin describes her decision to move away from table service and cut back on her staff as “wonderful”.

For Hayes, it was about getting the

pricing right from the outset. “I guess table service is lovely to offer but obviously

it costs you more money, and if you can


result before things got on a more even

all. On a Saturday I do a little bit of food

Hayes did eventually increase her prices

footing and she did start to make money. Occasionally there would be a dearth

of customers but a full complement of

staff, and this is something she couldn’t countenance for too long.

tell you how lovely it was. Now I have a

member of staff in two days a week, that’s

and we ask them to come and order at the bar and it’s working so well. It’s nowhere near what we used to do but I’ve got my

mojo back. I had a great year last year – I was 12% up,” she says.

The Enomatic team is part of your team, too


rom a different perspective, we also have to find the right fit for the team but enjoy great longevity with most of our staff, which is a little different from the usual changing nature of staffing for some businesses in the hospitality sector. We have an unusual team structure for companies selling and installing dispense equipment, in that we do have a team. Sharing responsibility for IT, installations, and service, the staff who install your equipment are the same team who remember your staff, your set-up, and will be helping you with any enquiry to the service desk. We are often in a position to defend our pricing – we are not the ‘cheapest’ – but in addition to providing higher-spec equipment, we also choose to invest in a staff to back our products, which obviously costs money. Literally, we are your team – think of us as an extension of your support staff! It never gets old – and it sounds cheesy - but we feel that we partner with our customers and believe that this is the proper way to do business in return for their investment in us. As many potential customers seek imaginative ways to get businesses off the ground, including staffing structure, investment in our products is often realised by taking advantage of lease purchase options to spread the capital and let the dispensers pay for themselves. We can also offer an introduction to companies for products which run alongside ours such as EPoS systems, commercial fridges, display cabinets, etc. Striving to be the best that we can, we will always maintain our team to support our customers, and always try to provide the best customer service possible.

reflect that in your pricing, then great,” she says.

Sally McGill Commercial director, Enomatic UK

“Quite honestly, we didn’t charge enough

money but the trouble is, once you realise

“I made everybody redundant and it was

worth every penny – it was scary but I can’t



Selling wine on tap is no longer all about indifferent New World brands in high street pubs. A small but growing number of independents are taking advantage of the boutique wines now available in KeyKeg packaging, for by-the-glass sales as well as refills. Two London merchants share their experiences

Squirrel and offers wines in KeyKeg and bag-in-box formats. At the moment he

has eight wines on at any one time but he says he is expanding the range due to the popularity of draught wine.

“I wanted to do it more when I opened

but people didn’t really understand it,” says

Draught untapped

Resta. “You have to educate the customer. Bag-in-box five years ago is not what it is

now. It had a bad reputation but it’s come

a long way. Especially in London, especially now. I think the natural wine movement


hristophe Le Chevalier at Le

Chevalier Wine Shop in Tower

Bridge has six keg wines available

at any one time. These will typically

include two reds, two whites, a sparkling and a seasonal choice such as a rosé or

Beaujolais. All six wines are available for refill but also at the bar to drink in.

Le Chevalier explains: “I don’t change

the whole range systematically, but I have

a whole line that I keep for one-offs, and a

huge advantage is that with the one-offs if the keg doesn’t completely empty, we can take it off and put it back on later.

“I’ve got a very old keg of Riesling and

it’s kept the wine fantastically well – I was talking to Rupert [Taylor at Uncharted

Wines, which supplies the wines] about ageing in the keg and it does work.”

Yield N16 in Newington Green specialises

in natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Owner Tony Resta works with Red

‘People do like refilling – it makes them feel closer to the producer. And it’s definitely more profitable’

has picked this up a lot as well.”

Draught wine can be as basic or as

glitzy as the merchant wants it to be. For example, the mechanism can be fitted

behind a wall, with just the tap on display

to customers, or the vessel can be installed inside a barrel.

“Perception can be challenged by

presentation,” says Le Chevalier. “I didn’t go for the barrel design. I think it is nonsense, to be honest with you. I think it confuses people.

“We are extremely transparent about

how wine is delivered to us. I think when

people see a barrel, they expect wine from

the barrel, and it’s not. So I show the kegs. I

try to demystify it as much as I possibly can so that they don’t feel that there is anything we are hiding.

“That’s why I don’t like the barrels – they

send the wrong message. The wines we

have on tap are not aged in oak anyway.

The the romantic notion of wine coming out of barrels … it’s dated.”


esta admits he actually “did the barrel thing”, but not for long. “I think it’s kind of kidding

the customer and I think consumers are

a lot more intelligent than that,” he says.

“It’s obviously a gimmick. I think the boxes are a lot more aesthetically pleasing than they were before. There are some really attractive boxes with nice labelling and


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

wine: the great d opportunity

different shapes.”


erchants report that

customers are keen on the positive environmental

© George Serban /

credentials that refillable products offer

and, inevitably, any money they might save in the process of helping save the planet.

Le Chevalier says: “I do explain pricing in

terms of what it would cost if their refilled

bottle of wine was to be bottled [at source] and put on the shelf as a regular bottle of

wine. It is cheaper to buy from keg. I think

it is safe to say that the customer definitely saves £1 by refilling.”

Resta says: “When it’s a refill, people are

thinking ‘I don’t mind seven quid, I don’t mind £10 or even £12,’ but beyond that

they see they can get a ‘proper’ bottle for

that. It is about just getting them past that mental barrier.

“People do like refilling, though – it

makes them feel closer to the producer. It brings the customer in touch – it’s

definitely more profitable, it keeps the

customer coming back and trying new things.”


e Chevalier also finds his

customers are invested in the

system. “The taste, the ability to

recycle and the price is enough for people realise that something good is going on,” he says.

“The wine speaks for itself – we have

little tasting cups so customers can try

anytime and that is very effective. People can know immediately that this is worth buying. They may not be able to explain

why it is good, but they can tell it is good. “The producer wins, the supplier wins,

we win. I don’t make a huge margin but it

certainly attracts the customer in the first instance. It’s good for everybody.”

Continues page 40



Plug-and-play tap systems ‘start at a few hundred pounds’

R wines.

ed Squirrel works with seven producers in Austria, France, Italy and Spain to supply keg

“There are other producers in the

pipeline, maybe two or three over the next six months including in the New World,” says owner Nik Darlington.

“There aren't really any technical

issues because the filling of kegs is

straightforward. Our suppliers range from very small to larger producers, so anyone

can do it. The challenge is matching supply and demand, because much of what we’ve done is bespoke to us, so there's a big

commitment and investment on our side.

Maison Idiart in Bordeaux is a negociant supplying KeyKeg wine through Red Squirrel

“Few producers are being proactive

about it – they probably think it’s too much hassle. But it really isn’t, and it unlocks a whole new side of the market for them.” For any merchant who only wants to

offer refills, Darlington recommends a tap system called Lindr. “These range from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds, depending on features and number of

taps,” he says. “Essentially they're plug-

and-play counter-top devices that can fit pretty much anywhere.

“If a merchant already has an extensive

hybrid operation going on, perhaps already a bar in place, then you can still use the

Lindr systems. But for a more bespoke setup you need to install some lines – these

could just feed under a counter or bar or go behind a wall or down to a cellar.

“Costs can vary widely but I’d loosely

say budget £750 to £1,000 per line, maybe more if there’s construction involved. We

have invested in bespoke systems on behalf

of a variety of partners – in this case mostly on-trade – and no two jobs are the same.” Darlington says that while it’s easy

to focus on the costs, merchants should

also consider the benefits. “Each 20-litre One of the many variations of the Lindr system

KeyKeg contains roughly 27 bottles of wine while taking up a fraction of the space,

and only 1.1kg of recyclable plastic versus


roughly 22kg of glass waste,” he says.

“It reduces the time spent pulling corks

or dealing with racks, boxes and piles of

bottles when serving wine by the glass or carafe.”

There is also less wastage serving by the

glass “as tapped KeyKegs will stay fresh for several weeks, even months, and the wine can be dispensed almost to the very last drop in the keg,” Darlington says.

Red Squirrel’s KeyKegs are made from

‘KeyKegs will stay fresh for several weeks, even months, and the wine can be dispensed almost to the very last drop’ around 30% recycled plastic and are themselves recyclable.

“They’re simple to vent and flatten after

use,” Darlington adds. “And they save more than 60% of transport costs, lowering

carbon emissions in the process. What’s more, in contrast to steel keg versions these don’t need to be washed with chemicals.”

The wine we put in kegs is just like any other wine we do. Jolly good grapes, from tidy vineyards like this, by people who care. What's in it for you? Save time & space, less wastage, and it's environmentally friedly. Let's not deny it looks the business too.



Fields, Morris & Verdin Regional Spring Tasting

I’m hoping this will have a ripple effect for Italian wines in general.”

Speller admits that some misconceptions

work both ways, as many Italian producers are “not very informed” about the UK

independent scene. “They see it as a very

The Fields, Morris & Verdin team will

hard-bargain market where only volumes

be taking their portfolio tasting to three

at very low prices can compete. For the last

cities in March.

15 years I have been arguing with every

This is an opportunity to taste a new

producer I see that the UK is an extremely

range of vintages and cuvées along with an

important platform for Italian fine wine.”

array of wines from producers who place

Register at

an emphasis on sustainable practices. Contact Sophie McLean:

Tuesday, March 5

Lindley Hall Royal Horticultural Halls

Tuesday, March 5

Elverton Street

The Refuge

London SW1P 2QW

Oxford Street Manchester M60 7HA So good, they gave it its own day

Tuesday, March 12 Paintworks (Verve Events) The Airstream Main Courtyard Bath Road Bristol BS4 3EH Thursday, March 28 The Hospital Club 24 Endell Street London WC2H 9HQ

Nebbiolo Day The second Nebbiolo Day includes tastings in the company of producers from each Italian denomination that makes fine Nebbiolo wines. Organised by Jane Hunt MW and Walter

Speller, Nebbiolo Day could potentially

become a bi-annual event. Speller explains: “There is a real interest in Nebbiolo, to know about the grape variety and the different styles. More denominations

that were not so well known in the UK,

especially from the Alto Piemonte, such

as Ghemme, Boca and Bramaterra, have started to resonate, especially with

Armit Wines: Italian Portfolio Tasting The importer’s annual event has long


established itself as a must-attend

– a blind tasting designed to showcase

current releases.

One Great George Street

The event features seminars providing

in-depth information, and a Nebbiolo Trail the wide variety of styles. A walk-around tasting will offer a quick overview of

Speller is on a mission to change the

image of Italian wine in the UK.

“The UK trade has seen Italy very much

as a bargain supplier of the cheap and cheerful … all these supermarket hits,

Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Soave and, before that, Lambrusco,” he says.

“The Italians were so keen to supply the

tasting for aficionados of Italian wine. Contact Catia Santolin: events@

Tuesday, March 5 London SW1P 3AA

Roberson Wine Trade Tasting: USAFrance Parallels This tasting will invite merchants to

UK trade with these wines, but at the same

explore the parallels between two proud

distorted by the Super Tuscans, which are

by-the glass wines to Grand Crus, to guide

cheap wines thanks to the popularity of

of Roberson’s producers, including Jason

time it blurred the vision on complex, fine

winemaking nations.

basically based on French varieties.

tasters through the portfolio. There will

Italian wine. And that vision was further

“The focus is now shifting from the very

Barolo with quite a few importers, and

THE WINE MERCHANT february 2019 42

There will be a curated selection, from

also be the opportunity to meet a number

Charles from Vinca Minor, Chris Bock from

© mehdi /

Broc Cellars and Nicolas Laugerotte from Champagne Dosnon.

RSVP to Marion.adam@robersonwine.


Wednesday, March 6 Foyle’s 6th Floor 107 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0DT

Vine Trail – Bordeaux The event promises to be a comprehensive wine tasting dedicated to “the untold story of Bordeaux”. The wines showcased will be from the

“risk takers”: the vignerons who dare to

be different and are redefining the region, according to the importer.

Growers include Champ des Treilles,

Rousset Peyraguey, Clos du Jaugeyron, Domaine du Jaugaret and Château des Graviers.

Contact Raphael Rodriguez: Raphael@

Wednesday, March 6 Carousel 71 Blandford Street London W1U 8AB

Inter-Rhône Trade Tasting A wide range of wines from the region will be available to taste. There will be themed masterclasses on

the day.

For more details or to register, email Thursday, March 7 The Hospital Club 24 Endell Street London WC2H 9HQ

Meet some of Bordeaux’s risk takers in London on March 6

THE WINE MERCHANT february 2019 43

© samantoniophoto /


Surfboards optional in Shoreditch on March 12

Essential California Tasting This tasting for the trade and press will

planks, beef and grilled salads.

of the country. There will be around 300

Tuesday, March 12, 1pm-5pm

be Travaglini from Piemonte, Quercia Al

Email Justine McGovern: jmcgovern@

shine the light on Californian wines

The Yard Shoreditch

up to £50 and showcase the value and

891-2 Worship Street

diversity possible from California in this

London EC2A 2BF

price segment. Look out for winners in this year’s Wine

Merchant California Collection tasting,

featured in the supplement published with this month’s magazine.

A California-style barbecue will be

Il Collettivo, The Italian Tasting Il Collettivo is hosted by Astrum Wine

wines on taste as well as focus tables.

Among the producers taking part will

Poggio and Cupano from Tuscany, Nino Franco from Veneto and Ciro Picariello from Campania.

Throughout the day there will be two

masterclasses conducted by one of Italy’s

best-known wine experts, Ian D’Agata. For details of the merchants and winemakers taking part visit

Email Silvia Garatt:

served from 1pm to 5pm, offering a taste of

Cellars, Flint Wines, FortyFive10°, Swig

Tuesday, March 12

and Sommelier’s Choice.

Music Room

over coals, including salmon cooked on

winemakers from all the significant regions

quintessential California cuisine. The menu will focus on slow smoking and cooking

It will be attended by more than 30


26 South Molton Lane London W1K 5LF

Bibendum and Walker & Wodehouse Made in Spring Tastings The Made In series of events will be held in Manchester, London, Bristol and Glasgow. The events will be focusing on wines

“made with craft and passion”, a collection which includes wines new to the portfolio

from England, France, Germany, Spain and New Zealand.

To register, RSVP to events@

the latest key agency, Tinto Negro. Also on show for the first time will

be a new discovery in Chablis, Domaine

Gueguen. Stéphane Verdeau’s wines from

Thorman Hunt Portfolio Tasting

Clos Bellane will also be present as well as

Thorman Hunt is putting on trade

of key producers including Jean-Luc Jamet,


Luis Alegre, Mt Beautiful and Tenuta Buon

Lebanon, California and New Zealand, will

a wide range of new wines, library stock

tastings in three cities next month to

and latest vintage releases from a number

showcase its portfolio of wines and

Dagueneau, Bodegas Arzuaga, Bodegas

as countries including Italy, Spain, Hungary,

Natasha Chave, Henri Bonneau, Didier Tempo.

A light lunch will be served between

midday and 2.30pm.

To register, contact Sue Ray at sales@

Wines from major French regions, as well

be available to taste.

Register or request more information

about any of this year’s events by emailing Tuesday, March 5

Wednesday, March 13


Monday, March 11

Mountbatten Suite

Bath Road

5th on Urbis

Royal Thames Yacht Club

Bristol BS4 3EH

Urbis Building

60 Knightsbridge

Corporation Street

London SW1X 7LF

Tuesday, March 12 The Refuge

Manchester M4 3BG

Oxford Street Tuesday, March 12 OXO2 Barge Street

Mentzendorff Portfolio Tasting Mentzendorff will once more be

30 Threadneedle Street

welcoming many of the world’s leading

London EC2R 8JB

Wednesday March 13

family-owned wine estates to London to

The Radnor Rooms

showcase their wares.

30 St Nicholas Street Bristol BS1 1TG Wednesday, March 13 SO LA 43 Mitchell Street Glasgow G1 3LA

Genesis Wines Spring Portfolio Tasting

Tuesday, March 26 Merchant Taylors’ Hall

South Bank London SE1 9PH

Manchester M60 7HA

This year the focus will be on

sustainability and will feature a seminar

Tre Bicchieri Tour

and panel discussion with Peter Richards

Gambero Rosso, the Italian food and


of Italian wine production.

MW and guests from Champagne Bollinger

wine publishing group, returns to

and the Fladgate Partnership, among

London next month showcasing the best

new wines will be on show as well as

day, dedicated to the wines on show.

A number of new vintages and

Mentzendorff’s latest producer, Ceretto of Piedmont.

Contact Rebecca Herbert: Rebecca@

There will be two masterclasses on the To RSVP or to book a masterclass,

contact Verena Caris. Email events@

Tuesday, March 26

Thursday, March 14

Royal Horticultural Halls

An opportunity to explore the full

One Great George Street

80 Vincent Square

portfolio including the official launch of

London SW1P 3AA

London SW1P 2PE



Heimann, based in the Szekszárd appellation in Hungary’s Transdanubian Hills, will be attending

European Independent Winegrowers Trade Tasting The European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers is the only association representing small-scale winegrowers in Europe. Building on the success of its first

tasting last year, the 2019 show will see an increased number of participants

presenting their wines, with more than 60 producers expected on the day.

All the ECIW members are small

to medium-sized family-run estates

from France, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria,

Switzerland, Spain, Montenegro,

Luxembourg and Belgium. This year’s

event will also welcome growers from Portugal and Slovenia.

Organiser Ivo Varbanov says: “It is

very rare to have so many small artisan producers under one roof and I think

something like this needs time to develop

find something unique”, will offer the

opportunity to explore a wide range of

grape varieties and blends, sparkling and still.

“The producers at this event are not

looking for large sales and positioning on

lots of Michelin-starred wine lists,” he says. Registration is available at Eventbrite or

alternatively contact Ivo Varbanov at ivo@

Thursday, March 21

as a concept.”

The Lindley Hall

merchants who want to be different and

London SW1P 2PE

The event, which Varbanov describes

as “ideal for small importers and


Royal Horticultural Hall Elverton Street


Strange but true cheese facts Lizzy Parrott of Fine Wine Partners has some disturbing information about maggots, donkeys and moose

B Casu Marzu is a Sardinian speciality

cheese which has been described as being similar in taste to a very ripe Gorgonzola. So far, so yummy, but not if you consider the requisite use of maggots to perform the task of fermentation. Casu Marzu is

illegal, for obvious hygiene reasons, but

there is a thriving black market. If that’s not exciting enough, people are advised to wear eye protection

when eating Casu Marzu

because the maggots have

a predilection for jumping

into eyeballs and have an uncanny and exacting aim.

C Pule is a crumbly smoked cheese from Serbia made from the milk of endangered

Balkan donkeys. It takes 25 litres of donkey milk to produce just one kilogram of Pule and it is probably the most expensive

cheese in the world, retailing at £408 a pound.

D In August last year archaeologists

proved that an Egyptian cheese found

in broken jars dated back 3,200 years.

Not long after this discovery, researchers

found remnants of sieve-like vessels on the

General Dentistry in

proved that cheese making was occurring

or dairy products a

Dalmatian coast used to separate curds

from whey. Carbon dating on the residues as far back as 7,200 years ago.

E In 1840 a huge cheddar cheese

was made in Somerset intended as a

wedding gift for Queen Victoria. It had a circumference of 9 ft 4

America, not only is snacking on cheese

healthy alternative to

sugary treats, but the mouth is made more alkaline as a result. The report concluded that the higher pH level will reduce the chance of developing cavities.

inches and a depth of 9

I Llechwedd slate mine in Wales is

cheese after it had

gives the cheese a smoother texture and a

inches. HRH decided not to accept the gigantic

been exhibited and, in

a Dickensian twist, the

cheese ended up in Chancery and was never heard of again.

F Edam proved to be an effective

replacement for cannonballs during a naval battle between Uruguay and Argentina in the 19th century. Legend has it that

an enterprising officer, on discovering he’d run out of ammunition, used the

cannons to fire cheese at the enemy ships.

Apparently the missiles broke a ship’s mast

and the resulting debris killed two soldiers.

G The Moose House in Sweden

produces around 660lbs of cheese per year using milk from its three beloved moose Gullan, Haelga and

Juno. Owners Christer and Ulla Johansson produce three

varieties of moose

cheese including a

sour feta-type style.

H Eating cheese is good for your teeth. According to a study by the Academy of

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


the perfect place to age cheddar. Three months at 500 feet below the surface

more intense flavour. The team behind the project has taken over two caverns in the

mine and kitted them out with appropriate shelving to store the cheese in marine plywood boxes.


Bosworth Ash Log (goat’s cheese) with Petaluma Yellow label Hanlin Hill Riesling The vivacity of the Riesling matches the freshness of the cheese, lifting the fruit of the wine and the cheese.

Beaufort d’Alpage (French cow’s milk) with Bay of Fires Chardonnay This combination brings out the nuttiness of the wine and fruitiness of the cheese; both become more complex and exciting. Langres (French washedrind cow’s milk) with Croser Vintage This pairing brings out a savoury element of the cheese. The fruitiness and freshness of the wine matches the salty/ savoury elements in the cheese.


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

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

February Fizz February is a great month for Champagne with Valentine’s Day being one of the biggest fizz days of the year. We are privileged to have two fantastic options from grower

Champagne Bonnet Launois in our portfolio. Produced by fourth-generation grower

Arnaud Robert, who owns 40 distinct plots in the Vallée de la Marne area, Bonnet Launois is the result of an assemblage from a selection of outstanding terroirs.

Bonnet Launois Champagne Brut Reserve With Pinot Meunier dominating the blend, this

Champagne delights with its finesse. Subtle aromas of white fruit and citrus, and a lively palate with a delicate freshness.

Bonnet Launois Champagne Rosé A fruity nose of strawberries and hints of toasty

brioche is complemented by a round palate with ripe red fruit flavours that are in great balance with the acidity.

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

Attending SITT (Specialist Independent Trade Tasting) in Manchester Principal Hotel on Monday 25th and London RHS Lindley Hall on Wednesday 27th February, Seckford Agencies is delighted to confirm our two attending South African producers: Tom Mills, sales manager from Ernie Els Winery, Helderberg, Stellenbosch, will be presenting stylish and flavourful wines from their Big Easy Range, retailing between £11.95 and £18.75. Alongside these will be the more

premium Ernie Els Estate wines which are highly awarded, retailing at £19.95 to £28.95. The wines from both ranges stunned our team when winemaker Louis Strydom presented the new vintages to us.

Bouchard Finlayson Masterclasses are being presented at SITT by Lia

Poveda in both Manchester and London, showing the ageing potential for their Hemel en Aarde Pinot Noir and also their highly successful blend,

Hannibal, which is comprised most years of Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Barbera. As the winemaker says: “Hannibal was

adopted as a symbolic expression of the synergy with the African elephant participating in linking the wine lands of France and Italy together 2,000

years ago, under the invading command of the classic Carthaginian general.” This will be a fascinating tasting, and Lia is an impressive and highly

knowledgeable speaker.


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

The Independents’ Champagne Champagne’s oldest winemaker Gosset hand-crafts its range of terroir-

led wines that are perfect for wine lovers interested in exploring beyond the region’s bigger names. The core range of Grande Reserve

Brut, Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut and Grand Rosé Brut are all

0207 409 7276

presented in the unique antique Gosset bottle, blended

flavours to meld.

from a selection of the cellar master’s favourite crus and

given extended ageing to allow the wines to develop and For more information please contact your sales

manager, our offices or visit

Simonnet-Febvre and Henry Fessy’s winemakers come to the UK Winemakers Jean-Philippe (Chablis) and Laurent Chevalier (Beaujolais) will be in the UK this March with a series of events showcasing what’s new from their ranges of domaine

Beaujolais Crus and and Northern Burgundy beyond Chablis. Jean-Philippe and Laurent are a great double act and their tastings are always informative and a great deal of fun. If you are interested in attending a cookery evening and wine tasting in central

London or a masterclass and lunch at a special location in Surrey please contact emma. to apply for your place.

mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD

Mentzendorff Annual Portfolio Tasting

020 7840 3600

Thursday 14th March 10:00am - 5:00pm

One Great George Street London, sw1p 3aa featuring

A sustainability seminar & panel discussion Hosted by Peter Richards MW RSVP to rebecca herbert



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


For further information, please contact Lesley Gray at

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

Fine Wine Partners, home of award-winning Australian wine. Join the journey with us and some of the most well known and loved wines to customers in the on and off-trade.

07552 291045

We’re looking for partners to tell the amazing story of Australia’s diverse regions, as well as the diversity in style from the classics to cutting edge styles.


fields morris & VERDIN

FM&V Spring Tastings Join the Fields, Morris & Verdin team at one of our upcoming spring tastings. Taste

24-34 Ingate Place Battersea London SW8 3NS

through a range of new cuvées and new vintages, plus an array of wines from our producers who place a greater emphasis on sustainable practice. FM&V Bristol Spring Tasting

020 7819 0360

Tuesday 5th March 2019, 10am - 4pm

Venue: Paintworks (Verve Events), The Airstream, Main Courtyard, Bath Road,


Bristol BS4 3EH


FM&V Manchester Spring Tasting Tuesday 12th March 2019, 10am - 4pm

Venue: The Refuge, Oxford Street, Manchester M60 7HA FM&V Spring Tasting

Thursday 28th March 2019, 10am - 4pm

Venue: The Hospital Club, 24 Endell St, London WC2H 9HQ

Please RSVP to Sophie McLean and Will Protheroe or to your account manager directly. We look forward to tasting with you then.

France: revitalised and rejuvenated

liberty wines

by David Gleave MW

020 7720 5350

Sixty-five per cent of the wines we’ve added to our list in the last 12 months have been

started out. Some of these are, we’re convinced, stars in the making.

almost 20 producers, some of whom are established names and others who have just Coming from all corners of France, these wines are united by the

value and individuality they offer – especially those from lesserknown regions and styles. Many are family-owned, going back


generations, such as Domaine Tollot-Beaut and Domaine Hubert

Lamy in Burgundy. Others bring a fresh approach to traditional

styles, exemplified by Moron-Garcia in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Leading

their field is another common factor, whether it is with biodynamics in the Loire, as with Clau de Nell, or championing an under-rated

style like Jurançon Sec, as with Domaine Cauhapé. In several cases, they also come from areas on the cusp of AOC ‘cru’ recognition, such







from France. Our buying team set off in search of exciting wines and came back with




as Domaine de Bréseyme in the Rhône or Frédéric Berne in the Beaujolais.

All are clear examples of how exciting France is. Forget the

stereotype of the dyed-in-the-wool French traditionalist: many of the world’s most dynamic winemakers are to be found in France.



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



Grapes grown from some of the most choice land in the

surrounding region of La Motte en Provence, consisting

primarily of Grenache, Cinsault, Rolle (Vermentino), Syrah and Tibouren. Harvesting at sunrise to noon. Optical

grape sorting. Destemming and slight crushing at 7-8˚C to

avoid oxidation. Both the free-run juice and pressed juices are vinified in stainless steel. Batônnage is twice weekly. temperature controlled.

Contact for prices.

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.


hatch mansfield

Jean-Luc Colombo

New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL

Meaning ‘the bees’, Les Abeilles reflects the passion the Colombo family have for the habitat around their Cornas vineyards. They have their own beehives which bear fine local honey and are active supporters of honey bee research in France, the US and the UK.

01344 871800

Proud supporter of the BBKA

Côtes du Rhône Les Abeilles Blanc Crisp, floral Clairette and Roussanne blend – a tasty tribute to the important role bees play in pollinating the vineyards. Côtes du Rhône Les Abeilles Rouge Reflecting Jean-Luc’s passion for food and wine, this GSM blend originates from 25-year-old vines to make a velvety, fruity red.


Our portfolio: Champagne Taittinger · Louis Jadot, Burgundy · Joseph Mellot, Loire · Jean-Luc Colombo and Colombo & Fille, Rhône · C.V.N.E, Rioja · Viña Errazuriz and Caliterra, Chile · Domaine Carneros, USA · Robert Oatley, Australia · Villa Maria Estate, Vidal, Left Field and Esk Valley, New Zealand · Kleine Zalze, South Africa.

hallgarten Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538


Champagne Collet is an iconic Champagne brand and its elegant Art Deco packaging is evocative of the Belle Epoque era from when it was established. It is the oldest cooperative in Champagne, dating back to 1921. Since its inception, Collet has been creating Champagnes of character with authenticity, elegance and great finesse. Located in Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region, Collet represents some of the finest growers and mainly sources from vineyards which are based on Premier and Grand Cru sites. Champagne Collet Brut Rosé NV Delicate aromas of mandarin, peach, mulberries and raspberries lead to a refreshing palate, with a richness of fruit and a silky texture, sustained by a delicate sparkle. Wine Merchant Top 100 Highly Commended RRP: £39.49


Champagne Collet, Collection Privée Rosé Dry NV The delicate, round and supple palate reveals a beautiful balance between the tart freshness of pink grapefruit and the sweetness of strawberry shortcake. RRP: £39.99


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

Made in Spring Tastings Bibendum and Walker & Wodehouse’s Spring Tasting

Join us in March for our “Made In” event series, coming to London, Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester.

Manchester Monday 11th March 2pm-6pm

0207 449 1665


5th on Urbis, Urbis Building, Corporation Street London Tuesday 12th March 2pm-6pm

OXO2, Barge Street, South Bank SE1 9PH Bristol Wednesday 13 March 3pm-6pm

The Radnor Rooms, 30 St Nicholas Street BS1 1TG Glasgow Wednesday 13 March 3pm-6pm So LA, 43 Mitchell Street G1 3LA

Bringing together an unmissable collection of wines made with craft and passion including new wines from England, France, Germany, Spain and New Zealand.

Keep an eye out on social for updates on attending winemakers, new wines being

launched and more!


enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX

and the renegades for a complete, delicious line-up for all tastes and occasions. All of these illustrious spirits are available only through us, as we continue

to nurture and develop our relationships with carefully selected, specialised

brands to bring our customers nothing but the exceptional. Here’s a taster on what’s on offer from our agency brands portfolio.

The quaffing vermouth, Regal Rogue, focuses on emerging winemakers

and native Australian aromatics to bring this classic back to life in a unique,

020 8961 5161

Enotria&Coe’s exclusive portfolio of agency spirits encompasses the flavour classics

modern way. It’s totally moreish and delicious.


Hailing from Poland, and named for the wild ponies that still graze in sight

of the distillery, is our Konik’s Tail vodka. Made from spelt, golden rye and early winter wheat grown by farmers, this spirit is immensely smooth and buttery.

Since 1905 and still to this day, our Cognac brand Bache-Gabrielson

has been family run and operated from the same, almost antiquated

premises in the centre of Cognac. With the knowledge and skill of several generations, the resulting spirits are ones of carefully curated perfection.

Riding on the rising wave of gin is Audemus Spirits, finding the perfect

balance to please the traditionalists and the renegades with their flagship Pink Pepper gin. The fresh top notes burst with pink peppercorns, cardamom and classic juniper, a subtle twist on the classic.


berkmann wine cellarS

New from Italy: Umani Ronchi joins Berkmann’s Portfolio Berkmann Wine Cellars will become the exclusive UK agent and distributor of Italian producer Umani Ronchi, in a new partnership commencing on March 1.

The addition of Umani Ronchi to the portfolio, alongside existing Italian agencies,

10-12 Brewery Road London N7 9NH

gives Berkmann customers access to exceptional wines from Marche and Abruzzo.

Founded by Gino Umani Ronchi in Cupramontana – the heart of Verdicchio Classico

– more than half a century ago, the winery has since expanded its compass. Today the

London, South, Midlands, South West 020 7670 0972 North & Scotland 01423 357567

Umani Ronchi estate is owned by the Bianchi-

Bernetti family, who since 1957 have been making superb-quality craft wines, achieving the best out of Verdicchio and Montepulciano.

Umani Ronchi owns 210ha of vineyards spread

between the hills and the sea along the Adriatic coast. The vineyards are distributed across 10

districts, each with its own distinctive terroir. Since the 1970s, Umani Ronchi has

doubled its estate and replanted 85% of its old vines, investing in Verdicchio and Rosso

Conero areas as well as extending its interest to other indigenous varieties like Pecorino and Lacrima di Morro d’Alba.

All the vineyards are farmed organically, reflecting the primary value of the company

which is achieving a sustainable production with minimal impact on the environment.


customers we could do without

2. Bobster Shins … Yeah, I’m here to bring this bottle back? That you said was going to rock? It’s, like, I dunno, I don’t want to get all “let me see the manager” or whatever, but like what the f…? It’s, like, you put it up to the light and you can see through it? Like, that ain’t right, lads? Like, sulphur much? Like: where are the clouds? Like where is the spritz and all the funky

Supplier of wine boxes and literature • 12 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £1.69p each • 6 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £0.98p each

floaty bits? Like has it had any skin contact at all? Like, hello cultivated

• 12 Bottle carrier boxes with dividers from £0.99p each

yeast, I wish you weren’t here? Like, what you been spraying on your

Prices are subject to VAT • Delivery not included

grapes, man? Like, how is this meant to match my potted hare with kefir and chia reduction? Like, drinking this was like having a party in some

01323 728338 • •

kind of lab with loads of, like, really straight men and women and stuff in like really dull white science guy overalls and not in a good, Breaking Bad sort of way? Like how could you even sell something made from Cabernet Sauvignon? Like, I need something elemental? Like, I need something that really feels alive? Like, I need Miles Davis, and you’re giving me Ed Sheeran …

(To be continued, inevitably)


This year we are planning buying trips to Hungary, Romania, Austria, southern Italy, Champagne and several other wineproducing regions. Follow us on Twitter to keep updated: @WineMerchantMag

Profile for The Wine Merchant magazine

The Wine Merchant issue 77  

The Wine Merchant issue 77

The Wine Merchant issue 77  

The Wine Merchant issue 77


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded