THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers
Issue 78, March 2019
Dog of the Month: Poppy Grape & Grain, Crediton
Buyers on a bike Jessal Thakkerâ€™s epic motorcycle quest for low-intervention wine: page 6
Confidence is hanging by a thread A small majority of independent wine merchants remain confident about a sales increase in the coming year, according to The Wine Merchantâ€™s annual survey. The proportion of respondents who
say they are very confident about a sales
increase stands at 20.2%, marginally down from the 22.4% recorded last year.
The percentage of merchants who say
they are fairly optimistic about rising sales
merchants who plan to open new branches
recorded by the survey since its inception
Online sales are making an increasing
is down sharply, from 51.4% to 35%. The figures are the most negative
in 2013. The proportion of merchants who admit to being unsure of their prospects in the coming year has hit a new high, at 31.7%.
But there is more positive news. Margins
are holding up well, and the proportion of
stands at 11%, the same as recorded in 2018.
contribution to revenue, up across the trade from 4.4% to 5.5%
â€˘ Six pages of survey analysis begins on page 20 and continues in our April edition.
Inside this month 4 welcome to FEBRUARY Food and wine matching is a recipe for success for some indies
ands up who’s ever tucked into Sunday roast beef with just a
wispy Riesling for refreshment,
6 comings & Goings Healing Ealing’s wine merchant shortage; and bye-bye Borough
or swigged a meaty Cabernet Sauvignon with fish and chips. You survived, right?
It was unlikely to have been an Instagram moment, but you probably enjoyed the
12 tried & tested Batman, a grape called Palava and the aroma of old drawers
experience, either due to the
as prescriptive a guide as they will ever
require. (Yes, yes, it’s not definitive. But it usually works.)
Does that mean that wine merchants
should stop banging on about the subject? Well, no. Most consumers don’t concern themselves with canopy
liberating frisson that came from
or ambient yeast cultures
recklessly breaking the rules
either. They don’t chat with their
or, more likely, you simply
16 david williams Oddbins has been an ally of the independents, not the enemy
friends about lifted aromas,
weren’t paying attention
lacy tannins or volatile acidity.
to the way the flavours
But hearing merchants talk
juxtaposed. You were just
about these things now and
having a nice meal, hopefully
20 reader survey Frightening times? The feedback from 189 merchants reveals all
in good company.
So when Tim Hanni MW
stands on a platform in New Zealand, in
front of a gathering of wine professionals,
26 la cave de bruno The couple who decided to import their own wines from day one
and denounces food and wine matching as “bullshit”, most of us have an inkling
of what he’s going on about. Some of us
may even emit a little cheer, and toast the
32 english wine Merchants pick out some of their
moment with Champagne and chocolate cake.
The truth is that, beyond the wine
best-selling labels Make a Date, page 39; The Spirits World, page 40; Supplier Bulletin, page 44
Food and wine matching: bullshit, maybe, but it all adds to the fun
trade itself, remarkably few people give a second’s thought to wine and food
combinations, and those that do know
that “white wine with fish, red wine with meat” is generally reliable advice, and
again all helps make wine
more intriguing. It demystifies
the subject, while at the same
time adding to the mystery – which, when
you think about it, is a hell of a trick to pull off.
So we say hurrah for Cru Beaujolais with
griddled aubergines, Chianti Classico with sausage and fennel-seed Bolognese, and Martinborough Pinot with roasted hen
pheasant. Combinations like these help
people get the most fun out of their wines, and if some of them are more successful
than others, they at least provide a talking point. And when consumers start talking about wine, at whatever level, that can surely only be a good thing.
THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE
winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter email@example.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries firstname.lastname@example.org Sales and Business Development: Georgina Humphrey email@example.com Accounts: Naomi Young firstname.lastname@example.org The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 915 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2019 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 2
WELCOME TO FEBRUARY
Names confirmed for Top 100 panel
• Tim Peyton, Real Ale, London
Judging for this year’s Wine Merchant
• Alice Archer, Cambridge Wine
• Tom I’Anson, Tom I’Anson Wine, Cheltenham Merchants
Top 100 takes place next month and this
• Graham Northeast, Bonafide Wines,
year’s judging panel is rapidly taking
• Mario Sposito, Bedales, London
Fifteen judges had been confirmed as The
• Will Clayton, Cork & Bottle, London
Wine Merchant went to press, with more
• Ben Proctor, Provisions, London
names due to be announced in the weeks approaching judging day on April 9.
So far this year’s panel, to be chaired as
The competition is open to any wines
always by David Williams, includes:
• Eliza Parkes, Yardarm, London
• Hal Wilson, Cambridge Wine Merchants
• Caspar Bowes, Bowes Wine, Melksham
• Philip Amps, Amps Fine Wines, Oundle • Louise Peverall, La Cave de Bruno, London
• Sunny Hodge, Diogenes The Dog, London • Julia Jenkins, Flagship Wines, St Albans
• Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines, Blandford Forum
Rising Stars Patrice Jegat Friarwood Fine Wines, London
hen it comes to customer service and depth of wine knowledge, can there be a safer pair of hands than an ex-sommelier? Friarwood Fine Wines certainly valued experience and professionalism over any ageist misconceptions when the Fulhambased independent employed Patrice Jegat to be part of its retail team. Patrice was a sommelier at La Tante Claire in Royal Hospital Road for 19 years before joining Friarwood on a part-time basis, later taking on his full-time role when Ben Carfagnini became managing director. “Patrice has been amazing throughout the years he has been with us,” says Ben. “He is incredibly helpful and very proactive. Our customers will always ask for Patrice and will call on him for his wine advice on all manner of family celebrations. He has created very strong client relationships.”
that are exclusive to the independent
trade. All winners will be showcased at the London Wine Fair and featured in
a supplement published with The Wine Merchant in the summer.
For more details and an entry form, visit
Patrice says: “I didn’t want to change career but working in a restaurant is very hard when you get to a certain age, and I noticed when I was 50 that if you’re looking for a new job, people look at your age more than anything else.” He knew he wanted to continue working on the customerfacing side of the wine industry and when he heard through a wholesale contact at Friarwood that the company was looking for a new member of retail staff, he jumped at the chance. “We have a lot of regulars coming in looking for advice and people will come in with a menu and ask me for recommendations,” he says. “I love the contact with the customers.” Ben adds: “Patrice is such a hard worker, he has an extremely friendly approach and he knows so much about wine – you ask him about any of the bottles and he has the story behind it.”
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 4
Patrice wins a bottle of Josmeyer Le Dragon Riesling 2014. To nominate a rising star in your business, email email@example.com
Reading less, and talking more What sort of role do wine magazines play in the independent trade? According to the merchants themselves, the answer is a very small one. This year’s Wine Merchant reader survey,
organised in partnership with Hatch
Mansfield, asked where independents
believe their customers pick up their wine
“Our Man with the Facts”
The influences deemed to be “very
important” are, unsurprisingly, regular
contact with independent wine merchants (45%) and tasting events (39%). Advice from family and friends scores 18% and online sources/social media 16%.
Further down the list we find wine
tourism, which 8% of merchants describe as very important, TV programmes (5%),
UK circulation is just under 16,000
Where do consumers get their wine knowledge?
and newspaper columns (3%). Food
1 Regular contact with independent merchants
wine magazines register a resounding
magazines as very or fairly unimportant.
4 Online and social media sources
Decanter, claims a UK circulation of just
Increasingly its readership is shifting
7 Wine tourism
magazines, supermarkets and national
zero. Indeed 41% of the 158 respondents
3 Friends and family members
wine clubs all achieve 1%. But specialist
2 Tasting Events
to the question describe consumer wine
packed with titles. The main player,
5 TV programmes
across 99 countries, stands at 41,000).
580,000 web users per month.
8 Food magazines
have been selected at random and each wins
are Bruce Evans, Grape & Grain, Crediton;
Beedell, Chesters, Abergavenny; and James
Number of responses: 158
True, it’s not exactly a market that’s
Unimportant 2% Unimportant 4% Unimportant 7% Unimportant 11%
under 16,000 copies (its global circulation,
6 Wine columns in newspapers
online: Decanter.com claims upwards of
• Five respondents in the reader survey
9 National wine clubs
Noir, courtesy of Hatch Mansfield. They
Unimportant 15% Unimportant 23% Unimportant 25% Unimportant 30%
a Coravin and a bottle of Résonance Pinot
10 Specialist wine magazines eg Decanter
Jonathan Regan, Banstead Vintners, Surrey;
Will Bentley, Bentleys, Ludlow; Lloyd Kelly, VINo13, Kilmacolm.
Unimportant 41% Unimportant 50%
Figures represent combined votes for very/fairly important and very/fairly unimportant
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 5
• The amount of sulphite in naturally-fermented wine is typically between 5 to 40 parts per million. Those wishing to avoid sulphites should stop eating pickled onions, which will typically contain more than 100 parts per million, and dried fruit, where levels can hit 2,000 parts per million.
....... • The world’s largest grape vine is found at Hampton Court Palace. The vine was planted in 1768 and has outgrown various greenhouses built to contain it. Its base has a circumference of four metres and it produces 272kg a year of Black Hamburg dessert grapes.
....... • Tonic water was first produced commercially in 1858. Its bitter agent, quinine, was discovered to be a useful way to protect against malaria, but has also been found to be effective in treating leg cramps. Modern brands contain reduced quinine levels and are much less bitter than early examples.
....... • To produce one litre of wine, it has been calculated that, on average, 960 litres of water will be consumed in the vineyard and during various stages of the production process. This compares to 200 litres for a glass of milk and 2,400 litres for a single hamburger.
Couple ready to ride into Ealing Almost a year to the day that Vikram Mertia and Jesal Thakker set off on their epic motorcycle journey to find their ideal wines, they will open their first shop. Riding Wine Company will open in Ealing
in the first week of May and will be selling and serving low-intervention, natural and biodynamic wines.
“Our passions are wine and motorcycles,”
says Mertia. “We were both in telecoms for more than 15 years, so this is certainly a new venture for us.”
The pair took off on their Triumph
Vikram Mertia and Jesal Thakker toured Europe to meet winemakers
Bonneville T120 last May and travelled
able to drink by the glass and “try before
and working with vignerons along the way.
with many of their new winemaker friends
6,000 miles through France, Italy,
Switzerland, Croatia and Slovenia, meeting Mertia explains: “We stayed with the
winemakers, ate with them, worked on
the harvest, and got to know who they are. It’s not just the wine we are selling but the stories about the people who make it.” Mertia says the premises will be
“primarily retail”, but customers will be
There will also be an emphasis on events
“excited” about coming over to do tastings.
Delicious Weymouth has relocated to
Mertia is also keen on helping out with
larger premises to allow the business to
“Previously the business was two-thirds
yet, but when they do start work on the
now just a third of what we’re doing.
community events. “There are lots of ideas that can go well with a glass of wine,” he
The unit is in a new development and so
the couple won’t get access for a few weeks interior, the concept will be low-key. “We want to keep a casual and friendly vibe,
with a little touch of our journey. That’s
the whole idea – it’s all about journey, it’s
all about exploring, and motorbikes are all about being closer to nature.”
• Vinoteca has plans to open its first branch outside London. A unit has been earmarked at Chamberlain Square, part of the £700m Paradise development in Birmingham, as a possible site for what would be the company’s fifth store. A spokeswoman for Vinoteca, which operates wine bars offering retail sales in the capital, says that nothing can be confirmed until all the legal Mertia wants a low-key, friendly vibe
Carl gets quay for the new premises
formalities have completed.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 6
extend its on-trade offering. Owner Carl Macshilton explains:
retail and a third drinking and eating in.
We’ve flipped it on its head so the shop is “I think retail is hard! It’s a tough
business to be in and people are looking for experiences, and that is what we are trying to provide.”
Macshilton launched Delicious
Weymouth in July 2015 and says the
intention was always to find a quayside location in the “seasonal” town.
“The right place came up but it needed a
total refurb,” he says. “We’ve gutted it and started again.”
In just eight weeks his shop and
restaurant was ready to go, and as it’s not far from the original old shop, the
customers have had no trouble finding it. Macshilton has taken on two new
members of staff and is still in the process
Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing of recruiting a chef.
The original shop and delicatessen had
16 covers and Macshilton admits it is a “big leap” to the current 50 covers he has now,
but he is taking it in his stride. “The hybrid model worked for us previously and so we’ve just made it bigger,” he says.
Abandoned offie is natural wine shop Standing vacant for 20 years, a former off-licence in Levenshulme, Greater Manchester, is about to be transformed into a natural wine shop and vegetarian delicatessen. The three women behind the project –
Caroline Dubois, Isobel Jenkins and Sam
Clare – have been described as leaders in the city’s food and drink scene.
Dubois, sommelier at Stockport’s Where
The Light Gets In, will be heading up the
wine side of the business and is curating a list of natural and organic wines.
Not only will the team be sourcing
produce as locally and organically as
possible and eschewing plastic packaging, they’ve even recycled the name of the shop, opting to retain and restore the original sign.
The Bottle Corner is due to open next
• The Chiswick branch of Borough Wines
has ceased trading. The company has posted a message on its website which reads:
“After almost 18 months of happy trading on Turnham Green Terrace we have now decided to close. Thank you to everyone who supported us during our time here.” The 350 sq ft retail unit is on the rental market at £45,000 per annum. The lease, which expires in 10 years, is up for sale. Borough Wines has branches in Borough Market, Kensal Rise, Hackney and Stoke Newington.
y nearest competitor, the Red Trousered Vinanthropist,
has decided to call it a day,
blaming high rates and a tough climate. I feel rather relieved. Despite being a
few miles away in the next (and far less fashionable) town, they certainly kept me on my toes. Some customers liked
to compare us which, frankly, was a bit
of an insult. My dynamic, fun emporium of wine with those dull, traditional
merchants of Merlot and slingers of Syrah. How very dare they?
So when Gav, the former Vinathropist
assistant manager, walks in (in black
jeans FYI) asking if I have any vacancies, my first reaction is to say no. Cash flow has been better since my full-timer
Alex left some months ago, and I have
managed to get by with a part-timer and a weekend student. Who needs holidays
and a happy marriage? And, if I am going to hire another assistant manager, I
want someone fizzing with energy and
The next day, he produces a list and
reads it out to me.
“We should be doing regular wine
and book matching nights. How about ‘Classic Novels and Crazy Wines’ for
starters – where we discuss books like
Jayne Eyre and natural wines like Frank Cornelissen’s ‘Munjabel’ Rosso. I can
visualise Mrs Rochester with a glass of that wild juice in her hand.
I have to admit it: the new trialist’s event ideas are certainly novel “We should definitely be running
bursting with creative ideas to increase
wine-fuelled art classes – the drawings
possibly have those qualities.
Bordeaux and getting them to run a
customers’ spend – anyone who worked
at the Red Trousered Vinanthropist can’t
But, after a brief chat, and some mental
arithmetic, I agree to take him on for a
short trial. He seems likeable. Maybe he’ll persuade some of his customers to travel to my shop.
His first few days are so favourable,
I ask him to organise my next ticketed
tasting on wine and chocolate, which I like to do around this time every year. The punters love it.
He looks at me with a withering look,
as if to say “is that the best you can do?” Turns out, the Vinanothropist also did
one every year. Dispirited, I ask if he can come up with something better. Wine
experiences are where it’s at now, as we
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 7
at the end could be hilarious! How about briefing a local comedian on Rioja or tasting – could be brilliantly funny.
“Blind food and wine pairing would
be a winner. I’m with Tim Hanni, it’s
all a load of rubbish anyway. And I’ve always wanted to do tastings around
momentous moments in modern history, like the moon landings, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Brexit …” I stop him there, exhausted. Well, I did ask for ideas and now the
genie is out of the bottle I’ll have to commit to
one of them if I am to keep him. Watch this space ...
© Ian Woolcock / stockadobe.com
Spiralling rates take their toll Nathalie Bowditch has owned Sidmouth Wines for the past five years, but she’s actually been selling wine from the Fore Street shop for almost two decades. “It was a Threshers and then another
independent before I took it on,” she
explains, but increased business rates,
coupled with the expiry of the lease at the end of March, has prompted the decision to close.
“Business rates are spiralling out of
control,” she says. “Ours are £892 a month, which is just not sustainable.”
The shop has been an off-licence of one
Sidmouth joins the ranks of towns without a specialist independent wine shop
kind or another for over 80 years and
this month, what’s on the cards? “I hope to
administration earlier this year.
wedding venue, owed more than £14,000
Bowditch says this is one reason why she
is reluctant to find a different location and “I don’t want to move because tourists
automatically come here to buy our local
beers, gins, spirits and wines. High streets are changing so much and I just can’t do
what it needs. I would really like someone to come in and take it on and make a huge success of it.”
Once the business closes at the end of
stay in the wine trade because I enjoy it so much,” Bowditch says. “I’ll leave my CV on
retail business as well as a restaurant and
English producers hit by store closure
had a number of wine trade creditors.
The English Wine Centre in Alfriston, East Sussex, had debts of around £111,000 went it went into
shock to the brewing fraternity. The continued involvement and
. T H E D R AY M A N . Cheque books are waving
The business, which operated as a
to HMRC and £53,000 to NatWest but also
These included Albourne Estate, Bluebell
Vineyard, Carr Taylor Wines, Bolney Wine Estate and Brightwell Vineyard.
The property has been sold and divided
up with little immediate prospect of the wine shop reopening.
Most independents probably stopped seeing London Pride as a beer with an
controlling ownership by the descendants
attractive USP around the time Fuller’s
of its founders seemed to make it more
gave up on running wine shops, but the
immune to the big business pressures
surprise element of the latest takeover does
that have copped for numerous of its
at least serve as a reminder never to take
forerunners. It was somehow disappointing
the commercial status of any preferred
to discover that money talks in much the
supplier for granted.
same way for the pin-striped heirs to the
There will be other smaller, “more”
Fuller’s legacy as it did for Logan – son of
independent breweries falling into big
Led Zeppelin singer Robert – Plant last year
brand clutches in the great craft beer
n terms of inevitability, brewery
when Heineken came with its cheque book
scrub-down that’s to come over the next
takeovers rank up there with Premier
for a slice of his Beavertown.
few years, but it will provide an opportunity
League football manager sackings and
Fuller’s London Pride and Dark Star
rather than a barrier: a chance to inject
big chain retail administrations. It felt a bit
Hophead – bought itself by Fuller’s last year
freshness, energy and variety to beer
peculiar, then, when the announcement
– don’t immediately look out of place in an
ranges – doubling down on the elements
of Asahi’s proposed takeover of Fuller’s
Asahi portfolio that also contains Pilsner
that make the beer market such an exciting
beer business brought a genuine sense of
Urquell, Meantime and Peroni.
place to be in the first place.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 8
hillebrand ad supplied separately
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 9
The elephant in the room The wine trade needs to engage more with the thorny issue of problem drinking and alcoholism, argues Anthony Borges of The Wine Centre at Great Horkesley, Essex. And that means embracing initiatives like Dry January
should, first off, like to congratulate
The Wine Merchant for covering the Mike Oldfield story (I cannot drink
responsibly – issue 77), and I should like
to send Mike a huge “hurrah” for 1) being so strong in fighting his addiction, and 2)
being so brave coming forward in this way. Neither action will have been easy.
Let’s make no bones about it: we in
the industry need to be addressing this
issue. The subject of alcoholism, like the proverbial elephant in the room, can no longer be ignored. Many of us are
surrounded by bottles, even open bottles, all the time; and for many of us they are a passion, no less!
Moreover, we have the perfect excuse:
they need sampling, and they need
drinking up. And then there are the wine
Borges: “There is no instruction book on how to manage drunkenness”
tastings, six hours of spitting out … one or
Oh, and a beer for the road.
just get on with it, don’t we? We do what
Grand Crus and swallow. “Lovely jubbly”.
Mike’s story be a reminder to us all.
if possible, firmly when necessary.
two glasses with lunch, maybe … then the last hour, oh what the heck, head for the
Indeed, it’s all too easy to go down the
wrong road, and we must all be careful. Let Meantime, as licence holders we are
meant to be responsible and manage others – our customers – when they
get into trouble or become difficult. It is, as I see it, our duty of care.
As far as I am aware there is no
instruction book on how to manage
alcoholism and drunkenness (often
two different conditions) when you are confronted with them, so we
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 10
we can and deal with difficult situations as professionally as we can, compassionately
‘We have the perfect excuse. We are surrounded by bottles that need sampling’
THE BURNING QUESTION Sharing experiences might be useful if
How influential are wine critics in the independent trade?
there was an appropriate forum. I don’t
To be honest, it’s not a deliberate choice, but I don’t really read wine criticism or watch it on TV. I suppose I spend a lot of time with suppliers and producers and I feel I get enough of a vibe from them in terms of what’s good and interesting and so forth. I think for some of my customers what the critics say has some importance, but then again lots of people like to use wine-rating apps like Vivino to get peer reviews.
pretend, incidentally, to be especially
masterful at this art. In terms of dealing with aggressive drunkenness I can only think of one time in nearly 20 years.
It involved an Irish gentleman of the
travelling community. I was obliged to
escort the man out of the building and,
Liam Plowman Wild + Lees, London
vexingly, he appeared to cast a spell on me! There again my shop is in a relatively
crime-free leafy area in the home counties. Indeed, I have no doubt there are a good deal of horror stories out there that will make my Irishman pale by comparison. But alcoholism exists in every
community and I have been exposed over the years to my fair share of alcoholics,
believe me; and I like to think I have been
I often feel we pay more attention to them than the general public does. The customers are better informed than they used to be and they don’t need their hand held quite so much. So it’s not like back to the 80s with Jilly Goolden. Obviously Jancis can write the hell out of anything and so can Tim Atkin – I may not share the same taste as them, but I do like reading them and I consider it entertainment as much as an information thing.
of some help to some of them.
James Wrobel Cornelius Beer & Wine, Edinburgh
It might be a regular who is a little shaky
and smells of alcohol (obviously a little
drunk, but not offensive) and together with
Critics like Matthew Jukes, who people with a casual interest in wine will come across on a regular basis, have influence. Glossy magazines seem to be better at mentioning independents. I read Jonathan Ray in The Field for instance and he is good at recommending smaller merchants. The larger newspapers tend to favour the supermarkets, but in the days of internet trading, there’s no reason for them to do so. Most small businesses can deliver wine all over the country.
staff we play God: “If we don’t serve him,
someone else will.” “What if the rejection upsets him?” “He’s no trouble to us.” “I
know his son, shall we speak with him?” And so on.
We do what we can. At any rate, in our
Great Horkesley shop we have embraced Dry January
these past few years and we continue to
promote sensible drinking at every opportunity. The axiom “drink
better, but less” has never been
more apt for our time, and what’s more I truly
believe it is good for business. It plays to
our strengths as independent specialists. Cheers everyone!
Matthew Iles Quercus Wines, Westerham, Kent
Twenty years ago the critics had a huge influence. They all had great big columns in all the main papers, and now they have rather a diminished influence. Perhaps for the better in some ways, because they were a little bit too powerful. Independents have always had less of a go with the critics but that’s because they are working on a regional platform. I think on the whole they are pretty good. I tend to follow Jancis Robinson, and Simon Woods on Facebook. He comes from Manchester so he’s more involved in our local area. Francis Peel Whitebridge Wines, Stone, Staffordshire
Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 11
TRIED & TESTED
La Cantina Pizzolato H-Hero Rosso 2017
Juan Antonio Ponce Reto 2017 Working biodynamically in high-altitude sites in
Manchuela, central Spain, Ponce has a reputation for
It’s organic, it’s vegan, it’s got Batman on the label,
from a smattering of old vineyards. Seven months on
Veneto red with raspberry and cranberry zippiness
and it’s “dedicated to those who with a simple smile
getting the best out of sometimes unfashionable local
become the hero of the family”. That’s us! A tight, fresh,
varieties. Reto is made with the Albilla grape, sourced
and a reassuring aroma of old drawers. (We’re talking
the lees helps create a vivacious wine with a rugged,
furniture. Not underwear.)
earthy appeal and bright citrus notes. RRP: £19.50
Bancroft Wines (020 7232 5440)
Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391) indigowine.com
Montgomery Solaris/Bacchus 2017
Sonberk Palava 2016
This family-run Welsh vineyard specialises in still wines
Muller-Thurgau and Roter Traminer, created in
and makes an impressive signature Solaris. Blended with the more critically-acclaimed Bacchus variety it creates a more complex wine, with polish as well as
crispness, thanks in part to its generous 6g/l of residual sugar, which imparts a New Zealand-style tropical note. RRP: £20
Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010)
The wonderfully-named Palava is a a crossing of
Moravia back in the 1950s. Sonberk, established in
2003, also makes lovely Riesling and straw wine but
this juicy and perfumed offering won us over with its exotic spice and enticing notes of flowers, bread and fresh linen. RRP: £21.95
Ellis Wines (020 8744 5550)
Edi Simčič Rebula 2016
Frederick Stevenson Montepulciano 2017
Rebula is a confusing variety to get to know, partly
because more than one grape claims the name. This
Steve Crawford works out of a small warehouse in
list of fruity toes” promised in one translated review
from 350m altitude in the Eden Valley, hand-plunged
one comes from Brda/Collio in Slovenia, where it
thrives in the mountainous conditions. The “lengthy sadly doesn’t materialise, but there’s an enjoyable honeyed note and a dry, rustic finish. RRP: £22.99
Bancroft Wines (020 7232 5440)
Adelaide, fixated on producing European-inspired
alternatives to the Australian template. The fruit is
and left on lees for a year. It’s firm, concentrated, dark and fruity, but with a lovely sense of balance. RRP: £30.50
Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391)
Chaffey Bros Kontrapunkt Kerner 2017
Kardos Dry Furmint 2017
Readers will need no reminding that Kerner is a
example, from the volcanic soils of Tokaj, is as good an
1929 crossing of Riesling and that old crowd-pleaser
Vernatsch. This is apparently the only example in the southern hemisphere, hailing from Australia’s Eden Valley. A grippy, tangy wine that releases its power
gently, with its richness never threatening to squelch. RRP: £14.50
Enotria&Coe (020 8961 5161) enotriacoe.com
Furmint is gradually attracting more attention and this
introduction as any to the grape’s idiosyncratic charms. There’s a piercing green-fruit aroma and a zesty citrus attack, but the palate is juicy and warm, with a waxy
mouthfeel. Boutinot says Kardos is a winery to keep an eye on and on this evidence it’s a reasonable claim. RRP: £11.99
Boutinot (0161 908 1391) boutinot.com
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 12
FORCES OF NATURE Josmeyer has been a family business for generations – and the sisters who now run the Alsatian domaine are proud to continue their father’s pioneering biodynamic principles
éline and Isabelle Meyer happily
describe themselves as “two
sisters walking in our father’s
Jean Meyer converted Josmeyer to
biodynamic viticulture in 1999, and his
enthusiasm for working in harmony with natural forces has paid dividends at the
28-hectare Alsace domaine near Colmar.
Today Isabelle is Josmeyer’s winemaker
and Céline takes care of vineyard
management. Céline says she can feel the buzz when she mixes the BD 500 cow
manure preparation or the BD 501, the
counterbalancing cow horn silica spray. “There is so much energy during this
Glenfarclas buys used Oloroso sherry barrels to add extra character to its Highland malts
moment,” she says. “It’s an incredible
feeling. But it’s is also very important to bring your own energy to your wines.”
Céline describes the Josmeyer style as
“lively and full”.
“My father always used this sentence to
describe our style: a light deepness, or a deep lightness.
“We don’t like heavy wines. We like
wines with a strong personality, purity,
brightness and structure. Wines that are a
pleasure to drink one glass or one bottle of.
It’s also important to express the truth. The truth of a vintage. Of a terroir. Of a wine.”
Josmeyer’s best-selling wine in the UK,
through Pol Roger Portfolio, is Pinot Blanc ‘Mise du Printemps’.
“We like Pinot Blanc because it’s a very
easy-drinking wine; friendly and happy,” says Céline.
“This cuvée is bottled at the end of
February and on sale at the beginning
of March. It’s a blend between different parcels of old vines located in the
plain – Herrenweg from Turckheim and
Isabelle Meyer (left) with sister Céline
Wintzenheim, with shingle soils – and from the north face of the Grand Cru Hengst, the Rotenberg with its limestone soil.” Céline believes that Alsace is
underperforming in most export markets. She feels the region’s wealth of grape varieties may be confusing for some
consumers. She also believes that many producers are over-reliant on residual
sugar, but says drier styles, as favoured by Josmeyer, are now increasingly common. “But I’m confident about the future,”
she says. “Things will change. Riesling is
the best grape variety in the world. It’s in
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 13
Alsace that you find the most geological diversity. And the Grand Cru wines are
really wines that you could keep. Wines
that will continue their evolution for 10 to 15 years.”
For more information visit www.josmeyer.com or www.polroger.co.uk or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Josmeyerwine; @Pol_Roger
BITS & BOBS
Cava producers opt for Corpinnat name Nine sparkling wine producers in Spain’s Penedés region are to quit the Cava denomination and bottle under a new, quality-focused label called Corpinnat. The move from Gramona, Recaredo,
Amy Findlater Smith & Gertrude, Edinburgh Favourite wine on my list Love Red, Broc Cellars. A wine that opened our eyes to just how brilliant red wine can be when slightly chilled and a staple on our list from day one.
Favourite wine and food match A bowl of pasta with a Langhe Nebbiolo
Torelló, Llopart, Nadal, Sabaté i Coca, Mas Candí, Huget-Can Feixes and Júlia Vernet follows months of negotiations between the producers and the Cava Regulatory Board.
The nine producers account for only
1% of Cava production, but 30% of Gran Reserva Cava production and six out of the 13 Parajes Calificados – Cava’s new premium classification. Decanter, February 1
or Lagrein. Well, at least that is what we
Chianti could be made with hybrids Chianti could become the first DOCG
qualitätswein, and in France it’s now
possible to experiment with hybrids across
Favourite wine trade person
Very hard! Freya of Alliance Wine has
Hybrids based on Sangiovese are being
been with us since before we even started, as has Tarquin De Burgh of De
Wines in Stockbridge is pretty special.
The Drinks Business, February 19
Austrian producers can use them for
more local to Edinburgh: Raeburn Fine
steak – why not?”
hybrids are becoming more accepted.
the valley visiting some outstanding wineries and taking in the full cellar-
horizons”, ie drinking a lot of wine. A bit
stupid. You can serve Sauvignon Blanc with
environmentally aware, disease-resistant
walking the length and breadth of
an evening “broadening our wine
diversity of consumers, not make them feel
As European regulators become more
started really. We spent three days
below our apartment in Melbourne
He added: “We need to celebrate the
varieties and reduce the need for spraying.
Barossa Valley – this is where it all
and the place where we spent many
around the idea.”
more disease-resistant than traditional
Favourite wine trip
moved to Darwin I believe. Directly
pairing as we’ve created a lot of bullshit
Wine Consortium, said hybrids would be
Italian food involved.
Favourite wine shop
to start a campaign to stop wine and food
Giovanni Busi, president of the Chianti
pretty easily pleased. So long as there is
Cohen Cellars in Melbourne – now
matching wine and categorising it. We need
Californian Pinot Noir with pizza. We’re
a special place in our hearts.
We’re doing a lot of damage the way we’re
Italian region to work with hybrid grape
drink most often. Or actually, maybe a
Burgh wines – so they’ll both always hold
“A perfect wine pairing doesn’t exist.
Cabernet is fine with fish if you enjoy it
Debunking food and wine matching
experimented with at the Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, the Veneto-based vine nursery. Imbibe, February 7
• Accolade Wines is launching a rosé wine and gin fusion under its Echo Falls brand. Echo Falls’ 9% ABV spirit fusion is made by
Master of Wine Tim Hanni has
blending the brand’s standard rosé with gin
dismissed the food and wine matching
and fruit flavouring.
concept as “bullshit”. Speaking at the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc
Celebration in Marlborough, Hanni said:
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 14
It follows last year’s launch of Echo Falls Summer Berries Vodka. The Drinks Business, February 21
Oddbins the cheerleader The demise of a once-proud chain – if it turns out to be a demise this time – shouldn’t just be mourned for sentimental reasons. Even in its slimmed-down form, it helped provide some sort of bulwark against the near-monopoly of the supermarkets in the retail wine market
hen you’ve been in the wine writing game as along as I have, a certain degree of repetition is unavoidable. How many times have I written variations on a
theme of “Sherry is back – and this time it’s not just for grannies,”
or “Has German Riesling’s time finally come?” In recent years, one of those “on the one hand, on the other hand” natural wine pieces has also become something of a biennial staple. And then there’s that old favourite: “Port isn’t just for Christmas”.
Another regular – an article that appears so frequently across
the wine press it’s become a genre in itself – is the Oddbins
obituary. The retailer has been flirting with disaster for as long as I’ve been writing about the British wine trade, and every time it
takes what seems like a final fatal step towards the precipice, out come the articles with that same set of anecdotes and memories. You could piece one of these articles together yourself (or
make an Ian Dury or Parklife stream of consciousness anthem)
from the following components: Ahmed Pochee, Ralph Steadman,
Steve Daniel, quirky, 1990s pomp, the trade’s finishing school … “Oddbins!” … Greek wine, Aussie, democratised, informal,
casual, Absolutely Fabulous … “Oddbins!” … Seagram and Pernod Ricard, “the austere Castel years”, Simon ***** Baile and revival … “Oddbins!” … some really clever buying, back to its best, silly
franchise plans, sad to see it go, we all owe a debt … “Oddbins!”
‘Oddbins really did seem to have found its feet under its current ownership. Certainly the buying under popular head buyer Ana Sapungiu was spot on’
o often have rumours of Oddbins’ death have been
circulated over the decades, it was hard, when news of its
latest slide into administration, along with sister businesses
Whittalls Wine Merchants and Wine Cellar, emerged in January,
not to feel that it would probably muddle through again somehow. A lot of that feeling is down to wishful thinking of course. The
reason for the flourishing (and gushing) Oddbins obit genre is not just that the company has had so many near-death experiences.
There is a genuine affection for the retailer that runs very deep in
the British wine trade’s collective memory. Whether as consumers or staff, so many of us started our journey in wine among the
jaunty signs and American Spirit tobacco, that contemplating its
disappearance is a wrench akin to confronting our own lost youth. Still, Oddbins really did seem to have found its feet under the
David Williams is wine critic for The Observer
current ownership. Certainly, the buying, under popular head
buyer Ana Sapungiu MW, was, from this consumer’s perspective, spot on: whenever I’ve been into an Oddbins in recent years – or
DEDICATED TO THE VALUATION AND AUCTIONING OF FINE AND RARE WINES
been to one of the retailer’s press tastings – I’ve been mightily impressed by the range, which seemed to offer just the right
balance of discovery and boundary-pushing and at the right sort of prices.
o why then does so much of the commentary I’ve heard or read on the latest Oddbins collapse make it seem like this really is the end? Another litany, which you can this time
take directly from the joint administrator Phil Duffy of Duff & Phelps, provides the majority of the answer.
“The continued decline in consumer spending, pointing to a
squeeze on household finances, combined with rising living and
national wages have put increased pressure on retailers’ bottom lines,” Duffy said.
“As wages struggle to keep up with the pace of inflation, and
continued, deepening unease and uncertainty over Brexit, consumers are cutting back on spending.
“Add into that mix rising business rates and rents, and
traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are undoubtedly feeling the
MATURE AND INTERESTING WINES WITH NO MINIMUM ORDER
Oddbins owner European Food Brokers laid it out in even
starker terms, talking of “an unsustainable, tough physical retail
market” and pointing to a 17.8% average rent rise across its estate. Other analysts have talked up the effects of the Co-op’s merger
USER FRIENDLY WEBSITE
with Nisa and the arrival of its (sometimes-excellent) own-label product line in both Nisa and Costcutter-branded stores, and
the improvement – including listing more adventurous, Oddbins customer-courting bottles – of the wine offer at Aldi and Lidl.
All of which will of course be grimly familiar to most readers of
this magazine, who may wonder why they should mourn the loss
of what many will consider a rival with greater economies of scale operating on their turf.
But that, to me, seems short sighted. With just 45 stores, the
Oddbins of 2019 may not have been the cultural force it was
when it was riding high with 278 stores and shaping the wine
habits of a generation of drinkers. But, even in its much-reduced form, it was still playing an important role as a propagandist for interesting wine and a stepping-stone out of the supermarkets
for those looking for something more engaging than sub-standard brands and own-labels. Indies may well feel they can do that job
themselves. But it’s not just nostalgia talking when I say they may miss Oddbins more than they realise.
RARE & MATURE WINES 12% COMMISSION
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THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 17
Bacchus Dress sense
Duncan Murray does not need much excuse to get into fancy dress, usually in front of an audience. The Market Harborough independent has been known to don a polyester Trojan soldier outfit when conducting tastings of Italian and Greek wines, and can trace his fetish for dressing up to his Oddbins days. “In the early 90s at the branch on King’s Parade, Cambridge [now Cambridge Wine Merchants] we had a Spanish promotion,” he recalls, “and we built a bullfighting arena out of wine boxes, complete with wood shavings in the centre, and we had ‘toro’ head-dresses on. That was quite barmy. “I’ve done quite a few events in Greco-Roman outfits over the years and two years ago I did a Tour de France tasting where I was cycling on my turbo-trainer for the whole evening whilst presenting. That was tiring. “We also did a rum tasting with Helen from Marussia and we got everybody to dress up as a pirate. That was super silly, but we got good rum sales out of it. “I do have a penchant for cross-dressing but as yet not
used the Amy Winehouse outfit for a tasting. I also wear my Murray of Athol tartan at whisky tasting events.” All of which makes the French beret worn by Murray at a recent French tasting for the Grand Union Wine Society seem positively restrained. “It does look good,” he says. “It’s an original beret bought on a market in Colmar in 1992 when I went harvesting in Alsace. “It’s nice to make an effort. It puts people in a good mood.”
Fare play to Robert
Robert Boutflower of Tanners was in mischievous mood last month at a dinner hosted by Famille Helfrich at the French company’s Edgbaston tasting. Comedian Ivo Graham found himself on the end of some good-natured Boutflower heckles (delivered in an Ulster accent) when he admitted his wine knowledge extended not much further than glasses of Campo Viejo. “Can you get a move on, please?” called out Boutflower, impervious to the comedian’s barbs. “I’ve got a train to catch.” Graham duly obliged and the pair shared an Uber back to New Street station.
English Wine Week is back again this May Get the bunting out – but remember that social media can often be a retailer’s trump card, too
nglish Wine Week returns from May 26 to June 3 and
organiser Wine GB is hoping that involvement from the independent trade will be as enthusiastic as ever.
The week – which will be branded as Welsh Wine Week in Wales
but run along the same lines – is being supported with a free POS kit for merchants.
“The thing we know from past English Wine Weeks is that sales
of English wines go up during the week,” says Wine GB’s Julia
Trustram Eve, “but interestingly the sales continue to rise several weeks after it’s happened.”
The POS pack includes posters, bunting, table talkers, bottle-
neck tags, balloons, stickers, leaflets, maps of UK vineyards and postcards. “It should furnish you with sufficient material to get
something going, but you can always order in more supplies,” says Trustram Eve.
Merchants are being encouraged to think creatively about how
to get involved, and an online marketing toolkit offers some tips and advice.
“I’m sure most indies know exactly what works for them in
terms of promotional events and activity but we’ve set out some ideas of how to maximise on any event or activity that you’re doing.
“If you’re somewhere near some vineyards, why not link in with
a producer? There’s no better way of inspiring your customers
than having them meet the person who made the wine or owns the winery.
“How about running an in-store tasting or doing something just
for the week and see how the relationship goes?
“If you supply a restaurant why not see if they would consider a
Trustram Eve encourages merchants to publicise their activities
in the local press but adds that social media has proved “incredibly effective” in recent years. “Some indies are really good at that,” she adds.
Wine GB will use its own social media feeds to highlight some of
this year’s trade activity and will publicise all events it hears about on its website.
More information at www.winegb.co.uk.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 18
READER SURVEY 2019
‘These are frightening times’ That’s how one merchant sums up the economic climate, and there are plenty who agree with him. Average turnover is down, and confidence has nosedived. Yet despite it all, plenty of merchants believe there are reasons to be positive about the year ahead
f anyone needed any reminding that life isn’t easy for independents right
now, the Wine Merchant reader survey
provides some stark evidence.
Per business, revenue is down, on
average, from £869,000 to £832,000. Per
shop, it’s fallen from £634,700 to £612,500. Confidence about the year ahead has also
hit a seven-year low. The survey found that 55.2% of merchants are very optimistic, or fairly optimistic, about achieving a
year has in store for their business than the
Consumers do not like uncertainty in any
pessimism, the highest proportion we’ve
Fine Wines in Oxfordshire adds: “Brexit
proportion saying they are very optimistic. Thirteen per cent of respondents admit to seen since the survey started. Average
transaction value has hit a four-year low. Brexit is the villain of the piece,
according to many respondents.
“The Brexit effect has been hitting trade
for nearly three years now, ever since
the referendum nonsense began,” says
Jim Dawson of The Jolly Vintner Too
sales increase in the coming year. That’s
in Bournemouth. “Will the uncertainty
down from 73.8% in 2018, and 92.3% as recently as 2014. For the first time since the survey started, more respondents
admitted they were unsure about what the
end at the end of March? I hope so, but I am realistic enough to feel that it will
carry on for many more months or years.
shape or form.”
Martin Chapman of Peter Osborne
is causing terrible uncertainty, and brings
with it depreciating sterling. It doesn’t help to also have a duty increase.”
Sam Jary of Black Hand Wine in
Penrith believes that, in the event of a nodeal Brexit, “importers will be in trouble”. He adds: “These are frightening times
for anyone involved in selling wine. My
inner optimist thinks things might improve with a good deal, but my inner realist
knows that if we crash out, the pound will
plummet and our costs will go through the roof.”
Andrea Viera of Last Drop Wines in
Chelsea spells out the scale of the problem.
How optimistic are you that your sales will increase in the coming 12 months?
“Political and economical uncertainty is killing us, the clients, the staff, the
producers … the mood is a tough one to
operate in,” she says. “We are still smiling, but it is increasingly more difficult.”
Jonathan Charles of The Dorset Wine
Fairly optimistic Neutral
Fairly pessimistic 10%
Very pessimistic 0
Number of responses: 183
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 20
Company in Dorchester adds: “I think that the mood of the general public is
generally pessimistic and this will reflect in caution when it comes to spending.
I cannot see a resolution to the issue of
Brexit by the end of March, which will only exacerbate the situation.”
Ben Robson at Bat & Bottle in Oakham
sums up: “It’s perhaps the most uncertain start to a year in my 25 years of trading.”
lthough most in the trade regard Brexit as unwelcome, many
merchants insist that the year
Survey partner 2019
ahead need not be a disaster. In some
cases, businesses are still in a youthful
growth phase, or reaping the rewards of
“From some of our customers I think we
establishing a loyal customer base.
may see an increase in sales but a decrease
months and we’ve seen a very good sales
customers I think we’ll see a decrease in
Alexandre Bal of Authentique in north
London says: “We’ve only been open nine growth and some exciting opportunities to build up sales and customer loyalty, focusing on educational events and
in value – especially when it comes to
gifting. But with another sector of our
volume but an increase in value – spending
more and trading up, but doing it a lot less frequently.”
Nick Howard of Blakeney Delicatessen
in Norfolk says duty increases have added Continues page 22
How turnover has changed
evolving the range as well as good communication.”
two with a view to expand, and have
£650,000 £460,000 £895,539 £1,670,000
Morgan Ward of Morgan Edwards in
Knutsford adds: “We are entering year
experienced sales growth month on month since opening, with the exception of this January.”
Starmore Boss in Sheffield is hoping
to open a second shop and so achieve
a natural sales increase. “Obviously the
political situation is disruptive to business and a worry to the supply chain,” says
Jefferson Boss. “But the biggest threat
from Brexit is the confidence in consumer spending – which was witnessed in the
run-up to Christmas – as well as the impact
on the economy and the value of the pound.
Average margins per sales channel 60%
Wholesale 20.8% 2015
Number of responses: 168
The table shows reported sales of 61 merchants who provided data in both 2018 and 2019, ranked in order of percentage change in turnover. 33 saw an increase, 6 were static and 22 registered a fall.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 21
READER SURVEY 2019
How sales are split
From page 21
to the problems associated with Brexit.
“However, those who enjoy the experience Are very or fairly likely to open additional branches in the coming year (2018: 11%)
of drinking wine will be looking for quality offset the decrease from the more casual wine drinkers,” he predicts.
economic or political uncertainty,
it’s down to individual businesses to make Cellar in Dartmouth says: “The retail wine business is a constant challenge. But we
feel the way forward is to gently educate
sources and enjoy their wine from smaller, dedicated retailers.”
Camilla Wood of the Somerset Wine
Co in Castle Cary adds: “Obviously we are standing on the edge of the abyss
with Brexit looming and are subject to
the vagaries of the currency situation and possible WTO tariffs. But I would say my
business will adapt accordingly, and we are
in a growth phase for retail and wholesale.” Matthew Hennings of Hennings
Wine Merchants in Sussex reports “a
great Christmas and a good year’s trading so far”. He adds: “There is no question
Are very or fairly likely to reduce staff numbers in the coming year (2018: 1%)
Brexit will hit consumer confidence,
hopefully temporarily. We have a strong
base and have planned as best we can, so I hope to take advantage of any positive
opportunities from what is a far from ideal
2% Are very or fairly likely to try to sell the business in the coming year (2018: 5%)
message is simple. In spite of
customers to buy from more reliable
Are very or fairly likely to increase staff numbers in the coming year (2018: 43%)
or some independents, the
Jonathan Sutton of Michael Sutton’s
wines and more unusual wines which will
the best of the situation. Are very or fairly likely to close one or more branches in the coming year (2018: 1%)
David Smith of Portland Wine Cellars
in Southport says: “The last few years
have been difficult, but I feel we are coming out of that tunnel and I am hoping that we will show around 3% increase.”
Andrew Hill of George Hill in
Loughborough is forthright. “Brexit will
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 22
Drink-in sales 8.8%
Number of responses: 171 For the first time we have separated shop and drink-in sales. Combined, this year’s figure is 70.4%, slightly below the 71.7% recorded last year. Online sales have jumped from 4.4% to 5.5% and wholesale is unmoved at 19.1%. Ticketed events are also being included for the first time.
be hard, but then so have other times over the 50-plus years I have been in the wine trade,” he says.
“Whenever there has been a ‘crisis’ – be
it the crash of 2008 or others that happen every 10 years or so – somehow we come
out the other end. I believe this will be the case here.
“All parts of the trade need each other,
be it a producer in Spain or Italy or an
importer from Chile or South Africa not
wanting tarriffs. Stop moaning and get on with it!”
It’s advice that Dean Pritchard of Gwin
Llyn Wines in Pwllheli seems to have
already adopted. “There’s enough doom and gloom out there at the moment –
customers come in to forget the negativity,” he says. “It’s our job to put a smile on their faces.”
More suppliers enter merchants’ happy place
The popularity stakes Position (2018 in brackets)
% of retailers voting for this supplier (2018 in brackets)
Every year, we ask merchants which
suppliers they most enjoy working
with. We allow them three choices, in no
particular order, and offer no prompts.
Les Caves de Pyrene
And, every year, the top of the
leaderboard looks much the same.
Boutinot, Liberty Wines, Alliance Wine and Hatch Mansfield occupy the first
four places once again this year. Indeed
Boutinot and Liberty have taken first and second spot respectively ever since the survey began in 2013.
Yet all four have seen their share of the
votes slip a little, partly because more and more suppliers are receiving votes. This year 130 suppliers were nominated by
survey respondents, an all-time high for the survey.
The effect of price hikes is clearly
visible in the average sales price in the independent trade, which rises from
£12.25 to £12.99, compared to the off-trade average of £5.73. Yet transaction values have fallen to a five-year low.
Fields, Morris & Verdin
Walker & Wodehouse
Berkmann Wine Cellars
Daniel Lambert Wines
Ellis of Richmond
Number of responses: 154 Respondents were invited to name up to three suppliers that they most enjoy working with, in no particular order. No prompts were given. There were 130 suppliers nominated, compared to 110 in 2019, 103 in 2017 and 96 the previous year. Walker & Wodehouse votes include those cast for Bibendum.
Average transaction value
Average sales price per bottle
The highest average transaction value recorded was £280.
The highest average bottle price in this year’s survey was £45, and the lowest £6.
£12.25 £12.99 2018
Number of responses: 163
Number of responses: 161
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 23
READER SURVEY 2019
Independents expect great things of England
Which countries of origin do you think will see the biggest sales increase in your business this year?
Independents are predicting big things
1 France combined
for English wine in the coming year. The country jumps from seventh to
was divided into nine options, including
10 New Zealand
California, which again missed out on a top
10 position – albeit with a much improved California is a new entry in our second
popular choice, securing 12.1% of the vote.
“most or all regions”, which was the most
their share of the vote this year. France
from 5.6% last time.
France, Italy and Portugal also increased
performance on 2018. Its vote rose to 9.9%
on predictions for sales increases in
That was enough to put it ahead of
otherwise unchanged on last year, based
popular answer, with 11%.
2 South Africa
fourth spot in a league table that is
Languedoc-Roussillon was the next most
Number of responses: 182. Respondents could name as many countries or regions as they liked. Only top 10 countries from the vote are shown. France was split into nine options, combined here.
chart, listing the countries in which
respondents claim to have a specialism.
Here, England actually slips out of the top 10 (it finished ninth last year), along with Argentina. Chile is back in the top 10. Again, we allowed merchants nine
options for France, and it was no surprise to see “most or all regions” emerging as
Which countries do you specialise in? Position (2018 in brackets)
% of retailers voting for this country (2018 in brackets)
the most popular choice, with 31% of
respondents making this selection.
specialism are Bordeaux (7.3%) and
Burgundy (6.1%), though those figures are
The next most likely areas of French
markedly down on 2018, when the regions scored 13.5% and 7.6% respectively.
The survey also revealed that, for many
merchants, country or region of origin is
largely irrelevant. As one respondent put
it: “Increasingly we’ll be focusing on wines with a story and not worry so much about covering all of the geographical bases.”
Number of responses: 179. Respondents were allowed up to three choices. France was split into nine options, combined here.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 24
Which of these product areas will be a focus for you in the coming year?
1 SPECIALITY SPIRITS YES 50%
Number of responses: 158
3 imported beer YES 20%
2 BRITISH CRAFT BEER YES 42%
Still the leading non-wine category, but it’s
Craft ale hangs onto second place, with a
a long way from the 76% approval rating
yes vote marginally down on last year’s 46%
recorded in the 2014 survey.
and the 53% recorded in 2014.
4 delicatessen itemS
A small improvement of the 18% we saw in
Up from sixth place last time, significantly
Not much has changed for glassware since
2018. The gap between imported beer and
ahead of the 12% recorded in 2018. For
the 2018 survey – though some of last year’s
British craft ale is closing – a bit.
many indies, food is the way forward.
“maybes” are now in the “no” camp.
6 confectionery & chocolate
7 wine accessorieS
8 cigars & tobacco
The results are almost identical to those
The survey shows that interest in wine
The category hit rock bottom last year but
recorded in 2018. Enthusiasm for the
accessories waxes and wanes. This year the
has done marginally better this time, with
category has been in decline since 2014.
category slips from fourth place to seventh.
the “yes” vote up from 2% to 5%.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 25
THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE
A home fro loving life
ot everyone remembers the
precise moment they decided
to open a wine shop. But Louise
Peverall does. It was her 40th birthday, it was pouring with rain, and she was in a vineyard in the Rhône valley.
She was there with partner Bruno
Etienne, a native of the region who had
originally moved to the UK to further the
career of his band, The Lady Jane, for which he was guitarist and songwriter. The day job was working for Unwins, and later Nicolas.
“We’d gone out for dinner and had a
Cairanne which we both loved,” remembers Peverall.
“So we decided to visit the property,
Domaine Dionysos, to retry the wine we’d had the night before – La Cigalette. It
was even more delicious, along with the rest of his range. I immediately felt very frustrated that we couldn’t buy wines
like this back home. With that, and in a
moment of madness, we decided to import it ourselves. La Cave de Bruno was born!”
For most new indies, direct importing is
a medium or long-term ambition, but it’s
been central to the couple’s business plan
from the start, with only a minority of lines being supplied by UK agents. Bruno Etienne, Louise Peverall and Lenny, East Dulwich, February 2019
Some independents wait years before importing their first pallet. For Bruno Etienne and Louise Peverall, working directly with wine producers was part of the plan from day one. Five years on, with their East Dulwich shop doing a roaring trade, the next chapter of their adventure will involve expanding their wholesale business
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 26
The shop is now five years old and
situated on Lordship Lane in East Dulwich, a family-friendly suburb of south London. It’s a busy road for wine: it’s home to
Terroirs, the wine bar and restaurant
run by Les Caves de Pyrene; a specialist merchant called Bottle Cave; and an
Oddbins. Even the independent grocer has a sign advertising organic wines.
LA CAVE DE BRUNO
om Rhône: couple on Lordship Lane
models. You sense that making the space
look and feel the way it does has been a big part of the fun.
Etienne’s is the face that customers
are most likely to see when they drop
in, though he’s now ably assisted by two
members of staff. Peverall is more likely to be focused on office duties.
Does she miss her old career as a
freelance live event producer? “I really
don’t. I miss the people, the camaraderie.
But I love wine, I have a real passion for it and it’s great to do your own thing.”
Why did you decide to import your own wine? Better prices? Exclusivity? Louise: No disrespect to the London
suppliers, but I think we just felt that if
we import ourselves, we can use smaller
vignerons, and I just find it’s better quality. Bruno: In the wine industry, you are sent to these lovely warehouses somewhere
in London and you try all this lovely wine
in an office. But we thought, if we [import direct] then the world is ours in many
ways. Let’s meet whoever we want and work with whoever we want.
In London I’ve seen so many guys with
a tie, and we’re going to try this and they
have a good margin on that; it is nice wine.
But you’re in a shitty office somewhere. I’m a romantic!
Does that mean you do a lot of travelling? Louise: Bruno does a lot of research.
Obviously we did a big tour before we
opened the shop. Then for the first three The Rhône and Beaujolais are particular strong points
The shop, which incorporates a spacious
cellar and an upstairs office facing the local art-house cinema, offers instant respite
from the bustle outside. There’s a homely and distinctly lived-in ambience, organic
rather than prissy in its conception.
Behind the counter there are still some
tiles visible from the days in which the place was a butcher’s and many of the
display cabinets are repurposed vintage
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 27
years there were just two of us in the shop
and we were working every hour god sent. But now we’ve got two lovely guys who
are working with us: two French guys, one from Burgundy and one from Bordeaux
who Bruno worked with before at Nicolas. Continues page 28
THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE
From page 27
That’s working really well so now we have more time. So yes, we are trying to travel around.
Is the range fairly settled? Louise: Yeah, but we have new stuff every year. Last year we probably had about 10 new winemakers.
Bruno: This year we are going to progress with the ones we have because we’re reaching what we want to achieve.
Your storage is in the cellar downstairs – is it big enough to accommodate deliveries on pallets?
The terrace area is popular even in the coldest weather
Louise: Yes, more and more we are getting pallets as we grow, and we do a little
groupage. Bruno’s dad pops around some of them and collects wines and makes a
Have you built up relationships with
arrived. The driver could see how excited I
Bruno: Yes, that has just happened.
they enjoy working and growing with us
any producers and then found that they
was and let me on the tail lift!
Louise: You can’t blame them, but it is a real
Bruno: We started with that for logistic
Do you ever share agencies with other
range of people who are not in the UK.
It was so exciting when our first pallets
Was it nerve-wracking to begin with? Did you have enough stock as quickly as
want to move on to a bigger importer?
shame. We lost him and his wines.
small importers in other parts of the
Louise: When we see pictures, the shop did
it was mainly Rhône because the Rhône
know and it’s never been a problem. The
look quite empty.
Louise: Very few.
was sourced by me and friends. For the
small domaines we are working with don’t
Bruno: We had two pallets to start with and Loire we had to build those relationships.
Louise: I think it’s really nice to support the local vignerons. I love paying them. When I’m in the office and I have to pay BT or whatever, it’s not the same.
Bruno: When they do that they let us
produce enough [for that], so once they’ve
allocated domestically, for us and for a guy in Belgium, they’re done.
Louise: A lot of them are nervous too,
because they’ve been stung before. So
‘A lot of producers are nervous because they’ve been stung before, but they enjoy working with us because they know they get paid on time’ THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 28
because they know they get paid on time. Is the Rhône still where your heart is?
reasons and because of me. The idea was always to explore and to have a lovely
Louise: We have good relationships with a lot of them and we’ve stayed in their houses and had dinner with them.
We’ve got a collection we are quite proud
of and we have a nice range of Beaujolais. Bruno: I think it was beautiful to see it in Lou’s eyes as well because it was new to
her to see the vineyards in winter, to meet these people.
Since it is harder and harder to find
cheap but good Burgundies, we thought
we’d get a good range of Beaujolais to sell from £15.99. We tried from the customer perspective to see what they would like
and tried to find it. It is good value and we can lead the customers to try that when they don’t want to spend £26, £27 on a “proper” Pinot Noir.
LA CAVE DE BRUNO
Louise: The last two years we have got our
Bruno: If the customers want it we do it
It seems to be quite a thing here now.
don’t have many sulphites and so on
own Beaujolais Nouveau in, which has been
of course, but we specialise in really good
fun. This year people were pre-ordering it.
wines at a good price. All of these wines
because we are working with people who
Is there anywhere in France you’d like
care about wine.
to be working in but isn’t represented that well here at the moment?
You have three barrels with wine on tap.
Bruno: Well there is all the Jura and Savoie,
Is that a KeyKeg system?
since we have to grow in volume to develop
down through the cellar and through a
for instance, and I would love a few bottles
Louise: No, we’ve got a 10-litre bag-in-box
this area. We can’t have a pallet from the
cooler, so it comes out cold.
from there, but it is hard at the moment Jura or Savoie so they have to be sent to
somewhere in Burgundy or the Rhône so
they are expensive already. They are very
good but expensive. Otherwise I would say
under there. The white and the rosé goes
La Cigalette: still a vital part of the range
we reach pretty much what we wanted to
of a trend. People ask for natural wine, and
How have you found things since the
lot of them do organic wine well, but it’s
achieve on the French side.
currency took a knock? Has it made life harder? Louise: No. Obviously prices changed,
but not too dramatically. There was the first hit but everybody has been pretty understanding. It’s kind of settled but
with the new duty now, and obviously god
knows what’s going to happen at the end of March …
then when they try it …
Bruno: When you speak to a winemaker a not something we are based on. There
are some lovely organic and biodynamic wines.
Louise: Smaller winemakers farm
organically anyway and more and more
are getting the certification, even though
they’ve been doing it for a hundred years.
In the summer people go ballistic for it.
It’s a way of bringing good quality wines at
an affordable price, because it is hard to get good bottles at £10 and under and this is
a good way of doing it. We’ve got different bottle sizes and you see people walking
around with their litres of rosé, off to the park and to friends’ barbecues and stuff.
Bruno: They love the idea of having just one bottle to recycle. They love the price, they
love the wine. There is a bit of maintenance
Continues page 30
Have you taken a hit on margins? Louise: Not really, we can’t afford to. Well,
when we’ve got something that’s £9.99 or
£10.99, we do what we can to keep it there rather than go up to £11.50 or whatever –
then actually yes, our margins do take a hit. That’s always the sad thing – you change
prices, but you don’t get any more, and the lovely winemakers don’t get any more. I
find that really sad. Our customers are a good understanding local bunch.
Where do you stand on the biodynamic, organic and natural wine issue? Louise: I think people used to ask for it
more a couple of years ago – it became a bit
The draught wine system. “In the summer, people go ballistic for it”
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 29
THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE
From page 29
with all of that, and you need to keep an eye on it.
Louise: It is how we can have something
at £6.90 for red and £6.99 for the white or rosé. We do it by the glass for outside too. The terrace works really well, so we
do red, white and rosé by the glass and we have a wine of the week. It’s a good
addition. People love having wine by the glass, some people are really interested
and want to learn more and ask Bruno. It’s a chance for them to try different things. Or they can buy any bottle and for a £5 corkage, they can sit outside and drink that.
The couple met when Louise was a customer at Bruno’s Nicolas branch
Do you have people coming in at all times to sit down and have a drink? Louise: Obviously being a local girl with
lots of friends who live nearby and work in
the shops, pretty much every night they are outside, wrapped in blankets, in the snow, in the rain. So most evenings we are quite busy.
More and more people are finding
out about the terrace, and they are
tastings. Last year a family brought their
gone into creating the look and feel
back with Bruno. That was nice.
Louise: I love doing houses up and I love
cases [she points to the panels on the front
dad for father’s day and there were about
of the place. How did you go about
Bruno: I’ve been asked to do tastings at
salvage yards and markets. My uncle was
eight of them who had a tasting out the
creating the interior?
people’s houses, and I’m like, yes – why
very big in wine, so these are all his lovely
Do you offer any food?
disappointed if there’s no more room.
Louise: We want to do food; we only do
around and jump on the sofa, so they feel at
Wednesday nights we just have one
Bruno: They come on the weekend with
the kids, and the kids have space to dance
home. So the mums and dads feel at home too.
What kind of community is it here in East Dulwich – is it quite familyfocused? Louise: There’s quite a mixture of
customers but a lot of families. It’s quite
a community. Everyone knows everyone
and everyone knows all the shopkeepers’
names. There’s a nice vibe in the evenings. Do you have tasting events?
Louise: We don’t really. We do private
olives and nuts. It’s something to be
developed. On Monday, Tuesday and
person on at the minute. It might just be a weekend thing that we do.
How are your spirits sales doing?
of the counter, bearing the names of various châteaux]. It’s just finding all these things in markets.
I didn’t want it to feel uncomfortable.
Some wine shops can feel a bit austere and you don’t feel brave enough to go inside.
We didn’t want that. We wanted people to feel relaxed.
In the first few years, was there
Bruno: We sold a lot of gin and that is going
anything you did that, looking back, was
would go for it.
harder than we thought it would be.
well. We could have had French gin made
from olives, but I’m not sure the customers
Bruno: I think we realised it was much
try. You can taste the olives and it doesn’t
and at first it was complicated.
It’s expensive, and good, so we’ll give it a
clash – but French gin? Will people go for it?
There’s obviously a lot of love that’s
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 30
Neither of us knew about the transport
Louise: We probably get about 40 pallets
a year. In November and December you’ve got three or four coming a week, then you don’t have any for ages.
LA CAVE DE BRUNO
‘Deliveroo is going quite well. We take about a grand every two weeks. Out of 30 regular customers, you have 15 who will order Champagne at over £60’
Do you run out of lines sometimes?
Is the business making a profit at this
Louise: We do sometimes, yeah.
Is that just the way it goes?
Louise: Yeah, sometimes. Good old cash
flow: you can’t always get everything at
once and that is the beauty and the beast of what we do. The beauty is we import our
own wines, but the beast is that we have to pay the duty up front.
How is Deliveroo working out for you? Louise: Deliveroo is going quite well. The
range is more expensive than in the shop because they take quite a big margin.
People literally order from the app and it
gets delivered to their front door in about 10 minutes. The bikes come here. The
Louise: Just after the fifth year, it’s getting there, yes. Slowly, surely.
We’re just starting wholesale. We work
with a couple of restaurants. The lovely
Palmerston just down the road: we have 16 wines in with them, and they have a little sister Thai restaurant called The Begging
Bowl down in Peckham, which we do good business with as well.
I think with shops, the rent and the rates
can feel so hard so we’re really keen to
start the wholesale business. We’re about to go for it and it’s quite exciting.
What kind of wholesale customers are you looking for? The kind of pubs and
tablet alerts us when there’s an order, you
restaurants that maybe don’t want a
So for a £15 bottle of wine off your shelf,
Louise: We want people who care. It shocks
print off the ticket and see what it is.
cheap Prosecco but might be interested
delivered by Deliveroo, I’d pay, say, £20?
us that we go out to lovely restaurants and
Louise: Yes, probably. We make a wholesale margin on that.
We take about a grand every two weeks.
It’s helped with advertising, and reached people the other side of Dulwich, in
Peckham or Camberwell. We have regular customers on Deliveroo and people buy some quite nice stuff.
Bruno: Out of say 30 regular customers
on Deliveroo, you have 15 every week will order some Champagne at over £60. They can’t find it anywhere else, it’s niche.
It’s for people who have money and want
to treat themselves. People are asking for the good stuff.
the chefs are so passionate about amazing products and amazing food but the wine
list is just absolute crap. There’s the same stuff everywhere.
Can you imagine having a second shop? Louise: I think we’d really like a successful
wholesale business and a cute shop in East Dulwich.
We’ve just gone through another rent
review and you feel like a sitting duck.
I’m sure that as the wholesale develops
we’ll find a whole series of other problems that don’t exist yet. But it feels, to start with, that we can control it a bit more.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 31
ARTISANS OF CHAMPAGNE
3. Caroline Defaut Vineyard Manager Following International Women’s Day, we speak to Devaux’s vineyard manager, whose entire team is female I head up the vineyard support team at Champagne Devaux. This support service, offered to our growers since 1998, was the brainchild of Laurent Gillet and Patrick Vignez who were early proponents of sustainable vineyard practices. My job is to help our growers to understand the importance of sustainable practices for both the environment and wine quality. I work closely with our growers throughout the year to assess and advise the work needed in the vineyards, and by hosting viticultural training days and trips for them to continue to develop their knowledge. Since 2011, in collaboration with Chef de Cave Michel Parisot, we created and have been following a strict criteria that governs our vineyard and winemaking practices. These requirements include the use of only organic fertilisers; no herbicides or pesticides; low yields; selective handharvesting; and pressing options that are suitable for that particular harvest. Today, women are still a lot less represented in the vineyards than men. But it seems at Devaux we are an exception as our vineyard team is made up uniquely of women! With every generation you see more and more women enter into this field and there is strength in numbers. I believe the more united we become regarding our vision for how to work in the vineyards, the issues of gender will become far less important.
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 www.libertywines.co.uk
ENGLISH WINE The cream of Devon
Fat of the land
Sharpham Estate, near Totnes in Devon, has been in existence for 37 years, making it one of the oldest producers in the country. It offers a wide range of still and sparkling wines which effectively comprise the entire English selection of the nearby Dartmouth Wine Company.
The full English
Kingscote Estate in We Bacchus – a lightly-oake producer describes not lime in a delightfully co citrus and spicy finish”. The Wine and the Vine
Ed Capper Dartmouth Wine Company Dartmouth, Devon Which English wines do you list? I just provide the local, Sharpham Estate,
David Williams speaks to seven independent merchants from around the country about their experiences with English wine. Which brands are standing out? Is it all about the local? And are still wines holding their own, or do bubbles always rise to the top?
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 32
which is about 12 or 13 wines: a Pinot Noir, a rosé, seven whites, and three sparkling: rosé, vintage, and reserve.
Which of them are doing well for you? Out of everything they do, their Dart Valley
Sam Linter, winemaker and boss at Bolney Wine Estate in West Sussex, has more fruit to work with now that the business has doubled its vineyard holdings to 104 acres. Bolney has won acclaim among independent merchants for its red wines, made from Rondo and Pinot.
st Sussex has its own take on ed version called Fat Fumé. The tes of “peach, ripe gooseberry and omplex riot of flavours with a long It’s a standout wine for Jez Grice at in Radlett, Hertfordshire.
All English wine is very similar in my
opinion, a similar style at any rate. I could
fill the shop with English wine, but it would all be very similar! I found that working
with the local vineyard is the best thing to
do, and because they have their range, that covers most of the bases of English wine.
And it always felt like the right thing to do. Paul Oliver Olivers Wine Warehouse Copthorne, West Sussex Which English wines do you have and how are they selling? You’d have thought we’d do quite a few, given where we are. But we only do
Blackdown Ridge and Three Vines, which is a new estate. They’re very, very local,
the other side of East Grinstead. They’re
still wines, and the red and white are really Some of David Williams’s friends on October 1 The South Downs as seen from Nyetimber’s vineyards in Sussex
quite drinkable. The Three Vines have
been in the Wine Emotion machines and [customers] give them a go. What about sparkling?
Reserve, which is their entry-level white, is the best seller. It’s entry-level, but that means it has to be good because people
judge them on it. It’s a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Chardonnay, at £11.75.
That’s a pretty reasonable price compared with some, although people do have that £10 cut-off. It’s a challenge to get them
beyond that, but when you do persuade
them, they like it – they’re impressed by it. How easy is it to sell?
It’s probably the best selling wine in the
We have tried the fizz, the trouble is it’s
and do tastings, and I have them on tasting.
It’s hard: the moment they see the price [of
shop year on year, and that’s partly because of the local connotations. They come in
My stock tends to breathe – I won’t always have the same wine on from year to year, but they know that I have it. Also, for
tourists it makes a good gift and the locals like it.
Ever tempted to list any more from other parts of the country?
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 33
Prosecco, Prosecco, Prosecco for us these
days, with a bit of Champagne at Christmas. English wine] is the same as Champagne.
And we’re not at that sort of level anyway.
We’re not London, and we’re not Brighton, so not the same sort of deep prices and knowledge.
Continues page 35
GUSBOURNE HITS NEW HEIGHTS For winemaker Charlie Holland, the new Blanc de Blancs from the superb 2014 vintage represents the pinnacle of what the Kent winery has produced so far
he 2014 vintage was a special one in England: fine
weather, ripe fruit and early picking sent a wave of optimism around the nation’s wineries.
Last year, Gusbourne released its signature Brut Reserve
from that vintage, to widespread acclaim. But there’s even
more anticipation surrounding the Blanc de Blancs 2014, which winemaker Charlie Holland feels will take Gusbourne’s already enviable reputation to a new level.
“We have had hot years in the past, like 2009 and 2011, but this
one was a bit of a watershed moment for us in terms of the levels of ripeness we could get,” he says.
“There wasn’t a huge amount of this wine because we naturally
had a lower crop and intentionally relatively low yields. We want to get that intensity into the fruit, but it’s also out of respect for
the vineyards and soils – if you have these big, huge crops you’re
depleting a lot of the natural resources from the vines. Low yields mean you can pack loads of flavour in.
“The wines have a lovely weight that’s balanced by the acidity.
We’re really excited by how they’re developing.
“In 2014 there was a different spectrum of flavours. It moved
away from the classic English, very heightened citrus, through to more evolved orchard fruits.”
Most of the grapes came from Kent. “The soils have this lovely
salty, mineral character to them so it’s trying to balance that with some nice fresh fruit,” says Holland. “The Blanc de Blancs spends nearly four years on lees now so it’s starting to pick up those tertiary flavours. It’s a really well-balanced wine.
“We only use our own fruit, from 14 different vineyards over two
sites, and that allows us to really get this complexity. This year we
had 120 different components in tank and barrel so you can really understand what each site gives you. “These vines are now 10 years old
so they’re really starting to get into their adulthood.”
Gusbourne’s philosophy is to make
all its cuvées as vintage wines.
“The challenge we have is how
Blanc de Blancs 2014 is expected to retail at around £60
you show vintage variation and also achieve a certain amount of
consistency,” Holland says, “and we do that by piecing together all these different components.
“Brut Reserve is more of our house style, whereas the Blanc
de Blancs really seems to express the sites it’s from. Lots of that lovely mineral oyster shell, sea-salt character.
“Every year we’re getting smarter with what we’re doing in
the vineyard and what we’re doing to really support that in the winery. And 2014 is a ground-breaking year for that.”
Visit the Gusbourne website at www.gusbourne.com Telephone 01233 758666
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 34
From page 33
Are you tempted to take on any more English wines? We don’t find we have much call for it. Until consumers ask us for something, we won’t
sell it. We’re quite close to Rathfinny, so I’ll
be interested to see how that goes. It could be interesting.
Carl Evans Saxtys Secret Bottle Shop Hereford Which English wines do you list? At the moment we’ve got four producers,
with five wines from Sixteen Ridges, three
from Tudor Manor, two from Chapel Down, and one from Oxney, an organic estate. Is it important for you to have local producers? Sixteen Ridges and Tudor Manor are just down the road, and we’ve been dealing
closely with them for several years. But
we’re not only doing well with local: we’ve had really good success with Chapel Down [based in Kent] and Oxney [East Sussex].
Has English wine become an easier sell in recent years? English wine is a bit of a harder sell. I
mean, the still wines are price competitive, but the sparkling is more expensive,
and English sparkling wines are not the
cheapest. At £22 to £23, they’re a harder sell, but once people try them they like
Harvest underway at Albury in Surrey, one of a small number of biodynamic estates in the UK
are in the process of looking at our wine
list, and we’d definitely consider adding to them. English wine is definitely more of a hand-sell rather than an online sale. Richard Taylor The Framlingham Wine Shop
them. But I think the knowledge has
more local or British producers.
I don’t have any!
The Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noir Early Red
I probably will in the spring, but it’ll be just
improved, and with Brexit, people are
looking more and more to buy and support
Which English wines do you list?
Which wines in your range stand out?
A short conversation then!
does really well – it’s a really nice wine. We
from the local winery, which is Shawsgate.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 35
Why won’t you have more? Because I found that people don’t really
want “English wine”, they want a particular wine from an English winery they visited
once. The chances of finding that are low. But in terms of Shawsgate, they’re local, they’re small, and people will know it.
As for the others it would be a case of
carrying one wine on the off chance that
somebody will know it. It’s not like Chablis – where they want a Chablis. They want that English wine!
Continues page 36
From page 35
Jez Grice The Wine and the Vine Radlett, Hertfordshire Which English wines do you list? We have four producers: Kingscote, Sugrue, Bolney and Lyme Bay.
‘People are loving English wine. It’s very rare that we get anyone who’d prefer to buy Champagne instead now’
independents, you can talk about how it’s made, and they understand it’s made in
the same way as Champagne, and they’re very proud of them. And I’ve actually got
someone else coming in to buy some now! Monique Worth Worth Brothers, Staffordshire Which English wines do you list?
Taittinger project comes through. It’s about
The only producer we have is Hush Heath.
the year before last, and that was a turning
And how is it doing for you?
as asking for them. The unfortunate thing is that they all put the prices up at the
Which English wines do you list?
customer about English wine when you
How are they selling? For the past couple of years, pretty well. The English Wine Producers [Wine GB]
bombarded us with point-of-sale material
producing their own style.
point where people started buying as well
Seven Cellars, Brighton
beginning of the year before anyone else
Funnily enough I was just talking to a
What stands out in your range?
Wiston, which is a wonderful winery,
Kingscote Fat Fumé, which is an oaked Bacchus. I had it at a Brexit tasting as
called, and I was informing her about making some brilliant wines.
an alternative to Sancerre. I’d say it was
Any in particular?
like an Albariño-Bacchus. The estate was
balance to it, fully flavoured –
running head to head with Sancerre for
The Wiston NV Blanc de
bought last summer, and they’re changing
it’s just the style of sparkling I
price. They make some interesting blends, things around.
Bolney has got more accessible. The
Noirs: it’s just got such a lovely like anyway.
deep coloured red – the Lychgate – shocks
And apart from that?
the colour. It’s made from Rondo.
have some Blackshaw, from
everyone and surprises them. It sells very
well as a novelty; never seen anything like Lyme Bay try very hard. They have a
much more fruit-driven and New World
style, but it’s good to have the contrast. The Bacchus Blanc goes down pretty well, and the Chardonnay they do. How about sparkling?
Sparkling sales generally have gone down for us; we haven’t been selling much of anything apart from Prosecco! All
sorts of things might change when that
We’ve got quite a lot, at least two bays of Sussex wines. We also Hampshire. People are loving
it. They buy it over and above Champagne on very many
occasions. It’s actually very
rare that we get anyone who’d prefer to buy Champagne
instead now. It’s just gone into people’s consciousness.
So price isn’t an issue? Price isn’t a barrier. As
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 36
We do the Chardonnay and two or three sparkling.
I always recommend Hush Heath. I drink
it; I think it’s lovely. It gives us something interesting to offer customers if they’re
going to a party or looking for a present. I took two bottles back to Australia at
Christmas, and everyone was blown away by it on Christmas day. A huge hit at 27
degrees – the temperature, not the alcohol! Do your customers share your enthusiasm? English sparkling is very expensive. But [with Hush Heath] it’s such a delicate
flavour, as soon as they’ve had it they’re
prepared to pay for it. You know it’s got
to be good if they’re taking a chance on a £25 bottle. They know it’s a delicate style, and the wine’s so caressing and soft – that softness goes
through the Hush Heath wines.
The white is very delicate and
floral, and it’s interesting and they have to go back to it. People who buy wine
at that sort of price are open to it, and it’s not
just Hush Heath. Once they’ve tried English
wine of any brand, then they’re willing to try it again.
Kingscote Estate Set
Kingscote Estate is located near East Grinstead. The vineyards have been planted within the origins of the English country garden created by author William Robinson. Vines
Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Blanc and Regent. The Kingscote Estate has been established to produce more than 100,000 bottles under the Kingscote brand each year. Bacchus 2013 is made from the ripest Bacchus grapes. A dry, rich and refreshing wine, the colour of new mown hay. Distinctively classic grassy and nettle nose. The palate explodes with floral and citrus flavours with a lingering crisp finish.
Contact: Carol Thwaites 01342 327535 firstname.lastname@example.org www.kingscoteestate.com
E NG L I S H S PA R K L I NG W I N E
FROM THE HEART OF HAMPSHIREâ€™S CHALK DOWNS W W W. E X T O N PA R K V I N E YA R D . C O M
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 38
MAKE A DATE
Pol Roger Portfolio Tasting
The Big Fortified Tasting
The first Pol Roger portfolio tasting in
Fortified wines are often the
a decade will celebrate the evolution of
afterthought at mainstream wine
the agency business since its foundation
tastings, the final stopping-off point
before visitors head for the cloakroom
This tasting will showcase the entire
range of producers which now comprises
and exit. But here they take centre stage. There will be around 50 different
Champagne Pol Roger, Bodegas Artardi,
producers with in excess of 300 fortified
Abreu, Dalla Valle Vineyards, Gallica and
registration can also be arranged.
Joseph Drouhin, Domaine Josmeyer, Robert
Sinskey Vineyards, Staglin Family Vineyard, Crown Estates as well as Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt.
Each agency will have a dedicated tasting
area in which to present core lines and
new releases as well as some library stock. Highlights include the launch of Pol
Roger Brut Vintage from the 2012 cuvée, and the unveiling of the new IGO organic canned rosé.
A series of masterclasses will also be on
wines on show. A full list of exhibitors
can be found at www.thebft.co.uk, where
Exhibiting for the first time will be two
producers from the Azores Island of Pico. There will be a masterclass on white
ports, hosted by Sogevinus, and three
other masterclasses, sponsored by IVBAM (the Madeira trade body) and Consejo
Regulador de Jerez. The fourth was yet to
be confirmed at the time of going to press. Tuesday, April 16
Wednesday, April 3
Alsace & Germany Tasting
For more information or to register,
contact email@example.com. Sessions House 22 Clerkenwell Green London EC1R 0NA
Deans Yard London SW1P 3NZ
Newcomer Wines and Vine Trail have
Organic France Tasting
come together to present a tasting to
A tasting focusing purely on French
generation of Alsatian and German
organic and environmentally friendly wines. For more information contact Claire.
celebrate the common ground of Alsace and Germany. With the focus firmly on the new
winemakers, this tasting will be an
opportunity to meet the growers from both sides of the Rhine.
Register at EventBrite.
Tuesday, April 9
Monday, April 15
11 Old Street
London SW1Y 4SP
London EC1V 9HL
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 39
JOIN THE SUMMER OF SOAVE Wine merchants and restaurants are being encouraged to tap into the growing popularity of Soave wines with a summer initiative backed by the region’s consorzio. Eighteen producers are taking part in the Summer of Soave project, which runs from May until July. The aim is to increase awareness of the “contemporary, fresh styles of Soave that are now being produced”, according to the organisers. Participating venues will benefit from a full PR support campaign that will be targeting national and regional press, and a suite of POS material that will be available free of charge. An integrated social media campaign will run across the consorzio’s social media channels, @soavewine. Sarah Abbott MW says: “Soave is one of Italy’s most recognised and exported wines, more widely travelled even than the Venetian merchants whose renaissance wealth helped to create it. The renaissance of contemporary Soave is complete, at least as far as the nuance and aspiration of the wines is concerned.” She adds: “The visionary pioneers of the 1980s and 1990s have inspired a new generation to show the true character and quality of authentic Soave. Tighter production regulations have returned the focus to the elements of Soave’s terroir: the Garganega grape, and the ancient hillside sites on volcanic and limestone soils. “As Burgundy prices rise everhigher, the market is looking for alternative sources of textured, elegant, age-worthy dry whites. And Soave – whether from an artisanal producer of a few thousand cases, or from the dynamic and modernised cooperatives – is ready with high quality at a fair price.” For further information and to sign up, visit www.summerofsoave. com/home or email madeleine@ swirlwinegroup.com.
© jcfotografo / stockadobe.com
THE SPIRITS WORLD
Agave fields in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Is tequila’s future clear? The new Cristalino style may be cocktail-friendly, but some prefer the more down-and-dirty appeal of mezcal, says Nigel Huddleston
equila has a new toy to play with. Cristalino has been hailed by
some as the future of the Mexican
spirit, by others as no more than a set of
emperor’s new clothes. It involves ageing tequila in wood but, through repeated
filtering, taking out the colour that this
imparts. The idea is that it gives the flavour benefits of ageing while delivering a
cocktail-friendly crystal-clear liquid.
“It produces an aged, yet clear liquid
that is remarkably smooth and one that
is favoured by those who find traditional blancos too overpowering,” says Max
Davies-Gilbert, one half of the Londonbased start-up tequila brand Enemigo,
one of whose two spirits is its 89 Añejo Cristalino, one of fewer than 40 on the market.
Dawn Davies, head buyer at spirits
supplier Speciality Drinks, is less
enthusiastic. “I don’t see the point,” she
says. “Anything that strips out anything is detrimental to the product. How is that a good thing unless you want to produce a neutral spirit?”
Quite apart from the aesthetics of
tinkering with product delivery, a more pertinent question might be whether
tequila needs a leg-up commercially from new stuff at all.
UK off-trade sales may still be way off the
category’s mega-star status in the US, but
sherry pioneer is honoured
the perfumier and the pict
gin is turning japanese
Theodore gin will be Greenwood Distillers’ first product from its new Ardross distillery in the Scottish Highlands.The gin is named after the 16th-century Pictish illustrator Theodore de Bry and includes honey, damask rose and oolong tea among its 16 botanicals, made under the guidance of perfume designer Barnabé Fillion.
Blueberries are relatively new to Japan, having first been cultivated in the country as recently as the 1950s. The best are apparently grown in Nagano prefecture and it’s these that the British-owned but Japanese-inspired Kokoro is using in a new Blueberry & Lemongrass gin liqueur. The 20% abv drink has sister flavours of Yuzu & Ginger and Cherry Blossom.
The first in the Glengoyne Legacy Series of Scotch whiskies celebrates the work of Cochrane Cartwright, a 19th-century distillery manager who introduced a slowed-down distillation process and sherry barrels for ageing for the first time at the distillery. Chapter One carries a £55 rrp and has first-fill European Oloroso oak at its core.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 40
growth is bubbling along in double digits. “The tequila market is doing fine by
itself,” says Davies. “Why make tequila more like vodka?”
“The traditional high-sugar, American-
style Margaritas are being replaced with more simple serves.
“With Enemigo and a few other high-end
sipping tequilas, bartenders aren’t trying
market has seen numerous premium
crafted agave spirits is actually playing
erhaps the answer to that lies in tequila’s troubled history,
the one involving citrus-edged
shot glasses and cruet sets. Though the tequila launches over recent years, the
category as a whole remains saddled with a downmarket image that has as much to do
with the realities of 21st century fashion as stone-washed jeans and mullet haircuts.
Davies-Gilbert at Enemigo says smaller
brands have a clean sheet of paper on
which to redraw perceptions of tequila.
“There is a general desire to move away
from large commercial entities towards those that are more artisanal,” he says.
to disguise the taste of the tequila with sugary mixers.”
Dawn Davies at Speciality Drinks says
the desire for small-batch and hand-
out in increased in interest in mezcal, the
smokier, garage-door cousin to large-scale tequilas.
“A standard tequila is a standard tequila,”
she says. “As long as it’s in balance it’s not going to blow your mind.
“Mezcal is quite a different beast. I
think it resonates more with wine people because you’re talking about varietal and terroir whereas tequila is more generic.
“I did a wine show before Christmas and
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 41
‘The traditional highsugar, American-style Margaritas are being replaced with more simple serves that don’t disguise the taste’ I took some mezcal along and some tonic for people. They went crazy for this stuff. I was shocked by the number of people
saying it was the best thing they tasted all day.”
Speciality Drinks carries around 200
tequilas and 130 mezcals while sister
agency company Speciality Brands lists
Tapatio and Don Fulano tequilas and Ilegal Continues page 42
© jcfotografo / stockadobe.com
No. 3 The tequila category is seeing double-digit growth in the take-home trade
Though now associated with New
From page 41
Orleans and rye whisky, the Sazerac cocktail actually takes its name from the Cognac producer Sazerac-deForge from which it was first made. The absinthe acts merely as a lining for the glass. All in all it comes under the heading of Serious Drink and this chocolate-kissed twist, with Easter in mind, was created by Tonin Kacaj at Maze in London in 2005.
and Derrumbes mezcals as exclusives
15ml absinthe 15ml crème de cacao liqueur 7.5 ml sugar syrup 2 dashes of bitters
ice, add the absinthe and dilute with water. In a shaker, stir the bourbon, cacao liqueur, syrup and bitters together. Discard the contents of the glass and strain the mix from the shaker into the glass. Garnish with lemon slice or twist.
mezcal range because they were having a
tequila and Monte Alban mezcal.
“We’ve got 17% growth overall across
“[The Whisky Exchange shop in] Covent
Garden has just increased its tequila and
lot of demand. We’re seeing more and more “Mezcal starts at a higher price point. We
see more push-back on that. You won’t get
the volumes that tequila will do but tequila is less price sensitive and the ladder is
longer. My starting mezcal is £30 retail and tequila is around £21 for a good quality one like Ocho.
Fill an Old Fashioned glass with
Wilde’s terroir-driven El Destilado project,
the on- and the off-trade,” Davies adds.
within its portfolio.
brands coming in all the time. 60ml bourbon
of the mezcals in East End bar Sager &
“Some really good mezcals like
Quiquiriqui and Pensador are starting
to come in a bit lower,” he adds – though by lower here we’re talking at sub-£40,
compared to prices double that for many
i-Spirits brought the single-
estate concept to tequila with
its launch of a four-strong range
from Corazón last September, joining a
portfolio that also includes Montezuma Managing director Dan Bolton says:
“Tequila is no longer a one-size-fits-
all category when it comes to stocking choices, with consumer demand for a
range of styles, as well as mainstream and premium options.
“Sipping tequilas and cocktail serves
are growing in popularity, but equally, the
rituals associated with tequila are integral to many consumers’ enjoyment.
“The flavours and cooking styles of Latin
and South America have moved very much into the mainstream of eating out, and tequila has definitely benefited.”
manly moves into uk market
plans for pineapple
Marine Botanical vodka, Black Fin cold brew coffee liqueur and Zesty Limoncello are among a whole bunch of spirits about to descend on the UK from Australian producer Manly Spirits. Head distiller Tim Stones used to work at Beefeater and the Manly range will be marketed through Boutique Bar Brands with distribution through Enotria&Coe.
Liqueurs and bitters brand The Bitter Truth has added a fruity rum to its armoury available through Love Drinks. Tiki Lovers Pineapple is a blend of Jamaican, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana rums infused over the course of several weeks with a natural pineapple extract. Great for cocktails and retailing at around the £33 mark.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 42
S W E D I S H S I N G L E M A LT W H I S K Y
MACKMYRA ÄPPELBLOM IS AN ELEGANT SINGLE MALT WHISKY IN COLLABORATION WITH CHRISTIAN DROUIN.
RICH, RIPE APPLES TOGETHER WITH GENEROUS NOTES OF OAK, CITRUS, PEAR, CEDAR AND ALMOND TOFFEE.
THE AROMATIC PROFILE OF ÄPPELBLOM DERIVES FROM CASKS THAT PREVIOUSLY HELD CHRISTIAN DROUIN CALVADOS.
NOW AVAILABLE TO ORDER. SRP: £60.
ALC. 46.1 % VOL. VOLUME: 70 CL
buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
New 2019 wine list We’re delighted to announce that our new 2019 wine list is out! The list is aimed at indies and the on-trade.
Once again, we’ve worked particularly hard to find new producers and new wines to
complement our portfolio. There has been a particular focus on highlighting vegan and vegetarian wines, which now make up over 50% of our list. Amongst the highlights are
three new producers: Pormenor from the Douro, Cave de
Cairanne from the Rhône Valley and Tenute Tomasella from Friuli-Venezie.
Please contact sales@
buckingham-schenk.co.uk to receive your copy!
Please join us for our Spring Spirits & Sparkling Tasting on Monday 25th March 2019
14 Kennington Road London SE1 7BL
68 & Boston, 5 Greek Street, Soho, London W1 11am – 6pm
T: 020 7928 7300
We’ll be showing spirits from our wide-ranging portfolio, including Cognacs,
email@example.com www.newgenwines.com @newgenwines
liqueurs and organic vodka from ABK6, award-wining mezcals from Corte Vetusto, moonshine, rye and bourbon from Van Brunt Stillhouse, Calvados and Le Gin from
Christian Drouin, rum from Bristol Classic Rums, Elderwood English spirits, Kaiyo Japanese whiskies and Savage Particularly Dry London Gin.
In addition, there will be Champagne, Prosecco, Crémant, South African MCC and
English sparkling wines as well as Churchill’s Ports and Bodegas Tradición Jerez wines.
If you’d like to join us, please email london@ newgenwines.com to register. We look forward to seeing you.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 44
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
0207 409 7276 firstname.lastname@example.org www.louislatour.co.uk
Viu Manent is a family-owned Chilean winery founded in 1935. The family has built a reputation for excellence and has been exporting wines for several decades. Their
wines come from the Colchagua Valley where they own three vineyards in three distinct locations.
• Harper’s Wine Stars 2018 Star of Chile: Viu Manent ViBo Punta del Viento 2012 (RSP from £17.50)
• Harper’s Wine Stars 2019 Star of Colchagua: Viu Manent Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (RSP from £10.50)
ViBo Punta del Viento is a Mediterranean Grenache-dominant blend from Viu Manent’s hillside El Olivar vineyard, planted from 1999, whilst the Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
comes from a cool location in the historic San Carlos vineyard; both in the Colchagua
Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and fruity. Judges commented: “Good wine value! Green fruits, apple, gooseberry with lime and hint of spice on the finish; punchy, full flavoured.”
Chilean Winery of the Year 2017, Wines of Chile.
Named Best Visitor Centre 2018 by Drinks International Wine Tourism Awards. For more information www.viumanent.cl and www.louislatour.co.uk
hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 email@example.com www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield
NEW WINES Robert Oatley Signature Series G-18 2018 Mclaren Vale A light-styled Grenache that is comparable to a Joven or a Beaujolais. Grapes from the southern end of McLaren Vale have undergone partial carbonic maceration to create this vibrant, perfumed and juicy wine.
C.V.N.E. Maceración Carbónica 2017 Rioja Vibrant purple. Great aromatic intensity with classic aromas of fresh strawberries, blackberries and floral notes. On the palate there are marked sweet-berry flavours with grippy tannins, leading to a long and fruity finish.
Château de la Terrière Pinot Noir Bourgogne Rouge 2016 Burgundy Made from a 6ha vineyard in ‘Les Pierres Dorées’ in southern Burgundy, planted on clay and limestone. Ageing on fine lees in casks and barrels delivers a rounded wine with silky tannins and delicate aromas of cherry, strawberry and blackberry. Our portfolio: Champagne Taittinger · Louis Jadot, Burgundy · Joseph Mellot, Loire · Jean-Luc Colombo and Colombo & Fille, Rhône · C.V.N.E, Rioja · Gaja, Italy · 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.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 45
Women in Wine
Lucia Minoggio – Castello di Nipozzano, Tuscany, Italy Lucia’s family has always been linked to wine. Her mother, grandfather and her great-grandfather were wine-growers in Piedmont. Since 2016, Lucia has been part of the esteemed winemaking team at Frescobaldi.
Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hnwines.co.uk
Chloe Gabrielsen – Lake Chalice, Marlborough, New Zealand Raised in Turangi on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, Chloe’s early exposure to viticulture began with helping her parents pick out wine from the local store. After completing her first harvest in 2006, Chloe is now winemaker at Lake Chalice.
Valeria Antolin – Piattelli, Mendoza, Argentina It is hardly a surprise that Valeria Antolin became a winemaker. Her father was a famous sparkling winemaker in Mendoza and she has followed in his footsteps and is now the principal winemaker at Piattelli’s Mendoza and Cafayate wineries.
Samantha O’Keefe – Lismore Estate Vineyards, Greyton, South Africa A native Californian and Berkeley-educated, nothing seems to faze Sam and she has made her mark on the wine industry with a string of stunning cool-climate wines that have wowed customers and critics.
richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 email@example.com
Rogers & Rufus – a (very) fresh take on Barossa Grenache Established in 2007, Rogers & Rufus is the tale of two vignerons whose passion for wine is matched with a love for the frivolous summer months.
When pondering over what to imbibe one evening, it was
apparent that their ice buckets lacked one vital summer ingredient – a cold, crisp, pale rosé – and so… Rogers & Rufus was born.
With a shared appetite for the finer things in life, the two set
about creating the best expression of Australian rosé possible. Their experienced palates have sought out a delicious, savoury, vibrant
wine from the Barossa Valley showcasing the wonderful resource
that is dry-grown bush vine Grenache. The result is a pale salmon-
pink wine, with a savoury rather than fruity style. Palate is delicate and properly dry. Subtle Provencal style, and most importantly, eminently quaffable.
Contact exclusive UK agent RWA: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 46
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 email@example.com www.abswineagencies.co.uk
BRINGING THE WORLD OF WINE TO INDEPENDENT RETAILERS IN THE UK TOP PRODUCERS FROM TOP REGIONS
Our portfolio includes over 70 different producers, the majority family owned and operated from 13 wine producing countries around the world.
HELPING INDEPENDENTS BUILD AN ECONOMY OF SCALE ABS owned brands are sold in over 30 countries worldwide, giving UK based independents huge buying power whilst the wines they purchase remain exclusive to their sector.
BRINGING WINE MAKERS TO THE UK
In 2018 we hosted over 40 producers, from 10 different countries for a cumulative 177 days in the UK trade.
SHARING ENTHUSIASM THROUGH A PASSIONATE SALES TEAM The team have poured wine at over 30 national events in 2018, as well as at hundreds of individual customer tastings.
TELLING THE STORIES OF FAMILY RUN WINERIES Nothing sells better than a good story of people and places. ABS helps retailers put faces and names to the wines on their shelves; collating anecdotes, tales from vintages and family histories; culminating in products that are more than just the wine in, and label on, glass bottles. abswineagencies.co.uk
walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 firstname.lastname@example.org www.walkerwodehousewines.com
Introducing Kelly Washington Wines & Las Moradas de San Martín Walker & Wodehouse are delighted to be adding two new producers to their portfolio, Kelly Washington Wines and Las Moradas de San Martín.
Kelly Washington Wines, headed up by husband-and-wife team Simon Kelly and
Tamra Kelly-Washington, is one of New Zealand’s most exciting producers. Simon’s
commercial and wine industry experience combined with Tamra’s winemaking talent
make them a force to be reckoned with. Aiming to showcase the sub-regionality of New Zealand, they source diverse parcels from organic old vineyards in Marlborough and Central Otago, where the focus is on high-density planting and high-altitude vines. Kelly Washington Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is leafy and delicate with ripe
Las Moradas de San Martín is set in a unique landscape, surrounded
by pine woods, holm oaks, juniper, rockrose and a wide variety of aromatic
plants and native vegetation near Madrid. It was established in 1999 in order to recover the centuries-old vineyards of Garnacha that had been cultivated
there since the 12th century. Today, the 100-year-old Garnacha vines grow in
poor hilltop soils composed of sub-volcanic rock, granite and sand, which give the wines their essence: depth, elegance and length balanced with natural acidity. Las Moradas de San Martin Initio Garnacha 2011 is complex and elegant with flavours of blackberry, prunes and cocoa.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 47
fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB 07552 291045 email@example.com www.finewinepartners.co.uk
Spring offers from Fine Wine Partners
Spring is almost upon us, with lovely fresh and vibrant flavours calling for equally lively wines. Fine Wine Partners are focusing on shellfish – sardines, scallops and crab – and with
these lovely ingredients, in April there is 10% off the case price on wines that partner them.
Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2016 @ £106.53 per 6
Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2016 @ £67.79 per 6
St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 2017 @ £43.88 per 6
Stonier KBS Chardonnay 2015 @ £99.11 per 6
Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com to register.
Special introductory launch offer exclusive to indies: Buy 11 cases, get one free.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 48
mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD
Don’t miss out on the 2017 release of the Occultum Lapidem (“hidden gem”) Blanc & Rouge from Michel Chapoutier’s Roussillon property – Domaine de Bila-Haut.
020 7840 3600
These stunning wines both express the mineral effects of this
geologically complex and unique site; black and brown schist
deliver a “solar touch”; the gneiss “minerality and freshness”, while the limestone provides “strength and balance”.
These vibrant soils combine with incredibly old vines with
low yields resulting in some of the greatest wines to come out of Roussillon.
Bila-Haut has been much lauded by critics. Jeb Dunnuck
asserts: “I continue to be blown away by the quality coming from Domaine de Bila Haut, which is run with the Chapoutier team ... Even at the entry-level price point, the quality is stunning ... In
short, these are fabulous wines that show classic characters and represent incredible value.”
For details and pricing, please contact your account manager.
NOT YOU AGAIN!
customers we could do without
3. Caroline Chyngton-Gittings … No darling, leave the nice lady’s apron alone, let’s put you back in the buggy, no Mummy is not going to be buying “poker so”, Mummy is looking for some different bubbles this week. Let me ask the nice lady what she suggests. Oh yes, that does look smart … and you say it tastes of bread and pastry? And I suppose that’s a good thing? Well,
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
let’s put that one in the maybe pile then. And this one’s English, how
• 12 Bottle carrier boxes with dividers from £0.99p each
fascinating. And it tastes of red apples? You’d be hoping for an awful
Prices are subject to VAT • Delivery not included
lot of red apples at that price. I think I read somewhere that all the English wine guys are in terrible debt. Maybe we’re just helping them
01323 728338 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.eastprint.co.uk
pay off all these insanely massive overdrafts! … Champagne from Australia? How funny. Yes dear, like the Koala Brothers, don’t touch it. Full of fruit, it says. Sounds almost healthy! … Moscato. “Sweet foamy flowers,” says the chap from the Daily Mail on your sticker here. Ewww! Sounds like a bath … No, dear, the nice lady doesn’t want hummus on her map … OMG, is that the time? We’ll be late for yogabratz … Two boxes of the Prosecco. Yes the usual one, please, to the usual address …
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 49
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
South Africa: sustainable quality
by David Gleave MW
020 7720 5350
South Africans bristle if you call their country a ‘New World’ producer, for they have been
often in the Swartland and other areas off the beaten track. These wines, elegant and
producing wines for over 350 years. Despite this history, there is a real buzz surrounding
a generation of independent winemakers who are making exciting wines from old vines, precisely defined, are changing the perception of South African wine for the better.
In addition to this step up in quality, South Africa is also leading the way in sustainability
credentials. Winemakers there are tackling their shared environmental risks, protecting
conservation-worthy land as well as reducing their water usage and implementing
energy-efficient solutions. All of our producers (Fairview, Spice Route, Gabrielskloof,
Crystallum, Excelsior, Liberty Fairtrade) are fully committed to these initiatives and
are certified by Sustainable Wine South Africa (shown by the seal on each bottle*). Gabrielskloof is also a WWF Conservation
Champion and Charles Back’s work towards fair labour practices has been well documented.
LEN G E 2
MERCHANT OF THE YEAR
So they aren’t just making better wine, but
making wine better. There is much more to come from South Africa, so watch this space.
*Crystallum is working towards full certification
enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX www.enotriacoe.com
Welcoming Lucien Lurton to the Enotria&Coe portfolio– the most emblematic family in Bordeaux We are delighted to announce that we have just launched an exclusive partnership with
this amazing wine family – get in touch with your account manager to find out more! Between the 1950s and 1990s, Bordeaux saw the continued rise of Lucien Lurton,
020 8961 5161
who had grown to be one of the largest and wealthiest landowners in Bordeaux. A great
major crisis. In 1992, he handed down his properties to his 10 children, who had each
connoisseur and champion of the best terroirs, he made his name by defending many parcels of land, which were coveted by gravel merchants when the vineyards were in
grown up connected to an estate and the nuances of its terroir.
With some 3,000 acres in the
region, the Lurtons are the largest
holders of wine-producing land in Bordeaux, owning more than 20
châteaux, among which lie some of
the world’s most famous properties.
Although he is now 93 years old, Lucien Lurton still occasionally oversees harvest and is a continued source of inspiration to his children. Covering all key price points, the range is truly exceptional.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 50
berkmann wine cellarS 10-12 Brewery Road London N7 9NH email@example.com www.berkmann.co.uk London, South, Midlands, South West 020 7670 0972 North & Scotland 01423 357567
NEW FROM SPAIN Lesser known regions of Spain form the latest additions to our portfolio arriving this spring!
From Ribeira Sacra, Belarmino’s O Mouro Mencía is a delicate example of
this grape variety produced from 45-year-old vines from the Sober region of Galicia. RRP £14.99.
Sierra de Gredos, located one hour north of Madrid and south of Rueda, is
a mountainous region that is re-emerging from an era dominated by cooperative wine-making.
Soto Manrique have produced a modern, bang-on trend lighter Garnacha
style from the many old vines that remain in this region with La Transición. RRP £11.75. La Viña de Ayer, also from the same producer, is made from a fascinating indigenous white grape, Albillo Real. RRP £14.99.
Viñas del Cámbrico from Sierra de Salamanca, an obscure corner of
western Spain, are producing remarkable quality and unique wines from
Rufete and Rufete Blanca, both wines are organically farmed from old bush vines. RRP £22.99 (Rufete) £28.99 (Rufete Blanca).
From Priorat, RAR is the personal project of Scala Dei’s winemaker Richard
Rofes, offering exceptional value for money! RRP £22.99.
For further information please contact Louise.Howles@berkmann.co.uk.
UVA MIRA & NATTE VALLEIJ JOIN MUSEUM WINES PORTFOLIO
The Old Calf House Tarrant Hinton Dorset DT11 8JX
Uva Mira produce terroir-driven wines from their estate
01258 830 122
600 bottles are produced each vintage.
vineyards which reach 620m above sea level at their highest
point. They’ve recently been awarded 5 stars by John Platter for
the single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, following on from the Platinum medal and score of 97 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards for their D.W. Syrah – of which only Natte Valleij, owned and operated by the Milner family, is an exploration of Cape Cinsault. Alex Milner handcrafts old-vine Cinsault from four single
vineyard plots in Darling, Stellenbosch, Swartland and SimonsbergPaarl using minimal intervention. Cape Wine 2018 saw him launch the new vintage of P.O.W, a Cabernet Sauvignon-driven Bordeaux blend from Simonsberg-Paarl which sees 36 months in 300-litre
barrels – again produced using minimal intervention methods, unfined and unfiltered. And that’s not all. Môreson Wine Farm in Franschhoek have been awarded Diner’s
Club 2018 Chardonnay of the Year for their Mercator Chardonnay which is available
exclusively through Museum Wines. Clayton Reabow, the winemaker at Môreson, also received the accolade of 2018 Winemaker of the Year.
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2019 51
The Wine Merchant issue 78