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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 Thakker’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 Merchant’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%

• 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

management, hand-plunging

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 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter Assistant Editor: Claire Harries Sales and Business Development: Georgina Humphrey Accounts: Naomi Young The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 915 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2019 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82



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.”


Patrice wins a bottle of Josmeyer Le Dragon Riesling 2014. To nominate a rising star in your business, email

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

Important 86%

magazines as very or fairly unimportant.

4 Online and social media sources

Decanter, claims a UK circulation of just

Important 49%

Increasingly its readership is shifting

7 Wine tourism

Unimportant 0%

magazines, supermarkets and national

Important 90%

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

Important 78%

packed with titles. The main player,

5 TV programmes

across 99 countries, stands at 41,000).

Important 48%

580,000 web users per month.

8 Food magazines

have been selected at random and each wins

Important 30%

are Bruce Evans, Grape & Grain, Crediton;

11 Supermarkets

Beedell, Chesters, Abergavenny; and James

Number of responses: 158

True, it’s not exactly a market that’s

Important 65%

Unimportant 2% Unimportant 4% Unimportant 7% Unimportant 11%

under 16,000 copies (its global circulation,

6 Wine columns in newspapers

online: claims upwards of

Important 45%

• Five respondents in the reader survey

9 National wine clubs

Noir, courtesy of Hatch Mansfield. They

Important 23%

Important 35%

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;

Important 18%

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 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

they buy”.

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.


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

all know.

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


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 /

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.

start again.

the counter!”

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.


hillebrand ad supplied separately



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


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



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

RRP: £9.49

ABV: 13%

ABV: 11%

Bancroft Wines (020 7232 5440)

Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391)

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

ABV: 11.5%

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

ABV: 13.5%

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

ABV: 13%

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

ABV: 14.3%

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

ABV: 12%

Enotria&Coe (020 8961 5161)

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

ABV: 13%

Boutinot (0161 908 1391)



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


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 or or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Josmeyerwine; @Pol_Roger



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

any AOC.

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

door experience.

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:


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


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



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



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.









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

tasting menu?”

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



‘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


Very optimistic


Fairly pessimistic 10%

Very pessimistic 0








Number of responses: 183


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.”

2018 figure


two with a view to expand, and have

£650,000 £460,000 £895,539 £1,670,000


£400,000 £275,000

2019 figure

% change

2018 figure

2019 figure

% change





























































































































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%

Drink-in 54.9%








Wholesale £500,000









































Shop 34.6%


Online 31.7%




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.



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%)

Online 5.5%

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%)

Events 3.4%

or some independents, the

Jonathan Sutton of Michael Sutton’s


Wholesale 19.1%

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%)

Other 1.6%


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


Drink-in sales 8.8%

Shop 61.6%

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)


Votes received

% of retailers voting for this supplier (2018 in brackets)

Every year, we ask merchants which

1 (1)



32.5 (34.4)

suppliers they most enjoy working

2 (2)

Liberty Wines


24.0 (27.3)

with. We allow them three choices, in no

3 (3)

Alliance Wine


17.5 (21.4)

particular order, and offer no prompts.

4 (4)

Hatch Mansfield


14.9 (14.3)

5 (8)

Les Caves de Pyrene


13.0 (7.8)

6 (5)



9.7 (11.7)

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.

6 (8)



9.7 (7.8)

6 (8)

Thorman Hunt


9.7 (7.8)

9 (6)



7.1 (10.4)

9 (15)

Red Squirrel


7.1 (4.5)

11 (7)

Fields, Morris & Verdin


6.5 (8.4)

12 (13)



5.2 (6.5)

12 (12)



5.2 (6.5)

14 (19)

Walker & Wodehouse


4.5 (3.2)

15 (-)

Dreyfus Ashby


3.9 (1.3)

15 (20)



3.9 (2.6)

17 (20)

Astrum Wines


3.2 (2.6)

17 (-)

Berkmann Wine Cellars


3.2 (2.0)

17 (-)

Condor Wines


3.2 (2.6)

17 (17)

Daniel Lambert Wines


3.2 (3.2)

17 (20)

Ellis of Richmond


3.2 (2.6)

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.

£11.62 2017

£12.25 £12.99 2018



2019 0






Number of responses: 163

Number of responses: 161



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

independent businesses.

was divided into nine options, including


9 Australia


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


8 Chile

popular choice, securing 12.1% of the vote.



7 Argentina

“most or all regions”, which was the most



6 Spain

their share of the vote this year. France

from 5.6% last time.


5 Portugal

France, Italy and Portugal also increased

performance on 2018. Its vote rose to 9.9%


4 England

on predictions for sales increases in

That was enough to put it ahead of


3 Italy

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)


Votes received

% of retailers voting for this country (2018 in brackets)

the most popular choice, with 31% of

1 (1)

France combined


72.6 (79.5)

respondents making this selection.

2 (2)



44.1 (40.4)

3 (3)



19.0 (22.8)

specialism are Bordeaux (7.3%) and

4 (4)

South Africa


15.6 (18.7)

Burgundy (6.1%), though those figures are

5 (7)



11.7 (12.9)

5 (8)



11.7 (9.9)

7 (5)

New Zealand


11.2 (14.0)

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.”

8 (13)



5.6 (3.5)

9 (10)



5.0 (5.8)

10 (11)



4.5 (5.3)

Number of responses: 179. Respondents were allowed up to three choices. France was split into nine options, combined here.


Which of these product areas will be a focus for you in the coming year?


Number of responses: 158

3 imported beer YES 20%


NO 55%


NO 16%



NO 34%

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

5 glassware

YES 20%


NO 66%

YES 11%


NO 64%

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

YES 10%


NO 68%

YES 9%


NO 56%

YES 5%


NO 82%

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%.



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 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.


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


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


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.

you wanted?

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.


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”



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

a mistake?

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


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.


‘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.

in crémant?

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.



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

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?


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

Doubling up


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?


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 Telephone 01233 758666



Jonathan Blackham

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

Framlingham, Suffolk

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.


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

Louise Oliver

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


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





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

in 1990.

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, 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


Church House

Wednesday, April 3

Alsace & Germany Tasting

For more information or to register,

contact 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

Business France


28 Haymarket

11 Old Street

London SW1Y 4SP

London EC1V 9HL


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@

© jcfotografo /


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

scotch whisky



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.


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 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 /

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.

for example.


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

supplier news

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.







ALC. 46.1 % VOL. VOLUME: 70 CL



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

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

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@ to receive your copy!

new generation

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, @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@ to register. We look forward to seeing you.


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

0207 409 7276

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 and

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



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


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


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:


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


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.



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.

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



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

lychee notes.

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.



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

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 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich

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

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

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

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

This exciting new icon wine aims to give consumers the opportunity

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

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

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

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

Benjamin Tueux at the inaugural Famille Helfrich Portfolio Tasting on

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

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


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.


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 • •

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 …


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

liberty wines

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.










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

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.


berkmann wine cellarS 10-12 Brewery Road London N7 9NH 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



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.


Profile for The Wine Merchant magazine

The Wine Merchant issue 78  

The Wine Merchant issue 78

The Wine Merchant issue 78  

The Wine Merchant issue 78


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