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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 79, April 2019

Dog of the Month: Ronni Bradmans, Duffield

Outside the box


Dinne r at Pé trus and tw o nigh ts at Flem ings o f Mayfa ir

Delivery business on the hunt for partnerships with indies: page 5


Hybrids hit a new high The proportion of independent merchants selling wine for consumption on the premises has hit a new high. Just over 37% of respondents in this

year’s Wine Merchant reader survey report that customers are able to drink on their

premises, up from less than 23% four years ago.

Just over 7% of respondents say they

have only started selling drinks for on-

premise consumption within the past year, and another 4.3% say they will definitely go this route in the coming 12 months.

Although the majority of newcomers to

the independent trade now incorporate

a wine bar or restaurant element within their business plans, many established

merchants are resistant to the idea – with some restricted by licensing regulations,

particularly in Scotland, or lacking suitable

space. The survey found that 41.5% of merchants have no plans to offer on-

premise sales, the lowest figure recorded in the history of the survey.

Exactly a quarter of respondents serve

food, with a further 3% saying they will start doing so soon.

• Eight pages of survey analysis begins on page 20 and concludes in May.


Inside this month 4 welcome to APRIL The new delivery service that’s on the hunt for wine merchants

8 comings & Goings Farewell to Old School Wines and a new home for Barrica

12 tried & tested How we got bear-hugged by a Gaglioppo from Calabria


hese aren’t easy times for anybody in retail, as Majestic, Debenhams

and HMV can attest. Very few wine

merchants have the luxury of opening their doors and waiting for a grateful public to swarm in. The race is on to look for extra hooks, fresh incentives and new reasons for people to engage with purveyors of specialist wines.

The most obvious way of

doing this is to find space for a

16 david williams Has the demise of the wine magazine been exaggerated?

few tables and chairs and

start allowing customers to

a danger that we slip into the habit of

describing the hybrid approach as the only game in town, when patently it isn’t.

There are plenty of examples of indies

who do pretty well as traditional shops, but most of them have other strings to

their bow. Evingtons, the old-school Leicester indie profiled in our current edition, is a

good example: Simon March has

made a name for himself locally with his wine classes, which

have contributed to a spike in

enjoy what’s on the shelves

sales at a time when passing

while they’re still on the

trade is in short supply.

premises. As our survey

20 reader survey Indies quite like their suppliers … but there are a few niggles

28 trip to tasmania A group of indies explores an island of vinous treasures

shows, 37% of independents

are now running some form of

A family business adapting to the changing Leicester landscape The Spirits World, page 42; Make a Date, page 47; Supplier Bulletin,

Over a quarter of indies

already run some sort of wine

education programme. Some

wine shop/wine bar hybrid, and more are

have gone even further: 11% say they

momentum for several years now and it’s

23% are weighing up the idea. For others,

about to take the plunge.

It’s a trend that’s been gathering

interesting to note that most new entrants

in the trade have actually based their plans

30 evingtons

page 49

The future of wine retailing won’t depend just on tables and chairs

around the hybrid model. At the current

rate, it won’t be many more years before

traditional wine shops are outnumbered

by those offering on-premise as well as offpremise sales.

This may all seem rather dispiriting to

any merchant who’s facing lean times and doesn’t have the space, capital, energy or

permission to go the hybrid route. There’s

organise trips for their customers, another 3% report they’ll be doing so soon, and

good old wholesaling is the most obvious next step.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

The best merchants will work out the

right solutions for their locations and their clientele. Some, sadly, will disappear –

churn is, and always has been, inevitable. But there’s more than enough resilience in the independent trade to ensure that this market will continue to grow – and diversify as it does so.

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

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 2


Owens raises a glass to Europe Fed up of the constant negativity around the issue of Brexit, a wine merchant thought it was time to express a more positive picture of the European Union, through the medium of beer. Sam Owens at Thirsty Cambridge has

teamed up with Justin Hawke of Moor Beer in Bristol and together they have launched Citizens of Everywhere, which brings

together 12 craft breweries from across

the UK and 12 craft breweries from various European countries.

As a tribute to all the positive

achievements that have come from the

UK’s membership of the EU, as identified by Owens, the brewing companies were

paired up and tasked with producing a new

beer for the project, which

Owens says is not expected to make him any money.

The beers were officially

launched on March 22

and distributed to nearly

100,000 people via Beer 52, the craft beer subscription box business.

Boundary, Five Points,

Siren and Northern Monk

are among the UK brewers and their collaborators

include Bevog from Austria, (whose Oh, Vienna amber

ale is pictured), Stu Mostow from Poland, Kees from Belgium and Pohjala from Poland.

The beers celebrate various EU

achievements from ease of travel and the spread of democracy to the protection of

workers’ rights.

Owens explains: “Back

in October 2016, the Prime

Minister said, ‘if you believe

you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere’. “I wanted to turn that

statement around in a positive way.

“What could be more

beautiful than uniting people, businesses and countries to brew wonderful beer? “This is a fantastic

demonstration of the UK and

EU working together, all the way from the

growers to the manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers.

“That is well worth raising a glass to

and considering why we need to continue working together.”

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THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 4

“Our Man with the Facts”

Drinkly started in Edinburgh in 2016

Drinks delivery firm seeks indies There are a few companies already partnering up with independents to fulfil the ever-growing consumer demand for instant gratification. Deliveroo and Uber Eats spring to mind, but there’s a new kid on the block specialising in alcohol delivery and promotion. Drinkly launched in Edinburgh in late

2016, expanding into Glasgow two years

later. The company’s tagline sums up the business plan: “Chilled beers, wines and

spirits delivered to your door in one hour”. Boss John Robertson plans to launch

in eight more cities this year: London,

Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham and Dublin. Cardiff may be on the cards too.

Andrew Lundy at Vino in Edinburgh was

an early adopter of Drinkly and is a keen advocate of the service.

“I really think that any independent in

a city with a population that is young and

engaged will benefit from Drinkly,” he says. “It’s a really good platform, they are

always keen to get new products on and it’s

not a universal thing – the site in Glasgow is very different to the one in Edinburgh.

They’ve got a completely different range of products.”

Robertson explains that the drinks on the

website are tailored to regional demand.

“Working with Vino in Edinburgh, we have an absolutely fantastic wine range, though this is also backed up by an extensive

selection of local craft and global beers, plus a whole host of quality spirits,” he says.

“In Glasgow, on the other hand, our

retailer list is a little more spirits-focused.

Overall, we bring the world’s best mini-bar to our customers’ doors, enhancing the athome entertainment experience,” he says.

The logistics are straightforward. Drinkly

takes the customer order and alerts

the retailer. “The guys in store have the notification set up and we make up the

order pretty much instantly, then the driver comes in and picks it up,” says Lundy.

“Every day we upload our up-to-date

stock file so the stock levels are correct and they are only selling things that we actually have available. It’s really like the customer

is at the counter, apart from they are calling Continues page 6

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 5

• Sales of non-alcoholic wines at Ocado increased by 42% in 2018, according to the company. Sales of no- and low-alcohol spirits and beers were up by 87%.

....... • According to figures released by the European Union, 50% of all wine produced in member states is consumed in its country of origin. Just 13% of EU wine is exported outside the trading bloc.

....... • At its lowest ebb, in the 1950s, the Chablis vineyard area shrank to around 500 hectares, with growers battling vineyard diseases and cheap rivals from the south of France. Today the region is around 10 times that size.

....... • Luxembourg is the only country outside France to be allowed to label a wine as crémant. The Crémant de Luxembourg appellation was created in 1991, and permits grapes including Elbling, Rivaner, Auxerrois, Chardonnay and Riesling.

....... • The oldest bottle of wine in the world dates back to the 4th century and was discovered in the grave of a Roman nobleman near the German city of Speyer. About one third of the bottle’s contents is olive oil, which prevents oxidisation.


in the order first.

“We do a reduced trade price to Drinkly

and they add on top. The customer pays not quite a restaurant price but it is an inflated price for the service of getting good wine, good beer and good spirits delivered.”

Vino and Drinkly have been working

together for 18 months. “We base the

service out of one store and we hit about 25% of sales out of Drinkly,” says Lundy. “So it’s not to be sniffed at.”

Lundy admits that Scottish licensing

laws have proved to be an issue when

Deliveroo is expanding into 40 more locations this year

partnering with other delivery services

of the high street. Looking at the average

catch up with market leader Deliveroo,

programme to comply.

an additional 20% revenue and in year two


in the past and drivers are required to

undergo the prerequisite two-hour training “Drinkly regards that as seriously as

we do,” he says. “We have a very vigorous reporting of responsibility for that with them.”

It could be argued that this is yet another

online platform contributing to the lack of footfall in the high street, but Robertson

says: “We pride ourselves on supporting local and actively preventing the death

. T H E D R AY M A N . Perfectly saisoned

annual revenue of independent wine

merchants in the UK, in year one we add it’s over 40% revenue.”

Lundy points out that the service

particularly benefited Vino when the

business was beleaguered with street

repairs. “It was a nice protection when our sales dipped because of the road works – we had a strong back-up of those online sales,” he says.

Drinkly has a task on its hands to

which works in partnership with many

independent wine merchants across the

These include Bedales, St Swithins Wine

Shippers and The Wine Library in London, Hangingditch in Manchester, Quaff Wines in Brighton, and Connollys and Loki in Birmingham.

Deliveroo celebrated its sixth birthday

in February and has plans to extend its

service to 40 more towns and cities in the UK this year.

Some, such as Sussex brewer Burning

first attempt at a saison strides out into

Sky, have remained relatively faithful to the

sour beer territory with the help of pink

Belgian tradition of making light to medium-

grapefruit and guava purée, while Lake

strength pale ales, originally during the

District brewer Hawkshead’s collaboration

winter for consumption in the summer by

with Modern Times of California gave birth

thirsty farm-hands. You’re never too far

to an apricot saison fermented with wild

away from toiling labour when beer history’s

yeast and aged in red wine casks.

under discussion. Burning Sky has made saison a speciality

Such brews might cause purists to mutter into their tankards about the

and its range includes the refreshing

authenticity of claims to the saison label,

he saison beer style has been

3.5% abv Petite Saison, aged in white wine

but the term is surely not yet commercial

hip for a couple of years now,

barrels, and a 4.2% abv rotating quartet,

enough to accuse these brewers of

during which it’s almost become

each carrying the French name of a different

attempting to unfairly exploit its use in the


way, say, Heineken has done with the word


a microcosm of the craft beer scene as a whole. Lacking any agreed-on industry

Others push the envelope a bit more.

“craft” for its Maltsmiths creation.

definition, saison has proliferated into a

London’s Partizan’s saisons evoke the

multitude of strengths and flavour profiles

world’s of gastronomy (Lemon & Thyme or

recent times, the metamorphosis of saison

as brewers cotton on to the charms it holds

Lemongrass) and mixology (White Negroni).

into something multihued and playful is a

for modern beer drinkers.

Trendy Polish microbrewer Stu Mostów’s

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 6

Like the eclectic mutation of IPA in

cause for celebration, not censure.



W wines.

ines of Hungary UK invites you to join the

Independent Hungary Tasting at 67 Pall Mall on

May 9 with more than 20 wineries showcasing their

This tasting presents the perfect

opportunity for independent importers

and wine merchants to taste some exciting newcomers from Hungary.

The country has undergone a wine

revolution in the last two decades. Many

young Hungarian winemakers successfully

the volcanic soils of Tokaj and Somló, a harmonious red blend

called Egri Bikavér, elegant, single-varietal Cabernet Franc from

Villány, the spicy Kadarka from Szekszárd, and juicy Kékfrankos from Sopron.

Young winemakers successfully combine their international education with the local traditions

combine their international education with the local traditions to make world-class wines.

Hungary can not only offer painstakingly-made sweet Tokaji

Aszú but distinctive fiery, fresh whites and spicy reds that pair

wonderfully with food. Discover dry Hárslevelű and Furmint from

“What Hungarians seem to be finding is

texture,” says Oz Clarke (pictured below). “In the 21st century more and more people are

beginning to realise that the most satisfying thing in wine, and also the most difficult to

describe, is texture. That’s the way forward for wine at the moment. And Hungary does that very well.”

There are producers in all of Hungary’s

wine regions who are open to creating and

nurturing a commercial relationship with the UK wine trade.

Hungary can provide wines at many different levels for the ontrade and off-trade.

Participating wineries: • Balla Geza • Barta • Gizella • Gere • Heimann • Kolonics • Nachbil • Nimrod Kovacs • Pfneiszl • Ostoros • Sanzon • St Andrea • Gizella • Zsirai … and many others. Visit for more details and join in the conversation on social media using #independenthungary

Old School Wines closes its doors Old School Wines in Tittensor, Staffordshire, has ceased trading. The Wine Merchant understands that

the business is now in the hands of an

insolvency practitioner and that creditors

have been reclaiming stock from the shop. Parent company Andrew Wilson Wines

was incorporated in 2003 and survived a Companies House striking-off order last September.

The business was run by Andrew

and Clare Wilson, who had built up an

enthusiastic local following for their wine range and specialist gin selection.

The most recent accounts, for the year to

October 2017, show net liabilities of just under £50,000.

Old School Wines’ former premises, just south of Stoke-on-Trent

bar is up and running.”

Then there were the added

remaining stores in Frodsham, the Wirral

complications of licensing, which Kelly

and West Kirby.

regulations, but March saw the fruition of

wine shop and bar if licensing permission

stuffed peppers … fantastic stuff. I don’t

glass as well as buy bottles to take away.

describes as being “a long, drawn-out

process,” and complying with amended fire all his plans and now Kelly is raring to go.

• East Grinstead could soon welcome a new is granted. The Tasting Rooms will have

“We’re doing charcuterie, cheeses,

Enomatics so customers can drink in by the

kitchen all day, so my plan is to keep it

Trouble at mill, but Jane has last laugh

want to become a chef and be stuck in the Andrew Wilson started the business in 2003

The wine and deli business has three

simple and cold – it’s what I call wine food.” Kelly has 23 wines listed by the glass,

The future’s orange for new Vino13 bar

some of which are available from his

newly-installed Pod Bar, which holds 16

Barrica Wines has moved to a new site

Almost three years into his lease, James

orange: the interior, my coffee machine, my

Botany Bay retail complex, housed in a

The first event, a jazz afternoon in April,

somewhat unceremoniously given notice,

Kelly at Vino13 in Kilmacolm purchased the building and this has allowed him to open a wine bar within his existing shop. First he had to get rid of a couple of

covenants that had been put in place by his previous landlord. “They have a restaurant

bottles, and a Coravin takes care of the rest.

at Beer Brothers Brewery & Bar in

bags, my business cards,” Kelly explains.

former cotton mill in Chorley.

sold out immediately and a second one is

along with her fellow Botany Bay traders,

The vibe is definitely cosy. “Everything is

“There’s a very warm glow at night time.” already booked for May.

• The Chester branch of Whitmore & White

nearby, so I couldn’t sell food, coffee, or

has closed after just under a year of trading.

up three years’ worth of clientele, the wine

couldn’t make #Chester fly.”

wine by the glass,” he says.

“But now I can and as I’ve already built

Co-owner Jamie Moore posted on Twitter: “Well Joe and I gave it our best shot but we

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 8

Preston after almost five years at the

Barrica’s owner, Jane Cuthbertson, was

a couple of weeks before Christmas. The landlords then cut the wifi so customers

stopped using the site as a meeting place. “We’d put something on Facebook saying we weren’t happy and we had lots of

people suggesting places – it was really

nice that people were bothered,” she says.

Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing In the end the business was inundated

with offers but Cuthbertson couldn’t say no to the brewery which she’d been working

with since it first started. “I started selling their bottles when they were brewing in

an old chicken shed and about 18 months

ago they moved to a new brewery, and it is literally three miles from where we were,” she says.

“We still sell their beers so it frees them

up from having to run their on site shop. A brewery that sells other folks’ beers –

that’s a bit mad, isn’t it? It works, though.” Barrica reopened in February, the

customers have followed and reportedly prefer the industrial premises. “It’s a

modern steel building, typical of what

you’d expect to see on an industrial estate,” explains Cuthbertson. “We are easy to get

to and you can park outside, and back right up to the door.”

The brewery bar is open Fridays and

Saturdays from midday, and any bottle of wine is available to buy off the shelf and drink in for just £2 corkage.

Cuthbertson has also put a range of

around 100 products in the local village

shop and staffs it two days a week. “It gives me a chance to dip my toe in the water

without having to commit to a tenancy,” she explains.


hank heavens Hitler was teetotal – for what is about to unfold

could have been far, far worse.

How did we get here? Let’s go back a few weeks.

You might remember my new team

member, Gav, who was keen to take a different approach to tried-and-

testing customer tastings in the hope of

attracting a new, perhaps younger, crowd to my shop. And me having to commit

to one of his ideas for fear of losing him (and back to working a six-day week). Well, ladies and gentlemen, let me

introduce you to the ultimate wine tasting night: “Grape Dictators –

Matching Drops to Despots and their

Reigns of Terroir”. If you’re going to do

something different, go big or go home, right?

We sit down and research with two

criteria. Dead dictators only and they

must have liked alcohol. The rest is up to

regrammed, shared a surprising amount of times by the wine trade – admittedly some with shocked faced emojis but many others with tears of laughter

and thumbs up. Then it gets picked up by some big clickbait sites and more retweets and sharing goes on. I am

thrilled by all the exposure for my shop

and am glad that for once, I didn’t listen to my inner voice of reason.

It seems that dictators aren’t so great as a marketing idea for wine tastings The exposure, however, doesn’t

our imagination.

translate into sales. I begin to wonder

was born in Valparaiso, we plump for a

customers alerts me to a conversation

Pinochet, according to CIA files, liked

pisco sours and whiskey. But, as he

Sauvignon Blanc from the nearest wine region, the Casablanca Valley. We read

on one site* that Saddam Hussein liked Mateus Rosé – so he probably would

have liked one from Anjou – and that

Ceausescu liked Champagne so he might

have also liked English sparkling wine.

Despite my many, many reservations, I’m having quite a bit of fun.

Mussolini was believed to have liked

Chianti and Pol Pot French red – so we

plump for a Bordeaux and, as Stalin was

from Georgia, we go for a Saperavi made in a qvevri.

While I organise posters, flyers and

online tickets, I leave Gav to do all the Jane Cuthbertson

Within hours it has been retweeted,


THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 9

if £25 a ticket is a barrier to a potential

new, younger audience. Then one of my on a local residents’ forum. My heart sinks as I read comments from a few

regular customers questioning whether they should continue to shop with me. I was wondering why the shop had been unusually quiet recently.

With a heavy heart, I decide to

cancel the event due to “unforeseen

circumstances”. I gently suggest to Gav that we give it a few weeks and then

pick one of his safer ideas. And I thank heavens Hitler was teetotal for if we’d included him, it might have been far, far worse.

* Tyranny by the Glass: Dictators and their Drinks,


War of the words Daniel Grigg of Museum Wines in Blandford Forum, Dorset, is bemused by one particularly gushing review for a wine that he agrees is “quite nice”, but hardly a world classic. So what role do critics play, and should we take note of their pronouncements?


ritics. What do they know?

Bordeaux is actually supposed to be about.

This might sound somewhat

Matthew Jukes, a well known, influential

hypocritical, as we’ll be the first

critic, said the following about Garrus,

to let customers know when one of our

the flagship rosé produced by Château

wines gets an award or is scored highly.

d’Esclans in Provence:

“I sense that Garrus will, one day, be

But, when it’s one of our wines then

mentioned in the same breath as wines like

obviously its 100% accurate. However I

recently read a rather bold statement that I

La Tâche, Latour, Vieilles Vignes Françaises

warn you that scoring a wine isn’t always

current vintage of La Tâche is available

and Le Montrachet.”

have a fairly strong opinion on.

Before I delve too far into that I should

as honest as it might seem, or indeed, should be. I’m aware of at least one

incident in which a critic demanded a case

For those of you who don’t know, the

Daniel Grigg, not drinking a £6,944 wine

of 12 bottles before they

visit me in the shop I champion vintages

a wine a lower score

approachable in their youth as well as

agreed to taste it was

even n caught out giving

than it deserved because

they received less than


Furthermore, the wines

which score the highest

typically are those which will age for decades and are incredibly

investable because of

their longevity. That’s not much use to a

consumer that actually

wants to drink it before

they die. This is why

when our customers

which have received less aclaim, such as

Bordeaux 2011 and 2012, as they’re more being modestly priced compared to the vintages which scored higher.


ritics can be incredibly influential, not only on

consumers, but on winemakers

as well. Winemakers in Bordeaux famously started making their wines in a riper, more fruit-forward style with higher

alcohol levels as this was the preferred expression of American critic Robert

Parker and they wanted to get the elusive

100 Parker Points by making a wine to his

taste. Commercially savvy? Maybe. But not exactly true to the terroir which is what

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 10

to buy online for £5,769. That’s per

bottle, exclusive of duty, VAT and delivery. After those are added it’s a snip at just £6,944.68.


ow that we have some context, I do have to say that I have

absolutely no idea what Matthew

is talking about. He’s referencing wines

which have hundreds of years of history behind the names on the label, are of

‘I champion vintages which have received less acclaim; they’re more approachable in their youth, and modestly priced’



Is Tim Hanni MW right to say food and wine matching is bullshit?

We label our bottles with food and cheese pairings. We tend to find, certainly towards the weekend, people ask for recommendations based on what they are going to be eating. It’s a good way to break the ice with customers – the food conversation gives us a bit of a steer. We’re in a market hall so we’ve got a greengrocer and a butcher and people are coming in with their food shopping, so some of our food suggestions will come from that.

Morgan Ward Morgan Edwards, Knutsford

a pedigree which puts them amongst

viticultural royalty and that can last for

decades. Then comparing them to a rosé which was first produced in 2011 and, despite being quite nice, is little more

than a demonstration of how a successful

I generally feel it’s a bit on the bullshit side. Some wines interact badly with spices and stuff. Usually I say to customers that it doesn’t matter what you drink with your food as long as you like it. I think cheese just ruins wine and vice versa, I think there are a lot of myths about it really. We do wine tastings in the shop, but we don’t tend to do them with food. I’m not a Michelin-starred chef so I wouldn’t necessarily know what food would pair well with wine.

marketing campaign and good branding

Max Holden Mounts Bay Wine Company, Penzance

can transform someone’s perception of what’s inside the bottle.

Perhaps he means that within the

It may be that in this ridiculously retrograde British food culture we don’t consider wine and food matching to be an art, but it certainly is in European cultures. Abbinamento is an Italian word specifically used to mean putting the right food and wine together. It’s a passion of mine and I have a fair idea but if I’m a bit stuck I’ll always refer to Fiona Beckett’s food and wine matching website. We always bring food into conversations we have with customers to help them choose the wine they are buying.

breath that is mentioning these very

famous wines alongside Garrus is a further statement proclaiming that none of them are exactly good value for

money; in fact one could

even call them massively

overpriced. If that’s what he

means then I’d tend to agree. Alas, I doubt it is.

Maybe I’m wrong

though. Maybe Garrus really is going to be an icon that future

generations of wine

enthusiasts can only

dream of having the chance of tasting.

And if you think that

could be the case you should probably visit

our website and buy the 12 bottles we’ve had since 2015.

Camilla Wood The Somerset Wine Company, Castle Cary

I’m a WSET educator and with Level 1 there is lots of information concerning matching and they take the line that there are certain combinations where the wine and food is both improved. Sometimes we can get a big grandiose about food and wine matching but we recognise that the wines we sell on a Saturday afternoon priced between £8 and £12 are unlikely to be drunk with fois gras or lobster thermidor, but enjoyed with pizza that evening. I think we could focus more on the reality of how the wine is going to be drunk. Mark Banham Morrish & Banham, Dorchester

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 11


Soto Manrique La Viña de Ayer Albillo Real 2017

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc 2014

Once dismissed as a table grape, Albillo Real is

Brian Croser ferments each variety separately,

lunchbox accoutrement. Fermented with natural yeast,

smells like an upmarket health-food shop and marries

sourcing fruit from the vineyard in Wrattonbully, South

unique to La Sierra de Gredos in Castilla y León and

Australia, before almost two years of oak ageing. It

now regarded more as a gastronomic variety than a on the skins, this is effectively an orange wine with

beguiling notes of preserved lemon, citrus peel and nuts. RRP: £14.99

ABV: 12.5%

Berkmann Wine Cellars (020 7609 4711)

the richness of Merlot with the leafy elegance of Cab Franc. Deep, but fresh, with a gentle sting in the tail. RRP: £51

ABV: 14.8%

Mentzendorff (020 7840 3600)

Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel 2013

Murrieta’s Well The Whip 2017

Ignore the ABV for a moment, and the fact that the

to clash quite violently in a blend, and it seems the

Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay have been known

solution is to deploy a peacekeeping force of Semillon,

fruit comes from the warmest of Grgich’s Napa Valley

Orange Muscat and Viognier. Certainly in this aromatic

vineyards. It wasn’t a scorching vintage and that – plus

and floral Livermore Valley wine, part of the Wente

some judicious green harvesting – partly explains why

stable, everything dovetails beautifully, with generous

this Pinot-coloured Zin is so elegant, restrained and

textural, without losing its cherry-and-pepper identity. RRP: £47.50

fruit and a satisfyingly zippy finish. RRP: £28.99

ABV: 15%

Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies (01780 755810)

ABV: 13.5%

Fells (01442 870900)

Sokol Blosser Evolution Red NV

Scala Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore 2014

This Oregon winery has a big enough following for

this organic blend to be able to declare “you’ll drink it,

We wouldn’t say this juicy, spicy wine is frivolous or

way that momentarily disturbs your bearings. There’s

and it greets you like a well-lubricated local, with a

you’ll love it. It’s inevitable”. It’s a bold and juicy affair, combining Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Syrah in a lightness, but also structure; ripe red fruit, but also savouriness; and an agricultural tang of iron. RRP: £18.50

ABV: 13.5%

Les Caves de Pyrene (01483 538820)

silly, because it really isn’t. But it is gloriously and

defiantly inelegant. It smells like a log fire in a pub

crunching handshake and a lingering bear hug. So this

is what you can do with Gaglioppo from Calabria. Cool! RRP: £14

ABV: 13.5%

Walker & Wodehouse (020 7449 1665)

Bodegas Enate Chardonnay 234 2017

Fertuna Dropello 2017

Indigenous varieties have been uprooted from the

this is a wine from a super-premium estate that’s

vineyards of this plateau in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, which seems a shame until you taste wines like this. It’s fantastically aromatic, with Gewurz-like wafts of lychees and spice, followed by a rich, ripe palate and a mountain-fresh finish. RRP: £14.99-£15.99

ABV: 14%

Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010)

Made with Sangiovese grown in Maremma in Tuscany, aimed at mere mortals rather than the owners of

Formula 1 teams. It’s got decent grip, and a confident, intense blend of fruit and herb flavours, with a dry,

mineral, citrus-tinged finish. Guaranteed to fox even the smartest of arses in any blind-tasting competition. RRP: £16

ABV: 13%

Mentzendorff (020 7840 3600)



YES, WE CAN Navarra winery Bodegas Artazu, part of the Artadi family, has launched an organic rosé that has the potential to change perceptions of canned wine in the UK


sk a selection of people in the

wine trade to make predictions for the future of the industry

and you’ll hear one particular theme recur: there will be more wine sold in cans.

Craft beer has already got to this point,

with craft brewers ignoring suggestions that cans are only for dull, mass-market brands and proving that a demand

exists for top-quality products sold in a convenient format.

Wine has been slower off the mark,

at least in the UK, but a groundbreaking

launch by a Navarra producer could help change all that.

Igo Rosé, a 100% Grenache, is produced

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

by Bodegas Artazu and distributed by Pol Roger Portfolio. It’s packed in 4 x 25cl packs of aluminium cans, designed by

Barlow & Co, with an RRP of £5 per can.

Crafted from aged vines planted in the

small town of Artazu, Navarra – home

to some of the world’s best rosé – Igo is

beautifully balanced, with bright notes of raspberry and pomegranate.

“We have 40 vineyards of Grenache in

Navarra and in this region, rosé is quite a

traditional wine,” says marketing director

Artazu’s Grenache vineyards in Navarra

Ana Rodriguez.

wine used for Igo is produced organically.

says Rodriguez, “so let’s see how the

noticed that the new wave of canned wines

last six months to do this in a proper way,”


“Recently we established our own import

company in the United States and we’ve there has been quite trendy and quite

successful. But sometimes the quality has not been great, so we saw that as a gap in the market for a quality wine in cans. “We invested in the machinery to

produce canned wine last year and had a

successful launch in the US, and this year we’ve started to work with Pol Roger.”

Underlining its quality credentials, the

“We wanted to launch a real quality wine,

so we’ve been working really hard for the explains Rodriguez.

“It’s not just a trendy wine. Quality is the

number one priority.”

The wine is aimed principally at a

young demographic and considered ideal for festivals and other outdoor events. If

successful, there are tentative plans for a white wine to follow in a year or so.

“It’s another way of consuming wine,”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 13

market reacts. We know that the UK is an open-minded market, the young people

Find out more Visit or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger



Majestic rebrand to involve closures Majestic Wine is shutting a number of stores and adopting the Naked Wines name as part of plans to focus on its online and international business.

Sarah Tring Weber & Trings Bristol Favourite wine on my list Les Sens du Fruit Château Le Jonc Blanc VdF by Franck Pascal, from my favourite wine importer, Vinetrail, who have provided us with wonderful wines from the start of our business. A rich, natural, unfined and unfiltered wine with loads of Black Forest fruit.

Faced with a declining high street,

Winemakers in Australia are grappling

acquired in 2015 for £70m – increasing

ripen quickly and is likely to make the

Majestic set out plans to focus all its efforts

with the challenges of a record-breaking

annual investment by £6m to £26m.

nation’s wines more expensive and

forecasts for adjusted pre-tax profits of

the summer was the hottest since records

on Naked – the online wine retailer it

Majestic still expects to achieve its sales

target of £500m this year and to meet

£11.1m, compared with £8.3m last year. The Guardian, March 25

Favourite wine trade person Lionel Lamadon from Vinetrail. His knowledge of wine, coupled with his uniquely natural way of describing it, is always a pleasure to listen to.

Favourite wine shop Le Baron Rouge in Paris, 12th arrondissement. You can purchase the bottles that they display in the entrance of the bar or fill up an empty bottle straight from the barrels. They serve more than 50 wines by the glass of any type, oysters are shucked fresh outside in the street every Saturday, and you can always have a classic plate of cheese or charcuterie. Just heaven.

more alcoholic. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said

began, including daily temperatures that

were 2.1˚C hotter than average – compared with a previous record, six years ago, of The searing heat has caused grapes

to ripen more quickly, leaving growers

struggling to pick them before they become

Burrow Hill’s ice cider is produced just 30 minutes from us and there’s nothing else quite like it. The nutty, tannic, sweet apple flavour works perfectly alongside the tangy acidity in a mature (preferably Somerset) Cheddar cheese.

Favourite wine trip

hot summer, which has seen grapes

1.3˚C hotter.

Favourite wine and food match

The Ruhlmann-Dirringer cellar in Dambach-la-Ville on the road of wine in Alsace. The little tasting room under his house looks like a church confessional! The entire experience feels almost holy.

Heat stress for Aussie vignerons

sunburnt and shrivelled.

The Telegraph, March 1

Majestic boss Rowan Gormley

French told to cut down on wine

English wine trade expects jobs boom

A campaign has been launched by

The English wine industry could

day either.

potentially create up to 30,000 new jobs by 2040, according to new figures from Wines of Great Britain. There are currently 2,000 people

employed within the industry, from

vineyard workers to winemakers and

administrative support to cellar door staff. WineGB also predicts that by 2040 the

industry could generate an additional

£658m in annual revenue through tourism

as wine estates seek to attract visitors from outside the UK.

The Drinks Business, March 21

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 14

French health officials to persuade the public to drink no more than two glasses of wine per day – and not every According to Santé Publique France,

almost a quarter of French adults are

regularly drinking too much alcohol, and

this level of consumption is killing 41,000 people a year.

“It’s about 10.5 million adults who

drink too much. In any case they drink in proportions that increase the risks

to their health, including cancers, high

blood pressure, cerebral haemorrhage

and cardiovascular diseases,” Viet Nguyen-

Thanh, head of Santé Publique France, said. The Guardian, March 27





Taste over 200 wines from some of the top German importers in the UK and meet the producers behind the wines.

Discover this year’s Top of the Crops range, explore Germany’s best kept sparkling secret, dispense fantastic Riesling straight from our enomatics and so much more. @winesofgermanyuk #TheBigG


11AM - 5PM


Goodnight, sweet prints? Merchants aren’t so sure that their customers find much use for specialist wine magazines. But they still have a role to play, even if they’re not quite as influential as they once were

© flairimages /


here does consumer wine knowledge come from? The answer, according to one of many intriguing findings in The Wine Merchant’s annual reader

survey, is very much not from the people who’d like to think they were responsible for educating the masses in the ways of the grape.

Of the 158 merchants that replied to a question asking where

they believe consumers pick up their wine knowledge, just 3%

said newspaper columnists were “very important”. A blow for the

pride of Fleet Street’s finest for sure, but specialist wine magazines fared even worse: not a soul considered the likes of Decanter, The World of Fine Wine, Noble Rot or newcomer Club Oenologique to play a “very important” pedagogical role.

As The Wine Merchant news story on this in last month’s issue

pointed out, Decanter claims a UK circulation of around 16,000.

Figures for the other titles are not public, but even at a very liberal estimation we’re looking at a collective readership on a par with

Regular contact with merchants is seen as a good way to learn

the population of a very small market town – and that’s before

involved in my vinous upbringing, and newspaper columnists

from the ranks of the wine trade.

together my unique mixture of received opinion, fact and factoid

you consider the considerable crossover between each title’s

audiences or the very large proportion of those readers drawn

Still, unsurprising and uncontroversial as this finding may be

in the light of such numbers, you could forgive me, a newspaper

wine columnist and deputy editor of a specialist wine magazine, for bristling a little at this brutal reality check on my sense of worth. You may even indulge my bruised ego with a quibble

over the objectivity of the respondents, given that they voted

overwhelmingly for “regular contact with independent merchants” and “tasting events” (ie, themselves and the events they organise) as the most important source of consumer wine knowledge.

But, wounded pride licked, I can’t deny the reality, which might

start with an honest appraisal of my own experience of acquiring wine knowledge in my 20s. There were no specialist magazines

– then in their expansive, pre-mass-internet pomp – only came

into the picture once I’d actually taken a job in the trade. I pieced from family get-togethers, a French friend with a powerful (if

ultimately misplaced) self-confidence in his wine knowledge, a

single stocking-filler copy of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book and the nice people at various local branches of Oddbins, Unwins and Bottoms Up.


y feeling is this shambling kind of approach is still the way most consumers absorb their knowledge – and

this actually comes out in The Wine Merchant survey,

too: respondents ranked friends and family members third in the

influence hierarchy. Had there been social media when I was doing my vinous apprenticeship I’m sure it, too, would have been just as

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 16

David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

important as the respondents say it is today: it’s fourth on the list.

All the same – and of course I would say this – that doesn’t mean

specialist magazines and newspaper columns are simply a waste


of space, with limited reach beyond their tiny niches.

A comparison with the rest of the media is instructive here. It’s

a familiar trope these days to focus on the diminished role of the traditional newspapers as a natural consequence of plummeting

print sales. The latest figures show every national paper shedding readers at alarming rates, while only three of the dailies (The Sun, The Mail and Metro) now have circulations above the 1 million

mark – a far cry from the last pre-internet days of the mid-1990s, when The Sun had a readership close to 5 million and even The Guardian was shifting 500,000 copies a day.

In reality, however, and while it may struggle to earn its keep

online, the traditional print media is every bit as powerful as it ever was, it’s just that the way that power is transmitted is

different. It travels through widely dispersed shareable links on fast-moving fractured timelines rather than via the slow inky

cover-to-cover read of the loyal reader, but in this haphazard way

– and whether it’s shared in approval or horror – an unpaywalled article has the potential to – and often will – reach an audience many times the size of its print heyday equivalent, and in a


limitless number of countries, too.

That includes, surprising as it may seem, wine stories and wine

columns. While sometimes a story of mine at The Observer gets no more traction than a Vivino review, every now and again a certain topic – food and wine matching, very cheap bottles, and English



wine generally seem to do the trick – will get a spike in traffic and

that weird mix of three-parts bile, one-part “did you know?” in the


accompanying comments.

How valuable this kind of fractured, partial information is in

actually educating consumers is, I concede, a moot point. But

there are other ways in which wine columns and – especially – the specialist press deserve to be included in the conversation about educative influence.

Just as newspapers still shape political debate in this country

by framing the way the national broadcasters – and online links of their content – define the political centre, so specialist magazines and columns are used as references by wine producers. Indeed, my experience is that wine producers and merchants are the

primary readership of wine magazines. How much they learn from them rather depends on the reader and title. But there’s at least

a case to be made that, if specialist wine magazines are no longer

influencing consumers directly, they do at least still have a role in influencing the influencers.








THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 17

Rising Stars Sarah Suzanne Theatre of Wine, Leytonstone


arah Suzanne was a chartered building surveyor and project manager, working on large construction projects, when the wine bug took hold. She took the advice of a neighbour, Julia Harding MW, and put herself through WSET in her spare time and now she is managing the Leytonstone branch of Theatre of Wine. Owner Daniel Illsley says: “Sarah is a great asset and we’re thrilled she came to join us – we wooed her away from Majestic! All our staff are a talented bunch, and we are very proud of what they achieve. We throw everyone in at the deep end; they have to learn about all aspects of the business, not just customer service and selling but about importing, distributing and educating too.” Sarah was no exception and after starting off in the Greenwich store, which Daniel describes as the nerve centre of the business, he recognised that her project management skills would be best employed at the company’s newest store. “Leytonstone is a new business in a developing part of London and it really requires some strategy and persistence, so we made Sarah the manager. She may not have been with us that long [about a year] but she has risen very quickly because she’s very committed and she’s shown true grit.” Sarah admits that her decision to change profession wasn’t easy. “I’d got quite far in my career,” she says, “and I knew I’d have to start again at the bottom, but it got to the point when I was going to work every day and thinking ‘I don’t want to do this – I want to be talking about wine and tasting wine.’” At this point Sarah, having already completed her Level 3, applied for a position on the trainee management programme at Majestic. “It provided a really good basis for understanding retail,” she says. “I wanted to find out about more unusual wines and I was already a Theatre of Wine customer and I felt it would really move my knowledge up to the next level. I also thought if I showed the ability and skill I’d be able to get involved in everything, from buying to marketing and it’s great that you’re encouraged to. Daniel has been amazing. He’s got this great energy, vision and enthusiasm that rubs off and he encourages you to challenge yourself..” Sarah wins two cases of Igo organic rosé. To nominate a rising star in your business, email

A recipe for s Encouraging customers to do their own cooking, matching independents, is a winning strategy for some merchants –


ood and wine matching is “bullshit”, according to Master of Wine Tim Hanni. But for many independents, encouraging customers to try out recipe ideas is a way of adding extra

value to their wine purchases.

Flagship Wines in St Albans has recipes on display in store,

available on cards to take away and written up on a board. They

are recipes that members of the team have inherited or adapted over time.

“Some of the recipes were my grandmother’s, and some are

things I’ve picked up while travelling,” explains Will Bartholomew. “We try and provide a red and a white pairing suggestion to go

with every dish where possible. Between the three of us we have

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 18

© /

‘We give food pairings with every wine. Even if people don’t cook the recipe, they get a sense of what the wine tastes like’ Spanish food writer Elisabeth Luard, act more as “window dressing”.

While most of the recipes posted online do include ingredients

sold in the delicatessen, Palit admits that it’s perhaps a missed opportunity not to directly recommend a wine pairing. “It’s

something we’d like to do more with, but we don’t have the time,” she says.

However it’s the restaurant side of the business that drives wine

sales. “We use the restaurant as a kind of window for the shop,” she says. “We get a lot of people who buy wine because they’ve enjoyed it in the restaurant.”

Ultracomida is about all things Spanish, so the wines are

inextricably linked with the food available in store, and that naturally leads to lively conversations about wine and food

pairing. “If you drink a certain wine with a certain food, it may not show the food or the wine at its best, but I don’t think you should Tomatoes are always guaranteed to raise a laugh

“There’s definitely something connecting wine with

environment. We often have customers who say that the wine

they have with us here in the restaurant doesn’t taste the same at home.”


In the past year Hop Burns & Black in London has broadened its

focus from craft beer to include an extensive natural wine range.

Owner Jen Ferguson says: “We’ve seen a lot of beer lovers making a move to the natural wine spectrum, and our personal interests have moved that way too.”

their creations with wines they buy in whatever a certain Master of Wine may say

The business has been working with professional food writer

and blogger Claire Bullen, whose recipes feature prominently on

around 60 years of experience in the wine trade, so we can do it, but of course wine matches are all very subjective.

“The way I always look at it is everyone is fixated on the protein

element of the dish, when in fact the sauce is the defining element. If you have fish in tomato sauce with a white wine, it doesn’t quite balance out, but a light red would work.”

Bartholomew says the inclusion of recipes in the shop and on

its website encourages conversations with their customers. “It’s

a huge positive for the business and it gives customers a positive feeling about the way we work,” he says.

stick to ‘rules’ rigidly,” says Palit.

Shumana Palit, manager at Ultracomida in Aberystwyth, says

that the recipes the shop promotes, provided by award-winning

the website.

“We always get great reactions to her recipes and she’s got a

following on social media,” says Ferguson.

“I think, especially with natural wines, people can be a bit

apprehensive, and showing how they can be incorporated at the dinner table encourages people to give it a go.

“We give food-pairing suggestions in store next to each wine that

we sell, but I think that, even if people don’t go away and cook the recipe, they can get a sense of what that wine is going to taste like and the kind of things they can pair it with.

“With Brexit, people might have less money, but they don’t want

to stop drinking altogether so they are drinking less but better –

and being able to bring it to the dinner table and make it count is important.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 19


Happy and you know it Our reader survey gave merchants the opportunity to say some nice things about the suppliers that they work with. Relationships are generally pretty good. But guess what? The same old irritations persist. Unwarranted price hikes, unrealistic minimum drops, pushy reps …


ndependents are broadly satisfied

with the service they get from their

suppliers. Since the Wine Merchant’s

survey began, roughly 70% have tended to declare themselves happy with their

UK wholesalers, with something like 10% reporting discontent.

However, beneath the headline figures

we find some interesting trends in 2019.

The proportion of respondents who agree

strongly with the statement “I’m generally happy with the support I get from

suppliers” has fallen from 24% last year to just 15% this time – the lowest figure the

Kate Goodman of Reserve Wines

Jane Taylor of Dronfield Wine World

agree with the statement to some degree,

strongly with the statement “I’m generally

up from 7% last year.

survey has ever recorded.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents

compared to 48% last year.

Once again, no respondents agreed

unhappy with the support I get from

suppliers”, but 8% agreed to some degree,

Are you broadly happy or unhappy with the support you get from suppliers? 80%


and many are finding it easier to home in

on those who work hardest to understand “Overall I am happy with the levels

Unhappy Happy

of service from our suppliers,” says

Kate Goodman of Reserve Wines in

Manchester. “We have good relationships with them and they offer us relevant support when we need it.


“I wouldn’t tend to work with a supplier


if I felt they couldn’t deliver on service.

30% 20% 10% 0

choice of suppliers to work with than ever, their businesses.

70% 60%

Independents arguably have a wider

8% 2014






Number of responses: 162. Totals combine “very” and “slightly” options.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 20

We’ve dropped a couple of suppliers this year because of that.”

Lloyd Beedell of Chesters Wine

Merchants in Abergavenny adds: “We have some truly excellent reps and suppliers

that are more than happy to help with

tastings by either attending themselves or helping with sample bottles.

“The way we’ve gone this year – to

Survey partner 2019

dealing with the smaller, slightly esoteric

Anthony Borges of The Wine Centre

cause and keen to get involved.”

suppliers are generally very good,

suppliers – has definitely helped more with this. They seem far more committed to the

at Great Horkesley in Essex. “Our wine

more money with suppliers which are

events,” he says. “Unfortunately I can’t say

Starmore Boss in Sheffield is spending

“well organised, contactable when we

need them, have good reps that know their stuff and have the same enthusiasm and

dedication to their products as we do with our customers”, according to Jefferson Boss.

The business tends to favour suppliers

“who work with good logistics companies and can deliver stock to the right place

at the right time, offer smaller minimum orders so we can order more frequently, have great portfolios – either general or super specialist – and have bottle

information readily available on their websites”.

Mike Stanton of Corks Out describes

supplier support as “great”. He adds:

“Their enthusiasm to come and do staff

training was really helpful in the run-up to Christmas and will continue to benefit all of our sites.”

There are more positive vibes from

supporting us with samples and attending we get the same sort of service from our spirits suppliers.”

Archie McDiarmid of Luvians in St

Andrews adds: “We’ve become very active when it comes to asking for support from our suppliers. The ones who volunteer support and help to craft specific

campaigns and themed promotions that can be rolled out to customers, rather

than just say ‘here are our offers for the

month’ not only boost sales at the time, but help secure loyalty from us and our staff, driving future sales.”


o much for the positives. What are the main causes of friction? This

year, pricing is at the root of a lot of

the problems.

One merchant in north west England

says: “One supplier has not put prices

Continues page 22

Are you likely to increase or reduce the number of suppliers you deal with this year? 50%

Reduce suppliers

Chris Hill Latitude Wine, Leeds “It’s really hard to fit any more stock in the shop, and delisting or binending stock takes time. Listing 20 new wines to justify a minimum order policy is increasingly difficult, so please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply to your emails or place an order.”

Euan McNicoll McNicoll & Cairnie, Dundee “My shop isn’t large, so pallet-based sizeable minimum drops are really no good to me and I’ll probably stop dealing with a couple of suppliers because of this. On that point, one or two suppliers have gone the extra mile to accommodate us and have seen their sales to us increase as a result.”

Jonathan Sutton Michael Sutton’s Cellar, Dartmouth “The minimum order quantities are always a sticking point for us. Often this means holding more stock than we would want, which obviously affects cash flow.”

Increase suppliers




25% 20%


Minimum orders, maximum frustration







Number of responses: 162. Totals combine “definitely” and “probably” options.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 21

David Perry Shaftesbury Wines “Minimum drops are still a big issue. If we run out of a line it is unlikely to be replenished until we can make up a big order. Some suppliers are flexible, others not at all.”


From page 21

And another thing … up in the three years I’ve been open.

Henry Butler Butlers, Brighton “Our suppliers are mostly good but we experienced poor service from some of them leading up to Christmas: out-of-stock lines, incorrect deliveries, breakages etc.”

Another supplier, my oldest, offered not

to implement the latest duty rise until he reorders. The rest cynically announced they’d be adding 7p a bottle from the

earliest possible opportunity, despite the

fact they all have warehouses full of wine

bought before the 7p rise. As the old saying goes: you know who your friends are.” Jane Taylor of Dronfield Wine

Aimee Davies Aimee’s Wine House, Bristol “Some could keep us on track better by sending out up-to-date price lists. And keep their promise when they say they will be there to help you with tasting events.”

Jon Keast Scarlet Wines, Hayle, Cornwall “Suppliers need clarity on their channel strategy. I don’t work with suppliers who want to sell me wine while they also try to steal my wholesale business.”

World in Derbyshire echoes the point. “We’re reviewing a few suppliers who

always seem to have unannounced price increases,” she says. “Those who keep prices stable do better with us.”

One merchant in the south east

of England longs for “a clear pricing

structure”. He adds: “I don’t like haggling, and I dislike the idea of my competitors getting lower prices even less!”

Neil Bench of The Market Square Food

& Wine Co in East Grinstead, complains

about “price increases with no explanation” which happen “far too regularly”. He adds: “The big players such as Matthew Clark

and LWC tend to increase once or twice a year, while some others seem to increase prices every order.”

Bench wants to see more straightforward

promotions, especially when it comes to

clearance stock, and does not want to be

saddled with old vintages of white wines that are well past their best.

“There are always people looking to do

a deal, so we will buy pallets if the price

is right and the quality is right,” he says. “Some suppliers will be wanting to get

traction and pull-through with new listings in the marketplace but don’t do enough work on prices to get those listings.”

Like many merchants, Bench calls for

“point-of-sale that can be tailored to your business without any price or margin assumptions printed on it”.

David Henderson of Henderson Wines

in Edinburgh feels that some suppliers

“try too hard to sell”. He adds: “The deals are often just like a supermarket’s. You

want two cases of some wine but ‘if you

buy three, you’ll get an extra case or extra discount!’ So you buy more than you planned and than you need.”

Paola Tich Vindinista, Acton “I think some suppliers who also sell direct to consumers – even if they use a different name – need to rethink their pricing and promotion models and respect their agency customers.”

Anonymous Wales “Educational trips are essential and we never get offered them. We would even be willing to split the cost of the trip.” Both Cork of the North branches in Greater Manchester have gone the hybrid wine shop/wine bar route

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 22

Talk to us. Don’t get upset Independents would like a better dialogue with many of their suppliers


ines of communication between

merchants and suppliers can often become blurred.

“Most suppliers are pretty poor,” declares

Noel Young of NY Wines near Cambridge. “There’s little in the way of actual account

management – such as notification of stock running out, vintage changes, new wines, and wines going into multiples.

“Also not telling you that they are

supplying a potential or definite competitor. Too many are reactive and not proactive.

There are some who are very good as well, but some are really hard work.”

The owner of one leading independent

custom we are giving them, rather than

happy that we are working together,” he says. “It just seems weird to me. “I can understand them being

disappointed if custom has reduced but

it seems a weird reaction to get huffy or

‘Suppliers seem dissatisfied with our custom. It just seems weird to me’ belligerent about it. Suppliers are solution


with their products and services then we

disappointed with the orders his business “Time and again we have meetings with

suppliers who seem dissatisfied with the

Matt Barnes, of Gorey Wine Cellar on

Jersey, says he gets on well with suppliers “but few offer good support”.

He adds: “Very rarely am I offered any

price promotions, and I have to dig deep

sometimes to find out about new wines in their portfolio.”

Charles Wharton of Ellis Wharton

Wines in Par, Cornwall, adds: “Promotions get offered, but once these are over they

are often very slow to pay any retros that might need to be paid, sometimes taking months to settle invoices.”

Andrew Imrie of KWM Wines & Spirits

merchant, who asked not to be named, is

bemused that many suppliers seem almost

to talk about – but not get upset about.”

providers – as are we to our customers – and if they can provide us with solutions

will use them. If over time their products

no longer meet our needs, that is important

in Kilkeel, Co Down, says “some suppliers are very good at producing information around their wines to help sell them

and are good at communicating vintage

changes when they happen”. But “others

are terrible at it, and can cause problems.”

On-premise sales hit a new high for indies 40%



A further 17.1% say they are "thinking about" going this route, with another 4.3% saying they will "definitely" start on-premise sales in the coming year.




Selling wine on the premises is gaining Already doing it momentum within indies. Just under 30% of respondents say they have have sold wine this way for at least 12 months, with 7.3% reporting beginning their onpremise sales within the past year.






Number of responses in 2019: 164

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 23


The proportion saying they have no plans for on-premise sales stands at 41.5%, the lowest figure recorded in the survey's history.


Indies haven’t lost taste for trade tastings

happening this year is unchanged at 2%. But 16% remain open-minded about

the idea, up from 13% in 2018, and the

proportion of merchants who are firmly opposed to the concept has gone down from 42% to 34%.

Paola Tich, of Vindinista in Acton, says:

Forty-six per cent of respondents plan to attend more supplier tasting this year

“We did on-tap wine before – but direct

than they did in 2018, with only 16%

from boxes, not super professional. We

saying they will get to fewer events.

created a big demand for it. With the refit

Peter Wood of St Andrews Wine Company says: “Being more remotely

located, getting to London-based tastings is difficult as it requires removing myself from the business for two days.

“I understand that suppliers need to

have London-based tastings, but if they

had more basic regional tastings where

there was a load of wine to try, minimal

staff presence and no winemakers it would give more remote businesses the ability to try the wines in a cost-effective way for all concerned.”

April Marks of Regency Wines in

Exeter picks up the point. “Most suppliers host their tastings in London, which are

difficult to attend when you are over three hours away if travelling by train,” she says. “Therefore we get to very few tastings

each year.”

Ted Sandbach of The Oxford Wine

of Vindinista, we’ve worked in a space for Six per cent of indies offer wine on tap

Feeling the draught, at least a little Might draught wine be the next big thing in the independent trade? It could be a longer wait than some have predicted, according to our survey. Six per cent of respondents already

offer wine on tap, up from 5% last year,

and the proportion who say it’s definitely

Due to an operation, Claire Carruthers

get to any tastings last year. “I was a bit

frustrated that suppliers didn’t look after us by sending us more samples of new

stuff, which we missed tasting,” she says. Sixteen per cent of respondents agree

strongly with the statement “I plan to

attend more supplier tastings this year

than I did last”, with 30% agreeing to some degree.

Thirty-five per cent say they neither

agree or disagree.

growth in the coming year.”

Elsewhere on the chart, very little

has changed from last year’s findings.

The proportion of merchants who have an Enomatic device, or similar, is 14%,

compared to 15% last time, and 26% say they already run some sort of education programme, up slightly on the 23% recorded last year.

Perhaps surprisingly, one in 10

merchants say they offer trips for their customers, compared to 7% last year,

suggesting that an increasing number are exploring new revenue streams.

We already do this

Definitely happening

Possibly happening

No decision/ opinion either way

Unlikely to be happening

Definitely not happening

I would like a wine dispensing machine (eg Enomatic)







I would like to be able to offer draught wine in some form







I would like to serve food for consumption on the premises







I would like to run a wine education programme













to do more in-house tastings, rather than

of Carruthers & Kent in Newcastle didn’t

will increase demand. This is where I see

What extra products and services might be on your agenda in the coming year?

Company believes that “suppliers need relying on annual portfolio tastings”.

Keykegs and taps and I am hopeful this

I would like to organise trips for my customers

Number of responses: 161

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 24

Reps: cold-calling will mean a cold shoulder Charlie Brown Vino Vero, Leigh-on-Sea (below)

Alex Roberts & Wayne Blomfield Park Vintners, Wimbledon Park

Cat Brandwood Toscanaccio, Winchester

“Generally we feel that the support we've had from our suppliers has increased in the past year. We've had some new reps that seem to be keen to develop relationships with us. For instance, we'd not seen a rep from one particular supplier for four years, and we've seen his replacement twice in the last six months.”

“We think there are plenty of reps out there who aren't earning their money. Forwarding an email from the marketing team does not a sales rep make you! But thanks for the Christmas cards.”

“I get fed up of some of the more generic emails from suppliers that aren't necessarily targeted at my business – it doesn't make me feel valued. As always suppliers really need to invest in their reps; the good relationships I have built up with reps are essential. If I don't click with them, they’re unlikely to see much of my business. It doesn't matter how good the wine is.”

Andrea Viera Last Drop Wines, Fulham “Some suppliers think it is a good idea to drop in unannounced despite being asked to inform us previously; invariably it is not.”

Mike Boyne BinTwo, Padstow “Understand what we’re about and introduce us to wines that are right for us and our customers. I’m a sucker for an interesting find and for backing an unlikely underdog. Be nice. I’ve made a conscious decision to only work with people I like and whose values I share. Life’s too short to do otherwise. Never turn up out of the blue in the middle of August!”

Jon Moore Mumbles Fine Wines, South Wales

Paola Tich Vindinista, Acton

“On the whole supplier support is OK but we are finding that reps are being forced to cover extra areas as a part of cost cutting, so naturally have less time to devote per customer, which can be a little frustrating.”

“It's nice to see a lot more women as account managers. I am not saying they are any better or worse than their male counterparts, but it makes the industry a little more balanced – though diversity still has a way to go.”


Dafydd Morris Cheers, Swansea (above) “We have far fewer visits from suppliers than we used to. This could be down to us being low maintenance – and maybe, because we are buying less with them, they are less inclined to visit. Or it could be our geographical location.” Patrick Rohde Aitken Wines, Dundee “Regular catch-up meetings every month or two with reps would be mutually beneficial to ourselves and the supplier.”

Most indies plan to revamp or relaunch their websites Every year our reader survey finds that merchants are keen to rethink their online presence, and 2019 is no exception. Twenty-four per cent of respondents

say it is very likely they will launch a new

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 25

website or overhaul and existing one, with 28% saying such a project is fairly likely.

Twelve per cent are unsure of their web

plans while 33% say it’s unlikely they will be making time to make major changes to their sites.


Naturally cautious Forty-five per cent of merchants say there is strong demand for organic and biodynamic wines, and 40% say vegetarian wines are also selling well. But consumers haven’t (yet) bought into natural wines in anything like the same numbers. Here’s what independents themselves have to say on the subject

Archie McDiarmid Luvians, St Andrews

“The growth in awareness of vegan wines in particular was one of the surprising trends of last year and it looks set to

continue. One area where suppliers need

this very well.”

obvious on the label or at least on the price

Shaftesbury Wines, Dorset

to up their game generally is in identifying these wines and either ensuring it is

list. Shout-out to Alliance Wine, who do

How big a demand is there from customers for these products?

David Perry

“A few suppliers are very good at giving

information. Most are not. Often it is easier for one of the team to ask the customer

to choose a wine and then let us find out

whether or not it is vegan. Champagne is

Very strong

Fairly strong


Fairly low

Very low

Not sure

Organic and biodynamic wines







Vegetarian and vegan wine







always a good fall-back if someone needs to be certain that a wine has no animal

products in the fining process. Here’s a

thing: vegans often embrace biodynamics. How do they feel about burying a cow’s horn?”

Philip Amps

"Natural" wines (including low/no added sulphur)


Wines with ethical accreditation eg Fairtrade


11% 3%

24% 18%

30% 33%

27% 42%

Number of responses: 159

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 26

1% 2%

Amps Wine Merchants, Oundle

“We find that vegans shout very loudly,

but purchase very little. Biodynamic wine is growing in popularity, but that’s often driven by us!”



Tom Flint Bottle & Jug Dept, Worthing

“I only stock organic/natural/biodynamic wines, so I have created a demand

for them. Saying that, consumers are

certainly becoming more aware of these

Rupert Pritchett Taurus Wines Surrey Hills

wines and want to move away from the mass-produced, boring wines found

in supermarkets. The low-sulphur and

organic labels certainly hold an appeal with consumers.”

Cat Brandwood Toscanaccio, Winchester

“More education is needed about natural

wines because consumers think it means

no sulphur, which is not the case. We don’t

Tell us how your Enomatic machine has made a difference to your independent wine business and you could win £100 of Enomatic freebies from the world’s leading maker of wine dispense systems

currently label any wines as natural as we need to do the research to come up with an acceptable definition that we can get behind.”

Euan McNicoll

Have you given them names? Not yet, but I probably will! Do you issue your customers with cards? Yes, and we have different cards, so the shareholders – the people who contributed to our crowd-funding campaign – have a VIP card. It’s just a nice way for staff, who don’t know the shareholders by name, to identify them and if they want to give them a bit of free credit because they’re spending a bit of money, that’s absolutely fine. What’s the most esoteric wine you’ve had on taste? At Christmas we had a whole load of fine wine on there and it really helped to increase the average bottle price sold through the door. We put in Château d’Yquem, and people paid £20 per measure, so it paid for itself. At the moment we’ve got some Chinese wines in there from Panda Fine Wine, which are proving to be very popular. They’re not cheap, they are £20 a bottle and up, retail, and people want to taste them. Does social media play a role? If we have a new range of wines put put it on Instagram and they’ll be open in Enomatics to try, so it helps us integrate our whole marketing message.

McNicoll & Cairnie, Dundee

“Demand follows shows like Saturday

Kitchen or The Wine Show. If they mention organic, vegan or biodynamic, there’s a

spike in demand but it’s not always longlived as some ‘natural’ wines just are not

How has the Enomatic benefited your business? It establishes expertise in that people come in and see it and say: “Oh wow!” A lot of people out in the sticks haven’t seen one before. It’s a new thing and it’s something they go home and talk about. Previously we did have smart bottles of wine hanging about at the back of the store to taste, but it wasn’t so obvious how you could help yourself – and people are naturally quite shy, so they don’t necessarily ask. Now we have more expensive wine on to taste and with the cards, people can help themselves.

what people expect at all, even when you explain in advance that ‘it’s supposed to taste like that ...’”

Chris Piper

Christopher Piper Wines, Devon

“Although we have been long-term

advocates of organic and biodynamic

wines, our customers don’t appear to

care that much about whether wines are organic or not. They just want them to

taste good! As regards natural wines, there is zero interest amongst our customers for these.”

What Enomatic do you have and when did you install it? We have three eight-bottle units that seem to justify their existence even if we aren’t a high-footfall site. We had them installed literally a year ago – new toys to go in the new shop. We were helped by an EU grant of 40% towards the purchase cost.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 27


Treasure island

THE TASMANIAN ITINERARY • Josef Chromy Wines • Tasmanian wine overview and sparkling wine tasting • Tasmanian gin masterclass • Dinner at Grain of the Silos with Bellebonne Wine • Bay of Fires Winery • Clover Hill Vineyard • Jansz Tasmania • Pipers Brook Vineyard • Stoney Rise Wine Co • Holm Oak Vineyards • McHenry Distillery Whisky Masterclass • Tamar river cruise • Tamar Ridge • Tasmanian Pinot Noir tasting

GUESTS • Mike Boyne, BinTwo, Padstow • Kate Miller, The ARC, Padstow • Kenneth Vannan, Villeneuve Wines, Peebles • Alister Rae, Villeneuve Wines • Mark Jeffries, RD Wines, Telford • Nicholas Corke, Thomas Peatling, Bury St Edmunds

THANKS The trip was organised by Hazel Murphy and funded by Tasmanian Government in conjunction with Wine Tasmania: Many thanks to Sheralee Davies and all the producers who made the visit such a success.

Tasmanian sparkling wine is world-class, but according to the independent merchants who recently visited, so is plenty more of the island’s output – particularly its stunning Pinot Noir


n isolated island on the edge

of the world is how Tasmania

describes itself. It’s a landscape

of ancient soils, of untamed wilderness,

of wild winds. They say the air here is the cleanest on the planet.

The inhabitants are a creative and

intrepid bunch, who prefer not to be associated too strongly with their

mainland cousins. That holds doubly

true for winemakers. To put it bluntly,

Tasmanian wine isn’t typical of Australia

as a whole. And, despite its international

Nicholas Corke of Thomas Peatling

“thought Tasmania showed a great sense of place and identity, with a noticeably cooler climate and with a number of sparkling wines and Pinot Noirs showing well”.

He adds: “The sparkling wines are almost

Kiwi in style, but generally have way more finesse, in my opinion.”

Mark Jeffries of RD Wines is on the same

page. “Yes, there are some outstanding

sparkling wines from Tassie but there is oh so much more, especially Pinot,” he says. “I think Tassie should shout about

reputation for sparklers, there is far more

its technical ability with Pinot clones,

naturally the best way to understand it is to

was evident.”

to Tasmania’s output than fizz. It’s one of

the winemaking world’s new frontiers, and go there in person. In February, a group of

producing world-class wines. The

collaboration amongst the winemakers

He adds: “Tassie has a great climate for

UK wine merchants did just that.

fresh produce and this gives wonderful

clearly I would have been wrong,” says

white wines – I’m a big fan of their

“My assumption was that it would be

a sort of subset of Australian wines, but Mike Boyne of BinTwo.

“When we first visited Josef Chromy and

met Jeremy, the winemaker there, that was

scope for food and wine pairing. I

appreciate that they also do some amazing Rieslings – but I really think that they can take on the world with their Pinots.”

when it was hammered home. I had picked up it would be cool climate and so on, but it was when we tasted some wines with

him that I realised it was something very different altogether.

“In terms of the wines they are

producing, aside from the cool climate,

they seem to have a slightly different focus and a slightly different philosophy.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 28

Mike Boyne of BinTwo

© sarah181013 /

Tasmania accounts for less than 1% of Australian wine output, with 160 producers

Kate Miller of The ARC adds: “The wines

which have made a lasting impression

were the sparkling wines for their purity

of fruit, the balance of ripeness, character and freshness; and the Pinot Noirs for

their aromatics, structure and fruit quality. They showcased the diversity of the grape variety imparted by clones and vintage and, in turn, the craftsmanship of the producers.”

She adds: “For me the underlying

principles resonating amongst Tasmanian

wine producers are quality and purity, and this was certainly evident among many of the wines we tasted.”


lister Rae is also a fan of

Tasmanian Pinot, but is keen to

praise the whites too. “We found

a distinct Tasmanian ‘regional’ cool-climate style of refreshing Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and also some interesting

Gruner, with certain wineries excelling,”

he says. “The standard of winemaking is

to add Pinots from Dalrymple to our

Chardonnays and the Pinot Noirs have a

decision for us. I’ll be promoting Tasmania


Boyne at BinTwo feels that both the

classical appeal.

“I think the immediate parallel that

I drew from the Pinot Noir and the

Chardonnay was that they all had much

more in common with Burgundy than they did with Australia,” he says.

“I was repeatedly thinking, this fantastic

cool-climate Pinot Noir is something

that I could sell to someone looking for a Burgundy alternative.

“There were some really interesting

things happening with other varieties as

well. I really enjoyed the Arneis from Holm Oak. It is a variety I hadn’t tried before; it was a lovely drop. There’s lots going on

with Pinot Gris and other bits and bobs.” All the merchants on the trip

encountered wines they plan to import.

“We already stock Jansz and I’ll be looking

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 29

range,” says Jeffries. “We work closely

with their UK agents and so it’s an easy

whenever possible at my tastings and as interest grows we’ll consider increasing our range further.”

For Boyne at BinTwo, the trip provided a

eureka moment.

“I left thinking I need to find a way of

selling Tasmanian wines that doesn’t

reference Australia at all because they are

not what most customers would expect of an Australian wine,” he says.

“I’m going to reorganise the whole shop

so that it’s arranged by wine style rather than by country. It’s something that’s

been in my head for a little while – partly because it’s the way people come in and ask for recommendations.

“It was Tasmania that gave me the final

nudge because I want the wines in – and I want them to sell.”



n the year that accountant Mr Shirley March decided to team up with a

Leicester grocer in a fledgling wine

business, Britain witnessed the only

general strike in its history, John Logie Baird demonstrated a curious new

invention called television and the country got its first grand prix motor racing event. Shirley March and the grocer bought

a house across the road from the latter’s too-small shop in 1926 and the wine

merchant Evingtons still occupies the same premises today. Taking its name from the

road it stands on and the suburb that road leads to, Evingtons is now run by Shirley’s grandson Simon March. It benefits from

Shirley’s decision to buy the freehold of the shop, which stands on a heavily traffic-lit junction, past which Toyota Prius Ubers speed where first-generation trams one trundled.

It’s a still, calm, environment for buying

wine where the only background sounds are a ticking clock and the hum of traffic

muffled by the wood panelling that encases the window displays from the rear.

“The panelling was done in the 1960s

or 1970s by real craftsmen, proper

carpenters,” says Simon. “When the local

bank closed we pinched the counter. It’s a beautiful counter.

“To be perfectly honest we wouldn’t be

this house because the bell is still by the fireplace, which is the original one.

“There have been very big changes. In my

time it’s been considerable.”

The business passed to Shirley’s wife

Fanny, Simon’s father Peter, and eventually to Simon. Simon cut his teeth, however,

working for a wine importer called George Idle Chapman in Seething Lane in the City of London in 1960.

“Our next-door neighbours were

Matthew Clark,” he recalls. “I spent my days down in the cellars under the pavement

bottling wines that were shipped in barrels. Dow’s port was one, and there were several Bordeaux and Burgundy agencies.

“It taught me a lot about what wine

tasting was like because we tasted everything we bottled.”

Two years later he moved back to

Leicester to join the family business,

which he now runs solo, simply closing for holidays or day-trips to trade tastings. “I’ve been here ever since,” he says.

“Fanny continued to potter in and out of

the shop until she was an old lady. She was chairman of the company when she died

and she was 101. There’s a good advert for the wine trade, isn’t there?”

Have you ever considered a move to a more suitable location?

here now if we had to be paying a rent. You

Yes. My dad, in the day, was a difficult

now, but it certainly was in the days when

they? On more than one occasion before

can look back with hindsight and say this isn’t a good position for a shop like mine it was established.

“This was a very well-to-do area with

very big houses and a lot of them with

servants. I know there were servants in

Marching o holds firm

man to work with. Fathers and sons don’t

always get on when they work together, do he packed in I broached the subject of

moving. You could see the way things were going on Evington Road. There are better parts of Leicester we could have been in

‘There are various aspects of the wine world which I really enjoy, one of which is going to trade tastings, which I find very interesting’ THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 30

Evingtons started out in 1926 as a grocer lot since then, but it’s still in the hands of

for our trade. He was dead against it. It’s

understandable really. It would have meant selling part of the family history and we

probably would have had to have rented somewhere instead. With hindsight, the time to move would have been 25 years ago really.


on: Evingtons m in a changing city

Don Cortez which are really names of

the past. Spanish Sauternes was horribly

sweet but dad used to say, “let them drink it, they’ll soon get fed up and want to try something better”.

I would say the range is now pretty much

divided down the middle between New and Old World.

Having started your career with an importer, do you ship wine yourself? We have done in the past but probably 15 years ago now, I decided to stop because

my turnover really wasn’t quick enough to

justify the bond charges and the quantities to buy by the pallet. I deal completely with UK agents now.

I’ve got good relationships with most

of them; some are better than others. I

deal with a lot of people. I don’t buy a lot from anybody. There are various aspects

of the wine world which I really enjoy, one of which is going to trade tastings, which I find very interesting. That’s the way to

keep the stock changing round. It’s dead easy to go to London from Leicester by train. I just close for the day.

Does that imply that most of your business is skewed towards weekends? Well, we’re closed on Sundays – and, frankly, Saturday, in a lot of parts of Simon March, Leicester, February 2019

r and still occupies the original premises. This part of Leicester has altered a f the March family – though Spanish Sauternes is no longer available …

Has the formula in product range changed? Do you still favour the old classics like Bordeaux and Burgundy? I’ve got a very open mind. I’ll sell a wine

from any country as long as a I like it, but I won’t sell a wine that I don’t like. I can truthfully say that I have tasted pretty

much every bottle in the shop. My memory might be going about some things but I

seem to be able to remember the flavour of a bottle of wine pretty well.

I can remember when I first started

in the 1960s we were selling Spanish

Sauternes, and things like Hirondelle and

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 31

Leicester now, is pretty hopeless. My wife’s a big market shopper and used to go on Saturday afternoons. If she goes there

now she probably finds most of the stall

holders have gone home. I like watching a bit of rugby so I close at 1pm usually.

But I was here at 9.30am this morning [a

Wednesday] and I shall be here until 6pm. I hold a lot of tastings myself and that

actually brings me quite a lot of my

business. I used to run evening classes for wine appreciation at night school,

Continues page 32


From page 31

years and years ago. It was bit novel to the education authority but they put up with

it. Eventually they changed their ways and didn’t really want to have any course that wasn’t going to have an exam at the end of it, basically. Anything interesting was thrown out of the window.

I had quite a following, so I thought, “why

not do it here?”. It’s the best thing I ever

did. I put tables and chairs in and they’re

sitting looking at the shelves. It works very well. If it’s a sit-down tasting I limit it to

16 to 18 people because that’s a bottle of each wine. It makes the money work out

better. If it’s a stand-up one with the bottles around, which I’m starting to do more of, we have more wines and do it over two

nights. Between 20 and 25 is a comfortable number to have wandering about in here. Given the changing nature of the

Some trophies from the past nine decades

‘Customers are drinking a bit less but going up in quality. They are coming in and saying, what’s new? So you’ve got to keep refreshing the range’

neighbourhood, does it mean people are travelling to you more? Is it hard to get them to come to you? It would be fair to say that most of my

customers live on this side of town. Most

of them come by taxi; some of them come by bike and put their bikes in the yard.

Some walk, and the odd one drives. I can remember the days when people used

to stop outside, before there were traffic

lights, on their way home. That was a lot of our trade really, in the days when we opened until 8pm.

Half of the shop used to be a separate

business, a shoe shop which we rented to. When the shoe man decided to pack it in, I said to dad that we really ought to take

that half on as well and have a much bigger shop. Oh dear, we did have a row about

that. He didn’t think he could afford to do

it. I said it was an opportunity that was too good to be missed. I won eventually and it made it into a decent-sized shop.

Do you have any wholesale trade? I do a bit: one or two restaurants and a

wine bar. It’s not a big part of the business. It was a big part because I had a customer Closed on Sundays, and for Saturday rugby

who was getting through quite a lot of

wine. They paid their bills but, like a lot

of restaurants these days, they came and

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 32

they went, about two or three years ago. It was shame to have lost them. Some years

previously we had a big golf club client for many years and they decided to change,

as golf clubs do, so the wholesale side has

dropped down, but retail compensated to a certain extent. It’s increased by quite a lot.

Now I find myself being virtually the only

wine merchant left in Leicester – what I

would call a proper wine merchant. The Offie is an excellent beer shop: I send

customers to him for beer and he sends customers to me for wine.

Within comparatively recent times we’ve

lost a big grocery shop, the Harrods of

Leicester called Simpkin & James, but the

wine department continued off its own bat until it closed too.

There was another called Hynard’s

which had seven or eight branches around Leicestershire at one point, including one


on Evington Road. There are one or two

to go. I can sell them bottles of interest and

I’m definitely the other way around.

and £15 is probably where I operate best.

people playing at it a bit but are really

selling more spirits than they do wine – but But your spirits range looks substantial. Malt whisky does quite well for me. I

missed a trick with the gin. I thought I

wouldn’t tie too much money up in it, but it turned out there was a lot of mileage in

it over the past few years. Some people do almost come in and turn their nose up at our poor selection.

Have you entered the digital age? I don’t do much e-commerce. I was very

they’re not just going to the supermarket

and picking up £5-£6 bottles. Between £10 It’s not difficult to find decent quality at

those prices. You’ve got to take the trouble to taste them, which is one reason for

going to tastings. Another is that all the

time customers are coming in and saying: “What’s new?” So you’ve got to keep

refreshing the range. People are used to

buying wine here and want a bit of variety.

They don’t want to drink the same thing all the time.

Do you have a favourite tasting?

lucky, because my son had a mate who

As I’m getting older I can’t sensibly taste

at very little cost to me, but it’s now

I’d tasted 70-80 wines, but now it’s more

went to university doing web design and wanted a project, so he did my website

very out of date. He keeps it ticking over but he keeps saying we have to re-do it

completely. It’s just a question of whether I want to spend a lot of money on that at this stage.

Are you still as much in love with wine as when you entered the trade? Yes, even more so. I’m so often being asked, “what’s your favourite wine?” That’s a very

as many wines as I used to be able to. I

used to count up on the train home that

like 50 or 60. I pick and choose a lot. Some are very big, like the Australia Day tasting,

and I don’t go – it’s just too big. I do tend to go more to individual suppliers’ tastings,

which recently moved away from its wine bar activities in London and is doing a lot more for people like us.

Are the next generation lined up to continue the family tradition?

promotional work recently and there are

The youngest one is interested in wine and

had a very great fancy for Portuguese

I had four sons. Unfortunately we lost one,

a lot more around than there were. There

I thought he would consider taking it on.

are always some jolly nice wines around at

reasonable prices. But it never quite seems to get there compared to somewhere like Rioja, which I’m also a great fan of. Chile makes some really good wines, South

Africa too – very good value for money over the years.

What’s exciting customers at the moment? Customers are generally drinking a bit less

but going up in value which is the right way

Champagne Devaux is passionate about excellence, service and attention to detail. As such they champion specialist independent merchants and the fine dining market. Two of the house’s leading London on-trade accounts are Gordon Ramsay’s Pétrus in Belgravia and Flemings in Mayfair, which both serve Devaux Cuvée D by the glass. From April 15 until and including June 15 2019, independent merchants who purchase six or more cases from Devaux’s flagship Collection D range – which must include three of the four different varieties – will be entered into a prize draw. The lucky winner, selected at random by The Wine Merchant Magazine, will win an overnight night stay at Flemings and dinner for two at Pétrus. Devaux Champagne is available for purchase from Liberty Wines: order@ / 0207 720 5350 Collection D from Devaux includes the following four wines: Cuvée D; Ultra D; D Millésimé 2008; and D Rosé.

people like Thorman Hunt and Davy’s,

difficult question to answer but I’ve always red table wines. They’ve done a lot of

Win dinner at Pétrus restaurant and a night for two at Flemings luxury boutique hotel

and of the other three there’s no interest. He worked for Majestic for two or three

years and took a few wine exams and got a job with a branch in Chester, which suited

him down to the ground. But he rang me up one day and said he’d had enough because they work them so hard. He became a teacher.

I’m actively considering retiring but I

never seem to get round to it. I can sell the

property tomorrow. I’ve got a list of people locally who would buy it, but I’m happy enough for now.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 33

The competition is open from April 15-June 15 2019. Entrants must be independent wine merchants based in the UK. To qualify, merchants must purchase at least 6 cases of 6x75cl from the Devaux Collection D range during the competition period (in one single purchase or split over two orders), and include a mix of at least three different cuvées. The cuvées to choose from are Cuvée D, Ultra D, D Millésimé 2008 and D Rosé. New customers to Liberty Wines will need to register with the business in order to purchase from them. Call 0207 720 5350. The winner will be announced in The Wine Merchant July Issue and awarded vouchers for the hotel and the restaurant to claim at a date of their convenience (subject to availability). Flemings Hotel vouchers will cover one night in a Deluxe Double room and a full English breakfast for two. Petrus vouchers will cover a three-course “a la carte” menu for two people and a bottle of Cuvée D. Additional food and beverage purchases at the restaurant or hotel are not included. The vouchers are valid for a period of 11 months from issuing. Transport costs are not included.


The 2018 vintage looks like being a special one for many Loire producers

Hurrah for the Loire Wine Paris was a perfect opportunity for a group of independents to take stock of everything the Loire has to offer specialist merchants. Here, some of the retailers who attended pick out their highlights

Jonathan Kleeman The Twisted Cellar Bishops Stortford Kleeman is excited by a good vintage in the Loire which he believes has “reinvigorated” the region. “It’s interesting going out there to meet a

lot of producers who aren’t represented in

the UK at all and seeing the quality and the price points – and realising that in the UK we’ve got a little lazy,” he says. “There are

definitely a lot of options out there that are competitive that we’re just not looking at.” He adds: “I was surprised about how

good the quality was. I didn’t have a bad

tasting. Savennières was a bit of a standout – that’s a region I think is a bit more

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 34

consistent in its style.

“I think dry whites made from Chenin

Blanc can do very well because they

have the body and lift and are a bit more gastronomic, but still clean and crisp.

“Saumur I really enjoyed as well. The

2018 vintage is a very forward one, very

easy to get on with, so it will be a very good year for the Loire to show itself off a bit.”

Kleeman is hopeful of bringing in some

of the wines that he discovered, and plans to promote them by talking to customers about the producers who make them.

He was impressed by the value that he

found. “It’s not going to be expensive to

bring a pallet in,” he says. “I was surprised by the prices. I thought they’d be a bit

higher. Some sparkling was only about €5, and once you add tax, that’s less than £10. “Although Brexit’s a pain,

a lot of the people I spoke to seemed excited by it.

IN ASSOCIATION WITH They are seeing it as a chance for smaller

competitively-priced alternatives to

Paul Caputo

third party.”

expectations in some instances. I was

Caputo was on the look-out for Cabernet

Loire promotion all through last summer.


nice to get some Chenin Blancs out there

working in Muscadet,” he says.

independents to start to look to bring their own wine in rather than going through a Alexandra Edwards York Wines “The Loire is interesting because we have quite a few customers who have been asking for Muscadet, and it’s feeling like it’s on the verge of making a resurgence,” says Edwards. “I feel the quality has improved and they

have upped their game. There’s some really good value for money wines to be had there, definitely.

“The wines I tasted were all interesting.

Domaine Moulin Camus was really nice;

Domaine de la Foliette and Patrick Girard also stood out for me.

“We do have one Muscadet already

and we are looking to extend our range.

Because the demand for it is increasing we can justify importing it ourselves.”

Edwards believes that Muscadet is

finding favour with a new audience. “The fashion has changed,” she says. “It went

through a phase when it didn’t have a great reputation and now a younger generation

some of the wines we are currently

Mistral Wine Bar & Shop, Chester

impressed with all the wines I tasted.

Franc and was not disappointed by

working with. The quality was surpassing “From a retail point of view, we ran a

We always sell a lot of Loire Sauvignon

in seeing how this new cru system was

something a bit different. The reds last

really take care of it in the vineyard, look at

too and for customers to experiment with summer worked particularly well.

“Our Muscadet sales have always been

steady. I have always sold a lot of Vouvray

just because I lived there and know a lot of people who make wine there.”

‘I was surprised by how good the quality was. I didn’t have a bad tasting’ Driver believes that different Loire

wines will appeal to customers at her

many of York Wines’ on-trade customers.

there is more of a demand for the cheaper

She believes the wines will appeal to

“We’d probably approach local restaurants and cafes that are more fish-based and work with them,” she says. Lucy Driver

South Downs Cellars, Sussex Driver was on a mission to find wines that would work in the wholesale side of her business. “There were some fabulous wines

on taste and some really interesting alternatives,” she says.

“I think the Loire offers some really

“On the whites I was very interested

during the summer anyway but it was

is open to trying and buying some of the nice Muscadets that are around.”

what he saw from Chinon and Saumur-

two branches. “In my Lindfield shop it’s

a slightly younger audience and perhaps Muscadets, vin de pays Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs, the Gamays … the easily understandable wines,” she says.

“But I think here in Hurstpierpoint,

the customers are perhaps more willing to experiment with some of the more interesting, expensive appellations.”

Driver is hopeful that the buying trip will

soon bear fruit.

“There are definitely a couple of wines

I have requested samples for so I can

taste them with the rest of the team,” she

says. “Definitely a red and white pair and potentially half a dozen others.”

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 35

“I think [Melon] is a variety that, if you

the soils and low-intervention winemaking, it’s very intense and very versatile.”

Caputo is encouraged that producers

are starting to accentuate the characters

of individual villages. Reduced yields are

adding richness and depth of flavour, and

justifying Muscadet’s gradual move up the price ladder. “There is some interesting stuff to come out of there,” he says.

Caputo also encountered Touraine

Sauvignons and crémants that offer sharp value when compared to some of their more illustrious rivals.

“The good thing is there is a real

drive towards organic and biodynamic winemaking and at the independent

merchant level there is a real interest in

sustainably-farmed wine,” he says. “I think the Loire does as good a job as any region in trying to get the certification in place.”

Caputo plans to visit the vineyards of a

number of prospective trade partners in

the Loire in May. “There are certainly two or three that I could see myself working with,” he says.


some Cremants in the famille Helfrich range • Perle Noir Crémant d’Alsace

Fizzing with pote Crémant cranks i

• Arthur Metz 1904 Crémant d’Alsace • Domaine de Tholomies Crémant de Limoux

• Salasar Excellence Crémant de Limoux

• Crémant de Savoie • Sauvion Brut Crémant de Loire • Domaine de Savagny Crémant de Jura


parkling wine has been one of the

success stories in the UK trade for

some time now. But while much of

the attention has been focused on the top and bottom ends of the market, the large space in the middle ground has perhaps

• Moingeon Prestige Crémant de Bourgogne

been overlooked.

Until recently, that is. Crémant is

• Clairette de Die 7% Blanc • Arthur Metz Crémant D’Alsace Extra Brut

Whatever way you look at crémant – character, style, price, story – it ticks an independent specialists and their customers. At a masterclass hosted by Fami supplier of crémant to the UK, a group of merchants considered the category

increasingly attracting attention from critics, importers and merchants, and

it’s not hard to work out why. The wines

• Sauvion Crémant de Loire Rosé • Montgueret Tête de Cuvée Rosé

• Moillard Grivot Crémant de Bourgogne White • Moillard Grivot Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé

our guests • Ted Sandbach, Oxford Wine Co • Robert Boutflower, Tanners • Jane Salt, Hay Wines • Chris Connolly, Connollys • Phil Innes, Loki Wine • Calum Chance, Tivoli Wines • Nick Underwood, Underwood Wines.

are made in the traditional method, offer

more depth and complexity than bargainbasement alternatives, but occupy a price bracket that sits below Champagne.

Famille Helfrich – the division of Les

Grands Chais de France which focuses on the specialist independent and on-trade

sectors – hosted a crémant masterclass at its recent portfolio tasting for a group of

indies. The company offers crémants from

all across France and is in an ideal position

to showcase the diversity that the category can offer. Indeed it claims to be the largest supplier of crémant to the UK.

Hosted by Famille Helfrich/GCF

winemakers Pierre-Jean Sauvion and

Nicolas Haffelin, the selection included everything from the Chenin-inspired

crémants from the Loire to the Clairettedominated wines of Die in the Rhône.

There are eight regions with appellations

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 36

for crémant, the others being Bordeaux,

Bourgogne, Alsace, Jura, Limoux and Savoie – which gained official recognition in 2017.


he merchants who attended the

session all report increasing sales of crémant, even if it’s sometimes

from a low base. Jane Salt of Hay Wines

in Ledbury has crémants from just about

everywhere other than Jura. “I’ve got some

people who only buy Alsace, and some that only go for the Loire,” she says. “It does vary. I sell the most from the Loire.”

At Connollys in Birmingham, Chris

Connolly is the first to admit that “we don’t have a broad enough range of crémants for people to really make a choice, frankly”.

But the company does offer a Crémant de Jura. “To a degree they buy it because it’s Chardonnay-dominated,” he says.

Some indies find that customer choice

is inspired by travelling within France.

‘Crémant is becoming more popular for weddings. It’s easydrinking and easy to pronounce’


ential: it up

awful lot of boxes for ille Helfrich, the largest y’s prospects

Indeed Phil Innes of Loki in Birmingham

argues that people are buying the region,

Robert Boutflower, Tanners

Chris Connolly, Connollys

Ted Sandbach, Oxford Wine Company

Phil Innes, Loki Wine

the bottle of Prosecco or cava, it’s a tenner.

prospects. Sauvion suggests that they’re

not the brand, when they choose crémant. Robert Boutflower of Tanners agrees:

“People who go on holiday to Carcassonne should come across Limoux and therefore might come back and buy Crémant de

Limoux,” he says. “I agree it’s a holiday thing.”

But holidaymakers alone can’t account

for crémant’s recent surge. “It’s certainly becoming more popular for weddings,”

reports Ted Sandbach of The Oxford Wine Company. “People are wanting to get

away from Proseccos and cavas and this sort of thing and don’t necessarily want

Champagne. So I’m finding that crémant is selling better. It’s easy-drinking and easy

to pronounce – these are little things that

help. And it’s priced between £13 and £17.” He adds: “You might open a cava, a

Prosecco and then a Crémant de Loire and

it somehow seems to work with people. It’s a point of difference and there’s something about this word ‘crémant’ that the public seem to quite identify with, even if they don’t quite know what it is.

“It’s almost a brand to the public, I think,

which is good. I think there’s huge scope for crémant.”

Boutflower adds: “We also sell a lot of

wine to weddings and parties. You put out

You put out a bottle of Champagne and it’s 25 quid. You say to them ‘and we can find something in the middle if you want’ and that’s invariably going to be a crémant of some sort.”


andbach believes that crémant is already perceived as “a separate

category in its own right” now, even

if the Famille Helfrich winemakers are too modest to make grand claims about its

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 37

only at the start of a journey that will take some time.

Chris Connolly is more bullish. “It doesn’t

need to be a long way away,” he says. “Look

at how the Prosecco market took off within the space, seemingly, of about five minutes. You just need to get the right drive behind it.”

That’s easier said than done given how Continues page 38


‘Crémant mustn’t be too uniform. It has to be a little bit esoteric, a little bit different, so that people can latch onto its flavour.’


is definitely not on the radar and they’re looking for the next thing.”


ne of crémant’s inherent

strengths is its diversity, which is obviously a function of the

variety of grapes that can be involved as

well as regional differences in terroir and tradition. Boutflower is keen that these differences aren’t smoothed out.

From page 37

marketing budgets for crémant are dwarfed by their Italian rivals. The spadework is probably going to be

done by the merchants themselves,

getting their customer base enthused

about the category through tastings and endorsements.

Connolly describes the rise of crémant as

“a ripple, not a wave” at this stage but it’s certainly coming at an auspicious time.

Boutflower says: “I think the modern

wine drinker is much more attuned to

drinking bubbles. Every second or third

bottle going out the doors these days is a

sparkler. I think that crémant, in the minds of most of our

drinkers at the moment, is


It’s a point echoed by Innes

at Loki. “I’m finding far more

people are drinking bubbles – so rather than opening a bottle of

still wine they’ll open a bottle of sparkling,” he says.

“I don’t know whether

they’ve read about it

somewhere, but I’m seeing

quite a lot of younger people who are really interested

in crémant because they’re

maybe done with Prosecco

now and they can’t afford

Champagne all the time. Cava

“Crémant must not become too uniform,”

he says. “It has to be a little bit esoteric, a little bit different, so that people can

latch onto the flavour. If all crémants are the same I think that would be a real

sadness. I think it’s the nice thing about

a little category which allows all of us, as

independents, to be able to offer something different. It appeals to me as a wine merchant.”

Nicolas Haffelin, Famille Helfrich winemaker for Alsace, Jura and Savoie

So where does the crémant category

go from here? Might it be wrecked by

supermarket discounting? Merchants

believe that the big grocers will prefer

the easier option of banging out cheap

Prosecco than explaining the nuances and complexity of a sparkling wine further up the price ladder. “There’s always a bit of

a risk,” accepts Boutflower, “but crémant

needs more explanation than basic price pointing.”

Sandbach finishes on a positive note.

“Crémant is not going to be Prosecco,” he

declares. “But I think it will double its sales in the next five years.”

Pierre-Jean Sauvion, Famille Helfrich winemaker for the Loire

MAKE CONTACT Famille Helfrich is a family business working with a wide range of UK independents, shipping mixed pallets of wines representing all its properties throughout France, as well as partner wineries across Europe and the New World. For more information about any of the company’s wines, including its unrivalled line-up of crémants, call Chris Davies, sales director for on-trade and independents at Famille Helfrich, on 07789 008540 or email Twitter: @FamilleHelfrich

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 38

Wines of Germany’s Top of the Crops 2019 Following a panel tasting at the end of February, our experts selected their favourite wines from a line-up entered into this year’s Wines of Germany Top of the Crops competition. Here are their selections, representing a snapshot of some of Germany’s most interesting wines.

BEST INDEPENDENT MERCHANT WINES Panel: Joan Torrents, Pantry & Co; Christina Holzer, The Sampler; Desiree Russo, Humble Grape • Rheinhessen, Pinot Blanc 2018, Cosmic Beetle, Sander, Vinceremos Organic Wines, £10.99-£12.99 • Pfalz, Sauvignon Blanc Fumé 2017, Oliver Zeter, Delibo Wine Agencies, £21 • Franken, Silvaner 2018, Escherndorfer Lump, Horst Sauer, Boutinot, £21 • Rheinhessen, Riesling 2017, Estate, Braunewell, Lea & Sandeman, £12.95 • Rheingau, Riesling 2015, Bibo Runge, Delibo Wine Agencies, £18 • Rheingau, Riesling 2017, Grauschiefer, Friedrich Altenkirch, Genesis Wines, £14.70 • Mosel, Riesling 2017, Red Slate, Dr Loosen, Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies, £13.50 • Mosel, Riesling 2017, in der Sangerei, AJ Adam, Boutinot, £27 • Rheinhessen, Riesling Spätlese 2017, Guntrum Oppenheim, Louis Guntrum, Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies, £18.85 • Rheingau, Riesling Kabinett 2018, Victoriaberg, Flick, The Winery, £21.99 • Mosel, Riesling Kabinett 2008, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, S A Prüm, Delibo Wine Agencies, £24 • Mosel, Riesling Spätlese 2014, Berncasteler Doctor, Dr H Thanisch Erben Müller-Burggraef, New Generation Wines, £45.50-£48.50 • Pfalz, Pinot Noir 2017, Villa Wolf, Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies, £12.90 • Rheingau, Pinot Noir 2016, Kloster Eberbach, Boutinot, £24

BEST UNREPRESENTED WINES Panel: Mags Janjo, Roberson; Jenny Smith, Oddbins; Imogen BowenDavies, Majestic; Jan Konetzki, Ten Trinity Square; Charlotte Prescot, Elystan Street; Gustavo Medina, Tate Britain; Joan Torrents, Pantry & Co; Christina Holzer, The Sampler; Desiree Russo, Humble Grape • Baden, Winklerberg Silvaner Sekt NV, Kaiserstühler Winzergenossenschaft Ihringen • Rheingau, Riesling Sekt 2012, Eser Cabinet, Johannishof • Mosel, Riesling Sekt 2014, Ludovico, C von Nell-Breuning • Mosel, Grauburgunder 2017, Stephan Steinmetz • Franken, Riesling 2017, Würzburger, Bürgerspital • Pfalz, Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2018, Gebrüder Anselmann • Rheinhessen, Silvaner 2017, Orangewine, Reis & Luff • Mosel, Riesling 2016, Ober dem Kokusloch, Cowell • Mosel, Riesling 2017, Brauneberger Juffer Goldkapsel, Martin Conrad • Pfalz, Riesling 2018, Buntsandstein, Kirchner • Rheinhessen, Riesling 2017, Straight, Kraemer • Nahe, Riesling 2017, Burg Layen, Schlossgut Diel • Pfalz, Riesling 2018, Exklusiv, Deutsches Weintor • Mosel, Riesling 2017, "Primus", P Stettler & Söhne • Rheinhessen, Riesling 2017, Roter Hang, Wedekind • Mosel, Royal Riesling Herb 2017, Trossen • Mosel, Riesling Spätlese 2017, Merler Stephansberg, Albert Kallfelz • Mosel, Riesling Kabinett 2017, Kaseler Dominikanerberg, C von Nell-Breuning • Baden, Spätburgunder 2015, Aus Dem Kessel, Freiherr von Gleichenstein

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 39


Chianti and beyond Famiglia Cecchi has a range of wines from its estates in central Italy that are aimed squarely at specialists. We poured a dozen of them for a group of independents to put them through their paces


hen winemaker Luigi Cecchi

started his business in 1893, he probably never imagined

that his company would grow to be what it

has become today. And yet despite its scale, Famiglia Cecchi is still a family concern,

selection of the Cecchi range over lunch,

in the company of export manager Jacopo Astorino and Domenico Sette of Vinexus. The line-up included wines from the

focused on quality wines from Chianti,

over 80 hectares from Siena towards

Chianti Classico. Sangiovese dominates

the plantings, though there is also some In Maremma the family estate is the

The business makes no secret of its

famous Val delle Rose, which has grown

success in the multiples, but also offers

from 25 hectares to more than 150 since

a range of wines that are exclusive to

being acquired by Cecchi.

specialist merchants. These are sold

Astorino is confident that independents

ex-cellars through Vinexus, the company A small group of indies, assembled by

for over 1,000 years. Its vines spread

in evidence.

and Umbria.

The Wine Merchant, recently tasted a

name is Villa Cerna, home to vineyards

Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino Toscano

Chianti Classico and other areas of Tuscany

established in 1996 by Nicolas Belfrage MW.

Family Estates division, of which the oldest

can grow their Italian sales by working The Val delle Rose winery in Maremma

FEATURED WINES FROM THE Described as “the perfect representation of Sangiovese from the Maremma”, with FAMIGLIA CECCHI RANGE

with wines from across the Famiglia

Cecchi range – whether they come under

the Cecchi, Family Estates or Monteguelfo Val delle Rose Poggio al Leone Morellino di Scansano Riserva DOCG 2013

luscious fruit richness but a fresh finish.

Aged in barriques for 12 months, and

Cecchi Torrebona Vernaccia di San

A wine that Mark Moorhouse of Dalling

made with grapes grown at 150m altitude,

Gimignano 2017

& Co in Kings Langley picked out as a

where sea breezes moderate the summer

The only white wine in Tuscany with DOCG favourite.

sun. Ripe, well-structured and full-bodied

status. Cecchi’s example is seafood-

and, for Mark Moorhouse, another winner.

friendly and pleasantly oily, with fresh pear Val delle Rose Litorale Vermentino Maremma Toscana DOC 2017

Val delle Rose Il Ciliegiolo Maremma

Vermentino thrives in the coastal

Rosso DOC 2016

Cecchi Natìo Chianti DOCG 2016

areas of southern Tuscany. The

A meaty wine, made from 100% Ciliegiolo,

Made with organically-grown grapes in

seaside influence is evident in

with intense aromas and mineral notes,

a classic Tuscan style, with firm tannins.

this fruity, tangy wine. For Ted

accompanied by cherry and plum flavours.

Sangiovese dominates, with Colorino and

Sandbach of the Oxford Wine

Canaiolo making up 10% of the blend.

Company, this was a stand-out,

Villa Cerna Primocolle Chianti Classico

and also a favourite of Penny

DOCG 2015

Val delle Rose Morellino di Scansano

Champion of Champion Wines

Made with fruit grown at 250m above sea

DOC 2017

in Chislehurst.

level, aged for nine months in barrique and


THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 40


MERCHANT FEEDBACK Ben Williams In Vino Veritas, Walthamstow “We’ve always had quite a large range of Tuscan wines, from basic Chianti up to Flaccianello and then more widely Biondi Santi Brunello and others. “Italy generally has always been a top performer for us, second only to France. Chianti has always been a strong performer here and we don’t see any sign of that changing. Locally Tuscany seems to be a very popular weekend break and that likely drives sales

CEO Andrea Cecchi, a fourth-generation family member

headings. “We’ve been in the UK for many

anniversary year, Famiglia Cecchi is still a

very ambitious objective which is to become,

he says, “who were born into wine.”

years,” he says, “but we decided to have a

fresh start with Vinexus. We set ourselves a

in the near future, the leading Chianti and Chianti Classico brand in the UK.”

It sounds like a grand plan, but Astorino

is keen to emphasise that, even in its 125th

business that its founder would recognise. “We’re very simple countryside people,”

of the region. “From a price perspective, Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2017 I felt was very approachable, fresh and had a good minerality, and would be a great alternative to, say, a Pinot Grigio at that price for a weekday drinker. “The Morellino di Scansano had a

• For more information visit www.

lovely warmth about it with some light or contact Domenico

oak notes coming through and would

Sette at Vinexus:

probably make a great match with some charcuterie given its light tannic nature. “I very much enjoyed the Villa Cerna Primocolle and the Villa Rosa Ribaldoni

a minimum three months in bottle.

Villa Rosa Gran Selezione 2015

Intense violet and iris aromas and

Aged for 15 months in tonneaux

a much cheaper price I would say that

fresh fruit flavours. Another wine

and three months in concrete

was the overall winner. But both of

that particularly impressed Penny

before spending a minimum of a

Champion and Ted Sandbach.

year in bottle, with a floral nose, vibrant palate and a firm but

Villa Cerna Chianti Classico

friendly finish.

Riserva DOCG 2014

but with the Primocolle coming in at

those wines would sell well here as I feel they reflect the archetypal style of Chianti very clearly, and for not daft money.” Julia Jenkins Flagship Wines, St

Produced only in the best vintages, a

Monteguelfo Chianti 2016

complex wine with floral aromas and a

A simple, fresh Chianti with classic cherry

“I enjoyed the

harmony of acidity, tannins and alcohol.

character. Fermented in stainless steel

two white wines

and aged in bottle for a minimum of two Villa Rosa Ribaldoni Chianti Classico



that were very refreshing and appealing with

DOCG 2016

varietal character.

Intense fruit on the nose with a hint of spice

Monteguelfo Chianti Classico 2016

and toasted wood. Vibrant and savoury

Spending a minimum of three months in

with soft, velvety tannins and a long,

oak, this is an intense wine with firm red

persistent finish.

fruit and a clean finish.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 41

“The style of the Chianti Classico Riserva from Villa Cerna and the very elegant Villa Rosa Gran Selezione were my favourites, together with the Morellino di Scansano.”

© jcfotografo /


Japan’s commercial whisky heritage dates back to the 1920s

Exploring a world of whisky Japan, Taiwan and Sweden are increasingly making their mark in a competitive spirits category, reports Nigel Huddleston


orld Whisky Day is looming, with celebrations of the

spirit on the international

stage planned for May 18. It’s also an

opportunity for UK retailers to showcase

what might be called – for want of a better

phrase – world whiskies, a blossoming sub-

category that embraces producers from

further afield than the usual suspects of Scotland, Ireland and the US.

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association

puts the total imported whiskey market at £800m last year, of which the lion’s

share was taken by bourbon and Irish.

But in specialist retailers and the top end of the bar trade, other countries such as

Japan, Taiwan and Sweden are increasingly making their mark.

“Consumers love all these different

countries because whisky is about

discovery,” says Stef Holt, head of brand

education at Speciality Drinks. “It’s about

trying different flavours and searching for

a favourite one – and even when you have a favourite you still carry on.”

The word “cult” is often lazily bandied

about in describing trendy drinks, but it’s genuine thing for many whisky imports. Sweden’s Mackmyra and Taiwan’s

Kavalan have built up distinct followings, as has Japanese whisky as a whole and some of its individual producers.

Speciality Brands distributes Kavalan in

scotch whisky



oloroso casks for tamdhu

grape and grain do mix

ryes and FALLS

Pink gin’s the thing these days, so Kent winemaker Chapel Down has put some of its Pinot Noir grapes to good use to add one to its growing spirits portfolio. Grape skins were distilled and the result blended with wheat spirit and infused with some of the usual suspects in gin botanicals, plus rose buds and rosehip.

The Aber Falls distillery, based in Abergwyngregyn in north Wales, has produced its first vodka, under the name Breindal. It’s also using the name for a gin, in addition to its main Aber Falls brand. The producer is now turning its attention to creating what it claims will be Wales’ first rye whisky, which is expected to hit the market in 2020.

Speyside distillery Tamdhu may be heading into awkward territory with the Ian Fleming estate in three years’ time, but for now it’s only on number 004 in its ongoing Batch Strength series of non-chill filtered single malts. Aged in American and European Oloroso sherry casks and achieving an abv of 57.8%, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 42

the UK, along with the Indian brand Amrut

Swedishness in every element from its

says, “and are posting regularly about

influences from elsewhere such as its

and Nikka from Japan.

“Some Kavalan fans are obsessed,” Holt

different cask types or their travels just to

get certain bottlings that are only available in one country.”

Just as in Scotland, styles can vary from

producer to producer and from bottling to bottling, but these countries have evolved different flavour styles which enable

retailers to match them with varying customer preferences.

“Japan has very much brought an

elegance to whisky,” says Holt. “India has

more punchy, full-bodied flavours, perhaps more British flavours because of the historical link there.”

Mackmyra – which set up its own UK

sales operation in 2018 – has gone off on a journey all of its own, celebrating

water to barley through to yeast and oak. It’s also not averse to absorbing

latest creation Äppelblom, infused with the apple flavours from casks that have

previously held Christian Drouin Calvados. Its supply of Swedish oak for its core

range is descended from Limousin oak

saplings imported in the 19th century to

‘Japan has very much brought an elegance to whisky. India has more punchy, full-bodied flavours – perhaps more British flavours’

build ships for the Swedish navy.

products, which include gin as well as an

says Alex Johnson, who handles Mackmyra

events, staff training and tasting stock,”

are elegance and balance. There’s a bit of

make sure retailers can sample them with

“Because we were the first in Sweden,

I suppose the Swedish style is our style,” sales in the Midlands, northern England and Scotland. “The overarching words

orchard fruit character with little splashes of herbs and a slight almond character.” Mackmyra will supply direct as little

as a mixed case of 12 bottles of any of its

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 43

array of whiskies.

“We always aim to offer support with

adds Johnson. “These products aren’t well

known, and they are unusual so we want to their customers.”

Japan is further down the road

Continues page 44

No. 4

The Old Fashioned is a drink that rewards patience. Bartender lore says that to make a good one takes eight minutes, the same length of time that studies have shown the average adult spends complaining Allison Parc, founder of French malt whisky Brenne

each day. Could the two stats be linked? This take on the classic replaces the authentic whiskey with dark rum for a fruitier, some would

From page 43

say more accessible, drink, that retains the original’s elegance – and painstaking build.

commercially, with Nikka and House of

Suntory’s Yamazaki, Hakushu and Habiki

all benefiting from the fashion for Japanese 60ml dark rum Half a teaspoon of sugar Tablespoon of water Two dashes Angostura bitters Curl of orange peel

cuisine and culture which appeals to younger drinkers.

“Quite often Scotch tastings are the

domain of older, tweed-clad men talking

about quite complicated technical issues,” says Holt. “For an Amrut tasting, for

example, generally the crowd’s younger, Put the sugar, bitters and water into a rocks glass and stir. When the sugar has dissolved fill the glass with ice cubes. Add the rum and stir again. Gently does it, to fully combine the flavours thus far. Squeeze some oil from the orange peel around the rim of the glass and drop the peel in as the garnish for the finished drink.

much more genuinely curious and able to

feel they can ask questions because no one is supposed to know about these products anyway.”


She thinks France, which has a vibrant

and young malt whisky industry to

supplement its historic strength in Cognac and Armagnac, could be next to make its mark.

Australian and New Zealand brands

are also listed by many specialist whisky shops, and other countries are on their way. Maverick Drinks, which already

handles the French brand Brenne, is adding Israel’s first single malt, from the Milk & Honey distillery, later his year.

“It’s a very interesting market,” says Holt.

“World whiskies have just added more

options for everyone in their search for their perfect, individual whisky.”

supplier news

inspired by the rainforest

the wight stuff

Muyu is a range of three funky-looking liqueurs, each created in partnership with De Kuyper by the acclaimed bartenders Monica Berg, Simon Caporale and Alex Kratena. The ingredients were inspired by a trip to the Amazon rainforest but are being sourced from the French perfume capital Grasse and the centre of Dutch distilling, Schiedam.

The Isle of Wight Distillery has been busy creating a new look for its Mermaid gin – but the more exciting news from across the Solent is that its first malt whisky has reached its three-year minimum ageing requirement, though no release date has yet been named. The company has also launched a gin refill scheme for islanders who take their bottles back.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 44


Wines of Germany Trade Tasting: The Big G The event gives merchants the opportunity to taste more than 200 wines from some of the top German importers in the UK, and to meet the producers behind the wines. Highlights of this year’s tasting include

sparkling wines, plus the winners of

the recent Top of the Crops competition (featured on page 39).

A a selection of Rieslings will be

available for visitors to dispense directly from Enomatics.

Register at


Thursday, May 2 Somerset House Strand London WC2R 1LA

Harvesting underway at Dönnhoff

ABS Masters of Riesling Tasting The tasting offers a first chance to sample the new 2018 Rieslings and

Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés Tasting Ten prestigious Bordeaux châteaux will

2017 Pinot Noirs from German and Austrian growers. Lesley Gray of ABS says: “The 2018

show the latest four vintages from 2015

vintage has been described by our growers as a remarkable year and after some

challenging vintages has put a smile back on their faces.”

She adds: “It was a more relaxed

vintage and, in many cases, perfect

growing conditions delivered pristine

high-quality fruit and good volumes to

boot. Early days of course, but 2018 looks like an extraordinary vintage and one to remember.”

The tasting will be attended

to 2018.

representatives Dr Loosen (VDP), Mosel; Villa Wolf, Pfalz; Leitz (VDP), Rheingau;

Exhibitors attending the London event

Gunderloch (VDP), Rheinhessen; Louis

include Château Canon and Vignobles

Guntrum, Rheinhessen; Karl H Johner

Neipperg from Saint-Emilion, Château

(VDP), Kaiserstühl; Dönnhoff (VDP),

Branaire-Ducru and Château Léoville

Nahe; Schnaitmann (VDP), Württemberg;

Pouferré from Saint-Julien, Château

Jean Stodden (VDP), Ahr; Fürst (VDP),

Montrose from Saint-Estèphe and Château

Franconia; and Allram, Kamptal, Austria.

Rauzan-Ségla from Margaux.

For more information or to register,

To register visit www.


Tuesday, May 7

Thursday, May 2 Church House

67 Pall Mall

Dean’s Yard

St James’

London SW1P 3NZ

Rainer Schnaitmann

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 47

London SW1Y 5ES


© Pecold /

A Slice of Italy New Italian buyer Matt Smith will be presenting a wide snapshot of the Fields, Morris & Verdin Italian range. Eighteen producers will be represented,

including Marcarini (Piemonte),

Sandrone (Piemonte), Giovanni Rosso

(Piemonte), Vallana (Piemonte), Trediberri (Piemonte), Monte Del Frà (Veneto),

Masottina (Veneto), Marion (Veneto),

Montonale (Veneto), Lis Neris (Friulli), Monte Bernardi (Tuscany), Badia a

Coltibuono (Tuscany), Lisini (Tuscany),

La Magia (Tuscany), Faraone (Abruzzo),

Mastroberadino (Campania), Vigneti Tardis (Campania) and Graci (Sicily).

To register email FMVMarketing@fmv.

Wednesday, May 8

Vineyards at Tokaj, a UNESCO world heritage site

Unit 6, 6a Langley Street London WC2H 9JA

Independent Hungary Tasting

Northern Lights Independent Tasting

Hunslet Road, Leeds LS10 1JQ

Nine UK importers have joined forces for the third year running to host a

Oz Clarke will be co-hosting this event,

niche tasting of 200 wines from around

which features wines from more than

the world, destined for the independent

20 wineries.


As well as the famous Tokaji Aszú, the

The Tetley

Representatives from Delibo Wine

Wines of Canada Tasting This year’s event will feature 39

event will showcase food-friendly reds and

Agencies, Dreyfus Ashby, Gonzalez Byass,

producers and a themed table on

from Villány, Kadarka from Szekszárd, and

and Winetraders will be showcasing

growing regions offer the ideal conditions


hybrid grapes.

whites, including Hárslevelű and Furmint from Tokaj and Somló, Cabernet Franc Kékfrankos from Sopron.

Participating wineries include Balla Geza,

Barta, Gizella, Gere, Heimann, Kolonics,

Nachbil, Nimrod Kovacs, Pfneiszl, Ostoros, Sanzon, St Andrea, Gizella and Zsirai.


Thursday, May 9 67 Pall Mall

London SW1Y 5ES

Hatch Mansfield, Las Bodegas, Marta Vine,

Cabernet Franc.

a selection of Champagnes, wines and

for producing some bright, bracing and

New Generation, Richmond Wine Agencies fortified offerings from their respective Winemakers attending include Alex

Pflüger of Weingut Pflüger and Katie Jones of Domaine Jones.

For more information or to register,

email Monday, May 13

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 48

Canada’s cool climate and distinctive

interesting wines from both vinifera and

To register email jenny@westburycom.

Thursday, May 16 Canada House Trafalgar Square London SW1Y 5BJ


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

0207 409 7276

Castello Banfi update: new wines for 2019 Cost’è Rosé IGT Toscana: A blend of Sangiovese from Montalcino and Vermentino from the Maremma coast, this rosé is delicate in colour with flavours redolent of wild strawberries with hints of citrus and sage.

La Pettegola Vermentino IGT Toscana: La Pettegola comes from the

Tuscan Maremma Coast where the Vermentino grape thrives. The wine is delicate with intense apricot and grape fruit characteristics, enlivened by refreshing acidity.

Florus DOC Moscadello di Montalcino: A late harvest dessert wine

from the hillsides surrounding the town of Montalcino. The grapes dry

naturally on the vine and the resulting wine is highly perfumed with rich fruit flavours and balancing acidity.

10th anniversary: La Lus Albarossa To mark the 10th anniversary of La Lus – a Piemonetese red created from

Albarossa, a crossing of Nebbiolo and Barbera – we will be hosting a mini vertical at the London Wine Fair hosted by wine educator Quentin Sadler and Jgor Marini from Banfi. The vertical will include a special preview of the new 2017 release. For more information keep an eye on our newsletter or visit www.louislatour. to sign up for updates.

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

We are proud and excited to welcome Gaja to our portfolio of premium family owned wineries... Gaja Sito Moresco Langhe D.O.P

A nod to the people and traditions that preceded it, the name literally means the Moresco site. This delightful blend combines the complexity and longevity of Nebbiolo and Barbera with the body of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Ca’Marcanda Vistamare Toscana I.G.P

The playful name of this wine meaning ‘sea view’ was inspired by the sea breeze, sun, and lifestyle of the summer Tuscan coast. Produced in limited quantities Vermentino, Viognier and Fiano are gently cooled by the salt air blown in from the coast.

Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Brunello di Montalcino D.O.P

The estate’s signature wine and a radical move away from the single cru wines at the time of its first inception in 2005. 100% Sangiovese blended from fruit grown on the top sites of Sugarille and Rennina and from a 10ha parcel located in the north east of the appellation.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 49


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

New 2019 on-trade and indies wine list We’re delighted to announce that our new 2019 wine list is now 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 some of the highlights are additions from the Douro, the Rhône Valley, Friuli-Venezie and many more. Please contact to receive your copy!

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

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

Arthur Metz targets younger audience with convenient crémant Arthur Metz Crémant d’Alsace is now available in 37.5cl bottles, targeted at younger drinkers who might currently drink flavoured beers and ciders.

The bottles have a quality image, with a craft paper label and a traditional cork

without foil, similar to artisan ciders.

The format is perfect for two people to share and allows merchants to offer a

competitive unit price.

Famille Helfrich is a family business working with a wide range of UK independents,

shipping mixed pallets of wines representing all its properties throughout France, as well as

partner wineries across Europe and the New World.

For more information about

any of the company’s wines,

including its unrivalled line-up of crémants, call Chris Davies,

sales director for on-trade and

independents on 07789 008540 or email

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 50

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


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


TUE S DAY 7 th MAY ○ 10:30-17:00 ST JAMES’S ROOM ○ 67 PALL MALL ○ LONDON ○ S W1Y 5ES We will be showcasing the new 2018 Rieslings and 2017 Pinot Noirs. The 2018 vintage has been described by our growers as a “remarkable year” and after some challenging vintages has put a smile back on the their faces. It was more relaxed and in many cases perfect growing conditions delivered pristine high quality fruit and good volumes to boot! Early days of course, but 2018 looks like an extraordinary vintage and one to remember. Joining us to pour their latest vintages will be representatives from the following estates:


Introducing Albourne Estate Sustainably-grown, hand-crafted wines from Sussex English wine sales grew by 12% in volume in 2018 and they are showing no signs of slowing down. So, we’re delighted to welcome a new English producer to our portfolio, the

family-owned Albourne Estate. Run by Alison Nightingale,

their philosophy is based around creativity, sustainability and quality – definitely one to watch!

Albourne Multi Vintage: As its name suggests this

wine is made from selected base wines from multiple vintages to produce an approachable and immediately enjoyable style. It’s bursting with flavours of sweet baked bread, dried apricots, nuts and candied citrus peels, due to its extended time on lees.

Albourne Blanc de Blancs 2014: Made from hand-picked Chardonnay grapes, this is

a sparkling wine with elegance, finesse and complexity. The 2014 vintage offers a fuller and richer, textured style with aromas of baked apple and pastry. Please contact your Account Manager for more details.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 51


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

Fine Wine partners are enjoying the wonderful flavours of spring, especially lamb and asparagus, we have some wonderful wines on offer to partner these fantastic ingredients.

Hardy’s HRB Pinot Noir down from £59.37 per case to £53.43 Hardy’s HRB Pinot Gris down

from £59.37 per case to £53.43 Houghton White Classic down from £36.12 per case to £32.51

Houghton Crofters Chardonnay down from £44.62 per case to £40.16

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


De Wetshof Tops Chardonnay du Monde 2019

De Wetshof’s Bon Vallon Chardonnay 2018 has triumphed at this year’s Chardonnay du Monde, the world’s leading

competition for wines made from the noble grape of Burgundy. Such is their mastery of this grape that folklore suggests Danie

de Wet’s ancestor travelled back from Burgundy with clones of Chardonnay tucked away in his trouser pocket!

The family continues to make a wide range of Chardonnays from different terroirs on their estate with the Bon Vallon being an unoaked example full of freshness and vibrant fruit.

For more information, contact RWA: 0208 744 5550

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 52

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

One of the most keenly anticipated releases of the year is about to land; the 2019 bottling of Bodegas Hidalgo-La Gitana En Rama.

En Rama is sherry at its very best – unfiltered, unfined, pure free run juice directly from the barrel. This wonderful sherry demonstrates glorious concentration of all the aromas and flavours that Manzanilla has to offer at its very peak. Only made from grapes grown from the highest quality vineyards En Rama is released in extremely limited quantities as Hidalgo only select 35 of the best casks from the bodegas. Limited availability so for details and pricing please contact your account manager.


customers we could do without

4. Trinny Whittenbarger … So, we’ve got six people coming. There’s Dave’s workmate and his wife, can’t remember her name, but they’re both into vintage sports cars I think Dave said, and she only drinks white wine and he only really likes big Aussies, Dave says, and then there’s Val and Brian and she’s lactose intolerant and he has a problem with sulphur because

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

of his heart or something, Dave says, and there’s Sonia and Richard

• 12 Bottle carrier boxes with dividers from £0.99p each

and they’re a bit boring and don’t drink much but when we went to

Prices are subject to VAT • Delivery not included

theirs they had wine that Dave says was really expensive-looking so I need to keep that in mind and the first course I’m doing something

01323 728338 • •

out of the Ottolenghi with Lebanese spicing and salt cod and then the main course will be a whole baby kid that Dave’s doing on our new spit roaster in the garden so

Independent wine shop for sale South East London Zone 2

what I need is something that will go with all that obviously but it can’t be red because of Dave’s workmate’s wife and it can’t be rosé because Dave says he’d never hear the end of it at the office and I don’t really go for Chardonnay and the budget is £50 and we’ll need 10 bottles …

• Current turnover in excess of £250k • Renewable lease on very favourable rent • Fully fitted shop and equipment • Extensive supplier contacts and stock • Turn-key opportunity with potential to expand Email for further details.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 53


A fresh look at South America

liberty wines

by David Gleave MW

020 7720 5350

During a recent trip to South America, each of our producers

appropriate variety. The detailed research and vineyard work so

emphasised the importance of picking the right site and properly

understanding its microclimate and soils in order to plant the most key to making a wine that reflects its origins was evident in the glass

– whether at Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoza, Clos des Fous in Itata or Montes in Apalta, Marchigue and Zapallar.


I was also struck by the move towards fresher styles with pure

fruit and restrained oak character. This was particularly apparent

when tasting verticals of powerful wines like the Colomé Altura Maxima Malbec, Kaiken Mai and Kaiken Obertura.

Growers are more disciplined about when they pick and

winemakers much more judicious in their use of oak. Indeed, the 2016 Altamira Malbec from Altos las Hormigas, which sees no oak










whatsoever, was one of the outstanding wines we tasted.

The trip ended in Uruguay at Bodega Garzón, where the precision

of the wines, made from a dozen different varieties in the coastal

region of Maldonardo, was a case in point. Their balance, aromatics and ripe tannins make them a welcome addition to our portfolio.

enotria & COE

Planeta – Innovators and pioneers

23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX

Over five centuries, 17 generations of the Planeta family have been dedicated to the

five individual sites, from the southern marine coasts to the ashy shadows of Mt. Etna.

family has nourished the grapes and their passion, growing the winery to expand over

Although continually striving towards innovation and modernity, their craftsmanship is still rooted in the historic and traditional methods of Sicilian

020 8961 5161

agricultural evolution of Sicily’s land. From planting the first vines in Ulmo in 1985, the



Planeta found its fame through its impeccable Chardonnay,

which remains a benchmark for Italian white wines, but the

family has long believed in the potential of Sicilian varieties, and now makes outstanding award-winning wines from the

likes of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. Every bottle that is borne from this estate is rich in the flavour of the terroir and the

culture of Sicily, earning its name as one of the most dynamic and quality-orientated wineries in Italy.

We began our journey with Planeta over 25 years ago, before the now-famous

Chardonnay even had a label! And today? The energy, verve and vision of the team at Planeta continue to make it one of the most exciting wineries in our portfolio. Get in touch with your Account Manager to find out more.

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 54

hallgarten Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538


fields morris & VERDIN 24-34 Ingate Place Battersea London SW8 3NS

020 7819 0360 @fieldsmorrisverdin @fmvwines

A Slice of Italy Join the Fields, Morris & Verdin team on the 8th of May to taste through a wide snapshot of our exciting Italian range. Under the direction of our new Italian buyer Matt Smith,

we will be joined by 18 producers, from the top to the bottom of the boot, including the following:

Marcarini (Piemonte) · Sandrone (Piemonte) · Giovanni Rosso (Piemonte) · Vallana (Piemonte) · Trediberri (Piemonte) · Monte Del Frà (Veneto) · Masottina (Veneto) ·

Marion (Veneto) · Montonale (Veneto) · Lis Neris (Friulli) · Monte Bernardi (Tuscany) · Badia a Coltibuono (Tuscany) · Lisini (Tuscany) · La Magia (Tuscany) · Faraone

(Abruzzo) · Mastroberadino (Campania) · Vigneti Tardis (Campania) · Graci (Sicily) Date: Wednesday 8th May Time: 10am - 4pm

Venue: Unit 6, 6a Langley St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JA

To register your interest please email or contact your Account Manager

THE WINE MERCHANT april 2019 55

Profile for The Wine Merchant magazine

The Wine Merchant issue 79  

The Wine Merchant issue 79

The Wine Merchant issue 79  

The Wine Merchant issue 79


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