Page 1

THE WINE MERCHANT. Issue 85, October 2019

Dog of the Month: Tokaji Raffles, Nailsworth

Photography: Sally Mitchell

An independent magazine for independent retailers

MEET THE GARAGISTES Cornwall’s newest indie gets motoring / page 10

Le Vignoble goes big in Bristol Yannick Loué takes the plunge in new Finzels Reach development, extending estate to three sites

L

e Vignoble is set to open its third

and biggest branch in the coming weeks as part of a regeneration

project in the heart of Bristol.

Owner Yannick Loué has had his sights

set on the city for some time and his latest move, to the high-profile Finzels Reach development, looks tailor-made for Le Vignoble’s hybrid model.

“We have one or two hurdles but we are

hoping to open in six weeks, maximum,”

said Loué when The Wine Merchant spoke to him at the beginning of October.

The waterside location encompasses a

range of residential properties as well as retail and office spaces.

Le Vignoble will take its place among an

eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes and shops

on the ground floor of the Fermentation Buildings.

“It’s exciting,” said Loué. “I love the

property – it used to be a brewery and it’s

got a lot of history behind it. It’s perfect for us and I’m looking forward to it.” But he

admitted the move is “a massive gamble”.

Continues page five


EDITORIAL

Inside this month 6 comings & Goings A new Truro independent, and StarmoreBoss opens store two

Wine that smell like dirty boots, and a PX that goes with turkey

16 david williams Why can’t wine come up with some celebrities of its own?

wines that exude a sense of place.

tell a story about rocks, soil, altitude and

exposition; which speak of the culture they spring from, and the people who worked the land and encouraged those sacred berries to ferment.

So wine can be regarded as a

lesson in geography, which explains why the majority

by food matching suggestions and taste descriptors.

For the high-spending Generation

Treater consumer segment, grape variety

is also the number one purchasing cue. For this group, country of origin is only the

third most important consideration, after food-matching potential.

Most indies will compile their range

on the basis of wines that excite,

surprise, and deliver on price. It doesn’t always matter

where they come from.

their shelves according

Private bottlings of Scotch whisky and a penchant for cycling at this East Lothian indie

36 focus on chile Progress has been rapid, but has the UK trade kept up?

Birmingham to discuss their relationship with suppliers

wines in-store rarely

origin. You’ve got to have

works along those lines.

a system, and this one

makes as much sense as any other.

Yet this conventional wisdom

It’s true that

abandoning the tried-

and-tested way of displaying

wine by country of origin can be

has been challenged over the years, by

problematic. “Big and bold” and “soft

consumers care as much about a wine’s

understood as their authors imagine.

merchants, including several indies. Do

Independents meet in

Yet merchandising those

to country and region of

multiple retailers as well as more specialist

42 round table

Supplier Bulletin, page 57

the planet is on a mission to make

of merchants still arrange

22 Lockett Bros

Make a Date, page 56;

J

ust about every winemaker on

Wines which reflect their terroir, which

12 tried & tested

The Spirits World, page 54;

Wine is all about flavour. But we lose something if we leave it at that

nationality as they do its other credentials? There’s evidence to suggest that they

don’t. Wine Intelligence’s 2018 report

into the habits of UK consumers found

that Adventurous Explorers – the subset

of most interest to specialist wine shops – are swayed mostly by grape variety (good

luck, Portugal!). The choice cues that come next are country and region, followed

and fruity” and headings of that ilk

are subjective and not always as well

And they aren’t necessarily helpful when a customer rushes in, hoping for a brief

encounter with a line-up of Aussie reds.

There are no right answers. But it does

seem perverse to marginalise wine’s

relationship to its geography and national culture – if only because these things

have an intangible, and often mystical, connection to its flavour.

THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE

winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter graham@winemerchantmag.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries claire@winemerchantmag.com Sales and Business Development: Georgina Humphrey georgina@winemerchantmag.com Accounts: Naomi Young winemerchantinvoices@gmail.com The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 913 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2019 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82

THE WINE MERCHANT OCTOBER 2019 2


NEWS

Nicholson’s open to capital growth Since acquiring Highbury Vintners this summer, James Nicholson remains open-minded about further expansion in London and says more acquisitions are possible in the next two years. “We’ve no desire to have 50 shops

around London,” says the JN Wine owner, whose business is based in Crossgar,

Northern Ireland. “But we certainly see the potential to grow that business and maybe if suitable sites came up we’d obviously

have a good look at those. I don’t believe in

just growing stuff for the sake of growing it

Nicholson: “There is an optimum size for us, and over the next two years we’ll reach it”

but I think there is an optimum size for us,

Nicholson is confident enough in the

and over the next two years we’ll reach it.”

traditional wine merchant model to

Nicholson admits that he had been

eschew the hybrid concept. “There are a lot

looking for a UK presence for the past 10

of wine shops that have food, with nitrogen

years. “Six to seven per cent of our regional

machines and you buy a bottle and pay

business is in the UK anyway so it made

corkage,” Nicholson says. “We would still

sense,” he says. “We advertised through

The Wine Merchant to look for potential

want to operate on the basis of being a wine merchant and not being a sort of

businesses.”

semi-café.”

Nicholson is keen to stress that while

there will be a big investment in a shop

refit and a new website, Highbury will keep its identity.

“I suppose in the normal set of business

Highbury Vintners will retain its identity

circumstances you’d brand everything

doesn’t want it to be perceived as a big

great team of guys there,” he says.

website, which will be key and, like the

together but we want them to run as a

separate team in Highbury and there’s a “The family had a very successful

business that they’d built up and the

priority for us over the next three months

is to stabilise that and make sure we don’t mess up the good work that they’ve done! “We’ve obviously got our strategic plan

to develop the business to become more of a known brand and we don’t want to interfere locally with anything that has been successful.”

Nicholson describes JN Wine as “a small

to medium-sized family business” and

corporate brand coming in and taking over. Work has already started on the new

physical shops, totally separate from the

JN e-commerce site. Nicholson says: “We’re going to do something quite innovative on the web side. The mail order and digital world is where we’d like to take that

business. Our Northern Irish business has grown quite a lot on the web.”

The Highbury business will continue

to be defined by its range. Nicholson says the team is on the “look-out for more

domaines and more serious wines,” with the intention of growing Highbury’s list.

THE WINE MERCHANT OCTOBER 2019 4

During his initial search for a London

base, Nicholson and his team “looked at

many merchants and delved into various

business models,” and sometimes found it hard to reconcile the figures.

“I think probably everyone overestimates

how much their business is worth,

particularly in the wine trade,” he says. “There’s a great sense of emotional

attachment to what you’ve built up and you can think it’s worth five times more than it actually is.

“We paid a very fair price for Highbury,

the business was successful and we

certainly paid what it was worth. You can buy a business tomorrow and it’s maybe a bit distressed and you buy at a cheap

price – you think you’ve got a bargain, but you spend twice as much money trying to rectify it.”


Launch of third Le Vignoble branch From page one

At 223 square metres, the branch will be

more than double the size of the Plymouth or Bath sites and will offer 64 wines from

Enomatics. Ten new staff will be recruited, with some moving from other stores.

Finzels Reach has gradually bedded in

and already hosts a popular weekly street food market. Left Handed Giant has a

brewery and brewpub on the site and there are a number of independent cafes and

restaurants including a vegetarian woodfired pizza offering provided by Mission Pizza.

Channel 4 and English Heritage also have

a presence on the development.

“The vendors have been very picky –

they wanted independent people as well so

it’s going to be a nice mix,” said Loué.

The 6-acre site will include 737 homes

and a 168-bed hotel as well as 375,000

square feet of office space. Its developer

describes it as “one of the largest and most

significant mixed-use regeneration projects in the south west”.

Bristol boasts a broad range of

independent drinks specialists, including

Corks of Bristol, Clifton Cellars, Davis Bell McCraith, Grape & Grind, Aimee’s Wine

House, Weber & Trings and Little Tipple. Most specialise in retail, though Corks

has a branch called Corks at Cargo at Wapping Wharf where wines can be

enjoyed by the glass on the premises.

The first branch of Le Vignoble opened

at Royal William Yard in Plymouth in 2012

and a second venue appeared in Bath in the spring of 2018.

In an interview with The Wine Merchant

in early 2015, Loué said he ultimately

wanted five branches in the south west of England.

“Our Man with the Facts”

• Every year Germany elects a Wine Queen, chosen from a group of young women who have won local competitions in the country’s various wine regions. The original rules demanded that the candidates be single and not divorced, and contestants were judged on criteria including looks and dancing skills. Today the emphasis is on wine knowledge.

....... • Carignan Blanc is an obscure mutation of Carignan planted in small pockets of LanguedocRoussillon. Examples sold in the UK have been described as dry and spritzy, developing Chardonnay-like characteristics with bottle age.

....... • Although it is permissible to conduct a wine tasting in Utah, state law stipulates that nobody taking part may swallow.

....... • Charles Dickens was a keen imbiber. His cellar notes from 1865 list a 50-gallon cask of ale, one 18-gallon cask of gin, a nine-gallon cask of brandy and a nine-gallon cask of rum. Also mentioned were dozens of bottles of Champagne, Chablis, Sauternes, hock, claret, l’Eau d’Or and kirsch.

Finzels Reach includes 737 homes as well as commercial space

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 5


Farewell to Michael Baker

bang for their buck. “We’re a Highlands and

The industry has said goodbye to

well, we’ve got a good little town centre,

Islands postcode but I used to commute to Glasgow – we’re not as far away as people

think,” he explains. “Houses are going really

Michael Baker, managing director of

and there are not many empty shops.”

Norfolk institution Bakers & Larners,

So what’s on the cards for the former

who has died aged 72.

surveyor turned wine merchant? The

Baker, rarely spotted without his

answer is clay pigeons. He’s starting the

signature bow tie and UKIP badge, took

business with his daughter and they’re

over as the Holt store’s boss in 1974.

looking forward to a new outdoorsy career.

Chairwoman Jane Gurney-Read says: “At

But McMaster is keen to point out that

Christmas he was happiest working in the

his departure from Argyll Vintners is not

wine department talking to customers and

sharing his knowledge about the wines and

yet definite. “I’m not shutting the door,” he

spirits.”

Baker had been at the helm at Holt since 1974

on the role of acting MD of the company,

around £35,000 a year from it. It needs

Argyll Vintners in search for buyer

put a few tables in and do coffee and things

Gurney-Read, who has been with the

family-run business for 10 years, has taken which is a member of Vindependents.

Argyll Vintners in Dunoon has just come on the market. The 15-year-old business comprising the freehold premises is valued at £140,000 plus the stock at value. Owner Andrew McMaster says: “It’s a

little business for someone who can make

says. “It makes money, so I could still be

here in five years, but it’s up for sale and we’ll see what happens.”

• Au Bon Vin in Fulham, the shop

some fresh blood really. There’s plenty of

established by Jean-Claude Menegaldo in

like that.”

through Lewis & Co.

scope – I think someone will come in and

2016, has closed. The premises, complete with basement, is currently available to let

The shop also has a wholesale arm,

which McMaster believes could easily

be grown. “Our bad debt in the entire 15

years is £50 – I’m really careful who I take on wholesale-wise,” he says.

Dunoon, he reports, has a steadily

increasing population of newcomers

(mostly southerners) looking to get more

Count down to Christmas with craft beer Advent calendars might just be for Christmas, but they’re not just for kids, as any chocolatier will testify. WBC is offering beer retailers a slice of the festive action with its new 24 x 33.5cl beer can advent calendars, priced at £15.45 plus VAT per unit, There’s a minimum order of five, with free and next-day delivery for orders above £150. The calendars are flat-packed and can be assembled quickly, WBC says.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 6


SPONSORED EDITORIAL

A WINE FIT FOR A HERO Maurice Drouhin escaped the Gestapo thanks to the Hospices de Beaune. The cuvée produced in his name honours both his heroics and his gratitude to his saviours

A

ll wines have some sort of story to them. But it’s hard to think of any with one as dramatic as that of Cuvée Maurice Drouhin. The 2017 edition of this Beaune 1er Cru wine is now available, commemorating the 70th anniversary of its namesake’s escape from the Nazis, and the famous act of gratitude to those who sheltered him. Maurice’s grandson, Frédéric Drouhin, takes up the story. “Maurice Drouhin was the son of Joseph Drouhin, the founder of the company,” he explains. “He was a captain in the French army and during World War I he was the instructor of the Rainbow Division, managed by General MacArthur. There was a very important fight in the Marne area and the American army won because of the contribution that Maurice made. He became the official liaison between the French and the American armies.” In World War II, the Nazis were keen to keep the Burgundian out of their way and imprisoned him in Paris. Eventually he was released, but still monitored by the Gestapo. It wasn’t long before another arrest warrant was issued, but Maurice escaped through the warren of cellars at the Drouhin property, which had a secret entrance to the Hospices de Beaune. The nuns at the renowned hospital were already on good terms with Maurice and were happy to hide him from June until September 1944, when Beaune was liberated. In gratitude for his life being saved, Maurice donated 2.5ha of Beaune 1er Cru vineyards to the Hospices. The wine it produces raises money for the hospital to this day. “So since 1960, Maison Joseph Drouhin has been purchasing some or all of the

The winery operates along biodynamic principles

Cuvée Maurice Drouhin wines maturing in the cellars that helped him escape the Gestapo

casks put into auction,” explains Frédéric. “In a normal vintage there are about 30 barrels for sale and that is a lot of wine to buy. But for the vintage 2017, the 70th anniversary of my grandfather’s escape, we bought all the barrels.” The wine has been allocated to Drouhin’s partners around the world, including 150 magnums to Pol Roger Portfolio in the UK. “The 2017 vintage is one of the great classic vintages of Burgundy, because you can clearly identify the terroir nuances,” says Frédéric. “The wines are balanced and not too high in alcohol, or too high in acidity. They have that balance, they have that freshness, they have what I like: the refined tannin structure, but they are very terroir-focused. “The wines of Beaune have a very nice elegant grit; they are very refined. The Hospices de Beaune wine is a blend of four different parcels. So Maurice Drouhin

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 7

provides a good picture of what a Beaune wine tastes like. The 2017 is very charming to enjoy now and because it is well balanced it has the capacity to age longer.” But this is not simply a wine that can be appreciated on terms of its flavour alone. “For us it’s quite emotional because we remember the past, and we are very loyal to the Hospices de Beaune,” says Frédéric. “It’s a romantic story and so important. I wish I could have met Maurice Drouhin, because he lived an incredible life.”

Find out more

Visit www.polroger.co.uk or www.drouhin.com or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger


Bacchus Talking dirty

Who’d be a tour guide at a winery, repeating the same stories for years on end for the edification of visitors from all corners of the planet, most of whom you suspect aren’t listening to or really comprehending a word you’re saying? It’s no wonder that some get tempted to embellish their repertoire with details that might not be entirely factual, or to insist on rituals that aren’t absolutely necessary, or indeed hygienic. Memories were shared on a recent Wine Merchant buyers’ trip to Burgundy about one such guide who regaled Japanese visitors with earnest tales of Lord Kimmeridge, who he claimed was in some way responsible for the Kimmeridgian soil of parts of Chablis. (It’s actually named after a Dorset village.) As is not uncommon on winery tours, the guide liked to present samples of different soil types to help visitors understand their characteristics. In the case of this particular guide, visitors were also encouraged to eat them.

Holiday duties

Refreshing honesty from the plain-speaking Tom Innes on the website of his Fingal-Rock wine shop in Monmouth. “This is a micro-business, meaning that there are not fleets of staff to mind the shop if I cannot be present,” he explains. “Consequently, I strongly advise telephoning first if you are planning to visit the shop – occasionally my wife requires me to take a holiday, and also I’m afraid I do have mortal friends and relations, and now and then I have to go

Water pistols, buckets, watering cans and homemade wine squirters were out in force as revellers at this year’ Cabalgata del Vino in Jumilla soaked themselves with an estimated 70,000 litres of wine during the Murcian town’ annual festivities.

to a funeral and shut the shop unexpectedly; also, weddings and other family events which I am forced to attend.”

Victimised vegans

Brighton may have a reputation for hedonistic excess and liberal ideas, but those themes don’t extend to the city’s licensing committee. A small vegan grocery store, The Captain Pig, has been grudgingly allowed its alcohol licence. But only after agreeing to two conditions. First, all of the alcohol has to be kept under lock and key in a special cabinet. Second, none of the drinks can be sold cold – they have to be offered at ambient temperature. Sounds like the licensing authorities on that part of the Sussex coast need to chill out too.

Gin and bear it

The results of a blind gin tasting at Underwood’s in Stratford are now in. Nine brands competed, each cut with an equal measure of Wenlock water to ensure fairness. “Bombay Sapphire was the one they thought was most interesting, the most lively and the freshest,” says Nick Underwood. “Number two was Booker’s Grosvenor gin at £9 a bottle.” Grosvenor was later pitched head to head against Hendricks, each served with tonic and a garnish of cucumber. “Nobody could tell the difference,” says Underwood, who freely admits to missing the boat on the gin boom. “Gin is such a rip-off. Good luck to anyone who makes money out of gin. I admire them, and I’m slightly jealous.”

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 8


’s

’s

ENOMATIC

Stories

Yannick Loué Le Vignoble Plymouth, Bath and Bristol

“For me and my team, it’s part of the education and part of the experience of introducing wine to people”

Tell us about your Enomatics. In Plymouth I have the big round one with a bank of 16. It has a wow factor – big time! In the Bristol shop I was going to go for two of those but I had to revise my budget so we have the flat ones there. When I opened Plymouth in 2012 lots of people in the trade were advising me against Enomatics and the interesting thing is that six months later those same people were bringing in their clients and saying: “Look how great this concept is”. We have two options. Our regulars pre-load their cards and use them whenever they want to, or a customer comes in, we set up a card, they spend as much or as little as they need and then pay at the end. Does it detract from customer interaction? For me and my team it’s part of the education and part of the experience of introducing wine to people. How else can you show around 60 wines in one go and still preserve the wine for another three weeks? We are a proper hybrid and this is a good 60% to 70% of my business. I think retail is going to suffer big time unless you can offer an experience. You have to have the right balance though; if you give the customers too much freedom you can lose the sales pitch in some ways, so we have a dedicated member of staff working on the machines. What reaction do you get from customers? You see people who are techies and they get it straight away. And you get people who are scared but once you’ve done the first one for them, they see that it’s easy. When they use it they love it. Initially it helped by having a house red and white served at the bar and when those customers were drinking that and watching others use the machine, it made them ask if we could show them how to use the Enomatics too. What’s the most expensive wine you’ve put on taste? You can set it to 30 tasters of 25ml, so say you put in a bottle of Pétrus, you can do a big marketing hoohha around it saying there can be 29 people to try it – saving one shot for the owner! The beauty of that is there will be people queuing up to have it and talking about it all over social media.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 9


Photography: Sally Mitchell

Jewellery retailer expands into wine The Old Garage Bottle Shop + Deli in Truro opened at the beginning of September. Owner Lucy Chenoweth is new to wine retail but with her WSET Level 2 under her belt, she’s raring to go. “I was aiming to start Level 3 in

September but I’ll have to wait until after Christmas as it’s gone so crazy in here,”

she says. “The wine shop and the deli have just gone down so well and I’ve not really announced or advertised that we’re open yet. It’s all been word of mouth.”

Lucy Chenoweth with husband Julian

Chenoweth is also the proprietor of

Photography: Sally Mitchell

Bloody Mary Metal, a jewellery shop in the adjacent premises, located in the business

park owned by her husband’s family. “I rent the units from my husband and his dad,”

Chenoweth explains, “but unfortunately I don’t get any discount on my rent! We’re

trying to make this business park a bit of a destination. It’s something I’ve always

had in the back of my mind, to do wine and cheese – nice deli things.”

Chenoweth visited other independent

merchants to pick up ideas and to look at

décor, but in the end she just followed her instincts.

“I know from my other business that if

you’re going to do something high-end and you’re selling a brand as well as a lifestyle

product, it has got to look the part,” she says. “The units are all metal and brick, and I

“We either had a big job of hiding the industrial look or we just go with it,” says Chenoweth

thought we either had a big job of hiding

introductions for Chenoweth and is

we could comfortably be at 350.”

want it, but it makes me smile because

(“loads of crazy Italian wines that people

aren’t always sufficient to keep a business

the industrial look or we just go with it. “It’s been expensive to get it how we

with 90% of people who walk through the door, within three steps they’re like ‘Wow

– amazing!’, so we have got that wow factor, which is what we wanted.”

Local support has also come from wine

merchant Jamie Tonkin at Old Chapel Cellars who has made some useful

included on her supplier roster.

Graft Wine Company, Passione Vino

are going nuts for”) and Tiger Vines are

also supplying the business, bringing the range to a starting point of 150 lines.

Chenoweth says: “I thought we’d go in at

half capacity and then really listen to what people are asking for and what they’re

buying and grow into it from there. I think

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 10

Popular tourist destinations can be

tricky for retailers as the boom times

going when the holiday season is over, but Chenoweth has a plan.

“Where we live, everything shuts down

after summer as we’re quite heavily

tourist-based, but there are so many locals who love to get out and about,” she says.

“They love wine, love eating – they want to


Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing do things in the winter but half the place is shut down. I really want to make sure

we have continual things going on through the winter for the locals – they are the

ones who are going to keep us going. I’m

hoping to establish a really good core local customer base and we’ll get the tourists as and when they’re around.”

The newly-installed kitchen has been

designed with tasting events in mind.

The tasting table on the mezzanine floor

seats 12 and there’s further seating for

eight downstairs. Bottles can be drunk in

for a £5 corkage fee, and equipped with a

Coravin, Chenoweth intends to have a wine of the week which will be on for tasting or available by the glass.

Classic feel for new StarmoreBoss site A second shop for the team at StarmoreBoss has opened in Ranmoor, Sheffield, just a five-minute drive from the original store. Owners Barry Starmore and Jefferson

Boss have been planning a second site for

some time, and as their colleague Hannah Ford explains, were hoping to launch

earlier this year but due to various factors, things “just took longer than anticipated”. Ranmoor is an affluent suburb and the

company intends to cater for the locals

accordingly. Ford says: “The new shop is a similar size to what we have now but it’s

going to be more streamlined in terms of the stock we have going in there.

“It’s going to be a bit more of a classic

range. We’ve got some good French and Italian stuff in the warehouse that we

didn’t have space for. We think the clientele will be prepared to spend a little bit more.”

She adds: “We’re going to see how people

react to it – if there is a possibility for a more of a drink-in vibe. It will be a bit

experimental in the first few months.”

I

’m at the local craft beer and cheese shop feeling serious envy.

I’m sitting at the communal table

sipping a raspberry sour beer brewed in Bristol, while Mr Mangevine is necking

a sake-infused lager from the depths of south east London, eager to move onto some IPAs on tap, from Amsterdam.

All around us are groups of men of

various ages talking at each other, listing all the obscure beers they’ve drunk to date. Hops and flavours are discussed

course, I do get the occasional customer who is very comfortable with wine

language, but nothing like the beer shop attracts every day.

There are plenty of wine

commentators who like to tell the

trade that it needs to learn from craft

beer – from apps like Untappd, which draw like-minded strangers together,

to its cool packaging. They have a point. Forget beer’s humble working-class

the sales team. They’re looking to buy

It seems that beer geeks and wine lovers really are speaking different languages

alien to me – and it just feels so unfair

roots. The beers Mr M and I are drinking

freely – and competitively. There are

occasional mumbles of agreement before they launch back into proving who is the geekiest of them all.

I spot a couple of women by the shelves

of beautifully-labelled cans that scream “choose me”, asking advice from one of

several to take home. I crane in to listen and hear them talking in terms that are

because I would love, just love, to have all this happening in my shop.

Instead, I have to make wine

“accessible”, so as not to be labelled

snooty or a wine snob. I have to use

words like “smooth” or “mellow”, rather that integrated tannins or medium

acidity. Words like “dry” and “crisp”

tumble out of my mouth with abandon

because if I ever mentioned the RS level of some of our most popular wines,

there’d be meltdowns on a daily basis – and I daren’t add how these wines are balanced out by high acidity, because

that would induce another panic. Terms like “creamy”, “buttery” or “spicy” are

understood for the most part, thankfully, but specific fruit flavours need to be

approached with caution (sorry WSET) and fancier terms like lees ageing,

garrigue herbs or sous bois – forget it. Of

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 11

cost us, combined, more than it would

a £10 bottle of wine drunk at mine with

corkage. The comparative spend per head must be impressive. If these beers were

wine, some of these commentators would surely be dismissing them as niche.

Sadly, the wine app market is still

missing something like Untappd with

its “drink socially” strapline. Instead we have Vivino and “buy the right wine”.

Perhaps that’s the problem. Beer – craft

or not – is about getting together, which is why the wine trade are also partial to beers. Wine is about making sure you make the perfect choice, in case you embarrass yourself.

Perhaps that’s why so many beer lovers hate wine.


Rising Stars

TRIED & TESTED

Navajas Rioja Crianza Blanco 2015 Some wines smell dirty, in a good way, like a beloved

Anna Rogan Luvians, St Andrews

pair of boots or a favourite old book. This Viura may

W

ith St Andrews University providing rich pickings for part-time staff, it can hardly be surprising that some stay on post degree. But how unusual is it for a classicist to pursue a full-time career in booze? “I was doing a Masters in classics; Latin and ancient Greek, and you spend all this time reading about people drinking wine,” says Anna. “I thought it would be quite cool to work in a wine shop before I started my PhD, so I started working at Luvians and loved it so much that I’m not doing a PhD anymore, I’m sticking with wine. This is a lot more fun.” Manager Archie McDiarmid says that Anna started off as a part-time employee just over two years ago while she completed her degree, but “after graduating she sort of fell in love with the drinks industry and stayed with us – she’s been full-time since then”. He adds: “She does all our beer buying, so that’s her main area of responsibility, but she is also excellent on wines and spirits.” Last year Anna was the recipient of the Ian Murray scholarship, a 12-month programme that includes WSET training, a presentation skills course and education on the spirits category with a focus on whisky. “I’ve embraced every type of booze that we sell,” she says “and the Ian Murray scholarship was brilliant, it was such a great experience.” “It’s been fantastic watching her develop in terms of her presentation and stuff like that,” adds Archie. “She does a lot of the tastings now in the shop, which kind of takes the pressure off me. She’s doing really well, and it’s always handy to have someone on staff who can speak ancient Greek!” Is the drinks industry the future for Anna? “Absolutely, 100%,” she says. “People would ask me why I was studying two dead languages, and the answer was because I enjoy it. I’d rather get paid to do something that I really, really enjoy and this is the most I’ve enjoyed myself in my life. “There are so many interesting companies that would be amazing to work for, but I’m happy at Luvians right now. It’s such a wonderful learning experience to be here. Archie is one of the best teachers I’ve ever come across, he has so much information in his brain and he’s very talented at putting that across. I’m definitely staying in the Scotland booze trade, whether it’s wine or spirits.”

Anna wins a bottle of Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Morgeot’ Marquis de Laguiche 2015. To nominate a rising star in your business email claire@winemerchantmag.com

look pure and innocent, and no doubt the winemaking was typically fastidious. Yet it’s wild, agricultural and pungent, with a lovely undercurrent of fermenting

organic matter. If only all £12 whites were as much fun. RRP: £11.99

ABV: 12.5%

Walker & Wodehouse (07813 626491) walkerwodehouse.com

JM Barbosa Ninfa Colheita Red 2015 Tejo-based Barbosa has a simple but admirable

ambition: to make wines that are easy to enjoy. This

single-vineyard Alfrocheiro and Touriga Nacional blend is intense without being shouty, combining red fruit

and floral notes in a wine that’s skilfully balanced and absolutely, unequivocally ready to drink immediately. RRP: £16.50

ABV: 13.5%

Awin Barratt Siegel (01780 755810) abswineagencies.co.uk

Eschenfof Holzer Goldberg Zweigelt 2016 According to one theory, the Wagram vineyard that gives birth to this rich, ripe red is called Goldberg

because of the way the loess soil glitters in the sun. The

wine is itself a bit of a treasure, with (mostly American)

oak contributing real depth and complexity to juice that already has a bloody tang and luscious cherry flavours. RRP: £10.50

ABV: 13%

Graft Wine Company graftwine.co.uk

Susana Esteban Inho 2018 Raymond Reynolds teamed up with Spanish

winemaker Susana Esteban to make a wine offering a fresh perspective of Alentejo. And fresh, however clichéd it might be, is certainly the word for this

delightful high-altitude field blend. Partly aged in old barrels, there’s texture and richness here and zippy citrus flavours, as well as herbs and saline notes. RRP: £18

ABV: 12.5%

Raymond Reynolds (01663 742230) raymondreynolds.co.uk

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 12


Simpsons Roman Road Chardonnay 2018 A lot of people are getting quite excited about this Kent producer, which is doing great things with Champagne varieties, in both still and sparkling wines. Roman

Road is now given a year of oak ageing, and the result

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Roberson (020 7381 7870) robersonwine.com

Bodegas LAN Xtrème Ecológico Organic Rioja Crianza 2015 Rioja native María Barua leads a young winemaking

team who clearly enjoy rocking the boat. Indeed this pure Tempranillo is so jumpy the bottle practically

moves on its own. The fruit is exuberant and fresh,

but the gentle oak provides a useful padded cell to stop the craziness getting out of hand. Lively and lovely. RRP: £17.99

ABV: 14%

Liberty Wines (020 7720 5350) libertywines.co.uk

Viñedos de Alcohuaz La Era 2015 Sun, altitude and granite conspire in Elqui to give the

Malbec grapes a thick skin, which Alcohuaz prefers to crush with the assistance of human feet rather than swish Italian machinery. There are lots of enjoyably

rough edges here, but also sweet juicy fruit, with a light

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guess, the flavour – a captivating combination of earthy notes and juicy fruit – is pretty full, and certainly belies the modest alcohol, but neither is it OTT. There are far,

far worse matches than this for a Christmas dinner, and few that would seem less obvious. RRP: £15

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THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 13


BITS & BOBS

Magpie

Vineyard workers in trafficking probe

© sima / stockadobe.com

An organised crime gang suspected of exploiting more than 160 vineyard workers in France has been “dismantled” following police raids, according to Europol. More than 80 investigators from Bulgaria

Fitz Spencer honky tonk wine library Plymouth Favourite wine on my list Noelia Ricci Emilia Romagna Sangiovese and the Trebbiano, which we are currently pouring by the glass. A wonderful winery steeped in Italian history. The Sangiovese is an easy-going red with a complex balance and the Trebbiano has just gone down a storm.

Favourite wine and food match Zoe and I are big fish fans. Exmouth mussels, spider crab, Atlantic red king prawns, mackerel and crevettes are a few items in our seafood bowl and it’s always a challenge to get a wine that will hold its own throughout the dish. We’ve found The Dalwood Sparkling from Dalwood winery in Devon hits the mark.

Favourite wine trip Veramonte Wine Estates in Colchagua Valley and Casablanca have some of the most amazing scenic routes I’ve ever seen. Marrying up grape farming with the most fabulous landscape you spend most of your time staring at.

Favourite wine trade person As a young business of 11 months, I tip my hat to Gordon Lawrence from Liberty Wines. He is always willing to help and support events, from sample stock to great ideas to help our business grow.

Favourite wine shop The Solent Cellar in Lymington really stands out for me. It’s run by a young couple, Heather and Simon Smith. Passion, passion and more passion without the flashiness and the bravado this industry can sometimes portray, it’s a great family business, always looking for great products for their customers.

and France were involved, following a

probe into human trafficking for labour exploitation and money laundering.

Police identified 167 possible victims

working for four unnamed wine companies based near Lyon, said Europol.

Workers were reputedly recruited

in Bulgaria via a legally registered

employment agency, which offered them

€60 per day plus housing and transport for seasonal work in France.

“In reality, they were sent to France in

unlicensed transport and then put up on

a campsite with money taken out of their

wages for meals. Money was also taken out of wages for transport and other charges,” Europol said.

“The workers’ final salaries were often

not enough to even cover their trip back to Bulgaria.

“The network used this money and

laundered it through properties in France.”

Workers had money deducted from wages for food and campsite fees

Decanter, September 26

Majestic’s millionbottle giveaway

profile outlining their preferences based

Majestic is giving away almost a million

favourite wine to take away for free.

bottles of wine as it launches a “fitting” service for customers based on blind tasting. It is targeting the 88% of Britons who

say they don’t know their way around a

wine list – a claim made by a Wine & Spirit Education Trust survey.

The retailer will allow customers to try

eight wines for free and then send them a

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 14

on style and qualities rather than grape or region.

Customers can then choose their

It is the first major change introduced

since Majestic’s 200 stores were snapped

up by New-York based Fortress Investment

Group, which is owned by Japan’s Softbank. The aim is to appeal to those interested

in wine but who do not know much about it, and to attract younger customers, who have driven the gin and craft beer boom. This is Money, September 4


Johnstone finds ‘perfect’ buyer

?

THE BURNING QUESTION

What system do you use to display wine: by country of origin, or by style?

We do it by country with different shelves for each region. That’s the way we’ve always done it here and it works well. But we are planning a refurbishment to incorporate a bar area, so we’re thinking of mixing it up a bit when we change the shop around to go by grape variety or style. It would be a bit trickier, with Portugal for example: some of your rich Portuguese reds would sit nicely with the Cabernet and the lighter Alentejo reds you might have to move into the medium-bodied sections.

UK wine retailer and delivery service From Vineyards Direct has been bought out of administration by rival wine site Mr Wheeler. Johnny Wheeler, chairman of The

Wine Company (UK) Ltd, trading as Mr

Wheeler, said the acquisition was a good

opportunity for TWC to extend its existing proposition and build on its growth.

From Vineyards Direct was founded

in 2007 by Majestic founder and former

Château de Sours director Esme Johnstone and wine publisher David Campbell.

Administrators Lee De’ath and Richard

Toone of CVR Global LLP said the company had experienced “fluctuating profitability from inception” which had impacted

Kieran O’Brien Three Pillars Wine, Eccleshall, Staffs

Having worked for a number of merchants in the past, we did try numerous ways of splitting wines by style but we found it was confusing for the consumer. To be honest, whatever way you do it can be confusing for some people! We find it works nicely to separate by country and then you can mini-merchandise within a range by highlighting regions. One person’s full-bodied Rioja is another person’s mediumbodied Rioja – it’s open to interpretation.

working capital.

Graham Simpson Whitmore & White, Heswall, Wirral

Johnstone said it had been regrettable to

put the company into administration, but

he was delighted that by working with the

Appealing over an unappealing horse

We’re still organised by country but with an aspiration to organise by style and taste profile. A couple of things prompted the thought of reorganising. Partly the fact that in McLaren Vale we found some really interesting styles of wines that people wouldn’t normally associate with Australia; Mediterranean styles that people wouldn’t think of when looking for a big Aussie Shiraz. The other factor is we have so many customers who ask us for a recommendation based on style rather than a wine region.

A five-year long legal battle is

Mike Boyne BinTwo, Padstow

administrators, “the perfect buyer for the business” had been found.

The Drinks Business, September 26

continuing in Alsace over a horse owned by Valentin Zusslin. Sesame has been helping out with

the harvest on the biodynamic estate

but neighbours have taken the Zusslins to court, claiming that the smell of the

animal and the number of flies it attracts is harming their holiday rental business.

The neighbour lost the initial case but

appealed, arguing the smell and the flies

made life “impossible” and claiming that

the horse is unnecessary, as the vineyards could be harvested by machine.

We tend to display by country rather than by style. If you put it out by flavour or by taste, it’s open to interpretation. You still have to know more about the wines because within their country they can still be big or little from a flavour point of view, but customers can look at the country and then go from there. I’m not saying this is right or wrong but it works for us. In our restaurant, we start the wine list with Champagne, then we go through France and after that we go by country purely because it’s easy to find everything. Geoff Utting La Zouch Cellars, Leicestershire

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584

Wine Searcher, September 22

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 15


JUST WILLIAMS

When will wine be famous? There is no shortage of celebrities queuing up to associate themselves with wine. Like it or not, it’s raising the profile of an industry that has somehow failed to produce its own household names

C

elebrities. You gotta love ‘em.

Certainly, if you’re a journalist

you have to. They get everywhere.

Not just at the sort of publication or online gossip site where a working day might

start with a good root around in a C-list

actor’s bin. Broadsheets love a celebrity angle. And if you’re a specialist journo

and the field you work with happens to be

Put them all together and you’d have a

professional winemaker. Most seem to be

Norton.

up for a photo-shoot while their publicist

season’s worth of guests for the chat show of yet another celebrity vintner, Graham How much involvement the celebrity

needs to have to get their name on the label and secure an interview in the food section

invaded by a celebrity, you can expect an

Sam Neill is genuinely involved in winemaking

of a weekend paper is a bit of a moot point.

Barrymore, Keira Knightley, Francis Ford

hand or more in the production process.

Coppola, Sam Neill and Pink, and which

has, in the past, featured Mick Hucknall,

Cliff Richard, Gérard Depardieu and Sting.

famous name can shift units in such large

burgeoning line-up. The ones I have tasted

consumer press.

includes Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Drew

them on the label, there is a sense that a

Norton. I haven’t tried all the wines in this

month alone, there have been launches

They join a celeb vinous cast that already

Still, no matter the process for getting

case with Invivio’s work with Graham

Wine can’t escape the curse. In the past

less obsequious write-ups in the trade and

press release.

Certainly that seems to have been the

dry and complicated (no offence)”.

with their little flurry of dutiful, more or

knocks out a quote for the accompanying

product almost incidental.

find “a way into a subject that can be a bit

Malkovich and Sarah Jessica Parker, each

final blend, and often do no more than rock

quantities as to make the quality of the

editor to ask for a piece that uses them to

for new wines from Ian Botham, John

there to at best give a rubber-stamping to a

Some, to be fair, are quite deeply involved: Coppola, Neill and Pink all seem to have a

Others – Brangelina, Knightley, Sir Clifford – do little more than hand over the fruit

grown on one of their holiday homes to a

Some celebrities do little more than hand over the fruit grown on one of their holiday homes to a professional winemaker THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 16

– the original Sauvignon and the Prosecco

– have been perfectly OK. But would these

competent if unexciting commercial wines have gone from an initial run of 14,000 bottles in 2014 to more than 3 million bottles by 2018 without tapping into

Norton’s naughty national treasure status? The answer, depressingly, is almost

certainly no. But I do wonder if in

some cases the opposite might be true.

Celebrities tend to be divisive, as much

loathed as loved, and far more subject to

the whims of fashion than anything wine

can offer. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling

resistant to whatever charms the Botham wines may have, for example, because

I’m resistant to the bluff and boozy Beefy

persona. Similarly, I wonder if the rosés of


David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

Beefy, with an unusual nose and mellowing with age

Miraval get the credit they deserve among

wine broadcasters: Oz, Jilly, Olly, and, in a

a lack of interest. Wine is the UK’s most

Brangelina association.

definition of celebrity to “someone who

to know more about it. And yet, in the vast,

serious wine lovers who pride themselves

on being far above the celebrity glitz of the

W

hat is abundantly clear,

however, is that the flow of celebrity is only going one

way. Unless they’ve been pulled out of the studio audience to tell an embarrassing story about how they got their privates

glued to an ornament at their mother-in-

law’s or something, no winemaker is going to end up on Graham Norton’s sofa.

Indeed, the only wine personalities

with anything like a public profile are the

slightly different context, Jancis Robinson. But, unless you radically scale down your

Decanter readers have heard of”, there are no famous winemakers.

Does it matter? Does the world really

need a celebrity winemaker? Instinctively this celebrity-phobe would say no. But I have to admit, the lack of a vinous

equivalent to Jamie, Nigella, Gordon et al does rankle a little bit. It’s a reflection of

the wine trade’s collective inability to make the same kind of mainstream media impact as food.

That failure can’t be entirely down to

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 17

popular alcoholic drink category. A lot of

people drink it; a lot of people would like groaning, all-you-can-eat smorgasbord

of media food coverage, wine is no more

than a couple of stale rolls on a side-table. If it took the arrival of some exaggerated

winemaker character – the Naked Chef de

Cave; Richard Geoffroy’s Cellar Nightmares – to help wine break through and get a

little more space in the public imagination, then I can’t say I’d object. To me at least, the prospect of celebrity winemakers is

definitely more palatable than yet another entitled winemaking celebrity.


ight ideas r b 6: Invest in a Mobile Bar

. T H E D R AY M A N . Looking for a New England

N

othing gets a beer geek quite so animated as a good argument about the definition of a beer

style.

It’s hard to believe that “golden ale” was once such a term, with many real ale enthusiasts claiming there was simply no such thing. Ironically, in these days of grapefruit pales and popcorn stouts, golden ale has become so old hat that there really is no such thing. Other debates have come along, however, and none has taxed the brain muscles of industry lexicographers quite so much as New England IPA. IPA we know, of course, but NEIPA is a different beast, pumped full of hops that impart tropical juicy fruit sweetness rather dry and bitter spiciness, wearing haziness as a badge of honour, to the point where some can look more like a glass of cloudy apple or orange juice than a beer. A sampling of some that claim the NEIPA crown – or have it claimed for them by others – shows an array of styles around the central theme. Oslo-based Amundsen’s Chaos Theory has the farmhouse scrumpy look and bold flavours but tends towards resinous spiciness over fruit. Lost & Grounded’s Motel Paradiso collaboration with Pressure Drop and Polly’s Brew is on the money with peachy stone fruit and melon thanks to hops like Cryo Ekuanot that sound more at home on the track list of an Aphex Twin album than a beer can. There’s a sense of ambivalence in the punctuation of Verdant’s We’ve Met … Before? that perhaps sums up the style: it’s got both the punchy bitterness of an IPA but with the full-on juice and impenetrable New England look. Like the golden ales of yore, it says, NEIPA is simultaneously old and new, if indeed it exists at all.

Megan Fowler-Spink, Bodega, Christchurch

In a nutshell … Taking a wine business on the road with a branded bar at events such as weddings and food fairs turns out to be a great way to work with existing customers and meet new ones.

Tell us about it.

“It’s a trailer – bigger than a horsebox, so you need something big enough to tow it. It’s got a cooler and about six lines, two of which are cider and the rest are wine. We get our kegs from Graft. It’s set up like a pristine bar and it works beautifully. You can have one or two-man service – it’s perfect. “I’ve also got a cantilever pop-up bar, but it can be a real ball ache to put up and put down. It’s a great bar though, it’s in very good nick, much better than my bar at Bodega – it’s very posh. We’ve got a couple of smaller bars as well, so we’re well equipped for every kind of event.”

How did the idea come about?

“Loads of customers were asking for private events and I’d been going out on my own doing wine tastings etc, and then we were asked to do mobile catering. We are surrounded by forests and farmland so there are a huge amount of outdoor weddings and food festivals nearby. I got married last June and I didn’t want anyone else in control of my booze, so I found this scrappy box and we just made it look identical inside to Bodega.”

How do you cost each event?

“It depends on what the customer wants; there are all sorts of different packages. In a couple of weeks we’re doing a wedding for some regular customers and we’re providing the wine during the day at by-the-bottle merchant price. Then in the evening when we become a paying bar, that’s when we’ll make some money. It’s not a greedy thing.”

Have you catered any weird events?

“Apart from my wedding day, no! I think the most daunting ones have been with the cantilever set-up – everything is in these really huge stage boxes like you expect to roll into gigs. We did an event in someone’s garden, which was beautiful but had six tiers. They wanted the bar on the second to last one down and trying to get the boys to get the three-door fridge down … that was really tough. We did one at Lulworth Castle, which is stunning, but the lift wasn’t working and so we’re talking flights and flights of limestone stairs. My team are grafters – they are bloody brilliant!” Megan wins a WBC gift box containing a bottle of Hattingley Valley sparkling wine, a box of chocolate truffles from Willies Cocoa and a half bottle of gin liqueur from Foxdenton. Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for your business and you too could win a gift box. Email claire@ winemerchantmag.com or call 01323 871836.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 18


World domination It’s a once-in-a-lifetime prize: a business-class trip around the globe taking in Niagara Falls, Hollywood, Sydney and Hong Kong – as well as four fabulous wineries from the Daniel Lambert Wines stable

P

lenty of independent merchants get the chance to travel to far-flung vineyards. But the winter promotion from Daniel Lambert Wines takes things to a whole new level. The company’s sales incentive will see one lucky merchant embark on a business class round-the-world trip. The winner, accompanied by Daniel Lambert, will fly from London to Toronto before visiting Westcott Vineyard and nearby Niagara Falls. Then it’s off to San Francisco, taking in Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the California winelands before spending a day with Trefethen Family Vineyards in Napa Valley. After that it’s over to Martin Ray Vineyards, producer of Angeline wines. There will be visits to the company’s vineyard sites in Sonoma County and further south in Paso Robles. The

winner will then be driven down to LA for a quick stop in Hollywood and one final overnight stay before crossing over to Australia. After a full day taking in Sydney and all it has to offer it’s on to Adelaide and Coonawarra where the Hollick team will be offering a warm welcome. There will be a couple of days of seeing the sights and getting to know the region. Then it’s back to the UK via Hong Kong. “We have worked hard to make it possible for any sized indie to win this from anywhere in the UK,” says Lambert. “The simple truth is that the more you buy and the more you get behind this incentive the more chance you have of winning this amazing prize. All the wines have a proven sales record – so it’s over to you!” Email daniel@daniellambertwines.co.uk or call 01656 661010 to enter.

Trefethen Family Vineyards Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley Trefethen produces a range of award-winning varietal, blended and reserve wines, all from its Napa Valley estate. The emphasis is on balanced, food-friendly wines with elegance and finesse.

Westcott Vineyard Vinemount Ridge, Ontario Grant Westcott and Carolyn Hurst originally bought their vineyard to supply grapes to others but realised they could excel with their own cool-climate fruit. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are specialities.

The small print: how points add up 1) The incentive will run from November 1 2019 to March 31 2020. 2) The only wines included in the incentive will be from the four featured wineries. 3) The place(s) offered to winners will be allocated using a points system. a) The first 10 customers will be rated for turnover of sales on the incentive products over the entire period: 10 for being top, 9 for second, 8 for third etc. b) The first 10 customers will be rated for growth of sales on the incentive

products over the period and be scored 10 for being top, 9 for second, 8 for third etc. c) Customers will be awarded 2 points for each wine they list from the incentive range and 1 further bonus point if that product is ordered each month for the full period of the incentive. d) Customers must take at least 1 product from each winery during the incentive period. e) On January 31 Daniel Lambert Wines will publish the result of the first 3 months so that customers have a clear idea of their standing in the incentive. f) Finally 5 bonus points will be awarded to customers that run promo dinners during the incentive period. A maximum of four dinners to cover all four producers can be arranged to win a maximum of 20 points.

Angeline Vineyard Sonoma County Angeline is a family-owned winery founded by Courtney Benham 30 years ago. It blends exceptional wines from California’s best vineyards, optimising the depth and nuance of each site.

Hollick Estates Coonawarra, South Australia Hollick Estates is a boutique winery located on the famed terra rossa soils of Coonawarra. Hollick is renowned for its extensive range of premium table wines, including several alternative varietals.

Promoted by Daniel Lambert Wines

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 19


WINE MERCHANT LUNCH

Notes from a very large country Robert Oatley director of winemaking Larry Cherubino was guest of honour at a recent Wine Merchant lunch. Australia has come a long way since its 90s pomp, he says, and learned a lot about its regions and what they can – and can’t – do well. There are exciting times ahead, he believes

A

ustralia is a big place. As Larry Cherubino reminds us, the entire UK could fit into Western Australia alone eleven and a half times. In his role at Robert Oatley Vineyards Cherubino gets to see quite lot of the country. The company’s two wineries, in Margaret River and Mudgee, are about 2,400 miles apart. Its other vineyards are scattered across the Yarra and Barossa valleys, McLaren Vale and the Mornington Peninsula, as well as Pemberton and Great Southern. Heading up the Oatley winemaking team, Cherubino is well placed to think about the emerging regional characteristics of Australian wine and the dramatic changes that the country has seen in its winemaking. “Most producers over the last 10 years have been reinventing themselves,” he says. “Most of the way people are working is now based on regionality. “There’s been a redefining of what Australia is all about. Let’s face it, in the 90s when there was a huge amount of expansion going on, most regions just planted anything and everything, thinking they could sell every variation of variety, which is really not the case. “So now you really do have speciality regions around the country and that does represent what Robert Oatley is trying to do with its wines. “It’s a pretty significant project. There’s a huge amount of work in making it all happen. Essentially my job is to try to coordinate all these bits, and it is tricky because it’s not about massive blending to make homogenous styles of wine; we’re about regionality.”

Margaret River has been a major focus for the family business since its inception in 2006, and Cherubino believes that the Chardonnay being made in the region can now be considered truly world class.

B

ut don’t forget the Cabernet. “Arguably the best place to grow it is Western Australia,” Cherubino says. “And this is the really interesting thing – Margaret River as a region is quite diverse, it is 100km long by about 10km wide, and the difference between north and south is pretty significant in terms of temperature and climate. “It’s all maritime – you’re exposed to the Indian Ocean or the Southern Ocean depending on how far down you go. The northern end tends to really focus on Cabernet and the southern end on aromatic whites and Chardonnay. “You get Chardonnay right across the region. Then you get the Great Southern, probably the most underrated Cabernet in the country.” He adds: “The business is constantly changing, and that’s the good thing about a family owned business – you can get on the phone, have a meeting and in five minutes’ time you’ve decided this is what we’re going to do. If we see an opportunity, we’ll go and pursue it. “The Grenache is a really good example. There’s a lot of talk about Australian Grenache at the moment. I don’t think we want to make heavily extracted wine, we want to redefine what it is to make great Grenache.” Cherubino detects a sea change with Australian Shiraz. “If you gathered all the top end of Shiraz in the country at the

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 20

moment, it doesn’t even resemble what it did 10 years ago,” he says. “The wines have got incredible flavour and colour but there’s no heft, there’s no heaviness. It’s changed immensely.” He adds: “The other thing that’s happening is that people have been playing around with a lot of Mediterranean varieties, in areas that have been associated with fast-moving bulk wine. “The outcomes of some of those Mediterranean reds and whites have been extraordinary. The varieties are really well suited. Those areas have always been warm and dry and so it made sense to make wines from varieties from climates that are really closely related to that. “So even at an entry level from Australia you will start seeing things like Nero d’Avola and Fiano and they are terrific wines. So it’s been a big turnaround and a big change.”

H

ow will the Robert Oatley range develop and evolve over the coming decade or so? There will “absolutely” be more blends, Cherubino predicts. “I’d say there’d probably be more diversity in the Chardonnay and Cabernet,” he adds. “In McLaren Vale you’d probably expect to see a lot more interesting things going on; things like Grenache and Tempranillo.” He also forecasts that the Shiraz will continue its current trajectory to evermore finessed styles. “I don’t think we lack any diversity in our portfolio,” he says. “We’ve got plenty of wines, but it’s really just about adding those extra layers. Better handling, better selection.”


IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROBERT OATLEY VINEYARDS

Larry Cherubino is excited by the potential of Mediterranean varieties in Australia

Merchants’ verdicts

THE TASTING • Helmsman Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc 2017 • Helmsman Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot 2016

• Signature Riesling 2016, Great Southern • Signature G-18 2018, McLaren Vale • Signature GSM 2017, McLaren Vale • Finisterre Chardonnay 2016, Margaret River • Finisterre Syrah 2013, Great Southern • Pennant Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Margaret River • Hancock & Hancock Cabernet Sauvignon / Touriga 2015, McLaren Vale • Hancock & Hancock Fiano 2018, McLaren Vale

Julia Jenkins, Flagship Wines “Overall I feel the wines have more of a cohesive style than a few years ago. The Helmsman wines are well made with good varietal differentiation. “For me the white wines were the highlight: the Signature Riesling was stylish and delicious and had the subtle broad palate of Great Southern wines to balance the lighter Riesling notes with a long finish and some maturity. “Finisterre Chardonnay combines minerality with some linear, though ripe, fruit notes initially. On a second tasting it had opened up to some more generous notes, with pleasant restraint. “The star of the red wines for me was the Pennant Cabernet 2012 with fragrant ripe blackcurrant aromas and layers of mature fruit flavours with some herby notes – typical Margaret River. The Finisterre Syrah was also good.” Philip Amps, Amps Wine Merchants “The Robert Oatley wines, like so many of the top Australian producers, are excellent

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 21

across the board. There is very little to criticise them about. “Stand-out wines for me were the Finisterre Chardonnay and Cabernet – they offer superb value and drinkability. What would that quality and taste cost you from Burgundy and Bordeaux? The Signature Riesling was delicious.” Kenrick Bush, Urban Cellar “The wines were fresh and easy to drink. The appeal of Robert Oatley to the general customer is that they work with grape varieties and develop wines that reflect the British palate. Also the wines are not too typically Australian. “I liked the Fiano – really impressive and as good or better than Fiano from Italy. And, like the Margaret River Cabernet, it’s brilliant to drink and come back to.”

Robert Oatley wines are distributed in the UK by Hatch Mansfield


THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE: LOCKETT BROS

Minnie-Mae Stott and Orson Warr, July 2018

Whisky galore Lockett Bros makes a specialism of Scotland’s native spirit, offering malts from independent distillers including its own bespoke bottlings. But wine is still at the heart of the 15-year-old business, and if the labels happen to have a cycling-related theme, that suits the owner just fine

W

hen Chris Lockett first

opened his shop back in

2004, the seaside town of

North Berwick was a much sleepier place. Even though it’s just half an hour by train from central Edinburgh, it was a little

off the beaten track for an adventurous, independent wine shop.

But that wasn’t a problem for Lockett. He

seems to favour the lesser-travelled parts of the wine world, and that’s reflected in

the producers and regions he chooses for his shelves. As a super-keen cyclist, he

also navigates the byways of the nearby countryside, and even brings some

cycling-themed wines into the shop, which

was pretty low-key then. It was starting to make noises for its Pinot Noir and

things. So it was a really brilliant place to

trigger the interest into wine. I just tapped into that and after more messing about,

travelling in Australia too, I came home in 2001 and went straight into Oddbins like everyone else.

It was in that time before they were

taken over, pre Seagrams. So I was there

during that takeover but I had a good year while they were still that quirky, brilliant, independent place to work in Edinburgh.

I worked in one shop, which got me going,

and then they moved me to the Royal Mile shop and that’s when whisky started to take my interest.

So I was really only two years there and

had no interest to work my way up with WSET – I just liked selling the stuff and learning about it naturally. Then I did a

small stint working in an independent shop that is now no longer there. It was called The Bottle Stop and it was down near

Roseburn Terrace, near Murrayfield. It was a great stepping stone – a year or so there, learning about how an independent shop worked.

What retailing skills did you pick up at

includes a bar area.

The Bottle Stop?

producers that he works with. “I was never

was a great way to learn about how to run

He’s also keen to venture farther afield,

With Oddbins you are just selling, which is

striking up strong relationships with the

good fun, but working in an independent

really that successful at university or

a shop, ordering and all that. It was there

school,” he says. “But I found my way just

that I decided to give it a go myself and I

travelling.”

knew North Berwick, knew there was a gap here, and I started looking around every

Did the New Zealand experience take

now and again to see if there was anything

you into wine?

coming up. It was still a bustling little town

Just by chance, yes. I was heading towards

back then, nothing like it is now, which is

hospitality, that’s what I did at university,

huge.

but I did enjoy that and travelling takes you

How different is the shop now?

into that hospitality business.

Halfway through my year in New Zealand

I stumbled across a company looking for help in the vineyards in Otago, back in

1999, just when Otago was kicking off; it

It is hard to remember what it was like Lockett got the wine bug in New Zealand

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 22

back then. I think it was appalling; basic.

That little spell in the independent trade introduced me to all the distributors,


The shop was a bookmaker’s before Lockett took the plunge in 2004

Liberty, Bibendum, Enotria, Hatch

Kelley who teed up a whole week of group

Portugal and South Africa both

me get started and supply me.

that is now one of our best-selling areas.

embraced them more. People have

Mansfield. That was quite useful, so I knew

these guys and they were quite happy to let Who are your main suppliers now? I’ve moved away from the bigger suppliers.

Liberty is still a big one for me, but we tend to focus on the much smaller, more niche importers, such as Raymond Reynolds. Love those guys – big fans of Portugal. Richard Kelley from Dreyfus Ashby …

we’ve always been a fan of his, he’s our

South Africa man. FMV, Maisons Marques et Domaines. Generally the smaller portfolios I guess.

Do you have specialist areas in wine? Having been travelling, being taken on

trips to Portugal and South Africa, there are two areas that I love. It was Richard

visits with growers in 2017. South Africa

represent great value.

hadn’t been a huge area for us but, wow –

We’ve just discovered that as we’ve

go to visit a country and you’re welcomed

always keen to make sure we’re not too

It’s amazing what that does, when you

by all these amazing, iconic growers. They all looked after us, put us up, and gave

us dinner. Chris Williams [Meerlust] for

example was one of many in the middle of

harvest, but he took the time to give us two or three hours of tasting and good times. South Africa is such a fascinating

country: the quality, value – everything

– is just brilliant. Portugal as well. I’d not

any clue at all about what was going on in Portugal, but in 2007 Raymond Reynolds

looked after us, took us out and introduced us. That is another fascinating country,

style- wise: diverse from top to bottom and off the beaten track.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 23

obviously been aware of the price and I’m exclusive. I don’t want to scare people off with a fancy wine shop, so we’ve always tried to offer stuff that is affordable. It’s harder now but I’m not fazed by the

multiples at all and I never have been. I am

aware that you can’t get great wine now for even sub £8-£10. Those days have gone. With a good bit of help you can still

ship in pallets of wine ex-cellar through

Raymond Reynolds from Portugal and do wines which are £12 at £10 and stuff like that, and with Richard too. We are still trying to show that we can offer value.

Continues page 24


THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE

© JulietPhotography / stockadobe.com

From page 23

Do you do any of your own importing? Yes, I have always done a bit with Logan

Wines. He came to see me in 2005 and we hit it off and I actually spent two or three

months out in Australia. So he looked after me, put me up for 10 weeks in Mudgee,

in the Central Ranges north of Orange. I lived in this wee house in the vineyards

and helped with harvest, basically being a dogsbody around the winery. Hard work but what a great experience. Free board,

a bit of pay, and great to be in Australia in February, March and April time.

North Berwick has become “more and more vibrant”, with a growing tourist trade

How adventurous are your customers, and what is your customer base here? There are a lot of tourists. It’s developed

so much as a real destination, this town – young families, commuters. It’s a half-

hour train ride to the [Edinburgh] city

centre, and the property is not cheap, but

everyone still wants to move and live here. The age profile has come down. It was

traditionally an old people’s town, but

since I’ve been here it has become more

and more vibrant. Lots more places to go out to eat and drink.

It appeals to the younger market as well,

but they have to have some money in order to live here now and that has been the case for quite a while. This helps with my kind

of customer base because they have a bit of money to spend. I don’t know how to say

and relaxed, less formal, more easy-going.

I tend to focus on family-owned

I never wear trousers, I’m always in shorts.

independent distilleries: Kilchoman,

care. I like the quirk factor, as far away

focus on them. The quality of independent

I’m always cycling around so I’m often in here in Lycra but people don’t seem to from corporate as possible I guess.

As well as the wine you’ve obviously got a big focus on whisky. We’ve seen this upsurge in the quality

Springbank, Benromach, Glenallachie … there are still a lot out there so I tend to

bottlings is amazing. We probably sell as

many independent bottlings as distillery bottlings.

Are you doing some of your own?

‘Even I still get taken aback by the stuff we have in this little seaside town. It’s crazy to have £100 bottles of wine’

that without sounding crude.

of whisky and a move away from

Yes, we’ve been doing that since 2006. Two

aware of service being so important. One

McEwan and his pals bought Bruichladdich

buy whisky and bottle it under our own

They are quite sensitive because you

have to look after them. I’ve always been

little error and you could lose someone like that. Thankfully over the years the trust is there.

I like being honest with people, being

myself, and people seem to respond to that. I’m not like your typical wine merchant,

the way I behave. I try to be more casual

conventional whisky as well. I think my

earliest memory was probably when Jim distillery and that started this whole generation of quirky bottlings.

It was so refreshing to experience that

and see it happen. I was so sad when

they sold and things changed and almost

overnight that magic was gone. I don’t deal with them anymore.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 24

or three years after we set up we came up with the idea that, if we could, we would

labels, named after the islands off the coast. So there’s The Bass, which has always been our Islay bottling; there is Fidra, which has always been our Highland bottling, and

there’s Craigleith as well, which has always been our Speyside bottling. We’re up to 20 cask bottlings. I have actually lost count.


LOCKETT BROS

Is it harder now to get the liquid? It’s been harder and harder. In the earlier bottlings we were doing 15-year-old Bowmore, 21-year-old Aberlour and

18-year-old Clynelish. Nowadays the ages have come down but the quality has still

remained really high with the connections that we have in the trade.

Having got to know these guys they’d

be happy to share some of their casks

with us, and they are that good that even a five-year-old can taste exceptional. Our

current range is an eight-year-old Caol Ila, an eight-year-old Benrinnes and a nine-

year-old Blair Atholl, but it is not a problem that they’re that young, and people aren’t

bothered by it either, because you explain

a higher turnover now, that year we had a

perhaps a similar amount to online,

about 10% in terms of feet through

Would you consider further shops?

much higher customer flow.

Our customer flow has dipped roughly

possibly closer to 10%.

the door in two years, which has been

No, never. This suits my lifestyle down to

we’ve seen customer flow drop but our

ago. This shop has now settled in and the

worrying me a little bit. Ever since the referendum, the disastrous 2016 year, average spend has increased so our turnover is still solid.

Our average spend is about £50 per

transaction. Because of the amount of

whisky and gin we sell, there is not much produce under £30 in that department.

Customer flow has dipped from 16.5k three

a T. I looked into it and I thought that was the natural thing to do maybe 10 years

obvious thing would be to look elsewhere. I thought, no – I love this and why add more stress for what, exactly?

I just love having control of one shop,

and the same staff. I’ve had Graham with

me since pretty much the beginning, just

a year after we started, he joined me and

to them that it is a good cask.

Are walk-in customers coming in for the whisky and staying for the wine? A lot of people that don’t perhaps know us are always taken aback slightly as it is a small town, down the coast from

Edinburgh. It’s not the kind of shop you

expect to see. Maybe there are plenty of them in the central belt and the busier

areas, but even I still get taken aback by

the stuff we have in this little seaside town. It’s crazy to have £100 bottles of wine. You don’t know who’s going to come in and

plenty of people still want these things.

Lockett does not want more shops. “This suits my lifestyle down to a T”

You’ve got quite an active website. How big a part of the business is it? Not much, I guess I could be doing better on that, but I’m not that interested in

developing it too much. About 5% of our

turnover comes from the website. I don’t really care about that too much.

What’s the turnover of the business? I’m just coming up to the end of my

financial year and it’s looking like we are

up 5% and looking at £725,000 this year.

It’s been a funny few years. 2015-16 was

probably our best year. Despite us having

years ago to 14.5k; maybe that’s to do with £7.50 wines disappearing and creeping up to £10.

Aldi opened up in the town around then

everybody knows us and thinks we’re brothers.

So where does the Lockett Bros name

as well. There were factors like Aldi, Brexit,

came from?

to spend and are still spending, it’s just that

doesn’t even really drink or know a thing

the Scottish Referendum, the pound and

I remember sitting down with my parents

bottom end we’ve lost.

about wine but the name sounded right. It

prices creeping up. People are still willing

Do you do any wholesaling? That’s probably helped a little bit with

the turnover this year. Very little though,

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 25

and my brother, who is in farming. He

totally has worked. I don’t want to shatter everyone’s illusions by telling them that

Continues page 26


THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE

From page 25

Graham is not my brother. It is incredibly

common how often people come in and say “I was speaking to your brother yesterday”.

‘So often people come in and say ‘what should I be drinking?’ and rather than picking something themselves they love a chat and some advice’

Do you do events or shows?

No, not really, it’s never been my thing to

the summer; we’ll always have winemakers

What do you offer bar customers?

does. We try to create fun things going on

more, in the last year or so, about this –

reds, so people can have them by the glass

do events, shows or tastings. We tend to

do a big Christmas thing like everyone else in here, a series of whisky tastings during

in for a tasting but never that many formal

We always have eight wines by the glass

turning the shop into a bar.

or flight. They can pick three out of those

things. I’m not very good at that. It’s been

in the Enomatics. Four whites and four

and have three 75ml glasses, which is very popular.

We do the same with the gin flights –

also very popular: they can pick any three

gins and have three small G&Ts. The same

with whisky too. We have 50 or 60 bottles of whisky open at any one time. We mark them up on the board as set flights, but if

we’re quiet and people go “oh, I don’t like peaty whisky” we can substitute.

It’s good fun. People love the flight

concept – the tasting, that comparison.

Actually it is a real eye-opener. Rather than

having one gin and tonic, which is nice, you

can have three gin and tonics and go “wow”

at the difference, and it’s just the same with whisky.

Do you find that offering wine by the glass draws people in? It introduces people to different wines, Xhulio Sina: CV includes the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Opera House

for example Portuguese white. How many people in the general public would pick up a white from the region of Alentejo?

You convince them to try it and then they are generally really surprised. People are always willing to try new things, aren’t they? So often people come in and say

“what should I be drinking?” and rather

than picking something themselves they love a chat and some advice. Lockett is keen to do some more videos to tell the story of his shop and his suppliers

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 26

Again it’s that off-the-beaten-track thing,

getting people to try barrel-fermented

oak-aged Soave Classico and white blends


LOCKETT BROS

from the Alentejo, Mazuelo from Rioja or

Pio Cesare’s Nebbiolo has been a big hit at the moment.

We tend to rotate them every week

or two. We change them round so that

they’re not always the same, so what is on the blackboard is what’s on tasting. I don’t know if I’ve actually put a New

Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on, for example, but why would you unless it’s something like Greywacke Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc or something different? You want

to get people tasting other things. That’s important.

What about the future? Have you got any new ideas in the pipeline? I want to keep travelling and visiting

growers, that’s what I love doing. One

of the best bits about selling the stuff is actually knowing the people who make

it. I’ve been to many places and met some

there’s one I love that Richard Kelley

imports from the Ventoux: the Tom and

the Peloton. Great story and a new concept that he came up with.

He already works with that grower, but

that grower sets aside some bottles for him to put his own label on and it’s an

homage to Tom Simpson who died on Mt Ventoux. It was brought out in time for

the 50th anniversary. It’s a great part of

France and I’ve been cycling in that region

of the Ventoux many times. I’ve been up Mt Ventoux a few times.

Not on brandy and amphetamines? No, not like him! A great story though and

a nice nod to him. A small proportion of the money from selling the wine goes towards the upkeep of the monument on the

mountain, as it often gets destroyed.

You’re pretty good with your videos and

amazing people – I just love meeting these

social media.

just such a brilliant trip: one week, 21

out with that, where I was opening up,

guys, and getting insights into why they’re

I did that A Day in the Life video that went

producers. I’d like to go to Uruguay and

serving and then cycling home. That was

making certain styles. South Africa was

Argentina next year, maybe that’s a plan.

Uruguayan wines are interesting. Do some cycling in the mountains, the Andes, as well.

That’s your other big thing, cycling. Does that inform your world wine tour? I did a good trip about five or six years ago through Piemonte. We took our bikes on

the train to Milan and cycled right through Piemonte visiting growers all over the

down very well. A pal of mine helped me a nice wee story. I haven’t done one for a while and actually I’d love to do more. It’s quite easy to do, just to try and

capture some more stories and put them on the website or social media. That’s an

area I’d like to do more of. It was good fun,

the time-lapse one of the shop. There were one or two mucking about with the shop and there was another cycling one.

Those videos have pretty high-end

place, not just in Barolo but in Tortona

production values.

Fausto Coppi who is the legendary Italian

that, and that know me and know what I’m

as well, to visit Vina Marina Coppi; the

I know, that’s right. I do know a couple of

Tour de France, Giro d’Italia winner.

like and what kind of style I’m looking for,

winemaker is the grandson of the great

You’ve got one or two cycling-themed wines. Yes I do – Coppi wines obviously and

people who are happy to help me doing so it does make things easy.

It’s time to do another one. Not sure

what. Maybe something in South America. Who knows?

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 27

ARTISANS OF CHAMPAGNE

Elodie Chevriot Head of Marketing In October, we host guests for Nuits de Champagne, which is a music festival in Troyes that takes place each year from the 21st until the 27th of the month. The line-up is focused on well-known French artists, and up-and-coming singers. Each year, a theme is chosen and for 2019, the theme is romance with a touch of humour and freedom. The music festival was actually co-founded by Devaux in 1988. We’ve supported the festival over the years through patronage because of our shared cultural views and values. The festival is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our cuvées but also to celebrate and have a great time with people we collaborate with such as growers, customers and journalists. Nuits de Champagne is mainly attended by locals from Troyes and the surrounding area, although we often get music lovers who travel from other parts of France to visit the festival. For Devaux, it’s important to reach a wide demographic as we aim for universality with our Champagnes. It’s great fun but also a bit exhausting. In France, patronage (and advertising) by the wine industry is strictly supervised by the law. These restrictions can sometimes restrict initiatives and the scope of activities. At Devaux, we have managed to create great experiences for our guests through Nuits de Champagne. Inspired by the festival, we host a picnic every year followed by a concert in front of our Manoir that’s on a two-hectare park along the Seine river. Beautiful views, music and of course, our Champagne Devaux – a perfect recipe for a great evening!

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


WSET WINE WORKOUT

Fortified with the facts Fortified wines are as fascinating as they are misundertood. WSET Educator David Martin gives a quick guide to the main styles, and what makes each one so distinctive

A

lthough only a small part of the total wine category, fortified

wines play an important role in

the world of wine and are often overlooked outside of the Christmas period. Fortified wines are a fascinating and diverse

category perfect for both aperitif and afterdinner digestive. Why fortify?

development of complex flavours. Some wines such as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise are aged only for a few short

months before release. As a result, the

wines remain pale lemon in colour, taste

of fresh fruit and have none of the tertiary

development of walnut and toffee expected from wines aged in contact with oxygen. Sherry

The fortification of wine is a process

Sherry is produced in the wine region of

control, or modern bottling. It was a

wines in a variety of styles. The key to its

invented long before we had stainless

steel fermentation vessels, temperature technique used to preserve wine from the various spoilages that can affect it

during production, storage and shipping. Fortification involves the addition of a

spirit, usually a neutral brandy, to raise the

wine’s alcohol level and, if required, to stop fermentation.

Dry versus sweet The timing of fortification is crucial to

the final style of the wine. If the wine is

fortified before fermentation is complete the wine will be sweet – as is the case with Port. If the wine is fortified after

fermentation has finished, the wine will be dry – like Fino Sherry.

Oxidised versus protected ageing After fermentation and fortification comes the ageing process. Ageing concentrates a wine’s flavour and is crucial for the

Jerez in southern Spain. The neutral, lowacidity variety Palomino is used to make

nutty, distinctive character is the thin veil of yeast which grows on certain styles of Sherry. This yeast film is called flor. Not

only does it give the wine a specific flavour, it also protects the wine from oxidation. • Fino and Manzanilla are around 15% abv, pale lemon in colour with a fresh,

vibrant style. Manzanilla tends to have a more pronounced yeasty aroma because it is aged in the coastal

town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, developing a thicker film of flor. • Oloroso is a Sherry wine

which has no flor influence. It is fortified immediately to around 18% abv and, at this strength,

the flor cannot survive - so the wine has no protection from oxidation.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 28

• Amontillado is a Fino or Manzanilla

which is then refortified so that the flor dies. It is then aged oxidatively.

• The very sweet wine Pedro Ximenez is sometimes used as a sweetening

component in cream and pale cream styles, though most inexpensive styles are usually sweetened with rectified concentrated

grape must. One of the sweetest wines in

the world, Pedro Ximenez is also delicious by itself or as an accompaniment to ice cream.

Port The magnificent Douro

valley is where the full-

bodied, sweet red Port

wines are produced.

A wide range of native

Portuguese grape varieties

are used, each bringing its

own contribution to the

structure and flavour of the wines. During the

winemaking process, a rapid extraction of

colour, tannin and flavour

is necessary as the wines

must be fortified whilst

they are still sweet.

• Ruby Port is the youngest

and usually cheapest style,

a blend of vintages between


© Kess16 / stockadobe.com

Madeira is home to a unique style of fortified wine

two to five years old, and not designed to age.

• Tawny Port is aged in small casks which have a greater degree of contact with

for four to six years and do not have the

• Canteiro is the method in which the

Madeira

over years, and sometimes decades, is a

same intensity as Vintage Port. They are

usually produced for immediate drinking.

wines are placed in warm attics in barrels which are not kept full. Ageing this way

slow process for creating complex flavours

oxygen. Consequently, they lose their

If there is such a thing as a wine lover’s

ranging from 10 to 40 years.

wines that are almost indestructible in

The fortified Muscat wines around the

sweetness depending on the style. It then

Australia.

colour and become very soft in character.

They can be classified with age statements • Vintage Port is wine produced from

one single vintage. Most houses declare a vintage around three times a decade.

Vintage ports are aged for two years in

large casks before bottling and are among the most long-lived wines in the world. • Late-bottled vintage (LBV) is wine

also produced from one single vintage.

However, the wines are aged in large casks

wine, it would be Madeira. This small

island off the west coast of Africa produces nature, due to the production method.

The wine is fortified at various stages of

goes through its maderisation process – two systems for this are used:

• Estufagem is the name for the process

where the wine is heated to around 45°C for a period of around four months. This

method is used for the entry-level styles of Madeira.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 29

of caramel, toffee and dried fruits. Muscat

world are also worthy of mention, such as the world-class wines from Rutherglen in

We hope this brief overview of fortified

wine provides a valuable refresher – and a tempter to sign up for your next course. • To find out more about WSET

qualifications and for a great range of free resources and learning tools visit www. wsetglobal.com.


Get set for Sherry Week Gonzalez Byass UK’s hard work in promoting what is arguably the trade’s favourite wine can pay dividends for indies as the annual Sherry celebration approaches

T

hese are heady times for Sherry. True, the market as a whole has seen long-term decline in the UK as cream styles have slipped out of fashion. But premium and more authentic Sherries have found an audience that can be described as enthusiastic and occasionally fanatical. International Sherry Week, running from November 4 to 10, gives independent wine merchants the ideal opportunity to win over more converts to the cause. Tio Pepe importer González Byass UK has a programme of activity in place to help indies achieve just that. “This year our sales team will be up and down the country helping support Sherry tasting evenings – some as dinners with food pairings; others masterclasses educating people with an interest in Sherry,” says brand manager Helen Yates. “Sherry flights in restaurants are also working well in some of our accounts and this gives consumers the chance to try a small taste of a range of different Sherries.” She adds: “We will be supporting indie stores with Tio Pepe-branded bunting and props to help decorate windows and in-store displays for the week. We are also working on table talkers and flyers to help pair Sherries with possible food matches and inspire consumers with food and context in which they would drink Sherry.”

S

herry has long been a trade favourite – it’s rare to find merchants who don’t list it among their favourite wine styles. It can

certainly claim to be one of the best-value wines on the planet. But why has the category seen a surge of consumer interest of late? The Sherry trade may be rooted in tradition, but it’s not averse to a little innovation, and the En Rama designation – in which Fino Sherry is bottled unclarified and unfiltered – has been a key part of the success.

I

ndependents across the UK are seeing the benefit of offering a range of Sherry in tasting events, and as a by-the-glass staple where on-premise sales are part of the sales mix. This continues a trend that has already taken hold in many bars and restaurants. Recent openings such as Arros, the new paella restaurant from Spanish Michelin star chef Quique Dacosta, offers its customers a range of Sherries such as Tio Pepe En Rama and the Palmas range to accompany its acclaimed cuisine. Meanwhile at new London venue Tayer & Elementary there are several cocktails that feature Sherries supplied by González Byass UK. “We have worked to show the diversity of Sherry as a cocktail ingredient, which we support with our annual cocktail competition, The Tio Pepe Challenge,” says Yates. It’s fair to say that the image of Sherry has been transformed, with consumers and trade alike excited by its dynamism. González Byass UK has been a tireless champion for the Sherry category, arguing that it’s only through education initiatives and innovation that the momentum can be maintained.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 30

Win a mixed case of 12 Sherries One independent merchant can win a mixed case of 12 González Byass UK Sherries to help get International Sherry Week off to a flying start. Email info@gonzalezbyassuk.com, with the words Sherry Week in the email header, with details of your plans for the week. The most creative entrant will have the case delivered before the start of Sherry Week. Terms and conditions available on request. Feature sponsored by


The premium Sherry portfolio Viña AB, Amontillado Seco Pale amber in colour and bone dry on the palate, Viña AB is a young, dry Amontillado with delicate almond and hazelnut flavours and is an excellent match for nuts, white meat and seafood.

Leonor, Palo Cortado Leonor Palo Cortado is aged for over 12 years. It has fine aromas of wood, vanilla and almonds. The palate is nutty and perfectly integrated, with a long finish. Ideal with mature cheeses, good ham and salty tapas but also stands up well to red meats.

Three key styles for indies

Always the season for Fino

Indies should focus on three key styles to stimulate consumer interest, suggests GBUK sales manager Richard Witter. “The three styles of Sherry I suggest to my customers are biologically-aged, oxidatively-aged and sweet,” he says. “Usually Tio Pepe En Rama, Vina AB and Solera 1847 work best from our premium range. “For those indies with a slightly more developed knowledge of Sherry, a Palo Cortado is also a fantastic choice. It takes a little more explaining to customers but our Leonor is so good it is worth it. Pedro Ximenez is always a favourite style this time of year, a perfect partner with vanilla ice cream. “Sherry’s amazing versatility as a cocktail ingredient is apidly winning over new audiences in cities around the country.”

Tio Pepe En Rama is a super-fresh and expressive Fino, now in its 10th year of release, loved for its unique, fresh-fromthe-cask experience. En Rama is alive with flavour and has more nutty and yeasty aromas than the standard Tio Pepe. On the palate it’s fresh and citrusy, with a complex, saline finish. A truly gastronomic wine, it pairs perfectly with olives, almonds, oily fish and all kinds of tapas. While En Rama is a spring release, the autumn heralds the arrival of the Tio Pepe Palmas range. These distinctive, limited edition Sherries from individually selected barrels are beloved by wine aficionados, so much so that Cuatro Palmas was awarded the coveted Champion of Champions trophy in this year’s International Wine Challenge.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 31

Alfonso, Oloroso Seco Alfonso is a delicious, dry Oloroso with a deep mahogany colour, warm spicy aromas and pronounced nutty flavours. A rich, smooth wine with a long, lingering finish. The perfect partner for game, light cheese and pâté.

Solera 1847, Oloroso Dulce A superior dark cream Sherry aged for around nine years. Solera 1847 has a velvety palate, with concentrated sweet raisin and figs from the addition of Pedro Ximenez.

Nectar, Pedro Ximenez Rich, sweet and velvety smooth on the palate, Nectar shows complex flavours of caramel, dried fruits, figs,mocha, nuts and spices and is a perfect match for all sweet desserts.


Universal credit Marketing creativity, a run of superb vintages and some great value wines … the Port trade is well placed as it gears up for what is still its most important sales period of the year, says David Williams, as he outlines some of the most interesting trends in the Douro

A vintage double whammy The universal Vintage Port declaration

– where all the major shippers declare a

vintage year – has always been a rarity in the Douro. There’s a tacit understanding

almost 150 years, when the universally

declared 1873 vintage followed on from the 1872 vintage, to find a precedent. All of which made the universal

declaration of the 2017 vintage this year a bigger than usual event for the Port

trade. It was an especially big deal for the Symingtons: the family behind Graham’s,

Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s had never declared back-to-back vintages before, since the firm’s founding father, James

Symington, arrived in the Douro in 1882.

W

hat justified the move this

year? According to Johnny

Symington: “The decision to

among the shippers that anointing

declare Vintage Ports from two consecutive

fine wine styles.

have produced wines of such immense

too many vintages will undermine the

specialness of one of the world’s greatest As Johnny Symington, chairman of

Symington Family Estates puts it in a

statement about his family’s latest set of vintage releases: “Few wine regions in

the world restrict vintage years with such integrity as we do in the Douro.”

That policy has meant that generally

the Douro has produced on average just

three universally declared Port vintages per decade. Before St George’s Day (the

traditional date for declaring a vintage) this year, there had been five

universal declarations in the 21st

century, with the last one being the

critically acclaimed 2016. As for backto-back universal declarations … well, they seemed to be the subject of an unspoken ban. You had to go back

© SeanPavonePhoto / stockadobe.com

FOCUS ON PORT

years was not one taken lightly. However, these two exceptionally strong harvests

quality that we felt justified in making this historic decision.”

Symington was just one voice in a

chorus of approval for both vintages.

“After the long interval that followed the 2011 Vintage release, we are delighted

that the highly acclaimed 2016s are now

followed by the superb 2017,” said Adrian

Bridge, managing director of The Fladgate Partnership, the firm behind Taylor’s, Fonseca, Croft and Krohn.

“All our houses and their properties

have produced exceptional wines,

with impressive density, depth and aromatic potential.”

“I consider these wines [the 2017

Quinta do Noval and Nacional] to be among the best that I have known

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 32

during my time at Quinta do Noval,” said Christian Seely, managing director of

Quinta do Noval (which unusually has

made a point of making small quantities of

vintage wines even in non-universal years). “The decision to declare them was a very easy one.”

The product of an unusually hot and

dry year, with a record-breakingly early


Luxury goods The greatness of 2017 wasn’t confined to the shippers’ classic Vintage Port blends. A number of shippers released Single

Quinta Ports, which are generally reserved for years when they don’t make a Vintage Port: look out for Ramos Pinto Quinta de

Evramoria 2017 (“We always listen to the

vines and what they tell us, that has always been the Ramos way, and in 2017 we had fantastic quality in the vineyards,” said

Ramos Pinto CEO Jorge Rosas); and the Symington’s Quinta do Vesuvio 2017.

It’s also a vintage that will allow serious

Port-loving merchants to get their hands

on some of the Douro’s burgeoning range of small-production rarities. The number of producers making the Port trade

equivalent of the Champagne prestige

cuvée or the whisky trade’s small-batch

special edition has grown enormously in recent years.

The Symingtons, for example, have

made a 2017 for both Graham’s The Stone

Terraces (a 250-case wine, introduced with the 2011 vintage, made from two special

stone terraced plots in the family’s Quinta dos Malvedos) and Capela da Quinta do

Vesuvio (the fourth vintage of this wine from the oldest plot within Quinta do Vesuvio and which debuted with the

2007 vintage). The Fladgate Partnership,

meanwhile, has bottled the eighth vintage

of its Vargellas Vinha Velha from the oldest Just waiting for the VI-1 forms

Generally the Douro has produced on average just three universally declared Port vintages per decaded

harvest (many growers started picking in

mid-August), the 2017s have also attracted the widespread admiration of critics:

leading Port authority Richard Mayson MW gave the vintage 5/5 in Decanter;

Simon Field MW dubbed it outstanding in

The World of Fine Wine; while “compelling and powerful” was the verdict of jancisrobinson.com.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 33

vineyards in the great Taylor’s Quinta

de Vargellas and introduced a new wine,

Serikos, which comes from the oldest vines in Croft’s historic Quinta da Roedâ. Tawny tangent

The flurry of excitement around the backto-back vintages shouldn’t detract from what has in recent years been an equal

focus of shippers’ marketing efforts at all Continues page 34


FOCUS ON PORT

From page 33

levels of the market: tawny Port. Producers have made clever use of their superb

stocks of often very old wood-aged Ports, taking a leaf out of top-end Cognac with

ever-swankier, hi-spec packaging, and the result has been a category transformed. Taylor’s has been particularly clever

with its tawnies: at the very top of the

market, that’s meant the release of two

Sandeman suggests a cocktail based on a measure of its peachy white Port poured over lemon ice cream Both wines are now selling on the

secondary market for high four-figure

from a cask of pre-phylloxera Port that

remunerated aficionados with its run of

Harvest Port; and Scion, which is bottled is more than 150 years old that Taylor’s acquired from a “distinguished Douro family” in 2009.

gaining justified praise and listings. And the Sogevinus Group’s access to some

of the best and most extensive stocks of

wood-matured Ports has seen a flurry of

impressive colheita and age-dated releases in the UK from the likes of Kopke and Barros.

The white return

special-edition 19th-century Ports in swish bespoke decanters: 1863 Taylor’s Single

luxury drinks categories” has been

price tags. But the company has also been

trying to appeal to slightly more modestly Very Old Single Harvest Ports, releasing a 50-year-old wine each year for the

past six years. The latest, from 1969, is a scintillating effort that fully justifies its £130 price tag, fitting comfortably in a

Fladgate tawny portfolio that also includes, since 2013, the superb wines of the colheita specialist, Krohn.

N

ot to be outdone, the Symingtons have been releasing a range of

stunning Graham’s Single Harvest

wines, from 1952 to 2003, alongside the

houses’ revitalised range of tawnies, which includes one of the best and best-value non-aged dated tawnies around in The

Tawny Signature Blend; and the Warre’s Otima brand, which, with its slickly

minimalistic packaging that revolutionised the tawny market in the 2000s, has

continued to grow with single harvest

tawnies from the 2006 and 1996 vintages. Other brands making a splash in the

expanding premium tawny pool include

Niepoort, which has entered the rarefied luxury market with its 1863 Tawny in Lalique collaboration with the French

glassmakers; while Sandeman’s range

of age-dated tawnies, refashioned and

restyled two years back in a bid to place it more in line with “vibrant and innovative

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 34

Barros has also played its part in another

unlikely Douro story: the rise of white Port. Although still insignificant in terms of

production

compared to

red, the style has been in

growth in the UK thanks to

a canny attempt to market it as a lighter

alternative to gin to be mixed with tonic.

It’s not just about marketing: quality, not

least in Barros White Port – a typical white Douro blend of Malvasia Fina, Rabigato,

Verdelho and Viosinho – has undeniably improved.

But the link with gin is perhaps most

explicit in the packaging of Graham’s latest release from earlier this year, White Blend No 5, which, with its pastel illustrations of citrus fruit, mint and flowers could very

easily be confused for a premium gin bottle (as well as providing a pretty accurate

visual description for the briskly enjoyable wine inside).

Sandeman, meanwhile, suggests a

cocktail based on a measure of its peachy white Port poured over lemon ice cream,

but the emphasis on white Port’s mixability shouldn’t detract from its ability to work on its own or with food – both of which are very much the case for Sandeman’s

creation and another top quality white Port made by one of the region’s most exciting smaller producers, Quinta do Portal.


CHILEAN WINE FOCUS

Checking in on Chile It’s easy to make lazy generalisations about Chile, but thankfully its winemakers are nowhere near as complacent as some of those who criticise the country from afar. David Williams assesses recent progress and talks to four independents about their Chilean ranges

C

hile’s vinous development over

the past 40 years is nothing short of remarkable.

It’s the pace of change that takes the

breath away. Before Miguel Torres arrived in the country in 1979, with stainless

steel tanks and modern winemaking ideas in tow, production was overwhelmingly

bulk-focused, and there were no exports to speak of.

Over the next 20 years, the Chileans

established themselves as purveyors of well-made, varietally true, good-value wines. With a deserved reputation for

market flexibility, they listened to what their customers told them and adapted

quickly to demand. Trusted by multiple retail buyers and consumers alike, they

were a solidly dependable presence in the UK wine scene, if never exactly hitting the heights of other New World countries, or indeed capturing as many hearts.

And then came Chile Version 2.0. This

one, starting around the turn of the

millennium, saw the country’s viticulturists set off to all points of the compass in this crazily long, thin country, to plant new

vineyards from the temperate climes of Osorno in the southern lake district to

the dry Atacama desert in the north; and

from the foothills of the Andes in the east

to the new cool-climate hotspots of Leyda, San Antonio and Aconcagua Costa on the Pacific coast.

Throw in a generation of winemakers

given licence to make wines in less rigid,

more creative ways – you can find superb

amphora-aged natural wines from old-vine País and flor-aged blanc de noirs amongst other funky things in Chile these days – Bon Coeur wines is among the indies working directly with Chilean producers

and you have a wine business that has

completely reinvented itself once again.

The question remains, however: has the

UK independent scene kept up with Chile’s evolutions?

We asked a selection of merchants what

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 36

the country means to them.


Stephen Ashborn Dylan’s, Swansea How is Chile doing in your shops? We have roughly 20 reds, 20 whites and

five rosés from Chile, and it is probably one of the better performers at the moment.

I think that’s down to price point, really –

Chilean wine is an “easy sell” at Dylan’s

but also value across the ranges, from entry level up to some of the more premium

Which wines are doing particularly well?

Do your customers ask for Chile?

wines: the Santa Digna, the Cordillera, and up to the Manso de Velasco, which at £35

prices.

We do quite well with the Torres Chilean

The way our shop’s merchandised, the first

trickles out. The Cordillera actually does do

thing they see is Chilean reds! But that’s

coincidental. When they look around the

store, it’s an easy sell for the staff, because of the value and the price point.

well at £16 a bottle.

For our customers, Merlot is the most

popular red, then Carmenère, Pinot Noir and Cabernet. With the whites

the Sauvignon Blanc does better than the Chardonnay; we also have the

Gewurztraminer. As well as the Torres

wines, we have some good wines from Torreon, which we get from Inverarity

Morton. There’s the Valdemoro range and a premium level, Torean.

Continues page 38

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THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 37


CHILEAN WINE FOCUS

Samantha Goodhart Bon Coeur Fine Wines Melsonby, North Yorkshire How is Chile doing in your shop? Chile in general does OK. We tend to do

quite well in the mid-range, between £9

and £14, really. Mapu and Los Vascos [both from Barons de Rothschild] do relatively well for us.

Are you looking to expand your Chilean

there are not many who venture this

far north where we are, which is nearly

Scotland! They’re taking the right approach and they believe we’re now big enough to hold our own.

It’s the first collaboration that Bon Coeur

has done, and we’re 25 in September. We

Nick Underwood Underwood Wines Stratford-upon-Avon How is Chile performing in your shop at

have no buying collaborations, we’re not

the moment?

means we don’t have any pressures on

other French things have come in at more

agents for anyone.

It’s doing well, but probably not quite as

what we have to sell. It’s purely based on

competitive prices in recent years that

We take the long way around, which

buying what our customers want.

well as it was a few years ago, because

create a bit more interest. But it’s still a

very basic staple out there, and very good

range?

Has the process of launching your own

We have had a bit of a change in our

brand changed the way you look at

Origen, in September. It has an entry-level,

tasted quite a lot of Chilean wine, looking

suggest?

reflect its origin. Carmenère is great, and

we do have Casas del Bosque, which we

value for money.

Do customers perceive that there is

Chilean range, because we launched our

Chile?

a reserva, and a gran reserva. They’re all

at them in detail.

I think when people trade up, they tend to

the reservas in Chardonnay and Malbec, for

get from ABS, and we do well with them.

own brand with Luis Felipe Edwards,

reasonably priced, which they need to be to sell.

We think it will move into our

bestsellers. We’re lucky to have exclusivity. How has it been working with a Chilean producer in this way? They’ve been a really good business to

collaborate with, actually. They understand us and they’ve been up to see us – and

In the last two or three months we’ve

To be able to sell, we’ve found it needs to

example.

But if you venture off into other grapes

it doesn’t do so well. There’s a lack of

familiarity there, because people want something that they know, a safe bet. I

don’t think there’s anything wrong in that – Chile does some very good safe bets.

more to Chile than that, would you

be more traditional in what they buy. But

They’re very nice wines. And the Cono Sur top range is quite expensive. They’re good wines; we have those and they go down well.

Do any of your customers come in asking specifically for Chilean wine? Sometimes they come in and ask for it, but

more generally they’ll ask for a price and if Chile fits in then we’ll recommend it.

What other lines from Chile do you list in the business? We have a range from Barton Brownsdon

& Sadler, Pacifico Sur, and we really like the quality of that – the Pinot Noir is fantastic. Not too sweet, it has a bit of edge, and it’s an excellent price. The Carmenère and Riesling, too.

Continues page 40

Cajón del Maipo in central Chile

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 38


INTERVIEW

‘I am very excited about what this region can offer’ Errázuriz winemaker Francisco Baettig talks about the Aconcagua Costa project – and Chile’s drive into premium wine territory

Baettig: exploring Chile’s diversity of terroir

Tell us a bit about the Aconcagua Costa

makes it distinct from other New World,

project and what you’re trying to do

or perhaps even European, countries?

with these wines.

I believe Chile is very reliable, especially at

The Aconcagua Costa project was born in 2005 when we first planted vines in this virgin coastal area which is about 12km from the Pacific Ocean.

The region has an exceptional terroir,

where the combination of cool-climate and

metamorphic rock soils allows us to obtain linear, vertical wines of great finesse, freshness and elegance.

We work with Chardonnay, Sauvignon

Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir in these

vineyards and I’m delighted with the resulting wines.

We’ve recently been inspired to produce

our flagship Las Pizarras range from

specific blocks on the Aconcagua Costa

estate where an even higher percentage of metamorphic rock can be found. Pizarras

the varietal level, and produces wines with an excellent price/quality ratio.

The Mediterranean climate allows us to

obtain healthy fruit which reaches maturity easily and produces very good wines. But

Chile also has a great diversity of places –

opportunity to work in the vineyard,

regulate the load, protect the fruit, avoid

water stress, etc. It is extremely beneficial to have control of the quality of the fruit,

which is best achieved when the vineyards are our own.

Are UK consumers ready to embrace

in the south, on the coast, in the mountains

Chile’s diverse wine regions and how

farming, which allows us to obtain elegant,

energy in promoting the local terroir and

– with different soils, with cooler climates,

much effort should be put into this?

complex, fresh, intense, more serious

quality of the regions that produce them

with places where it is possible to do dry-

I believe that Chile should invest time and

wines, all with a sense of place. These

instead of promoting varietal or generic

styles and these wines are the ones that

we will speak of in the near future and the

wines that will continue to put Chile at the forefront of people’s minds.

Why do you prefer to work with your

means slate in Spanish, and the wines

own vineyards?

What can Chile offer these days that

of the vineyard is essential to reach the

show a wonderful elegance and minerality.

maximum potential of that fruit: the

The quality of the fruit is all-important to

produce good wines. And the management

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 39

wines. Varietal wines with their excellent

price/quality ratio are already well known to UK consumers.

Now we need to open people’s eyes to

wines of higher value with a sense of place, which Chile has already started to produce seriously.

• Interview sponsored by Errázuriz,

imported by Hatch Mansfield. For more information visit www.hatchmansfield.com


CHILEAN WINE FOCUS

Simon Taylor

What do you think are Chile’s strengths?

Stone Vine & Sun Winchester

Blanc and Chardonnay but there’s very

How are feeling about Chilean wine in your business right now? My enthusiasm has slightly waned. If

I go there and come back with two or

three new estates, then we can get our

customers enthusiastic about it for a while, but then it’s hard to maintain that interest. It’s hard to get people to buy the wine at

over £12 a bottle unless it’s Chardonnay

or Pinot Noir – if you stray over £12 for a

The whites are terrific, not just Sauvignon

good Riesling, and there can be some quite

and white blends.

Chile.

there should be, given it’s such a popular grape. And there are some very good red

I’m also a big believer in Carmenère. It’s

got the Cabernet Franc herbaceous thing going on, which is good for a European

palate. It’s quite Bordeaux-like, and people relate more to it than Chilean Shiraz or a full-on blackcurranty Chilean Cab.

Which wines are doing well for you?

is that they’re businesslike. You know

completely worth it.

they will deliver the right wine, labelled

correctly, to the right port at the right time. It’s a great place to hunt.

What’s holding Chile back?

It’s interesting to compare it to South

We do a range from Errázuriz, the

Having said that, I’m still a fan. One thing

winemaking team is excellent.

good Viognier, too, although not as much as

Sauvignon it’s a struggle.

you can definitely say about the Chileans

whole set-up is really impressive. The

Aconcagua Costa wines. They’re really good: they’re £15 a bottle and they’re

I really believe in those wines, I think

they’re very, very good. I’ve been to

Errázuriz three or four times, and the

Los Lingues in Colchagua

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 40

Africa. It’s funny how cool South Africa has become. But the image is different with

You have exciting Maule Carignan and

little patches of Malbec in Itata, and it’s

true that if the same wine – the very same

liquid – was coming from a small producer in South Africa, people would be fawning all over them, writing them up with mid90s scores.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the

big companies are so big and successful, and so good at what they do, it makes it harder for diversity to emerge.

Contrast that with South Africa, where

the big entities are behind the curve, their

wines are quite dull, and all the excitement is all with the young winemakers.


THE WINE MERCHANT

BIRMINGHAM ROUND TABLE 2019 In association with SANTA RITA ESTATES Six leading independents from central England were invited to a panel discussion to talk about a range of issues affecting the indie trade. Four pages of coverage begins overleaf and continues in our November issue

Edward Symonds Saxty’s Hereford

Chris Connolly David Dodd Tivoli Wines Cheltenham

Connolly’s Birmingham

Phil Innes

Gosia Bailey The Wine Bank Southwell

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 41

Nick Underwood Underwood Wines Stratford

Loki Birmingham


THE WINE MERCHANT ROUND TABLE: BIRMINGHAM

Supplier demands Our recent round table event in Birmingham, organised in partnership with Santa Rita Estates and hosted by Loki in the Great Western Arcade, kicked off with a discussion about what independent merchants are looking for from their suppliers

Graham Holter (Wine Merchant editor): If push comes to shove, would you

prefer that suppliers focus their efforts

on supporting you on price, rather than

investing in extras like merchandising and winemaker events?

David Dodd: It’s hard to answer that

without knowing what the impact would

be on price and how much money goes into supporting that activity – what is the cost of supplying bottles, and what would the discount be?

I have very strong relationships with a

lot of my suppliers, and they are generally very supportive with winemaker events,

and that works perfectly for me. However, price is key, and will be even more key in

the next 12 to 18 months because it looks like we’re going to head into a recession. So would I substitute things like

winemaker events and sample support? I

probably wouldn’t, primarily because I’ve

got Enomatics and if a supplier gives me a bottle of, say, £8 wine then I generate £32 profit on that, and that’s probably more rewarding for me.

Gosia Bailey: There has to be a balance

their transport costs, which I totally accept,

we’re sick of seeing stock online at a

you end up running out of one wine and

between the two. I can tell you why we’ve

moved away from some suppliers: because reduced price.

Margins are important to us because our

costs are going up and it’s important that

our suppliers understand that. Working on 30% is not going to cover all of the costs that we have now.

Chris Connolly: The wholesale side is

probably more cutthroat and, as such, price obviously becomes increasingly important,

which is why we ship a certain amount. You don’t get the support but you do get a more attractive price.

Graham Holter: What kind of support is most helpful from suppliers?

Nick Underwood: Flexibility. Nice credit

control departments. Sympathetic people that chase you in a way that makes you want to pay them.

These days a lot of suppliers want you

take a pallet to make the prices right for

‘A supplier I spent £30,000 with put the same wines into a shop five minutes’ walk away. So they lost that £30,000. I haven’t dealt with them this year’ THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 42

but it can be tricky, especially when you

start listing wines for wholesale, because you can’t reorder a pallet. So with quite a

lot of our people now, we collect from LCB – we have a van in London once a week

or once a fortnight taking our own stuff

round, broking stuff, and then we’ll go and collect and often get 10% off the bottom line, which for us is great.

When it comes to samples, I will accept

them if people want to give me them, but if I ask for a sample, I always offer to pay for it, and if I order they will give me a

rebate. But I don’t like just taking samples

for nothing, which a lot of people do these days, I think.

Edward Symonds: The people we do the most business with are the reps we have the best relationships with. We’ve even

followed reps around – with some, we’ve

dealt with probably half a dozen companies that they’ve worked with. Through that, you get extra support.

One thing that frustrates me with a lot

of companies that we work with is that

some of the deals are time-limited. With Christmas coming up there’s a gap in

ordering in August and September. A lot of the deals have already been sent through, so we know what the deals are, but we

can’t take advantage of them for another 12 days, which seems a bit silly. Some of the


© snedorez / stockadobe.com

IN ASSOCIATION WITH SANTA RITA ESTATES

spirits guys are actually moving those deals forward and making them live – we know

a lot of people are sat on a lot of stock. It’s pretty much the same every year.

Chris Connolly: Going back to the

wholesale side, there needs to be clarity as to exactly which playground suppliers are

playing in, so to speak, so that you don’t get into conflict.

Phil Innes: It would really piss me off if I was getting wines from a wholesaler

and they were then approaching all my customers.

Nick Underwood: It’s always worse when

you have a rep living on your patch because they’re much more diligent, going to eating and drinking places. So we like the reps to be 200 miles away!

Graham Holter: Why do you think some

suppliers are still getting into conflict with

retailers over wholesale accounts? Is it just a case of being disorganised?

“Great! It’s the same wine I buy at that other wine shop two miles away!”

said he tried to block it, but the retailer

completely their right to put their wines

just crazy.

a significant amount of money with, I feel

went over his head and went to his boss,

and at the end of the day, money talks. It’s Phil Innes: Larger suppliers should have

Gosia Bailey: I think if reps can get away

large enough portfolios to not conflict too

Francois Lincoln (BDM, Hallgarten

Graham Holter: Whose job should it be

with it, they will do.

Novum): People have got to have grown-

up conversations with people they already

deal with, and discuss who they’re working with and who their customer is working with, to avoid duplication.

David Dodd: Last year one of my suppliers that I spent £30,000 with put the same

wines that are in my shop into a shop five

minutes’ walk away. They didn’t approach

me about it, they didn’t discuss it with me,

they just went ahead and did it. So they lost that £30,000 – I haven’t dealt with them this year.

When I spoke to their rep about it, he

much.

to police these things – the supplier or the retailer?

Gosia Bailey: We police it ourselves. Ann [Hayes from Ann et Vin in Newark] is up

the road from us and anyone who comes

to see us, we will immediately say, do you work with Ann? Yes, fine, can you let us know what wines you’re doing for her,

because I’m not interested in stepping on her toes, and vice versa.

David Dodd: We’re very realistic with our suppliers. If we don’t spend a significant amount of money with a supplier, it’s

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 43

elsewhere at the same time, and I have no problem with that. But ones that I spend

that they should be loyal to me. We’re not

short of wine opportunities in this country, so we’ll just divest and go somewhere else. Phil Innes: I find a bit of crossover isn’t

too concerning. I’d be worried if I had an identical range to Chris [Connolly] – it would just look odd. But having a few

lines crossing over here and there doesn’t bother me, to be honest. I don’t know if it bothers Chris.

Chris Connolly: No, and again we have the

same sort of conversation with the supplier as Gosia: “What do you do with Phil?”

Because there’s nothing to be gained from either of us in flogging the same stuff, and there’s plenty of other options around.

More round table coverage overleaf


THE WINE MERCHANT ROUND TABLE: BIRMINGHAM

Cold calling reps are a hot topic Our indies were agreed that reps should always make appointments. But what about their sock colour?

reps around these days, or fewer?

David Dodd: I spend an awful lot of

doing a lot of business with certain

© nenetus / stockadobe.com

Graham Holter: Are you noticing more

suppliers was that I really got on with the

rep. They came in and were really engaging and put products in front of me that I got

money with Boutinot and I’ve seen the

excited about, the staff got excited about,

rep probably once in two years. It doesn’t

we sold quite a lot and therefore the orders

bother me.

were high.

Then you get a different rep with the

Phil Innes: To be honest I quite like that!

same portfolio and there’s something that you don’t quite get on with and suddenly

David Dodd: I’ve also got another rep that

your orders start dropping. There are

I spend £500 a month with and I probably

some people you get on with and others

see him more than I see my wife.

Phil Innes: I quite like it when reps come

you don’t.

in when they’ve got a purpose or they’ll

“We’re doing our business. You can’t just be walking in”

pisses me off, actually.

bring, because if we’re not looking for that

give you a call to book in a meeting. Some reps are in all the time, and that really

Gosia Bailey: We’re doing our business. You can’t just be walking in. Make an

appointment, we’ll make time for you if we need to, and send us what you’re going to

line, it’s a waste of your time and a waste of our time.

Phil Innes: It’s all about relationships

and I’ve realised the reason I was actually

SUPPORTED BY SANTA RITA ESTATES

Graham Holter: So what advice would you give to someone just starting out as a rep? Gosia Bailey: Do not come in like a car salesman. All excited and full of lies. Nick Underwood: No white socks.

David Dodd: Have a reason for the

meeting. A lot of reps come in and they’re just chatting to you, ticking a box.

Phil Innes: Don’t just pop in and waste half an hour of my time when there’s no reason for you to be coming in.

Our Leeds Round Table event is the third in a series of regional disussions featuring independent wine merchants, organised in partnership with Santa Rita Estates.

They’re like, “ooh, I didn’t realise you did Enomatics,” and that’s one of our main things. That means you haven’t even

looked on the home page of our website.

The company’s principal wines in the independent trade are Carmen from Chile and Doña Paula from Argentina, the latter being distributed by Hallgarten & Novum Wines.

That’s how little research you’ve done on the company.

I think you should be employing people

with some personality. Just nice, generally

friendly people. Also: don’t bitch about the

Visit www.santaritaestateseurope.com.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 44

competition.


© alinabg / stockadobe.com

IN ASSOCIATION WITH SANTA RITA ESTATES

BIRMINGHAM BITES

“I don’t want to have to negotiate every single product. I’d much rather someone say, this is the best price, you need to order the 20-case minimum or something and you can get that price. Happy days. Done. I don’t want to have to knock down 20p on every product. Just give me the price.” Phil Innes, Loki Another day, another delivery

“I’m finding that a lot of suppliers are willing to split cases now, especially on the higher-end

How many suppliers is too many? Many independents are keen to reduce the number of suppliers they work with. For others, it’s almost a badge of honour to have a long list of supply partners. Saxty’s already works with more than 80

suppliers. “There’ll probably be another

dozen before Christmas,” predicts Edward Symonds.

“A lot of that is spirit-driven and a lot

of those will be small gin producers – but

those ones we’re cutting back on a little bit because some of those gins are sitting on the shelf now.

“It sounds more complicated than it is.

A bit more computer work. Some of those suppliers we might order from every

couple of months and some we might have two or three orders a month with. It just depends on what goodies they’ve got.”

David Dodd at Tivoli Wines estimates

he works with around 20 importers, in

addition to UK-based producers of wines and spirits.

“We’ve tried to cull some and claw it

products. Which is a huge benefit

back but we just get over-excited about

to us, because we don’t sell a

and took on a load of new suppliers. Some

David Dodd, Tivoli Wines

of suppliers has more pros than cons, and

term now because suppliers

range as a result, so if it’s not too much

from us, we’ll see what we can do.”

certain wines,” he admits. “We went down a more natural, organic route last year worked, some didn’t.”

According to Dodd, having a large roster

massive amount of higher-end products.”

“Minimum order is a very loose

it’s a situation he’s willing to manage. “My

say: this is our minimum order,

hassle for me then I’m quite happy to do

Gosia Bailey, The Wine Bank

rather than a few suppliers and obviously

Italy and we haven’t done for

the amount of samples or rewards or

quite happy to have pallets and

customers have got a more interesting it,” he says.

“I’ve got to split my budget over many

however, if you want to order

“We used to import stuff from

there can be some drawbacks from

several years now because it just

discounts or whatever. But it’s better for

pallets of Prosecco and the rest.

critical look at that supplier list next year

more efficiently and better than

that financially, because you don’t get

hasn’t been worth it. We would be

the consumer.”

But you can just buy cheaper UK

“because we might need greater bargaining

we can, and they can make

Loki. “We’ve cut down to about 20 because

Edward Symonds,

Dodd admits he may need to take a

stock. There are guys doing it

power”.

a margin, and we can buy

I’m consolidating a tiny bit with a few core

Saxty’s

It’s something that’s already happened at

suppliers,” says Phil Innes. “I can actually get better deals.”

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 45

it cheaper.”


TWENTY YEARS OF VIÑA COBOS

Andres Vignoni with Paul Hobbs

Fresher than ever: Viña Cobos at 20 Paul Hobbs’ ambition for Viña Cobos was to change the face of premium Argentinian wine. With protegé Andres Vignoni at the helm, its wines have all the finesse he was aiming for. The 20th anniversary of the project represents a good time to take stock – and to gear up for an exciting future

I

t’s 20 years since the first release of Viña Cobos, when a small but

important revolution got underway in

Argentina.

It was the vision of Paul Hobbs, who

for two decades has been on a mission to demonstrate that Argentina can produce

truly world-class wines. Its vineyard sites are in Mendoza’s premier wine regions, Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco. Almost

every winemaker on the planet these days

talks about expressing terroir, and minimal intervention, but at Cobos this has been

the philosophy from day one. The result

is wine that enchants the drinker with its purity, finesse and complexity.

Andres Vignoni, the project’s head

winemaker since 2015, says: “We’ve

continued the path that we started on 20 years ago, making a classic but modern

the product, the flavour and the texture of the wines.”

What’s it like working with Paul Hobbs? “My relationship with Paul is really

wine that you can drink today but will

good,” says Vignoni. “I am just 31, a

concentration and we are on the side of

share a lot of things, because Paul has done

also be great in 20 years. So we are on

the side of elegance, we are on the side of backbone.

“My approach to Cobos wines is to add

millennial, and it’s very nice to see how

two very different generations can really a lot in his life.”

wine and a fresh wine all together we

T

don’t worry about fashion; we go behind

winemaking ideas.

freshness to this concept. So as long as we can produce a fine wine, a concentrated

are very happy, and it will keep us on the podium of top Argentine producers. We

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 46

here is an almost horizontal management structure at

Cobos, Vignoni says, with Hobbs

assuming a mentoring position but with

the two men talking “like partners” about


IN ASSOCIATION WITH ALLIANCE WINE

“We are working on other projects

together and we share a lot of values and

the same passion for work,” he says. “Paul is very straight but at the same time he is

very approachable. We have no issues: it’s

just a phone call and everything is resolved. The communication is fluent and he really trusts us.”

V

he says.

ignoni is the fifth generation of a family of winemakers. “I’ve been

making wine since I was a child,”

yes, it’s Malbec, but it’s not just great-value red wine. You can find very different styles

wines can age,” he adds.

not just this kind of big bold Malbec that

also producing wines for drinking in 20, 30

of Malbec, different expressions of Malbec. You can prefer one to another. But there is we used to produce maybe 15 years ago.” What’s in store for Viña Cobos over the

coming 20 years? Vignoni believes the trend across Argentina towards more

elegant styles will continue, helped along by the discovery of more micro regions.

twice a year since I was 22. I made two

vintages in New Zealand one in Italy, two in

“It’s a conversation we have already had,

producing wines for drinking today but or 40 years.

“Everyone knows you can drink a great

wine from Argentina from two years ago, but nobody has tasted an Argentinian

wine that is 50 years old. We want to really prove that we have world-class terroir.”

THE VIÑA COBOS RANGES

“This vintage will be my 18th vintage.

I’ve been doing vintages around the world

“I think we will think a lot about how our

Felino Pure varietal expressions serve as a vibrant introduction to Mendoza, sourced

California, two in France and two in Spain.

from rigorously selected vineyards throughout the region’s top-quality growing

travelling; the challenge of carrying

Bramare Appellation

“My second passion, apart from

winemaking, is to travel. I really enjoy

projects around the world, seeing new

varietals. Trying to develop this kind of

philosophy that is respecting a sense of

place, purpose and time. Trying to make

fine wine everywhere. We are looking for finesse in our wines, and balance in the wines, everywhere we are.”

Argentina has been getting some good

press of late and enthusiastic reviews

for wines that move beyond the Malbec

template. Is the country’s signature grape a burden or a bonus?

“Ten years ago, nobody was thinking

about planting 600 metres above sea

level, it was just too high,” says Vignoni.

“Today you can find plantations all around Mendoza and all around the country.

areas, Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco, imparting distinct fruit profiles to the wines. Wines: Felino Chardonnay; Felino Malbec; Felino Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sourced from premier vineyards in Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco, these wines capture the characteristics of the two most prestigious growing regions in Mendoza. Wines: Bramare Malbec, Luján de Cuyo; Bramare Malbec, Valle de Uco; Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon, Luján de Cuyo.

Bramare Vineyard Designate The Bramare Vineyard Designate line captures the richness and power of exceptional vineyards and estates within Valle de Uco and Luján de Cuyo. Wines: Chardonnay, Marchiori Estate; Chardonnay, Los Arbolitos Vineyard; Malbec, Marchiori Estate; Malbec, Touza Vineyard; Malbec, Rebon Estate; Malbec, Zingaretti Estate; Cabernet Sauvignon, Marchiori Estate.

Cobos The Cobos line is the founding inspiration for the Viña Cobos portfolio. The trio of wines come from a careful block selection within an estate and are produced only in exceptional vintages. Wines: Malbec, Marchiori; Volturno, Marchiori; Malbec, Chañares.

The Marchiori Estate

You can find Malbec from Patagonia,

Malbec from Salta. They are developing

some Malbec even near the sea. It’s crazy how Malbec is leading this new way

of discovering places – and obviously

winemakers have a responsibility to try to

show the uniqueness of the sense of place.

“We have a big commitment to really say,

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 47


MERCHANT EVENT

T

ime travel is possible, a point proved recently at South Africa House in London. A gaggle of Cape winemakers was in town, eager to show off new-release wines but also to wheel out wines from vintages that date, in some cases, as far back as the fall of apartheid. It was a unique opportunity to see how styles have evolved, and how wines have aged. Their audience was a group of independent wine merchants, all signed up for a South African adventure that included lunch at High Timber restaurant. The journey there, by Routemaster bus, was enlivened by a few glasses of Methode Cap Classique.

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 1993 A real treat to start off with: a sparkling Western Cape wine disgorged a month before the tasting, which had spent 26 years on its lees. “This wine is a style we have made since day one,” says winemaker Pierre de Klerk. “Half of the wine is barrel fermented, and the other half is stainless steel. We avoid malolactic fermentation at all costs because we don’t have the acidity levels that you would normally find in a European sparkling wine. So we keep it as fresh as possible. “There’s a bit of oxidation on the wine but it’s retained its acidity. I’ve been told it was one of the most perfect vintages in Robertson history.” Andrew Johnson’s verdict: “I think it’s held up incredibly well. Yes, there’s a little bit of mushroom savouriness but probably no more than you’d find on a lot of sparkling wines from the 1990s.” Greg Sherwood adds: “Anyone buying this would expect a little tertiary evolution. It’s foresty and earthy.”

‘You stir till you see the first cloud of yeast and then you stop. We don’t want any autolysis in the wine’

A South Africa adventure

Eight wine merchants spent some quality time with a group of Cape winema visit to London. As well as tasting their new wines, they had the chance to as s vintages and take stock of how quickly things have changed in South Africa s

Terracura Wines Silwervis Chenin Blanc 2014 For Swartland winemaker Ryan Mostert, this was a “radical” project: “The first time I made wine in a way with all the restraints off,” he says. “It was two batches of Chenin, fermented on the skins – almost carbonically actually, in the sense that it was whole bunches with a little bit of free-run juice to start it off. One of the fermentations had a little bit of sulphur and the other one didn’t. I called it clean fist and dirty fist. After fermentation it went to a concrete egg for one year of ageing and then it was bottled with zero sulphur and zero filtration. “It’s great to revisit this wine now. In the first two years the wine was completely embryonic – it stayed in a youthful state until the middle of last year. So we now do a two-year elevage. I think this wine represents what’s going on with Chenin Blanc in South Africa. It’s become an incredible revolution.” Riaz Syed describes it as “a big statement wine with lots of character”. “The nose is fantastic,” he adds. “Lots of fruit coming out there, great viscosity and I’m loving the colour as it sits in the glass. “The extended skin contact gives this wine structure and, rather like the winemaker, great character.” Paul Cluver Wines Chardonnay 2009 It was a vintage when “everything came together”, according to winemaker Andries Burger. “This is a Chardonnay that I’m really proud of,” he says. “We’re in the fortunate

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 48

Andries Burger of Paul Cluver Wines

position to have some of the oldest Chardonnays in South Africa. “I try to be as minimalistic as possible so we whole-bunch press, and wild ferment in barrel for nine and a half months.” Chardonnay sales have seen a steady rise for Elgin-based Paul Cluver, and the winemakers have become more adept with oak. “As winemakers we tend to overplay our hand initially with wood but as my good friend Gary Jordan says, it’s terrible when you have to be a carpenter to get to the wine,” says Burger. “But I think we’ve learned. There are some vineyard sites that we use specific coopers’ barrels with. You can only learn by experience.” Burger wants his Chardonnay “lean, balanced and focused” and has dialled back


© EcoView / stockadobe.com

an

akers on their recent sess some older since 1994

the batonnage to just once a month. “You stir till you see the first cloud of yeast and then you stop. We don’t want any autolysis in the wine,” he says.

Boschendal Chardonnay 1994 It seems ironic that such a rare wine from a significant vintage should be delayed by something as prosaic as a broken-down car in Brixton, but that was the fate that befell Boschendal Chardonnay 1994. It arrived in time to take pride of place at lunch. For Frank Dudley, the wine was “just insane”. “To try something with that age, rarity and historical relevance was awesome,” he says. Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir 2015 This wasn’t a typical vintage for Hamilton Russell, with a little more weight and richness than is normally expected in the reds. It also happens to be the first year when the company began farming organically in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. “The 2015 is a little bit more like a Côte de Nuits, whereas the classic style is more Côte de Beaune-like with that amazing freshness and lift and poise and tension,” explains Justin Liddle, of UK importer Mentzendorff. “The one problem we have as an importers is being able to get enough.” Jason Millar describes Pinot Noir as “the grape of the moment”. He adds: “I think the quality is very high [in South Africa] and the prices are very good compared to Pinot Noir globally. A lot of the South African Pinots that are at the top end of

More Cape producers, like Tremayne Smith, are making wines that focus on terroir

the quality scale are equivalent to the same thing you would get in the Sonoma Coast in California – and those wines are £50, £60, £70 a bottle.”

The Blacksmith Vin Noir 2015 Winemaker Tremayne Smith has been gradually adjusting the blend of this wine since his first vintage in 2014. “In the 2017 there’s a splash of Durif and it’s more Grenache-based, whereas for 2015 it’s Carignan-based,” he says. “The Grenache we’re getting from the Swartland has a lot of depth and structure but it’s also very light and elegant. The Carignan is a bit wilder and more feral and that’s quite typical.” He adds: “Going forward I’m trying to focus more on terroir, so single vineyards. We’ve just planted a field blend so that will be everything picked on one site, just to make something unique and different. Everything is naturally fermented, pretty much all whole-bunch. “It’s Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache,

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 49

Carignan, Cinsault, Durif and a little bit of Zin as well. The idea would be to try and pick pretty much all of it in one go. Obviously all the varieties will ripen differently. But having spent a lot of time in Roussillon and Spain, there’s a lot of field blends there and there’s just so much complexity to them. It makes for a wine with more depth.” Continues page 50

OUR GUESTS Greg Sherwood, Handford Wines Andrew Johnson, WoodWinters Frank Dudley, The Vineking Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines Jason Millar, Theatre of Wine Rowan McIntyre, In Vino Veritas Riaz Syed, Stone Wines Guy Dickerson, The Secret Cellar


MERCHANT EVENT

From page 49

Reyneke Cornerstone 2013 Softly-spoken winemaker Johan Reyneke studied philosophy, and talks about his craft from the perspective of how it dovetails with nature and benefits the lives of his workers. Sure, there are plenty of trite marketing slogans that make similar claims, but Reyneke has a reputation for thoughtfulness and honesty. The Cabernet in this Stellenbosch Bordeaux blend “can be challenging to farm in an organic way, particularly on granite slopes,” Reyneke says. “You tend to get a lot of austerity so we work very hard in the vineyards. We ferment the Merlot in stainless steel to retain some of the fruitiness.” The 2013 is an “interesting” wine, he says. “These wines can be quite austere initially but it’s drinking really well now. We’re trying to make it a bit more accessible. We’re still trying to tell a story and make good wines and back up quality with integrity. “Integrity means different things to different people but for me as a farmer in the southern tip of Africa it means to look after nature and to look after the people that I work with.” Frank Dudley says: “I thought the wines from Reyeneke were standout. They always have been, in my book.” Porseleinberg Syrah 2010 Listen to Callie Louw and you wonder whether he had any involvement in this Swartland wine at all. “I really wanted to do something that speaks of a place and not of a person and so every year it’s exactly the same,” he says. “We throw the fruit into a tank, it becomes wine, it goes into a barrel, lock the door and 12 months later it goes into a bottle and that’s basically it.” Louw describes Syrah as a “sissy” and he’s now increasingly turning his attention to Grenache. “That’s performing very well and it’s quite interesting to see how different varieties cope with increasing heat and lack of water,” he says. “We’re going on about old vineyards, but I think we must carry on and think more about planting new vineyards. We’re pulling vines out the ground

all day long and nobody’s putting anything back. Are you going to give your money to the primary school or the old-age home? I think I’ll go for the primary school. “Obviously you’ve got to look after the old vines but we need to make more noise about planting. We’ve got more knowledge now about where the good places are.”

Neethlingshof Owl Post 2007 Pinotage continues to get a mixed reaction but here was proof that, even 12 years ago, it was being made in a fruity and approachable way. Not every wine “tasted like unripe cranberry juice with a few rusty nails in it”, as Greg Sherwood remembers some examples did. Owl Post is a single-varietal Stellenbosch Pinotage, made on an estate dating back to 1692. “Pinotage is doing well in South Africa and definitely growing,” says international business manager Carina Gous. “There are so many styles from light and fruity to quite serious. “We’re not backing away from Pinotage. It’s a bit of a calling card in new markets and if you compare Pinotage now to 20 years ago, you actually have to look to find bad examples. A lot of research went into it and I think it had a lot to do with the temperature you ferment it at and obviously picking at the right sugar levels.” Sherwood adds: “I don’t think consumers ever really had a problem with Pinotage. When they taste a good Pinotage they love it. I think the new generation of consumers are drinking Pinotage. It’s not my favourite grape but we sell some really good examples.” KWV The Mentors Orchestra 2012 There’s a story behind this Bordeaux blend, as Wim Truter explains. “The concept behind the Mentors is we’ve got a small space, a 300-tonne cellar within the big winery where we crush about 13,000 tonnes a year. We evaluate clonal selections and do a lot of trials on rootstocks, and a lot of different sites. “In the early 2000s we came to the point where we realised that some of the best wines in the winery were coming from some of these very sitespecific little vineyards. “Each one of these varieties gets taken separately and put into French

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 50

‘I don’t think consumers ever really had a problem with Pinotage. When they taste a good Pinotage they love it’ oak with maturation for about 18 months before final composition, racking and then straight into bottle.” KWV is achieving interesting results with plantings of Tannat, Grenache and Tempranillo, but The Orchestra is far and away its biggest seller. “I think in the 2012 the herbaceous note from Cabernet Franc is coming through, whereas in the 2017 there’s a bit of a style change and we’re harvesting a little bit earlier and using a bit less new oak,” says Truter.

Diemersdal Private Collection 2011 Marketing manager Steffi Layer reports that this family-owned Durbanville estate is the only producer in South Africa with plantings of Gruner Veltliner. But the wine in our glasses is a Bordeaux blend, dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, which spent 18 months in oak. “If you look at a Bordeaux wine of this quality you’re looking at two or three times the price,” she says. The wine has a 4% Petit Verdot component. “Petit Verdot works quite well in dryland vineyards and you get these really amazing dark purple wines,” she says. Warwick Estate Trilogy 2009 Another Cabernet-based Bordeaux blend, made in a “very classical style”, according to current cellarmaster JD Pretorious. But things have changed since 2009. “Cabernet Franc is now the dominant variety and that’s the plan for the foreseeable future,” he says. “Warwick is on the northern end of Stellenbosch, so the warmer side of Simonsberg. Cabernet Franc is quite a challenging variety with a shorter growing season than Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s got that herbal, pyrazene difficulty to it so it’s very difficult to get right but when you do


get it right it produces quite a unique wine: more floral, more perfumed than Cabernet Sauvignon, and Warwick has the track record of bottling it as a single varietal for almost 30 years. “It’s a variety that really pushes the wine into a different realm – there aren’t many Cabernet Franc-driven Bordeaux wines in the country.”

Glenelly Estate Lady May 2008 Cabernet Franc is also flexing its muscles in this corner of Stellenbosch, though in the 2008 the blend is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. “2008 was considered to be quite a challenging vintage in Stellenbosch,” says winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain. “It was very wet and it was very reminiscent for me of when I used to work in Bordeaux. I think that characteristic has come through in the wine and made it very Bordeaux in its outlook. “The Petit Verdot lends that floral tone to it and helps give it a little bit more backbone. It comes from a site on the eastern slope, so it gets more stressed conditions. “We’ve got Cabernet Franc coming into the Lady May percentage more and more, with the Cabernet Sauvignon reducing, and we find that gives a fantastic freshness and minerality to the wine.” He adds: “I think it’s still got quite a few years to go before it really hits its peak. It’s just starting to show what it’s all about. I found the wine in its early stages to be really seductive. You had to do a lot of work with it to understand the bones of it but as it’s evolving it’s starting to open up and give you a reward for your patience.”

Corlea Fourie of Bosman Family Vineyards

Bosman Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Bosman mothballed its winery in the 1960s to focus on vine production but decided to get back into winemaking after tentatively producing this wine as a special project for the family cellar. Cabernet has long been a favourite variety of the Bosmans, so it was no surprise to find it at the forefront of the company’s new winemaking chapter. The juice was kept on skins for 21 days before 18 months in barrel and a long period of cellaring. These days the family is also talking to counterparts across Europe to discuss varieties that might have a long-term future in South Africa; indeed it has the country’s only Nero d’Avola plantings. “Yes, wines like Cabernet tick so many boxes but the landscape of South African viticulture isn’t set in stone yet,” says winemaker Corlea Fourie. The 2013 vintage was a stand-out for Daniel Grigg. “It’s a pure and true expression of Cabernet Sauvignon that could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best in the world,” he says.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2008 A wine that has inspired poetry and cropped up in Dickens as well as Austen (in Sense & Sensibility, it’s described as the cure for a broken heart) came to an ignoble halt in the mid-19th century due to an attack of oidium and the arrival of phylloxera. But new investors in the 1980s gradually recreated the Klein Constantia vineyard in the Western Cape and replanted Muscat de Frontignan. A young man called Matthew Day joined as winemaker. “2008 really represents where they started from,” says Justin Liddle of Mentzendorff. “It’s a wine with wonderful unctuousness and weight and concentration.” The style has evolved, as the 2015 illustrates. “The third year of drought and very early harvest led to a tremendous concentration of sugar but also tremendous acidity as well,” says Liddle. “Matt’s style is towards fresh and light and perfectly balanced wines and for me 2015 is such a good representation of a really top-quality wine. It’s a tremendous wine to have on by the glass as a rival to Sauternes.”

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 51

Riaz Syed, Stone Wines “The winemakers were a very exuberant bunch. They define the South Africa new wave; rather than repeat the traditional methods of family-run wineries, these guys will use technological advances, try new processes but maintain respect for established methods. “South African wines are now fresher and quite likely will appeal to a broader public, exemplified with the Chenins coming through – fruit forward and great on the dinner table. “Many of the winemakers are still developing their identity. I expect some of the younger wines to age well, but more exciting will be how they develop their own skills to make better wines year on year.” Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines “There was a variety of characters, from guys who wouldn’t have looked out of place behind the bar at a craft beer joint in Shoreditch to others who’d seem quite at home in a board room. “Yet one thing that unites them, no matter their cultural backgrounds, year of birth or whether they’re making classical or minimal intervention wine, was their passion for what they do and their belief in what they were pouring for us. The tasting underlined my firm belief that South African wines have forged a clear path for themselves and have the quality to now perform on a global stage.”


José Galante: maker of dazzling, award-winning wines

Dancing a vinous tango Legendary Argentinian winemaker José Galante hosted a dinner in London recently, where a group of independent merchants had the opportunity to sample some of his acclaimed wines, dating back to 2010

T

hose that know tango will tell

instead. He met new friends and ended up

you that it is a dance with three

buying an impressively large farm (2,000

included Carlos Blanco and Eloïse Harnois

rhythms: tango, vals and milonga.

Our group of merchants at Gaucho

hectares) in the Uco Valley. With not a jot

of Blanco & Gomez, London; Maxine Lucas

The tango is filled with drama and passion,

of viticultural experience, Salentein was

of Levels, Eastbourne; Jake Crimmin of

the vals is more graceful and elegant and

born.

Barrique, Lancashire; and David Harvey

the milonga is cheeky and mischievous. The Salentein Dinner at Gaucho,

But experience certainly isn’t in short supply on the winemaking front. José

of Raeburn Fine Wines, London and Edinburgh.

Piccadilly in association with The Wine

Galante is to Argentine winemaking

Merchant was one vinous tango if ever

what Piazzolla is to the tango. Just as

Vineyard Chardonnays were poured at the

there was one: the Salentein story filled

Piazzolla revolutionised traditional tango,

table and there was a mini-vertical of the

with drama, the wines graceful and joyful

so Galante has been at the forefront of

Primus Malbec and Numina Grand Corte

and plenty of fun had by all.

modern winemaking in Argentina, raising

with the Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc

standards, championing Malbec and

2015 wrapping up proceedings.

Salentein is Argentine, through and

Both the 2010 and 2015 Salentein Single

through, but owned by the heirs of the

creating dazzling, award-winning wines

Dutch entrepreneur Myndert Pon, the

for over four decades. Previously the

of the independents who were unanimous

previous co-owner of one of the biggest

winemaker at Catena Zapata, Galante has

in their praise for the quality of the wines.

car importers in the Netherlands – Pon

been chief winemaker at Salentein since

“Brilliantly made”, “hugely stylish”,

Holdings. His boat was hit by a freighter

2010 where his passion for the wines

“appealing and approachable” and “world-

in the Panama Canal and, trip aborted,

of his home country shows no sign of

class” were the verdicts.

the Dutchman headed to Argentina

diminishing.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 52

The wines struck a happy chord with all

The Chardonnay perhaps drew the


Single-vineyard Chardonnays were a highlight

Jake Crimmin of Barrique

Maxine Lucas of Levels

Our group at Gaucho

To round off the evening, what could be

most praise. Carlos Blanco describes the

from the estate’s oldest vines. We were

Chardonnay as “an elegant and excellent,

fortunate to taste the 2007 Numina Grand

cheekier than a Uco Valley Late Harvest

well-balanced wine which reflects the

Corte (a Malbec/Merlot blend) as well

Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc with a

Uco Valley terroir. It is not easy to find

as the 2015 vintage: a blend of Malbec,

coconut tres leche and pear sorbet?

Argentine winemakers making such good

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet

white wines.”

Franc and Petit Verdot.

David Harvey enjoyed the “complex

As with the Chardonnay, the buyers

It was a wine that took everyone by surprise. Both refreshing and unctuous, the wine was filled with bright tropical

Chardonnay fruit flavours, deftly barrel

were impressed with the world-class

fruit, honey and vanilla. Aged in French

fermented, with thrilling naturally high

quality of Grand Corte. Ripe, articulate

oak barrels, the wine brought the evening

acidity, and a long, tightly woven finish”.

fruit, minerality and skilled use of oak

to a delicious close.

He adds: “It would be superb to

were all noted. Jake Crimmin spoke

watch over the next five to eight years,

enthusiastically of the wine’s evident

minimum. It would easily gain 17/18 or

ageing potential and the “stunning” quality.

95ish from a good taster. It’s the greatest

The Primus Malbec also found favour,

white I have ever had from South America,

the 2010 hitting the right note for Eloïse

bar none, and I still taste a lot.”

Harnois who appreciated the wine’s tannic

Numina is the Latin word for spirit. The Numina wines are made to express the

structure and impressive flavour. For Harvey and Blanco, the future is in

individuality of the Uco Valley vineyards

the red blends, where they feel Malbec

and the fruit in these wines all comes

shines brightest.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 53

Feature sponsored by Salentein Wines Salentein currently has an exclusive ontrade agreement with Matthew Clark. Independents can buy the wines direct from the Salentein warehouse in the Netherlands. For further commercial info, contact Robert Bruijnzeels: r.bruijnzeels@mp-wines.com.


THE SPIRITS WORLD

Gin is a cash cow, but whisky takes time, and money, to mature before release

England expects The current challenge for many English and Welsh distilleries is keeping up with demand. As Nigel Huddleston reports, perhaps the next challenge will be defining a national style of their own

T

here’s a buzz about English and Welsh whisky. Too much of a buzz in some cases. With the microdistilling boom still in relative infancy, many producers are yet to bring a whisky to market as they wait for stocks to mature, while some that have product available are selling out almost as quickly as they can get the spirit from cask to bottle. Where mature whisky is available it ticks a lot of 21st century consumer boxes: small batch, novelty and local among them.

Welsh Whisky Co is one distiller without supply issues. It was way ahead of the curve with its Penderyn brand, and sales hit 330,000 bottles last year. “This year that figure will be considerable higher,” says the company’s media manager Jon Tregenna. “While Penderyn may have appeared a novelty 20 years ago, now we are part of the international whisky conversation. Clearly, we have a strong base in Wales and are present in a gift market which Welsh

people around the world tap into.” Adnams is also in a good place, with it distilling business supplementing a brewery already with substantial scale. Head distiller John McCarthy says: “We have been able to meet demand comfortably and we have distilled surplus whisky. Hopefully, this will allow subsequent bottlings of greater age.” Cotswolds Distillery founder Dan Szor says it too can meet current demand. “We have about 3,000 barrels of single

scotch whisky

vodka

GIN

finishes get off to a start

down to the bare bones

tea time at mull distillery

Highland distiller Tomatin has released two new limited-edition whiskies. A 2009 Caribbean Rum finish has spent a year in its final resting cask after nine in traditional oak and retails at around £49. The 2006 Amontillado Sherry expression has three years in its finishing butts and retails for £60.

A vodka made with bone marrow is being produced by Rebel Distillers to tie in with the autumn launch of a video game called Doom Eternal. Doom Bone vodka contains marrow extracted from roasted and smoked beef bones from London butcher the Ginger Pig, added to an organic wheatbased spirit.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 54

The only whisky distiller on Mull has joined the gin explosion with Tobermory gin, taking the name of the distillery and one of its whisky brands. The gin contains a splash of whisky from the stills as a botanical, along with Hebridean tea grown on the island. It’s being bottled at 43% abv.


malt ageing away,” he says, “and we’re now making about 1,000 casks a year and talking about ways we can double that next year or the following year to keep that supply coming. “We don’t expect to hit the point where we’re selling as much as we’re making until 2026.”

S

ome of the English whiskies earning plaudits are further behind on the journey and face challenges making enough to meet demand, with limited warehouse space and capacity tied up in the cash cow of gin. Karl Bond, co-founder of Cheshirebased Forest, whose gin is a favourite of independents across northern England, says: “We cannot produce enough whisky. The next challenge for us is to try to predict the future. “Each cask costs us a huge amount of money and time to lay down. As a small business, we have to try to find the balance between laying down enough whisky to cover future years’ demand, while not sending the company bust in doing so.” London distiller Bimber is due to release its first whisky this autumn after receiving acclaim for its rum. “Independent wine shops who stock high quality handcrafted spirits are certainly a very important part of the marketplace for us,” says sales director Farid Shawish. One question for the future will be: what do we mean when we talk about English and Welsh whisky? Speyside, Islay, Japan, Ireland and the US all have tremendous variety within overarching identifiable styles. But will England and/ or Wales evolve similar national or regional characteristics? “The established countries produce distinct styles to such high standards, so I really hope that England can find a style of

its own rather than replicating another’s,” says Bond at Forest. “I’d hate to hear English distilleries talking about doing things via traditional Scotch methods. “Ideally, in a few years, the English section on the shelves will stand shoulder to shoulder with Scotch, Irish and Japanese.” McCarthy at Adnams says: “[English producers] are not all distilling whisky in the same way so it is unlikely to describe a distinct English style, but it is not impossible. “There are a number of small-batch whiskies with similar profiles, so perhaps we have to be on the lookout for an emerging English whisky style.” Shawish at Bimber expects English whisky to end up as varied as that from Scotland. “Trying to pigeonhole all of the different styles of spirit produced by a country into a single neat box is neither easy, nor necessarily desirable,” he says. “Our primary driver is simply to make the best single malt whisky we can.” The Lakes Distillery releases its first English single malt in September and cofounder Nigel Mills says: “We believe that the complexities of our spirit will blossom best when aged in ex-Sherry casks. This is by far the most expensive option. Sherry casks can cost from five to 10 times as much as the Bourbon casks used by almost every other distiller, but the flavour is key.” Szor at Cotswolds adds: “What will define a lot of English whisky is its quality. “All the distilleries in England could be categorised as new and if you’re starting a distillery today you’d better be making good whisky. “It’s so financially punishing that you’re not going to succeed unless you can do something very special.”

tequila

rum

a radical launch

crying over coffee and cacao

Rapper Kojey Radical has collaborated with the tequila brand 1800 on three limited-edition bottle designs for its Silver tequila. The designs are named Sugar, Where Do I Begin? and Pearly. Previous special editions for 1800 have featured the work of acclaimed artists including Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The latest addition to the burgeoning spiced rum market is a Cuban take called Black Tears, flavoured with coffee and cacao. It’s being produced by Island Rum Co and takes the English version of its name from a Cuban song of love and loss called Lagrimas Negras. It’s being pitched at a £34.99 price point.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 55

Thanks to the popularity of both gin and Campari, the Negroni is enjoying a bit of moment. It’s actually celebrating its centenary this year, having reputedly first been made at Caffé Casoni in Florence in 191,9 and last summer’s [2019] Negroni Week inspired a myriad variations. This alternative take is faithful to the original while replacing its vermouth with sloe gin for a sweeter, more refreshing option for those who find the classic’s bitterness too tall an order.

25ml London dry gin 25ml Campari 25ml sloe gin Ice An orange

Put all the ingredients into a mixing glass or jug with ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a coupe or highball glass. Lengthen with soda water if preferred. Garnish with an orange peel twist.


MAKE A DATE

A chance to taste the top 100 Spanish wines as selected by an experienced panel of UK trade buyers as well as wine writers and MWs – all headed up by Tim Atkin. From Monterrei to Lanzarote, with a

whole host of exciting regions and wines

in between, visitors can taste through the judges’ selection.

Highlights will include the best rosé, Flor

de Muga Rosé 2018; the best premium

white, Malvasía Seco Coleccion 2018; and the best premium red, Ondarre Reserva 2014.

The best fortifieds include Fernando de

Castilla Antique Oloroso NV and Fernando de Castilla Antique Pedro Ximenez NV.

For a preview of the winners visit www.

eatspaindrinkspain.com.

To register for the event email alison@

dillonmorrall.com.

Monday, November 4 Mimo, The Basque Cookery School 1 Cathedral Street Borough Market London SE1 9DE

Wines of Germany Get it On

Expect Sekt, Scheurebe, Pinot Noir and plenty of Riesling from 36 promising producers. All the wines have been blind tasted and

selected by a panel of industry experts, including Carlos Blanco from London

indie Blanco & Gomez, Kirsten Willis from Laithwaite’s and Vahagn Voskerchyan

from Amathus Soho, and are intended to give an overview of what’s happening in Germany’s vineyards.

For more information or to register

for the event contact germanwine@ thisisphipps.com.

Tuesday, November 5 Moonchu Hall

An opportunity for buyers to explore a

32a Gerrard Street

range of unrepresented German wines.

London W1D 6JA © Frank / stockadobe.com

Wines from Spain Awards Tasting

Autumn in Pfalz

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 56


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

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

0207 409 7276 enquiries@louislatour.co.uk www.louislatour.co.uk

A new winemaker for Simonnet-Febvre We are pleased to have a new colleague at Simonnet-Febvre,

Paul Espitalié, who is now leading the company and has taken over full winemaking responsibilities. Paul has a wealth of

experience, most recently six years as director of operations at La Chablisienne, and we are excited to see how the

Simonnet-Febvre wines develop under his stewardship. The harvest has just been completed and we expect to see some new wines in the range next year but in the meantime we have two still wines on our Festive 10+1 promotion. 2018 Chablis

A new vintage and a classic Simonnet-Febvre wine which encapsulates the balance of fruit flavours and minerality that characterise the house’s wine style. Perfect paired with seafood and shellfish for the festive party season. 2017 Pinot Gris Coteaux de l’Auxois

A new iteration of Simonnet-Febve’s Pinot Gris from their Auxois vineyards. The

Auxois is one of northern Burgundy’s historic powerhouses and Simonnet-Febvre is committed to reviving the region with its own domaine on sunny hillsides.

For more information please call 020 7409 7276 or email sales@louislatour.co.uk

buckingham schenk

Casali del Barone Langhe Bianco

Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF

Casali del Barone is one of the most recent additions to our

01753 521336 info@buckingham-schenk.co.uk www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

range which was launched at our recent on-trade portfolio tasting last month.

Produced by our colleagues from Schenk Italian Wineries, Casali del Barone shines a light on the wonderful wines from the Piedmont area.

This delightfully fragrant Langhe Bianco is a blend of

Chardonnay (90%) and the indigenous Arneis (10%)

which benefits from a short period of lees ageing. The

resulting wine is medium bodied with a very pleasant creaminess and a slightly floral touch on the palate.

Lovely wine as an aperitif, and a great match for grilled Mediterranean vegetables or even sushi.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 57


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

walker & Wodehouse

W&W’s Christmas promotions exclusively for independent merchants have kicked off. Featuring some of our best wines and spirits, we’re bringing you some fantastic offers as we head into the festive season!

109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 orders@walkerwodehousewines.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com

@WalkerWodehouse

NOT YOU AGAIN!

Walker & Wodehouse Christmas Promotions

Ask your Account Manager for more details.

20% OFF Rocca di Frassinello 2015 A collaboration between Chateaux Lafite and Castellare, this great-value Super Tuscan gives Tignanello a run for its money.

customers we could do without

6. Josh Campbell-Lewiston ... Have you got Devil’s Fontanelle? It’s a mezcal. It’s the only one made from mauve agave. It’s filtered over Madagascan hissing cockroaches. They call it repisapisado. It’s a new thing, in all the bars in New York. It’s Spanish for ‘repurposed by insects’. It’s between añejo and repisado, which is like repisapisado but without the cockroaches. I’m surprised you’ve never heard of it. It’s a new thing, in all the bars in

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

New York. Whole-hop beer, that’s the other thing going on West Coast-

Prices are subject to VAT • Delivery not included

wise. You should get some. They only use whole hops. That’s right, the

01323 728338 • sales@eastprint.co.uk • www.eastprint.co.uk

clue’s in the name. Not just the flower or the leaves though: the whole hop, the stalks, the leaves, everything. Very big tanks. Freshness, mate, freshness. It’s all about freshness with craft beer, unless you’re making lager, in which case it’s all about the ageing. Freshness and ageing. It’s

support the independence of the judiciary

not rocket science, craft beer. Nice gins, but what I was actually after was Coelacanth 247. They make it with 247 botanicals foraged from the floor of the West Indian Ocean and infused through the digestive tract of a recently-caught coelacanth. Traceability and integrity: the two watch-words of craft gin. I am surprised, to be honest. Selfridges sell it. Have you got …

In these turbulent times we believe it is more crucial than ever for judges to work independently, without interference from vested interests and according to rules and practices that have been long established. If you feel as strongly about this as we do, why not apply to join the judging team at The Wine Merchant Top 100? Our panel of independent wine merchants will meet in April and no previous competition experience is required. The panel is changed every year. Call Claire Harries on 01323 871836 or email claire@winemerchantmag.com to find out more.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 58


MUSeuM WINEs

The Garajeest joins Museum Wines’ South African portfolio

The Old Calf House Tarrant Hinton Dorset DT11 8JX

Museum Wines has become the exclusive UK agent and distributor for Callan

01258 830 122

Her Cabernet Franc (Bruce) and Semillon

Williams’ multi award winning The Garajeest, which she established in 2014. Callan’s handcrafted, small-production wines are the product of her desire to make wines with edge, authenticity and character whilst producing a pure expression of the cultivar. (Jim) grapes are sourced from cool-climate

info@museumwines.co.uk

Elgin and vinted in rented cellar space, true to her garagiste philosophy, in Somerset

www.museumwines.co.uk

West. The wines have already caught the attention of Tim Atkin, John Platter and

Christian Eedes and with three new wines

scheduled for release in 2020 The Garajeest is very much a producer to watch as the excitement surrounding South African wine continues to grow.

Having recently been named Runner Up in Decanter’s South African Specialist Retailer of the Year category, Museum Wines’ carefully curated offering already includes

Moreson, Natte Valleij and Uva Mira alongside their most recent addition, Survivor Wines, whose Pinotage was named in the ABSA 2019 Top 10.

A sense of place

liberty wines

By David Gleave MW

020 7720 5350

The producers new to our list are a diverse lot, yet they are united by the vibrant

order@libertywines.co.uk www.libertywines.co.uk

Pedro Parra has fulfilled his dream to produce his own wines in his

who protected the vineyards for centuries. Made from Cinsault and

expression of site and variety they capture in their wines.

After 18 years as a renowned soil and vineyard mapping expert,

native Itata. His vision was simple: to harness the character of the old

bush vines and granitic soils in tribute to the local “brave vignerons”

@liberty_wines

Pais, the wines stand out for their fine tannins and marked minerality. We continue to add depth in France too. Seventh generation

vigneron Matthieu Barret is a rare gem, inheriting a parcel of vines

from his grandfather and building up Domaine du Coulet in Cornas. Matthieu farms organically and biodynamically and eschews oak in the winery in order to allow the quality of his fruit to shine through in the wines.

18

IN

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AL

AL

RNATION TE

LEN G E 2

MERCHANT OF THE YEAR

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We’re excited by Gallina de Piel, the winemaking project of David

Seijas, former head sommelier at El Bulli. Working with local growers in Catalonia, Aragon and Galicia, David selects the best vineyards and indigenous grape varieties to create beautifully-presented and versatile wines with an emphasis on elegance and freshness.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 59


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

AWARD WINNING WINES - OCTOBER

AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 orders@abswineagencies.co.uk www.abswineagencies.co.uk

@ABSWines

TOKARA DIRECTOR’S RESERVE WHITE 2016 IWSC Gold This is a blend of 70% Sauvignon blanc and 30% Semillon, made from grapes grown on the highest slopes of Tokara’s Stellenbosch property. Only the free run juice from the best blocks is used in this wine. The nose shows stunning complexity with fruit notes of ripe quince, passion fruit all intermingled with hints of lemon grass, toasted almonds and freshly baked brioche. The wine enters the palate full and rich reminiscent of the aromas on the nose.

CASAS DEL BOSQUE GRAN RESERVA SYRAH 2017 IWSC Silver A blend of 10 to 15 year old vines sourced from hillside blocks planted on 110 million year old decomposed granite. It was then aged for 14 months in used and new French oak barrels. Deep garnet in colour with a purple hue. On the nose, notes of blackberry jam, black cherry, pepper, vanilla and cloves dominate. In the mouth, the wine is big and ripe, with mouth-coating tannins and a long, pleasant finish.

TOKARA RESERVE COLLECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 Five Harpers Wine Stars & Star Taste The wine displays a vibrant maroon colour. The nose leads with dark berry fruits, five spice and cedar wood. There is a brightness and vibrancy underlying all these aromas with hints of fresh herbs and red currant notes. The palate is rich and brooding with flavours which mirror the aromas. The mid-palate is weighty yet it leads to a textured finish with lingering grainy tannins.

JULIEN SCHAAL MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2017 Five Harpers Wine Stars & Star of Elgin & Elim Very pale with bright fruit and tout saline acidity. Tangy, tart, sour plums and green apples combine with a creamy, mealy note. Citrus and stone fruit flavours underpinned with captivating minerality. This is wine provides a satisfying alternative to Chablis.

For more information contact your Account Manager or email us at orders@abswineagencies.co.uk

richmond wine agencies

We are big fans of Pinot Noir here at RWA and we embrace the fact that this fickle

The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE

making waves. Here are some of our most popular and eclectic examples…

020 8744 5550 info@richmondwineagencies.com

@richmondwineag1

yet rewarding grape is producing spectacular results all over the world. With careful vineyard management, some vine age and skilful winemaking, countries like New Zealand, California, Canada and even Uruguay, Patagonia and Portugal have been Grand Arte Pinot Noir – Lisboa, Portugal

This Portuguese Pinot Noir has a velvety texture with notes of blackberries, cedar and subtle toast notes from nine months’ ageing in French oak barrels. Well-structured with soft tannins and a fresh acidity.

Schubert Marions Vineyard Pinot Noir – Martinborough, New Zealand Martinborough was the first of New Zealand’s wine regions to establish

world-class credentials for producing Pinot Noir. This wine has an alluring perfumed bouquet of strawberry and cherry with spicy earth flavours. Familia Schroeder Alpataco Pinot Noir – Patagonia, Argentina

Familia Schroeder are one of the pioneers in Patagonia, the most southerly wine

producing region of Latin America. This Pinot Noir is deeply perfumed with notes of black cherry, redcurrant, spice and has a silky balance.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 60


Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France

Mas Belles Eaux Vielles Vignes Languedoc-Pezenas

Château Belles Eaux sits in the heart of the Languedoc region,

bordered by the Mediterranean sea to the south, the Pyrenees to

cdavies@lgcf.fr 07789 008540

the west and Rhône valley to the east, known for its diversity of

@FamilleHelfrich

terroirs and long ripening season. Grapes have been grown here since the time of the Romans.

The château has the added advantage that it lies in the region of

Languedoc-Pezenas, recognised as one of the most prestigious of the Languedoc.

The estate was named Belles Eaux (Beautiful Waters) because of

the many springs that flow through and around the château, giving all of the Belles Eaux wines natural freshness.

Vielles Vignes is made from grapes grown on selected plots

which are situated on the highest part of the estate. It is a blend of

They’re all smiles to your face …

Syrah and Grenache Noir; 50% of the blend spends 12 months in

barrique, giving the wine remarkable structure balanced with fruit and freshness.

hallgarten wines Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538 sales@hnwines.co.uk www.hnwines.co.uk

@hnwines

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 61


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB 07552 291045 info@finewinepartners.co.uk www.finewinepartners.co.uk

Fine Wine Partners The home of some of Australia’s most iconic, beloved and highest awarded producers. Contact us to continue to spread the message of Australia’s diversity, character and share in these amazing wines.

hatch mansfield

Proudly Introducing Zuccardi ...

New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL

We’re incredibly excited to welcome Zuccardi to the Hatch Mansfield portfolio. As pioneers in the region, they are known for producing sublime wines of the highest quality and Sebastián Zuccardi is widely recognised as one of South America’s most innovative and exciting winemakers.

LOS OLIVOS

Created in honour of the noble olive tree, as much a part of the Zuccardi family as the vines themselves, these wines are a perfect introduction to the style of the Uco Valley, showcasing its wonderful minerality.

01344 871800 info@hatch.co.uk

VINO DE ORIGEN

www.hatchmansfield.com

Valles | Apelación ranges

Wines which express Argentina’s most representative grape varieties by recognising the best growing regions specific to each, and selecting top vineyards sites along the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

@hatchmansfield

Stock Available Mid October Please contact Hatch Mansfield for further information

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 62


mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600 info@mentzendorff.co.uk www.mentzendorff.co.uk

Located in the south east of the Montalcino region close to the beautiful medieval village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, the estate of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona can trace its roots back to the 17th century. They have a total holding of 220 hectares of the rolling Tuscan hills bordered by the Orcia River. which helps moderate the temperature of this hot dry part of the region. 53 hectares are devoted to the wonderful Sangiovese Grosso grape which produce the wines of Rosso di Montalcino. The wines receive global acclaim thanks to the commitment to the terroir and traditional winemaking practices and rank Ciacci Piccolomini D’Aragona amongst the greatest producers of Montalcino.

ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2017 “Orange peel, citrus, raspberries and wild strawberries. Medium body, fine and grainy tannins and a flavorful finish. Drink now.” 91 points James Suckling, jamessuckling.com 16 June 2019

ROSSO DI MONTALCINO ROSSOFONTE 2016 “A spicy Rosso di Montalcino that shows more glazed cherries and rose petals than most, as well as some delicious cinnamon and spices. Medium body, fine but hearty tannins and a medium-chewy finish. If only more wines from this category were as good as this! Drink now.” 93 points James Suckling , jamessuckling.com 16 June 2019

For more information and pricing please speak to your Account Manager

enotria & COE

Four new additions to the Enotria&Coe portfolio

23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX

Swinney Vineyards is a family estate located in the Frankland River region of the

www.enotriacoe.com

star quality wines from their best plots.

the past decade, fourth-generation Matt Swinney has established a boutique range of From La Mancha comes Bodegas Verum. One of the hottest new names on the

020 8961 5161

Great Southern in Western Australia. Its heritage lies in grape-growing – however, in

Spanish wine scene, Elias Lopez is a winemaker on a mission to bring back some

@EnotriaCoe

of the lesser-known and near-extinct Spanish varietals, using ancient winemaking techniques alongside modern environmental philosophies. Bolé Bianco Spumante Brut is a Novebolle Romagna

DOC, and is an innovative response to the UK’s unrelenting thirst for Italian fizz. The brand was created to enhance Romagna’s historic varietal.

The Roquette & Cazes project represents the coming together of two friends, Jorge Roquette from Quinta do Crasto and Jean-Michel Cazes from Château Lynch-Bages. In 2002, these two families decided to produce great wines together that would be distinguished by the natural characteristics of the Douro Valley.

THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 63


Profile for The Wine Merchant magazine

The Wine Merchant issue 85 October 2019  

The Wine Merchant issue 85 October 2019

The Wine Merchant issue 85 October 2019  

The Wine Merchant issue 85 October 2019

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