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
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
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;
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor: Claire Harries email@example.com Sales and Business Development: Georgina Humphrey firstname.lastname@example.org Accounts: Naomi Young email@example.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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.”
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
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.”
’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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
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
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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Alvear 3 Miradas Vino de Pueblo Pick this out in a blind tasting as Pedro Ximenez and you win a computer for your school. As you might
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
othing gets a beer geek quite so animated as a good argument about the definition of a beer
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
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 email@example.com 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
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.
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.”
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
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
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
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,
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
䄀眀愀爀搀猀 匀愀甀瘀椀最渀漀渀 䈀氀愀渀挀 刀攀猀攀爀瘀愀 吀椀洀 䄀琀欀椀渀 ⴀ 㤀 倀漀椀渀琀猀 ⼀ 䤀渀琀攀爀渀愀琀椀漀渀愀氀 圀椀渀攀 䌀栀愀氀氀攀渀最攀 ⴀ 㤀 倀漀椀渀琀猀Ⰰ 匀椀氀瘀攀爀 䴀攀搀愀氀 匀礀爀愀栀 䜀爀愀渀 刀攀猀攀爀瘀愀 䤀渀琀攀爀渀愀琀椀漀渀愀氀 圀椀渀攀 ☀ 匀瀀椀爀椀琀猀 ⴀ 匀椀氀瘀攀爀 䴀攀搀愀氀 䰀愀琀攀 䠀愀爀瘀攀猀琀 刀椀攀猀氀椀渀最 吀椀洀 䄀琀欀椀渀 ⴀ 㤀㐀 倀漀椀渀琀猀 ⼀ 䤀渀琀攀爀渀愀琀椀漀渀愀氀 圀椀渀攀 䌀栀愀氀氀攀渀最攀 ⴀ 䜀漀氀搀 䴀攀搀愀氀
䌀栀椀氀攀됀猀 洀漀猀琀 爀攀挀漀最渀椀猀攀搀
挀漀⏠ 挀氀椀洀ᷠ攀 眀椀渀攀猀
䌀漀渀琀愀挀琀 䄀眀椀渀 䈀愀爀爀愀琀琀 匀椀攀最攀氀 圀椀渀攀 䄀最攀渀挀椀攀猀 昀漀爀 搀椀猀琀爀椀戀甀琀椀漀渀 搀攀琀愀椀氀猀 椀渀 琀栀攀 唀䬀⸀ 䔀ⴀ洀愀椀氀㨀 氀最䀀愀戀猀眀椀渀攀愀最攀渀挀椀攀猀⸀挀漀⸀甀欀 漀爀 挀愀氀氀 㜀㠀 㜀㔀㔀㠀 ⸀
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
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
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
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
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
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
‘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
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
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.
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
Gosia Bailey The Wine Bank Southwell
THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 41
Nick Underwood Underwood Wines Stratford
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
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
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
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
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
THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 44
© alinabg / stockadobe.com
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SANTA RITA ESTATES
“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
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
Dodd admits he may need to take a
stock. There are guys doing it
a margin, and we can buy
I’m consolidating a tiny bit with a few core
It’s something that’s already happened at
suppliers,” says Phil Innes. “I can actually get better deals.”
THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 45
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
t’s 20 years since the first release of Viña Cobos, when a small but
important revolution got underway in
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
don’t worry about fashion; we go behind
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.”
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: email@example.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
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
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.”
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.”
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  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.
To register for the event email alison@
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
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
0207 409 7276 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
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
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 email@example.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com
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-
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wise. You should get some. They only use whole hops. That’s right, the
01323 728338 • firstname.lastname@example.org • 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 email@example.com to find out more.
THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 58
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
Elgin and vinted in rented cellar space, true to her garagiste philosophy, in Somerset
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
By David Gleave MW
020 7720 5350
The producers new to our list are a diverse lot, yet they are united by the vibrant
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”
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.
LEN G E 2
MERCHANT OF THE YEAR
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
AWARD WINNING WINES - OCTOBER
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 firstname.lastname@example.org www.abswineagencies.co.uk
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
email@example.com 07789 008540
the west and Rhône valley to the east, known for its diversity of
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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hnwines.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT october 2019 61
fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB 07552 291045 email@example.com 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
VINO DE ORIGEN
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.
Stock Available Mid October Please contact Hatch Mansfield for further information
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mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600 email@example.com 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
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
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.
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The Wine Merchant issue 85 October 2019