THE WINE MERCHANT. Issue 86, November 2019
Dog of the Month: Roscoe Tanner, Tanner’s
Safely gathered in It was a soggy harvest at Rathfinny in Sussex, but yields were up by 19%, the producer says
Indies are backing Beaujolais The style was once derided by specialists, but many are finding that a new crowd appreciates Nouveau
eaujolais Nouveau is showing signs of a comeback in the independent trade, with dozens of merchants
planning to get behind the new wines when they arrive on November 21.
Just a few years ago the category seemed
in danger of extinction in the UK, but many specialist retailers say there is a consumer
appetite for a wine that has seen a surprise
revival in its fortunes, partly on the back of
a less gimmicky style than has traditionally dominated the market.
Matt Tomas of Vinoramica in east
London says: “Personally I love it. We like to get in a few cases and sell it over a few
days. It always seems to go down quite well. “I think it’s shaken off a bit of an image
problem it maybe had a few years ago.
People are definitely interested in lighter,
slightly lower ABV reds, even in the winter.
“I think the growers are releasing decent
quality Beaujolais Nouveau and it’s good to enjoy it when it’s there. Generally, the slightly younger age group, between 25
and 45, are the ones who have got excited
Continues page five
Viv Blakey, Rathfinny Wine Estate
An independent magazine for independent retailers
Inside this month 6 comings & Goings Good news for Bedminster, Crowborough and Cirencester
12 tried & tested We rather like Olaszrizling and Petite Sirah. OK?
18 david williams Reporting back from some quite boring supermarket tastings
26 the old bridge wine shop A place for everything and everything in its place at this Huntingdon independent
32 buyers trip to austria Discovering Burgenland and Styria with some intrepid indies
46 French connections Eleven artisanal producers have wines they believe are tailormade for specialist merchants The Spirits World, page 58; Make a Date, page 60; Supplier Bulletin, page 61
You think you hate Vivino? Just imagine what might come next
eing naturally fearful of change, and not particularly up to speed with digital media, we were quite late to the party here at The Wine Merchant when it comes to Vivino. Most, if not all, independents will have encountered the app by now. It’s a kind of Shazam for bottles of wine: simply snap a picture of the label, and within seconds you’ll have a wealth of information at your fingertips, including stuff about grape varieties, producer and region, and reviews from fellow Vivinists – possibly a word we’ve invented – telling you what the wine tastes like. That’s all very exciting stuff, and it doesn’t cost anything to be part of the action. It’s quicker than a Google search and you get to store all your favourite wines, along with your own review, for easy reference another time. Vivino also gives users a guideline price which is based on the kind of figure that an e-commerce site might be able to offer if you disregard things like courier costs and minimum orders. That detail doesn’t stop customers from using Vivino as a stick with which to beat their friendly local wine merchant or restaurant, against whom they believe they now have rock-solid evidence of shameless profiteering.
Many merchants despise Vivino for exactly that reason. They also resent the fact that some customers seem determined to keep their noses stuck to their smartphone screens, reading reviews that say “cracking red!” in the company of a retailer who would happily, if called upon, tell them everything they need to know about the wine in question. But, as Edward Symonds of Saxty’s in Hereford argued at our recent round table event in Birmingham (see pages 41-45), this kind of technology is only going to get better, and if Vivino isn’t the long-term app of choice for wine drinkers, something else will come along. The technology is not about to be un-invented. The challenge for indies is to find their own ways of engaging with their customers in the digital space. Some have apps of their own, admittedly not as allencompassing as Vivino, but they do a job. When 5G goes live, and technology moves on even more, we’ll probably look back at the current version of Vivino and smirk. But whatever comes next will pose more challenges for retailers, and possibly present lots of opportunities. Those of us who like to pretend digital media is an irrelevant fad would do well to at least try to keep up with developments.
THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE
winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter email@example.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries firstname.lastname@example.org Sales and Business Development: Georgina Humphrey email@example.com Accounts: Naomi Young firstname.lastname@example.org The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 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 november 2019 2
Matt’s all smiles at being out of date
restaurants which have gone bust. “It’s
been a bad year for restaurants,” he says,
“but a really good year for our customers. We are able to get wines that could retail
Matt Ellis at the Smiling Grape Company
for £16 but we can do them for £6.99. We
in St Neots is often head of the queue
can get very cheap spirits that way too.”
when it comes to innovative ideas.
Ellis is currently considering locations
This is the wine merchant who is
for some pop-up shops leading up to
well known for his sideline in extreme
Christmas with the intention of harnessing
adventure tours: at the end of this year
the party crowd who might not be able
he is inviting customers to join him on
to resist the huge discounts on offer. For
an expedition to Ethiopia. “Join us,” his
example, Ellis is able to offer cans of Resin
website reads, “for the adventure of a
lifetime as we visit the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, aka The Gateway to Hell.”
Perhaps more mainstream is his interest
in beer. Ellis says that a significant part
of his business is now selling out-of-date
from Sixpoint Brewery with an RRP of This man can sell you £4.50 beer for just 99p
“The breweries contact us and we buy it
beer both from his shop and from www.
from them at a very cheap price and people
really taken off and helped the business,”
with Tesco and once the beers become
lowcost beer.com, the website he’s set up specifically for this retail offshoot. “It’s
Ellis explains. “We worked out the other
day that we have sold 60,000 bottles and cans over the past year.
are quite happy to buy it from us. We also
work with a couple of breweries that deal out of date, they send them back to the brewery.”
Ellis is also buying up stock from
Join us at the UK's first ever Cava Summit The first ever London Cava Summit will include a round-table discussion for independent wine specialists, hosted by The Wine Merchant. The event brings together experts and industry influencers to discuss the promising future of premium Cava in the UK. The summit takes place on Monday, December 2 at The ICETANK, London WC2 where personalities from across the wine trade will debate the way in which merchants, together with the prime movers in the DO Cava, can influence the way consumers drink and appreciate Cava. The event starts with a keynote address by DO Cava president Javier Pagés, followed by a a panel discussion including Sarah Jane Evans MW and Dawn Davies MW. An open tasting, featuring a selection of Reserva, Gran Reserva and Cava de Paraje wines, will take place from 12.30pm. The Wine Merchant round table starts at 2pm. Merchants interested in taking part in the round table can contact email@example.com. To register for the event itself, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 4
£4.50 for just 99p each.
Are there any dreaded health and safety
implications when it comes to drinking out-of-date beer? Ellis says not and
explains that although it would depend on
how the beer is made, breweries generally allow a drinking window of “more or less” two years beyond the best-before date.
“Another plan in the pipeline is to have
our own out-of-date beer bar called The
Best Before Bar,” he says. “We can become the next Wetherspoons.”
Merchants gear up for Nouveau party From page one
about it. They are more curious and tend to buy it without any of the baggage.”
Greg Andrews of DVine Cellars in south
London says: “We do something with
Beaujolais Nouveau most years and it’s always good fun.
“We use the event to broaden people’s
understanding – they understand the difference between the crus and the
Nouveaux once they’ve been told, but
I don’t think the level of knowledge is necessarily there at the moment. I’m
seeing cru Beaujolais become a little more
popular in light of the escalating Burgundy
confident that the region as a whole is now back on track and ready to take its rightful place on the world wine stage.
“There’s a lot of good things going on
in Beaujolais,” he says. “People realised
the whole of Beaujolais had to improve, not just Beaujolais Nouveau. One of the
biggest issues was over-production and
yields have been radically reduced. If you compare now with the end of the 1990s,
even early 2000s, yields have dropped by
20% per hectare and an enormous amount of vineyards have been grubbed up.
“I think the young winemakers are
making a huge effort to concentrate on quality and grow their vines on fairly
difficult steep slopes compared to a lot of regions in France.
“The new generation of winemakers have
“This year the plan will be to have three
Beaujolais Nouveaux as well as a showcase of cru Beaujolais; a Morgon, a Fleurie and maybe a Saint-Amour.
“The suppliers I’m working with have
– even more so than last year’s I’d say. I
Yields have dropped by 20%
think the quality has improved over recent
different ideas of how to make wine, and
francophiles either. I’ve been surprised that
changed their whole viewpoint – there are
years – it’s a lot more serious. It’s not just
a whim for the cool kids or the traditional the demographic who are interested are mostly drinkers in their 40s.”
Devon merchant Christopher Piper
has been making wine in Beaujolais for
almost half a century. The majority of his
wines are Brouilly, Morgon and Beaujolais Villages – he began making Beaujolais
Villages Nouveau 15 years ago when he
started to view it not just as a “cash cow”
but rather a “legitimately interesting drink, created for the Lyonnaise market in the 19th century”.
Piper has witnessed the rise and fall in
the fortunes of Beaujolais Nouveau and is
• Although sparkling red wines ae often regarded as an Australian novelty, they were being produced in the country as early as 1881. It is thought that the world’s first sparkling reds appeared in Burgundy in the 1820s.
all been positive about the ’19 vintage
“Our Man with the Facts”
they’ve travelled. But it’s not necessarily a
question of age. There are people who have people in their 50s who are quite radically forward thinking. It’s about people
opening their eyes, realising the region has
huge potential and trying to grab it and run with it.”
Modern Beaujolais Nouveau can be a
very different animal to what was knocked back in the 80s. “We’re after red fruits,
dark fruits, the floral side of it,” says Piper. “I will ferment my Beaujolais Nouveau for six or seven days. We don’t do too much
pumping over or extraction – we want it to be fruit-forward and tannin-guarded, but also to be a serious wine.”
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 5
• According to research, the cost of growing organic wine grapes is on average 10% to 15% higher than that for conventional grapes. The cost of growing biodynamic grapes increases by a further 10% to 15% compared to that of the organic product.
....... • A study into terroir, carried out at UC Davis, analysed red wines made from grapes from five different vineyards within a 40-mile radius, vinified in separate wineries. It was found that both the vineyard and the winery impacted on the chemical composition of the finished wine, throwing yet more doubt over the real effect of terroir.
....... • Rather confusingly, Morillon is both an old French synonym for Pinot Noir as well as the word used in Styria, Austria, for Chardonnay. The term was once also popular in Chablis.
Food hall moves to Hercules site Popular Kent food hall Macknade has taken on the Faversham branch of Hercules Wine Warehouse and rebranded as Macknade Wine & Spirits. Macknade’s general manager Finn
Dunlop says: “Sarah [Dodd] had been a tenant for 10 years and now she is
concentrating on her shop in Sandwich. We just bought the stock and amalgamated the wine shop within our existing business.”
“It was a very good offer,” admits Dodd,
“one I would have been foolish to turn down … so I didn’t!”
She explains that while the Faversham
site was always 100% retail, the wholesale, e-commerce and private client side of the business has always been handled from
Finn Dunlop expects the current range of 400 wines to grow
Sandwich. “It’s business as usual,” she says,
in regularly and conduct tastings for
make a perfectly comfortable living,” he
has a soft spot for wine from eastern
things, and that’s what I’m going for with
“but I wouldn’t rule out taking on another site if one popped up in the ‘perfect’
Dunlop and his team will continue to
engage their customers through wine events and tastings.
“Already with our customer base
we encourage people to explore the
boundaries of their palate, with their
cooking and so on, so we want to do that
not just in culinary terms but in wine terms as well,” he says.
The food hall had already been retailing
wine but this new development brings its
customers,” he says.
Looking further afield he says he
European countries. “I think they are
both underrepresented and underrated
Phoenix rises in Cirencester Simon Griffiths was managing the Cirencester branch of Appellation
suppliers including Boutinot, Berkmann
the helm of his new shop, Phoenix Wines,
at which point he decided to go it alone.
and Alliance and is “open” to working with
which he set up with a little financial help
deals with a large number of Kentish
wine producers. “We are dedicated to
maintaining strong relationships with
the winemakers, who are invited to come
The remainder of the selection is based
I ever anticipated because it seems to be
interest amongst our customers,” he says.
that it expects to grow.
Dunlop is proud to say that Macknade
on wines Griffiths has tasted and decided
Nation when the lease came to an end,
price point because they all offer different
and I very much want to reinvigorate that
offering to more than 400 wines, a figure
The company buys from a number of UK
says. “But you can get great wine at every
Fast forward a few months and he is at
from his dad.
Griffiths admits that being in the heart
of the Cotswolds his clientele has classic
tastes. “I could probably get by with having a shop of three square feet with nothing
but white Burgundy and red Bordeaux and
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 6
were “good for the money”.
He says: “I’ve got more Australian that
showing really well at the tastings I’ve been to.”
Currently he has around 380 lines
including spirits and he estimates that
he is 80% of the way to full capacity. The company does some direct importing:
“We’ve got a Champagne, Bernard Lonclas in Bassuet; very Chardonnay-led, just the sort of thing that I like, and a Côtes de
Gascogne producer who does our house red and white,” he says. But he is also
working with a number of UK suppliers including Liberty, ABS and Graft.
Wholesaling is on the agenda once the
AWRS accreditation is in the bag, and plans are also in place for a tasting room on the
Adeline Mangevine Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing first floor of the building.
Appellation Nation’s other branch, in
Cheltenham, continues to trade.
A reason to visit south Bristol A new wine bar and shop called Kask opened in Bedminster, south of Bristol, last month. The focus is on minimal intervention
and organic wines with a four-tap wine
wall that was installed on the premises by
av comes back from a couple
of days of hanging out with his cool wine pals in London . “We
went to an amazing place in Hackney
called Folliard where all they serve is Gamay. I can’t wait till the 21st.” I look puzzled.
“Beaujolais Nouveau day!” he exclaims,
in disbelief, with a quizzical look that
says “you’re in the trade, how can you not know?”
Well, I should have remembered, given
the amount of enticements I now get
up with their university pals Charlie and
I couldn’t give a fig. And judging by the
Sophie and Henry Poultney, owners of
Grace + James in Birmingham, have teamed Natalie Taylor to launch the new business. “Kask is pretty much the same concept
as Grace + James,” explains Sophie, “but
the main difference is that we have really
from suppliers who are all jumping on
Beaujolais’ supposed revival. But frankly, dust that gathers on my finer bottles
of Gamay, most of my customers don’t, either.
Don’t get me wrong. I like some of the
homed in on the wine-on-tap thing.”
stuff. I’ve been known to really like some
Burgundies would be the bottles I saved.
There are about 100 lines in stock to buy
by the bottle and any can be drunk in for a On top of that there are 12 wines
available by the glass at any one time and the business is using Graft and Les Caves de Pyrene for the tap wines.
“The idea is that we only buy one keg
of each wine and so we always have
something different for customers to try,” says Sophie.
“We’ve got a number of orange wines,
lots of skin contact, lots of chillable
reds, sparkling reds, lots of pet nat. We
encourage people to have a little sample and taste the wines before buying and we’ve had some great feedback.”
of the cru stuff (oh all right, Morgon). But
what sort of wines we’re doing here.”
supplier lists are awash with carbonic wannabes from Chile to New Zealand,
when what I really need are some more
rib-sticking but interesting reds that my customers actually want to drink at this
time of year. Wines that take them off the beaten track but still satisfy the need for
Du vin, du pain, du Boursin. Why all the excitement over something as retro as Nouveau?
wants to run a campaign, go ahead. He
their beret-wearing shenanigans every November, racing to be the first back from France with their Beaujolais
Nouveau – to be consumed with gusto
with Boursin and supermarket baguette (they never had time to stock up on
food in France, so keen was the contest). That confected smell leaping from their glasses still haunts me. Of course, they
don’t touch the stuff now. “Have you seen the prices, Adeline?” Yes. I have.
I also find the near-cult worship of
through what I suffered. Now, the rest of
all around simply because they’ve heard of
creating the original smashable red. Now
their friends for my neutrality, with
You could blame my parents and
have to – everyone goes north of the river. But we’ve had a lot of people come from
I also blame Beaujolais itself, for
a robust and hearty liquid.
Beaujolais among younger members of
one goes south of the city unless you really
extensive list of Beaujolais.
if the shop was on fire, my Barolos and
She adds: “Kask is in a suburb south of
the city, and there’s a joke in Bristol that no
opening gambit is telling me about their
the trade a bit off-putting. Perhaps I am just envious that they never had to go
the trade is trying to sound hip and with
it. Pity the poor potential supplier whose
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 7
When I explain all this to Gav, he looks
(as ever) downhearted. So I tell him if he can choose the supplier, the producer
and do all the paperwork and promotion. But I want to see all those bottles sold, and for a decent margin.
So, here I am working in the shop
wearing a beret and a striped T-shirt, looking just like my mother all those
years ago. It’s part of Gav’s promotion
for his FEELING NOOVY night. We’ll have a DJ playing 80s vinyl and be serving Boursin and
baguettes – because Gav’s realised that in our neck
of the woods, it’s the best way to get people
enthused. Go retro to show people the new Nouveau.
Career change in Crowborough Chartered accountant turned wine merchant Alastair Wighton is confident that his recent career change was the
environment where people are working
under one roof, we’re not only able to
because they want to do it. I don’t expect to
relationship with our range of offerings.”
because they feel they have to, but
everyone I talk to in this industry does it
make millions but I can make a living out of it and enjoy it.”
right move. He and his wife Teresa opened their
expand our hours for both sides of the business but develop a more flexible
Customers will now be able to select
any bottle of wine from the shelf to drink in, and the by-the-glass list is changed frequently – “at least once a week”.
shop, Alteus Wines, in Crowborough, East
Wine shop is Bourne again
independent wine merchant on this site
for over 40 years,” says Alastair, “and the
Victor Chapman has bought the Artisvin
somewhere that sells alcohol.
off – I’m not making any massive changes
Sussex, six months ago and life is sweet.
“There’s been either an off-licence or an
reason for holding out for this location
store in Eastbourne from Steve Hodden.
“We gutted the place completely and
but I am having a tasting at the weekend to
“The plans are to pick up where Steve left
was the local community knows it as
revamped it. We had a chap come in to
help us with the shelving and we’re really pleased with it. It’s absolutely solid – nothing is falling off there!”
Teresa is still working full time as a
sales director for Bupa Global, but shares
Alastair’s passion for wine. “Teresa studied
Organic and natural wines are Forest’s focus
Marrying the grill next door
get an idea of what the locals like to drink rather than filling the shelves with what I like,” Chapman explains.
Chapmans Wine Merchants displays a
huge black and white photo of a group of
men on board a ship. “It’s the ship that my great-grandfather and his two brothers
left Nantes on,” he says. “They were laying
for her Diploma many years ago and l
When things become a squash and a
for Level 3, which incorporated a bursary
customer relationships through a series
to be able to do just that.
Canadian. “Up the road from here in Meads
forces with our Bar & Kitchen space. By
back to Canada,” he says. “I’ve worked in
did my WSET Level 2 and 3 last year,” he
squeeze not everyone is able to expand
explains. “I was lucky enough to win a prize
their retail space and still remain in the
The business will focus on building good
Wines in Walthamstow, was lucky enough
from the Vintners Company.”
of tastings and events. Alastair, having
recently escaped the corporate world of
boardrooms and long commutes, is happily embracing his new role.
“The biggest fun I have is sourcing
the wine,” he says “putting together this
But Jana Postulkova, owner of Forest She says: “In September we made a
big move – all the way next door – to join
marrying our takeaway and sit-in service
close to my heart.”
Eastbourne is familiar ground for the
is the hotel management school where I
graduated from 28 years ago before going other countries over the years and I’ve
been working for the last 15 years with wholesalers all over the south east of
Chapman is keen to engage with the local
that people are going to be interested in.
community and in addition to the weekend
So I have actually cast the net quite wide in
tasting he mentions, there are plenty of
terms of the suppliers I’m using.
so friendly and helpful. I’m used to an
got a particular focus on the Loire, it is
with to stock my shelves.”
balance, the right price point; getting stuff
It’s been fantastic; people have been
Canada, where I’m from. So while I haven’t
England, a lot of whom I’m now working
collection, trying stuff, getting the right
“They’ve all been really supportive.
cable across the ocean and they settled in
Any wine can now be enjoyed on the premises
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 8
other events he has in mind. But he says
he’ll keep it “light, interesting, informal and fun – not too cerebral and stressful”.
Tissue’s a big issue WBC’s in-house artist Gabriela Soria de Felipe has designed some limited-edition wine-themed tissue paper, guaranteed to add a touch of pizzazz to even the most modest of bottles. Available in three designs, the tissue is printed with water-based inks and is priced at £16.50 plus VAT for a pack of £400 sheets. There’s no minimum order and free delivery on orders of £150 and above.
A daring decanter Fashioned after the ebullient Macebeo grape, a staple for white Riojas, the styling of The Waiter’s Friend Company’s Macebeo decanter is described as “a daring departure that promises to both intrigue guests while chilling whites to pleasing perfection”. The newly-launched decanter has a capacity of 90cl and comes with a suggested retail price of £49.99.
NOT YOU AGAIN!
customers we could do without
7. Mrs Carmichaels … You’re not the lady that was here last time, she found me a lovely wine, beautiful it was, pretty label as well, even my sister said how delicious it was and she doesn’t drink, or she’s not supposed to, because she’s on tablets. Begins with a Sh. Do you know that one? I think it was a Sh. Some sort of picture on the front. I can’t remember what of. A flower of some kind? Or it might have been an animal. Do you know the one I mean? No, not a Sherry, I don’t think it was a Sherry. It might have sounded like Sherry. Shandy? No, I don’t like beer, it gives me wind. Shiraz, did you say? No, none of those looks right. Château what? No, no, I can’t even read that tiny writing, and it’s all in foreign. It definitely
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wasn’t Château. What colour was it? Now you’ve got me thinking. Wine-coloured, definitely. Chablis, did you call it? What’s that when it’s at home? A kind of Chardonnay, you say? Ah – Chardonnay! No, that wasn’t it either. Not Champagne, that tastes like battery acid. Gives me heart burn. Oh, you know the one I mean, it’s won some sort of award. I can’t remember how much the lady said it cost, but I bet you it wasn’t cheap, five pounds or probably even more. Not Chenin. I can’t really tell you what it tasted like I’m afraid, I’m no expert, but it certainly got me a bit tipsy. Schuchmann Saperavi ... might have been that. No, definitely not that. Chappaz Fendant des Copains ... now that does ring a bell … no, that wasn’t it. Hmm. Maybe it was Sherry. Oh come on, you must know the one I mean …
DECEMBER DOES NOT EXIST This is The Wine Merchant's last issue of 2019. We now take our usual one-month publication break and will return with our January edition, in which we'll be writing about Australian wine, cava, ready-made cocktails, canned wine and all sorts of other things. It will also be time to launch our annual reader survey, and The Wine Merchant Top 100. Thanks as always to our readers and advertisers for your support this year and good luck with the festive sales period.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 9
Be afraid of the light It’s marketing madness to sell Champagne in clear glass, according to some experts. So why do producers persist with a format that can make wine smell like rotting cabbage or sewage?
lear glass is ruining countless bottles of Champagne and
sparkling wine. Yet there is a
with a UV filter that blocks UV light from
packaging, despite all the evidence that
entering the shop, so I am confident that
ultraviolet light can make even the best
any clear bottles on shelves we sell will not
cuvées smell like mouldy vegetables or
suffer light strike – at least until they have
left the shop!
That’s the claim of Tom Stevenson and
“Rosé certainly looks less appealing
Essi Avellan MW in the new edition of
in coloured glass and I cannot imagine
Christie’s World Encylopedia of Champagne
any producer voluntarily abandoning it,
& Sparkling Wine. A section is devoted
despite the risks to their product. A very
to so-called light strike, which it seems
few follow the Cristal route of a protective
is being almost wilfully ignored by
sleeve, but that invites the question: why
Champagne producers – particularly when
put it in clear glass in the first place?
it comes to blanc de blancs and rosé wines.
UV can wreck wine in the space of one hour
their creations but insist they are routinely
The problem is caused by the breakdown
Privately, many winemakers in the region
overruled by marketing departments.
Lanson, Mercier, Perrier-Jouët, Taittinger,
Heidsieck & Co Monopole, Louis Roederer Cristal, Ruinart, AYALA and Gosset are
among the marques that sell at least some of their range in clear glass. There are many others.
Stevenson and Avellan accept that
the presentation can look beautiful but
maintain “it makes no sense whatsoever” to use clear glass bottles.
“Traditional-method sparkling wines are
particularly vulnerable to light,” they say.
“At its very worst, affected wine smells of
stagnant water, old drains and sewage. At lower thresholds, goût de lumière merely
inflicts an otherwise fresh aroma with the barest hint of rotten cabbage.”
either – brown glass is the best solution.”
He adds: “All of our windows are coated
worrying trend for producers to favour this
accept that clear glass is inappropriate for
but green glass is not a perfect UV barrier
of a sulphur-bearing amino acid called
methionine, which can happen within 60 minutes of exposure to UV.
“Readers are advised never to purchase
a clear bottle of any wine straight from
the shelf, particularly sparkling wine,” say Stevenson and Avellan.
“Clear-glass bottles are marketing
madness. What is wrong with the sparkling wine industry that they continue to market a potentially flawed product? The best
solution would be to ban clear glass bottles by law.”
eroboams wine director Peter
Mitchell MW (pictured right) says
Stevenson and Avellan “are entirely
correct that it is potentially a big problem,
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 10
“It is marketing madness, but I am not
in favour of banning things just because they are stupid. I try to train our staff to
tell customers about the dangers of storing clear glass anywhere that is exposed to
light and make sure that we look after the bottles properly.”
Tuggy Meyer of Huntsworth Wine in
London says: “I have many firm opinions
on wine but not religiously strong on this.
“We typically have one bottle on display
and the rest of any stock still in their original boxes. We don’t leave any bottle out too long and if we do, or it is in the window briefly – very briefly – it will typically be taken home by one of us.
“And that is for
traditional green glass. For clear
glass, the same
ENOMATIC principle applies but obviously even more
so. I would give a customer a clear glass
Champagne from an opened or unopened box and when buying retail, I would
request likewise. Currently out of around
35 Champagnes we stock, only one is in a clear glass bottle.”
hristine Marsiglio MW of the
WSET School in London says
Alex Proudfoot Grape to Grain Prestwich and Ramsbottom
“light strike is definitely one
of the faults found in wine that is least understood by consumers”.
She adds: “It’s hard to know the
prevalence of light strike in wines as it tends to happen to individual bottles,
rather than batches, as it depends on the storage conditions of the bottle. Clear
bottles can really only block around 10% of UV light, whereas green and brown
“Nothing ever stays in there for very long. In some shifts we can change the contents of the entire machine twice”
bottles can block upwards of 50%; this
makes wine in clear bottles much more susceptible to light strike.
“Light strike means that delicate, fruity
wines will start to smell of cabbage and
their fruit aromas will fade. This process is accentuated in sparkling wines because of the dissolved CO2.
“As a consumer, I would be wary of
Tell us about your wine jukebox, then. It’s an eight-bottle unit that draws the nitrogen from the atmosphere rather than using an argon tank. We’ve had the machine since we opened three years ago. We have four reds and four whites by the glass that we have on indefinitely and that offering changes seasonally. The idea is that if you don’t fancy what we have on by the glass, or you’re feeling a bit more lavish or you want to try something a bit more out-there, anyone can use it. How do you select what goes in there? It depends on our mood and the seasons. Sometimes we might have standard things in there like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and then sometimes we’ll put in a £150 bottle of Montrachet. We had a bottle of Antinori Tignanello 2015 – that was a good one. We’ve had a few really exceptional bottles in there but every now and then you get taken by surprise by a wine that punches well above its weight and its price tag. Does that automatically translate to bottle sales? Yes, absolutely. If you are trying to hand-sell a bottle and the customer is unsure of it, if you’ve got something in the machine and you can just whip out a little taster, it makes it much easier. You have to sell the idea of a wine to somebody but if you can actually give them a taste, it changes everything instantly. How often do you change the selection? The beauty of the machine is that we can keep more expensive bottles open for longer, but nothing ever stays in there for very long. They fly out. In fact in some shifts we can change the contents of the entire machine twice.
buying clear bottles, especially for wines
that have been on the shelf and exposed to
sunlight, or even fluorescent bulbs, for any
period of time as there is the risk of tainted wine.
“I’m not sure banning clear bottles is
necessary but it would be wise for supply
chains to ensure wines in clear bottles are
What does the Enomatic mean for your business? For the sake of diversity in what people can try in your shop, it’s certainly worth doing. It increases your offering by a massive amount and it opens up a whole different avenue of wines to people that they wouldn’t normally try. It’s earned its money back for us, definitely. It works very well.
protected from light and stored in dark conditions.
“Perhaps having showcase bottles on
shelf could be the answer? The stock to be sold could then be kept in less damaging conditions.
“This would be particularly important
for any wines that are meant for long-term ageing, be they in clear or darker glass.”
Has your Enomatic got a name? It’s called the wine jukebox by quite a few people.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 11
Balfour The Red Miller 2018 Last year’s almost perfect conditions got imaginations racing at Hush Heath, hence this still Pinot Meunier.
Ivana Mendes Vinoteca City, London
TRIED & TESTED
It’s got quirk value aplenty, but that’s not what makes
he rewards of wine education for both employers and staff are clear and as Ivana Mendes is finding out, her WSET Level 3 is proving to be a solid stepping stone in her career progression.
Since starting at Vinoteca as a waitress three years ago,
this lovingly-crafted silky and spicy red so enjoyable to drink. The fruit has ripened beautifully, and there are savoury edges reminiscent of Pinot Noir and a
freshness that all adds up to a very classy affair indeed. RRP: £40
Ivana is now one of the duty managers at the City branch
Hush Heath Estate (01622 832794)
and her manager predicts she will continue to go far.
“We are mainly a wine bar and restaurant with a bit of retail, so it is a little more complex in terms of what we expect from our staff,” says Federico Vicani, general manager at Vinoteca City. “Ivana is really great with customers and she’s very good at managing people. She is running shifts on her own and is in charge of all the staff inductions and training. Ivana is very young and it is harder nowadays to find younger people with such a hardworking attitude. She knows what she wants and it is good for her and good for us; it is great for us to have this sort of person in the business.” Ivana joined Vinoteca when she was 21 and was newly arrived in London. “I did work a little bit with wine before in France, because all restaurants have wine, but nothing as intense as now,” she says. “Here we have a lot of training
Tandem Inmune Garnacha 2017 A blend created with grapes from several high-altitude vineyards spread across Navarra, including bush
vines that have been in the ground for 80 years or so.
There’s dark, meaty, concentrated and saliva-inducing fruit here, and hints of dark chocolate, but also a
brisk acidity, all seasoned with a healthy sprinkle of mountain herbs. RRP: £13.49
Hallgarten & Novum Wines (01582 722538) hnwines.co.uk
and tastings and all my colleagues and I have had the chance to do our WSET qualifications.” She admits that it was hard, English not being her first language, but she says by Level 3 she had really worked on her language skills. Federico says: “The next step for Ivana is to be a manager and she can do that in a couple of years. Potentially she can go very far at a very young age.” “I love the hospitality part of my job,” says Ivana. “What I really enjoy is the customer engagement. I like to recommend wine and to match wines to food. I am happy if they are happy enjoying their meal and their wine.” Can she see another role for herself within the trade, maybe as a buyer? “That would be great, but for the moment, I am still learning and it takes such a long time to gain experience and knowledge of wine, so I don’t want to jump ahead of myself, but when I’m ready, why not?” she says.
Martinus Olaszrizling 2017 Zesty, petillant and dry: “It’s like licking the inside of a cave,” as one of our tasters put it, presumably
talking from experience. That would be a Dolomitic
limestone cave in Hungary’s Mount Tagyon, the source of the grapes that were fermented in stainless steel
and blended after six months on fine lees. Racy and invigorating, with notes of citrus and nuts. RRP: £13.50
Davy’s Wine Merchants (020 8858 6011) davywine.co.uk
“I really love the atmosphere at work, it’s great. It is a sharing sort of job; you work with your colleagues and the customers and I think this is really nice – sharing is caring, as you say in English.”
Ivana wins a bottle of Artadi Viñas des Gain 2016. To nominate a rising star in your business, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cortese Vanedda Bianco 2016 A blend of Sicilian Cattarato and Grillo fermented on skins aged in large oak botti, creating a gorgeously
honeyed wine that, during certain phases of the moon, could easily be mistaken for New World Chardonnay.
Lots of tropical notes on the nose, especially pineapple, followed on the palate by yellow fruits, vanilla, hazelnuts and a touch of spice. Excellent stuff. RRP: £15.99
North South Wines (020 3871 9210) northsouthwines.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 12
Weingut Corvers-Kauter Assmanhausen Pinot Noir 2016 “It’s like a ballerina with a six-pack,” declared
winemaker Philipp Corvers at the Graft tasting in
London, a reference to the elegance and power of this Rheingau red from a Riesling specialist. It’s bolder
DEDICATED TO THE VALUATION AND AUCTIONING OF FINE AND RARE WINES
and more rounded than might be expected, thanks to judicious lees contact and a malolactic moment. RRP: £40
Graft Wine Company (0203 490 1210) graftwine.co.uk
Ironstone Petite Sirah 2016 Sometimes wine just needs to be a comfort blanket and this is just the job for a bleak winter evening
after a long, fruitless conversation with the Talk Talk technical team. Lovely aromas of blackcurrant and
spice, and a luscious, rich but not-too-heavy palate of cocoa, vanilla and blueberries make this pretty irresistible, however uncool it might seem. RRP: £14
Walker & Wodehouse (07813 626491) walkerwodehouse.com
MATURE AND INTERESTING WINES WITH NO MINIMUM ORDER
Bride Valley Chardonnay 2018
USER FRIENDLY WEBSITE
Aspiring young wine writer Stephen Spurrier has
chanced his arm with this offering from his chalky
west Dorset estate, and a very curious and entertaining beast it is too. The wine spends four months on its lees and sees no oak, resulting in a wine with such saline
and citric qualities that thoughts turn inexorably to fish
and chips, straight out of the wrapper. RRP: £24.99
RARE & MATURE WINES 12% COMMISSION
Liberty Wines (020 7720 5350)
Monte da Ravasqueira Vinha das Romãs 2016
Until 2002 the Alentejo vineyard that gives birth to
this blend of Touriga Franca and Syrah was a field of
pomegranates, and the vine roots now intertwine with
those of that former crop. Precision viticulture is doing its job here, as witnessed by a solid, earthy but elegant
wine, full of black fruit richness ... but no pomegranate. RRP: £27.30
Awin Barratt Siegel (01780 755810) abswineagencies.co.uk
2018 JAN MAR MAY JUL SEPT NOV
A FINANCIALLY ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO BIN-END DISCOUNTING
BUY & SELL YOUR WINES AT WINEAUCTIONEER.COM/ WINEMERCHANT
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 13
BITS & BOBS
Wines won’t need VI-1 forms, for now The UK government has confirmed it will temporarily suspend import certification requirements – known as VI-1 forms – for wines from the EU, for nine months from the date of the UK leaving the EU.
Henry Poultney Grace + James Birmingham Favourite wine on my list Probably Gentle Folk Blossoms 2018 from Adelaide Hills. Sophie (my wife) and I first drank this whole-bunch Pinot Noir with winemaker Gareth Belton in his garden by the pool with some of his family and friends. It was one of the hottest days ever recorded in a major city – as Adelaide hit over 46˚C. This wine reminds me of good times.
Favourite wine and food match
The paperwork was to be introduced
if the UK agreed to a no-deal Brexit, and
applied to EU wines coming into the UK, as well as English wines exported to EU countries.
The WSTA had been urging the
government to suspend them again, as it
believes shoppers will choose wines
without being swayed by the label or price. Participants, who can buy tickets for £4,
will get to sample eight 75ml taster glasses of wine along with light nibbles.
Lidl’s Richard Bampfield MW said: “At
Lidl Châteaux Noir, we want to encourage
visitors to see if they can identify a wine’s
quality in a completely new setting – using
darkness to dispel common prejudices that come with buying wine.” The Sun, October 26
claimed failure to do so would cost the UK
• Sotheby’s has branched out from sales
been impossible from the start, and would
France, Italy and California, which has gone
wine industry at least £70m a year. It also
into production with the launch of a
have added 10p to each bottle of wine.
on sale in the US.
warned that introducing VI-1s would have
12-strong own-label wine range from
Decanter, October 21
The Drinks Business, October 30 © auremar / stockadobe.com
Vin Jaune and Comte.
Favourite wine trip Last January Sophie and I travelled around Australia and New Zealand searching out some of our favourite organic vineyards. Some of the highlights were Alex Craighead’s Kindeli Wine in Nelson; Anna and Jason Flowerday’s Te Whare Ra, a small winery in Renwick; and Lance Redgwell’s Cambridge Road on the North Island, who make some serious Pinot Noir. In Australia, as well as Gentle Folk, we visited the natural wine wizard Tom Shobbrook who has just moved to a new vineyard in Flaxman.
Favourite wine trade person Andrea Asciamprener of Les Caves de Pyrene who helped us set up our first wine list. Top chap with great hair!
Favourite wine shop Loki in Birmingham. Loki’s wine educator Paul Creamer first got me into wine and I have been obsessed ever since. I also love Dalston’s natural wine shop and deli run by Kirsty Tinkler called Weino BIB. Such a great place with a focus on sustainability, bag-in-box and wine on tap.
The VI-1 forms would have meant more unwanted aggravation for merchants
Customers kept in the dark by Lidl
Bordeaux boss quits after fraud
Lidl is hosting a series of pop-up wine
The head of the federation that
tastings in the dark.
represents Bordeaux’s most acclaimed
The events called Châteaux Noir will take
place in London, Manchester and Glasgow. By shutting out the light, the supermarket
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 14
châteaux has resigned amid claims his fraud conviction tainted their image. Hervé Grandeau is standing down as
chairman of the Federation of Great Wines
THE BURNING QUESTION
of Bordeaux to try to end the rows that have split the region since his trial.
What plans have you been making for the Christmas sales period?
Grandeau and Régis, his brother, who
Christmas is a very important part of our calendar and we have a Christmas wine tasting here in the first week of December – we have four suppliers coming down for a ticketed event. We’re all geared up for Christmas; we’ll be getting some more stock in. We’ll shut about 6pm on Christmas Eve and open up again just before New Year. I haven’t thought about what I’ll be drinking with my Christmas dinner yet – I usually wait and see what’s left on the shelves and take a case of wine home.
own Château Lauduc, were found guilty of
fraud in connection with the sale of almost 800,000 bottles of wine worth more than €1.3m that failed to comply with French regulations.
The Times, October 30
Tesco considers Xmas wine bars Tesco plans to take its Finest brand into the on-trade with a string of pop-ups in major cities across the UK over the leadup to Christmas. The supermarket is looking to open wine
bars complete with their own sommeliers, offering food tasting platters and ticketed
John Barnes The Blue Glass, Bedford
We have a large winter tasting on November 22 that we’ll be doing with about 50 wines. We’ll have lots of our suppliers there and some producers and we’ll have between 150 and 200 guests. We expect to take a reasonable amount of advance orders that day. It gets everyone into the swing of spending money and thinking about Christmas. We’re just finalising a gifting range including a mixture of wine and produce. We’re bringing in some vacuumed packs of local meats with wines to match.
Kent Barker Stony Street House, Frome
masterclasses with an eye to boosting the
presence of its posh range over the coming
We do buy in more top-end things and look at Christmas gifting. We look at more classic areas such as Champagne, nice Burgundies, good Rhônes, some super Tuscans. We have a bar as well and we are doing a Christmas menu and trying to make it a fun Christmas where you can drink great wine matched with some great food in a party atmosphere. I think you have to make people aware of what you’re doing as early as you can – let them know what’s available and what’s possible.
The Grocer, October 23
Aldi hands out free wine diplomas
Aldi is launching the Aldiploma, its own wine course which will be available for
Robin Nugent Iron & Rose, Shrewsbury
free. It’s the first supermarket course of its
type in the UK and those who sign up will
be able to learn about wine and how to pair it with food, without having to spend any
money or being subject to any pressure to buy.
Aldi’s MW, Sam Caporn, who has devised
six online modules and video tutorials,
said: “Aldi is known for its affordable, great quality wines so this creates the perfect
platform to help consumers try new things and gain the perfect introduction to the world of wine.”
This year we’re doing our first Christmas tasting event on November 16. There’s a restaurant two doors down so we’re doing it there and we’re teaming up with a lot of other independents in the village. There’s a couple of butchers who are working alongside us and the fish and chip shop is doing some food on the day, so our Christmas tasting will be a community event with everyone getting together. It’s a nice way for people to taste a wide range of wines and take the opportunity to shop our Christmas promotions on the day. Sarah Mehan Village Vineyards, Barnt Green, Birmingham
Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584
The Mirror, October 24
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 15
ight ideas r b 6: Dynamic Dartboard Discounts
. T H E D R AY M A N . Verbosity by the pint
ho’s for a To Øl Sjø Tæhm Speciel Fejø Limited Don’t You Be Messing With The
Mikkeller Bar Tender Crew Or They Will Fuck You Up! Dobbelt Vintage Ekstra Extra Barrel Aged Edition Cassis x 2? The beer – for that’s what it is – was among the suggestions in a Rate Beer discussion group for the longest-named beer on the site and, quite frankly, we can’t top it. And, really, why would you want to? There’s little argument that the flair and colour that goes into modern bottle labels and cans has had a transformative and positive effect on beer’s image. But the age of collaboration, novelty/esoteric ingredients and factors such as wood-ageing and unconventional fermentation have also made it increasingly difficult for a lot of people to understand exactly what it is they’re being invited to drink. Of course, Don’t You Be Messing Etc is a wilful gallery-play on its creators’ parts to the nerdy-geek world, but branding such as Gamma Brewing x Lervig Pretty Good Regards Imperial Stout With Pistachio & Coconut is increasingly becoming the norm. Some product descriptions are becoming so long that they’re relegated to tiny type on a side or back panel so as not to obscure the psycho-funk graphics used to achieve shelf stand-out. So here’s a plea to all those colourful craft beer producers out there: keep the lovely bold colours and the Bridget Riley patterns but try to distil your beer names and product descriptions to a few easy-to-grasp words that you put on the front – then let rip with the verbosity on the back if you must. You’ll be doing a favour to retailers who want to sell your stuff and the people who you expect to drink it – and to yourselves.
Rob Hoult, Hoults, Huddersfield
In a nutshell … Install a dartboard and give customers one dart with a chance to win a discount when they bring their purchases to the till.
What the dickens, Rob?
“The idea was simple and fun – whenever a customer made a purchase, they had the option before paying of earning a discount. We gave them one dart and they could stand behind the line and throw it at the dartboard. Wherever the dart landed that was their discount, doubles and trebles not included. If they hit the bull, inner or outer, then they automatically won a bottle of my favourite wine. As such the maximum discount was 20% so nothing too horrendous, but for the customer it made their purchase more memorable.”
Was everyone a good sport?
“The surprising thing was the number of people who missed the board completely and were still perfectly happy. Male customers tended to be a lot more competitive about it and the women were better at embracing the spirit and the sheer joy of it. It engaged the customer, and put a smile on their face and gave them a story to tell.”
Have you done this since you’ve added the bar?
“Before we changed the shop around we had a lot more space. At one point we put a fullsized table-tennis table in the shop and Ben was the shop champion. If you beat Ben you got a free bottle of wine. Luckily for us he was very good so we didn’t give many bottles away. People were bringing in ringers to try to beat him! “We weep regularly for the loss of that table but there’s no space for it anymore. We might bring back the dartboard but it’s where we’d fit it in without damaging our nowlovely walls, because you do end up with a lot of holes – it was like Swiss cheese.”
What would you say to other merchants who might want to give this a try?
“I don’t think anyone else is stupid enough to do it! Really, it wasn’t about mucking around; it was about customer engagement. We can be very serious about the wine side of things and by offering a bit of something different so customers can be involved, the dartboard thing seemed like so much fun. I bought the table-tennis table for about £150, so it’s not a big outlay.” Rob 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 november 2019 16
> THE WINEMAKER FILES
Caroline Latrive, Champagne AYALA Caroline is a Champagne native who started in her father’s lab, as a consultant to growers, before taking the Oenologist National Diploma and joining Champagne Bollinger. She switched to AYALA after it was acquired in 2005 and became cellar master in 2012. Caroline was recently in London for the AYALA SquareMeal Female Chef of the Year Award goal to increase volume.
The Champagne AYALA winery is a gift
seven years old she was very curious
for AYALA since the beginning. In
focus is to have a vinification of a specific
put words to my feelings.
brut nature cuvée for a long time. I think
There’s a picture of me as a girl with my nose in a glass of Champagne. When my youngest daughter was six or
about everything and I was like that too. I wanted to find aromas in the glass and In 2004 I had the opportunity for an internship at Bollinger and I stayed one and a half years. The family bought AYALA in 2005 and the cellar master
there, Nicolas Klym, needed help. I started at the beginning of 2007 and worked
for five years with Nicolas. It was a very exciting time and I learned a lot.
We relaunched the range in 2005 and in 2011-12 with the aim of making very clear and pure wine. We moved to only stainless steel vinification to maintain the primary fruit. We
maintained the most loyal growers we
were working with, people who had the
same mindset as us. It was necessary for
us to find more growers because we had a AYALA Le Blanc de Blancs 2013 RRP: £55 A very elegant expression of Chardonnay, with fruit from Grands Crus and some Premiers Crus. It spends a minimum of five or six years on lees. There are clear fruity notes and butter and very light pastry too. It's delicious as an aperitif and a perfect match for scallops.
Zero dosage has been a signature 1865 the vintage was made dry for the future King Edward VII. We’ve had a
it’s a very gastronomic cuvée for more knowledgeable consumers of wine.
There’s an echo of history. I think it shows our ability to make a high-quality wine without make-up. It’s very pure; it’s an aromatic explosion, with minerality, citrus, toasted nuts and salinity. I’m
not against dosage; I just think we can express the wine better without it.
I am a Chardonnay addict. It is such an elegant grape variety. It’s a mysterious one because at the beginning of the
vinification it’s a little bit austere and
closed and a little bit aggressive, with a high level of acidity. But if you give
the wine more opportunity to express
its style with age, it’s just an incredible
evolution, with such diversity of aromas.
for me. I have huge diversity of vats, more than 120 vats of different volumes. The
cru and a palette of colours and different
expressions to have a wide choice during the blending process. It’s like being a painter.
It’s been an incredible harvest. It was very dry and sunny at the beginning of
the summer. There was not enough water, and it was too dry for the vineyards but finally we had rain at the beginning of
August and it gave the opportunity for
the grapes to develop. It was so incredible to see this very quick maturation, one
of the quickest we’ve seen for 20 years. It’s amazing the aromas we have in the
winery. Very fruity and delicate and clear. Incredible. It’s early to talk about it – but I’m feeling positive!
It’s not possible to do this job without passion and enthusiasm. You give a little bit of yourself to the blend.
AYALA Brut Majeur
AYALA Brut Majeur Rosé
It’s the ambassador of the AYALA style and represents about 80% of our production. It’s 40% Chardonnay, with 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. We age it for a long time to give richness, a silkier texture and more complexity. A convivial wine for an aperitif or celebration.
It's 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. I want to express red fruit like wild strawberries, as well as blackberries, yellow plums, apricots, violets … sometimes I can sense a touch of rhubarb in this wine. It’s a perfect match for salmon but you can also enjoy it with lemon tart.
Champagne AYALA is imported into the UK by Mentzendorff 020 7840 3600 www.mentzendorff.co.uk
THETHE MERCHANT may 2019 20192019 WINE WINE MERCHANT MERCHANT november september june 2018 THE WINE MERCHANT 17 15 17
Chain mail David Williams reports back from the autumn flurry of press tastings. Which of the mults, if any, pose the biggest threat to indies these days – or is the trend to boring, industrial ranges continuing?
s we head into the most
important trading period of
the year, I’ve been doing a little
industrial espionage on your behalf. After tasting the ranges of the major multiple
grocers (and the last surviving, still justabout-standing multiple specialist), I’ve
smuggled out a few ideas about what your customers will be offered as they wheel
group’s first-ever half-year loss. Most of the
is actually pulling ahead of the pack at the
were down by 0.8%, and the food-retailing
least in its well-made “W” range of lesser-
damage was done in the department store part of the business, but Waitrose’s sales
wing has been offloading underperforming stores, shaking up its buying department, and preparing for a switch of online
their trolleys past the gondola ends over What are the vinous trends in the
range of suppliers, the willingness to be a bit different (it showed two New Zealand
moving forward is helped by the
unarguable fact that its rivals are either in
view? These are questions from a different
standstill or moving backwards.
retailing universe, maybe, but it’s one that
Marks & Spencer, after years of
impacts the independent galaxy, and one
challenging Waitrose for the most
if it’s only to remind you of how not to do
Waitrose has increased its focus on own-label
Waitrose on top at the top
Partnership, with the announcement of the
what really marks it out is the still-broad
Of course, the perception of Waitrose
best shape from a wine quality point of
for Waitrose – or at least for the John Lewis
Manseng), launched earlier this year. But
the £10 to £15 region.
Which of the big beasts is currently in the
It has by all accounts been a difficult year
spotted varietals (Mencía, Marselan, Petit
for example), and the strength of its offer in
supermarkets? Where are they on price?
an increased emphasis on own-label, not
Albariños at its most recent press tasting,
the next couple of months.
that is surely worth understanding, even
moment. Like all supermarkets, there’s
partner when its deal with Ocado expires For all that, however, when it comes to
the wine range itself, Waitrose, or Waitrose & Partners as it was rebranded in 2018,
The perception of Waitrose moving forward is helped by the unarguable fact that its rivals are either in standstill or moving backwards
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 18
interesting, dynamic and best quality (if
not always best-value) supermarket wine range, has been in retreat for a couple of years now.
This is clearly a response to its own well-
publicised financial troubles. But, while there is still plenty to enjoy in the M&S
range, it was sad to go through a line-up
featuring very few new wines, considerably less of the adventurous sourcing from
new or emerging countries that earned
the retailer so many friends in the presspack in recent years, and a switch to a
smaller portfolio of larger, more industrial suppliers focusing on £10 and under.
David Williams is wine critic for The Observer
The Big Four For now, M&S remains ahead of the Big
Four, but only just. The Tesco range, while not exactly dazzling, has emerged from
the truly dark place it fell into around the accounting scandal, and there’s now a
decent smattering of well-made wines from judiciously chosen suppliers (Feudi San
Gregorio, Villa Maria, De Bortoli, Catena)
in the finest own-label that dominates the range.
It’s a similar story at Sainsbury’s. After
years of stagnation when each press tasting felt like a particularly dull experience of
déjà-vu, with only the vintage moving on
in its never-changing range of own-labels, in the past year or two the company has
started to add a few new wines. The Taste the Difference own-label remains the
overwhelming focus, but, as with Tesco,
there are some good suppliers operating
David Hohnen is represented in the new Tesco line-up
in there (Markus Huber, Viña Indomita,
range to make the pulse race, perhaps.
a major overhaul of the range (for good
Gaillac; a Marzemino) have injected a little
to be, while retaining the odd star buy
its reliance on the centralised, standalone
CVNE, David Hohnen), and a bunch of more adventurous selections (a red and a white
bit of life and fun into what was becoming a stagnant range.
Meanwhile, Morrisons continues its
solid performance under head of wine operations, Mark Jarman. This is not a
But it is dotted with £7-and-under wines
that are often much better than they need (some excellent own-label Port and Rioja, for example) in the indie-bothering £12
region. Asda, by contrast, has been keeping
or ill) in the pipeline. On the strength of
recent experiences of the Asda offer, with
supplier arm, International Procurement & Logistics, this can’t come soon enough.
itself to itself, with no press tasting this
Continues page 20
autumn, and with what I understand is
Monday 20th January 2020 Trade only, 11am - 5pm The Army & Navy Club 36-39 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5JN Over 120 fine wines to sample Meet Germany’s leading wine producers in person Complimentary tickets for trade
ANNUAL PORTFOLIO TASTING
Amazing 2017 vintages
To book email email@example.com or visit www.thewinebarn.co.uk/pages/events
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 19
© TTstudio / stockadobe.com
From page 19
Discounters, The Co-op – and a Majestic revival? Much of what has been happening in
mainstream supermarket wine retail
has been a response to the rise of the discounters.
Aldi, which now has an 8% share of
the UK grocery market, is for my money
the more consistent of the two Germans
when it comes to wine, its vastly improved and improving 100-strong core range outperforming the more piecemeal,
hit-and-miss additions of Lidl. It will be
fascinating to see what the formation of
a centralised wine-buying unit, based in Aldi’s head office in Salzburg in Austria,
and led by former head wine buyer at Aldi UK, Mike James, will bring to the range.
Much reduced prices, no doubt. But will it have the same market specificity that has made Aldi so much more interesting in recent years?
For all the focus on Aldi and Lidl,
however, the multiple retailer that has come up with the most consistently
interesting sub-£10 wines in recent years has been The Co-op. That was again
the case at this year’s Co-op tastings.
And criticisms that some of the more
interesting wines are not available in
much of the company’s sprawling estate have been offset by a website that lets customers track down their nearest stockist.
If it seems unlikely that many indie
customers would actively travel more than a few miles in search of a Co-op
wine, there’s no doubt that a lot of them
would still be happy to make the effort to find an in-form Majestic. Having escaped the Naked greed of Rowan Gormley, the company had a relaunch in October.
The PR word has of course focused
on how Majestic is looking to return
Salzburg, famous for being the home of Aldi’s HQ and centralised wine buying team
to its traditional strength, the wine
to make it a more compelling choice than
parcels that recall the company’s old
questions of 2020. But, given how tough
range, with less of the gimmicky sales
fuss, fewer own-labels, and discounted
knack of securing vintage gems from the Scandinavian monopolies, rather than the recent tendency of passing off any
old listing as a rare and fleeting find. For now, there are quite a few smart buys in
the Majestic range. Whether that’s enough
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 20
a supermarket on price or a local indie
on quality and variety will be one of the
the retailing environment is for multiple specialists of all kinds, I wouldn’t be
surprised if new owner, investment firm
Fortress, will be looking to recoup at least some of its £100m investment from store divestments sooner rather than later.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 21
Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine
is still too new to have a discernible track
the changing market with a drier style of
settled opinion on its output.
with its new-found love of terroir, with
Tom Stevenson and Essi Avellan MW
standards have gradually risen around the
e live in an age of handsoff winemaking, where
producers boast less about
record, or because Avellan is honest
enough to admit that she has yet to form a Champagne obviously dominates
proceedings, but perhaps not as
comprehensively as might be assumed. As world, and sparkling wines are no longer
regarded as inferior, downmarket add-ons to a producer’s portfolio, Stevenson and
Avellan have been happy to accommodate more names from Argentina, Australia, Chile and the USA within their pages.
what they get up to in the winery and more
It works out at about 10p per producer
But much of the action is found in old
Europe. Avellan describes Italy as “perhaps
for the numbers – maintains is impossible.
in Franciacorta, Trentodoc and Alta Langa.”
assessments of her subjects at least give
the impression of a rigorous and consistent thought process. Indeed many hundreds of the producers she mentions are awarded
no score at all, either because the producer
Encylopedia raised eyebrows in 2003 but might not do so this time with a further
There are words of warning for an
80 and sometimes bestowing unrealistic
obviously highly subjective, but Avellan’s
British Isles, whose chunky share of the
lovers consider them undrinkable.
thousands of those humans, and the wines
some unfortunates. These numbers are
to watch, Avellan says. And then there’s the
makes regular Cava or New World fizz
staggering depth as it introduces us to
98, for Krug, and dips as low as 60 for
China, India and Japan are also countries
“searing acidity” of many of the wines still
of the Encylopedia goes into almost
Avellan’s own scale goes as far as
industrial for their tastes.
ladder, but Avellan points out that the
Stevenson and Avellan. The fourth edition
the Scandinavian MW who is responsible
grands marques a little too formulaic and
many of them keep climbing the quality
the greatest and matters most,” argue
100s that imply a perfection that Avellan –
consumers who might sometimes find the
and more multi-vintage blending will help
the wines where human intervention is
various reasons, often rarely dipping below
producers developing fanbases among
advances to date. Warmer temperatures
specialism. “Sparkling wines are arguably
systems are inherently problematic for
too is opening new frontiers, with grower-
producers based on their remarkable
in Champagne, or anywhere that fizz is the
100-point scale. Usually, such numerical
Penedès leading the charge. Champagne
Avellan offers encouragement to English
This isn’t a claim you hear quite so much
In all more than 2,000 producers are
Corpinnat, Cavas de Paraje and Classic
progress made in the past 16 years.
they like to insist, is at the controls.
profiled, most of whom are rated on a
Spain is also attracting attention
expanded section, such has been the
about how much they don’t do. Nature,
that they toil so hard to produce.
its famous fizz.
currently the most dynamic sparkling wine
country, with exciting progress taking place Even Asti, she points out, has responded to
industry that seems locked on a course
for continued exponential growth and a potential glut of liquid. “Costs are high,” she points out. “Scarcity allows high
pricing today, but in the long run English
winemakers need to make sure that quality develops accordingly, enabling positioning among the finest sparkling wines in the world.”
Avellan describes Italy as perhaps currently the most dynamic sparkling wine country, with exciting progress in Franciacorta, Trentodoc and Alta Langa THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 22
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Having rebelled against stifling Rioja regulations, Artadi is relishing the chance to make wines like La Hoya, which celebrate the characteristics of individual vineyards
odegas Artadi has no shortage of
land to work with, but one plot in particular is getting winemaker
Juan Carlos López de Lacalle rather excited. La Hoya, an east-facing vineyard between
the river and the mountains in Laguardia, is his current fixation.
Four years ago, Artadi finally lost
patience with the Rioja Consejo Regulador, arguing it makes no sense to bottle and
market wines using terms such as crianza and reserva. By giving up its right to label
under the Rioja name, Artadi was now able to make single-vineyard expressions.
For López, the “inflexibility” of the Rioja
The winery operates along biodynamic principles
regulations was exasperating. “The reality is in our area we have different parcels
and different expositions, different soils
and vineyards of different ages. It’s like a
mosaic of different expressions,” he points out.
All Artadi vineyards have been worked organically since 2002
The latest UK release is La Hoya 2017,
who likes to look after his land properly.
through a metre of clay and limestone into
this way in all of its vineyards since 2002.
different plots, and this is exciting,” says
a 100% Tempranillo made with fruit
from 50-year-old vines whose roots delve
the bedrock beneath. This limestone strata acts like a sponge, slowly releasing its
water content so that the vines never get
too stressed. They sound like happy vines. López laughs in agreement. This is a man
La Hoya is an organic vineyard and the
company has been on a journey to work
“The difference is enormous,” says López. There are obvious ecological benefits.
“That’s true, but for me it’s about
preserving the purity of the vineyard, the soil and the vine.”
La Hoya 2017 was aged in older French
barrels, López having moved away from
Artadi’s previous policy of using new oak. “New oak is too much,” he’s now happy to admit.
The end result, in the winemaker’s
own words, is not a big wine, but a fruity, energetic and powerful wine. Juan Carlos López de Lacalle and son Carlos
La Hoya 2017 is now available in the UK
through Pol Roger Portfolio. It could soon be joined by more launches from other
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 23
“Our idea with this project is to express
the purity of the different wines and the López.
“We have more than 45 different plots
and every year we can discover more about the potential of the wines they produce. It’s impossible for us to produce 45 different wines – but it is my dream!”
Find out more Visit www.polroger.co.uk or www.artadi.com or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger
BUYERS’ TRIP TO SANLUCAR
The answer is blowing in the wind The Manzanillas of Sanlúcar get their world-famous character from the salty ocean breezes. Five merchants were invited to sample the sea air for themselves at Hidalgo, the family business that gave the world one of its most beloved Sherries, La Gitana
he tourist season is over in Sanlúcar de Barrameda when we visit in early October. The unassuming Andalusian seaside town has shrunk back to its natural population of 70,000, there are no horses racing on its sandy beach, and there are tables available in restaurants and tapas bars. (According to TripAdvisor, the pick of the bunch is an ice cream parlour.) But one thing never changes in this part of the world: the wind, delivering the salty humidity that gives Manzanilla Sherry its distinctive tang. Hidalgo’s name is rarely far from view in Sanlúcar – its warehouses have been focal points since the mid 19th century. But the name that most catches the eye is La Gitana, the Manzanilla that accounts for around 70% of the familyowned company’s production. Our visit begins at Hidalgo’s highest vineyard and winery, classified in this case as Jerez rather than Sanlúcar. From this vantage point we have clear views of the Atlantic. There’s a stiff breeze up here, as there always is, and it hasn’t rained properly since January. Fermín Hidalgo fetches a mattock and hacks into the powdery white Albariza soil. At a depth of perhaps 30cm, the ground is remarkably moist. These vines aren’t going to dry out any time soon, with the chalky earth acting as a natural sponge. It’s hard to imagine this was once a vast sea, but the fossilised clams in the calcium-rich soil provide the evidence.
There’s been a move towards a more natural style of viticulture, says Fermín, who left his job at PwC to join the family business in 2014. He now runs the company with his brothers. “We harvest really late,” he tells us. “We get 10% less volume now, but more sugar content in the grapes, which means we fortify as little as possible.” Fermín takes us on a walking tour of Sanlúcar, the town of his birth, where he is greeted everywhere with smiles and handshakes. His family has been part of commercial and civic life here for generations; the obituary for his father Juan Luis, who died last year, described him reverently as “the last gentleman of Sherry”. Keeping up an old tradition, Juan Luis liked to sprinkle his handkerchief with Amontillado, ensuring he was always surrounded by a glorious scent of the wine he produced. As Fermín keeps our glasses charged with La Gitana and the cheese and jamon keep on coming, we watch the sun explode into the sea before heading off for our evening meal. It’s an opportunity to sample some exquisite local seafood, and to prove how well Hidalgo’s flagship Manzanilla pairs with all of it.
olera systems may look sedate in textbooks, but they can be surprisingly noisy. On our morning tour of Hidalgo’s San Luis winery, or “cathedral”, there’s a samba rhythm playing that turns out to be coming from the pumping machine used to transfer wines between the criaderas. Hidalgo operates two separate soleras in both its wineries, blending the wines
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 24
from each to create the final product. Some of the solera barrels are almost 150 years old and the building itself dates from the mid 19th century. “I like to say there are particles of wine in your bottle that are from the 1860s,” says Fermín. “And it’s true.”
he system may be ancient, but Hidalgo is experimenting with new ideas. A tool resembling an elongated golf putter has been developed, which is inserted into the barrel to create a sort of batonnage. This way, the dead yeast cells become nutrients for the living flor, intensifying flavour. Fermín reaches for his trusty venencia, dips it into a barrel of unfortified 2017 wine that is likely to be released in limited quantities next autumn, and pours us all a sample. “My first thought is that it’s like a Jura wine – slightly oxidative,” says Colin Thorne of Vagabond. “There are some natural wines, and Savagnin as well, that smell like this – slightly yeasty, miso flavours.” We then try a wine of the same age, but from the first criadera of the solera. There’s a chalky complexity, but “it needs three more years of education”, Fermín says. Next up is a three-and-ahalf-year-old wine from further down the solera, which has more minerality and, according to Thorne, an “olive brine character”. Last of all is the unfiltered, unfined En Rama wine which is already familiar to the group – but which seems even more exhilarating and alive when tasted straight from the barrel.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH BODEGAS HIDALGO LA GITANA AND MENTZENDORFF
Beyond La Gitana: some other Hidalgo wines
Pasada Pastrana Manzanilla A single-vineyard wine with a robust, fullbodied character by Manzanilla standards, produced only with free-run juice. Great with charcuterie or tuna. La Gitana Aniversario Effectively this is Pastrana with an extra three years of ageing – “the oldest and most expensive Manzanilla on the market,” Fermín says. The extra intensity conjures up nutty, smoky flavours and the finish is long and complex. Amontillado Napoleón VORS “The good Amontillados are produced in Sanlúcar,” says Fermín. “You could say that Jerez makes Bordeaux and in Sanlúcar we make Burgundy. Our Amontillado is very fine and very elegant, but still with a lot of yeast and saltiness.” Oloroso Faraón VORS Named after a guerrilla leader who fought against the French, this intriguing wine has pronounced bitter orange characters, toasted nut flavours and a volatile acidity that Fermín admits the winemakers don’t attempt to tame. “The smokiness would make this go well with Polish food,” says Natalia Samsoniuk of Evuna in Manchester. Las 30 del Cuadrado “We want to show the Palomino grape is good for making still wines,” says Fermín, pouring this exotic old-vine wine, which is aged in Manzanilla casks for six months and has a tropical nose despite its dryness. “It reminds me of those candied pineapple sweets we used to get,” says Gill Mann of Jaded Palates. “I always think of Palomino as quite a neutral grape, but this isn’t at all neutral.”
For more information, visit www.mentzendorff.co.uk or call 020 7840 3600 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Cherubino is excited by the potential of Mediterranean varieties in Australia Inside Hidalgo’s “cathedral” in Sanlúcar
Merchants’ verdicts Gill Mann Jaded Palates, Devon “The En Rama stood out for me. It was bone dry with a tangy, mineral and ozone freshness reflecting its coastal location. I was particularly struck with the success of food parings, not only with tapas, olives and almonds as you would expect, but also as a serious food wine, perfect with seafood and to be enjoyed as part of a meal. “I’m sure that the new generation at Bodegas Hidalgo’s insistence on quality and consistency, from the vineyards to the solera, will ensure that La Gitana remains at the forefront of Sherry production. The bodega’s provenance, and the finesse of the wines, guarantees La Gitana a place on our shelves.” Colin Thorne Vagabond Wines, London “There is a great deal of care and attention put into La Gitana Manzanilla that belies
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 25
its price. And for me it was fascinating to taste the different stages of solera ageing that go towards refining the final product. That this wine is well distributed, relatively inexpensive and a benchmark for the style should make us all happy. “I’m not sure the word Sherry is reclaimable for the foreseeable future in a customer-facing role. I will be referring to this style as ‘a salty white wine from southern Spain’ to avoid any ‘oh, I don’t like that’ comments before people actually try the stuff! “I did find myself smitten by the 30-yearold Wellington Palo Cortado. A little goes a long way.”
THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE: THE OLD BRIDGE WINE SHOP
Minnie-Mae Stott and Orson Warr, July 2018
John Hoskins MW Huntingdon, September 2019
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 26
John’s master plan Very few wine shops are owned and run by an MW, and hardly any are based inside hotels. The Old Bridge Wine Shop in Huntingdon isn’t your typical independent merchant, and that goes for its merchandising policy too
ohn Hoskins had no intention of
joining the family hotels business; he was going to be a teacher. But
families can be persuasive. After university, in 1985, he found himself lured into a position at Post Hotels.
“They got me interested in wine as they
thought their wine offer was a mess –
which it was,” he says. “It was quite brave of them.”
A list that had been dominated by
the likes of Piesporter Michelsberg and
more local things named after the former
Bob Marley are emanating. It’s strikingly
retrenched to The Old Bridge, which is
A circular Enomatic takes pride of place
than the latter.
These days, the Hoskinses have
bustling with diners of a certain age when The Wine Merchant visits on what for
most provincial hoteliers would be a quiet weekday. Hoskins is to be found in the
smart wine shop, just beside the reception desk, from where the soothing sounds of
Niersteiner Gutes Domtal was given a
well maintained, evidently the domain of
an owner with ferocious attention to detail. and the shelving bays, each allocated its
own taste category (fresh dry whites; light bright reds; earthy reds), are fastidiously arranged.
Hoskins is a Master of Wine, responsible
for setting the practical exams for MW
students. “Being a Master of Wine doesn’t
mean I automatically produce a great wine
list,” explains a prominent sign on the shop
sprinkle of young Hoskins magic. Things
wall. “It’s about being selective. Most wine
rolled along until 1994, when the family
shops try to impress with a big choice
split up the business: “I couldn’t stand
of inexpensive bottles and superficial
working with my uncle anymore,” Hoskins
discounts. I want to sell only wines that are
truly outstanding of their type.”
Together with his wife Julia, Hoskins
Take us back to 1994 when you took the
built up an estate of six or seven pubs as
well as The Old Bridge Hotel, an ivy-clad
decision to strike out on your own.
little town that claims Oliver Cromwell
back but my wife and I were lucky to get
18th century townhouse hotel on the
My father lent me some money to buy the
banks of the Ouse at Huntingdon. It’s a tidy and John Major among its most notable inhabitants: it’s conspicuous there are
business. We’ll be forever trying to pay it Oliver Cromwell: Huntingdon royalty
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 27
Continues page 28
THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE
From page 27
the chance to run our own business.
We built it up and at one point I had six
or seven businesses including the pubs
and it was then that I realised I hated what I was doing. I hated being a manager of
six or seven places, feeling like you had
no control over them. You’d probably visit them all once a week – here, obviously
more – and find out what disasters had
happened in the last week. You’d look at
the accounts, you’d ring up the accountant ... I didn’t like any of that really. There was hardly any time spent talking about the
North Berwick has become “more and more vibrant”, with a growing tourist trade
menu or talking to the team about wine, or any other product.
I eventually came to my senses about 10
years after that and sold all the pubs and
decided to put a wine shop in here, which took two years. This space was a private dining room before.
Do you enjoy the business side of
The hotel building dates back to the 18th century
MW, and then as someone who owns a
wine shop and who has bought wine for a long time.
Does the shop stand on its own two feet,
what you do as well as the wine side of
This wine shop works because it’s part of a
It’s only in the last two or three years
where I feel I have got the balance right so that I can actually get a measure of
enjoyment out of having this business.
The day-to-day harassment of running
a business: most of that stuff fills me with dread. I do like coming in here and trying to get the team to be as good as they can
be, and trying to get the range of wines as
good as it can be, and making sure the wine
hotel. If I said to someone, “have this wine shop”, I think it would be a struggle.
There has to be some reason why on
earth you’d put in all this effort and all this
and shop – the shop is only 10% of the
wine shop makes on its own is not the
The last two or three years have been
total business – works well.
We have a successful business so I think
I do understand a lot about the hospitality industry – I’ve been in it for 30 years. I
understand a lot about the wine business, having been sort of on the edge of it as an
point of difference and it’s amazing how many people come in and look around.
We keep the food here simple and classic and people know the wine thing is quite special.
What effect has the shop had on the overall business?
‘Wine is about feeling good. If you give someone the nicest moment of their day, then you’re doing your bit’
shop team are really informed.
really good and the mix we have of hotel
The Old Bridge Hotel unique. It gives us a
time into customer care for a relatively
small amount of profit. The profit that the point. It’s helpful. We don’t work it out
separately – we have the hotel accounts and the wine shop is like the bar or the
restaurant or the accommodation – it’s one of the revenue streams.
The point is that the wine shop makes
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 28
The wine thing is a key part of what we are as a hotel. Our overall drinks sales went up by about 30% in the first year of putting
the wine shop in, and that was excluding
the wine shop sales, because people think of this as the place to come and enjoy a drink.
It’s not all alcohol of course. Like more
and more places, we are selling alternatives – Seedlip and interesting cocktail-type stuff.
THE OLD BRIDGE WINE SHOP
What really makes me proud of this
place is when you go out at lunchtime in particular, and look around the tables,
you see how many people are having a
glass of wine – wine that I’m pleased to be associated with.
People can knock booze all they like, but
wine in particular is about that moment in your life when you’re feeling good. If you give someone 20 minutes of civilisation,
hopefully the nicest moment of their day, then you’re doing your bit.
You said this shop is 10% of turnover. How much time do you spend here? This takes up half of my time – maybe more because we have the website to keep up to date. I’m a bit OCD about wine – not about
too much else, though the team might say I am. You’re constantly changing vintage or changing wine or whatever and trying to keep everything precisely up to date and
FMV and Dreyfus Ashby.
We do virtually nothing direct. We did
import a little bit of wine from Switzerland a few years ago but generally I have no
interest in that simply because the reason
to do it is to get a better margin. But for us two things weigh more heavily than that. One is space, and the second is freedom. I am fanatical about trying to have
wines that are all in really good nick right now. And we have quite a lot of odd cases downstairs where we have started listing
something then taken it off, because wine
does that dip thing and sometimes it’s just not quite in the right spot. It will be better in two years, so we take it off. Or we’ll say to the supplier, “really sorry but if you’re
not prepared to give us the 2018 now then
we don’t want the 2017 anymore and we’ll send it back to you”.
Tell us about the shelving and the
decision to merchandise by style rather
that’s all done on time and that the by-the-
shelves. There’s rigidity to what we do.
We change the Enomatics at the
beginning of the month, and make sure
We have a very tight system with the
much small detail – keeping all that right
the bottle, you can get a maximum of 10
glass list is completely accurate. There’s so
just takes a long time. I’ve got a really good team who can do quite a lot of that for me but in the end, someone has to write the
text and make the final buying decisions,
Generally, depending on the shape of
bottles on the shelf and I really like that
because it forces me to ask if every wine
Wines are arranged by style, not country …
deserves its spot. You keep trying stuff all the time because you want each bottle to be really representative of its sort.
When I was a student, I worked at
L’Escargot when Jancis Robinson and Nick Lander owned it. Jancis obviously did the wine list and when I was there in 1981-
82, she did the list by taste profile and she must have been one of the first. I thought
it was brilliant and as a waiter, I could see that it worked.
Doing it in the shop is a pain for the staff
because people will come in and say, “what Rioja have you got?” or “what Rhône wines
have you got?” – and those might be spread across all different sections. But that’s the
and that is always me.
price we pay – it does encourage people to try other stuff.
What sort of a place is Huntingdon? Huntingdon is a really good location. We’re busy all the time. There’s stuff going on,
Do you think geography is a secondary
who come here for business or pleasure
geography is what it is all about. For
it’s quite a successful town. We’re close to
consideration to flavour?
meet here because it’s a central point for a
anyone who wants to learn about wine,
Cambridge but also a lot of our customers
In my personal wine brain, I think the
lot of places.
it really is all about geography. It’s about
understanding the different wine areas of
the world, what they are good at and why.
How many suppliers are you working with? About 15, including Liberty, Enotria,
Hallgarten, Winegrowers, Flint, H2Vin,
… but LPs seem to be in a random order
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 29
That’s the really exciting thing about wine. Continues page 30
THE CHAMPAGNE DEVAUX MERCHANT PROFILE
From page 29
What kind of people come into the shop? We have two types of customer. There are customers for whom coming in here is
fine, it’s relaxing and interesting and they
‘I think the top end of eastern European countries will really change things for independents in the next two or three years. The potential is pretty huge’
just want to buy some wine. They might
Is there a part of the world of wine that
have some money or not, but for them it’s
The real answer is wherever you go next or
set as their limit when they walk through
it’s the world leader at the moment.
be wine-nerdy or wealthy people. Then
you’re finding particularly inspiring or
more of an aspirational thing and therefore
you’ve just been. South Africa produces the
there’s the rest of the world who might
how far they’ll trade up is what they have
best value – between £10 and £25 I think
We have our most expensive wines on a
separate shelf – fine and rare wines. Again, that’s a bit of an aspirational thing.
I think the top end of eastern European
countries will really change things for the independents in the next two or three years.
Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania
… for a lot of them it started from quite
a low base from an image point of view,
but I think the potential in most of those countries is pretty huge. I think it’s only
just getting going and what’s really good from everyone’s point of view is that it’s
adding to the diversification of our product. In some ways it makes it more difficult
and more complicated for people, but it
gives opportunities for the independent
John Hoskins became a Master of Wine in 1994. “I thought, I’m going to be the first MW from the restaurant business”
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 30
THE OLD BRIDGE WINE SHOP
merchants to be doing something that the
It’s been great for me because it meant
consumer finds genuinely interesting and
that I was involved entirely in the wine
Would I be opening a can of worms if I
Does your Institute of Masters of Wine
mention natural wines?
work eat a lot of your time?
No, not at all. It’s all part of the
Yes. That’s why I’m going to stop next
that included in the midst of what we sell.
programme and it takes a lot of time. It’s
diversification. From a sales point of view, I think it is fun and interesting to have
But I’m an MW who spends a lot of time teaching, setting and marking tasting
papers and you’re trying to assess people’s ability to analyse wines that are true to
type – wines that have a sense of place, a
sense of variety, a sense of winemaking –
something that was intended to be there in the bottle.
Natural wines can have lots of character
year. For 25 years I’ve been either in
education or in charge of that education
probably 20 full days and a huge amount of
correspondence. It’s been good for me – it’s kept me on the ball.
In a way it works against me, because
people [reps] don’t suggest stuff, because
they’re scared of me – though not because I’m a scary person.
How much wine do you buy to keep in
but quite often – and it’s a complaint I’ve
wine has a personality which is almost
all the Burgundy we sell, or the good Rhône
heard many times before – it’s the funky
We do buy a lot of good wine to keep, not
unique to that bottle.
– lots of weird, interesting stuff.
factor, the unpredictability, that means the Purity is what I personally really like in
wine, that’s what excites me: when a wine feels like a really good example of Pinot
or a really great Barossa Shiraz. I’m very
catholic in my taste; I like nearly all styles if they are really good of their sort.
The natural thing adds an extra
dimension that may be fun for you, the
natural drinker out there, but doesn’t help me in my course.
Do you remember what prompted you to do the MW exams? What has it done for your career? I passed MW in the same year I set up
the business in 1994. I wasn’t really that
interested in the hotel business, but quite early on I saw that in the wine business
you could make a living. But to get good at
it you had to do the academic work. I don’t know how I knew that – I read about it I
suppose, but I thought “I’m going to be the first MW from the restaurant business”.
for ever but for five to 10 years, so nearly
We like to sell wine when it’s mature and
tasting delicious. From a financial point of
view there are two advantages. One is that
quite often you make an extra margin. Most wines that are any good go up in price, so if you can afford to, you keep it for a few years.
The other factor is that quite often you
find that you have got something that is
very desirable for a wine nerd. A lot of the wine we sell on the internet is to people who don’t know anything about us, but
they’ve been Googling for particular wines. We’ve kept it back and we’ve got a full margin.
When most people buy this stuff they
sell it on offer at a lower margin straight
away – there is an argument for that too,
because it’s good for cash flow. I’d rather
wait and make 33% on it. The internet has been really good for people who are into
niche stuff, because those obsessives will find you.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 31
ARTISANS OF CHAMPAGNE
Svetoslav Manolev Master Sommelier Flemings, Mayfair Champagne has definitely always been known as a celebratory drink for special occasions, which is great. However, we are now evolving into consuming Champagne in various other ways. Not only is it a delicious aperitif and celebratory drink but also a wonderful gastronomic wine. Devaux is a perfect example of that with its high quality and aromatic complexity making it ideal to pair with dishes creating ultimate flavour fusions. What I love about the style of Devaux is the versatility in its range of cuvées. From the fresh and creamy Cuvée D to the incredibly mineral and precise Ultra D and the complex and hedonistic vintage D Millésimé … they all have something different to offer, depending on the occasion. Recently, I paired a seven-course tasting menu with the full Devaux range including Stenopé. However, if I had to choose one pairing, it would be the Ultra D with one of our signature dishes – Jersey lobster ravioli with crab and tomato bisque. The low dosage makes it the perfect match for seafood – I could have that every day. We have done a few special events with Devaux in the past, both in the restaurant and in our barrel room. We are currently discussing our next Champagne dinner where we can show the versatility of Devaux’s wines when it comes to food and wine pairing.
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
Austria plays the right notes Whether it’s fresh, zippy whites or elegant, understated reds, Austria naturally produces the kind of wines that consumers are demanding, as our buyers’ trip to Burgenland and Steiermark proved
ritish consumers are increasingly looking for wines that are naturally lower in alcohol, yet big on flavour – and which express the personality of the land they come from. Burgenland and Steiermark may not be names that are immediately familiar in the UK, but the wines these Austrian regions produce could hardly be more on-trend for the evolving British palate. The Wine Merchant recently teamed up with Austrian Wine to lead a buying trip for a small group of independent merchants, all keen to check in on progress in a country which has long been regarded with admiration by the trade, and which many believe may yet make a breakthrough among consumers. Burgenland is heavily influenced by Hungarian winemaking traditions, sharing as it does a border on the eastern side. Its five Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) appellations are Neusiedlersee, Rosalia, Leithaberg,
Mittelburgenland and Eisenberg. Steiermark, whose southern border is shared with Slovenia, has three DAC regions: Vulkanland Steiermark, Südsteiermark and Weststeiermark. Most of the vineyards in Austria are family owned, and more than 70% of total production is white wine. But the group was wooed by the Blaufränkisch variety with its subtle cherry and spice flavours and interesting ageing potential. The Pinot Blancs were generous, with fruit, minerality and well-balanced acidity and appealing apricot, pear and candied fruit flavours – all thirst quenching stuff. The Welschriesling which, despite being the most widely planted variety is hardly ever exported, impressed with its opulent fruit. Perhaps one of the most interesting examples would be the Burgenland Ruster Ausbruch Welschriesling Auf den Flugeln der Morgenrote 2015, which was heavier in body and had lip-smacking baked
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 32
apple flavours with a hint of Earl Grey. The Chardonnays were enticing, some displaying saline sharpness and others with creamier textures. Sweetie wise, one of the stand-outs was Haider’s Burgenland Eiswein 2015. Made from Grüner Veltliner, with around 25% botrytis grapes, this was candied and honeyed – a perfect pairing for sorbet. Common themes that emerged among the winemakers and estates we visited were the low-intervention approach, the use of natural yeasts, longer skin-contact times and the adoption of organic and occasionally biodynamic methods. This lack of intervention in the winery and the cellar should not be mistaken for wishful thinking; the choices made in the vineyard from the grape selection and the general viticultural practices are made with classic Austrian precision. The aim is simple – to produce the best wines that the terroir allows.
Gernot Heinrich, Martin Nittnaus and Gernot Letiner
Prieler Schützen am Gebirge, Burgenland “I’m not just a winemaker, I’m a wine drinker,” says Georg Prieler as he fills our glasses with a selection of vintages from his cellar. His vineyards, spread through Schutzen and Oggau, are predominantly planted with Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Blaufränkisch, with a “tiny” amount of Cabernet and Merlot. His father was inspired by “the big Bordeaux of the 1980s”, but Georg is focused on local varieties. “My heart is with the Blaufränkisch and the Weissburgunder,” he says. Georg describes his move to organics as “logical”: he sees himself as merely a custodian of the land until he passes it on to the next generation. “I want to protect it for my three sons – I think it’s the death of a wine region when they start to kick out the flora and fauna,” he says. Prieler’s wines are all minimal intervention. “We have no recipe to how we make the wines,” he says. “Every decision is very spontaneous; it depends on the grapes. We spend most of our time and our money in the vineyards and in the berry selection, so we can be very lazy in the cellar. We bring to the bottle what we have grown in the vineyards.” The resulting wines certainly impress, especially the spicy Blaufränkisch and intense, apricotty Pinot Blanc. It’s a joy to drink the wild, fresh and complex Pinot Blanc Ried Haidsatz 2017 from 70-year-old vines, listening to Georg’s account of how he obtained the small parcel from another family by a chance meeting: “Well, I was a young winemaker, sitting in the pub in the village …”
Pannobile Gols, Burgenland
Schiefer Grosspetersdorf, Burgenland
Gernot Heinrich, Martin Nittnaus and Gernot Leitner are three winemakers from the Pannobile collective. This association of nine winegrowers was created in 1994 with the aim of highlighting the quality and character of the region’s wines. Every vintage requires members to put forward a new wine to Pannobile for consideration. The approach of “less is more” in the winery evidently doesn’t apply to Pannobile’s hospitality, as we are greeted in a tasting room that’s as sophisticated as can be. Mood lighting: check; cool bar area: check; glass floor affording an impressive view of the cellar: double check. From Nittnaus, The Tochter 2018 wakes up our tired taste buds with its floral, peppery notes and juicy acidity. Chardonnay Joiser Freudshofer 2016 delights with its popcorn and mint flavours and Leitner’s Pinot Blanc, Salzberg 2019 is all refreshing pear drops.
It’s the last day of the 2019 harvest when we arrive, so we catch a fleeting glimpse of winemaker Uwe Schiefer and are left in the capable hands of estate manager Mark Matisovits. The vineyards in Eisenberg, Leithaberg and Purbach have been farmed organically since 2007 and all the wines are unfiltered. “Our philosophy is to have elegant wines that are not too heavy,” says Matisovits. The estate exports more than 50% of its output, mainly to Germany, America,
‘I think it’s the death of a wine region when they start to kick out the flora and fauna’ THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 33
Continues page 34
Muster Gamlitz, Südsteiermark
From page 33
Russia, and Japan. Currently only a “small selection” is available the UK via FMV. Victoria from Loki points out she stocks the Blaufränkisch Szapary and the Blaufränkisch Eisenberg DAC Reserve. Wachter Wiesler Ratschen, Eisenberg Christoph Wachter took on full responsibility for the winery in 2010 at just 22 years of age. He farms the family’s 14 hectares in the villages of Eisenberg and Deutsch Schutzen. Thanks to his parents “not going too crazy” with replacing their Blaufränkisch with more fashionable Cabernet and Merlot in the early 90s, most of his vineyards are over 35 years old. He tried organic farming in two vineyards in 2009 and now the 2018 vintage is the first to be officially organic. “But,” Christoph says, “I forgot to put it on the label!” He’s battled frosts two years in succession, but is confident enough to trust his instinct when it comes to winemaking – and rightly so, judging by our tasting. “If you trust your soil and your team picking the grapes you can let the wine do what it’s going to do,” he says. He uses old barrels: “This is a very traditional, very authentic way to produce wine,” he explains. “I don’t want any taste of oak; I like freshness and I like drinkability.” We are blown away by the entry-level Handgemenge 2017, a Blaufränkisch-led blend full of black cherries and a touch of dark pepper. “For me that’s one of the nicest and most easydrinking red styles of the trip,” says Simon Parkinson of Vinological in Chester. “It’s so elegant, with real complexity. I could drink this all day, especially if I had a plate of charcuterie.” The wines are available in the UK through Newcomer Wines. Christoph Wachter
Lackner Tinnacher Gamlitz, Südsteiermark It’s hard to imagine this estate was ever anything but cutting-edge design and beautifully manicured grounds (thanks to the robotic lawn mower busying itself in the background), but until Katherina Tinnacher’s great-grandfather took the plunge in the 1920s and moved away from mixed agriculture to focus on wine, the area was poor. “My great-grandfather founded his own nursery for grafting the wines and he did his own vineyard selections,” Katherina explains. “We still have about 80% of our varieties and vines from those selections.” The last of the harvest is just coming in when we arrive and an early morning walk through the vineyard, under the chestnut trees, via the beehives, reveals a few solitary bunches of Sauvignon Blanc. When Katherina started organic farming in 2007, many local winemakers said it wouldn’t work. But now 15% of the vineyards in the area are also farming organically. The extended skin-contact maceration and the use of 100% malolactic fermentation are much the same methods used by Katherina’s grandfather. Her wines, from the beautifully fragrant yet bone dry Muskateller, Weissburgunder and Morillon (Chardonnay), resonate with a sense of place. “Our parents had to focus first on quality management here and in the vineyards, and now we are the first generation who are really into export,” Katherina says. “It’s hard to understand the area with its bunch of different crus, and our different grape varieties, so we need people who can explain this and tell the stories behind the wines. We always find those people in good restaurants and small wine shops and this is what I want to focus our sales on.”
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 34
Reinhard Muster is a self-confessed perfectionist and as such he won’t be extending his estate much further. He feels it would be impossible to maintain standards if he spreads himself too thinly. “He has such high expectations of the quality and he only trusts himself,” explains his partner Claudia. Reinhard took on responsibility for the vineyard in 2000 when he was 19 years old. He has taken the production from 30,000 bottles to 10 times that amount. “For our Klassic range we try to produce very fruity and typical wines for the variety and Reverenz is a mix of different vineyards, villages and soil types,” says Reinhard. “We blend grapes with higher acid with grapes with high sugar content.” As we admire a number of huge tanks outside, Reinhard tells us that his next task is creating a building to put them in. “Over the last year we have invested in the vineyards and technical things for producing the wines, but the next thing will be to house these – we have too many tanks outside. Sometimes you cannot imagine the problems we have when we work in winter – we have to remove the snow,” he says. The Steiermark wine style very much depends on hot days and cold nights and with the harvest just in, Reinhard is confident that 2019 is a “fantastic” vintage. There is another more undercover project that Josef has been working on and is particularly proud of: a trio of red, white and rose vermouths made from Traminer. “Delicious, citrusy and Christmassy,” is our verdict.
Claudia and Reinhard Muster
“I was surprised by the amount of producers doing natural and lowintervention wines. They don’t seem to be doing it with crazy philosophies and practices in the vineyard but just for the purity of the wine that they make. They have such a wide range, from everyday easy-drinking to a little bit more sophisticated, bigger, richer wines. “I think a lot of UK consumers are into that freshness and lower alcohol and easy-drinking styles, so we are the same as their domestic market in that respect. “For me the highlight was the Blaufränkisch: the white pepper and the spiciness, combined with the freshness and the fact they served them a little bit chilled.”
Emily Silva, The Oxford Wine Company “That Alpine style – lower alcohol, a little bit more mineral, with some real elegance, particularly with the reds – is where the UK market is heading. People are starting to look for something a bit more subtle. “The reclassification has made things much better because Austria aligning itself with the German system, using the Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese descriptors, is not the right way to go. Ninety per cent of the wines we tried were quite dry, so separating themselves from that type of classification was a smart move.”
Victoria Platt, Loki, Birmingham “I reckon I have a lot of customers who would really buy into the Pannobile story and their more funky wines, and I’m more into that kind of thing. They were so hip and cool. “I’m definitely a fan of the Weissburgunders, especially the older ones, to see how they are ageing and developing. And I never thought I’d fall in love with an Austrian Chardonnay – but we’ve had some amazing Chardonnays on this trip. “These are the sorts of wines that customers would fall in love with too, but it’s a matter of educating people and having a tasting; they are most certainly hand-sell wines. “That’s where our Enomatics will come in and it would help if the producers can get represented by a good agency who will support them with tastings and events like meeting the winemaker.”
Anthony Borges, The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley “Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was how much I liked the Pinot Blanc wines. Potentially, in my view this grape could be a real winner for Austria. “Blaufränkisch may be a bit niche but put alongside Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir, it holds its own. My customers who like Burgundy and savoury Nebbiolos will love Blaufränkisch. “There is a whole spectrum of Grüner Veltliner: very serious, long, mineral, quite suave and sophisticated food-type wines to the very succulent and tropical, and I learned a bit more how versatile the grape is. “The limestone-influenced Chardonnay is great. Those we tasted were very slick and stylish, mostly along the citrus spectrum. The minerality of these wines played a significant but not domineering part, and they were textural and delicious. “Although it was clear the Austrians are aiming for a fresh, food-friendly style of Chardonnay – consciously not stirring lees – the evidence was that the wines evolve Burgundyesque richness nonetheless.”
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 35
© AWMB / Herbert Lehmann
Auriane D’Aramon, Friarwood Fine Wines, London
Changing cheese an
In their homeland, Spanish wines are bes invited to two masterclasses, in Edinburg The Wedgwood restaurant was the venue for the Edinburgh event
ith Rioja casting such a big
shadow across the category, it’s sometimes hard to get
adequate visibility and recognition on the
shelves for Spain’s diversity of other styles and regions.
For many customers, Rioja is Spanish
wine – the first and last name that crosses their lips. So how to change perceptions,
and encourage more experimentation? The Wine Merchant brought together a group of independent retailers in Edinburgh
and Manchester to take a fresh look at a
selection of winning wines from this year’s
Wines from across Spain were included in the tastings
Wines from Spain Awards, and consider
how to showcase them alongside the best of Spanish foods.
If anyone is going to draw a customer
into new avenues of Spanish experience, it’s likely to be an independent retailer, who can offer the kind of personalised
advice that these regions and styles may
need, especially when it comes to Spanish whites. Gordon Polley of Ellie’s Cellar,
with seven shops in smaller towns across central Scotland, agrees. “Our customers
tend to think of Spain for red wines first,”
he says, “but if you can get them to try the whites they are pleasantly surprised. For Goat and sheep products were the stars of the cheeseboard
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 36
example, Albariño has our best repeat
purchase record – once they’ve tried it, they really want to come back.”
g the world with nd charcuterie
st enjoyed in the company of tapas or a more formal meal. Merchants were gh and Manchester, to explore the culinary versatility of a range of wines
James Kelly, of VINo 13 in Kilmacolm,
already has around 20 Spanish wines on his shelves, “from the predictable Tempranillo Reserva to Godello and
Albariño in whites,” he says. “Lagar de
Bouza is a big seller. A wine like the Ribeiro we tasted is a stand-out wine but would definitely be a hand-sell for me.”
Clare Kennaway of Edinburgh’s Great
Grog, which has more than 30 wines in
its Spanish range, is a fan of Godello as a
grape, but understands that it doesn’t have
strong recognition among many customers: “If you can get them to taste it, they love it,” she maintains. She also sees the value of a good back story in attracting customers: “I do a lot of corporate tastings, and will
Here in Scotland, we’ve got 200 years of
Yecla. It’s one of those great wines, if you’re
story, but we’re not making enough of it.”
Our event was focused on matching the
connection with Sherry through the whisky industry – all the roots are there to tell that Looking at reds, and options to draw
customers somewhere other than Rioja, our indies were impressed with the
Vermador Barrica (a blend of Monastrell and Syrah) tasted at the event. “In terms
of value,” says Kennaway from Great Grog, “it was absolutely excellent.” For others, Monastrell is already a winner in store.
McDiarmid from Luvians says: “If you look at our top-selling Spanish wines, first is
a Rioja, and second is a Monastrell from
looking for value and a fairly full-bodied red. It flies out the door.”
wines with a selection of quality Spanish
cheeses and cured meats, and for several of the group, offering wine in this way is
already part of their offering. Laura Hope from Edinburgh-based wine bar Smith & Gertrude says: “We already offer cheese and wine flights, which change each
week – we have two flights available, each pairing three wines and three cheeses.
Continues page 38
often feature unusual grape varieties – and people really respond to the story behind the wines.”
Yet sometimes, there’s a powerful
story that could be usefully engaged in the promotion of Spanish wine styles
that perhaps isn’t being used to its full
advantage. Archie McDiarmid of Luvians in St Andrews sells plenty of whisky
alongside the shop’s wines, and thinks
retailers are missing a trick with one of the trade’s perennial favourites: “With almost every Sherry drinker we have as a customer,” he says, “we were the
ones who introduced them to the drink.
Miguel Crunia led the Edinburgh masterclass
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 37
Authentic wine needs authentic food From page 37
It’s all about educating people.” This is
particularly important for the range of
Spanish wines which the business lists
from smaller producers and wines from off the beaten track.
Ian Gribbin, of Abbey Fine Wines in
Melrose, already directly imports Spanish cheeses which are sold in the shop, and
he’s organising an Eat Spain Drink Spain
dinner in late October. “As soon as you put
food and wine together in front of people”,
‘As soon as you put food and wine together in front of people, they are happy’ he says, “they’re happy. It just makes sense.”
Gribbin believes that organising such events
he Manchester event, which took place at the Salut wine bar and shop in the middle of the city,
featured a selection of Spanish goodies provided courtesy of Peter Kinsella of Spanish food specialist Lunya.
The speaker was wine writer Simon
Woods, who also runs the Manchester Wine School.
“I thought it was fantastic,” says Jane
Taylor of Dronfield Wine World near
Sheffield. “Having Simon there to talk
through the wines was just brilliant. I
thought the matching of the food by Peter from Lunya was really useful and we’re
going to jump on board with the Eat Spain Drink Spain initiative.
“We do a lot of tapas anyway because it
just adds to the experience.”
She adds: “I think it will be really nice
to get in touch with Peter and use them
for our more upmarket tapas evenings. It
makes it that extra point of difference – if you’re drinking really good quality wines
from small producers then the same goes
for the food – it makes it more authentic. “Interestingly we’d tasted a lot of the
Boutinot wines at their tasting the week before, and revisiting those wines – that was fab. Actually some of those wines
that I thought were too expensive to put
on, I’m now going to put on anyway – I’ve re-evaluated them to go with the food
pairings. All of the wines were absolutely fabulous.”
Sam Jackson of Chester Beer & Wine has
around 60 Spanish wines in her range at any one time.
“We did have a good taste of the different
cheeses with the different wines,” she
says. “There’s always a market for food and wine pairing, especially in Chester
where every time you turn around a new
speciality restaurant or deli has opened up and they’re pairing up with somebody to
do a tasting. It’s whether you do a ticketed tasting for a formal sit-down event or you just have a bottle open and some ham on the side and have people wander in and you have a chat with them.”
also really helps to focus the mind of a
retailer, “and gets them thinking about what else you can achieve in the future.”
The matching of the wines with top
Spanish cheeses and cured meats proved thought-provoking, with a recognition among the group of the potential for
retailers to extend a customer’s views on a
wine in this context. Clare Kennaway is one of those with a clear idea of a winner. “The standout food for me was the
Iberico Bellota Jabugo, but I think the best pairing was the Ahumado Curado and
the Cornelio Dinastia White,” she says.
“They both had a sweet, smoky note that I thought married really nicely.”
Fernando Muñoz, new director of Foods & Wines from Spain in London, with María Naranjo, global director of Foods & Wines from Spain, Madrid, who came over especially for the event
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 38
Merchants came from across Scotland for the Edinburgh masterclass
THE EDINBURGH MENU
Ahumado Curado from Valladolid A semi-hard, raw sheep’s milk cheese, aged
• Fraga do Corvo 2018, Fragas do Lecer,
for six months and then smoked intensely
with beech wood. Intense aromas, but
• Finca Viñoa 2018, Pazo Casanova,
subtle flavours with salty and sharp notes.
Cured meats Iberico Ham Bellota Jabugo Free range Iberico pigs, fed on a 100% acorn diet produce ham with intense rich flavours and a delicate soft texture – slighty
• Raimat El Niu de la Cigonya, Raventos
Manchego from La Mancha
smoky with hints of saltiness. This ham was
Codorniu, DO Costers del Segre
Made from raw sheep’s milk, and aged
matured for 36 months.
• Cornelio Dinastia White Barrel Fermented
for 12 months, it has a dry and waxy
2017, Bodegas Cornelio Dinastia,
texture, and a mild fruity taste with hints
of flower and pineapple. Great served with
• Fernando de Castilla Antique Oloroso NV,
membrillo (sweet quince paste).
Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla, DO Jerez
Red wines • Vermador Barrica 2018, Bodegas Pinoso,
Acorn-fed Chorizo de Bellota Not your average chorizo. Made from 100% acorn-fed Black Iberian pigs, the meat is minced and finely sliced and cured with salt and paprika. Full of flavour. Acorn-fed Salchichon de Bellota
Similar to the chorizo but without paprika,
A lactic, set raw goat’s cheese aged for
• Juan Gil Yellow Label 2018, Gil Family
and dotted with black peppercorns, and
20 days, with a firm but velvety texture.
Estates, DO Jumilla
produced with the finest Iberico pork.
Lemony citrus notes with a fuller-bodied
• Peninsula Cadalso 2017, Peninsula
Moluengo from Villamalea
Vinicultores, Sierra de Gredos • Contino Reserva 2015, CVNE, DOCa Rioja • Marques de Murrieta Reserva 2015, Marques de Murrieta, DOCa Rioja
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 39
A way to make Europe
European Regional Development Fund
THE MANCHESTER MENU White wines
• Pago de los Capellanes O Luar do Sil
5j Presa Iberica de Bellota
Godello on lees 2017, Pago de los Capellanes
This strong pasteurised sheep’s milk
Iberico is widely revered as one of the best
cheese is from the Payoyo dairy high in the
meats in the world due to its rich, delicious
• Cuarenta Vendimias Cuvée 2017, Bodega
mountains of the Sierra de Cadiz. It has
flavour. The purebred Iberian pigs roam
Cuatro Rayas DO Rueda
an intense savoury flavour with hints of
freely in the dehesas: sparsely wooded
• Malvasía Seco Colección 2017, Bodegas El
caramel, almonds and subtle spiciness. It
pasturelands that can only be found in the
Grifo DO Lanzarote
is aged for up to 18 months.
south west of Spain.
• Montes Obarenes ‘Selección Terroir’ 2015, Bodegas y Viñedos Gómez Cruzado
Morcilla Iberica de Bellota
A pasteurised goat’s cheese log. A gentle,
This cured Morcilla Iberica, or blood
soft cheese with a lemony taste.
sausage, is a traditional Spanish product
San Simon de Costa
paprika, garlic and pig’s blood. It is cured
This lightly smoked cheese from Galicia
for a period of 40 days.
made using meat from acorn-fed pigs,
Red wines • Estola Reserva 2014, Bodegas Ayuso
has a smooth buttery texture and a
DO La Mancha
pleasant, lightly earthy taste.
Casa Riera d’Ordeix Salchichon This Salchichon has been produced by Casa
• Mineral del Montsant 2017, Castell del
Riera d’Ordeix for over 150 years. The main
DO Ribera del Duero
Cold smoked sardines
with some belly pork for flavour, and simply
• Rioja Vega Edición Limitada 2016, Rioja
Sardine loins with shiny skin, a meaty and
salt and black pepper.
Vega-Bodegas Clunia DOCa Rioja
juicy texture, a delicate and light natural
• Voche Crianza 2015, Bodegas Manzanos
Remei DO Montsant
ingredient is best quality leg meat, mixed
• Parada de Atauta 2015, Dominio de Atauta
DOCa Rioja • Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2012, Finca
Valpiedra DOCa Rioja
Baby scallops in a traditional Galician mildly spicy tomato sauce from Conservas
All food served at our Manchester event at
de Cambados of Pontevedra, Rías Baixas.
Salut was kindly supplied by Lunya
Eat Spain Drink Spain is running a promotion until November 30 showcasing the potential of matching Spanish food and wine in independent wine shops. Promote a selection of your Spanish wines and you will be sent POS material, a Spanish Gourmet Kit, and featured on the Eat Spain Drink Spain website and social media campaign. If you can encapsulate your promotion in a short report, you’ll also be considered for a £1,000 contribution towards the purchase of any wines from the 2019 Wines from Spain Awards line-up.
For further details, contact email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 40
THE WINE MERCHANT
We’re only here for the career
ROUND TABLE 2019 In association with SANTA RITA ESTATES
Our final report on our Birmingham Round Table, organised in partnership with Santa Rita Estates and hosted by Loki, starts with a talk about the thorny issue of recruitment
ne of the perennial problems facing wine merchants is
recruiting quality staff – and
Yet more and more independents are
finding ways of bringing new talent
on board and helping these recruits to
develop their skills as they embark on a career in the wine trade.
David Dodd of Tivoli Wines says he is
“particularly lucky” to employ one member of staff who has been with the company for 17 years and is “part of the community –
Edward Symonds Saxty’s Hereford
people come in to speak to her even if they
the same language and use the same
has thrived as a result of the responsibility
start looking at people like bartenders and
don’t want to buy wine”.
He also employs a team member who
that Dodd gives him. “It’s recognition and
reward,” Dodd says. “We worked out what he wanted to do and what his career path was and made sure he’s rewarded for the gains that he’s making.”
For Dodd, bringing in young people is
a way of ensuring that the business can appeal to customers of a similar age.
“You’ve got to get people who can speak
Chris Connolly David Dodd Tivoli Wines Cheltenham
technology as them,” he says. “So I am all for bringing in apprentices. You need to
mixologists if you want to diversify your
range. I don’t think the future of wine retail is going to be old rich guys selling to old rich guys.”
Phil Innes of Loki admits to a few
recruitment issues at the company’s
Edgbaston branch. “But we’ve become
Continues page 42
Gosia Bailey The Wine Bank Southwell
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 41
Nick Underwood Underwood Wines Stratford
THE WINE MERCHANT ROUND TABLE: BIRMINGHAM
© Robert Kneschke / stockadobe.com
From page 41
more ruthless with the part-timers,” he says. “If you don’t fit in within the first month: thank you, see you later.”
Innes now has an “amazing” team,
including a large number of part-timers
– he estimates he has received about 150
CVs from people looking for those kinds of shifts. “We’ve got some fantastic students working for us now,” he says.
What credentials does he want in
new recruits? “We’re just looking for
personality. We’ve found that recruiting from the wine-geek population isn’t
necessarily the right thing because even young people that are really into their
wine tend to have a different outlook to the majority of our customers.
“A lot of our customer base is quite
young, and they don’t necessarily want
this posh toff that’s drunk wine from his
daddy’s cellar all his life and that’s how he knows about wine. They want someone
who’s younger and more engaging. We do WSET courses here so we can easily put staff through them, at our cost. Three of our students are doing the Level 3.”
Gosia Bailey, who runs The Wine Bank
with her husband Chris, has also been fortunate with her recruitment.
“We have Sarah, who’s the shop manager,
but we still have a lot of control, only
because it’s our business and we’ve put everything into it,” she says. “She was
straight out of university; I think she’d
already done the first level of WSET and
Give young team members responsibility and reward and they can flourish, argues David Dodd
she was part of the wine society at uni.
She’d spent time in Champagne as well.”
But Bailey says that generally speaking,
finding decent staff has been a challenge for most local retailers.
“Retail gets a bad press all the time so
it’s not an industry that younger people are interested in,” she says.
Not surprisingly, smaller retailers
are reluctant to commit to employing
a candidate they’re unsure about. “In a
small independent it costs so much money
‘A lot of our customer base is quite young, and they don’t necessarily want this posh toff that’s drunk wine from his daddy’s cellar all his life’ THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 42
even to have them on the payroll with the
pension and all that, before you even start training them,” Bailey says.
Edward Symonds of Saxty’s believes
that “the art of delegation is the key to
business”, but admits it’s a difficult skill to master.
“We run a family business and we treat
all our staff like they’re one of the family,”
he says. “You go the extra mile to look after
them and make sure they’re happy. As long as you’re looking after your staff, hopefully they’ll stay for a long time.
“We have a small team in the Saxty’s
Wine bit – there are eight of us now. In the bar business and on the events side, we have a few more.
“This year it’s been incredibly difficult to
find people to work on events. Everyone’s found it hard to recruit staff.”
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SANTA RITA ESTATES
‘I can buy it cheaper online’ The internet may have opened doors for ambitious indies looking to seek out new revenue streams. But it’s also ushered in the age of instant price comparisons
ow much is the independent trade being transformed by
the internet? Our panellists in
Birmingham were broadly sceptical about the potential for web sales to massively boost their bottom line.
Edward Symonds of Saxty’s says his
business does “a fair bit” online, but urges
fellow merchants to approach e-commerce with caution.
“It’s a minefield, there’s no two ways
about it,” he says. “There’s a lot of poor
decisions you can make online that will cost you a lot of money.
“You can get websites built for 20 grand,
30 grand and more, depending on what platforms you’re using, and you can get
websites built for next to nothing. You can buy templates for £150 now.
“There are relatively straightforward
solutions now for online retailing but there is a huge amount of con-merchants out
there. There’s a lot of fraud going on, still.
corner now. That’s going to be a massive
why. You’ve taken half an hour of my time,
getting quicker. The industry’s got to catch
the one that you preferred, and I think
game changer in terms of what you can
access. Technology is only improving and up pretty quickly.”
Phil Innes of Loki feels that Vivino is too
impersonal for his customer base. “You
can’t talk to someone, yet, and you can’t
physically feel the bottle and that sort of thing,” he says.
“Most of my customers aren’t looking
for the rock-bottom lowest price. They’re looking for an experience and some expertise.”
He argues that Vivino has an in-built
bias towards big names such as Moët and Veuve Clicquot, which climb the rankings
due to their likelihood of being consumed as part of a celebration. He also criticises
the app for not having the ability to make recommendations based on consumers’ tastes and buying history.
to scan labels and get instant information
a mixed blessing for independents. But
I gave her loads of gin samples and I saw
It’s a real headache.”
The Vivino app, which allows customers
about wine – including pricing from online merchants – has proved something of
Symonds believes the technology should be embraced. “That’s the future,” he says. “It’s
not going to change and there will be other apps.”
He adds: “You’ve got 5G around the
ut it’s not only Vivino that is
having an impact on consumer behaviour.
Innes says: “A few weeks ago, we had one
lady who spent half an hour of my time. she was on her phone.
“She said, this gin is on Amazon for
£5 less than you’re selling for – will
you honour the price? I just said to her, absolutely not – but I’ll explain to you
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 43
which is worth a hell of a lot more than £5;
you’ve sampled a load of things and chosen that’s worth £5.
“She said to me, I have never thought of
it in that way, and bought the bottle. I said, you’re well within your rights to buy that
from Amazon but if you do that, in five or
10 years’ time there’ll be nowhere for you to go and try these things and to get an expert opinion.”
Vivino: it doesn’t talk to you – yet
THE WINE MERCHANT ROUND TABLE: BIRMINGHAM
What’s the point of retail awards? Some of our Birmingham panelists know what it’s like to be a winner in a national retail competition. The question is, did it make any difference to their business?
© asierromero / stockadobe.com
Phil Innes: It’s good for profile raising. If I’m honest I’m probably not entering
any more now. lt’s a lot of effort and, for
certain ones like IWC, a lot of expense. IWC is extortionate. It’s £200-odd just to apply, I think.
Gosia Bailey: I don’t see why you should pay money to apply. I think that’s wrong. David Dodd: I had a phone call this
year from one of the awards organisers, basically encouraging me to apply for a
certain category because only one other
person had applied. They’d looked at my
website and said, you’ve got quite a strong range.
We won a Decanter award last year. I
It can cost around £200 to enter an award, and maybe judges won’t even visit the shop
spoke to [retailer awards chairman] Peter
it did bring something in. But did I feel
journalists, the judges.
one of the judges had set foot in my shop. It
highly subjective and not very transparent.
year and this year we won the Newark
Richards that night and said, have you been to our shop – what did you think? And not just devalues it straight away.
We did see a spike in online sales, so
particularly rewarded for it? Not really.
I’m not anti-awards but I do think they’re
If you’re going to run awards, make
retailers, rather than suppliers and wine
SUPPORTED BY SANTA RITA ESTATES
Gosia Bailey: We won an IWSC award last Business Awards and we had the biggest response from that, because it was local. We saw a direct increase in sales and
there were more people congratulating us
because it was based within our area. They recognised it; they understand it. To get an
award from the IWSC means nothing to the
Our Birmingham Round Table event is the fourth in a series of regional disussions featuring independent wine merchants, organised in partnership with Santa Rita Estates.
average person buying a bottle of wine.
David Dodd: I quite like looking at awards because I want to know who’s best in
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.
class and why they won the award. But
when I’ve visited winning shops, I’m quite underwhelmed.
It’s all so subjective and that’s what puts
people off awards. It all seems to be about
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 44
who you know in the industry.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SANTA RITA ESTATES
Glass is still top of the class for indies
customers were offered the same wine
quality of the wine,” he says. “And I’m really
sometimes dismissed as obsolete and environmentally damaging,
and likely to lose their dominant market share as consumers buy into cans and boxed wine, and embrace draught dispense.
But the Birmingham panellists need
some convincing that bottles’ days are numbered.
Chris Connolly recently installed a
draught wine system within the shop area
of his Birmingham business but found that customer interest was minimal.
“I don’t think people could quite
understand why it was there,” he says. “And also it’s not particularly eco-friendly. It’s a whacking great KeyKeg, which is non-
recyclable, underneath the whole thing. We moved the kit into the bar and we’re now doing draught beer from it instead. So all was not lost but it didn’t really work.”
David Dodd of Tivoli Wines recently
carried out an experiment in which
canned product to be worth less.
“People can’t get their heads around it
at the moment even though they love the for it.”
Connolly believes that the craft beer
market has helped consumers change their view of canned products. “It just needs
a little bit more time,” he says. “I’m sure it will come. Two years ago if you said
‘canned beer’ you’d be thinking of Carling and Stella. Whereas now you’ve got so
many craft beers in cans – and in many
cases the quality is much better than out of a bottle.”
But for Phil Innes of Loki, cans are not a
long-term solution. “I don’t see the point because canning is an environmental disaster waiting to happen,” he says.
“Although cans are easily recyclable,
actually the mining of the raw material is one of the most polluting industries. And still about 40% of cans get thrown in the bin and taken to landfill.
“Glass is one of the most widely and
most easily recycled products in the world. Why are we suddenly moving away from it?”
© Colin & Linda McKie / stockadobe.com
raditional wine bottles are
How are spirits doing?
from bottles and cans. They perceived the
Glass has less environmental impact than cans, Innes argues
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 45
“We’re not doing the big brands; we’re keeping it local. We just can’t compete with the supermarkets. We’re now going direct to gin producers because we will only hold stock for so long. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and we replace it with a new product. It’s not a repeat purchase.” Gosia Bailey, The Wine Bank “Unfortunately for us, a lot of our local gins are in Waitrose. But it doesn’t really concern me massively because it’s brand building. The amount of people that have gone in and seen these gins in Waitrose and then come to me … it’s almost like the convenience model of a supermarket. They’re happy to spend that little bit more if they’re buying local. “How many times a day do we get asked for Whispering Angel? We’re £3 more expensive than Waitrose, yet we still sell out, every single month. “We’ve seen a spike this year in aperitifs and digestifs. It makes me think about whether we should go into pre-made cocktails.” David Dodd, Tivoli Wines “Spirits are a big part of the business for us. We get involved in the whisky more than we ever have been, which is great. It takes a long time to build up access to the really good rare stuff. A big focus for me personally is to learn more about it and have confidence in what you’re buying. It’s something we stepped away from years ago but it’s something we’re actively involved in now. We’re selling more gin than ever before. The big request is: what’s new?” Edward Symonds, Saxty’s “The type of customer that is buying gin now is not the type of customer that was buying it two or three years ago. It’s kind of the less-cool customer now. All the people who are ahead of the trend are now on vermouth or something else, like rum … and Sherry, again.” Phil Innes, Loki
French Connections These 11 artisanal French winemakers were part of the exclusive tasting in London organised by The Wine Merchant and Business France. These are unique wines from producers with stories to tell – and which are aimed at adding a point of difference to the ranges of independent merchants. If you missed the tasting, don’t worry: you can receive samples of wines from any of these producers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emmanuel Poirmeur travelled the world in his winemaking career before returning to his Basque coast roots in 2007, founding the EGIATEGIA winemaking workshop. It’s a project where new ideas can flourish, including fermenting wines in marine conditions, for which Poirmeur holds a patent. The process takes place in tanks immersed 15 metres deep in the Bay of SaintJean-de-Luz. This stage corresponds to the second alcoholic fermentation, also known as sparkling method or “tirage” or “prise de mousse” in sparkling winemaking production. “Each and every wine from EGIATEGIA is an occasion of discovery,” says Poirmeur. “Wines made for celebrating; a unique palate; the symbiosis of technical know-how, influenced by the ocean, resulting in truly sensorial wines.” Key wines: DELA DELA White (Ugni Blanc/Colombard); DELA DELA Rosé (Cabernet Sauvignon); DELA DELA Red (Cabernet Sauvignon); ARTHA.
The Turpin family have been winemakers since 1620. They have 16 hectares of
Frey was a pioneer in organic winemaking in Alsace as early as 1997. While those
vineyards in Menetou-Salon in the Loire Valley.
around him scoffed at the science behind organic viticulture, he was creeping out
In 1991, after graduating in oenology, Christophe Turpin, his wife Grace and his
under cover of darkness to collect nettles to make herbal remedies for his vines.
brother Thibault invested their energy and enthusiasm into the estate. It remains a
Today, three generations work together, with Julien contributing new ideas. The
family affair with their parents still heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the
terroir is rich and complex; 17 hectares of vines are based on granite, giving finesse
and minerality to the wine. Every vineyard has its individual personality expressed
The estate is located at Morogues, which is one of the 10 villages of MenetouSalon. Vineyards around the village are based on kimmeridgian limestone and clay. The range include three whites, all made from Sauvignon Blanc; two reds, both
in the wines. The range is classified variously as AOC Alsace, AOC Alsace Grand Cru Frankstein, Frauenberg, Blettig and Rittersberg. The wines cover red, white, rosé and crémant
made with Pinot Noir; and a rosé, also produced with Pinot.
Interesting fact: Acacia barrels are used for the ageing of some of Domaine Turpin’s
Look out for: Pinot Noir Quintessence (“one of the best quality-price ratio organic
red wines in France”, according to Bettane & Desseauve).
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 46
CHATEAU DE GAYON
DOMAINE FRAISEAU LECLERC
Château de Gayon is a boutique producer based in Madiran, south west France,
This 9-hectare estate in the heart of Menetou-Salon is run by Viviane and Philippe
near the Pyrenees. The property dates back to the 13th century.
Harvesting is done by hand, and fermentation takes place in small state-of-the-art
Viviane took over the running of the domaine in the 1990s and has made
stainless steel tanks followed by the ageing of the Tannat in French oak barrels. The
enormous strides in terms of wine quality, investing in machinery as well viticultural
final blending results in a full-bodied red wine described as “big, sweet upfront fruit
and vinicultural research and development. Her son Pierre-Emile joined the business
with deep tannins … black raspberry, cassis and currants fill the mouth.”
The Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, made with Petit Manseng, is a demi-sec wine with concentrated flavours, best served chilled as an aperitif or dessert wine. In the producer’s own words: “Pure citrus, evolving into baked lemon or candied lemon
Half the estate is planted with Pinot Noir for the red and rosé wines, with the other half devoted to Sauvignon Blanc, on argillo-calcareous soils. The fruit comes from sites in Menetou-Salon, Parassy, Pigny and Vignoux-sous-
Interesting fact: The estate is at the southern limit of the appellation, quite close to
The family works with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, crafting white, red and the mountains. Here the weather is different to most of Madiran and harvests tend to be later. “Our unique terroir results in a softer tasting wine,” the producer says.
Look out for: Menetou-Salon Blanc Cuvée Trois Frères.
DOMAINE DE CAZABAN
DOMAINE DES TILLEULS
Nestled in the Black Mountains north west of Carcassonne, at the crossing of the
Founded in 1905, Domaine des Tilleuls is a family-owned and operated winery
east and west winds, Domaine de Cazaban is part of the Cabardès appellation.
dating back five generations.
“Our biodynamic wines tell more stories than those of the surrounding country,”
Located on the western side of the Loire Valley, near the Atlantic, the 35-hectare
the producer insists. Cazaban’s artisanal approach to winemaking includes horses
vineyard is spread over gentle rolling hills overlooking the village, on an exceptional
in the vineyard and the use of indigenous yeasts in the cellar. The emphasis is on
terroir of schist-based soils. The domaine is certified as being of High Environmental
minimal intervention and as little SO2 as possible.
Value and is sustainably run.
“While we identify certain of our wines under the Cabardès appellation, we
Grapes are grown in Pays Nantais vineyards, where cool maritime influences and
maintain a clear choice to release certain other wines as Vins de France to allow as
a long growing season provides a unique environment for Melon de Bourgogne, the
much liberty and creativity as we need,” the producer says.
dominant grape variety, but also varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and
The wines, made from Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Vermentino, Roussanne,
and Marsanne, are certified by Ecocert and Demeter. Look out for: Les Vénérables – Vieilles Vignes, a complex Muscadet made from fruit Interesting fact: The estate has adapted some of its buildings as holiday lets.
sourced from some of the best parcels and given extended lees ageing.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 47
DOMAINE DE GUILLAMAN
Domaine de Guillaman is a 120-hectare wine estate in the hills of Gascony that has been in the Ferret family for six generations.
CLOS DE LA COUTALE
This 100-hectare family estate in Cahors estate is divided into three terroirs. There’s a gravel-and-clay section based on a meander of the Lot river; a clay-
The vineyard area has gradually expanded through a series of acquisitions. Vines benefit from the richness of a typically Gascon clayey soil on a limestone bedrock, while a mild maritime climate helps the fruit to reach a good level of ripeness. The grape varieties are predominantly white: Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng make up 80% of the vines. The remaining 20%, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, are used to make rosé and red wines. The family has a firm commitment to the environment, opting for natural methods
limestone scree, situated on the edge of the old bed of the Lot; and a terrace of deep clay. With a mixture of modern know-how and a traditional approach to his work, Philippe Bernède, a seventh-generation winemaker, has run Domaine de la Coutale for the past 30 years. With releases made from Côt (Malbec), Merlot and Tannat, these wines are made to keep. In 2010 the Wine Spectator awarded the 2007 vintage 76th out of 100 best
of combating pests and disease and encouraging native wildlife.
wines in the world.
Look out for: Frisson d’Automne, a blended sweet white wine made with Gros
Look out for: Grand Coutale, a premium blend of Malbec, Merlot and Tannat matured
Manseng and Petit Manseng.
in a selection of new barrels for two years.
A family business established in Burgundy in 1898 in Burgundy, Veuve Ambal claims
Domaine Badiller is very much a family affair. The domaine has passed from
to be the largest producer of Crémant de Bourgogne.
generation to generation since 1789, with Pierre and Vincent taking over from their
Aurélien Piffaut is a direct descendant of Marie Ambal, the original founder, and has been in the company since 2010.
father in 2015. The brothers’ approach is “informal, humorous and fun” rather than traditional.
Its domaines, situated across six different subregions of Burgundy, are managed using sustainable methods.
They are in a village in the Loire that isn’t particularly easy to find, but visitors are always assured a glass of something if they do manage to get there.
Vines are located in Châtillonnais, the Auxerrois, Côtes de Nuits and Côtes de Beaune as well as the Mâconnais. In order to produce its Crémant de Bourgogne, Veuve Ambal draws on the unique characteristics of each Burgundian terroir. The wines are available to UK independents through Enotria&Coe.
The property is nestled on the slopes of the Indre Valley, in the village of Cheillé, where flinty clay helps bring rounded flavours to the wines. Wines are classified as Touraine and Touraine Azay-le-Rideau and include sparkling styles as well as reds, whites and rosés. Badiller works with Cabernet Franc, Chenin and Grolleau.
Look out for: Cuvée Maria Ambal, a flagship crémant made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and aged in cellar for three years.
They say: “Our philosophy becomes clearer after several glasses.”
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 48
Due to future expansion, award-winning independent wine merchant, Highbury Vintners, are seeking two enthusiastic individuals with original ideas to join our growing company. Recently acquired by JN Wine, this is an exciting time to join the team with plans for growth and increased investment in the months ahead.
The Roles Working alongside the management team, you will be involved in all aspects of running a successful wine company, generating wine sales and gaining experience in all areas of the business (stock management, buying, tastings, social media, etc.) You will also be sponsored through your WSET Level 4 Diploma after six months.
The Candidates Self-motivated and commercially aware, you will have a deep understanding of excellent customer service, be friendly and approachable. You will have: • Previous experience in retail or sales • Passion for wine and desire to learn • Physically fit and able to carry 12 bottles of wine • Fantastic communication skills – spoken and written • IT literacy (Office and ePOS experience) • WSET Level 2 minimum (WSET Level 3 advantageous) • UK resident and live within a reasonable travel time of Highbury • Full clean driving licence and comfortable driving a small van The roles involve regular evening and weekend shifts.
To apply, please send your CV to Mr Tom Hemmingway: email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 49
CUVÉES WORTH WAITING FOR Piper-Heidsieck’s premium Essentiel range showcases the benefits of extended ageing and low dosage. It’s a style that’s perfect for Champagne connoisseurs and food lovers, says cellar master Emilien Boutillat
t’s said that every eight seconds, somewhere in the world a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck is popped open. No other Champagne house has won as many awards in the 21st century. So the position of cellar master comes with some degree of pressure, especially if you’re following in the footsteps of the great Régis Camus. Emilien Boutillat seems to take it all in his stride. Born into a family of Champagne growers in 1987, he grew up helping his father in the cellar and in the winery. He studied oenology and agricultural engineering at Montpellier SupAgro University before embarking on a career in winemaking that took him to New Zealand, Chile, South Africa and, closer to home, Domaine de la Solitude in the Rhône and Château Margaux in Bordeaux. He returned to Champagne in 2013, taking the Piper-Heidsieck hotseat in 2018. Piper-Heidsieck may have almost two centuries of heritage to draw upon in its marketing but much of its focus, particularly in the specialist trade, has fallen on a more recent development: its Essentiel range. “Essentiel was born a few years ago,” Boutillat explains. “The first batch was based on the 2008 harvest. It’s a non-vintage Champagne. The idea behind Essentiel Extra Brut is to have a longer ageing than for the Brut and also to use a lower dosage, so it’s quite dry. “For me, Essentiel and Brut are two expressions of the same style. Brut is a very versatile style of Champagne that everybody can enjoy – people that know Champagne but also new consumers of Champagne. “Essentiel is an expression of the style dedicated way more to gastronomy; fine wine shops, fine restaurants, and to the wine connoisseur. Because that ageing brings more complexity – that is what we are looking for.” With Essentiel, Boutillat is aiming for a style that offers “freshness, crispness, vitality of fruit and elegance”. He adds: “When we launched Essentiel we wanted full transparency, so on the label there is plenty of information regarding the winemaking, the cellaring date, the blend and the date of disgorgement as well. “That information is there for the consumer, for sure, but also for the retailer and sommelier. “Today Essentiel is not only one cuvée, it is a range inside the range of Piper-Heidsieck because you have Essentiel Extra Brut and Essentiel Blanc de Blancs which launched at the beginning of 2019. Might there be some other additions to the Essentiel range? A Blanc de Noirs, for example? Boutillat chuckles at the question but is giving nothing away. “We might have some ideas, but it’s too early to talk about that,” he says. “The Blanc de Blancs is doing really well and although it is
Boutillat was born in Reims but has worked as a winemaker all over the world
quite new, we are selling quite a lot in the UK, Japan and Italy. The range is a huge success so at some point we might create other cuvées.” What about a zero-dosage option? “It depends on the balance of the wines, so at some point, maybe,” he says. “But what is important for me is not really the amount of sugar but the balance between that sugar and the roundness in the wine; the freshness and the acidity. “The ageing is quite long for the Essentiel range and you have different types of ageing. For the Blanc de Blancs you have 35%
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 50
of reserve wine so already you have a certain roundness. Then “Just as with the wine I like to make, the balance is important,” there’s ageing on lees, and in the bottle, and at disgorgement we he says. “I think it is good to rely on tradition because that gives a add the liqueur and the sugar and then we strong story and the wine excellence is there, wait, which is also important. so it doesn’t make sense to me to change “All the ageing will make a difference, those things. The rules of giving creaminess and generosity – and we “Those are the rules of Champagne and it’s Champagne are there part have to pay attention to that when adding of the story. But within that you need to but you need to be the sugar.” be creative, you need to ask questions. Yes, In his spare time, Boutillat enjoys creative, you need to we have rules, but it is healthy to be critical participating in improvisational theatre. Is and challenge every step of the process to ask questions that an opportunity to break away from the make sure that we make good decisions. You traditions and regulations of Champagne or need to be open to everything, to follow your does he think he can express himself well senses and what you feel. It is a good balance enough in his day job? between being rational and creative and free.” Piper-Heidsieck ‘Essentiel’ Cuvée Réservée Extra Brut NV RRP £47.59 in gift box
Piper-Heidsieck ‘Essentiel’ Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV RRP £55.99 in gift box
Pinot Noir dominates this lustrous and crisp Champagne, which also contains up to 35% Pinot Meunier and 15% to 20% Chardonnay. Reserve wine makes up 10% to 20% of the final product, which has a dosage of 5 to 6 grams per litre. Boutillat works with 50 different terroirs when blending the wine and is looking for vivacity and fruitiness. “There’s the crispness of the fruit and it’s quite generous in the mouth – because of the Pinot Noir and the Meunier you have a certain roundness,” he says. “It is good paired with fish cooked in a nice sauce, or white meat such as poultry, or veal or pork.”
A 100% Chardonnay with 30% reserve wines in the blend and a dosage of 4 grams per litre. It’s described as an elegant, fruity and structured Champagne. “The wine is made mainly from fruit from Côte des Blancs,” says Boutillat, “and maybe 20% of Chardonnay from La Montagne de Reims. There is fruitiness but it’s more on the citrus side, so like lemon and lime. Toastiness is present as well, and minerality, so the pairing will be more shellfish and oysters and grilled fish.”
Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel is exclusive to independent retailers and restaurants. For more information, contact Liberty Wines on 020 7720 5350 or visit www.libertywines.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 51
BUYERS’ TRIP TO BURGUNDY
urgundy can be fiendishly complicated, but there are ways of keeping it incredibly simple. Drink the wine, enjoy the food, stand in the vineyards and you seem to absorb centuries of wisdom almost by osmosis. That was pretty much the formula on a flying visit to the region organised by The Wine Merchant in partnership with Joseph Drouhin and its UK importer Pol Roger Portfolio. No saccharine corporate videos; no drawn-out vertical tastings in laboratory conditions; no interminable presentations about uniqueness of terroir. Instead, we were welcomed with surprisingly laid-back Burgundian hospitality and trusted to make our own judgements about the wines that kept arriving in our glasses. Joseph Drouhin is a family-owned négociant that traces its history back to 1822. It has 73 hectares of vineyards in Burgundy and Chablis, from Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche through to Meursault and to Corton Charlemagne in the Côte de Beaune, and Echezaux to Clos de Vougeot in the Côte de Nuits. Organic and biodynamic viticulture has been the order of the day since 1993, and winemaking is kept as low-tech as possible, with indigenous yeasts and judicious use of oak. New barrels are made from trees individually selected by Drouhin which are then weathered for three years to eliminate unwanted coarse tannins. How much time the wine spends in them depends of the appellation and the characteristics of that particular vintage. This year’s harvest has presented challenges for Frédéric Drouhin, the company president whose sister Véronique is head winemaker. “We have had beautiful weather recently: very warm, dry, sunny, breezy,” he says.
‘Every 10 years we have a perfect vintage with no problems. In the nine other vintages there are always issues’
Buyers on tou in the Côte d’O Forget preconceptions about Burgundy being stuffy. Our welcome at Joseph been friendlier or more informal, with the wines – and the vineyards – takin
“The crop looks very nice, but the quantity is very limited. It’s one of the smallest crops we’ve had for many years.” The problems started with three April frosts, followed by poor flowering in a June that was cooler and wetter than normal. July and August presented their own issues, with very hot and dry weather. “So the grapes remain very tiny,” says Frédéric. “They taste beautiful, they are perfectly healthy, with no mildew and no rot, but clearly we have yielded very low. When you taste the berries, it is a pure delight.” Vintage variations are par for the course in Burgundy, and part of what makes the region so magical for wine lovers. Frédéric’s view is that “every 10 years we have a perfect vintage with no problems. In the nine other vintages there are always issues somewhere”. Global warming is making its presence felt. Studies are being done to work out which vines are thriving in today’s conditions, with early indications suggesting that older plants are better suited to climatic extremes than is the case with more recent clones. “We have changed the canopy management,” says Frédéric. “In the past we were trying to fight against possible rot for the Pinot Noir. Today, we are trying to protect the grapes from the sunbeams.” But he adds: “Overall, global warming is more good news than bad news for Burgundy because in the past we lacked ripeness; we sometimes had some firm or grainy tannins which is not the case anymore. So the whites are quite enjoyable
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 52
Sara Bangert does some late harvesting
to drink; they have more colour, good depth and roundness. Consumers like to drink whites earlier than in the past, and the wines are now easier to appreciate young.”
ur host for the two-day trip is the genial Christophe Thomas, whose export duties keep him away from home for 200 days a year. He drives us from Lyon airport to Beaune by way of Beaujolais, where we stop for a leisurely lunch and an invigorating glass or two of peachy Pouilly-Vinzelles 2015 and Hospices de Belleville Morgon 2017 – a ripe, spicy accompaniment to the various main courses that are selected. In the evening, we explore Drouhin’s
© EcoView / stockadobe.com
ur Or Drouhin could hardly have g care of marketing duties
warren of cellars, some dating from the 11th century, that spread for an entire hectare under the streets of Beaune. It is, Paola Tich observes, “like a living museum”, and Christophe removes one of the exhibits – a magnum of 1989 Les Baudes Chambolle-Musigny – to enjoy with dinner. Back above ground, the canapes come round and we sample Drouhin-Vaudon Mont de Milieu Premier Cru Chablis 2017 and a soft, rich Puligny-Montrachet Folatières 2017. Also on the menu are Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru 2013, Beaune Clos des Mouches Premier Cru 2016, Beaune Champimonts Premier Cru 2015 and Beaune Cras Premier Cru 2016. It’s an opportunity too to sample some of the excellent Oregon wines that Drouhin produces with the same Pinot Noir clones, and the same oak, that it uses in France. The wines are superb, but the general consensus around the table is that this has been a clear home win for the Burgundies.
ay two is all about driving through the Côte d’Or, often in a quiet mesmeric state as those famous names keep flashing by on road signs: Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, VosneRomanée … It’s almost certainly the most expensive farmland on the planet, and today it’s mostly deserted, apart from a few stray pickers, and occasional carloads of Chinese tourists. To Sara Bangert’s horror, some perfectly healthy bunches have been left on the vines at Musigny, so a couple are liberated in the name of education (she has a
The Drouhin cellars cover a hectare under the streets of Beaune
masterclass to host back in England the following day). The harvest is effectively over and it’s down to the winemakers to make sense of another unpredictable year in Burgundy. For us, the silent vineyards serve as a sort of place of worship, or maybe simply meditation. It’s grey overhead; the vines are not yet wearing their autumn yellows and golds, but there’s a sense that nature has finished its job and the vineyards are in the gradual process of shutting down until spring. You can read as many textbooks as you like, but sometimes you just have to stand in places like this, breathing the damp air and getting some terroir under your fingernails and on the soles of your shoes. Burgundy is special, perhaps the most special wine region of them all. It’s a privilege to spend some time here, on a quiet morning, doing nothing very much at all. Merchants’ feedback: page 54
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 53
OUR GUESTS Paola Tich, Vindinista, Acton Sara Bangert, The General Wine Company, Hampshire Coralie Menel, The Grocery Wine Vault & Bar, Shoreditch Louise Peverall, La Cave de Bruno, East Dulwich Matt Wicksteed, Streatham Wine House, London Andrew Taylor, Taylor’s Fine Wines, Richmond upon Thames
BUYERS’ TRIP TO BURGUNDY
Wines to remember Sara Bangert The General Wine Company
Paola Tich Vindinista
Andrew Taylor Taylor’s Fine Wines
I just love standing in a vineyard and getting the sense of the place – and then to try the wines close by is probably the ultimate for any tasting. You look at a map and think you have the geography of an area in your head, but it changes when you are actually there and therefore your knowledge improves – particularly the distance between each area. Driving it gives you much more of a sense of how a large area is covered by a producer to create their range of wines. The Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 2017 was a surprise to me. I would normally enjoy a wine like this a bit older, so it was interesting to try it young. I thought it had a lovely structure but also more minerality than I would have expected. I will look forward to trying some in a few years’ time to compare. My favourite red was the Joseph Drouhin Savigny-lès-Beaune. I was amazed by its depth of flavour and the weight of the wine, which at that time we compared to the Gevrey-Chambertin 2014. It also moved away from the red fruit flavours I expected to a blackberry tone, and it was great with the beef I had chosen. It wasn’t particularly on my radar as an AC before, but it is now, and I shall look forward to trying more in the future. Before the trip I had no idea just how extensive the Drouhin range is and I think that has to be a great advantage for their future. The fact that Pol Roger are shipping so many of those different wines into the UK also makes us very lucky.
I thought we tasted some lovely wines. They’re well-made and they’re well packaged and I think they come in comparatively well priced. They deliver what a lot of people are looking for in Burgundy. I think the Beaune Premier Cru Champimonts 2012 that we had with dinner was the sort of wine I would like to put on my shelf. I thought Les Baudes Chambolle-Musigny 2012 was a treat. Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru I liked as well. They had that nice blood and meatiness to them. Blood and roses is the way I think of a lot of Burgundy and these had that lovely lift to them – lots of consumer appeal. The Pouilly-Vinzelles that we had at lunch was a really appealing type of Burgundy. I think Burgundy will always have a place. Yes, the prices are higher than when we started seven years ago, and you have to look carefully. The wines that work best with us are usually from lesserknown areas like Fixin and Savigny-lesBeaune that still come in at a good price. At Christmas we’ll look for a name like Gevrey-Chambertin. I’m always looking for Pinot Noir that delivers a Burgundy experience at a lesser price. But I think it’s hard for anyone in the world to replicate what you get from a fantastic Burgundy. Touring the vineyards and cellars, getting a sense of place, was my highlight of the trip.
My favourites were the 1989 Musigny which we had at dinner and I just thought was fantastic, and the CharmesChambertin. The grand crus and premier crus were just fantastic and the one that kicked off that evening, the PulignyMontrachet Folatières, I thought was amazing. It confirmed my feeling that at the top end there’s not any competition for Burgundian Pinot Noir. It’s getting harder and harder to find things that are really good and not ridiculous money, and that’s my constant quest. I have got a lot of Burgundy customers so it’s quite important to try and find things that are going to have a wow factor for a £30 bottle of wine. I got a very good impression of Drouhin.
WORKING WITH JOSEPH DROUHIN
Most of the Joseph Drouhin range can be sourced from Pol Roger Portfolio. For more information, visit www.polroger.co.uk, www.drouhin.com or call 01432 262800. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit and feature produced in association with Pol Roger UK.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 54
The Drouhin family
Louise Peverall La Cave de Bruno I have a particular memory of the Corton-Bressandes 2013 Grand Cru from the dinner on Monday. It had a beautiful nose and structure. I felt like I’d been wrapped in a velvet blanket; so comforting! And, of course, the 1989 magnum of Musigny was a real treat. We have a good customer base for Burgundy and have found that our range of Beaujolais red and white has become increasingly popular over the past few years, offering a slightly cheaper alternative.
TRADITIONALISTS WHO SOMETIMES BREAK THE RULES Sogevinus has a young winemaking team making some of Portugal’s most exciting still and fortified wines in the Douro
ogevinus brings together four major Portuguese brands – names that are well known among UK independents. The history of the houses may date back centuries, but Sogevinus claims the youngest viticulture and winemaking teams in the Port business. Carlos Alves (right) leads the Port winemaking team, while Ricardo Macedo (left) is in charge of production for Sogevinus’ increasingly successful portfolio of DOC Douro wines. Together with Márcio Nóbrega (viticulture), they are a team that has a deep understanding of the traditions of the region – but know that they don’t always have to play exactly by the book. “We’re not afraid to try new techniques to make new, better and more interesting wines,” says Macedo. Alves adds: “While we
respect the traditional ethos of those who have been making wines in this region for centuries, it is important for us to experiment and be brave. “A young generation of winemakers is now living in the region – most of our winemaking team lives in Douro. They want to make new wines, using and mixing tradition and innovation to create unique styles along with exclusive single grape varieties that are now catching consumers’ attention. “We are very conscious of the legacy of the years of winemaking tradition and we are lucky to have some of the oldest reserves of tawny Ports in the region, which allow us to maintain quality and continue to offer rare, amazing blends.”
The Sogevinus family Kopke 10 Years Old Tawny "We have definitely seen an increased interest in the tawny category in the past five years," says Alves. "The versatility of tawny Ports has caught the attention of top chefs as well as the world’s media and we are seeing increased sales, demonstrating a growing popularity amongst the public as well. "Our 10 Years Old Tawny is an elegant and complex Port with aromas of spice, dried fruit and hints of wood and honey – it's smooth and rounded, with intense flavours of dried fruit."
Kopke is the oldest Port house in the world, established in 1638 by Nicolau Kopke. Kopke has a long-established reputation for producing the finest Ports, especially Colheita, a single-harvest Port that is then aged in oak barrels for as long as necessary. Unlike other Ports, Colheitas are only bottled when an order is placed, so many spend years in barrel. Distributor: Hayward Bros.
Cálem, established in 1859, is the market leader in Portugal. Its visitor centre in Vila Nova de Gaia receives over 250,000 people each year. Cálem is admired for its diversity and innovation.
Kopke Colheita White 2003
Since the first Kopke portfolio tasting five years ago when Sogevinus poured the 10 Year Old White, this has been a great success in independents. "Having the full range of aged white Ports available – 10, 20, 30 and 40 – and even a limited-production 50 Year White Port has been a real point of difference from our competitors," says Alves. "It has also won multiple awards in this category, in 2019 and in previous years. White Colheita is very versatile when it comes to food; a couple of our favourite pairings are foie gras or Pata Negra jamon."
is the youngest of the Sogevinus brands, established in
1913 by Manuel Barros de Almeida. Barros combines tradition, authenticity and modern values in its tawny and ruby Ports. Distributor: Hallgarten & Novum Wines.
established in 1750, has British roots. The
individuality of Burmester is defined by its character. Its Port and DOC Douro wines are elegant, reflecting the essence of the terroir in which they are grown.
Kopke Douro Red 2017 The grapes come from vineyards from 200 to 350 metres high at Quinta de São Luiz. It’s a blend of the traditional Douro Valley grapes: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão. Says Macedo: "It has a lovely velvety texture as well as a long and fresh finish and is a great food wine, ideal with game, red meat and cheese."
Sogevinus has been making DOC Douro wines of exceptional quality since 2006. With 360ha of vines spread over three estates (Quinta do Bairro, Quinta de São Luiz and Quinta do Arnozelo), Sogevinus is committed to sustainable practices that seek to preserve a unique terroir.
For more information about Sogevinus, visit www.sogevinus.com
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 55
SMALL BUSINESS MATTERS WITH WBC
It’s not pulp fiction WBC has developed a papier-mache transit packaging system that offers the same protection as polystyrene, but at a lower cost to wine shippers – and the environment. Andrew Wilson explains the many benefits of the PulpSafe system
s many of you well know, owning a small business presents many day-to-day (and longer-term)
challenges sent to keep you on your toes. We’ve certainly had ours over the last 30 years. Luckily, we’ve managed to survive
and grow at the same time, due in no small part to our loyal customer base. Survival has been achieved by finding a tricky
balance between coming up with new
products and ideas whilst at the same time
trying to ensure our core range of products remains not only fit for purpose, but also the best on the market.
I will be the first to hold my hands up
and say that transit packaging has not had quite as much time invested in it as it probably should have done. It’s
plastic-free debate that’s saturating the
couple of weeks? Well firstly rather than
then it is down to you and your customers
will come in three parts and be top-loading,
media and consumer psyche. We need to come up with options and alternatives – to decide what works best for you.
About 12 months ago we reviewed our
range and started prototyping and testing some new materials that ticked all our criteria: cost, practicality and level of
protection. I am not embarrassed to say
that the final idea came from the products
we had seen in use in the United States that simply needed tweaking in terms of design. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the idea and the material had been right under our noses for the last 30 years.
What do paper, water, wine
bottles, and couriers have in common? PulpSafe! I called
it papier-mache at school
products we sell, but it is a hugely
important and growing area for us and
maybe the success of it has hidden the
need for innovation – it does what it says on the tin. However, times are changing, and the purpose of this column is not
about WBC shamelessly flogging its own
products, but sharing developments that affect us all, particularly in terms of the
but it is more commonly known as
moulded pulp paper; you may have
already used transit packaging made
from it. Essentially PulpSafe is 100%
recyclable, biodegradable, compostable
pulp made from newspaper and complies with all UK and EU statutory regulations and packaging waste legislation. It has an endless lifespan: after use, the pulp
products return to the paper recycling chain over and over again.
So what is the big difference with the
product we are launching in the next
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 56
being a clamshell design like a suitcase
around the bottles, the PulpSafe system
making it quick and easy to use and able
to accommodate most bottle sizes found in the UK.
The best bit is that finally there is bottle
packaging that offers similar levels of
protection to polystyrene, at a much lower cost to wallets and the environment.
I am treading very carefully here and
hoping to avoid a Gerald Ratner moment,
but here comes the boring technical stuff!
olystyrene is an important
product for us. Like I said, it does what it says on the tin
– unbeatable levels of protection and
insulation for high-value bottles. However,
I accept it is not the flavour of the month in terms of its eco-credentials.
As UK recycling options and facilities
improve, polystyrene will be more
generally recyclable, but we’re not quite
there yet. Environment aside, polystyrene is bulky to store and expensive, which is
probably why many opt for an inflatable pouch system (Safe Air) that is cheaper
and takes up far less space, although its
eco-credentials are worse than polystyrene and it’s made in the Far East, unlike the UK born-and-bred polystyrene.
The system is 100% recyclable, compostable and biodegradable
Our job is not to tell you what is right or
carrying glass). What we want them to do
• STOP PRESS – We are delighted to have
The new range of PulpSafe packaging
contemporary, courier-proof gifting pack for
being insured through their networks.
details online at wbc.co.uk.
wrong, but to offer you choices and options so you can make your own decisions.
will tick every box that both polystyrene
and Safe Air fall down on. It’s eco-perfect, space-saving, offers excellent levels of
protection and is made in the UK, which we are really excited about.
It means that there is now a solution out
there that you can use cost-effectively with couriers’ hub-based sorting systems. We
are in active discussions with the courier companies trying to get them to approve this packaging, but this is meeting with varying degrees of success.
It harks back to my last article in that
all of the couriers secretly want your
business but many of them say they will not carry glass (whilst at the same time
is promote the fact that they want your
business as long as it is packaged to agreed On that basis, they should then take
responsibility for well-packaged parcels
started working with those clever guys at Flexi-Hex who have developed a smart,
one and two bottles. Another eco-friendly option to add to the range. Watch out for
We intend to keep the pressure up and
will keep The Wine Merchant posted. The
new range of PulpSafe packaging is being
produced as we speak in conjunction with our great friends at Cullen Packaging. It
will be available in 1, 2, 3, 6 and 12-bottle sizes.
If this is floating your boat as much as
it is ours, feel free to contact us now for samples and full details and as always
with any of our products, we appreciate the usual honest Wine Merchant reader feedback.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 57
Andrew Wilson of WBC
THE SPIRITS WORLD
Nine Elms: “Somewhere between a wine and a vermouth”
Ready for Dry January Consumers are cutting down on their intake and looking for alcohol-free alternatives that offer them some of the flavour of the real stuff. There are plenty of options to choose from, says Nigel Huddleston
he no- and low-alcohol spirit category is advancing at such a rate that it’s threatening to become the new gin – not for the volumes that are being sold but just for the sheer numbers trying to get on the bandwagon. If we accept that Diageo-backed Seedlip was first of the tidal wave, in just five years since it launched we’ve witnessed the arrival of: • Pernod Ricard’s alt-gin Ceder’s and its dark spirit take Celtic Soul
• Stryyk from the creators of Funkin cocktail mixers, which comes in Not Rum, Not Gin and Not Vodka varieties • William Grant’s spiced citrus and wild blossom pairing Atopia • Colombian-inspired and juniper-based Caleño • Sea Arch made with sea kelp by two Torquay pub owners • Borage-fuelled non-alcoholic gin Borrago • The “enlightened spirit of Persia” Xachoh
• Senser, from an ex-City banker who jacked it in to work with plants after an epiphany in a yoga class. Though there’s a tendency to round them all up under the “non-alcoholic spirit” banner, many of them shy away from the description for fear of direct comparison with the real thing. Among the recent entrants is Three Spirit, a trio of drinks whose combined ingredients list comes to more than 60 items. The drinks aim to replace “feelings”
the secret's out
douro deal pays off
Us and russia reach agreement
A back story involving William of Orange, a two-year search through the rare books section of the British Library and a recipe whose quantities are written in a secret code sounds like something out of a Dan Brown novel but it’s actually the creative process of Amsterdam Craft Gin’s new 1689 gin. Available through Glasgow-based Distilled Brands.
Sweden is an unlikely meeting place for the worlds of wine and single malt but that’s where we find Vintersol, Mackmyra whisky’s latest addition. The whisky is a collaboration with the Douro region’s Quinta Do Vallado and has spent 16 months in Swedish oak casks that previously held its port.
Villa One may be the first tequila named after half a football result … or maybe not. It is, however, definitely a collaboration between US pop star Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, menswear designer and record label owner John Varvatos, and the Stoli Group of Russian vodka fame. Cellar Trends imports it to the UK.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 58
– the early-evening sharpening cocktail, stress-busting amaro and vermouth occasions, and indulgent late-night whisky moments – rather than replicate spirits per se. Co-founder Tatianna Mercer says: “They are alcohol-free spirits in that they appear or behave like spirits. But the notion of non-alcoholic can be a bit negative – about removing something and creating a lesser version. We wanted to think about what we could put in a drink to offer an alternative. “If you’re not drinking, it often feels like there’s nothing that rivals the real thing, so let’s not try to recreate that.”
ercer recognises that it might be hard for retailers to communicate to their customers the benefits of alcohol-less products that typically cost between £25 and £30 a bottle. “The price point is often the issue for the customers, so you have to make something that justifies that, and for retailers to sell at that price they need to understand why it costs what it does. “Wine stores are very good for us. If people can talk about wines in depth they will be able to educate customers on these products as well. “We are very happy to do training and supply samples and we’ll provide booklets and point-of-sale.” Everleaf is the creation of Paul Mathew, who owns three London bars including The Hide in Bermondsey. He favours the term non-alcoholic aperitif, rather than spirit, for the drink which is flavoured with 18 botanical extracts, inspired by his previous life as a conservation biologist. “We extract differently according to the best way to get flavour out of that particular botanical: some are traditional distillation with alcohol, some are steam
distillation, some are maceration, some are vacuum distillation,” he says. The blend of extracts is then cut with a textured base liquid – rather than water as full-strength spirits are – made from gum acacia and a Chinese plant called the voodoo lily. The proportions used of any of the extracts that contain alcohol is low enough to keep the final abv down to 0.3%. “The textured base gives structure and mouthfeel and we build that as a carrier of flavour,” says Mathew. “These products have to be better than their alcoholic relatives to succeed. “Making a non-alcoholic gin isn’t the way to go because, by comparing it with gin, you’ve immediately lost something.” Nine Elms hails from the fresh produce quarter of south London and aims to provide an alternative to wine for food pairing. It’s made from four types of berry and aromatised with herbs, spices and tea to provide tannins, acidity and body. Brand consultant James Morgan says: “Rather than trying to start with wine and take the heart out of it by removing the alcohol we decided to try to build from the ground up. “It sits somewhere between a wine and a vermouth in style.” Co-founder Simon Rucker says it’s the product’s savoury style and lack of overt sweetness that separates it from fancy soft drinks. “There’s the famous quote from the American poet James Whitcomb Riley to the effect that if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” he says. “While you could argue that we are technically a soft drink, we’re not because we don’t behave like a soft drink. “It’s a wine bottle and it acts like a wine in the glass.”
jewel purpose casks
grapefruits of their labours
More fortified wine cask finishing action in the form of Nectar Grove Batch Strength, from Scotch whisky maker Wemyss Malts. The wine in question is Madeira and the whisky comes in a bottle and box inspired by the island’s jewellery and ceramics. It weighs in at 54% abv and costs around £55 a bottle in retail.
It’s certainly been a big month for colliding drinks styles with much-admired Huddersfield craft brewer Magic Rock entering the spirit world with a gin made in collaboration with Adnams, the Suffolk brewer-distiller. High Wire Grapefruit gin is inspired by Magic Rock’s pale ale of the same name. No prizes for guessing the star guest botanical.
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 59
Led by Baileys Almande, cream liqueurs have magically turned dairy-free for these plant-based times. Besos de Oro is a more offbeat take, a blend of brandy and horchata, a milky Spanish drink made from tiger nuts, which aren’t nuts at all, ticking another allergy box in passing. It’s also gluten-free. This take on the classic Brandy Alexander is an indulgent but lighter-inalcohol festive treat as we’ve double-downed on the 18% abv Besos and snipped out the fullstrength brandy.
50ml Besos de Oro Original 25ml Crème de Cacao Nutmeg
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the Besos de Oro and crème de cacao and shake until cold. Strain into a Martini glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg to garnish.
MAKE A DATE
© dudlajzov / stockadobe.com
WineBarn Annual Portfolio Tasting The award-winning German specialist is promising an “interesting day of discovery” at its 19th annual event, which it’s calling Grip the Grape. The event will be attended by
winemakers from across Germany,
representing a range of terroirs and winemaking styles.
There will be around 120 wines on show,
including elegant Spätburgunders (Pinot
Noirs), dry Rieslings and sparkling Sekts. WineBarn director Iris Ellmann, a native
German, will be on hand to advise on wine styles, tasting, food pairings and more.
The WineBarn has been described by
Steven Spurrier as “the jewel in the crown of German wine merchants”. For the past four years it has been named German Specialist Merchant of the Year at the International Wine Challenge.
To register or for more information, visit
Vineyards at Bacharach in the Mittelrhein
Tuesday, January 21
Tuesday, January 21
Monday, January 20, 11am-5pm
B1, Southampton Row
Wednesday, January 22
Army & Navy Club
London WC1B 4DA
Grange Tower Bridge Hotel
36-39 Pall Mall London SW1Y 5JN
London E1 8GP Monday, January 27, 1pm-5pm The Balmoral Hotel
Australia Trade Tasting The “biggest, brightest and most diverse showcase of Australian wine in the UK” returns to London and Edinburgh. Taste crisp vibrant whites, standout
sparkling, elegant reds and thrilling
alternative varieties, from the rogue to the
Princes Street Edinburgh EH2 2EQ
French Wine Discoveries Wine 4 Trade continues its event dedicated to French Wines in London with the 18th edition of the tasting. French producers including family
Borsa Vini Italiani The latest edition of Borsa Vini Italiani will feature around 60 Italian wine producers, the majority of which are looking for UK representation. The event will also include at least one
Email Antonietta Kelly at email@example.com.
estates, co-ops and associations from
Thursday, January 23
London SW6 1HS
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. More
details and registration can be found at
various wine regions will be represented. Contact Anne-Catherine Vigouroux:
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 60
Chelsea Football Club Fulham Road
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
0207 409 7276 email@example.com www.louislatour.co.uk
Vidal-Fleury Festive Promotion Established in 1781 in the Northern Rhône Valley, Vidal-Fleury is the
oldest continuously operating winery in the region. Today Vidal-Fleury vinifies and ages wines from across the Rhône Valley, focusing on the choicest terroirs, allowing ample time to age and mature the wines.
It has a number of wines on special offer from Louis Latour Agencies
for the festive season. Best value is the Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge 2016, a
Grenache-led blend, typical of the southern Rhône, which would be an
excellent choice for versatile festive drinking. Its strawberry and cherry aromas and palate of chocolate, prunes and violets make it a match for richer dishes.
Vidal-Fleury Crozes-Hermitage 2017 and Saint-Joseph 2015 offer more
in the way of depth and complexity if you are looking for something more
serious. From the northern end of the region, these wines have the darker fruit characteristics of the Syrah grape with its trademark peppery finish.
The real delight is the sweet Vidal-Fleury Muscat de Beaumes de Venise
2017 which comes in both 75cl and 37.5cl bottles. This Vin Doux Naturel
fuses refreshing acidity with fresh and dried fruit characters to produce an
elegant sweet wine that can be enjoyed with fruit-based desserts, cheeses or as an aperitif.
buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
A top 10 Rioja! The Izarbe Rioja Reserva is another hidden gem in our
portfolio which has now been recognised as one of the 10
best wines at the 10 x 10 Wines of Rioja tasting, selected as Chair’s Choice by Sarah Jane Evans MW.
Produced by Bodegas Familia Chavarri, this wine is aged
in American and French oak for a minimum of two years, followed by three years in bottle. Izarbe Reserva is well
balanced with candied red fruits and toasted oak notes.
The family-owned Bodegas Chavarri combines tradition and modernity and is one of the oldest wineries in the
Rioja Alavesa region. The winery has managed to retain a family atmosphere as well as a cutting-edge style
introduced by the new generation spearheaded by Ruth
Chavarri, whose passion and enthusiasm are the driving forces behind Bodegas Familia Chavarri.
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walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 email@example.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com
Walker & Wodehouse Christmas Promotions
W&W’s Christmas promotions exclusively for independent merchants are in full swing. Featuring some of our best wines and spirits, we’re bringing you some fantastic offers as we head into the festive season! Ask your Account Manager for more details. 10% off – Llopart Brut Reserva 2016
seckford agencies Old Barn Farm Harts Lane, Ardleigh Colchester CO7 7QQ 01206 231686 firstname.lastname@example.org @seckfordagency Seckford Agencies Ltd
Kalfu: cool-climate Chile in the press
© rh2010 / stockadobe.com
Organic, traditional method, superb quality sparkling wine. So good that they decided not to call it Cava anymore. Llopart are one of nine producers who broke away from the Cava DO to form their own brand, Corpinnat.
Kalfu, meaning blue in the native Mapuche language of southern Chile, is owned by Vina Ventisquero. It offers a range of cool-climate wines from coastal regions which benefit from long slow ripening resulting in exceptional complexity – as the press have noticed:
Victoria Moore, Saturday Telegraph 5/10/19 … From Atacama desert … VV makes very good Sauvignon Blanc here. Kalfu Sumpai Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Huasco Valley – which tastes like white asparagus, white currants and Badoit RRP £17.95 – £18.95 Decanter Magazine October 2019 Panel Tasting – Chilean Pinot Noir Kalfu Molu, Casablanca 2017 92pts Highly Recommended Delicate and refined, with red berries and a touch of light oak, and there’s some floral complexity with good freshness and vitality RRP £10.25 – £10.95 Kalfu, Kuda Pinot Noir, Leyda 2017 90 pts Highly Recommended Quite rich, with well integrated oak, some lovely strawberry and herb tones, and a touch of black cherry. Maintains fruit freshness in a hot vintage. RRP £12.95 – £13.99 Tim Atkin MW 2017 Kalfu Sumpai Syrah Leyda Valley One of a handful of brilliant cool-climate Syrahs from Chile, Kalfu hails from a terraced vineyard that sits just 6.5 kilometres from the Pacific. Peppery, meaty and refreshing, with clove, raspberry, red cherry fruit, fine-grained tannins and understated oak. RRP £17.95 – £18.95
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 62
Malbec without make-up
By David Gleave MW
020 7720 5350
From Argentina to Cahors, winemakers are seeking purity over power …
result, they have been able to capture a more precise and distinct expression of
The comprehensive profiling of Mendoza’s diverse soils carried out for Altos Las
Hormigas by “terroir hunter” Pedro Parra led them to move away from using oak. As a site in their wines. Co-founder and winemaker Alberto Antonini explains: “Malbec is a fragile variety that is easily overpowered by young toasted oak. Fortunately, there is a growing appreciation for a fresher, more refined and elegant style.”
Using their experience in Argentina, Antonio Morescalchi (also of Altos Las
Hormigas) and Pedro Parra were excited by the potential of Cahors’ limestone soils to produce the same distinctively fresh, elegant and textured style of Malbec that has been their focus in Mendoza. This is how Causse du Théron was born. Winemaker Leo Erazo says: “Cahors offers a huge diversity of soils and the sites that we are working with give some structure but also delicacy, which we want to retain in its purest form through to the glass.”
LEN G E 2
MERCHANT OF THE YEAR
Auténtico is Colomé’s sole expression of Salta Malbec with no oak influence.
Winemaker Thibaut Delmotte acknowledges that “with unoaked wine, your
vineyard management and quality of fruit is exposed – it is a wine with no
make-up! Unoaked wines have an honesty and integrity that we think appeal to today’s discerning consumers who are moving towards fresher, more elegant styles of Malbec.”
Save the date!
FMV 24-34 Ingate Place Battersea London SW8 3NS 020 7819 0360 @fieldsmorrisverdin @fmvwines
FM&V will be hosting or participating at the following tastings early in the new year. Please save the date or confirm your place by emailing Sophie McLean and Will Protheroe at email@example.com . FM&V’s Burgundy En Primeur Tasting Tuesday 14th January, One Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA 10am-4pm Wine Australia: Australia Trade Tasting Tuesday 21st January, B1, Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London WC1B 4DA 10am-5pm Wines of Austria Tasting Monday 3rd February, Illuminate at the Science Museum, 5th Floor, Imperial College Road, London SW7 2DD 10.30am-4.30pm
Viñateros! A Spanish wine revolution! Tuesday 25th February, Lindley Hall, Elverton Street, London SW1P 2PB 10.30am-5.30pm. Seven of our producers will be participating: Gramona · Raventós i Blanc · Domaines Lupier · Dominio do Bibei · Rafael Palacios · Telmo Rodríguez · Bodega Mustiguillo. We look forward to tasting with you then!
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 63
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 firstname.lastname@example.org www.abswineagencies.co.uk
richmond wine agencies
New arrivals for RWA …
The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE
Finca Dinamia is a pioneer in Mendoza for organic and biodynamic wines.
020 8744 5550 email@example.com
Finca Dinamia, Mendoza Founded by Alejandro Bianchi (third generation winemaker from Bodegas Bianchi). Its whole ethos revolves around care for the planet and ensuring that it focuses on responsible production. It crafts sustainable, high quality wines embracing ecological packaging with natural cork and recycled cardboard boxes. Buenalma Malbec 2016
The production of this biodynamic wine starts naturally with wild yeasts
followed by a gentle, partial oak ageing. Deep ruby in colour with a rustic nose of brambles, dried herbs and cloves. The palate is full bodied with concentrated black fruits and a slight spicy pepper note on the finish. RRP £20.99
Long Barn Zinfandel 2016, USA With the huge success of Long Barn Pinot Noir, we have extended
the range to include the Zinfandel. Aged in French and American oak, this wine expresses powerful aromas, with sweet forward fruit and a mellow finish. RRP £13.99
Email us to receive a copy of our festive offers booklet
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 64
Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France firstname.lastname@example.org 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich
Famile Helfrich have a range of Crémants from every region and style across France. The richer, creamy style offers far much more complexity than that “Italian one” and at a fraction of the price of its more famous cousin! To celebrate the festive season we have a selection of our finest cuvées from Alsace; all hand-harvested and produced under the watchful eye of Nicolas Haeffelin – from a family with a winemaking history stretching back to the 1600s. Arthur Metz Cuvée 1904 An expressive blend led by Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois and Pinot Noir, with exclusive parcel selection for maximum quality fruit. Extended lees contact of 24 months gives an unrivalled finesse, with no malolactic fermentation to keep the fresh peach and nectarine characteristics at the fore.
Arthur Metz Perle Noire A jewel of the Arthur Metz crown, stylishly clad in its allblack attire! 100% Auxerrois (a cousin of Pinot Blanc); again we have a minimum of 24 months on the lees for a rich mousse with complex buttery, brioche over baked peach and apricot. Aperitif perfection.
Metz Extra Brut They’re all smiles to your face Arthur …
Minimum 18 months on the lees & residual sugar of just 3g gives a crisp, mineral style of Cremant. Distinctive cuvée of Auxerrois, Chardonnay, Pinots Blanc, Noir and Gris. Complex profile with hints of almond, apricot and delicious toasted notes.
Saint Clair Godfrey’s Creek Noble Riesling, Marlborough | 2016 “A deliciously complex dessert wine, with a bouquet of poached apricot, candied citrus and white clover honey. Opulent and silky on the palate with rich orange, lemon and cocoa notes leading to a long, smooth finish.”
Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538
Berton Vineyard Reserve, Riverina, Botrytis Semillon | 2017 “A luscious wine with intense and layered aromas of orange rind, apricot and honey. The vibrant palate delights with notes of orange, grapefruit, butterscotch and biscotti which carry through to a beautifully balanced and persistent finish.”
The festive season is the ideal time for your customers to indulge in something sweet. Once the turkey is out of the way, there is only one way to help wash down the Christmas pudding.
Quady Winery, ‘Essensia’, California, Orange Muscat | 2016 “Vibrant orange in colour, this wine delivers luscious sweet oranges and apricots on the palate. The bittersweet orange marmalade notes balance well with the zesty citric acidity.” RRP: £13.99
Michele Chiarlo ‘Nivole’, Moscato d’Asti | 2018 “Floral aromas are seamlessly complemented by peach and apricot notes on the fragrant bouquet. The gently sparkling palate is delicate, light and creamy; with a silky texture and a refreshing finish.” 90pts:
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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.
Time to Celebrate
Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie NV
New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL
A ‘Domaine’ wine made only from Taittinger’s own vineyards.
A sumptuous Champagne with a rich story marking Taittinger’s heritage.
01344 871800 firstname.lastname@example.org
Oozing style and panache and made with foodies in mind.
Please contact Hatch Mansfield for further information #TaittingerTime
THE WINE MERCHANT november 2019 66
mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD
Bin 27 shares the heritage & style of the great Fonseca Vintage Ports, as well as much of their depth & character. Blended for consistency of character & quintessentially Fonseca in style, this reserve blend provides reliable & affordable value.
020 7840 3600
Pairing Suggestions Fonseca Bin 27 pairs beautifully with desserts, dark chocolate & berry fruit. It makes an excellent match for chocolate truffles or cassis & raspberry flavoured macaroons. It also goes splendidly with the full flavour & rich creaminess of cheeses such as Taleggio, Brie de Meaux, Camembert, Vacherin Mont D’Or or Pont l’Evêque.
“There’s an uninhibited explosive dark cherry and black berry-fruited lusciousness to Fonseca’s Bin 27 that is lovely on its own but next-level gorgeous with chocolate puddings.” David Williams, The Observer - 21st April 2019 For details and pricing please contact your account manager
enotria & COE
The 12 Wines of Christmas
23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX
Christmas is coming, and now is the time to make sure that your Christmas wine list
well as plenty to satisfy those who have their go-to festive favourites!
has something for everybody, from the taste traditionalists to the flavour mavericks. Here we have a range which caters for even the most quirky and unusual palates, as Get in touch with your Account Manager to find out more. A customer who purchases a case (6x75cl) of
020 8961 5161
any wine which forms part of the Enotria&Coe Christmas wine offer (‘The Wine Offer’), will
have their account credited to the amount of £5.00 in January 2020. The Wine Offer applies to the following wines: Massaccio Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2017, Louis Michel Chablis
1er Montee de Tonnerre 2018, Quinta do Crasto
Douro Superior White 2017, Kir-Yianni Ramnista
Xinomavro 2015, Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano, Santadi Carignano del Sulcis Riserva, Cruz de Alba
Ribera del Duero Reserva 2013, Georges Vigouroux Ch. Haute-Serre Grand Vin, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Hand of Time, Peregrine Pinot Noir, Bonterra Young Red.
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The Wine Merchant issue 86 (November 2019)