THE WINE MERCHANT. Issue 87, January 2020
Dog of the Month: Daisy Satchells, Burnham Market
Safely gathered in It was a soggy harvest at Rathfinny in Sussex, but yields were up by 19%, the producer says
Wine shops weather the storm Number of specialist independent wine shops in the UK remains static in a gloomy year for retail trade
espite a year of high street
turmoil, the number of specialist independent wine shops in the
UK has held firm, The Wine Merchant can reveal.
As the new decade dawns, there are 913
stores trading across the UK, down just
one on the 914 wine shops recorded at the start of 2019.
Although the performance compares
poorly with recent years, when an annual net increase of between 40 and 60
shops was commonplace, it represents
retail failures over the past year, including
Cook as well as specialist businesses
a remarkably resilient showing at a time when retail generally finds itself under
The British Retail Consortium reports
that 85,000 retail jobs were lost in the
12 months to October. Online sales now
account for 19% of retail spend, putting more pressure on bricks-and-mortar
retailers who often also face punitive business rates and rent demands.
There has been a series of high-profile
famous names such as Mothercare,
Clintons, Patisserie Valerie and Thomas
such as Steamer Trading, Bathstore and Oddbins.
In the independent wine trade, new
openings have effectively compensated for
closures, with a number of existing players expanding while others â€“ such as Borough Wines, Hailsham Cellars and Corks Out â€“ have closed branches.
ÂŠ JackF / stockadobe.com
An independent magazine for independent retailers
Inside this month 6 comings & Goings A flurry of openings and expansions in the indie trade
12 tried & tested Wine in a can shows its mettle, but doesn’t taste of metal
24 david williams Expecting big things in the new decade from Albariño and Petit Manseng (yes, really)
30 martinez wines How a loss-making Yorkshire merchant got a new lease of life
40 cava round table Six independents consider the future of Spanish fizz in the UK
46 australian wine No longer the down underdog, the nation’s wines are more complex and varied than ever The Spirits World, page 52; Make a Date, page 54; Supplier Bulletin, page 61
Maybe we can all win: indies could share in Majestic’s success
ajestic is back in business. Its new owner plans to retain all 190 branches and has even opened another one in Blackheath, south London – its first for two years. Now that Majestic is owned by a US investment firm, Fortress, rather than trading as a public company, the twiceyearly tradition of picking through its accounts is over. We won’t know for sure how well, or how poorly, the business is performing. But independent merchants in the vicinity of a Majestic branch should get an inkling soon enough. The company has long struggled to turn a profit from its retail estate and is presumably ready not just to tinker with the range, but to make a significant investment in marketing in order to win back customers who have drifted away to online merchants, such as former sister company Naked, and to specialist independents. Should indies be worried? Perhaps. Few small merchants have the sort of parking facilities that even smaller branches of Majestic come with as standard, and none can command the kind of media attention that the company can rely on as it unveils its new strategy before the nation’s wine critics. There are bound to be some headline-grabbing wines, perhaps some
stunning wines, and we can rely on the fourth estate to gush over them. That’s without whatever ad spend has been allocated. Yet at heart the Majestic proposition still feels out of step with the market. The branches have a tendency to feel cold and soulless, at a time when so many indies offer exactly the opposite experience. Every independent in the country knows that you can’t sustain even a modest wine shop on walkin trade alone, yet that’s been at the heart of the Majestic model for years, especially as wholesale business has dried up. We can only assume that Fortress understands all of this and has a bold turnaround plan ready to go. Indies’ instinct for self-preservation will mean they hope that plan isn’t too successful. And yet a profitable and thriving Majestic needn’t be bad news for our sector. Whatever way you look at it, Majestic is the last remaining wine chain of any note; a bellwether for the industry. Its recovery would offer hope to smaller rivals who essentially have similar ambitions but less scale. Its new owners have a huge challenge on their hands, but if they can make it work, it probably bodes well for the futures of all specialist bricks-andmortar wine retailers.
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 2020 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 2
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 3
Corks Out debts still uncertain Corks Out has thanked suppliers for their support after calling in insolvency practitioners and starting afresh with two stores instead of four. The Chester and Knutsford sites have
closed, with Richard Wood setting up new limited companies to run the Stockton Heath and Alderley Edge wine shops, having bought both at auction.
As The Wine Merchant went to press
before Christmas, the scale of losses facing creditors remained unclear.
“In the lead-up to appointing the
insolvency practitioners we were obviously trying to reduce the liabilities to creditors and various other parties, so stock did
The Chester branch has closed and is not part of the new company’s plans
“Some have been more than happy to
become an issue,” Wood says.
give us credit and have been incredibly
staff, customers; everyone involved. But
but again they’ve done as much as they can
“It’s really sad if I’m honest and it’s been
a really tough time for the company, the we’ve done our absolute best to try and come to some kind of arrangement.
“Thankfully now that I’ve managed
to buy the Stockton Heath and Alderley
Edge sites and put a bit of my own money into it as well, I’ve managed to buy some stock and our suppliers have been really
supportive, and so we’ve been able to have a really good run-up to Christmas.
helpful. Some have been slightly wary of the situation and I can understand that,
to support us. It’s not just down to credit
terms but the prices they offer, the size and frequency of delivery – any support they can give.”
Corks Out had been facing legal action
from former owners Ruth and Richard Yates, and their daughter Hayley, for
alleged unfair dismissal. Wood claims the uncertainty this created, coupled with
“tough trading conditions”, meant that
the old business was unable to attract the investment it needed.
Ruth Yates says the family has engaged
lawyers to examine the conduct of the
business prior to insolvency, and to pursue the unfair dismissal claims.
Wood says: “I managed to save as much
of the business as I possibly can, and I
would have loved to have saved Chester as well – it’s such a beautiful building – but I Ruth Yates: still pursuing legal claims
would have just spread myself too thin to do that.
“Unfortunately, the people that do really
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 4
lose out in this situation are the staff
members who have lost their jobs. There’s been, at one point or another, a wine shop
in there since Napoleonic years. It’s a Grade I 13th-century building and my hope is
whatever happens with the Chester store,
someone will make good use of it because it is a stunning property.”
Ruth Yates confirmed that she had
been interested in taking on the Chester
lease but has now turned her attention to
another unit, with the support of a backer, in an unnamed location.
Wood says he hopes to re-establish the
website and to invest in the two shops.
“We want to put a bit of investment in
and maybe have a small refurb in Alderley Edge and potentially in Stockton Heath as well,” he says.
As for the fate of Corks Out’s creditors,
Wood says: “Obviously we don’t like the
idea of anyone being left out of pocket and
hopefully what we’ll see once the company is liquidated or put into administration –
whatever happens – is that enough value is realised from the assets that a lot of
creditors won’t be left out of pocket. I can’t go into detail, but that’s our hope.”
Runners revived by wine tastings
have coffee. It’s a bonding experience.”
Running and wine drinking might not
around 7.30pm, I left at 8.30pm and people
seem the most obvious combination, but there are exceptions – the Médoc Marathon being the most famous. Now independent wine merchants are
claiming a slice of the action thanks to the Wild Wine Run, a project established by Italian athlete Richard Bruschi.
The 5km events were originally
conceived as a way of introducing runners to their local vineyards and wineries, but Bruschi has also teamed up with
merchants in Sussex to help establish running clubs.
Levels in Eastbourne and Seven Cellars
in Brighton have both organised regular running events with Bruschi’s help. The £7.50 entry fee is split between Bruschi and the retailer.
“People get some wine education,” he
says. “Water is always provided and people will naturally hydrate that way. After that, wine is part of the experience: you’re a
little tired, you’re hungry and thirsty, and you want something special.
“Wine is a social drink. It’s like going to
Do red-faced runners really want to hang
around in their sweaty lycra? Apparently so. “In Eastbourne the run finished at
were still sitting and talking and drinking wine,” Bruschi says.
Matt Ainscough of Seven Cellars
in Brighton says the runs were held
fortnightly in the summer and will resume in March. Participants will be encouraged to block-book tickets to minimise the problems created by no-shows.
“We were getting between six and a
dozen people for the run and then hosting
an informal tasting afterwards in the shop,” he says.
“They’re sweaty but they’re definitely
up for a glass of wine. We were still in
the summer months so we tried a nice
Provençal rosé, we tried some Gewürz
from Chile, and I think we did a couple of light reds.
“It’s a nice add-on for the business and
it sparks conversations. Customers seem quite positive about it.”
Bruschi says he is willing to talk to wine
merchants beyond south east England who may be interested in setting up running clubs of their own.
“Our Man with the Facts”
• It’s estimated that around 5% of the UK population – some 3.25 million people – have a limited sense of smell. Some have anosmia, which means the patient has no ability to detect smell at all. The condition can be present from birth but is more usually caused by viral infections and sinus diseases.
....... • In the past five years, flavoured and spiced rum sales in the UK have increased from just under 6 million bottles to more than 10 million bottles, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.
....... • The launch of HMS Royal Arthur by Queen Victoria in 1891 is the first recorded instance of Champagne being smashed against the side of a ship to celebrate its completion.
....... • The main component of the crystalline deposits found in some wine bottles is potassium bitartrate, which in its pure form is used in baking powder. It can also activate henna to create a hair dye.
....... • In 2012 English artist Rob Higgs made what has been described as the world’s most elaborate corkscrew out of 250 components retrieved from scrap yards. Runners at Seven Cellars in Brighton ready to earn their wine
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 5
Park life will suit Barrica just fine Barrica Wines will be returning to its home turf in Chorley next month to launch a permanent food and shopping site at Astley Hall and Park. Owner Jane Cuthbertson, who along
with other traders was forced to move
from her premises at Botany Bay almost a year ago, has since shared a unit with
Walton Summit’s Beer Brothers Brewery in Preston.
She will continue to staff that space
at weekends once Barrica in the Park launches on February 1.
Cuthbertson is recruiting a number
of different traders and craftspeople to
Jane Cuthbertson of Barrica (right) with Natalie Wells
populate the ground floor “farm shop”. The mezzanine area will be used for tastings and for workshops.
“What I want,” says Cuthbertson, “is a
destination where people can come and if they just want to buy a loaf of bread, they
can, or if they want to spend £300 on a gift they can.
“It’s not just food and drink, it’s about
showcasing everything that the local area is really good at.
“There will be cheese, bread,
chocolatiers, chutneys, cheesecakes, brownies … but also we have a local
photographer, a local furniture up-cycler,
a glass engraver and a local illustrator. We have about 22 traders so far and I have a whole influx of enquiries.”
Firmly on the tourist map – the annual
Chorley Flower Show alone attracts 15,000 people over a two-day period – Astley
Park is well situated for the events that Cuthbertson has in mind.
“There’s a lovely walled garden where we
will be serving wine by the glass, as well as beers and gins,” she says.
The team at Astley Park will also include
Natalie Wells and Su Holroyd.
The grounds at the 17th-century Astley Park
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 6
Adeline Mangevine Spry springs into life in Edinburgh Spry, a new shop and wine bar, opened in Edinburgh at the beginning of November. Owner Matt Jackson says his new
business was in planning for exactly a
year. “It is hard in Edinburgh in general
to find premises and the licensing is quite difficult,” he says. “It was quite an ordeal, but we got there.”
Jackson has a hospitality background
and has worked in some of the finest local
restaurants but wine is his focus, especially natural and low-intervention products. “There wasn’t really a space for those
wines to be celebrated in Edinburgh – not as much as there is down south – and that was the reason for opening my shop,” he says. He is using a number of specialist
suppliers including Vinetrail, Wines Under the Bonnet and Les Caves de Pyrene.
Customers are able to drink in, choosing from a by-the-glass menu or from any
bottle off the shelf for an extra £10 corkage. Local chef Kiran MacCafferty is very
much centre stage in an open kitchen
which is built into the bar area. Jackson’s
fiancée, Marzena Brodziak, is also on hand to help out in the shop.
“Our goal from the start was to have a
retail space for wines made naturally,” says Jackson. “It’s been going down well so far, although I think people are still kind of
unsure of how to use the space. The hybrid concept is not so popularised up here – we
have lots of on-trade and we are still trying to push the off-trade.
“We have made the retail space quite
separate and I think if we shouted more
from our shop frontage that would work,
but we are trying to be more discreet and
we’re trying to inspire curiosity in people
and encourage them to come in and have a conversation.”
Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing
e stops me just as I leave the
shop to grab a coffee and, with a smile, says: “I got all my
Christmas wines at Lidl this year.” He’s
never been into the shop, but I know who his is – a rather smug older gentleman who likes to boast to his friends about
the charming independent spirit of his local area.
I should have just said “happy new
year”. People like that are really not
worth bothering about, and one of my
resolutions for 2020 is not to let this sort of stuff get under my skin. But it does.
So I snap back: “When we close down, at least you’ll know why,” and stomp off.
It’s a stupid response. Don’t feed the
trolls, Adeline! Focus on all the customers who did choose to buy wines from you in December.
But an independent wine shop is
not just for Christmas or gifts, is it?
metric, even if it does hurt my bottom line.
Then there’s the management of
a loyalty programme. I start to get a headache from imagining all the
additional admin. So I start to research companies who can do customisable
apps. The cost! My EPoS is cheaper. If I’m going to spend that much, I should do it myself. Crowdfund it. Call it Drinkii or
Winofy – and dedicate my time getting
Rewarding loyalty to make our customers feel like royalty (at the right price)
(Take note, certain newspaper wine
other independent retailers to use it.
man certainly doesn’t. I know how much
have a shop to run.
columnists.) People don’t have to
remortgage to support us. Grumpy old his house is worth.
Perhaps, then, it’s high time I rewarded
those who spend with us all year round. I’ve toyed with the idea of a loyalty
programme but have always struggled
with the dilemma of whether to reward
frequency or spend. I’d prefer frequency,
to make it inclusive, yet I don’t want to be seen encouraging people to drink more just to get a freebie. Appearances are everything.
I could just focus on VIPs, offering
a higher discounts to the ultra-loyal
customers if they buy a case of 12 every few weeks. Do 15% instead of 10%. I
can already hear the disapproving tsk
from my accountant as I try to explain
how customer retention is an important
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 7
I start imagining all the awards and
plaudits rolling in, clearly forgetting I
Maybe quick and dirty would be best
in the short term – with a card and a
rubber stamp. A complimentary glass of
wine after six purchases would be easy to manage. Dealing with all the people who lost their cards – but still wanted their reward – would be less so.
In the end, it’s Gav who saves the day.
“Let’s do a customer of the month,” he
says. “You know, sort of like Pret. A free
bottle or glass of wine to one of our loyal customers, just because we feel like it.” And, you know, nothing makes a customer feel valued than a
random gift to say
thank you for your support.
Shatfords aim for a simple formula
and read stuff so they can learn – just
Karl and Debbie Shatford will open
don’t analyse it, but when you learn a bit
their shop, The Honest Wine Company, in Castle Donington this month. The store will be off-trade only, due to
the landlord living above and not being
keen on the activity associated with a wine bar, and Karl has plans to court corporate clients in the area.
“We’re right in the middle of Derby,
simple things you can put on the wall
or leave lying around for them to read,”
says Karl. “Most people who drink wine more about it, that’s when it becomes interesting.”
Leominster store hails local heroes The usual red tape beloved of local
in Italy, so naturally we will be showcasing wines that are organic as well as some vegan-friendly products.”
Dixon will also be supporting producers
closer to the Herefordshire-Shropshire border such as Three Choirs, William
Chase and Ludlow Brewery. He intends to
run regular tastings from the shop, with his first event set for Valentines weekend. • Tavistock delicatessen Crebers,
established in 1881 and regarded as a local institution, is back under the control of
councils prevented Chris Dixon getting
Wojciech Brudnik, who originally sold to
“We have East Midlands airport up the road
his new venture off the ground in time
Julian Packer in 2017. Packer still runs the
and there’s a huge amount of development
to benefit from the Christmas trade.
Totnes Wine Company business.
infrastructure going in, and Amazon has
just built a distribution centre, so there’s
Vine & Juniper will open in Leominster,
help with events etc.
Herefordshire, at the end of this month. the wine industry for Dixon, who has a
Nottingham and Leicester,” he explains. going on around us, including new rail
But he is happy to confirm that From
lots of opportunity for us to go to them and “I know that if I just sit in my shop in the
middle of Castle Donington, waiting for
people to come through the door, I won’t last very long.”
Karl describes the unit, previously a
gallery and gift shop, as perfect for his new venture: “a nice double fronted property
– just what you imagine a traditional wine merchants to look like”.
Karl has a background in the pub and
Although this is the first foray into
Parson’s closed in Rottingdean
background in finance, his sister Rebecca
After just one year of trading in the
lucky because I can tap into my sister’s
at Auriol Wines in Hampshire. Her own
Victoria pub. The closure tied in with the
Stibbs is an old hand in the trade.
Sussex village of Rottingdean, Brandy
“It’s completely new to me but I’m
for the Parson closed for good in early
“She’s a sommelier and she used to work
Philip Rees, landlords of the local Queen
knowledge,” he says.
wine is produced at a biodynamic winery
The shop was set up by Ian Wilson and
natural end of the lease.
restaurant industry and once worked for Ind Coope. He hopes to import some of his own wine in the future but for now
he wants to “keep it simple,” with a small number of suppliers, possibly including Alliance and Buckingham Schenk. The
focus will be on wine to start with and over time, the offer will encompass spirits and craft beers – and also include a range of vintage and novelty corkscrews.
As admirers of the marketing techniques
employed by Naked, the Shatfords are keen to bring a similar feel to their business by
helping customers make a connection with the growers behind their wines.
“We want people to come in and browse,
Three Choirs wine will be on sale at From Vine & Juniper in Leominster
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 8
HERE’S TO THE NEXT 30 YEARS Pol Roger Portfolio has built its reputation as a traditional agency business, but it’s surprisingly well placed to help independents face the challenges of the modern-day wine trade
ol Roger Portfolio celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. It is, says managing director James Simpson MW, an old-fashioned agency business in the best possible sense. Put simply, the focus is on great service and upmarket wines. It’s no coincidence that these wines seem to be supplied by incredibly pleasant and interesting people, from France via Spain to California. “If you can’t sit and have a nice conversation with them over a lunch or dinner – just forget it,” is Simpson’s assessment. “We are seeing a lot of them and they’ve got to sell their wine to our sales guys who have to sell it to our customers,” he reasons. “And frankly, nicer people make better wine, don’t they?” Typically, the company prefers to work with family businesses. “Pol is still family owned, and Glenfarclas [which holds a 5% stake] is one of the very few families still in the serious-sized distilling business,” Simpson says. “Families tend to be able to take a longer-term strategic view and they are less pressurised for short-term gain. They are not in a rush.” Pol Roger Champagne makes up about half of Simpson’s team’s sales. They receive an annual allocation from the parent company, which they have absolutely no problem in selling – indeed this year they had to ask politely for more. “We are going to have another record year for Pol, which is great,” says Simpson. “A record year for us is about 29,500 cases, which in the scheme of things is about a tenth of someone like Moët, but for us that’s a nice figure because we can support the independents without overexposing the brand. “We don’t want to be complacent about it, but Pol is doing OK. They
Kinsman Eades is the latest addition to the agency roster
spend a fortune making sure that it tastes good and is universally fabulous.” Pol Roger Portfolio has developed a reputation for high-end California wines, and indeed has more producers from that part of the world joining its roster in 2020. “California is fun and there is still stuff coming out of the woodwork,” says Simpson. He says consumers are often finding better value in this category – and experiencing a simpler buying process – than they might in some classic old-world regions. Simpson has a team of 19 and jokes about “feeling rather ancient now” in the company of younger and perhaps more energetic colleagues. But he is delighted that this new blood is what will spearhead the company’s development over the coming 30 years. “We can still do that old-fashioned, service element, selling posh wines, but actually be a bit cooler around the edges,” he says. “And cool is California; cool is what they’re doing at Artadi with cans; and cool, actually, is Pol Roger. It has become quite a cool brand despite all our efforts to be strait-laced and serious.” He adds: “We’ve invested more in a bigger sales team and a new whisky expert; we’re seeing customers more and are
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 9
providing better service levels and being more reasonable about minimum order quantities. We are more flexible than we used to be, and I think that’s the way the wine trade has got to go.”
The range • Abreu Vineyards, Napa Valley • Artadi, Navarra and Alicante • Grand Tokaj, Tokaji • Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley • Drouhin Vaudon, Chablis • Gallica, California • Joseph Drouhin, Burgundy • Josmeyer, Alsace • Pol Roger, Champagne • Robert Sinskey Vineyards, California • Staglin Family Vineyard, Napa Valley • TOR Wines, Napa Valley • Kinsman Eades, Napa Valley • Glenfarclas, Highland malt whisky • Kilchoman, Islay single malt whisky For more information visit www.polroger.co.uk or call 01432 262800
Bacchus Absent Friends
Victoria Platt of Loki in Birmingham has turned outof-office messages into an art form. Anyone encountering her mailbox during what appears to be regular and exciting leaves of absence can expect an automated reply, accompanied by a Photoshopped image of her latest escapade. Victoria was among the group who visited Styria and Burgenland as part of last year’s Wine Merchant buyer’s trip. “I am off to Austria for a rather intense few days of wine tasting, seminars and quite possibly, more wine tasting,” the out-of-office explained. “To be completely honest, I may have my own hidden agenda whilst here, and I’m just awaiting the perfect moment to slink off and go shopping for lederhosen, run to the hills with a bottle or two of Austrian wine, whilst singing The Hills are Alive with the Sound Of Muuuuuusic! “Bearing this in mind, there’s a good chance my new lederhosen won’t have a suitable pocket for my phone, nor the signal with which to use it up in the hills, so if you have any urgent queries, please contact either shop, and for everything else, I will
respond upon my return.” A trip to New York to celebrate Victoria’s birthday inspired a parody of the Friends logo, with her face imposed over those of Ross, Rachel, Joey et al. Headline: “I won’t be here for you.”
Marc Hough from Cork of the North has been on his travels again, this time a trade and press excursion to Georgia. “One thing the Georgians really like is doing toasts, after every course,” he reports. As a show of courtesy to his hosts, Marc delivered his own toast of gratitude, on behalf of the British contingent, in word-perfect Georgian. “I wrote everything down phonetically and delivered it in what I thought was a comedy Russian accent and it went down a storm,” he says. “They could not believe that some guy from Manchester was talking Georgian to them.” The party was serenaded with traditional Georgian music performed by a polyphonic choir. This gesture was reciprocated by a welloiled hack, who liberated an acoustic guitar and subjected the party to an earnest rendition of Wonderwall, apparently to general cringing and bemusement.
Staffs indie aims for 12 sites Plans for a new chain of wine shops have got underway with the opening of a first branch this month in Barton-underNeedwood in Staffordshire. Fine wine investment group Vin-X is looking to create a
dozen hybrid wine shop/wine bar establishments. Business
development manager Warren Rumsey says: “Primarily we are
a wine investment company, so we buy and sell the top 30 to 35
châteaux in the world. But on that basis, nobody ever drinks any wine with us.
“We put wine into bonded warehouses and sometimes you don’t
even get to look at it so it can be, in terms of the whole romance of the wine industry, quite boring!”
The business has “a very strong core of over 2,000 clients that
invest in wine” and the hope is that many of these customers will be persuaded to visit the branches to actually enjoy the product rather than simply aim to profit from it.
“The whole essence of where we are coming from with the bars
is to put information on the walls about how you can invest in wine,” says Rumsey.
“The people in the venues we create can enjoy a nice glass of
wine, read about the virtues of saving it and making money out
of it and there’s the retail element too: we’ve got a three-pronged attack.”
Rumsey will be managing the first Vin-X Tasting Rooms as he
knows the area well, having lived in the village for 30 years. “We are going to be very retail orientated,” he says. “Effectively it is a retail store during the day and our licensing hours are from midday to varying times in the evening over the week.”
There will be space to seat 35 customers and the tasting room
will accommodate around 12 for a private party, or maybe a wine
course: plans are afoot to work with WSET. Cheese platters will be available and, with the help of a Verre de Vin, there will be plenty of wines on taste.
A run on rum in Plymouth It has been four years since Dominic Trounce and Alan Norchi launched their Barrel & Still business in Kingsbridge, Devon, and now they have expanded with a new store in Plymouth. “We had probably always been looking out for other sites,”
explains Trounce. Finding the right location was not easy but
the duo have found a spot in a “more gentrified, slightly more No mobile reception in the hills, apparently
upmarket” part of town.
Trounce has selected a site slightly away from the town centre
and towards the Barbican. Here his neighbours include a popular
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 10
restaurants on our street, so we’re not out to compete with them. We will rotate the wines we do by the glass and offer some real premium wines that you might not be able to get elsewhere.”
© gilbertdestoke / stockadobe.com
The shop itself remains untouched: it is the back room,
previously used for classes and tastings, that has been refurbished to create a bar with “low-key elegant living room sort of look”. Barrel & Still has opened a second Devon store, this time in Plymouth
restaurant, an art gallery and like-minded independents. “We
haven’t got the footfall that you’d get on the high street but then the rent would be four times as much,” Trounce says. “It’s not a
particularly high-margin business so you have to be very careful in picking the right location.”
The store has only been open since October but that’s long
enough for Trounce to have identified the shopping habits of the locals. “I expected this to be a wine merchant with some spirit
sales, but it’s turned out so far to be a spirit merchant with some wine sales,” he says.
“I think the wine side will develop over time, but rum is our
number one selling product. I shouldn’t really be surprised
because Plymouth is a naval town. So many people I speak to
O’Brien says: “We want to keep both elements quite separate.
There will be some seating in the window of the shop, but it will only take up some of the existing window display.”
Although the retail environment is “challenging”, O’Brien says
the business plan for Philglas & Swiggot is firmly on course.
“We know retail is struggling a bit at the moment and there are
less and less people going to the high street to get their shopping, but there are lots of opportunities here too,” he says.
“Often things just need a fresh perspective and hopefully that’s
what we’ve brought – it’s going to plan so far.”
Whether the Battersea store follows suit and becomes a hybrid
will depend on the success of this first project. O’Brien adds that although the business is satisfied with its two existing branches for now, “it would be natural to look at more sites” elsewhere in London if all goes well.
are either in the navy, have left the navy or have got family in the navy.”
The team will soon embark on the next phase of the project
and transform the basement into a bar. “We just have to get
planning permission for change of use but I don’t think that will
be a problem,” says Trounce. “It’s not a residential area and we’re looking at a private members-only wine tasting and spirit tasting bar, nothing riotous
So what’s the magic number for Barrel & Still? “I don’t think we
really want to have a chain, but it’s all about location so if the right one came up, never say never. But getting this one open damn nearly killed me!”
P&S Marylebone makeover The first major change will be happening at the Marylebone branch of Philglas & Swiggot since Irish retail business O’Briens acquired the company back in November 2018. January will see the launch of a bar with a by-the-glass menu
(aided by a Verre de Vin), and a flat corkage fee of £10, so
customers can choose any bottle from the retail section to enjoy
on the premises. Cheeses, charcuterie and other light nibbles will be on offer.
Director Marcus O’Brien says: “There’s a lot of fantastic
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 11
TRIED & TESTED: CANNED WINE SPECIAL
Te Merio Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Igo Organic Rosé
Canned Marlborough Sauvignon would be expected
This 100% Grenache from Bodegas Artazu in Navarra
the tropical flavours lined up in a row here. But this
to upgrade consumer expectations about rosé in a can.
to tick some familiar boxes rather than go off on
any crazy tangents, and so it’s no big shock to find is no mere fruit bomb – in fact there’s a moreish
under-ripeness at work, a satisfying friction, and a tart, lemon juice and salt effect on the finish. RRP: £3.99 (25cl)
Boutinot Wines (0161 908 1300)
is already a hit in America, though not in the organic
style that was selected for the UK market in an attempt It’s a proper wine, with delicate raspberry fruit that
remains firmly on the drier side of the spectrum, and a texture that matches the tactile paper label. RRP: £5 (25cl)
Pol Roger Portfolio (01432 262800)
Abstrait Malbec Rosé 2018
There are two wines in the Cansecco range, the
The fruit comes from one of Boutinot’s growers
away from a pretty decent fizz, which doesn’t try
pretty successful effort at a crowd-pleasing rosé,
other being an equally agreeable rosé. The bubbles didn’t hang around long but that takes nothing
to overcomplicate things and gets all the basics
right. Hints of pear and melon and a slight almondy bitterness on the finish make it good clean fun. RRP: £4 (20cl)
Liquid Brands (07743 813716)
in Languedoc-Roussillon who has been supplying Malbec grapes for red wines for some time. It’s a
with ripe strawberry fruit, a herbal undercurrent
and a zippy, minerally edge. You can’t tell by looking at the can, but it’s the “right” shade of pink, too. RRP: £3.79 (25cl)
Boutinot Wines (0161 908 1300)
Ferdinand Albarino 2018
Zeitgeist Union Grüner Veltliner 2018
It takes courage to produce Albarino in California,
and even more to package it in a can. But winemaker
Grüner’s a grape with a natural association with
barrel-fermented Lodi fruit, which is neither fined
Kamptal by a UK start-up, doesn’t disappoint,
Evan Frazier evidently trusts his instincts and
has done a grand job with organically-grown and
nor filtered. Ripe and rich, but with no superfluous sweetness, it’s a luscious but quenching affair. RRP: £11 (37.5cl)
Nekter Wines (07598 920922)
freshness and so makes an ideal candidate for
canned wine. This Austrian example, sourced from with its peachy and citrus-peel flavours and cool, cleansing character. RRP: £5.20
Pablo y Walter Malbec 2018
Ferdinand Rosé 2018
Another Boutinot offering that does more than
More organic Lodi fruit here from old Carignan
cassis and violets, while on the palate it’s juicy and
party fuel but actually the juice is so much better
just what it says on the tin, made with grapes from 25-year-old vines in Mendoza. On the nose, it’s all
rounded, with subtle greener flavours providing a foil for the sweetness. There’s a pleasant mineral grip on the finish too. RRP: £3.79 (25cl)
Boutinot Wines (0161 908 1300) boutinot.com
bush vines, and Ferdinand’s sure-footedness is
again evident. Perhaps the packaging suggests pink than that, with aromatic red fruits and a hint of
citrus. There’s just enough weight here, and a gentle creamy sensation on the finish to round things off. RRP: £11 (37.5cl)
Nekter Wines (07598 920922) nekterwines.com
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 12
Tissue’s a big issue WBC describes Pulpsafe as its “most environmentally friendly transit packaging for bottles so far”. It’s made from 100% recycled card waste that is converted in pulp and then moulded into the three components required to make up the pack. “Pulpsafe offers the same strength and reliability as polystyrene and plastic transit alternatives but isn’t just plastic-free but 100% recyclable, compostable and biodegradable too,” the company claims. It is made in the UK and covers options for one to 12-bottle protection. Prices start from £1.46 plus VAT.
Throw in the towel Drying up glasses is usually the least entertaining part of the winedrinking experience but Lincoln-based Stuart Gardiner Design adds a touch of colourful fun to proceedings with a range of wine-themed tea towels, including a guide to red and wine food pairing options and a graphical introduction to wine facts and terminology. The towels, which are also available as A2 prints, have a wholesale price of £4.50 and a suggested retail price of £11. Find out more at stuartgardiner.com.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 13
Lighten Fiona Blair
Dr John Forrest: “Nothing daft and nothing illegal”
New Zealand is making palatable wines at 9.5% abv. Maybe it’s on to something, writes Graham Holter
he country that normalised
screwcaps on wine bottles believes it’s on the verge of a breakthrough
that could be just as seismic.
New Zealand winemakers, aided by
some government cash, are finding new
ways of taking alcohol levels below 10%
without compromising flavour, aroma or
mouthfeel. There is a fourth consideration too: typicity. If you’re selling 9% abv
Marlborough Sauvignon, consumers expect it to taste like Marlborough Sauvignon, not generic white wine.
The New Zealand Lighter Wines
Initiative involves 18 producers who
all collaborate in a $17m research and
development programme. But individual wineries are free to develop their own
technologies without necessarily sharing their secrets.
Dr John Forrest, for example, estimates
there are “14 subtle things we can do”
in his Forrest Estate winery to achieve
a decrease in alcohol by four or five
was recently presented in London, to a
and nothing illegal”. Most of the processes,
light, without losing typicity, though others
percentage points. He won’t reveal what these are but stresses it’s “nothing daft he says, amount to “tweaks during the winemaking”. About a third involve additives of some kind.
Forrest has been on a long mission to
make authentic-tasting lighter wines. His initial attempts were focused on early
harvesting and dealcoholisation. The wines turned out thin and insipid. “Two years
wasted, really,” is his damning verdict on his own efforts.
Then in 2017 he started experimenting
with selective leaf removal in the vineyards to slow down the vines’ ability to produce sugar. The technique proved to be not
only successful, but inexpensive. “It costs not one cent more than conventional viticulture,” Forrest says.
A selection of wines from various
producers involved in the initiative
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 14
broadly favourable response. Some of the
Marlborough Sauvignons tasted noticeably were surprisingly full flavoured.
The Pinot Gris and rosé flights were
more of a mixed bag. Although quality was generally good, a couple of wines had the
kind of incongruous background flavours that suggested some unconventional manipulation in the winery.
The two reds on show, Forrest’s The
Doctors Pinot Noir 2017 and 2018, were perhaps the highlights of the
day. In a way the selling point here is not the alcohol content per se,
but the fact that the wine is made in a style that many Pinot fans prefer to the hot, overbearing
offerings that the New World is sometimes guilty of producing. Wine Intelligence research
has found that 41% of
ENOMATIC premium wine drinkers in the UK would be
keen to buy lighter wine if it was available. One third of these consumers report moderating their alcohol intake.
It would be a brave or reckless producer
to base their marketing around health and wellbeing, especially for a product that’s significantly more alcoholic than Special Brew. And talk of “the ability to have a
second glass before driving”, which was
Nichola Roe Wine Therapy Cowes Isle of Wight
overheard at the London event, is another clear no-no. It raises questions about
how lighter wines should be promoted and packaged, and where exactly they
should be displayed: in their own section
of the store, or alongside their traditionalstrength cousins?
Already lighter styles account for 7%
of Sauvignon Blanc sales in New Zealand,
compared to just 0.5% in the UK. That’s a £55m sales gap that Forrest is convinced
“We have people who want to use the Enomatics for hosting their own party and we allow them to bring their own food”
can be breached.
But why settle for 9% abv when you
could perhaps achieve 0%? It’s a question that leaves the mild-mannered Forrest
slightly rattled. “I find it almost offensive that people keep banging on about this,” he says.
We should, he insists, be celebrating “a
bloody good effort by New Zealand” in
achieving such impressive results with an
already significant reduction in alcohol. As a scientist, he has an academic curiosity about the possibility of a completely
non-alcoholic and authentic-tasting wine, but nobody should underestimate the
How have you positioned them? They are totally integrated into the wine offer because they are nestled in amongst the shelves of wine. We have put two units on one side of the shop and two on the other side. There’s enough space around them to engage with them without affecting other customers who are coming in to buy a bottle. We have a lovely secluded courtyard garden so when the weather is nice people can take their glasses out there. Do you organise any specific promotions or offers? There is a local business with a team of 12 to 20 people and we set up Thirsty Thursdays specifically for them. They give us a bit of notice and ask if they can come in and we stay open a bit later. They pretty much have exclusivity of the shop and use the Enomatics for their own tasting. We also have people who want to use the Enomatics for hosting a party and we allow them to bring in their own food and nibbles to enjoy with our wines. All we ask is that they take their rubbish home with them. They give pre-loaded cards to their guests and because they are catering for themselves, we just need to be on hand to keep the machines refreshed and chat about the wines. What do the Enomatics do for your business? Wine can be a frightening thing to buy if you don’t understand it and the machines help to break down the barriers. I always stress to my customers that their tastebuds are the judge; I can give some guidance but ultimately you trust your own tastebuds. If you like the taste of it then that’s a good wine for you – there are no set rules. Giving people that level of empowerment encourages them to be a bit more adventurous.
challenges that poses, which at present seem insurmountable.
Meanwhile, the work continues into
perfecting the current technology. There is no silver bullet, Forrest says. We are
dealing with live science and the work is continuing on many fronts.
“Let’s celebrate great wine with a 30%
to 40% reduction in alcohol,” he urges. “It’s a hell of an achievement and it opens up
so many more opportunities for drinking. This is 14 years of blood, sweat and tears for me personally.”
Tell us about your Enomatics. We have four eight-bottle machines and we’ve had them since we opened the shop in 2011. We first saw Enomatics in The Sampler in London and we were very impressed with them, so when we put together our business plan we agreed that we absolutely had to include them.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 15
BITS & BOBS
Amazon own-label wine hits UK market Amazon has expanded distribution of
having initially bought a 40% stake in the
its new own-label range of wines into
magazine in 2017.
the UK, following its launch in Germany
Decanter, November 26
in November. The six-strong wine range comprises
Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Chardonnay, Grenache
Phoebe Weller Valhalla’s Goat Glasgow Favourite wine on my list Eeeee, I really don’t know. We’ve got so much and every day is different and it depends on the moon and the cash in my pocket. Tonight I will be trying not to buy and drink Bogle Phantom Chardonnay. I struggle not to buy Gallimard’s Amphoressence every time I get paid. I’d go a bottle of Niepoort’s red Nat’cool right now if we had any left but those customers got it all.
Rosé, Dornfelder and Riesling.
The company said the range will be
expanded over time. The move follows
Cambodian police have broken a
media have reported.
Amazon’s first foray into own-label spirits, which got underway in November with The Drinks Business, December 11
Favourite wine trip I have been very, very lucky to go away so much. ABS Masters of Riesling was really magical – dreamlike. Portugal with Raymond Reynolds. Portugal with Liberty; darts of the imagination. Alsace with Alliance …
Favourite wine trade person I’m not very good at decisions. Vic from Alexander Wines. Mark P from New Generation. Lesley from Alliance. Andrew from Enotria. Simon from Thorman Hunt. Everyone from Raymond Reynolds!
Favourite wine shop Every shop I go into I’m immediately jealous of and awed by. People do such good work. Chris down in Castle Douglas at The Bottle List is building an empire and has a nice table.
bootlegging operation that specialised in producing fake Australian wine, local The Post News said on Friday that a
police raid on Tuesday on a liquor store
in Poipet, near the Thai border crossing, uncovered packaging and labelling for
Penfolds “Bin 2, Bin 8, Bin 707, Bin 128, Bin 407 and Bin 389” wines.
Not among the fakes was the more
Favourite wine and food match Rallo AV01 Orange Cataratto with a big dirty pepperoni pizza from the small dirty Italian chip shop next door. Chaffey’s Pax Aeterna Grenache matches everything you throw at it.
Fake Penfolds wine found in Cambodia
Range is expected to grow
US tariffs could hurt French wines Drastic tariffs the US has threatened to place on French goods such as Champagne will cripple the nation’s wine businesses, according to one
expensive 620 Cabernet Shiraz, which
retails for more than $1,000. But in southeast Asia the Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon is very popular and can cost more than $500.
The Guardian, November 29
Angel’s share is claimed by LVMH
industry leader, who has called on
LVMH’s Moët Hennessy business has
Emmanuel Macron to take “all the
acquired 55% of Château
necessary initiatives” to stop their
d’Esclans, which produces the
popular Whispering Angel
The US government has proposed tariffs
rosé wine in the Var area of
of up to 100%, valued at $2.4bn, on French
placed on American tech companies.
instrumental in establishing
goods including sparkling wine, cheese
Sacha Lichine, president
and handbags, in retaliation to a French tax
of d’Esclans who has been
• The Michelin Guide has become the 100%
the other 45% stake and will
The Drinks Business, December 6
shareholder of influential American wine publication Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate,
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 16
its reputation, has retained
run the estate in partnership with Moët Hennessy.
Decanter, December 2
No smoke without ire in Sonoma
THE BURNING QUESTION
What’s your policy on carrier bags?
I still use plastic bags and I charge 5p. I’m trying to find a replacement but it’s not that easy. I’ve tried paper ones but they don’t tend to take the weight. Our bags were quite expensive because we had our logo on them, and I’m buying them without the logo now to make them a less attractive option, but that’s not ideal because you want to advertise your business. More shoppers have got into the habit of bringing their own bags. I offer a cardboard box if people are buying five or six bottles.
Sonoma-based wine group Vintage Wine Estates and family-owned winery Kunde have sued their insurers for a combined total of $19m for refusing to cover them for losses caused by smoke taint. Kunde Winery said that it had lost “more
than $7m due to smoke taint” experienced as a result of the October 2017 wildfires. Vintage Wine Estates claims to have suffered a $12m shortfall.
The Drinks Business, December 10
Gormley hands over reins at Naked Rowan Gormley will step down as Naked Wines CEO after the Christmas trading
Alan Wright Clifton Cellars, Bristol
We currently use plastic bags. We don’t charge for them, but we are careful in terms of where we source them. The branded ones we have are made from Biothene, which theoretically will degrade within a few years. We tried to source a paper bag guaranteed to withstand the weight of two bottles but as yet we haven’t found one that will do that. We have just branded a few inexpensive things like pens and pencils for our events and we’re looking at recycled cotton tote bags for the new year.
Hayley Steward Caviste, Hampshire
season and once the group’s sale of Majestic Wine to private equity group
Fortress has been completed.
We’ve only just perfected our bags. We’ve got brown paper bags with twisted handles. They are quite strong and sturdy and they carry two bottles. I can’t remember how much they cost us now, but we don’t charge our customers for the bags so I know we didn’t want to pay much per unit. I did have to shop around a lot because some places were quite expensive. It’s more economical because they are plain, but then we brand them ourselves with our own Brigitte Bordeaux stamp.
He will hand over the reins to Nick
Devlin, the current chief operating officer at Naked Wines.
News of Gormley’s departure came as
Naked reported rising sales but deepening losses for the first half of its current
It reported a total net loss after tax of
£6.4m for the 26 weeks to September 30. Its loss before tax on continuing
operations – excluding businesses subject to sale or disposal – was £6.2m, versus a comparable loss of £5.1m a year earlier. Decanter, November 21
• Greencroft Bottling has partnered with Ardagh Group to launch what it claims is the UK’s first large-scale wine canning line.
Kat Stead Brigitte Bordeaux, Nottingham
We’ve been plastic-free for almost a year. We were a little apprehensive at first about whether there would be a backlash but actually it’s been really well received. We have paper gift bags with a twine handle that we charge a £1 for and, rather than brown, we’ve gone for a burgundy colour. We’ve had some hemp bags made up for us with our shop branding on and they have the divider for six bottles, and we charge £5 for those. Not many people have picked up on those yet.
Steve Brown Old Chapel Cellars, Truro
The £2m facility, in County Durham, will focus initially on 200ml and 250ml slimline cans as well as Ardagh’s imminent new 187ml wine can format.
Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584
Imbibe, November 27
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 17
ight ideas r b 7: Harness Some Pedal Power
. T H E D R AY M A N . Paying for the privilege
rice-of-beer grumbles used to be about how cheap slabs of lager were in the supermarkets – but
amazement today tends to focus on how expensive beer can be. Usually it will involve pointing at a can of day-glo clad, turbo-charged IPA and muttering an inference that the purchasers of such beers need their heads testing. It’s an attitude that fails to acknowledge that expensive beers are usually expensive for a reason, much in the same way that some wines cost £20 and are generally better than ones that sell for under a tenner. Beers can cost more because they’re made with more expensive ingredients, take longer to produce, or require an investment that pushes up costs. Take Siren’s suitably-seasonal Maiden anniversary barley wine, for example. The 2017 is doing the rounds at the moment and a 37.5cl bottle can be nabbed for just over a tenner. A new Maiden brew is made every year and blended with previous vintages that have spent time in casks with former lives as receptacles for red wine, Heaven Hill and Jim Beam bourbons, Auchentoshan whisky and tequila. The barrels are topped up with fresh Maiden for further ageing in a pivoesque take on sherry’s solera system and, just like wine vintages, each annual release is different. Suddenly, a tenner starts to look pretty reasonable. Sometimes the reason is more humdrum. On the face of it, Gamma Brewing’s Nascent is a routine 5.5% IPA, but a can costs about £8 because it’s made from the US hop varieties Amarillo and Simcoe, and the Australian Enigma. All are more considerably more expensive than traditional British hop varieties, the last by as much as five times at current wholesale prices if you can track down any at all. As with many wines and top-end spirits, these sorts of beers need the hand-sell. The beers are crackers, but their drinkers aren’t.
Ted Sandbach, The Oxford Wine Company
In a nutshell … A wine tour around the city on board a bus powered by the cycling efforts of your guests.
Very environmentally sound. Tell us more.
“An old friend of mine, Jon Little, had the idea of buying this bus and doing tours around Oxford and I said, ‘hang on a second, why don’t we think of doing a wine tasting tour as well?’ The bus itself relies on the power generated by the on-board bicycles although Jon can kick in the engine if it needs a bit more power when going over rough terrain or up a slight incline, or if he just wants to get a move on!”
Talk us through a typical cycle bus tour.
“Jon meets all the guests and they cycle over to our Turl Street cellars where we have a general chat about wine and have a taste of two before all getting on the bus. There are 12 static bikes arranged around a central table but it’s not very practical to taste wine and cycle at the same time, so we cycle somewhere pretty and lay out a few rugs and taste wine number three. A further bit of hard pedalling to another landmark or beauty spot and we taste wine number four on board the bus. Then we end up going back to our wine bar, The Oxford Wine Café, and having two more wines there. My hope at that point is that they stay on at the café, spend some money and have some food. From my point of view, it’s a bit of fun and it creates quite a lot of interest – wherever we go in Oxford everyone is staring.”
Did you have to get all health ‘n’ safety?
“I checked with the local council to see if they would be happy with people holding glasses of wine in the street, but no one’s got back to me. It’s not heavy boozing while they cycle, it’s not a booze cruise, it is civilised. Also, it’s always rather amused me that Jon’s surname is Little but he’s actually 6ft 10in; he’s an ex-policeman who you wouldn’t argue with.”
Has it been a smooth ride?
“We do have to take the weather into consideration, so it really runs through from April to September. We’ve only done a few but twice so far, we’ve had people stay on at the café and spend £500 between them, so that’s a bonus. “It’s totally adaptable so people can do what they like – for example we had a company with 25 employees and they had half the group on the bus having a more academic/ historical tour around Oxford while the other half did a wine tasting in the shop, and then they swapped over. I’m not in it for the money, but it’s great PR.” Ted 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 JANUARY 2020 18
The law of the land
When it comes to sustainable viticulture and winemaking, Caliterra literally wrote the rule book. Chief winemaker Rodrigo Zamorano explains how
here’s a clue in the name. “Calidad” is Spanish for quality, and “Tierra” means land. Put them together and you get Caliterra – a wine business whose commitment to looking after its environment goes far beyond its own commercial interests. Established in 1996, originally as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Viña Errazuriz, Caliterra is based on a 1,000ha estate in the Colchagua Valley. Now wholly owned by the Chilean company, Caliterra has pioneered a sustainability code that has since been endorsed by the country’s trade body, Wines of Chile. It sets tough standards that Caliterra chief winemaker Rodrigo Zamorano works hard to follow, and he’s delighted that others are moving in the same direction. Zamorano is pretty sure that Caliterra now has the right grapes growing in the right places, and he has plenty of varieties to exercise his imagination: Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carmenere, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, to pick a round 10. “I think the experimentation has ended,” he says. “We have made a lot of changes in the wine and also in the vineyard.” What interests Zamorano now is making wines that truly reflect, and respect, their terroir. “We feel that we have consolidated the quality of our wines according to our terroir,” he says. Caliterra was once certified organic but today prefers to focus all of its efforts on sustainability.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 19
"As a winemaker, I'm committed to the environment and want to push even further in that direction," Zamorano says. "Organic certification is only part of the picture and simply means that you are using organic ingredients in the vineyard and in the winery. That is all. It doesn't mean that you're using less CO2 or that you are saving energy." THE CODE THAT Caliterra introduced is so demanding on winemakers that nobody is expected to tick all its boxes in one step. It covers topics including herbicide and pesticide usage, water conservation, canopy management techniques and carbon emissions. “The first time you certify yourself as sustainable you have to accomplish 65% of the code,” says Zamorano. “The second time you have to achieve 75% of the code and then the third time you have to achieve 90% of the code and the fourth time 95%.” Zamorano is delighted with the results he is seeing. It’s perfectly logical that healthy vineyards will produce lively and delicious wines, and consumers in all of Caliterra’s export markets are noticing the difference. For Zamorano, the process may have been complex but the ambition was simple. “I wanted to have a wine where 100% of the product came from the vineyard,” he says.
Feature sponsored by Caliterra UK importer Hatch Mansfield www.hatchmansfield.com
Rachel Wallhouse Whalley Wine Shop, Clitheroe
© johnalexandr / stockadobe.com
ANALYSIS: CBD DRINKS
ost merchants accept the modern expectation for social media, and many see the value in having a coherent marketing plan. But to do it properly all takes time. When Tom Jones found his growing business needed some extra help on that front, he created a marketing manager role. And he’s really glad he did. “All the nitty-gritty jobs of marketing were piling up and getting spread out among the team, but we really needed someone to focus on it and look after all our social media,” he explains. “We were looking for someone quite unique with some wine knowledge and marketing nous. Wine is such a specialist subject that I don’t think you can really communicate with the public in a marketing role unless you have the knowledge to back it up, so finding someone with that background was really important.” Rachel Wallhouse had three years’ retail experience at Majestic under her belt, and her WSET Level 3, when she spotted Tom’s advert. “I loved the idea of going into marketing, being in charge of the emails and doing lots of social media,” she says. “When I saw the job come up at Whalley I knew it was something I could definitely do and enjoy. I also work one day in the week in the shop, so I still get to interact with customers. It’s a great opportunity and our customers get really involved on the social media side of things.” Tom adds: “Rachel has made the role her own. She came to us with passion and enthusiasm. She’s got a very positive attitude and she’s really dynamic. She just cracks on and gets everything done. “I’ve always felt we do a really good job in-store; our customers get the full Whalley treatment, but what we perhaps lacked was getting that message out to customers – ‘look at what we’re doing, all this fun stuff we’ve got going on’. Having Rachel allows us to do that.” Rachel hasn’t had any formal marketing training to date, but at 24, the mechanics of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram must be second nature to her. “I’ve been learning on the job,” she admits, “but in time I will do a few marketing courses – I’m really eager to learn. “I’m really looking forward to developing our website next. We’ve seen an increase in our e-commerce in the past few months but it’s about trying to get lots more products on there, a few more orders and really trying to express our shop – we just need to push it that bit further.”
Rachel wins a bottle of Pol Roger Brut Reserve To nominate a rising star in your business, email email@example.com
Cannabis wines CBD is making its mark in a range of products, but wine is
annabidiol – usually referred to as CBD – is popping up in just about everything, from dog food to bed sheets. In the drinks industry, the non-psychoactive component found
in cannabis and hemp has made its way into beers, soft drinks and spirits. But when it comes to wine, there are still only a handful of players in the UK.
While there are a couple of early adopters, several factors
appear to be holding the CBD wine category back.
Bright green Winabis, which hails from Bodega Santa Margarita
in Spain, launched online in 2018. The Verdejo base is infused
with CBD and cannabis aromas. Export manager Rowdy Lohmuller – who happens to come from Amsterdam – says the company’s ambition is to “close the gap between the classic wine industry
and the younger generation”. He feels wine is losing market share
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 20
DEDICATED TO THE VALUATION AND AUCTIONING OF FINE AND RARE WINES
MATURE AND INTERESTING WINES WITH NO MINIMUM ORDER
USER FRIENDLY WEBSITE
lagging behind – at least for now, reports Lucy Britner
to beer because it is “still quite conservative”.
At present, Winabis is seeking new distribution in the UK,
though Lohmuller says online shipments to the country are “in their thousands” of bottles.
Meanwhile, Canna Wine, which also comes from Spain,
is handled by Fairview Wines. The tie-up is a natural fit for
Fairview’s owner Robert Wattie, a Canadian who is au fait with CBD, and in the final stages of opening a CBD brewery.
Fairview imports a red blend (50/50 Garnacha/Cariñena), a
white (50/50 Garnacha/Macabeo) and a pre-made Sangria, which features several ingredients including Garnacha, oranges and
limes. The products are “aromatised with hemp extract enriched Continues page 22
RARE & MATURE WINES
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ANALYSIS: CBD DRINKS
From page 21
with cannabinoids” and Wattie says the 50cl wine bottles contain 15mg of CBD. The hemp used for CBD also comes from Spain and it’s “grown very close to the vineyards”, he says.
‘A few clients buy Canna Wine for its anxiety-relieving properties and for others it’s almost a novelty gift’
Fairview’s Canna Wine clients include “a lot of private
customers” and a few independent wine shops. “The small
independents are the best because CBD is still very new,” says Wattie. “It needs a bit of a hand-sell.”
Stockists includes Winyl, the wine and record shop in
Manningtree, Essex, as well as M Wine Store in London.
Winyl director Steve Tattam says he has listed Canna Wine since
seeing it at the London Wine Fair.
“Sales have settled into a pattern of a few regular clients that buy
it for the anxiety-relieving properties and for others it’s almost a novelty gift,” reports Tattam.
“Clients who buy tend to know about CBD and already take
some type of CBD oil or food products. However some people are nervous and need assuring that it won't make them high, which
gives me the opportunity to go through the wine in more detail.”
“Something a bit more mainstream, more consumable ... rather than taking it medicinally.”
He also thinks consumers might be inclined to drink a little less
alcohol, claiming that a glass of CBD wine is more relaxing than a glass of regular wine.
“It has quite a hempy flavour – the hemp is steeped in the wine,
like a vermouth has botanicals,” he says. Wattie suggests drinking the white with ice or with tonic.
“The red is more like a dark, rich red wine – it drinks well on its
own, maybe slightly chilled.”
Canna Wine A new drink experience
s with the no- and low-abv revolution, it feels like wine is playing catch-up when it comes to CBD.
CBD spirits producer Top Beverages co-founder Nick
Pullen says his company has experimented with wine, though
Canna Wine is a high quality wine from Spain, enriched with hemp and CBD, that is in tune with the changes people are making for a more balanced life. Without compromising on distinct wine flavours, we have combined playfulness with ingenuity and placed it in a bottle.
For Wattie at Fairview, CBD makes wine “a bit more functional”.
He describes wine simply as another delivery mechanism for CBD:
decided later to settle on vodka, gin and rum.
“We tried it with Pinot Grigio and it made the wine drier. We had
to level it out with grape juice for natural sweetness. You have to be able to invest the time to experiment,” he warns. Available in red, white and sangria styles
Wattie at Fairview says “a lot of the more traditional wine
merchants didn’t know what to do with [Canna Wine]”. It’s a point
he believes will present a hurdle for CBD wines for the time being, though he hopes as CBD becomes more widely understood, that problem will go away.
He also points out that the “UK is not the biggest wine producing
country – if we were, we would probably see more of it”.
Top Beverages’ Pullen believes wine is “the last piece of the
puzzle” for CBD drinks “because of the connotations of what wine is for people – it has a certain sense of elegance and purity”. UK importer: Fairview Wines Limited www.fairviewwines.co.uk Contact Robert Wattie firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 07734 937731
For him, the only way CBD wine will gain serious cut-through is
if a big producer gets behind it and spends the time to get it right. They will also have to negotiate the nascent and ever-evolving regulatory landscape.
But they’d better not wait too long. Pullen claims the next 10
years will be "the decade of cannabis”.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 22
The Spanish wine revolution is back. 70 artisan producers from across Spain pouring their own delicious, authentic wines. Theyâ€™re a diverse bunch, but what they have in common is that they believe expression of place is more important than winemaking technique.
F E B R UA RY 2 5 T H , 2 0 2 0 10:30 â€“ 17:30 Lindley Hall, London SW1P 2PB More information and register:
www.vinaterosldn.com Georg Prieler
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 23
Four wines that defined a year Inspired by four notable wines he tasted in 2019, David Williams looks back at the past year in wine – and forward to the next decade
Vandal Gonzo Combat Rouge Marlborough, New Zealand 2018 For much of the past couple of decades, concerns about the homogenisation of
wine and the death of the local were mostly focused on a particular, Robert Parkeraligned recipe.
You know the kind of thing: wines of
fruit and lashings of toasty oak and palatefilling alcohol that could have come from anywhere.
Ironically, however, in recent years I’ve
demijohns to big neutral oak botti.
The genre describes much of the
21st-century new waves of South Africa, Australia and California, and, somewhat belatedly, it’s
reached New Zealand, too, with this funky red from the Gonzo project
of three Kiwi winemakers showing
the hallmark of all the best of these “post-natural” wines: compulsive drinkability.
Uchida Miracle HautMédoc
started to wonder if the many winemakers
themselves. It’s a kind of funky, natural-
were for a while there, weren’t we? I mean,
who reacted against that style might have
come up with a similarly globalised recipe
Who’s bored of Bordeaux? I think we all
economic bubble, Bordeaux became a kind
winemaking that tends to err on early in
world’s most celebrated red wine region
portfolios and naked profiteering, with a
curious (if not outright natural) style of
picking times, is big on playing around with extended fermentations and skin contact, and likes to experiment with different
vessel types, from concrete eggs to glass
for most of my wine-drinking life the has also been its most unlovable.
Very much associated (in this wine-
lover’s mind at least) with the excesses of the end of Cold War “end of history”
Petit Manseng and Albariño as the Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc of the 2030s? You read it here first THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 24
of liquid off-shoot of the stock exchange, a place for asset managers, investment
top-tier of wines selling for prices beyond
the wildest dreams of 99% of wine lovers. As the top wines of the more paysan
region with which it was generally
contrasted, Burgundy, have gone the same way as first-growth claret, however – not to mention those of the Northern Rhône,
Piedmont, and Brunello – Bordeaux is far from being alone in the world of asset-
class wine. And that has perhaps heralded a rethink in the trade, a renewed desire
David Williams is wine critic for The Observer
to explore the many fascinating parts of the Gironde that the en primeur circus doesn’t reach, and to uncover wines
such as Japanese expat Oasamu Uchida’s impeccable, silky, tiny-production HautMédoc.
Juan Carrau Petit Manseng Gran Reserva Melilla, Uruguay 2016 I don’t have the best record when it
comes to predicting wine trends. In fact,
given that I have confidently declared the incipient all-conquering rise of Canadian
Oasamu Uchida performing miracles in Bordeaux
and (several times) Greek wine, you could say I’m the vinous equivalent of 1987
hurricane-denying Michael Fish or 2016era political pollsters.
But even if what I have to say next is
barely visible in the shadow cast by the
massive sign marked “caveat here”, I’ve got nothing to lose, so here goes: the next big
varietal things are going to be international
to pronounce. Petit Manseng and Albariño
chief executive, I’m told the own-labelling
Definition Rioja Reserva 2013
as the Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc of the 2030s? You read it here first.
Petit Manseng and Albariño.
An over-reliance – or over-emphasis – on
follows other very credible examples from
the now-passed Rowan Gormley era –
Juan Carrau’s pin-sharp Uruguayan
example of the great Pyrenean white
Churton and Forrest. Albariño, meanwhile, is performing well from Marlborough
(Stanley Estate) to the Languedoc (Laurent Miquel).
And as word spreads of those
encouraging beginnings, I can’t see why both these naturally bright, tangy and,
at their best, ageworthy whites can’t do a Sauvignon Blanc. After all, both are
relatively easy to scale up; both respond
to both simple, quick stainless steel cold
fermentation and to longer ageing with lots of lees contact. And both are perfectly easy
own-label was cited as one of the key
reasons for the struggles of Majestic in
struggles that, at one point this year, looked like they may see the last real multiple
specialist wine retailer disappear for good. Certainly, I know of several Majestic
employees who were less than happy
with the prevalence given to the retailer’s Definition range in its in-store tastings and merchandising, at the company’s
Lord’s Cricket Ground concession and at
consumer tastings events such as The Wine Gang or The Three Wine Men.
As Majestic looks to claw back the
respect and sales it lost under the Naked
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 25
will be scaled back, in favour of the kind of genuine parcel-finding skills of the
But the quality of the Definition Rioja
showed that own-label wine doesn’t have to be solely concerned with cost cutting, supplier-shafting and process-control.
Made by La Rioja Alta, it’s a super classy, classically mellow Rioja, that, like The
Wine Society’s Exhibition range, and the
burgeoning selections from Tanners and Berry Bros & Rudd, shows that the key
to good own-label wine is no different to
that of any other bottle on the shelf: good quality suppliers.
Windows of opportunity Refresh your window display regularly.
might entice them in if they were just going to walk
Know your audience – your window is your advertising space so target the people you want to attract as well as your existing customer base. If your average price
point in your shop is, say, £10 a bottle, don’t sell
It’s worth keeping the display ticking over monthly. People will see something new in a window and it
yourself under and don’t go too far over the top, but
Lucy Holton, trade marketing manager at Mentzendorff, has helped dozens of independent retailers make a little go a long way with their in-store merchandising.
In the first of a new series of articles for The Wine Merchant, she offers some tips for making window displays look amazing
Make use of light. Spotlights are the permanent
try and stretch it a little bit in terms of the products
solution, but you could go with some strategically
placed lamps or some battery-powered candles if also consider gobos (go-between optics) which are
Don’t be afraid to ask for dummy bottles from your suppliers. We don’t have them for
like circular discs that you put over a light to create a
every brand but will try to help where possible.
you wanted something for a short time. You could
projected image or pattern. They’re not massively
Take inspiration from sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. I also look at what
expensive. We’ve used them with the Bollinger logo to project an image on a wall, but you could project from above to create a pattern in
big shops are doing, not because
a window to add a bit of texture.
I want to copy their ideas but
They can rotate or just be static.
sometimes the ideas are quite simple and effective. Pinterest tends
Use different levels of height with key items placed at eyeline. As soon as you have everything
to be my go-to but if a particular idea takes my fancy I then start Googling around that idea. It’s given me inspiration
at one level it just blurs into one. If you add different
for summer pop-ups for brands like Aix Rosé and
heights suddenly the eye is moving all around. You
can have vinyls up higher. I’ve created a couple of really effective displays in this way for Fonseca Port
Don’t be afraid to use humour. If you’re
and Delamain Cognac. You don’t want to end up
building a personality on Twitter or Instagram there’s
with loads of space where there’s nothing going on.
no reason why you can’t pull that through to your window displays.
Equally, try not to overfill your window – keep the concept clean and clear. If I’m
Try to plan ahead. Aim to get a diary of
working on a window the focus is generally on one
ideas ahead of time so it doesn’t become a chore.
product. I’ve seen so much in some windows that
Otherwise you get to the week before, you haven’t
it’s almost like an extra storage area. You could
come up with an idea and it becomes too much – you
probably spend hours staring into the window and
just get stuck. If you can make a window display plan
not remember any one thing.
for the next six months or even three months, I think it’s worth it.
Invest in a few items that can be repurposed. You can get wooden podiums, height. I generally have a look on eBay and see what
Don’t be afraid of change or trying something new – it can always be changed back! If you get stuck or need help, we
could be repurposed. Anything from a stool to add a
probably have an idea in the holster that would work.
blocks or boxes, maybe sprayed or painted, to add
bit of interest to old lantern lights that could take a bit of weight. Wooden wine boxes are useful props, maybe
• Read more of Lucy’s creative merchandising tips
with some fabric on top if you don’t want the wood
in the next issue of The Wine Merchant. If you’d like
to be visible. It’s just a case of seeing the possibility in
Lucy to offer any advice on your in-store project, or
something – and it’s amazing what you can find around
if you have any creative tips of your own that you’d
your house before you start shopping anywhere.
like to share, email email@example.com.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 26
How would you like to win a caravan?
It's Reader Survey time again. The time when The Wine Merchant takes the temperature of the independent trade with the most comprehensive study of the indie sector. Last year almost 200 businesses took part and helped us keep abreast of how merchants are performing, what's driving sales, and how they see their prospects for the year ahead. Once again our partner is Hatch Mansfield, who have kindly donated five prizes to be awarded to entrants selected at random. These are not caravans, but something far more useful: Coravins. To enter, please visit our website at winemerchantmag.com. Thanks to everyone who continues to make this project such a success.
OLD WORLD PORTFOLIO TASTING Date wednesday, 5th February 2020 time 11am–6pm venue Royal Over-Seas League Hall of India and Pakistan, Over-Seas House, Park Place, St James’s Street SW1A 1LR
More than 30 producers and 200 wines Special features: “Indi Top 20” and “Small is Beautiful” – rare and limited releases MASTERCLASSES CO-HOSTED BY MARTIN EVERETT MW:
The Art of Amphora, with Pedro Ribeiro, Bojador, Alentejo Hungary for Volcanic Wines, with Robert Gilvesy, Gilvesy Cellars, Badacsony Heritage in a Bottle, tasting and discussion of historic vintages with Davy’s longest-established producers firstname.lastname@example.org • 020 8858 6011
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 27
WINE MERCHANT DINNER
Madeira’s even better with food Forget stereotypical ideas of Madeira as a sedate, end-of-evening tipple. Its versatility with a range of flavours makes it an exciting drink for mealtimes
adeira inspires a small but devoted following in the
UK, though its qualities as
a food accompaniment are probably
underestimated, even by its most loyal aficionados.
It’s a style of wine that’s famed for depth
and complexity – and seems to take on
even more dimensions in the company of food. Madeira is also finding a new
audience with its versatility as a cocktail
ingredient, according to Humberto Jardím, master blender of Henriques & Henriques,
who was in London recently for a dinner in the company of five independents.
H&H has been a Madeiran institution
since 1850 and it now owns more vineyard land than anyone else on the island. Its
wines are imported by Mentzendorff,
bitterness and figgy, dried-fruit characters
an excellent foil for the main course. The
whose atmospheric building in London’s
Bermondsey Street provided the setting for Our tasting begins with Five Year Old
Medium Dry, which pairs well with a
selection of canapes and paves the way for
10 Year Old Sercial, described by Jardím as “a mountain wine” that “you process with the left side of the brain”. It comes from
vineyards up to 1,000m in elevation, where the clouds sometimes seem to waft around the feet of the pickers.
Sercial has a minerality and acidity
that Jardím says challenges rather than punishes the drinker – it’s not a wine
designed for a relaxing drink on the sofa,
he admits, but its cut-grass aromas, gentle
Henriques & Henriques is the biggest vineyard owner in Madeira
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 28
make it a superb match for the tuna and soy.
Fifteen Year Old Verdelho is next, proving
sugar content is higher but the acidity is in balance, with the glycerol providing a
deliciously smooth bed for the orange and apricot flavours.
The 10 Year Old Malvasia has 110g of
residual sugar, but also “minerality and a kind of saltiness”, as Jardím points out.
“The grapes have been exposed to winds
coming from the sea, so obviously they
will have some sodium,” he says. “We top
up the alcohol early, in the first moments of fermentation.” There’s a powdery,
stony edge to the finish, but also the spicy character that Jardím is looking for.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH HENRIQUES & HENRIQUES AND MENTZENDORFF The first of our final wines creates a
tangible ripple of excitement. Terrantez is a tricky grape to cultivate but Jardím seems to love the challenge. Only 14
tonnes are produced on the island each
year and 80% of that is owned by or sold
to H&H. The wine has a complex sweetness but also remarkable freshness, with spice
and bitter almond notes that interlock well with the cheeses. Another show-stopper is Verdelho 1981, which is alive with citrus aromas as well as characters of candied orange peel, peach and apricot.
Tinta Negra 50 Year Old is similarly well
received: a cigar-lovers’ wine, according
to Jardím, a fruity expression of Madeira that was aged in old 700-litre casks. It’s
described by H&H as “the belle of the ball”, and is smooth and concentrated after so
much time in wooden casks, with notes of candied fruits and toffee.
MENU Canapes with H&H 5 Year Old Medium Dry Rare fillet, tomato, coriander Mushroom, tarragon, crème fraiche Seared prawn, lime, crème fraiche Starter with H&H 10 Year Old Sercial Tuna tataki, spring onion, cucumber, soy Main with H&H 15 Year Old Verdelho Duck, potato, pear, gingerbread, parsnip, truffle Dessert with H&H 10 Year Old Malvasia Pumpkin, roasted white chocolate, black sesame and honey H&H 50 Year Old Tinta Negra and 20 Year Old Terrantez Cheese board with crackers and preserves
For more information, visit www.mentzendorff.co.uk or call 020 7840 3600 Email email@example.com
Terrific Terrantez stands out for indies Robert Mason Soho Wine Supply, London “It was very hard to find a wine that I didn’t enjoy. I found myself leaning more towards the drier styles throughout the evening. “The 1981 Verdelho was superb and faultless. Aside from that pinnacle of production, I found the 10 and 15 Year Old wines to be extremely good value for money. The Verdelhos and Sercials had a complexity beyond their years, were versatile enough to step out of the shadows of obscurity and were very easy to drink. Almost too easy: they glided and caressed my palate as artfully as the 20 Year Old Terrantez. “The best pairing of the night for me was the tuna starter with the 10 Year Old Sercial. The flavour profile of the wine changed completely, the sweetness level turned on a dime and enhanced the dish tenfold, adding yet another level of freshness.” Andrea Viera Last Drop Wines, London “Terrantez stood out for me – definitely a glass for the bath. It’s exquisite and so very enjoyable. Also Tinta Negra: it’s not necessarily my favourite but I can see a market for this. “Sercial with tuna stood out as a match. I would rarely opt for Sercial but thought it was a genius pairing. I certainly will be trying pumpkin ravioli with Madeira. Pumpkin seemed to be a good complement – I shall be experimenting. We need to think of Madeira as a food pairing.” Simon Broad Ten Green Bottles, Brighton “I very much liked the 15 Year Old Verdelho and its particular balance of elegance and freshness, but I think my favourite was the concentrated and earthy 20 Year Old Terrantez. “I was really impressed with the duck dish. The blend of savoury, earthy root veg and meat, with the sweetness and spice of the pear and gingerbread, was a very successful backdrop for the complexity of the Verdelho, without overpowering it. “A focus on the wine’s versatility when
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 29
it comes to food matching would be an interesting approach [to promoting Madeira], I think, and the tasting was an excellent demonstration of this.” John Kernaghan Liquorice, Essex “I’ll admit that Madeira was not a category with which I had much previous knowledge. The standout pairing for me was the starter course. The dry austere backbone of the 10 Year Old Sercial worked wonderfully with the soy and spring onion combo. “Having the opportunity to taste a rarity in the 20 Year Old Terrantez was most enjoyable. However the overall winner was the 15 Year Old Verdelho. Again the pairing with duck, gingerbread, parsnip and truffle was superb. “Educating and investing in having a few styles open to taste is the way forward. Suggesting the link with canape-style bites based around what we tried is perhaps the most alluring route to take with potential customers.” Carlos Blanco Blanco & Gomez, London “The ones that I enjoyed the most were the 20 Year Old Terrantez, maybe because of its uniqueness, and the Vintage Verdelho 1981. Even though I have tasted both wines before, they get into another dimension once you pair them with the right food. “My favourite food pairing was the Sercial 10 Year Old with the tuna tataki. I was amazed how this wine pairs so well with the soy sauce, bringing out the flavours of the dish in general. The truffle brie and creamy blue cheese worked really well with the Tinta Negra and Terrantez 20 Year Old. “I personally believe that the right way to promote complex wines such as Madeira is to introduce them to the consumer with the right food pairing, so there is an instant engagement with the wine, and people can try to recreate this at home and with their friends.”
MERCHANT PROFILE: MARTINEZ WINES
Minnie-Mae Stott and Orson Warr, July 2018
t’s 12 years since Jonathan Cocker
took over Martinez Wines from his former employer Julian Martinez.
He’s definitely put his own stamp on
the business – but that didn’t extend to changing the name.
“It already had such a good reputation,”
Cocker says. “Cocker Wines doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?”
Martinez was established by Julian’s
father John in 1982 and still trades
from its original site in Ilkley in West
“They have very different demographics,”
Yorkshire. After traversing some rocky
says Cocker. “In Ilkley payments are 70%
added at the former Conservative Club in
Friday London commuters. Bingley is still
terrain it’s been revitalised under Cocker’s stewardship with a second store/wine bar Bingley, 10 miles down the road.
Both sites run as hybrid operations but
with clear boundaries between their on-
and off-trade sections – all on one floor in Bingley and with the bar in the cellar at Ilkley.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 30
card and Bingley is 70% cash. Ilkley is
very much high-end and a lot of Monday to very much middle-to-working class. I’m happy either way.
“It doesn’t make any difference to me
whether we sell two-for-£13 or a £100
bottle of wine, because at the end of the
year you’ve one figure and it all adds up.”
Yorkshire grit Jonathan Cocker took a gamble when 12 years ago he invested everything he had in a loss-making wine business. It’s been a tough journey, but now Martinez Wines is trading from two sites instead of one and has a turnover of £2m. Nigel Huddleston reports on a hard-earned success story
Cocker’s trade career had its roots
He acknowledges the role played by Chris
“My father would give me some red wine
Australia, before finally being courted by
helping him get through that time. “He did
bottling-up in the family pub at the age of 11.
with water in it. He had a love for Graves at that time and he used to tell me a little bit about it.”
Cocker’s first professional role was
helping run the Riverdale Hall Hotel in
Northumberland, bought by his father in
the 1970s and which is still in the extended
He then had spells working in bars and
restaurants, in London, South Africa and the Martinez family in 2004, initially to help build their wholesale business.
The Cocker-owned Martinez tale is one
of hard work and endurance. Just over a year ago, Cocker had to take several
months off to have open-heart surgery to
correct a problem undetected since birth.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 31
Wood, who joined as a van driver 12 years ago and is now a minority shareholder, in
a cracking job. Without him I don’t know if we’d have survived.”
It’s also a story of family solidarity,
whether it’s mum and brother stumping up savings to get off the ground, or his
Continues page 32
From page 31
wife’s hands-on contribution in the form of interior design for the bars.
And it’s also about constant reinvention
and adaptation to meet changing market conditions.
“I’m the least complacent person you’ll
ever meet,” Cocker says.
How did you go from employee to owner? The more money I made, the harder Julian made it for me. We fell out, and I left and
came back two years later and renegotiated terms. After I’d been back with him for two or three years, I started to become more
The Bingley branch was once the town’s Conservative Club
involved in running the business as well as
the year and £28,000 in the red. I went
it around I’ll give you great prices”. He was
but he wasn’t a very good businessman.
in the cellar and an extension on the back
now and we supply Ambiente in York,
doing the wholesale. Julian was a brilliant
wine man and a larger-than-life character John Martinez died and Julian died 18
months later, and his brother came in to try to sell the business – but it was a mess and
eventually they decided they were going to close it instead.
The turnover was £675,000 but it was
making a loss. My dad said, “you took over
to the landlord for a new 10-year lease
and told him I needed to put a wine bar
to create the cashflow to get the business built up. He agreed. It cost him £60,000
and I paid him an extra £6,000 each year on my rent over 10 years to pay it off. I ended up with a wine bar in Ilkley for
turned that around”. I said to my wife: “I
can do it, but you won’t see me for four or five years – but I believe we can build a future for our kids.”
We had literally £5,000 in savings, plus
and came on board. He’s still a customer
Leeds and Hull, Lunya in Manchester and
Liverpool city centres and The Old Yard, a long-established tapas bar in Darlington. It means we can bring in our own
Spanish wines and give them exclusivity in
‘I’m slowly phasing out the wines under £10 and I’ll focus on high-end Burgundy and Old World over the next two to three years’
our hotel when it was on its backside and
a bit of money from my mum and my
very human about it, and liked the wines
brother. I went to the Martinez family
£6,000 a year.
their city and great service. None of them
got. I’ll be able to build the business back
throughout the day and in the wine bar at
What’s the rest of the range look like?
and said: “I’ve got £10,000. I know it’s
worth more than that but it’s what I’ve
up. Year three, four and five I’ll give you X
amount each year and I’ll own the business officially. And if I don’t, you’ve lost nothing, and you get it back.”
What did you do to build it back up? When we bought it, it was five months into
It was very tough. I was working 70,
80, sometimes 90 hour weeks, often
have ever left. That worked very well.
Two thirds of the shop is Old World. I’m a
name, we had the wines. I secured an
sell most. It’s a bit higher in Ilkley. We keep
I needed a focus in wholesale and we
decided it should be Spain. We had the
account for three Spanish restaurants in
the north east. I virtually had to beg. I said, “I need your account and when I’ve turned
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 32
massive Burgundy fan. France is where it’s at for me. £15 to £20 is about where we
daily records of footfall and average spend. When we took over, footfall was quite low and the average spend was about £54,
which was a bit too much. At that point we
back to that fine wine market because it is
average spend went down by about £10
some good wines, but all our wines are
had a three-wines-for-£12 offer. I focused on pushing that to get the footfall. The
but the footfall went up quite a lot. What I didn’t expect was a bumper Christmas on
the back of that because all the footfall kept coming back but bought better wines. It was a pleasant surprise.
About a year ago I decided to go the
other way. In Ilkley, a Majestic opened
about four or five years ago. To start with, sales went up because people wanted
to buy from their local independent, but
Majestic has a lot of money to throw at it
and gradually our lower-end stuff dried up
where we need to be.
The supermarkets and Majestic have
good. That’s the difference: no risk. If you go there and buy three bottles at £5 each you’ve paid £15 perhaps to get one good one. If you come here and buy two at
£7.50, you’ll get two great bottles for £15. But people are lazy shoppers. About 5% of the population know about wine and
appreciate it. The other 95% are drinking
because it’s alcoholic, it’s cheap and they’re in a supermarket already.
How did Bingley come about?
because people are buying Ned at £6.99.
When Oddbins went under it had one in
Burgundy and Old World over the next
a need for a shop in Baildon but it was on
So I’m slowly phasing out the wines
under £10 and I’ll focus on high-end
two to three years. We used to be called
Martinez Fine Wines and I’m looking to get
Baildon [five miles up the road] and they
sent me the details. I could see there was a horrible retail park and I like premises with character.
Martinez wants a fine wine focus
I was driving through Bingley and my
wife noticed there was a building for sale. It was the Conservative Club. It was a
Continues page 34
Cocker believes that in towns like Bingley, wine retailing isn’t viable without a wine bar element
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 33
From page 33
horrible mess of a shell but it was perfect
because we only needed to put in one door [between what is now the shop and the
bar]. We bought the freehold and I’ve now got planning permission for seven two-
‘Once a month at both bars we have between 12 and 15 buskers playing for about 15 minutes … they all bring three or four mates with them’
bedroom flats upstairs, which is huge. It’s
in-law who’s a retired builder/joiner/
to be a wine bar, because retail just doesn’t
including service charges, Ilkley is about
normal work to get ready for opening.
at Christmas it’s brilliant, obviously. I’m not
the old dance hall.
I pay £1,000 mortgage a month, whereas,
£3,000 a month to rent and is about a third of the size.
Bingley’s got a stripped-back, exposed brick look and it appears as if lots of original features of the building have been retained. I pulled a wire out of the wall and the
plaster came away and revealed bricks. I
thought: no plaster, no decorators. If I chip all this off myself, I’ll save a few thousand quid. It was a happy accident.
I was very fortunate in having a father-
electrician. We spent three months with
me as his labourer working at night after Everything you see, all the chipped-off
walls, I did it. It nearly broke me. I was in tears at one point.
I wanted something that was timeless.
People spend a lot of money on making bars look old-fashioned and after 10
years they need to do it again. If you do
something that looks timeless you never
work on its own unless you’re in a city with lots of footfall. In market towns like this …
religious but if there were two Christmases
a year retail would work. We do about 60% of our retail in December, which is crazy.
So to be a wine merchant, we have to open wine bars.
Most people might intuitively think it was the other way round: big city equals
have to change it. Upgrading and refurbing
bar, small town equals shop. What’s the
Why the hybrid mix at both stores?
The key is not to open 24/7. I open
is a big cost.
trick to making a wine bar work in a
I want to be a wine merchant but we have
Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday
place like Bingley?
night and Saturday day and night. I
have one bar manager; he deals with
everything. It’s open 36 hours a week and takes anything from £3k to £8k, which is fantastic.
We offer about 40 wines by the glass and
they are all available to taste in the shop
and in the bar. We do a basic list and we’ve got Coravin, so you can have Vallet Frères Gevrey Chambertin 2013 by the glass. On top of that you can have anything in the shop for £9 corkage.
I’m offering the customers on average
about 20% cheaper than anyone else in
the on-trade, but obviously I’m buying it cheaper. So I get the same margin as the
pub or restaurant but the customer gets a
great deal. I like things where everyone’s a winner.
Why separate the bar and the shop Cocker bought the business for a down payment of £10,000
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 34
completely rather than mix the two?
It means I can open the shop for more
hours and it’s just easier. I’ve toyed with
the idea of having some chairs in the shop, but I like the shop as a shop.
We’ve got a sign saying “souvenir shop”
over the door between the two, so it’s a bit like a ride where you go through the gift shop at the end. The combination of the two works very well.
We’re hoping it brings retail back to
where it was. We’re not destitute or
anything, but we worked really hard to
build it up. I’m very driven and I have to have everything – wholesale, wine bar,
shop – successful. The knock-on effect for each is very important.
better but it was still relatively small, and only worked out at about £5 an hour for
me. Then we bought Bingley and went from having a £35,000 overdraft for five years to having money in the bank within a year. We are definitely moving toward
importing more direct ex-cellar. We can
How do you get the most out of the ontrade side? Sipping Society is something we do once a
month. We work with suppliers and charge £12.50 and customers get six wines and a
discount on any wines bought on the night. We did our first pop-up restaurant
recently, with Las Bodegas and an outside caterer doing classic Argentinian food.
The feedback was exceptional so … more pop-up outside catering nights. It’s just
diversifying and trying to use the space. We have a buskers’ night. I was
struggling for a way to fill Bingley on a Wednesday night but didn’t have any
money to spend on bands. Once a month at both bars now we have between 12 and 15 buskers playing for about 15 minutes each and they pass the bucket around. In Ilkley it only takes 45 people but if you get 10
buskers they all bring three or four mates with them.
Is Ilkley still a work in progress? We put temporary decking outside for the summer and then we took it out again to
give us more parking space for Christmas. In October we put in a cheese shop. A
The retail area is kept separate. “I’ve toyed with the idea of chairs, but I like the shop as a shop”
quarter of the shop is cheese supplied by
As a business, where are you today?
in the wine bar you can match your wine
huge success. But it hasn’t come easily. It’s
Courtyard Dairy in Settle.
Since we bought it, turnover has increased
with some cheese and when you come in
been very, very difficult.
His cheeses are brilliant. When you come
the shop you’ll be able to buy cheese and we’ll recommend three levels of wine to go with it: budget, medium priced and discerning taste, if you like.
three times to just under £2m which is a In Ilkley we were treading water,
although things had got much better. We
broke even in year two; made a very small
profit in year three. Year four and five were
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 35
afford to do it now. Now I’m holding
£50,000 of stock that’s not drinking yet. I
can go to Burgundy and buy wines that will be drinking in four or five years. I bought
10 dozen bottles of four different vintages of Chateau Musar, which I love, because
they’ll all go up 60%. I’ve been able to do a
bit more of that and become what I want to be, which is a wine merchant.
SMALL BUSINESS MATTERS WITH WBC
Going carbon free, DIY style It can be tricky to get official recognition for eco-friendly efforts, says Andrew Wilson. But that shouldn’t stop businesses from working on homespun solutions that benefit the environment as well as customers
was following an interesting Twitter feed the other day with a group of wine merchants talking about the pros and cons of various types of transit packaging. The conversation broadened into a more general discussion about what they should be doing as businesses to address current concerns about the environment. I have to hold my hand up here. I’ve never really used Twitter and it was a younger member of the team who suggested I look at it before patiently showing me how to log on! I took two important points from the discussions, which chime with what we at WBC have been trying to do for some time now. Firstly, how do we educate ourselves, and particularly our customers, about how our products are made, and what they are made from; and secondly, once armed with that information, what do you do with it from an environmental perspective? Take shipping, for example. There’s an argument that it is up to the wine merchant to select the best transit packaging for their bottles, even if it’s not the most environmentally friendly. One of the merchants reasoned that the most important thing was for the bottles to arrive safely – what worse impact could there be on the environment than going to all the effort of making a wine, transporting it to the retailer, only for it to arrive broken on the last leg of its journey? Another countered with his experience of having had negative feedback from a customer about the excessive plastic waste
WBC has planted more than 28,000 trees
accompanying their delivery: “Could they not find anything better to send their bottles out in?”. A graphic was then posted posing the question: Should the supplier or the customer drive environmental improvements in a business? Which neatly brings me back to the point. Should we as a business offer our customers a wide range of options from
‘Should we make choices for customers based on green credentials, or offer a range of options and let them choose?’ THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 36
“not great for the environment (but a great product!)” through to “very eco-friendly” and then let them decide what suits them best? Or should we be making the decisions for them and only offering what we think is best? Do customers care about the environment to this extent or are they more concerned about the functionality of the product, the price, the ease of use, the storage requirements etc? Should good old-fashioned principles of supply and demand apply? If sales of environmentally friendly products increase, and the less environmental ones decline, then those products will gradually die out. If none of our customers wants the Rolls Royce of transit packaging (ie moulded polystyrene) in a few years’ time and have all swapped across to Pulpsafe or a 100% cardboard alternative, then the decision is easy and our customers have voted with their feet.
s you will know from previous articles I have written, we have been working on minimising and offsetting our environmental impact for over 10 years now, starting with our tree planting programme right through to reducing plastic, where we can, throughout our product range. We try not to preach about this and, regardless of the environmental benefits, some of the changes have made good commercial sense. Whilst you can employ external consultants to help, we have always tried to do things ourselves in a very “hands-on” fashion.
WBC 2018 carbon emissions Sea and airfreight
UK deliveries, office & warehouse Miscellaneous
Total estimated carbon footprint
43 tonnes 21 tonnes 435 tonnes
Depending on what data you choose to use, our trees might absorb an average of 21.7kg of carbon per year throughout their lifetime. Whilst we have planted over 28,000 trees, we have thinned them out every five years to give the strongest ones space to flourish; we think that we now have around 17,000 trees left. So 16,800 x 21.7kg = 364 tonnes of carbon being captured each year – 71 tonnes short of being carbon neutral (we think!). We want to ensure we comfortably cover our carbon obligation, and are there or thereabouts for 2018, but we continue to explore options on increasing our offset ability using our DIY approach. It does
© stockphoto mania / stockadobe.com
Our latest project was inspired by our friends at Liberty Wines and involves trying to become carbon neutral. It’s a process Liberty has successfully been through itself and it is now accredited. They put us in touch with an external consultant which led to a basic calculation of our own carbon footprint before considering options on how to reduce and offset it. At this point, a major issue arose. As part of our tree-planting project, we purchased land in France and have planted over 28,000 trees in the past 10 years. However, these could not be included in any offsetting because our forest was not an “accredited plantation”. We were not keen to start again so decided to take a more pragmatic approach and work out our carbon footprint and how to offset it ourselves. We call it our back-of-a-fagpacket calculation, but it was actually based on a lot of research and discussions with suppliers and shippers. We are not scientists, and our calculations might be challenged, but we think we are moving in the right direction.
Air freight is a major contributor to carbon emissions
mean we will not be allowed to use one of those fancy recognised logos out there to promote the fact. I have concerns about the whole “carbon neutral” badge anyway. In effect it could be argued we’re still producing carbon, just making ourselves feel better by offsetting it. The writer George Monbiot famously compares carbon offsets with the ancient Catholic church’s practice of selling indulgences: absolution from sins and reduced time in purgatory in return for financial donations to the church. We take these criticisms on board but still feel it has to be better to try to do as many things as possible. But I also believe there’s another benefit in doing these things ourselves. We have absolute visibility and control of the project. I know we’ve planted 28,000+ trees; I can go and see them anytime I want. I can talk to the “forestiers” managing the plantations for us, I can see what use the thinnings have been put to (ie making pallets!) and watch the remaining trees thrive. More importantly, I can show this to my customers; give them updates, show them the pictures and video footage. The whole environmental discussion can be exhausting at times, but as a large producer and supplier of packaging, we feel obliged to pursue all sensible
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 37
environmental initiatives open to us and also keep developing environmental alternatives to offer our customers. With this in mind, we’d love to be a part of any round-table discussion, as suggested by the merchants on Twitter and readers of The Wine Merchant, to discuss these issues in detail and find concrete ideas, practices (and products) that we can all start acting upon. Perhaps it will help us find better ways to make informed choices and ways to communicate that message to our customers.
Andrew Wilson of WBC
WSET WINE WORKOUT
Back to basics with Bordeaux WSET educator David Martin is your guide on a whistlestop tour of the world’s largest, and most celebrated, wine-producing region
he port city of Bordeaux in south
performs well in the cooler clay soils found
The Garonne river flows through the city,
The soil is free draining and heat retaining,
west France shares its name with the vineyards that surround it.
meeting up with the Dordogne to form the
Gironde estuary. The Bordeaux wine region is bisected by these rivers – vineyards on
the western side of the Gironde are the left bank, with the right bank on the eastern
side. At over 100,000 hectares, Bordeaux is the largest protected designation-of-origin region in the world: four times bigger than Burgundy and larger than all of South Africa’s vineyards combined. Vineyards
WSET classifies Bordeaux as a moderate
maritime climate. It is heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, which brings rain but also has a moderating effect on the
climate. While the rainfall can cause issues
at harvest time, the coastal influence helps extend the growing season so that grapes can ripen fully.
Vintage variation is significant, as it can
affect the reviews and prices of top wines
and also the yield and quality at the entry level of the market.
Merlot is the predominant variety in
Bordeaux, representing two-thirds of
plantings. As an early-ripening variety, it
mainly on the right bank. The left bank’s best vineyards tend to be gravel-based.
which makes it ideal for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. Only 10% of Bordeaux’s
production is white wine, with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon making up over 90% of white varieties planted. The vineyard area is predominately flat with varying soil types the major reason for quality differences.
Sauternes and Barsac lie south of
Bordeaux city and are responsible for some of the world’s greatest sweet wines. The region lies close to the tributaries of the
Garonne, enjoying humid conditions which promote the growth of botrytis and lead to classic flavours of honey and marmalade. Winemaking
The majority of red Bordeaux is red-fruited and simple with limited influence from
give the classic pencil shaving and vanilla
maceration on skins which creates a full-
oak. However, the famous wines from the region are made with two to four weeks’ bodied, high-tannin style of wine.
Fining, a process traditionally done
with egg whites, helps to remove bitter
tannins from the wine. The wine is aged in 225-litre French oak barrels, which
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 38
character. Wines made in this style are
often recognised as having great ageing
Blending also plays an important role
in creating Bordeaux. Almost all wines are made with a majority of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, but a small
percentage of Cabernet Franc adds herbal
© V Bengold
Classifications Outside of the AC system, Bordeaux has its own unique classification systems.
• Grand Cru Classé en 1855 is the most
famous classification. It covers the wines of Médoc and the sweet wine appellations of Sauternes and Barsac. A large percentage of this wine is bought en primeur – a
system where the wine is sold before
bottling, attracting many trade visitors in April each year.
• Cru Bourgeois is a classification also
used for wines of the Médoc. Generally, the quality sits under the Cru Classé
level and can provide excellent value for
money. The system is currently undergoing remodelling to a three-tier classification, allowing wines to be upgraded or downgraded.
• The Graves classification system was
drawn up in 1953 for both red and white wine, and is not subject to revision. Madeira is home to a unique style of fortified wine
• On the right bank in Saint-Émilion the
classification is revised and updated every 10 years; the last update was in 2012. It
should be noted that “Grand Cru” is part
of the appellation in Saint-Émilion and not
the classification system which would read “Grand Cru Classé”. Merlot is Bordeaux’s most important grape, accounting for two-thirds of plantings
notes, and Petit Verdot gives power and
up the entry level part of the market.
The smaller ACs have famous names
tannin. Carmenère and Malbec can also be
used but represent a very small percentage Regions
Wines labelled as Appellation Contrôlée Bordeaux, the largest AC, are usually
the red-fruited simple wines that make
Bordeaux Supérieur AC has higher quality vineyards and stricter quality regulations.
Bordeaux’s reputation for long-lived red
wines, oaked dry whites and world-class sweet wines drives the fine wine market
and influences the production methods in many New World regions.
and reputations, such as Pauillac, Pessac
Look out for our article on Burgundy in next
characteristics and are recognised as the
free resources and learning tools visit www.
Léognan, Sauternes and Pomerol – all
month’s issue. To find out more about WSET
best wine areas.
ACs which tend to have their own specific
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 39
qualifications alongside a great range of
© TTStudio / stockadobe.com
CAVA ROUND TABLE
Barcelona, where tourists will always encounter Cava
Carving out a premium niche Cava hopes to revitalise its sales by focusing on its quality credentials and foodfriendliness. We invited six independents to give their assessment of its UK prospects
t a time when sparkling wine is
booming, Cava ought to be on the threshold of a revival.
Here’s a modestly priced, food-friendly,
traditional-method sparkling wine with associations with Barcelona, one of the
world’s coolest cities. A wine that’s often
made organically and mostly from grapes indigenous to Spain rather than the usual
international suspects. That’s an awful lot of boxes ticked.
December’s Cava Summit in London
was an opportunity to take stock of
the quality and the diversity that Cava
represents. It also provided a platform for
six independent merchants to discuss how Cava is performing in their businesses –
and to offer their own suggestions for how the category can realise its potential in the specialist end of the UK market.
Jeroboams offers three Cavas from one
producer at different price points.
“They all sell OK,” says wine director
Peter Mitchell MW. “Our Cava sales fell
every year from 2010 to 2016 in wholesale, and in retail, while the company’s turnover grew by about 20% over the same period. “Having said that, the last two or three
years have seen a recovery probably back to where we were in 2012. The bit that
hasn’t really shrunk is the premium end.
The £20-plus wine has been consistently
growing for the last eight or nine years and we’re selling about double what we were
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 40
eight years ago.”
Chix Chandaria of The Wine Parlour in
Brixton “won’t sell anything I won’t drink”, and so refuses to list Prosecco. “At the
moment we’re selling a lot of Cava,” she
reports. “It retails in the £20s, or drink-in at £8 a glass.
“For me and my team it’s all about
making the job interesting so we hand-sell everything. We want to sway customers to
drink what in my personal, humble opinion is very good.”
At the Oxford Wine Company, Cava
makes up a small proportion of the
sparkling wine range, according to Emily Continues page 42
CAVA ROUND TABLE
From page 40
perceptions, but the focus now is on boldly
market stall as well as a Covent Garden
friendliness of the wines, the lees ageing
acknowledges that, in the past, British consumers may have encountered
cheaper styles that have adversely affected
d, Lo n don on
“If you want to put money into the
of W nd ine, Lo
profile of Cava” in the UK. He
Cava should aim to make an emotional communication, I think it’s much more about finding the occasion and the
lifestyle and the moment for Cava than
DO, is on a mission to “raise the
fixate on the intricacies of production,
I think it is about educating them about
avier Pagés, president of the Cava
other wine categories. So rather than
the technicalities of how it’s made,” says
“Some of the high-end very long lees-
aged Cavas are very savoury and can be
versatility with food could be a profitable
Millar believes that emphasising Cava’s
M it c h e l l
most crowded place in the sparkling wine
n M illa
Jason Millar. “Traditional method is the
Ja s o
a m s, L o n d o
quite earthy and quite austere,” he says.
Cava and there’s often a knee-jerk refusal.
as readily as they have some with some
try it, he says, but ask them if they want
styles too varied, for consumers to engage
Gray. Customers like the product when they
Some merchants worry that Cava’s
proposition is simply too broad, and the
passionate about it,” says owner Andrew
(where appropriate) its organic status.
G y, d re w G r a
G u b b in
have always imported Cava and I am quite
list, despite limited customer demand. “I
and the Mediterranean fruit, as well as
“So matching them with food can be quite
ne C o m p
ensures Cava always has a place on its
He wants to talk more about the food-
a good idea, partly because the idea of
putting wine with food makes it serious.” Continues page 44
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 42
wine bar specialising in sparkling wine,
emphasising Cava’s quality credentials.
Grays & Feather, which sells from a
s& do Fe a t h e r , L o n
challenge a belief that they’ve had about a certain category.”
eP do a rlo u r, L o n
things like premium Cava that might
for more unusual things,” she says. “Maybe
students and university people are looking
in the company’s Oxford branch. “Lots of
But she believes an opportunity exists
for “something more premium”, especially
n d a ri a ,
and a rosé”.
other two we take from Vilarnau: a white
OUR PANELISTS hi
Silva – “one is a basic bulk product and the
Emphasising Cava’s versatility with food could be a profitable strategy, as some long lees-aged Cavas are very savoury
E m il y Sil v a
The small Alt PenedĂ¨s village of Sant Esteve Sesrovires has been home to the vineyards of Roger Goulart since 1882, with the local Xarel-lo grape variety providing character and structure to the blend.
Vilarnau Edicion Limitada is an on-trade and indie exclusive Cava produced from a blend of indigenous grape varieties: Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo. This organic,
Only made when conditions allow, this Gran Reserva rests underground in total silence for a minimum of five years and is only disgorged under purchase order. The resulting Cava is delicate with light golden tones and an incredible sparkle with complexity and power.
firstname.lastname@example.org 01344 871800 Twitter @hatchmansfield
UK distributor: Gonzalez Byass Sarah Pollard email@example.com 01707 274790
Mont Marcal Extremarium Cava 2014
MESTRES â€“ one of the oldest and most traditional wineries in Penedes. Combining excellence and tradition, the Mestres family have been winegrowers since 1312. The innovative spirit and strive for excellence have remained the MESTRES philosophy since Jose Mestres Manobens produced the first MC sparkling wine, in 1925, disgorged in 1928. Using native grapes from 40 to 80-year-old vines the wines are aged in chestnut barrels. These exceptional Gran Reserva Cavas, mature in bottle with natural cork stoppers, for 3 to 15 years and are individually disgorged by hand. They portray incredible structure, complexity and finesse. Please contact Gauntleys of Nottingham â€“ 01159 110 555 Victoria@gauntleys.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
vegan, Brut Reserva quality Cava is perfect for elevating any celebration. The winery is close to Barcelona and the stylish and striking design of the bottle reflects this cosmopolitan and artistic city.
The estate's origins go back to 1975 when Manuel Sancho purchased an 18th century convent and resurrected the vineyards, as well as the medieval passageways hued from the chalk beneath: the perfect site for ageing the wines. Made by the traditional method of secondary fermentation in bottle, Extremarium is a blend of Chardonnay, Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. The Chardonnay is fermented in French oak barrels where it stays on its lees for four months, adding complexity to the wine.
UK supplier: Richmond Wine Agencies Mark Isham email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 43
CAVA ROUND TABLE
From page 42
There is general agreement that
repositioning Cava in the premium UK
market will take time and money. “You are changing the direction of a very big ship,” warns Jason Millar.
But Emily Silva suggests that a new
generation of wine drinkers won’t have the baggage that their parents carry and may approach Cava with an open mind, if it’s presented in the right way.
She adds: “Cava has connotations in
people’s minds, but I do think that’s on the wane,” she says, “and we will have people coming in who are looking maybe for
something that’s less sweet than Prosecco and more focused on origins, which I find
slightly absent from much of the Prosecco that’s on the market.
“Spanish food is very popular; people
love tapas. Also tourism: we’ve got
thousands and thousands of people going
on holiday to Spain and maybe discovering Cava, and I think that’s something to play on.”
Indeed the merchants attending the Cava
Summit believe that Cava has a strong trump card to play: Barcelona itself.
Chix Chandaria says. “Barcelona is
known for late nights, eating late; it’s
convivial. Eating and drinking and chatting, that whole experience.
“It’s about building that romantic
picture when people are drinking Cava:
Macabeo is Cava’s most important variety, followed by Xarel-lo and Parellada
Categories of Cava Traditional Cava At least 9 months of bottle ageing Cava Reserva At least 15 months of bottle ageing Cava Gran Reserva At least 30 months of bottle ageing Cava de Paraje Calificado A new single-vineyard classification for wines made from older vines and aged for at least 36 months in bottle. There are restrictions on yields and wines must be approved by a tasting panel
they’re back in Barcelona, in that amazing tapas place. People are much more into
experiences now than being bogged down in the winemaking method.”
Would this alienate the 3% of Cava
producers based outside Catalonia? “You could extend it to the whole country,” suggests Ben Gubbins of Vagabond.
“‘Sparkling Spain’ or something like that,
because Spain as whole country has a great appeal for the British market.”
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 44
The Wine Merchant Top 100
Now in its eighth year
Chaired by David Williams
Winners shown at LWF
Classic styles welcome
Esoteric styles encouraged
Meticulous judging process
Entry deadline March 20
25 independents involved
10 Trophy winners
Highly commended wines
Supplement for winners
Endorsed by indies
Entries are now open for the only competition that is focused entirely on wines sold in the independent trade. It's also the only competition where all the judges are independent merchants themselves. If you distribute or retail wines that can stand out in this dynamic market, visit www.winemerchanttop100.com for an entry form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
No longer the down underdog Australia has come a very long way since its wines – and the words used to describe them – descended into cliché. David Williams assesses the landscape of a confident nation, offering unprecedented complexity and variety
Instead, some 20 years since Wine
Australia began seriously to market the
idea, engaged wine drinkers in the UK are genuinely embracing regionality. There is widespread understanding, now, that the
vast continent of Australia, with its range of terroirs and microclimates, can hardly be
summed up by a few glib ideas about sun, alcohol and gobs of fruit.
ustralia is reaching a new phase of maturity in the UK market. How could it not, you might
ask? Hasn’t the country been the leading
supplier of wine to the UK for the best part of two decades now?
But the newly mature Australia is
about more than the raw sales data in the spreadsheet – about more than annual fluctuations in volume and value and
average retail price. Rather, it’s about how consumers – and particularly seriously
engaged wine consumers of the kind who frequent independents – perceive the country as a wine producer.
After all, Australian wine is just part of
the furniture now. If you’re 50 years old
or younger, there hasn’t been a moment
in your legal drinking life when Australian wine hasn’t been considered an equal of the traditional European vinous
heavyweights. For the vast majority of UK wine drinkers, that means
Australia has never been the up-and-
coming underdog and has never been reducible to a set of sunshine-in-a bottle brands (and clichés).
Indeed, you only have to look at
supermarket ranges to see how far the
idea of Aussie regionality has come. Yarra Valley Pinot and Chardonnay, Clare Valley Riesling, Margaret River and Coonawarra Cabernet and, of course, Barossa Shiraz
– these are all staples of mainstream ownlabel ranges these days, while, in the past year, Aldi has gone big on that ultimate cool-climate region, Tasmania, with a
clutch of serious wines from the island.
For independents, this is a solid platform
on which to build a still more sophisticated approach to down-under offerings. As our review of Australian suppliers opposite
suggests, there’s no shortage of interesting and individualistic Aussie wines being
imported into the UK now, covering all
parts of the country’s modern wine trade. And what a rich and complex vinous
ecosystem there is now. It starts with the increasingly confident collectible fine
wines as contained in the Langton’s
Classification. It features a vast range
of rising-star small producers looking to experiment with variety (whether Gallic, Germanic, Iberian, Italian, or Greek in origin) and winemaking
technique. And it includes – and it’s
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 46
so easy to overlook this when attention is ranged on the new, young and funky – a clutch of consistently high-performing mid-size family companies that are
producing some of the most reliable
varietal wines in the world. From Penfolds Bin 111A to Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache via Vinteloper Touriga Nacional, in other words, Australia is now fully grown up.
The Wine Merchant Supplier Top Trumps We run the rule over the current state of play among some of the UK’s leading Australian suppliers
• GRAFT WINE COMPANY When Graft was formed last year, it brought together two of the UK’s best sources of new-wave Australian wine: both Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine had captured the imagination with their artisan Aussies. The new, combined portfolio joins the best of both. Current strengths This is a portfolio that is big on what the Australians call alternative varieties: that could mean the North Italian influences (Prosecco, Garganega, Barbera) of Dal Zotto in Victoria’s King, or the Clare Valley Corsicans of Koerner, or the Italo-Germanic mash-up of La Violetta in Margaret River. There’s a distinctly minimal-intervention mentality, too, in names such as Adelaide Hills’ Vinteloper and South Australia’s Sigurd. A Wine Merchant favourite: David Franz Long Gully Road 132 Year Old Semillon, Barossa Valley 2017 – This sensationally deep, rich but zingy old-vine Semillon deserves its cult status: just exceptional quality and great value.
Australia’s regional credentials have even been recognised in supermarket wine ranges
If you’re 50 years old or younger, there hasn’t been a moment in your legal drinking life when Australian wine hasn’t been considered an equal of the traditional European vinous heavyweights
• BOUTINOT Boutinot mingles its own negociant winemaking with agency work in a typically varied portfolio that ranges from well-made affordable commercial styles to crafty small producers. Current strengths Boutinot head winemaker Samantha Bailey’s imprimatur is never far away in the company’s slick own-labels, under the Last Stand, Sixty Clicks and Soldier’s Block labels. Elsewhere, Boutinot distributes the always-arresting Barossa wines of Noel Young and Rolf Binder’s Magpie Estate, the funky modern McLaren Vale-based Alpha Box & Dice and the superbly crafted garagiste wines of Victoria’s Onannon. Continues page 48
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 47
From page 47
A Wine Merchant favourite: Alpha Box & Dice Rebel Rebel Montepulciano, Langhorne Creek 2016 – The kind of thing you can imagine sipping in a Melbourne wine bar, this is joyously fruit-driven modern Aussie wine, based on an Italian variety, with cherry and plum and a fresh acid-kick. • LIBERTY WINES Liberty Wines MD David Gleave MW is a long-time lover of Australian wine: his company began its life (22 years ago) as a four-strong team specialising in Australia and Italy. The country remains a focus: it currently lists 39 different Australian suppliers. Current strengths Take your pick from a portfolio stuffed with some of Australia’s most admired wine producers: Cullen, Clonakilla, Grosset, Bill Downie, Shaw + Smith, By Farr, Charles Melton … there’s a who’swho feel to the core of the Liberty list, with more recent additions such as the world-beating Tasmanian sparkling wine producer House of Arras and the funky Margaret River modernity of LAS Vino.
A Wine Merchant favourite: Cullen Amber Wilyabrup, Margaret River 2017 – Vanya Cullen’s take on orange wine is a beaut’: a 100% Sauvignon Blanc with just a hint of tannin and spice, and immaculate pithy citrus, herb and stone fruit. • SECKFORD AGENCIES Twenty years since Pippa Woods founded the Essex-based importer, Seckford goes from strength to strength and is now firmly established as one of the country’s go-to names for New World wines. Australia, with 13 producers, is second only to South Africa in a 41-producer portfolio. Current strengths Seckford’s baker’s dozen of Aussie producers is all about boutique producers with big (and justified) reputations, and it covers a wide range of styles and personalities: everything from Ralf Binder’s powerful but balanced Barossa beauties and Mollydooker’s Parkerapproved McLaren Vale cult favourites,
to rising star cool-climate hotshots such as Bird in Hand in Adelaide Hills, peerless Clare Valley Riesling from Pikes, and the Italo-Aussie experimenters of Coriole (also in the McLaren Vale).
A Wine Merchant favourite: Bird in Hand Pinot Noir Rosé, Adelaide Hills 2017 – From a consistently strong Adelaide Hills performer, this silky Pinot Noir was a Trophy winner in the 2018 Wine Merchant Top 100 and the latest vintage is no less succulent and alluring. • ABS WINE AGENCIES One of the UK’s most consistent suppliers has made a big effort to up its Australian game in recent years, with a 2015 project injecting what it calls “lively” wineries into its down-under portfolio that features some fine classic producers. Current strengths Payten & Jones’ natural-leaning Yarra Valley funkiness (it has a pair of superbly drinkable Sangioveses) makes it one of the most intriguing wineries on the ABS list. But with names such as Pirie and Tamar Ridge (Tasmania), Philip Shaw and Simon Hackett, as well as classic stickies from Stanton & Kileen and Campbells of Rutherglen, this is a broad and eclectic Aussie range.
A Wine Merchant favourite: Tamar Ridge Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania 2017 – One of Australia’s best-value reds shows off the potential of Tasmanian Pinot with succulent cranberry and raspberry freshness in joyously supple form. • ALLIANCE WINE As well as being a significant importer of Australian wine, Alliance is also a major producer, with co-owners Giles Cooke MW and Fergal Tynan MW producing three brands in the country. Current strengths The house brands, especially Thistledown and Wild and Wilder, continue to impress, both showing a particularly fluent, pure kind of winemaking style. But the wellbalanced list also features top producers from Majella in Coonawarra to Stella Bella in Western Australia, Domaine A in Tasmania and Bill Downie’s Thousand Candles in the Yarra Valley.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 48
A Wine Merchant favourite: Thistledown Thorny Devil Single Vineyard Grenache, Barossa 2016 – Gorgeous, plump and silky modern Australian Grenache with old-vine concentration, energy and balance and wonderfully fragrant red fruit. • NORTH SOUTH WINES Australia has been a key priority for North South Wines since the company, with its producer-part-owned model, arrived on the scene in 2014 – well that would tend to be the case when one of your partners is the leading family firm, De Bortoli, and when Victor de Bortoli is a director.
Current strengths Naturally enough, De Bortoli provides the backbone of North South’s commercially competitive offer – but it does it with customary flair and consistency, covering off a range of price points and styles but always producing something worth drinking. The other name in the North South frame is family-owned organic and biodynamic pioneer Paxton, a Halliday fivestar winery from McLaren Vale. A Wine Merchant favourite: La Boheme Syrah Gamay, Yarra Valley 2017 – With its bright, finger-stainingly vivid blackberry juiciness, this is an Australian vin de soif with extra fruity depth.
• FINE WINE PARTNERS Almost two years on from its creation, Fine Wine Partners is proving itself to be a highly successful spin-off from the Accolade mothership. As a dedicated home for the multinational’s premium Aussie brands, it’s able to tailor its marketing to indies, fine-wine buyers (via a hook-up with The Vinorium) and restaurants.
Current strengths This is a portfolio comprising only Halliday five-star wineries, from Stonier in the Mornington Peninsula to Houghton in WA and the top wines in the Hardys portfolio. It was noticeable how well Barossa brand Grant Burge performed in 2019’s Wine Merchant Top 100 competition, with a trio of superb Shiraz.
A Wine Merchant favourite: Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz, Barossa Valley 2015 – Classic Barossa with salty liquorice, plum and peppery spice, cocoa and vanilla.
Our Aussies don't need help* bowling you over. T r y t he i r w in e s th is J an u ar y at t he A u s t r a l ia n T rad e T as tin gs. *No heavy-handed intervention, just great fruit, astute winemaking, and definitely no sandpaper.
LONDON 21st January 2020 B1 Victoria House
EDINBURGH 28th January 2020 Balmoral Hotel
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 49
Aussie all-stars Five independent merchants pick out some Australian favourites
Julia Jenkins Flagship Wines, St Albans
Paul Creamer Loki Wines, Birmingham
I have favourite wines for different reasons
Our bestseller is
favourite. I love the character in the wine:
blend, at £16.99. It’s got
at different times. Right now, I’d say the Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz is my own it’s got some lovely silky notes. It’s a
blend of Langhorne Creek and McLaren
Vale, so you would have thought it would be a blockbuster, but it’s got some lovely
evolved notes, and layers of flavour [in the 2016] that makes it quite appealing on its own and a great wine with food.
It’s got a good following: it’s one of the
longest-running wines we’ve had here, it’s
been with us pretty much since we started the business. But my bestsellers right now are another Bremerton, the Tamblyn,
and the Hancock & Hancock Cabernet
Touriga Nacional, which is going very well with us.
Carl Fowes Mumbles Fine Wines
the Lake Breeze Bullant
My own favourite
really amazing purity
of fruit; its’s so aromatic in the glass,
it really appeals
[to customers] as soon as they smell it. And then you say, “try and smell mint”,
and it’s “oh yeah!” and their eyes
light up. At the
in our shop would
have to be one of the Boxer, I’ll go for. It’s
rich, heavy, a little bit
peppery; a lovely wine. And the customers
love it. We just sold 24 on the internet.
moment I am
Robert Poole Symposium Wine Emporium Lewes
Melton. We have
Plantagenet Three Lions Pinot Noir
the shop, a great
blend of Grenache,
Australian wine. And,
maybe there’s some kind
really enjoying Nine Popes,
the 2015 here in
2018 is our bestselling
Shiraz and Mataro, with French oak
of link there, but it’s
barriques – a great one for laying down,
and 14.5% alcohol. Sometimes, if people
are used to big names, like Châteauneufdu-Pape, if you can relate a wine back to
those, they have a point of reference, and it works, and that’s what I do [with this wine]. If you say, “It’s a bit bolder and
vibrant and equally good quality,” then they go, “OK. Why not? I’ll give it a try.” It’s a
gentle explanation, rather than a hard sell.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 50
also [co-owner] Henry’s favourite Australian in the shop. It is a really
good example of New
World Pinot Noir, very
drinkable and very well
balanced. They recently
changed vintage and this one is better than ever. It’s from Liberty.
David Smith The Pip Stop, Durham Over the past year, our bestselling
Australian has been McPherson Don’t Tell Gary. It’s got a nice story behind a really
good quality wine, and that’s why we get
so many sales from it. It’s a wine that has
had light shed on it in the press a couple of
times, so that helps too. It retails at £11.99, which ups the trend for us: £10 to £15 is
somewhere we find products struggle, but this is the exception that proves the rule.
My own favourite is another McPherson
– our parent company, Lanchester Wines, is the agent – Moonstruck Shiraz
Tempranillo. It pretty much encapsulates everything I want from a wine: big Aussie fruit, structure and depth. I like to think that the Tempranillo fills in the gaps.
Excellent quality at £9.99.
I cut my wine teeth on Australian
wine as I have family in the McLaren Vale wine region so I have a
personal bias for South Australia.
We champion small, interesting,
which are a far cry from the big companies that dominate the
supermarkets. Our wines have provenance, elegance, finesse:
outstanding Sue Trott. Many of her grapes are sold to other wineries, for example Thistledown’s
Vagabond Grenache and for Penfolds Grange.
Blewitt Springs benefits
from slightly higher altitude
and a longer growing season.
Sue practises whole-bunch
fermentation, is careful with
oak and produces bright reds
all terms which should be associated
with concentrated fruit but with retained
big and boring few companies that have
but I think the new-wave Young Guns with
with Australian wine but aren’t because
consumers judge Australian wine on the dominated the supermarkets.
One of our wineries we import from
is Five Geese Wines. They are in the sub-region of McLaren Vale called
Blewitt Springs. Behind the winery is the
natural acidity. Sue’s quiet revolution in
the wine world is decades old (sorry Sue!) their fun winery names and labels are
making Aussie wine cool again – although
we never thought it was out of fashion. The critics just were not looking or drinking in the right place.
THE DEEN VAT SERIES WAS CREATED BY DEEN DE BORTOLI, A TRUE PIONEER IN AUSTRALIAN WINEMAKING. This range is all about delicious, full-flavoured wines at an affordable price. Deen personally selected the blends and identified these by chalking the numbers on the vats. Exclusively sold to Independent Wine Merchants & Wholesale Deen VAT Shiraz 2017, Voted one of Most Exciting Wines of 2019 By Decanter Imported by North South Wines¸ Drayton Hall, Church Road, West Drayton UB7 7PS Tel: 020 3871 9210 eFax: 020 3727 0894 email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 51
THE SPIRITS WORLD
Instant Porn Star Ready-to-drink cocktails don’t have to be disappointing approximations of the real thing. A new breed of producers is making credible bottled versions of new and old classics, as Nigel Huddleston reports
he ready-to-drink spirits market has come a long way since the moral panic around alcopops in the 1990s – though it’s still a source for controversy, much of which has curiously centred on Marks & Spencer. Labour’s Diane Abbott was outed for breaching London Underground rules by sipping one of its canned Mojitos on a train and the Portman Group backed consumer complaints that the retailer’s Pornstar Martini should be rebranded to avoid suggesting a link to sexual success. It opted for Passion Star Martini, not so much a drink as a 1970s northern clubs cabaret act. While these events keep RTDs firmly on the naughty step, there has been a fundamental shift in the market, to proper cocktails rather than turbocharged versions of soft drinks. The 1990s was the dawn of the modern era of cocktail exploration, and, gradually, some of the bartending stars of the age have started reinvent the ready-to-drink market, putting their own expertise into convenient but better quality premixes that have a place on the shelves of spirit-friendly wine retailers.
Among them is Douglas Ankrah, the inventor of the Pornstar Martini, which has had a meteoric rise from his famous Lab Bar in Soho to become the most widelyconsumed cocktail in the UK on-trade. Taking into account the Portman ruling, Ankrah’s premixed version now goes under the name P*Star Passion Fruit Liqueur and serves up to 14 drinks from one of its 70cl bottles at around £1.50 a pop, cutting the
‘Our range hasn’t been designed by committee. We’ve spent the last year fine-tuning the recipe’
making time for a cocktail down from three minutes to 30 seconds. The original bar serve calls for a side shot of Champagne, so there’s plenty of upsell opportunity there for wine shops. Other bar legends to launch readymades include Ryan Chetiyawardana of the legendary London bars Whyte Lyan and Dandelyan, who’s created Mr Lyan,
a £30-ish range of 50cl bottled premixes featuring a Spotless Martini, Candlelit Manhattan and Bonfire Old-Fashioned. Eleanor Holcroft and Charles Roche combined their vast bar-world experience to create the Liquid Intellect consultancy which has now put its name to a bottled cocktail range with playful variations on classics such as a Jam Doughnut Negroni and a Cookie Dough Old-Fashioned. The Maverick Drinks-handled Handmade Cocktail Co range has a more classic cocktail approach, comprising Gin Martini, Vesper, Manhattan and Negroni, and the same company has evolved its That Boutique-y Gin brand into cans of Yuzu Gin Collins, Pineapple Gin Mule and Strawberry Gin Fizz. Xhulio Sina makes more than a dozen bottled cocktails, including Long Island Iced Tea and Espresso Martini, which he sells both in his Bottle Bar & Shop in south London and to other retailers. Start-up Bloody Drinks has released canned Bloody Marys at 6.3% in 25cl cans, with a Japanese twist called the Bloody Samurai in the pipeline, containing saké, wasabi and teriyaki. Co-founder Harry Farnham says: “We were frustrated by the inconsistency in quality of serve from one venue to another, and decided to create a premium, canned
a timber tipple
roll out the barrel
Kinahan’s has released a blended whiskey aged in “hybrid” casks constructed from five types of wood: Portuguese oak, French oak, American oak, Hungarian oak and chestnut. Distribution of The Kasc Project is through SEA Spirits for the whiskey which, despite a billing as a “riot of wood”, upholds the Irish tradition for smoothness against a beeswax aroma and tropical fruit on the palate.
Brewdog’s first venture into the browner side of spirits is Five Hundred Cuts spiced rum. It’s inspired by Elizabeth Blackwell, an 18th century illustrator of medicinal plants, or, as Brewdog puts it, “the original spice girl”. It’s botanically-prepped with tonka beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
Two of the hottest drinks categories combine with the release of East London Liquor’s 10th barrel-aged gin. The spirit was aged for 11 months in ex-red vermouth casks, following on from other limited editions that have featured barrels that previously held Moscatel wine, peated whisky, ginger beer and cider.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 52
Negronis are a popular RTD choice, such as this one from Scarpetta
Bloody Mary to address this. “Our range hasn’t been designed by committee. We’ve spent the last year fine-tuning the recipe to create something that we love and that really demonstrates what a beautifully rich and complex drink the Bloody Mary can be.” It’s no surprise to see some of the high-fliers in modern gin getting in on the act. Portobello Road has teamed up with premium tonic brand Franklin for a premix, Edinburgh Gin has cans of G&T and Rhubarb & Ginger gin with ginger ale, and Eden Mill has a Mixology Project range that emerged from its own gin school. The Negroni cocktail in particular has been getting a lot of ready-made love. Canary Wharf’s artisan pasta house Scarpetta offers litre bottles of its Negroni recipe to take away and Sacred Gin has a
bottled Negroni blended from equal parts of its gin, spiced vermouth and Rosehip Cup products. Sheffield independent merchant StarmoreBoss has taken baby steps into the branded pre-batch cocktails market having previously made and sold its own. Owner Jefferson Boss thinks there’s still resistance to the idea, as customers like to make their own, but the new generation of drinks that have some mixology provenance may resonate more. “It will be something we’ll look at as they get more interesting,” he says. “We sell Sacred’s pre-batched Negroni and it sells quite well. “If you’re buying something off the shelf you’ve got to have a little bit of a point of difference. With the Sacred thing, it’s a unique product that’s made by a bartender and that gives it something distinct.”
making a big splash
bourbon and bordeaux
Vodka is being tipped by some in the know as ripe for a revival in 2020, not that the biggest volume spirit in the UK really needs one. Ireland’s Sliabh Liagh Distillers is looking to be in at the start with the launch of Assaranca, named after a waterfall in the hills close to the Donegal distillery. Vine Distribution Service is the UK agent.
Highland distiller Aberfeldy’s latest single malt is a 15-year-old aged in Pomerol casks. The whisky spends four to five months in the claret casks having already seen Bourbon barrels for its long-term maturation. The Pomerol influence is claimed to add layers of stone fruit and red berries to Aberfeldy’s signature honeyed fruit.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 53
Fairtrade Fortnight starts on February 24. It’s a market the Co-op dominates in wine but the Fair range of spirits – two rums, gin and half a dozen cocktail liqueurs – provides options to take part. This simple take on the Moscow Mule uses its vodka made from Andean quinoa and Karma Cola’s Gingerella posh soft drink which has cane sugar from India and Sri Lankan ginger and vanilla. Use Fair’s bourbon barrel-aged rum, made with Belize sugar cane, for a spicy twist.
5cl Fair vodka or Extra Old rum 1 lime Ice cubes Gingerella ginger ale
Squeeze half the lime into a tumbler with some ice. Add the vodka or rum. Lengthen with Gingerella to taste, typically by a ratio of about three parts mixer to one part rum. Stir and garnish a wedge of the remaining lime.
MAKE A DATE
Australia Trade Tasting
The Diversity of Beechworth, presented by
Julien Castagna; and Mornington Peninsula, Australia’s Pinot Coast with Martin Spedding.
London and Edinburgh will be hosting
A number of winemakers and winery
the “biggest, brightest and most diverse
owners will continue on to Edinburgh to
showcase of Australian wine in the UK”.
pour their wines and share their stories,
There will be more than 1,000 wines
ensuring there will be around 70 wineries
from over 200 producers across the two
showcasing over 350 wines at The
events, including new discoveries and
wines seeking distribution.
To register for the London event visit the
Wine Australia promises “crisp vibrant
whites, standout sparklings, elegant reds and thrilling alternative varieties”.
Personalities pouring their wines include
Martin Spedding (Ten Minutes by Tractor), Julian Castagna (Castagna), Phil Sexton
(Giant Steps), Keppell Smith (Savaterre), Troy Jones (Payten & Jones), Bob Berton (Berton Vineyards), Peter Thompson
(Thompson Estate) and Terry Chellappah (Plan B Wines).
The London event will include
Furmint February Wines of Hungary UK will be bringing Furmint February back to the UK this year, celebrating two decades of dry Furmint wines being produced in the country. The range of activities begins with
a tasting of over 150 wines from 35
producers. Sparkling, dry and sweet
Furmint wines from Tokaj, Somlo, Eger,
Badacsony and Csopak will be available to taste and attendees can learn more at two masterclasses.
Caroline Gilby MW will host a 20 Years of
Furmint masterclass and vertical tasting,
and Laszlo Balint will host a session on The Many Faces of Furmint.
Caroline Gilby MW says: “It’s time to add
Furmint to the list of great white grapes. It can offer everything from fine sparklers to
The Yarra Valley
Inspirational Australia: a presentation by
Ronan Sayburn MS of the standout wines
website at bit.ly/2Pvn9Ly.
To register for the Edinburgh event visit
Tuesday, January 21
from his recent Australian trip. There will
B1, Southampton Row
by Brickwood Coffee & Bread.
Monday, January 27
education lounge and two masterclasses:
Edinburgh EH2 2EQ
be a focus room on “bright, smashable,
crunchy reds,” and an Aussie pop-up café
Both the London and Edinburgh events
will feature an Australian Wine Discovered
complex, layered dry wines to world-class sweet wines, always underpinned by that streak of appetising acidity.”
Throughout February, importers and
London WC1B 4DA
The Balmoral Hotel Princes Street
Malux Hungarian Wine Tasting
retailers will have the opportunity to win a
Malux has been honing its portfolio with
Furmint with a series of tastings, dinners
at the Special Projekt wines from new
application demonstrating the number
from Chateau Pajzos in addition to new
and quirky varietals and classics too.
trip to Tokaj.
independents in mind and this event
and special offers.
winemaker Etyeki Kuria.
of new listings, by-the-glass sales and
wines and new vintages from a selection of
They will be encouraged to showcase Participants need to send in their
any promotional offers executed during Visit www.furmintfebruary.co.uk for
more details or sign up for the event at bit. ly/344aPGo.
Wednesday, January 29
is a good opportunity to take a look
There will also be the new range on taste
family producers. Expect to discover rare By invitation and registration
only. For details email audrey@ hungarianwineandspirits.com. Monday February 3
Merchant Taylors’ Hall
30 Threadneedle Street
London EC2R 8JB
(Venue confirmed on registration)
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 54
© ÖWM / Marcus Wiesner
North South Wines Tasting North South Wines is on the road in February with tastings scheduled in London, Bristol and Manchester. There will be between 70 and 100 wines
from the company’s portfolio on taste.
The focus is on Italy, regional New World,
sparkling, organic, ethical and sustainable wines. Independents might also be
interested in the additional seminar taking Vineyards near Vienna
Austrian Annual Trade Tasting After taking a break last year, the Austrian tasting is back in London showcasing wines from more than 100 top estates, 35 of which are looking for representation. Between them, the producers attending
represent almost every Austrian wine-
growing region. Familiar names from The Wine Merchant’s recent buyers’ trip to
Austria include Katherina Tinnacher of
Lackner Tinnacher (Südsteiermark) and Georg Prieler of Prieler (Burgenland).
There will also be two “wine experience
lounges”: one promoting a special tasting of rarities from the 2011 vintage and
earlier, and the other showcasing the
diversity and complexities of Sekt gU
(Klassik, Reserve and Grosse Reserve). There will be a chance to participate
in a blind tasting and the winner of the
“Best Nose Challenge” will receive a ticket
including flights and hotel accommodation
place at each tasting: How to make social media work for small businesses.
The company’s roster of agencies
includes Angus the Bull, De Bortoli Wines, Francois Lurton, KWV, La Riojana, Painted
Wolf, Paxton Wines and Reh Kendermann, among others.
For more information or to register,
email firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday, February 3
to VieVinum, Austria’s largest wine fair, in
The Ampersand Hotel
Chramosta at email@example.com.
Monday, February 10
Vienna this June.
Registration is essential. Contact Oliver
Monday, February 3
London SW7 3ER
Bristol Old Vic Bristol BS1 4ED
Illuminate Science Museum
Wednesday, February 12
King Street Town House
London SW7 2DD
Manchester M2 4AW
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thewinebarn.co.uk/pages/events
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 55
MAKE A DATE
Berkmann Portfolio Tasting Berkmann Wine Cellars will be inviting guests to “Taste the Trends” at its annual portfolio tasting. Berkmann represents wineries from 21
countries including including blue-chip producers such as Marchesi Antinori, Umani Ronchi, Château Minuty and
Yerra Yering, an in-depth selection from
Burgundy and California, and a burgeoning range from the Eastern Mediterranean. The event begins with a walkaround
tasting including a showcase of
Two education sessions will include a
There will be around
wine and food pairing led by Berkmann’s
300 wines available to
Manchester tasting at
wine education team, Veraison, and a wine cocktail workshop hosted by Spirit Cartel. Tuesday, February 4 The Brewery 52 Chiswell Street London EC1Y 4SD
taste at each event. Register for the
Register for the
London tasting at bit. ly/2Pt9DIB.
Tuesday, February 4
Boutinot Portfolio Tastings
Hallé St Peter’s 40 Blossom Street Ancoats Manchester M4 6BF
This year is Boutinot’s 40th birthday and these tastings, first in Manchester
examined through a special menu prepared
and then London, will feature a mix of
by Ollie Dabbous from HIDE restaurant.
new and old producers from estates in
England (such as Sussex-based Henners,
Oxo Tower Wharf
where trends will be analysed and
pictured), France and Italy to mark the
thoughts shared on growth opportunities.
London SE1 9PH
Food and wine trends will also be
The focal point will be a panel discussion,
Davy’s Old World Portfolio Tasting
and the other on amphora wines from
Davy’s Wine Merchants is celebrating
discussion, A Question of Heritage. It will
Vidigueira, Alentejo with Pedro Ribeiro from Bojador.
There will also be a round-table
its 150th anniversary in 2020 and the
focus on a handful of producers who have
business is looking towards a positive
a similar heritage to Davy’s – each will
future, according to its chairman. “Despite the endless challenges that the
last few years have brought we believe in
the maxim that it is an ill wind that brings no gains,” says James Davy.
“We are optimistic – many opportunities
are being presented all the time. We
will continue to invest in our fine wine
operation, increasing and securing new allocations. A priority is to support and expand our supply to the independent off-trade, working with and growing
our exclusive list of family growers and bringing our customers regular UK producer visits.”
Davy’s is proud of its family heritage
Davy’s is a fifth-generation fully
independent family wine merchant and
is proud of its family values of “excellent wines, quality food and outstanding service”.
Visitors to this tasting will find more
discuss their story and present a library vintage.
Other highlights of the tasting include an
introduction to two new listings: Château Reynier, a hidden gem set in Entre-DeuxMers, from the Lurton stable, and La
Togata – an award-winning Brunello from Montalcino.
Register at email@example.com.
than 200 wines from over 30 family
Wednesday, February 5
Hungary (Robert Gilvesy champions the
St James’s Street
businesses, and two masterclasses: one
Royal Over-Seas League
volcanic wine movement in that country)
London SW1A 1LR
focused on volcanic wines from Badascony,
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 56
Vineyards of Hampshire Trade Tasting The newest member of Vineyards of Hampshire, The Grange, will be making its group debut at this event, which offers the opportunity to try new wines and new vintages from nine members. RSVP: events@vineyardsofhampshire.
Tuesday, February 4
This two-day event will feature a broad
selection of wines from the importer’s
eastern Mediterranean range, premium Australia, high-altitude Argentina and
everything in between, all selected by head
Nicole Moncuit, of Champagne Pierre-Moncuit
of wines introduced over the past few
and showcases the diverse and dynamic
Monday, February 10 & 11
some of Bancroft’s earliest signed
buyer Steve Daniel and his team.
Included in the line-up will be a selection
months from Georgia, Armenia, Mount Etna, Greece, Portugal and Spain. One Marylebone
Château de Berne, Weingut Weszeli and Glaetzer Wines.
To register or for more details, head to
Koshu of Japan Trade Tasting
Tuesday, February 11 The Dutch Centre 7 Austin Friars London EC2N 2HA
Koshu of Japan was established in 2009 by leading wine producers from the
Gonzalez Byass UK Trade Tasting
Yamanashi Prefecture. Winemakers from nine leading wineries,
including Grace Wine, Lumière and Soryu, will be showcasing the 2019 vintage,
Wines from all the Gonzalez Byass
in addition to a smaller selection of
There will be masterclasses led by
Anthony Rose and Neil Beckett.
Visit koshuofjapan.jp or email koj@
Bancroft Wines Portfolio Tasting
Tio Pepe, Finca Constancia and
Bancroft celebrates its 30th birthday in
with winemaker Olivier Humbrecht MW
2020, and its annual portfolio tasting
67 Pall Mall
will showcase the growers most integral
London SW1Y 5ES
to the company’s history and future. CEO Jon Worsley says: “We are proud to
Hallgarten & Novum Tasting
have so many of our producers represented
More than 700 wines from 130
across the years.
UK brands will be available to taste including Champagne Deutz, Vilarnau,
Wednesday, February 5
producers will be on show at this year’s
producers such as Clos Du Caillou, Viranel, newer additions to the portfolio including
London NW1 4AQ
London SW1Y 5ES
Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Over 200 wines will be opened from
and Champagne Pierre Moncuit, as well as
1 Marylebone Road
67 Pall Mall
international varietals including Merlot,
producers with which we work.”
at this event, both those who have been
with Bancroft since inception and those
Rathfinny. There will be two masterclasses:
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Dry Pinot Gris and Beronia with verticals of Reserva and Gran Reserva led by winemaker Matias Calleja.
Contact Emma Jones: ejones@
gonazalezbyassuk.com. Tuesday, February 18
with which we have forged relationships
one which highlights Bancroft’s history
London SE1 9PH
“It is an impressive line-up indeed, and
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 57
Oxo Tower Wharf Bargehouse Street
MAKE A DATE
Fells Annual Portfolio Tasting
be revealed by registering at rsvp@ enotriacoe.com.
wines and spirits from boutique producers,
The only opportunity this year to see
wines from Central and Eastern Europe
Monday, February 25
the entire Fells portfolio under one roof. Many members of the wine producing
Tuesday, February 26
families and their winemakers will be in
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
attendance. There will also be a selection of rare and old wines available to taste.
Wednesday, February 27
Tuesday, February 18
Thursday, February 28
IET Savoy Place
London WC2R 0BL
Liberty Wines Portfolio Tastings
Top Selection Portfolio Tasting Established in 2000, Top Selection
Following on from its London tasting on
now has over 60 producers under its
January 14, Liberty is on the move: first
umbrella, and this event will see the
stop Edinburgh, followed by Manchester.
launch of two new agencies, the identity
Expect to see all the favourites as well as
of which will be revealed nearer the
Contact email@example.com for
the portfolio’s diversity and quality
the latest additions and new releases from
through 20 of Top Selection’s most
across the portfolio.
Tuesday, February 25 The Balmoral Hotel Princes Street
The focus of this tasting is to highlight
dynamic producers from the Old and New World.
In addition it will be showcasing 40
on a free-pour table, highlighting lesser known regions and varietals including and North America.
This is an opportunity to sample wines
from notable names including legendary
Mosel producer Weingut Egon Müller; the Californian Pinot Noir pioneer, Calera; the rising star of Barolo, Boroli; the award-
winning Port and Douro producer, Alves
de Sousa; and two celebrated exponents of grower Champagnes, Andre Jacquart and Champagne Brice.
Highlights of the day will include
a number of masterclasses running
alongside the tasting. So far, two have been confirmed: Riesling with Egon Müller and Dry Furmint with Istvan Szepsy Jr.
Places will be limited so RSVP to
Events@topselection.co.uk to confirm
attendance, book a masterclass, or to find out more about the extended programme of events.
Tuesday, February 25 Asia House 63 New Cavendish Street London W1G 7LP
Edinburgh EH2 2EQ Wednesday, February 26 Etc Venues Manchester M1 3HU
Enotria&Coe Roadshow In a departure from its usual set-piece annual tasting at the Saatchi Gallery, Enotria&Coe is kicking off the new decade with a road trip. Exact locations were not confirmed
at the time of going to press but all will
Calera is a Pinot pioneer in California and part of the Top Selection line-up
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 58
© SeanPavonePhoto / stockadobe.com
Lisbon: a cultural delight but also the centre of a lesser-known wine region
Wines of Portugal Annual Tasting In a tasting designed to highlight the new trends coming from Portugal, 71 producers, some of them seeking UK distribution, will be coming to London to pour their wines and tell their stories. Two masterclasses will take place during
the day and there will be four free-pour tables to focus on and emphasise the
country’s winemaking strengths: Masters
of Blend, Organic Wines, Atlantic Influence
and Whites to Excite.
will be awarded on a first come, first
€75.5m, and the market continues to grow,
give their name, business name, contact
The UK is in the top five of Portugal’s
main export destinations, with a value of
with plenty to discover from the country’s emerging new and young producers. All winemaking DOPs will be
represented at the tasting, from the more familiar Douro, Alentejo and Vinho Verde
to the lesser-known regions such as Lisboa and Dão.
Wines of Portugal is offering 30
bursaries worth £50 each to independent wine merchants based 30 miles or
more away from London. The bursaries
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 59
served basis. Applicants should email
winesofportugalUK@thewineagency.pt and details including telephone number and
business address. They must also include the sentence “Please help me to go to
the Wines of Portugal Annual Tasting
on February 27 at the Boiler House in London!”
Thursday February 27 The Boiler House Brick Lane London E1 6RU
© jon_chica / stockadobe.com
MAKE A DATE
Vineyards in Rioja
Viñateros Viñateros is back and this time it’s bigger and better. Indigo Wine’s Ben Henshaw has confirmed that there will be almost twice the number of producers at this 2020 tasting as attended the original event in 2017. The tasting is now a collaboration of 13
importers who have brought together an
exceptional group of Spanish winemakers.
More than 75 artisan and family producers will be showcasing over 400 wines to raise awareness of the quality, diversity and
energy of artisan winemaking in Spain. Amaya Cervera, founder of
spanishwinelover.com, led a masterclass at the first Viñateros tasting three years ago
and has worked with the team once more on this year’s event.
She says: “Spain needs to get better
at communicating its strengths and
creating a story around a producer, a region or a grape. We need people to
look at Spain from a broader picture, not
And there is an increasing interest in
different styles and regions.”
Rioja – from Remelluri to Abel Mendoza to
just understanding we’re making good
wine but being capable of explaining the
Of the winemakers themselves, she adds:
“Those who started earlier are leading the way; they have a better understanding of
their terroir and grapes and are now more mature and precise in their winemaking. “People like Raúl Pérez, Comando G
or Envínate are role models for new
producers. I also admire all the young
people going back home to work the family
vineyards, exploring indigenous grapes and thinking local.”
So what should buyers be focusing
on? “Bierzo is becoming more and more
interesting,” says Cervera. “It has a lovely
old-vine heritage and an exciting bunch of producers working in the area.
“Diversity is a strength of Spain – the
Canary Islands are producing wines
that are exotic and different, which are
capturing wine lovers’ attention. Red wines from Galicia are definitely worth exploring.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 60
whites all over the country. Look for whites from traditional red wine regions like
those receiving extended oak-aging; Ribera – Albillos like the one made by Dominio
del Aguila will soon bear the DO seal; or
Priorat. When a quality-oriented producer takes the trouble to make a white in these areas, you know it’s going to be good.”
She adds: “The south east Spain and
the Mediterranean areas are perhaps
not so trendy, but people like 4 Kilos in
Mallorca, Celler del Roure in Valencia, Pepe Mendoza in Alicante and many others
are starting to write their own rules; a
lighter Mediterranean style, which is very different to what we were used to.”
To register and for more information,
visit www.vinaterosldn.com. Tuesday, February 25 The Lindley Hall Elverton Street London SW1P 2PB
12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
0207 409 7276 firstname.lastname@example.org www.louislatour.co.uk
Louis Latour Agencies 30th Anniversary Tasting 30th January, OXO2 London, 10.30am until 5pm 2020 marks 30 years of Louis Latour Agencies and to celebrate this milestone we are pulling out all the stops for this year’s tasting with a selection of new wines and new releases presented by the people that make them. For more information please contact email@example.com.
Highlights will include: A grand tasting of the 2018 Burgundy vintage: we loved this vintage when we tasted the wines in November and will be showcasing a larger than average selection. Highlights include the 2018 Louis Latour Pinot Noirs and Henry Fessy Cru Beaujolais. New Simonnet-Febvre winemaker Paul Espitalié will be showcasing his new range of organic Chablis and a re-imagined range from the Auxois, a rediscovered viticultural paradise in Northern Burgundy. We are extremely excited to introduce the wines of Steve Smith MW and Brian Sheth to our portfolio. From February 2020 we will be the UK distributor for Smith & Co (Marlborough), Smith & Sheth (Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough) and Pyramid Valley (North Canterbury and Central Otago). Louis Latour, Simonnet-Febvre, Henry Fessy, Champagne Gosset, Cognac Frapin, VidalFleury, Michel Redde et Fils (France), Castello Banfi (Tuscany & Piedmont), Isonto & Morgenhof (South Africa), McHenry Hohnen and Wakefield (Australia), Smith & Sheth, Smith & Co, Pyramid Valley (New Zealand) and Viu Manent (Chile). At the Flavours of New Zealand tasting on January 15, Seckford Agencies is
© rh2010 / stockadobe.com
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES
delighted to be presenting Greystone organic wines to the UK independent trade. Greystone is Seckford’s first fully organic producer, and its wines shone at many retail
Old Barn Farm Harts Lane, Ardleigh Colchester CO7 7QQ
tastings over the festive period. Winemaker Dom Maxwell is now famed for his Vineyard
where they grow,” he says. “We captured the wild yeasts in situ and by
firstname.lastname@example.org @seckfordagency Seckford Agencies Ltd
Ferment Pinot Noir, made in tiny volumes.
“In 2012 we first explored fermenting our Pinot Noir grapes in the vineyard
happenstance found we extended the vintage influence, allowing the vagaries of the season’s weather to provide a defining mark upon the wine.”
Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir 2017 Waipara, New Zealand Wonderfully expressive peppery nose with sweet red cherries, some herbs and some earth. The palate has incredible tension and delicacy, with lovely sour cherry, fine herbs, red cherry and some plums. This is so beautiful and expressive with lovely detail and savoury interest. Such precision to this wine. Floral and fine. 96/100 Jamie Goode November 2019. RRP £41.50 The Australian trade tasting on January 21 features a selection of the full
Seckford Agencies Australian range, including Italian specialists Coriole from McLaren Vale showing their Fiano at Inspirational Australia presented by
Ronan Sayburn MS – featuring standout wines from his recent trip to Australia.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 61
Taste some of our best wines from New Zealand and Australia
walker & Wodehouse
Visit our Southern Hemisphere producers at both the New Zealand and Wine Australia Annual Trade Tastings this January. From Mount Langi Ghiran to Craggy Range, a plethora of Walker & Wodehouse producers will be attending.
109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 email@example.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com
Australia Mount Langi Ghiran: Nestled in the Grampians at the southern end of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria where soils date back over 40 million years, Mount Langi Ghiran is one of Australia’s most distinguished wine producers. Xanadu: Founded in 1977 by Irishman Dr John Lagan, Xanadu is a true pioneer of the West Australian wine region of Margaret River. With a rich history of producing wines of uncompromising quality, Xanadu wines are renowned for their distinct character that embody all that is Margaret River. Yering Station: For crisp, elegant wines, this is the Australian winery to taste. A balance between an upfront fruit style and lean acidity means that they shine with any food. New Zealand Craggy Range: Craggy Range is hell bent on being one of New Zealand’s great wine producers. As a member of the New Zealand Fine Wine Classification, they are well on the way to achieving this. Giesen: Undeniably “Marlborough”, the Giesen wines capture that essence of New Zealand which took the wine world by storm. Huia Vineyards: Huia are making some of the most exciting wines to come out of Marlborough. Handcrafted by winemakers Claire and Michael Allan, with daughters Tui and Sophie keenly involved, Huia is all about passion for the wine and the environment.
Henschke joins Liberty Wines
Henschke celebrated 150 years of family winemaking in 2018. Fifth generation winemaker Stephen Henschke took over running the winery in
020 7720 5350
1979 and, together with his viticulturist wife Prue, they have taken their
two single vineyards, Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone, and transformed
them into two of Australia’s most sought-after wines.
All their wines are made with this same focus on purity and site
expression, and come from fruit grown on their three sites in the Eden Valley and their Lenswood vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, all of which are
farmed using biodynamic principles. Additional fruit comes from selected growers with whom they’ve been dealing for decades.
As Huon Hooke MW says, “every Henschke wine has a story behind it”,
and their names reflect this. The lively, fruit-driven Tilly’s Vineyard is an aromatic blend named for a remarkable great-aunt, while the ageworthy
reserve selection Julius Riesling is a tribute to Stephen’s great uncle, an
acclaimed artist and sculptor. The stylish Henry’s Seven Shiraz blend honours the man
by David Gleave MW
LEN G E 2
MERCHANT OF THE YEAR
who planted the first vines in Keyneton, and the Keyneton Euphonium, an elegant oldvine Shiraz blend, is a nod to a star instrument in the Henschke Family Brass Band.
With their wealth of very old, low-yielding vines in the Eden Valley and superb
winemaking, Henschke’s world-class wines are a magnificent addition to our Australian portfolio.
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 62
Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France firstname.lastname@example.org 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich
They’re all smiles to your face …
Casa Lo Alto, Utiel Requena
Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF
Founded in 1796, Casa Lo Alto is a 160ha estate located in Utiel Requena. Boasting
wines their special character.
60 hectares under vines, and an exceptional terroir, Casa lo Alto grows varieties such as Bobal, Grenache, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay. Head winemaker Victor Marqués is an advocate of minimal intervention which gives his We’ve picked the Rocha Candeal and the Manzan
as two of the best examples of Casa Lo Alto wines. Rocha Candeal is made from 100% Garnacha
from vines aged between 30 and 40 years old. The
wine is then aged for 10 months in concrete tanks.
Rocha Candeal is probably one of the best and purest examples of Garnacha that we’ve ever tasted, with bags of red fruit, hints of black pepper and a great length.
Manzan is made from Bobal grown on 60 year old
vines. This wine is aged a large barriques for eight
months. A full-bodied blockbuster, this Bobal is yet
another cracker from Victor Marqués which will keep you going back for more!
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 63
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES
LONDON Tuesday 21st January 11:00-18:00 EDINBURGH Monday 27th January 13:00-18:00
28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810
Visit us at the Australia Day Tastings and taste through the ABS range, from cool climate Tasmanian wines, through ripe rich Barossa reds to the luscious fortified wines of Rutherglen.
AUSTRALIA DAY TASTINGS 2020 fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB
House of Arras Brut Elite, winner of Best Australian Sparkling Wine at the Champagne & Sparkling World Wine Championships
07552 291045 email@example.com www.finewinepartners.co.uk
See you at the Australian trade tastings 2020: London January 21
Edinburgh January 27
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 64
hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800
Our Pétreo range originally started out as a single vineyard Malbec produced to commemorate Caliterra’s 20th Anniversary in 2016. The winemaking team was tasked with creating a special wine from a selected vineyard on the estate. This vineyard’s southerly exposure and diversity of terroir also produces exceptional Carmenère as well as Malbec. ‘Pétreo’ refers to the clay and sedimentary schists found in this premium hillside plot and only Carmenère and Malbec are planted in these soils.
firstname.lastname@example.org www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield
Colchagua Valley, Chile
A vibrant example of Chile’s signature varietal. Fermented in well-seasoned oak barrels and matured for 18 months, its incredible acidity gives a unique freshness and racy finish.
Colchagua Valley, Chile
A wonderful showcase of what Caliterra does so well with Malbec. Supremely elegant and complex with floral, spicy and fresh forest fruit characters. A wine bursting with personality.
Please contact Hatch Mansfield for further information
ANNUAL TASTING 2020 MONDAY 10 TH & TUESDAY 11TH FEBRUARY
Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538 email@example.com www.hnwines.co.uk
This is your opportunity to taste the 2020 portfolio – including the new wines that we have introduced and the latest vintages – from over 130 world-class producers exclusive to Hallgarten & Novum Wines.
Venue: One Marylebone • 1 Marylebone Road • London • NW1 4AQ Time: 11.00 - 18.00 (both days) Rsvp: https://hallgarten-2020.eventbrite.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 65
richmond wine agencies
Cantina Orsogna has been producing organic wines for 25 years. Their commitment
The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE
Vola Volé Passerina and Montepulciano are certified organic, vegan and Biodiversity
to the conservation of biodiversity, whilst making quality and distinctive wines, has led them to launch a new pair of wines dedicated to the protection of bees.
Friendly, with the vineyards providing a vital safeguard for bees being free of pesticides and herbicides. The wine is also made with yeast harvested from bee pollen from local
020 8744 5550 firstname.lastname@example.org
hives to connect these wines to the terroir of the local area.
Also new from Cantina Orsogna is
this biodynamic Pinot Grigio Pet-
Nat; a sparkling wine produced by the méthode ancestral. Allowing a secondary fermentation in bottle gives this wine a gentle sparkle
but the yeast lees are not removed, giving the wine an opaque, hazy appearance and extra depth of flavour.
NOT YOU AGAIN!
customers we could do without
8. Shane Head and Flick Pettigrew … I mean on Vivino they only give it like three stars so how he can say it’s the manager’s choice is, like, mental, plus on Vivino it says it should cost £14.99 not £16.45, so someone’s making a tasty profit there methinks … no, we’re fine, thanks, just browsing, thank you … that’s the problem with these places, they want your business but insist on bumping up the prices. Hold that label up will you so I can zap it … move it away from that spotlight, I’m getting too much glare ... maybe have to take it outside ... aha, there you go … nope, Vivino doesn’t recognise it, must be some cheapo import that they bring in from some wholesaler in Calais. Try this one, but maybe peel off that
Supplier of wine boxes and literature • 12 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £1.69p each • 6 Bottle mailing boxes with dividers from £0.98p each • 12 Bottle carrier boxes with dividers from £0.99p each Prices are subject to VAT • Delivery not included
01323 728338 • email@example.com • www.eastprint.co.uk
sticker with the medal on it so I can get a better shot … that’s it … voila! You see, again, it’s a couple of quid cheaper on Vivino. Oak, vanilla and tobacco it says on the app … well sod that, I’ve given up ice
cream and smoking … no, honestly, we’re fine thank you, we know pretty much what we’re looking for … tell you what, let’s go for the bulk approach, let’s snap the labels of all those wines in that machine over
Can you unscramble the following wines? If so, award yourself three points and shout "hooray!" twice.
there and see if that moves us on at all. Hey mate, is there a key to this thing so we can open her up and get a better shot of these bottles? The glass is giving off a hell of a reflection. Mate? Mate? Appalling service, it’s like he’s deliberately avoiding us …
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 66
1. Carbonating Venues 2. Clap Evil Lola 3. African Actor 4. Mad Romp 5. Nightmare Reggae
mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mentzendorff.co.uk
enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX www.enotriacoe.com 020 8961 5161
Roadshow tastings in February Enotria&Coe will be on the road on February with a who’s who from the world of wine. Mark your diaries now, you won’t want to miss this! Brighton, Monday 24th London, Tuesday 25th
Manchester, Wednesday 26th Edinburgh, Thursday 27th
THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2020 67
January 2020 edition of The Wine Merchant, a trade magazine for specialist independent wine retailers in the UK