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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 93, July 2020

Dog of the Month: Geoff Lightfoot Wines, Rotherham

An electric cargo bike has helped Forest Wines in Walthamstow keep pace with lockdown orders. See page 20 for the full story.

MPs warned of VI-1 catastrophe Hal Wilson of Cambridge Wine Merchants represents independents in feisty meeting with Parliamentary group

M

Ps have been warned that

introducing VI-1 forms for wines imported from the

EU will have a catastrophic impact on the independent wine trade.

This week the All-party Parliamentary

Group for Wines and Spirits heard evidence from Hal Wilson, owner of Cambridge

Wine Merchants, who described VI-1s as

an illogical barrier to trade which should

peril faced by traders who operate in the

Wine & Spirit Trade Association, whose

online sector.

be scrapped without delay.

The meeting was convened by the

policy director Simon Stannard also gave

evidence about the negative impact of VI-1 forms, which are due to come into effect next year.

James Miles of Liv-ex warned of the

secondary market for fine wines. Nick

Taylor of Direct Wines represented the

Wilson told the MPs that European wine

makes up two thirds of imports to the UK,

and that Wine Merchant magazine surveys

Continues page two


EDITORIAL

Inside this month 4 comings & Goings

Wilson puts indie case against VI-1s From page one

Stores getting bigger. Stores getting smaller. Stores closing. Stores re-opening. It’s all here

consistently show that independents

specialise in European wines more than any others.

10 tried & TESTED Wet pebbles and fizzing electrics

He added: “We placed over 200 orders

for 1,800 different consignments in the last 12 months for wines from the EU. All those

in a Riesling to remember

consignments would have required a VI-1

14 Jon CamPbell DeFine owner says indies must respect each other’s boundaries

under the proposed regulations.

“The cost of VI-1 forms is not known

exactly, but will be passed onto importers by producers.

28 david williams What the decimation of wine tourism means for all of us

“No one in the EU has had to produce a

VI-1 form before. Although laboratories

exist that can do the eight different tests required for the analysis, none of them

34 marchtown The Glasgow wine bar that’s now focused on booming retail trade

Fino Sherry and white Port deserve a much wider audience

49 FOUR Welsh vineyards As Welsh Wine Week approaches,

The Spirits World, page 58; Supplier Bulletin, page 60

the work, nor have competent authorities been appointed to sign the certificates.” Wilson estimates that VI-1 forms will

42 summer fortifieds

we profile four producers

have applied to be authorised to carry out

cost Cambridge an additional £111,000 each year.

But he added that the burden doesn’t

end there. “Back labelling requirements could incur a cost of £52,000. Customs

declarations currently cost £90 per order rather than the £25 for handling Export

Accompanying Documentation from the EU, an extra cost of £13,000.

“Paying VAT on entry to the UK rather

than accounting for it through the

quarterly VAT return would require extra working capital of £70,000. My business is not in a position to absorb the extra

£250,000 per annum the proposed changes will cost.”

MPs heard that the costs would

inevitably result in higher prices for

consumers, and a political backlash. There are hopes that the chairs of the all-party group, Neil Coyle and Helen Grant, will now try

to persuade George

Eustice, secretary of

state for the environment,

food and rural affairs, to drop VI-1 forms altogether.

After the meeting Wilson told The

Wine Merchant: “I think they were quite surprised at the depth of feeling. We

made very forceful points because we’re

genuinely terrified at the prospect of VI-1s. “With the best will in the world,

producers won’t be able to sell to us and

can’t send samples to a lab for analysis –

there’s no infrastructure. They would have to look for other markets for their wine. “This could become a cause celebre –

when people can no longer buy Chablis,

Champagne or Rioja in January, that will be very unpopular.”

• Independents are being urged to write

to their MPs to explain the damage that

VI-1 requirements will do to the UK wine

trade. Download a template letter at www. winemerchantmag.com.

THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter graham@winemerchantmag.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries claire@winemerchantmag.com Accounts: Naomi Young winemerchantinvoices@gmail.com The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 930 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 july 2020 2


D Byrne relocates to a warehouse Staff at D Byrne in Clitheroe have pulled off an almost Herculean task of transforming the warehouse into a shop in order to create a safer retail environment for customers. The family business’s legendary

labyrinthine shop in King Street will

remain mothballed until Covid-19 no longer poses a threat.

Joseph Byrne explains: “Part of the

charm of our shop is its intimate nature,

and people don’t want that at the moment. “We’ve got much more square footage

in the warehouse and we can keep the

doors pegged open. It’s been a big job to turn it all around, we had to move a lot

of stuff, but we’ve managed to create the

same atmosphere that we have in the shop. We’ve had some really good feedback from

The warehouse store will be home at least until the New Year

the customers.”

The new till area was built by Joseph’s

uncle, a professional joiner, and as he found the Perspex screening “nigh on impossible” to source, he used glass to full effect.

Shelving has been installed and almost

the full range of 8,000 different lines is on display.

Before the relocation the business was

operating on a call-and-collect basis during lockdown which Joseph says “worked really well”.

But he adds: “Part of the passion is face-

to-face selling and recommendations, and

it’s just not quite the same if you’re doing it by email or over the phone.”

D Byrne has been a Clitheroe institution

for well over a century and it’s unthinkable that the famous old Victorian shop won’t re-open.

“The aim is always to get back to the

original shop,” says Joseph. “The building

has been in the family for 130 years – I’m

now fifth generation. It’s a bit unknown at

The new till area has a glass screen to protect staff

the moment but we’ll probably stay here [in the warehouse] at least into the New Year.

“Once we are established here and we re-

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 4

open the shop we’ll have two sites in town, and the joy is that we have parking at this site, which has made a big difference to a lot of customers.”


New lease of life for Hennings store Hennings may have called time on its

It’s a good middle ground for London or Brighton, it’s very peaceful, relaxed and easygoing. It’s a great place to live.”

branch at Goring, near Worthing, but former manager Damian Wingate has taken on the shop and is preparing to re-open next month. Wingate will be joined by Graham

Johnson and Roz Cloke and the new shop will be re-branded as Partners in Wine.

“Our Man with the Facts”

When Wingate first started working at

the store 20 years ago it was a Wine Rack. “I do say to people that I come with the lease,” Wingate says. “I love what I do, I

love the customers, I live locally and it’s great for me to be here.

“When this opportunity arose to take

over from Hennings, it seemed to be a

viable proposition. Matthew [Hennings] has been really good to me and when I

said we’d take it over ourselves he was delighted.”

Hennings will be the main supplier for

Stott and Warr, with son Vincent, in 2018

Urchin closes Margate branch Margate independent Urchin Wines has

the moment, which Wingate admits “gives

closed its doors after four years.

other suppliers in the future.

internet sales.

us a leg up and a good starting point,” but

The business, run by Orson Warr and

he is keen to explore new avenues with

Minnie-Mae Stott, is now concentrating on

in from Bulgaria and potentially from Japan

couple described the closure as a “hard

He says: “We’ve got some wines coming

and India too. We want to see how they go and what people think of them.

“The luxury that a shop like ours has

is that the majority of our customers are

very open, very willing to give something

a go and because I’ve known them so long and Graham has also known them for a couple of years, they are happy to take our recommendations and make new discoveries.

“The demographic is changing – I would

still say the majority is retirement age

with a disposable income. But there is a

younger group moving in from London and Brighton. Worthing is a thriving area as

far as restaurants and bars are concerned.

In an online message to customers, the

decision”.

The message continued: “What a

wonderful time we’ve had – learning and growing as a business with our loving

and loyal community supporting us. It has been our pleasure to pour you fantastic

wine made by people who care about the process of making it, dishing up food by an amazing range of talented chefs and

showcasing artwork by outstanding local artists – all the lovely components that made up the magic of Urchin Wines. “Sadly, Covid-19 means we’ll be

departing quietly. We had hoped to throw a big party in celebration and wave goodbye in style, but for now, this isn’t possible.”

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 5

• Vinho Verde in Portugal gets about 1500mm of rain in a normal year. That’s almost double what would be expected in Manchester, where the average annual precipitation is 810mm.

....... • More than 130,000 bottles of Penfolds wine have been brought along to the company’s recorking clinics which have taken place around the world since 1991. Members of the winemaking team open the bottle, assess the condition of the wine and top it up with wine of a similar age and quality.

....... • Global demand for wine in 2020 is expected to contract by between 15% and 30% in 2020, according to a report by the World Trade Organisation.

....... • Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first circumnavigation of the globe, is reported to have spent more on Sherry for the voyage than on weapons. He was killed in a battle in the Philippines in 1521.

...... • It seems likely that producers in Sauternes kept their methods secret until some time in the 18th century, preferring not to let clients know their wine was made with rotted grapes.


Arch life will suit Hoults just fine Hoults is relocating from its current home on a Huddersfield retail park to a nearby railway arch. It’s an environment that will suit owner

Rob Hoult well, and not just because of the significant reduction in his rent bill: the

company once had a branch in the Leeds arch now occupied by Latitude Wine.

But the move spells the end of the wine

bar created on his current site last year, which Hoult was determined to keep

entirely separate from the retail area.

“If there’s one thing this pandemic has

proved it’s that wine shops are a good thing,” says Hoult. “Retail is the most

Hoults once had a branch in the Leeds railway arch now occupied by Latitude Wine

important element of our business, and

a no-brainer in that way.”

very busy retail business, having tables and

to one that’s a third the size was prompted

and more visibility and so it’s all positive,”

more stock we need, the less space we’ve

always has been for me.”

The move from a 3,000 square foot site

by the closure of near neighbours including Laura Ashley and The Bath Store, and

fruitless negotiations with the landlord. “We sat down with the landlord in

January to discuss it and they didn’t come

back with an offer at any point,” Hoult says. “I said, we’ll have been here for 12 years

when the lease expires in August; I’ve given you over half a million pounds in rent over that period and I haven’t got a bean to show for it. Lesson learned.

“By moving we save £40,000 per year. It’s

The new site is only 60 metres from the

current store. “There is more frontage

Hoult says. “It’s just that when you move from a larger site to a smaller site it can look more perilous than it really is.

“The warehouse model is a dead duck

for wine – for anything these days, really. People want a shop and that’s why we restructured some years ago.

“Everyone wanted bigger and better –

‘more square feet equals more sales’ – but that mantra is dead in the water now.

Nobody thinks that way. IKEA want high-

street stores – the bigger site comes with

increased costs. It’s not the way that people look at things these days.

“We’ll put in the range we’ve got now

and, moving forward, we’ll actually expand it slightly. With the smaller cost base, we have more agility in that sense.

“As and when – and I think it won’t be

until next year – we’ll carry on doing things like winemaker evenings with wine and Hoult: “The warehouse model is a dead duck”

food, and we might look at some pop-up environment for the bar. But I don’t see

that we can sensibly fit in with what is a

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 6

chairs in amongst the wines.

“The more successful the shop is, the

got, and that’s what we envisage.

“We could move tables and chairs in for

an evening for a specific event, so there are elements of a wine bar that we bring back into it.

“In January we might look for a site

nearer the town centre to put the wine bar in. We always had that intention originally, but then we thought we’d make use of the space we had.

“The lease here expires on August 6, so

we have such a short window of time, and we are very busy as a business right now anyway. But it will get done, it will work.

“We’ll get a business in that railway arch

for the beginning of August that looks good but might not be how we’d do it if we were doing it from scratch. We might close for a couple of weeks in February and re-do it properly, but we’ll see.”

Are there any drawbacks to running a

wine merchant in an arch? Hoult can think of one: “It was a nightmare to try and get

long wave when Test Match Special was on.”


Aitken thinks big with new store

and home deliveries. Rohde says he’s not

Aitken Wines in Dundee is on the move

rules presents different concerns. He says:

Great Western Wine, the bath-based

not really viable unless I offer something

Wine Co.

working to 20% or 30% capacity and the

focused exclusively on business-to-

to a bigger premises, and owner Patrick Rohde is taking the opportunity to install tap wines and increase the deli offering. “We will have three taps and see how it

goes,” explains Rohde. “Our focus will be on the sustainable/biodynamic and organic

wines. We’ve been talking to Graft and the

kit itself is from Lindr. We’re still exploring the vessels as I think they have to be

marked with weights and measures.” So are the people of Dundee ready

to embrace the bring-your-own-bottle concept?

“There aren’t many places in Scotland

that do it and I think our clientele can be

planning on re-opening to the public until he is safely ensconced in the new shop.

The running of the wine bar under new

“I’m not rushing to be the first open. The

Still great, but no longer western merchant started by Philip Addis in

external area is weather dependent and

1983, has been rebranded as The Great

the bar and some takeaway coffee. We’ll be

Enotria&Coe in 2010, when it became

else. I think I will offer some off-sales from two-metre rule is really prohibitive.”

Despite current trading restrictions,

Rohde is upbeat about his imminent move, positive about the future and already

thinking ahead to a special anniversary.

“This new place will be up and running

and in good shape for our 150th birthday in 2024,” he says.

The company was sold to current owner

consumer sales.

Director Richard Weaver says: “This

has been an extraordinary period of

transformation for us, not only the launch of a new identity for The Great Wine Co but also in how the whole business has adapted to a surge in sales online and

thrived under difficult circumstances.”

guided down that route,” Rohde says.

“People are appreciating all the good

stuff about sustainability more and more and this is just a natural evolution of it.

There’s also an element of fun – it all adds a bit of theatre.”

Rohde anticipates opening the new 250

square foot premises in August. “It’s a bit

of an empty space right now,” he says. “I’m having some nice bespoke shelving units

fabricated right now – it’s going to have the usual chic industrial look.”

The shop will be strictly retail and

wholesale, though Rohde admits he

would “love a little area in the corner”

where people can have some cheese and charcuterie and a glass.

“Dundee council aren’t allowing that for

the time being, but watch this space,” he

Bedford hybrid indie stops trading

says. “I’ve got the wine bar anyway, so the

The Blue Glass in Bedford’s future looks uncertain following the resignation of

give people another reason to come in and

included space for a wine bar. The company’s website confirms the company is no

pressure is not really on to that extent. But

owner John Barnes as a director.

enjoy the space.”

longer accepting orders for delivery and that the shop is closed “for the time being”,

it would be nice to at least serve coffee and During lockdown Aitken Wines has

been “ticking over” with click-and-collect

The business relocated to larger premises in St Peter’s Street last year, which

adding “there is exciting news coming up”.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 7


Lining is more orange than silver Hackney is now home to a new wine bar and shop, exclusively for orange wines. Silver Lining was previously a restaurant

with its own cocktail bar, Every Cloud, situated next door, but lockdown has meant a change of direction for the business.

Managing director Sarah Maddox

explains: “We decided early on that we

were going to shut down and brace the

impact rather than think on our feet, and

we’ve really appreciated that time to step back and work out what it was that we really wanted to do.”

So, earlier this month Silver Lining

Hackney restaurant has reopened as a shop with a very specific specialism

relaunched as a shop retailing more than

able to talk about the wine and the food at

skin-contact wines,” and for the past year

“By waiting it out and making coffee and

30 varieties of orange wine. Maddox

says she is “passionate about orange and Silver Lining had been hosting Orange

Wednesdays, a weekly promotion of orange wines with food pairing and visiting reps.

“Hackney has a very foodie atmosphere

and we are surrounded by great

the table with guests doesn’t work for us,” she adds.

pastries to go, and offering the wine as

well, soon enough we’ll be able to return with the good food and wine pairings.”

Parish counsels caution for now The new owners of In Vino Veritas in Walthamstow have used recent months to “re-evaluate and re-brand,” and now Parish Wines has tentatively opened its doors on to our slightly less locked-

restaurants and bars offering a range

down world.

with our offering,” she says.

completed the refurbishments to the rear

Marketing and events manager Jack

natural wines, so it’s nice not to be so much in competition with them and stand alone

Sellen explains that while they have almost

independent suppliers and reaching out

the sit-down bar service, when it comes to

of the building, which will accommodate

“We love working with small

fully reopening they are “preferring to be

to new, interesting winemakers and I’m

cautious.”

definitely looking forward to working

He says: “For everyone’s sake we are

with more people in the future. We’ve got

taking it step by step, closely monitoring

wines from all over the world though sadly

how things are going nationally and will

nothing from the UK at the moment, but

make a prudent decision.

only because they’ve only been sold out

“Commercially we are still pushing very

through their suppliers.”

hard on the retail. We will be relaunching

Once operating restrictions are relaxed

our monthly wine boxes with a broadened

and the business can once more welcome

range and we’re launching a Parish Wines

guests to the bar, the retail element will remain.

“A lot of the magic of our restaurant is

the attention to detail and for us not to be

app, which people can use to order and Parish Wines “is not going full hipster”

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 8

collect loyalty points. We’ll be offering free

local delivery and click-and-collect as well.”


There has been practical support from

the local council for Parish Wines and its

neighbouring businesses too. “They have suspended parking in Orford Road for a

month to allow businesses to put tables

and chairs in the parking bays,” says Sellen. “I suspect that it will extend beyond the

trial for the next year.”

Customers will also be able to enjoy a

new range of wines. “We’re not going full hipster on our wines,” Sellen says, “but

we are including more natural wines and wines from smaller makers.

“We’ve got an orange wine [Slobodne]

that sells really well. It’s got a great story behind it – it’s made by two Slovakian sisters who have an incredible family history.”

All’s well in Wells as Santé relocates Santé Wines has relocated and opened a

one or two bottles and then while they are there they say ‘I’ll have a case of this and a case of that – can you deliver?’”

Used to working on his own, Schroetter

is pleased that his son has now joined the business full-time, along with Agabani’s

Lewis & Cooper closes Yarm shop Lewis & Cooper has closed its branch in Yarm, North Yorkshire, which it opened

son and daughter, so it’s become a growing

in 2009.

years slowed down on importing, that too

Northallerton, which is about 14 miles to

family enterprise.

The food and wine business is

Although he admits he had in recent

focusing its efforts on its main store in

“Since lockdown when I got busier and

difficult decision”.

has changed.

busier, I started importing again and that’s given it a boost as well because people are

always looking for something new. I’ve got seven new vineyards that are exclusive to us, so it’s good.

“I still sell a lot of French wine – I’m

the south. The company said it had been “a

Customers at the Yarm store were able to

buy all goods at a 10% discount as part of the closing-down sale.

• Bacco, the Edinburgh wine shop and bar, has gone on the market, according to local

French, there’s always going to be a lot of

media reports. The lease of the Dundas

I’ve got some beautiful stuff from Armenia.”

for £15,000.

French wine – but I have expanded and I’ve got a lot from Italy and Spain and Armenia.

Street store, which was established in 2013 by Italian-born Valerio Lo Coco, is available

wine bar and shop in the tiny Somerset city of Wells. The premises is in a Grade II listed

building, part of the historic Bishop’s Eye

Gateway. There are two floors and outside seating, enough room for 30 covers.

Owner David Schroetter has formed a

partnership with local businessman Louis Agabani for this new venture.

Schroetter says: “I’d been in my shop for

12 years and I needed a bit of a renaissance as they say, so it was perfect – the feedback has been amazing. It’s a huge project and it would have been too big to do on my own.” Schroetter admits that in March he

thought perhaps the pandemic would

mean the end of trading and he would lose his business. “But,” he says, “within 72

hours my phone didn’t stop. The minute I

closed my shop and just did deliveries, my turnover went up 40%.

“I’ll have to continue with deliveries.

Customers still come into the shop and buy

David Schroetter: renaissance man

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 9


THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 10


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14. Darren “Spence” Bullock … and I’m not exaggerating, right, but for two days I could hardly get me head off the pillow … I was sweating, felt sick, couldn’t eat nothing … worst hangover of me life. And the only thing it could have been, right, because I’m always drinking Stella, no problem at all, would have been that red wine the wife picked up from here … I’m not blaming you, mate, not blaming you at all, you weren’t to know … screaming headache I had, obviously some sort of reaction. But the weird thing is, the wine didn’t taste too bad at the time, quite smooth, had a few glasses, Stella was all finished so I opened a second bottle … happy days. But then the next morning – pneumatic drill in me head and the sheets were drenched … anyway my mate’s uncle knows a doctor and he said straight away that the problem is sulphuric acid, which apparently they’re allowed to add to red wine … I don’t know if you knew that … but that’s what gives the hangover, ya see … plus some sort of tanning that they put in, as a preservative or maybe to get more colour … whatever it is, it don’t agree with me, so I’m back on the Stellas with a Baileys chaser …

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ANAGRAM TIME Can you unscramble the names of the following wine importers? If so, you win an old-style 50p piece.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 11

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Rising Stars

F

Magda Sienkiewicz The Vinorium, Kent

irst impressions really do count for Stuart McCloskey, owner of The Vinorium. The fact that a young woman had “the balls” to turn up with her CV earned his respect from the get-go. “I didn’t actually have a job for her,” explains Stuart, “but I liked that level of enthusiasm and courage. I think if someone has character to handdeliver their CV you should give them an opportunity. “So for the first three years the position she held was a fairly loose admin role, but the thing with Magda is that she gets stuck in and works bloody hard. She never, ever moans. She showed real flair with wine, so I took her under my wing and she became a part of the sales side of the company. “In the first year, she absolutely smashed it. She’s phenomenal, a relentless hard worker. Now she looks after not far off 3,000 private customers throughout the whole of Europe. I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and I would say she is pretty much the best person I’ve ever worked with. She’s on target to be sales director next year. She’ll be a big part of our new HQ build and the development of our new vineyard. She’s outstanding. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a few more years she actually takes control of the whole company – that’s pretty much Magda in a nutshell.”

High praise indeed for the 28-year-old who says it was her original visit to the Vinorium shop just five years ago that prompted her to ask for a job. “Everything about food and wine has always fascinated me, and then walking into the Vinorium shop, was just wow!” Magda says. “I was bowled over with the whole concept. There was no snobbery, they were very welcoming and immediately offered to walk us through the wines and everything I tasted was amazing. It made me realise I could actually work in this industry and get involved.” Magda left Poland for the UK before completing her business degree when she acquired a lot of skills that prepared her for her career. “Anything to do with analysis, operations or statistics, that background really helped me,” she says. “There’s not a single part of my job that I don’t enjoy. From looking for wines and making the first contact with the producer – the whole buying part and those responsibilities are pretty exciting, to writing about the wines in an article for our private clients. I feel like I’m a link between the producers themselves and the private customers. I never have difficulty in approaching people and talking wine – it’s one of the subjects that connects people.”

Magda wins a bottle of Pol Roger Brut 2012 If you’d like to nominate a Rising Star, email claire@winemerchantmag.com

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 12


TRIED & TESTED

Château Belles Eaux Les Coteaux Rouge 2017

Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir 2016

Syrah dominates this sumptious Languedoc blend,

Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where sommelier Raj

undertones and spicy highlights. A wine to convince a

and it’s no surprise that their wine does too. It emerges

Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman created this

contributing a comforting Play-Doh note to a wine

biodynamic joint venture, has similarities to Burgundy –

that’s brimming with deep black fruit flavours, earthy £9 spender that sometimes it really is worth forking

out just a little bit more – and which demonstrates why the Languedoc still gets pulses racing. RRP: £12

ABV: 14.5%

from 16 months in new French oak mouthwatering and spicy, with a juicy intensity and a distant truffly note. RRP: £39

ABV: 13.5%

Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391)

Famille Helfrich (07789 008540)

indigowine.com

Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir 2016

Domaines Auriol Reserve Champ des Nummus 2017

Almost half of the fruit here is whole-bunch fermented,

Made by a family business in the heart of the

There’s a real tang on the palate, and the gentlest

things simple, as well as how oak can be Chardonnay’s

which seems to add a savoury edge to a powerful,

concentrated wine full of ripe black cherry flavours. of stings, before the earthier notes round things off. Martinborough on its finest form. RRP: £65

ABV: 14%

Bibendum (0845 263 6924)

Languedoc, now one of the area’s largest producers of organic wines, this is an object lesson in keeping

best friend. Floral, spicy and buttery, it’s beautifully weighted and perfect for summer evenings. RRP: £15

ABV: 13.5%

Buckingham Schenk (01753 219782)

bibendum-wine.co.uk

buckingham-schenk.co.uk

Roebuck Estates Blanc de Noirs 2015

Ecker-Eckhof Weissburgunder Schlossberg 2019

English fizz is famed for its bracing acidity but this is

Bernhard Ecker’s family have been making wines in

Petworth, Sussex, and were clearly in superb nick

present here. There’s plenty of ripe fruit, almost

all about richness and warmth, even though dosage is pegged at just 5g/l. The grapes come from near

before a partial fermentation in French oak. Elegant strawberry notes and a full, generous back palate. RRP: £45

ABV: 12%

Roebuck Estates (01798 263123)

Wagram for four centuries. He blends grapes from 30

plots, aiming for a purity and intensity that’s certainly tropical in fact, but also a good squeeze of refreshing grapefruit and an appealing wet-stone character. RRP: £15.99

ABV: 13%

Vindependents (020 3488 4548)

roebuckestates.co.uk

vindependents.co.uk

Domaine Andre Lorentz Grand Cru Kirchberg Riesling 2016

Casa lo Alto Rocha Candeal 2017

Riesling can be many things, but it’s rarely more

These Garnacha vines were planted in 1980, in an

linguine that we forced it to get acquainted with. The

fruit is fermented with wild yeast and ages on lees for

pleasing than when it’s built like this: all wet pebbles and fizzing electrics, and the perfect foil for the crab

fruit comes from vines with south eastern exposure,

so there’s a plushness on the palate as well as a flinty, citrus jolt.

RRP: £17.50

ABV: 12.5%

Famille Helfrich (07789 008540)

estate in Utiel-Requena, near Valencia, that dates back to 1796. A mixture of whole-bunch and destemmed 10 months, emerging with friendly tannins, fig and red fruit flavours and a black-pepper seasoning. RRP: £19

ABV: 15%

Buckingham Schenk (01753 219782) buckingham-schenk.co.uk

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 13


INDEPENDENT VOICES: JON CAMPBELL

Let’s respect each other’s

Jon Campbell of DeFine Food & Wine in Sandiway, Cheshire, argues there are sound reasons why ind local markets rather than go in search of customers who could be buying from merchants in their ow

I

suspect I’m not alone, in the midst of this dystopian reality we’ve all been going through, to contemplate and

crave a brighter future.

Like many other indies, we’ve actually

done pretty well during lockdown, with the hole left by our restaurant and the

wholesale side of our business patched

up by a lockdown-fuelled retail boom. But it’s been bloody horrible, stressful and exhausting with the underlying worry of facing a grim, lonely demise. Not to mention Covid!

Alongside other knee-jerk reactions

when it all first kicked off was the rush

to launch an online shop on our website – something I’d kept stubbornly on the back burner for a number of years. We

restricted our online offering to around

100 lines, partly to make it manageable, but mostly because I still believe that a

visit to a quality indie wine merchant – to mooch, to chat, to taste – should be the

Inside DeFine Food & Wine, refurbed in 2016

pinnacle of wine shopping, not scrolling

loyalists in all parts of the country, we

experience, trying to offer this whilst

offers, and off it went, from 0-60 orders on

customers to support local businesses

the use of expensive protective packaging

down a website page. We stuck up a decent representative range with a few headline Day 1.

W

e decided to offer free

delivery within Cheshire for orders over £100.

Orders to other parts of the country: an uncompetitive £9.95. I was tempted to

charge £25 to underline the point I’m about to make, but with friends and displaced

didn’t want to take the “pesh”.

I’ve spent two decades imploring

and, buoyed by a resurgence of customers doing just that, I felt it would be grossly

hypocritical to encourage customers on the south coast, with a decent indie on

their doorstep, to order from some bloke in Cheshire. Shop local, but only if you’re local to me. Nice.

We take great pride in delivering a

decent, personal level of service. In our

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 14

incurring the cost and wrath of the courier network isn’t consistently possible, with the only way of avoiding all those uninsurable breakages.

In addition to the environmental cost of

the additional food miles and the use of yet

more cardboard, the polystyrene packaging then becomes a burden for the customer

to dispose of. We deliver all orders within Cheshire using our own vehicles (at the

peak, even in my daughter’s car, with her


s boundaries

dies should focus on their wn part of the country

delivering instead of preparing for her

to make a sufficient margin to sustain a

next-day delivery service. We aim to fulfil

merchant: sourcing bloody good wines of

A-levels!).

We also moved away from promising a

orders within three working days, mindful of reducing our carbon footprint (and

fuel/wage cost) by grouping deliveries to different corners of Cheshire.

All of our Cheshire orders are re-packed

into the cardboard boxes the wines come to us in, which we formerly flattened and

recycled. With many people working from home, delivering was much less troubled than normal, but we made efforts to

make sure we noted how to find difficult addresses, and where customers were

happy for their wines to be left if they were back at work.

A

s I’m sure many of you

discovered, much of this was in vain, as volumes have dropped

off significantly since the usual channels (Majestic/Naked/Laithwaites/Wine

Society/supermarkets) returned to normal. Encouragingly, though, many converts have seen the light and have continued to order regularly.

As I see it, this is the role of an indie:

to grow organically, to spread our reach through quality, integrity, personality and service. I was one of the founder

members of the Vindependents, which

evolved out of a need for indies to have

better control over where the wines we

supported were distributed. To enable us

healthy business, whilst remaining true

to the fundamental goal of an indie wine character.

Avoiding the temptation to price-fix,

an underlying agreement in becoming a member is just “don’t be a dick” by discounting wines online, and

cannibalising sales from a brother/sister

merchant who created the demand for that wine in the first place.

I’m sure the few of you that have made it

this far will consider me a naïve northern numpty, but if we can’t dream now, when can we? Imagine an indie scene where

we all respected each other’s boundaries, promoted our sector together, stood

shoulder to shoulder in defiance of those “cake and eat it” importers who happily flog their wares to The Wine Society or Costco, approach our trade accounts,

or sell to the usual online discounters.

(This grievance also applies to wineries who happily supply wines to duty-free loop-holists such as Winebuyers and

Vinissimus). With a united front we can let them all eat cake.

I’m not claiming for one minute that

our struggle is on a similar plane, but

the BLM and Me Too movements have

shown the power of solidarity, and how positive change can happen when good

people come together. If not, the inevitable conclusion is that our indie battle will be reduced to margin warfare.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 15

To retire, or not to retire? That is the question Anthony Borges is putting The Wine Centre in Great Horkesley, Essex, up for sale After 21 years of trading, we have decided to put The Wine Centre on the market. It’s been a tough call, and one we have pondered for a year or so. What tipped us in the end was the thought it could take years to sell. A restaurateur we know has had her restaurant on the market eight years. A friend of ours has been trying for three. We are no spring chickens anymore, and we count our lives by the number of Christmases we have in us. By my reckoning that’s three, max! I’ll be 62. Another tipping point has been Covid: catalyst for change. We have witnessed many people talking about lifestyle change in the past months, and the idea of retirement finally hit home after an exhausting day. And yet, having decided, absolutely, it’s a funny thing but I am already starting to wobble a bit. Will I be bored? Round here I’m someone; will I turn into a nobody? I had always thought the part-time option would suit me. I even tried it, for a while, taking on an understudy (a young wine diploma graduate, poached from Majestic). It did not work out from his point of view, unfortunately, but even so I had quickly realised I can’t help myself: I am drawn to the business. Living next door, as I do, work is vocational. Customers, suppliers, and staff are more like friends; always have been. It’s partly the nature of small business, but also the nature of our business, our industry. It’s bloody hard work sometimes, but fun, and sociable. Will I miss it? Yes. Will I miss the people? A resounding yes. Am I still going to make the break now? I am, or as soon as I can. It’s time for change. Time someone new takes The Wine Centre to its next level. • Details available from Christie & Co.


Countering Covid-19 in style WBC is offering acrylic counter guards in two sizes to help retailers protect customers and staff from potential Covid-19 infection. These lightweight guards are provided flatpacked for easy storage and cleaning but are simple to assemble in a few seconds. Each guard has a cutout window at the base for passing through products and payments, keeping employees and clients safe without being an inconvenience. The guards are 75cm tall and have a width of either 50cm or 75cm. The smaller model is priced £45 plus VAT and the larger version at £55 plus VAT. Full details are available at www.wbc.co.uk.

Sensible solution for minimising Zoom waste Sensible Wine Services has partnered with Borough Wines to offer its clients a re-bottling service for sending out samples for virtual tastings, masterclasses and product launches. Wines are transferred into 100ml bottles or tubes in an oxygen-free environment, and sealed with a screwcap to ensure they remain in perfect condition for several weeks,

Just add wine, and a little argon gas

then labelled with the required product

Another company specialising in small-format bottles for Zoom-type tastings is

information.

Bruni Erben.

Karl Franz of Sensible explains: “Since lockdown and the cancellation of so

Through its website, TheBottleJarStore.co.uk, independent merchants can source a range of bottles to make online events more efficient.

many wine trade events, we have been

“We’d recommend our beautiful 100ml Nocturne bottle,” says the company’s

researching the best way to offer a new

Mark Crumpton, “which is strong and sturdy to avoid any accidental knocks, has a

service to our customers.

classic wine type shape, and is available in cork-mouth or screw-top finish. It holds

“We didn’t want to simply decant wines into small bottles, as this can affect the

a 75ml sample of wine comfortably, which is a good amount for a sample.” The minimum order quantity is a single bottle, with the Nocturne 100ml screw-

quality and severely limits the time

top bottle starting at £1.82 per unit, going down to £1.37 with purchases of 200 or

frame in which samples must be tasted.

more.

We know just how important it is for a

“You need to use a Coravin or

winemaker to have their wine sampled

similar that extracts the wine from the

in exactly the same condition as when it

bottle and replaces it with argon gas,”

went into the bottle at the winery.”

advises Crumpton.

Each sample is tested by a technician

“You should also fill the argon gas

for condition and stability at Borough

into the bottle – argon is heavier than

Wines’ bottling and kegging facility in

air and will displace the oxygen in the

Greenwich, before being rebottled under

bottle then you can pour the sample in

nitrogen.

and keep a argon blanket on the top of

More information can be found at www.sensiblewine.com.

the wine then cork and close the bottle, keeping oxygen ingress to a minimum.”

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 16


DIGITAL MASTERCLASS

Win an £800 meal for your team with an Aster promotion

Grape to Grain, Prestwich zoom tastings bring in a new audience, from manchester to malawi

Like many retailers, Grape to Grain took to the Zoom airwaves for weekly online customer tastings during lockdown, but their success led it to take things a step further to offer private online tastings too. Three packages – Fun & Funky, Smooth & Sexy and Epic & Elegant – are now offered at £25, £35 or £50 a head with steadily-more premium sets of three 125ml wine and cheese samples dispatched to each participant. Prices come down the more people take part – from a minimum of six up to a maximum of 200.

Armit Wines is helping indies promote its famous Ribera del Duero wine Aster with digital activity. We’ll be offering ideas and suggestions over the coming months, and there’s an £800 prize for the most imaginative campaign, to be spent at a Spanish restaurant. To participate, simply plan any kind of digital campaign promoting Aster Crianza (and Finca el Otero if you like). Email Alex Hill at Armit Wines (ahill@armitwines.co.uk) or contact your Armit rep to receive the digital assets you need: logos, images and technical information.

The mission To raise the business’s profile and drive new revenue streams and geographic reach through lockdown by enabling friends and family in different parts of the to have a social gathering while enjoying some top quality wines. The offer supplements the two stores’ weekend live online tastings for which customers in the Greater Manchester area can have a choice of sample sizes, carafes or full bottles delivered. The impact Co-owner Tom Sneesby says: “We did four private tastings last week and we’ve got three more coming up. We’ve reached people in Glasgow, London, rural Wales and Jersey. “We’ve just sent a bottle to someone who’s going to send it on to Malawi for their best friend to join in there. We’ll definitely carry on doing them. It’s changed our business model completely; it’s been revelatory for us. “It’s great for people to do with friends around the country, or for people who can’t get out or don’t want the full expense of going out with taxis to get home, or those who don’t want to just sit at home at the weekend and watch Netflix. They’ve become a focal point for many people’s weekends.”

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 17

SP E C IA L OFFER *FREE*

bottle with ever y 12-bottle case of Aster Crianza


BITS & BOBS

Magpie

Wine trade lacks ethnic diversity The UK wine trade has “significant”

innovation” for the category since the

problems with ethnic diversity and

glass bottle.

discrimination in the workplace, according to a new report. A survey of 667 people working in the

UK wine trade found that less than 15% of professionals come from a black or ethnic minority background.

gerard richardson richardsons of whitehaven Favourite wine on my list It’s got to be the Méthode Ancienne Cabernet Sauvignon from Springfield in South Africa. It’s thirty-odd quid but I believe it’s up there with the best in the world. Not only that, but it still comes in wooden boxes of six and like all wine lovers, that floats my boat. Favourite wine and food match I was never really that focused on food pairings until I had a glass of Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough with a fresh crab salad. The combination was electrifying, and it sent far more interesting signals to my brain than any red wine and a sirloin steak ever have.

The Diversity in Wine survey, which

was created by Gus Gluck, co-founder

Quality Wines in London, wine writer

Jancis Robinson and Magnavai Janjo, senior

Favourite wine shop Easy again, it’s got to be Berry Bros. As a retailer, I’d give a kidney for their history and best of all, it’s just down the road from Fortnum & Mason, so there’s quality cheese within minutes of picking a classic bottle.

recycled paperboard, with a food-

grade liner to hold the liquid. It can be

refrigerated and keeps the liquid cooler for longer, said the company.

The bottle, at 83g, is up to five times

lighter than a normal glass bottle. Its

carbon footprint is said to be 84% lower. Food Manufacture, July 6

account manager at Roberson Wines, found that many people are dissatisfied with

the wine trade’s established “white male” dominance.

Over 86% respondents identified as

white, but the results show that this figure could be higher. Close to half (45%) of

those who answered said their workplace has just one or no colleagues from a black or ethnic minority background. The Drinks Business, July 8

Botanicals give the drinks their flavour

Alcohol-free ‘spirit’ will sell for £12

Favourite wine trip Last October to the Napa Valley. Partly because it was just before the world changed but also just because the whole area is stunning. The only part of the trip we didn’t really enjoy was the famous wine train. With all the noise, it was like being water boarded. Favourite wine trade person Easy, Oz Clarke. We’ve known each other for years and I never tire of his humour, not to mention his wine knowledge, which is incredible.

The 75cl bottle is made from 94%

The creators of a new non-alcoholic “spirit” that has been trialled in the UK are out to challenge the premium pricing in the alcohol-free category.

Made of paperboard, with a food-grade liner

Recycled bottle is five times lighter Packaging manufacturer Frugalpac has launched a recycled wine and spirits bottle, which it calls “the biggest

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 18

KVÎST claims to be the first non-alcoholic

distilled spirit which is “both premium and accessible in terms of price point”.

It was created by The Bloomsbury Club,

and is a blend of eight botanicals: juniper; silver birch; cascarilla bark; gentian;

rhubarb root; orange peel; cardamom;

and pimento. A spirit is distilled before blending with the botanicals, and the alcohol is then removed.


There are currently two variants: KVÎST

?

THE BURNING QUESTION

Classica, which leads with juniper and citrus notes; and KVÎST Rosa, which is

Will you manage to get away for a holiday this year?

infused with herb and spice bitters.

Holidays and concerts and all sorts of stuff have been scuppered. To be honest I don’t really want to go anywhere, or go on a plane and do anything like that. I’ve got a friend who’s got a place in Whitby, so I might get there but it depends what the rest of the family wants to do. I think this year is written off! I don’t think I’ll be able to step away from the business at the moment anyway so holiday plans aren’t really on my radar.

Both have an RRP of between £12 and

£14 (70cl).

The Drinks Business, July 8

Pros want wine tastings to return

Louise Smith The Jug & Bottle, Bubwith

A survey by a number of PR agencies, generic bodies and wine logistics companies has found that industry professionals are keen for wine tastings to return. Although respondents are in favour of

continuing to attend tastings, the research found that hygiene and safety were their major concerns, with 85.5% saying that

they would attend a tasting if organisers

It was my first wedding anniversary in June and my husband and I had planned to go away for a week, but instead we went walking in the south west coast – it wasn’t quite the break in Cornwall that we had planned. The next thing we have planned is for November and hopefully by then there will be some semblance of normality. My husband is a pilot and his experience is that people are being fairly relaxed about face masks – as soon as they’re on board, the masks come off.

Polly Gibson Grapesmith, Hungerford

provided adequate safety measures. Imbibe, July 10

It’s difficult for us because both Terry and I run the shop and we don’t have staff, so as and when we take a holiday we rely on a good friend of ours who covers for us. But he is a retired gentleman and he is having to look after his health at the moment. So this year we’re both independently taking the kids off to see different sets of relatives. I’ll be in Cornwall with my sister and then Terry has some pals coming down who will camp with their kids and our kids. It’s been lovely here and it looks like holiday season already!

Wine Fairies help spread some joy Mysterious groups of do-gooders known as “Wine Fairies” have been leaving

booze and treats on people’s doorsteps. The first Sisterhood of the Travelling

Wine Facebook group was founded by a mum who wanted to spread joy by

leaving bottles of wine on the doorsteps of strangers, friends, and neighbours.

Hundreds of “Wine Fairy” Facebook

groups with as many as 78,000 members have now appeared across the USA.

The fairies collect the addresses of wine

lovers in their communities and ask which varieties of wine they would prefer to

receive. The members – dressed in wings, tutus, and magic wands – then tiptoe to people’s doors, place their gifts on the

stoops, ring the bells, and run for cover.

Nichola Roe Wine Therapy, Cowes

I won’t be taking a holiday this year but that’s because we’re looking at taking over the running of a deli about 25 miles away, and if it does happen, I can’t just then close for a couple of weeks and go away. If I had the option of a holiday, I’d be happy to fly because I don’t feel there is a huge risk to my personal health, but even if I got to Italy, for example, I don’t think we’d be able to walk around the streets and visit restaurants and nice bars, and that to me is what a holiday is.

Sam Howard, HarperWells, Norwich

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584

Good News Network, July 8

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 19


ight ideas r b

13: Get on your (cargo) bike

. T H E D R AY M A N .

Jana Postulkova Forest Wines, Walthamstow

Sign up for the IPL

B

rewers are typically quick to grasp a trend and milk it for all its worth. India Pale Lager has

seen a more cautious approach since it first emerged from the collective craft brewing lab a dozen or so years ago. On the face of it, the concept is simple: a beer that combines the best of the popular lager and IPA styles through a marriage of cold fermentation using a clean lager yeast with a more powerful ale hop character. The idea is to deliver both a clean, lager-like crispness and the complexity associated with IPA. Manchester brewer Shindigger’s citrussy, American hop-led IPL is a fine expression of the theory brought to life. Popular craft brewers such as Marble, Cloudwater and Northern Monk have all dabbled with the hybrid style in limited editions and Camden Town has explored it too in short-run collaborations with both Beavertown and Wicked Weed. But IPL remains stubbornly more niche than the promise that its two parent styles seems to offer. It’s more of a “thing” in the US, but then everything is – and, even there, producers seem keen to hedge their bets with descriptions like Stone Brewing’s “lager for IPA lovers” on Tropic of Thunder rather than going all out with the IPL name. It’s hard to imagine that the clash of initials with the world’s most commercial cricket format is a barrier, so perhaps it’s just a conflation too far for beer fans who tend, more often than not, to fall into one of two camps: ale drinkers or lager drinkers. Matters aren’t helped by the reality

In a nutshell … Reduce your carbon footprint by making deliveries by cargo bike, but you might want to make sure you get one with an electric motor. How long have you been employing pedal power for deliveries? “We started bike deliveries in the borough in 2014 shortly after the business opened and long before it became trendy, so we have been on the road for the last six years using a range of trailers and bikes. “We are keen to keep things aligned with the green ethos of our business, and when our online orders and local demand increased during lockdown, a large capacity bike, with a help of an electric engine, fitted the bill perfectly.”

What sort of capacity does the electric battery have? “We generally do deliveries in east London so in terms of battery life I don’t think I could take it down to Brighton. But we comfortably do 60 to 70 drops on the busiest day on a single charge, so it’s quite a powerful machine. We currently operate a free next-day delivery service in E17 and E10 postcodes, seven days a week, and we travel farther out on weekly deliveries in east London.” Has it been easier having to cope with less traffic during lockdown? “The local authority encourages cycling. We were one of the first test areas for making cities greener and communities healthier, so the local residential streets are closed off for traffic. For us it’s much easier to navigate by bike than to use a vehicle.” It’s all very well in the sunshine, but will you power through the wet and cold? “Absolutely! We have a rain cover, so the cardboard boxes and the goods don’t get wet. You wear a raincoat and you can get dry at the end of the day. There are days when you don’t want to be cycling to Hampstead Heath, but the local deliveries will be always be done on the bike.”

We’re in awe of you. What’s the reaction been from your customers? “People are very happy when you turn up with wine anyway, but when we deliver a bit farther afield people are quite shocked we get to them on a bike. It’s a good promotional vehicle for us because we definitely stand out from the crowd. Our local customers have named the bike the Forest Flyer.”

that, far from the mainstream perception, lagers can be deliciously hoppy anyway. Try telling the Czech brewers of Budvar or Pilsner Urquell that their beers lack hop character. And as the US-led IPA trend gravitates back to dialled-down hops and cleaner flavours anyway, the mongrel concept of IPL just blurs further into already out-of-focus boundaries.

Jana wins a WBC gift box containing a some premium drinks and a box of chocolates. Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for your business and you too could win a gift box. Email claire@winemerchantmag.com

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 20


Perfection in Paso Robles

N

obody could accuse the Daou brothers of lacking ambition.

“We will stop at nothing less than

producing the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon,” declares Georges Daou. “We view our quest as a sacred trust.”

Georges and his brother Daniel were

born in Lebanon, but fled to France with their family during the civil war, where

their love of wine began. They came to

hill they now call DAOU Mountain: 14 miles

careers in the tech industry before their

Bordeaux’s Right Bank.

California to study mathematics and engineering and pursued successful thoughts returned to viticulture.

For many years the brothers set forth,

searching across the globe for the terroir

to make their dream a reality. They found it in the Adelaida district of Paso Robles, on a

from the Pacific, and 2,200 feet above sea

level, with calcareous clay soils that evoke “We have challenged ourselves to

produce wines that will rival the greatest,” says Daniel, who assumes winemaking duties.

“There is no question that we have

the terroir. Success will come through

reverence for this land – the idea is that

we are not ‘making’ something from it, but rather mirroring all that is already there.” There are four tiers to the DAOU range.

The Estate Collection is seen as the

company’s first-growth equivalent, with

wines from the mountain’s finest vineyard blocks.

The Reserve Collection wines are made

from premium fruit sourced from the

mountain as well as select Paso Robles AVA vineyards.The Discovery Collection wines are hand-harvested from standout local vineyards.

The Pessimist is “wine made to rattle

Daniel and Georges’ love of wine began in France and continued in their adopted California

the status quo and deliver unprecedented quality in the world of approachable

blends”. Again the fruit comes from leading vineyards in Paso Robles.

Critics have been impressed by DAOU’s

oeuvre, notably Wine Advocate critic Jeb

Dunnuck, who pitted five of Napa’s most iconic wineries against DAOU in a blind tasting. “All three DAOU wines showed beautifully,” he wrote, with the 2013

Patrimony described as “the finest 100% Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve tasted from Paso Robles.”

Over the past

decade, DAOU wines have been awarded DAOU Mountain, where soils bear similarities to those of Bordeaux’s Right Bank

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 22

scores of 90+ points more than 200 times.


IN D IE E X C L U SI V E

DAOU wines are new to the UK, but for over a decade they’ve been wowing critics in the US. Now independent merchants here can access the range, through Carson & Carnevale Wines

Special launch of fer pricing availabl e until 11.09.20

An exclusive launch offer for independent specialists DAOU Discovery Chardonnay 2018 Normal RSP: £23.99, DPD: £12.59/£12.99 (ex-VAT) Intro Offer SP: £19.99, DPD: £10.83 (ex-VAT) 91 Points – Wine Enthusiast A lush, precise Chardonnay with tropical aromas of pineapple, mango and freshly sliced banana, all accented by captivating accents of nutmeg, vanilla, honeysuckle, and hazelnut. The palate is voluminous and silky, with elegant flavours of honeydew melon and lemon.

DAOU Discovery Rosé 2019 Normal RSP: £26.99, DPD: £14.17/£14.62 (ex-VAT) Intro Offer SP: £23.99, DPD £12.99 (ex-VAT) Fragrant and floral, with aromas of fresh strawberry, sliced peach and watermelon. The palate is refreshingly crisp yet lusciously smooth; juicy flavours of nectarine, orange, strawberry parfait and golden delicious apple, with accents of melon on the finish.

DAOU Discovery Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Normal RSP: £26.99, DPD: £14.17/£14.62 (ex-VAT) Intro Offer SP: £23.99, DPD £12.99 (ex-VAT) 92 Points - Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate & The USA’s #2 Cabernet between $20$30 Rich and sophisticated, with currant, black cherry, cedar and eucalyptus. Excellent structure and harmony between the pure fruit core and firm, yet supple, polished tannins. Silky, smooth and remarkably elegant, the finish offers notes of sweet cherry.

Pessimist by DAOU 2018 Normal RSP: £25.99, DPD: £13.64 / £14.08 Intro Offer SP: £22.99, DPD: £12.45 92 Points - Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate An unusual blend: 62% Petite Sirah, 20% Zinfandel, 16% Syrah, 2% Lagrein, providing a plethora of fruit aromas: blueberry, boysenberry, plum and strawberry, underpinned by smoky notes of truffle and roasted coffee. Buttered toast and vanilla notes on the finish.

* TERMS & CONDITIONS

* GOODIES UP FOR GRABS

This launch offer is exclusively available

The first 15 orders will receive 1 x

to independent specialists from July

DAOU polo shirt, 1 x DAOU cap and 1 x

15 until September 11 2020. Special

DAOU prestige corkscrew. Customers

prices will be available each time a

who order more than 50 cases of DAOU

customer orders 2 SKUs, eg one case of

product prior to Christmas will also

Chardonnay and one case of Cabernet

receive 2 x DAOU gilets and 1 bottle of

Sauvignon. All cases are 6 x 75cl.

Bodyguard by DAOU.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 23

Feature sponsored by DAOU and Carson & Carnevale Wines www.daouvineyards.com www.carsoncarnevalewines.com 020 3261 0927


INTERVIEW

ABBI EVER AFTER Marcel and Abbi Moreno

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 24


Abbi Moreno is back in the retail business, in a familiar setting, but with a new name above the door. With her son Dillon central to the new Flora Fine Wines set-up, there’s a fourth generation continuing the Moreno wine-selling tradition

M

oreno is one of the most famous surnames in the wine trade. In 1968, Spanish-born Juan Moreno and wife Salome opened their shop in London,

which became something of an institution among the capital’s restaurateurs.

The business was handed on to their son, Manuel Moreno,

and finally to his children Abbi and Marcel, before being bought by Boutinot in 2016.

Last year, Abbi left Boutinot’s employ and started a retail

venture of her own, Flora Fine Wines, in the Maida Vale

premises that for so long bore her family’s name. Her brother

Marcel left the wine business altogether and moved to Bristol. “We converted it into a wine shop/tapas bar – it was going

really well before we had to close down in the middle of

March,” she says. “We’ve just had to diversify; we’ve gone back to our roots as a retailer and we’re actually doing quite well. “We’re such a local independent. All our regulars have

continued to come in and the word is getting out that we can

do free delivery and discounts on six bottles and 12 bottles, so we’ve attracted new customers too.

“People are shopping locally because of the pandemic and

that’s been amazing for us because we’re getting in new customers every week.”

Food has been central to the Flora Fine Wines offer from the

beginning.

was meatballs and tortilla,” Moreno says.

“Obviously we’re not doing that at the moment, but we are

doing our cheese and charcuterie takeaway. And we do nibbly

bits like good-quality Spanish stuff – almonds and crisps – and that’s going really well.” Wine sales, meanwhile, have risen by 30%.

“As we all know, it’s really tough just being a retailer in the

wine industry,” she says.

“Having the option to serve food and have people sitting has

been amazing. I’ve got customers who have been coming here for 20 years and they say they don’t know why we didn’t do this years ago.

“They can sit here, have a beer; some homemade roasted

almonds. I’ve always been hugely into cooking. I cook during

the day and open the bar in the evening. It’s busy, but it’s great fun and I love it.”

M

oreno has started a small buying group. “I’ve got North Coast Wines involved in Bude and Alan at

Liquid Indulgence in Yorkshire, so there are three

of us at the moment,” she says. “We’re far enough away from each other geographically so as not to tread on each other’s toes, and that’s working really well.

“We all ship products and we buy and sell off each other. It’s

“We were cooking and, because of my Spanish roots, that

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 25

Continues page 26


From page 25

a really nice business. I’m talking to a few other wholesalers

that I’ve known for a long time who really want to get involved as well.

“Buying groups in the past haven’t really worked that well.

With the more traditional buying groups, there was one

person in charge, and they were selecting the wines, and so

a lot of the wholesalers didn’t feel that they were in control.

Whereas doing it like this it works because you feel that you are running your own business.”

The wines are all European, mainly from Spain, Italy and

France. “I’m still buying from UK agents as well, because I can’t ship New Zealand Sauvignon,” Moreno says.

Some of Flora’s suppliers are old family friends. “Just before

lockdown I did a deal with a company in the Basque country and the owner knew my grandfather and knows my father.

Because of that connection they just trust me, and that’s really

nice. My name and our reputation as a family has really helped me.”

M

oreno has no regrets about her short time with

Boutinot but is happy to be doing her own thing. “When Boutinot bought Moreno Wines they

wanted to change things and stamp their own identity on it,” she says. “I worked for them for two years and it was great.

I learnt a lot and did lots of travelling but it was just time to move on. We parted on good terms.”

She’s delighted to have brought a fourth generation of the

family into the new business. “I’m working with my son Dillon. He basically runs the shop and I do the back office and the selling.

“Dillon came back from Leeds where he’d done a history

degree and didn’t know what to do next. He started running the shop under the Boutinot arm and did his WSET and he

just loves it. The passion has carried on, which is lovely. He’s 23.

“Dillon is quite a passionate person anyway and he has just

fallen in love with wine. I have two children and I didn’t want to force them to work in the family business: it’s their choice. “I didn’t start working for Moreno Wines until I was in my

mid-20s because I wanted to do my own thing, and I wanted that for my own children. You need to do what makes you happy.”

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 26


THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 27


JUST WILLIAMS

The accidental tourism tailspin All over the world, wine producers have been eager to attract tourists – not just because they spend cash during their visit, but because they become unofficial brand ambassadors after they’ve returned home. Covid-19 has, for now, disrupted a lot of plans, and balance sheets

I

t was not the most dramatic, saddest, or in any way the most significant

story you’d find in the news in the

past few weeks. Indeed, the way it was presented made it look almost like the past six months hadn’t happened, that

everything was just normal and ticketyboo.

But still, there was something

particularly poignant about the item,

posted on the Harpers website on July 1, about how “Amorim Group’s Taboadella winery is delivering a striking new

vino-tourism experience in the Dão

region with the opening up to visitors of a dedicated cellar door experience and accommodation”.

As the modern parlance has it … good

luck with that!

What made the news all the more

touching somehow was that nowhere was

there any suggestion that the timing of this

launch might be a little off. With its willful

I thought, acknowledgement of the big deal

were still in the other, more hopeful era

statistics, France was attracting some 10

blindness to the prevailing conditions, it was almost possible to believe that we when the project was conceived.

And then I woke up. Wine tourism. Now

tell me, what was that again?

“All over the world, wine companies

have realised there’s money to be made – and, equally important, valuable PR to be communicated – in attracting visitors in

increasingly slick and varied ways.” I wrote this, just a year ago, in an article about wine holidays in The Observer.

The piece was prompted by the first

edition of the World’s 50 Best Vineyards, a spin-off of the 50 Best Restaurants

set up to identify the best wine tourism destinations. The very existence of the

awards – and the similar, more established Best Wine Tourism gongs handed out by

the Great Wine Capitals organisation – was,

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 28

wine tourism had become.

According to French government

million wine tourists a year by the end

of the 2010s, a growth of some 30% in a decade. Between them they brought in

around €5.2bn to the French economy.

Market researchers Mintel, meanwhile,

suggest that the rapidly growing US wine

tourism market is worth as much as $20bn a year.

Even with the diplomatic finagling of air

corridors and governmental promotions

of domestic staycations (or whatever the

French, German or Italian equivalent might be), few wineries are expecting to recoup even a fraction of their pre-pandemic annual income from visitors.

That doesn’t just mean the immediate Continues page 30


David Williams is wine critic for The Observer

Screens haven’t just replaced the newspaper and cinema. They’ve filled in for the dinner party, the pub and even the gym

Few wineries are expecting to recoup even a fraction of their pre-pandemic annual income from visitors THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 29


JUST WILLIAMS

From page 28

loss of cellar-door and on-premise sales at the wineries themselves. As a recent online event hosted by Sandra Carvao,

chief of tourism market intelligence and competitiveness at the United Nations

World Tourism Organisation, stressed, there’s a whole “ecosystem” of small

businesses – from restaurants, hotels

and tour-guides to hot-air balloon and

cycle-hire firms – that rely on the income brought by tourists to wine regions.

Although keen not to underplay the

damage caused to tourism of all kinds

by Covid-19 – the unprecedented reality

of “100% of destinations” implementing travel restrictions of varying degrees of

intensity more or less simultaneously; the

loss of dollars and euros for wineries and

maintaining wine’s status as the drink of

amid a severe global economic downturn

easily quantifiable – but no less important

Of course it can. The phenomenon of

uncertainty of the whens and hows of the

“new normals” of socially distanced travel – Carvao did say wine tourism had two

things in its favour as the world re-opens. Its ability to host small groups, and,

their dependents. For the wine business, there’s also wine tourism’s much less

– function: cementing wine’s connection with place.

attractive than, say, a museum, art gallery

T

call – which also featured wine tourism

American pensioner who cancelled his

importantly, to entertain them in the open air may make a visit to a vineyard more or urban restaurant.

Still, you wouldn’t say the UNWTO Zoom

specialists from South Africa and the

Napa Valley, and in which the importance of reaching out online was once again

presented as at least part of the suggested solution – was exactly surging with optimism.

Besides, the suspension of tourism isn’t

simply counted in the tangible, immediate

his is the priceless PR effect I

was writing about a year ago. It could be the young future

Châteauneuf-du-Pape fan lost because of

the skipped city-break in Avignon. Or the

Cape Town cruise stopover and never got

to taste and then evangelise for the wines of that stunning Stellenbosch estate. Or it might be the Japanese businessman who never got the chance to be won over by

Rathfinny before that flight from Gatwick.

It’s ambassadors like these – and there are

thousands each year – who are essential to

One of the great joys of wine in lockdown has been its ability to transport the drinker to faraway places through the medium of taste

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 30

place.

Can wine do the same without tourism?

visiting wine regions as a leisure pursuit

is barely a century old, and only really got going in many places in the past couple of decades. So that’s only a few millennia of trading in geographically specific wines without the help of coach parties and Sideways-style stag weeks.

Equally, one of the great joys of wine in

lockdown has been its ability to transport the drinker to faraway places through the medium of taste: wine, as someone once said, is liquid travel.

Still, as anyone lucky enough to have had

the experience of drinking great wine in

the place where it was made will tell you, a social media video of a vineyard is no substitute for the real thing.

And for members of that lucky club of

well-travelled tasters, reading news stories about grand new wine tourist projects – or indeed casting an eye down the 2020 winners of Great Wine Capitals and the World’s 50 Best Vineyards – is not just poignant. It’s painful.


Foraging for fragrance Provence is home to more than just salmon-pink rosÊs. Distilleries et Domaines de Provence harvests the region’s distinctive flora to produce characterful spirits and aperitifs including HB Pastis, Absente Absinthe and Farigoule, available in the UK through Emporia Brands.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 31


BORDEAUX WINE MONTH

Deliciously diverse Bordeaux Wine Month returns for its third year this September. Part of Bordeaux Wines UK’ s drive to support independent retailers, and with a proven track-record of driving sales, the promotion provides a great platform for participants to share the incredible diversity, quality and value of modern Bordeaux with customers old and new. The region’s UK market consultant Fiona Juby talks to us How is Bordeaux performing in the UK market generally right now, and in the independents in particular? Despite the uncertain climate of the past few years surrounding Brexit and now Covid-19, Bordeaux continues to experience strong growth in the UK year on year. Last year, the value of exports to the UK increased by 15% due largely to the quality of recent vintages, while volume was maintained. Bordeaux continues to lead French exports of AOP wines to the UK, representing 24% of volume and 43% of value. Independent retailers have played a key role in this growth and their involvement in initiatives such as Bordeaux Wine Month are helping drive sales – which is beneficial for both them and for Bordeaux.

What kinds of styles are gaining popularity – or deserve a second look by the indie trade? Of course, consumers are well aware of Bordeaux’s top-end reds and these remain steady thanks to the number of great vintages in the past decade. However, we are most excited about the increased consumer awareness and demand for Bordeaux’s more affordable and lesser known styles. Bordeaux’s dry whites for example are proving particularly popular. Bordeaux’s crisp and fresh Sauvignon Blanc blends offer nuance and subtlety. Winemakers are helping drive this growth by bottling single varietals (particularly Sauvignon Blanc) and featuring the varietal names on the labels. Young fruit-forward reds, ready to drink now, are also increasing in popularity, both in terms of listings and rate of sale while the Crémants de Bordeaux and Bordeaux

Bordeaux’s dry whites are proving particularly popular, says Juby

Rosés are being viewed as more affordable alternatives to traditional competitors in each of these respective categories. Modern Bordeaux wines are incredibly diverse and it’s this variety, quality and affordability that we want to shout about to both the trade and consumers as they can deliver excellent margin opportunities. Bordeaux is perhaps the ultimate “classic” wine region and there’s always a risk that it can look rather fusty compared with what we might call trendier regions. Can you point to any innovation and new developments that indies might not be aware of? We are working hard to change this perception and it is certainly one that we feel Bordeaux is outgrowing. We run several trips each year during which members of the UK trade can see the wave of innovation both in the vineyard and

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 32

winery for themselves; they can speak to the growers and learn more about developments face to face; that “fusty” reputation feels very outdated. Innovation is sweeping through the wineries with single-varietal wines, low sulphur, minimal intervention, amphora fermentation and maturation and varietal labelling all becoming increasingly common. In addition, the renaissance of grapes such as Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère is exciting and the growing importance of styles such as Crémant and rosé is certainly helping Bordeaux move away from its reputation of just making expensive reds. But it is in the area of sustainability that Bordeaux is really leading the way, championing sustainable winemaking practices for more than 20 years: in fact, Bordeaux was the first wine region in France to include agro-environmental


requirements in its production regulations and is the first wine region to introduce new varietals in the face of climate change. This is an exceptionally exciting time to explore the wines of Bordeaux.

It seems that more Bordeaux producers are working organically, or at least reducing their reliance on chemicals and trying to be much more hands-off, despite the challenges of their climate. How important is this trend and do you think it will continue? When it comes to sustainability in the vineyard, Bordeaux has been leading the way in France for over 20 years. Supported by the CIVB, the Bordeaux vineyards have been following a collective approach to drive sustainability. This commitment aims to control and improve the industry’s environmental impact from the vines all the way down to the consumer. We have divided these into five shared objectives: reduce the use of pesticides over the long term, promote a “living side by side” approach, protect biodiversity, better control over carbon footprint, water and energy consumption and innovate to ensure the vineyards’ longevity. Currently 65% of vineyard land in Bordeaux is working in line with a sustainable certification; the goal is to make this 100% by 2025. Do you think that independents and their customers are well informed about Bordeaux or can their assumptions sometimes be a little out of touch with the reality? It can be challenging to break some consumers’ perception of Bordeaux as a producer of ultra-premium age-worthy reds, and understandably so, as these are some of the most famous wines in the world. However, they do only represent

about approximately 3% of what Bordeaux produces. That’s why our focus for both the trade and consumers is to showcase the diversity of modern Bordeaux and provide consumers with opportunities to taste these wines. Bordeaux Wine Month provides the perfect platform for this and the overriding feedback from indies on last year’s promotion was that their customers were amazed by the diversity and value for money that Bordeaux had to offer. This appreciation was consistently converted into sales, with many retailers selling more than six additional cases of Bordeaux wines during the promotion. In the current climate indies (and their customers) are looking for good wines at the £10-£12 mark. Can Bordeaux compete at this level and if so, what kinds of styles represent the best value for budget-conscious buyers? The £10-£12 mark is a real sweet spot for Bordeaux, with plenty of very high-quality wines sitting at this price point.

Perhaps some of the best priced Bordeaux at the moment are the rosés: this is a style that is of course very in demand and regions more renowned for pale rosés are becoming more and more expensive. That said, the lesser-known Bordeaux appellations are also a great place to look for value for all styles. Regions such as the Entre-Deux-Mers, Côte de Blaye and Côte de Bourg offer exceptional value for money. Earlier in the year, we unveiled the first Hot 50 Bordeaux Wines, a carefully curated collection of wines available in the UK market and retailing between £6 and £25. It’s an invaluable tool for consumers, helping them to discover – or rediscover – the diversity of Bordeaux, as well as highlight the more unexpected wines coming from the region. The full list is available to view at www. bordeaux.com.

Get involved Participating merchants will receive a POS kit, a digital toolbox and £200. To find our more, visit www.cubecom.co.uk/bwm

Bordeaux is leading the way with sustainable winemaking practices

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 33


Elaine Robertson

Anthony Reynolds, July 2020

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 34


MERCHANT PROFILE: MARCHTOWN

Southside story Marchtown was a Glasgow wine bar that did a little bit of retailing, but now it’s a retailer that does quite a lot of online business. Anthony Reynolds was thinking of opening a second bar this year, but now it’s more likely that he’ll be looking for extra warehouse space instead. Graham Holter reports

L

ike a lot of people involved in

the Scottish wine trade, Anthony Reynolds has an Oddbins

background.

“I was a student for a long time and I

worked with Oddbins for 12 years up until 2016,” he says.

“I dropped out for a while and did

some other bits and bobs and worked in

a few different industries, disliking all of them equally. Then I went back to being a student and got a job in an Oddbins,

because a friend of mine worked there and said it was really easy! A shop job that had a bit of personality and wasn’t too much pressure.

“Matthew McFadyen [now of The Good

Spirits Company in Glasgow] hired me, so

you can blame him. That was in an Oddbins down in an area called Clarkston. I was

full-time and loved it so much that I kept it on when I went back to university.

“I went through to PhD level. I started

in film and television studies, because I applied when I was a teenager, but I

ended up moving more into social sciences and did research into computer gaming cultures.

“By the end of that, and being flighty as I

am, the academic world wasn’t for me so I

The month before lockdown we noticed an

something of my own.”

Boris said, “I’m not closing the pubs, but

managed at Oddbins for a couple of years, and I then was quite motivated to make That something turned out to be a

Glasgow florist’s owned by old friends Alan and Kimberley Scott. The premises, on the

A77, is about a mile south of the city centre and a short walk from Queen’s Park.

“When they moved to a new unit,” says

Reynolds, “they offered me this space,

which they own, and asked if I wanted to

open a wine bar. I said yes, as long as it has a shop too.

“There wasn’t much more planning to it

than that. The Glasgow licensing board are notoriously brutal and so, 13 months later, we got our alcohol licence.”

How has Marchtown adapted since Covid-19?

incredible upsurge in customers in general. Then in the week before lockdown when

don’t go to them,” it was a bit awkward and

a bit difficult, so I actually converted us into a shop that week.

The following Monday was lockdown, but

off-licences were not on the essential list at that time and I put everyone on furlough.

Then when we were on the list, I just came back myself – I didn’t open the shop, but I was doing collection orders via email, which was slow at first.

It’s now picked up to the point that we

have reached normal trading figures – and

that’s including the difference between ontrade and retail margin.

This place has always been a shop and a Continues page 36

‘I went back to being a student and got a job in Oddbins, because a friend of mine worked there and said it was really easy!’ THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 35


MERCHANT PROFILE

From page 35

bar and I’m very lucky to have had the shop side because it’s been an easy switch.

I’ve got most of my people off furlough

already and we are expanding what we

are doing bit by bit. We’ve been lucky to a certain extent.

How big is the wine bar area? We’ve got about 30 covers, but right now there’s a lot of wine in the way. We’ve become a little warehouse.

Our kitchen area is now a packing area.

It’s a little space and we’ve got another

area downstairs that seats another 25-ish,

but it’s small and enclosed with a one-way staircase and a small corridor,so social distancing is going to be an absolute nightmare.

Do you think you’ll you be reopening as a wine bar on Scotland’s appointed date

‘I don’t really have a demographic and I don’t plan to have one. I’ve had 18-year-olds in, and 80-year-olds. We’re a good location because we have a nice broad mix’ industry right now. The level of sackings

Kim made him. I was able to put together

for people but also make sure you don’t

space in any city in the UK. We have

from larger chains is going to be brutal.

You have to make sure you have work

give everyone the coronavirus, so I’m not gearing up for the 15th.

I do worry that the government is

making rushed decisions. Things like

opening the pubs on July 4 [in England] and calling it Independence Day – and

choosing a Saturday – is just madness. I just don’t understand that.

You’ve created a great brand identity

an origins story for him. If I’m not mistaken Glasgow has the highest acreage of green monstrous parks.

Pollok Country Park is just south of here

and except for a tiny bit of traffic noise, you could be in the Highlands.

In Queen’s Park sometimes you see deer,

though it’s quite rare these days. So he’s

the spirit of the green space that was here when the area was called Marchtown.

What’s the area like now – students,

of July 15?

for the business. Was the design

young families?

My plan is wait and see. We’re doing quite

aesthetic already in your mind before

A mixture. More post student than student

closed down again in a couple of weeks.

in the design. Kimberley was the one with

well as a shop, so I don’t want to put all the eggs in that [on-premise] basket and be There are ethical concerns involved.

Obviously it’s incumbent on a business to do well for its people and make sure

they have jobs to come back to. That’s the nightmare situation for the hospitality

you opened? I like things that look nice and I had a hand the sketch pad in the early days.

The colour schemes happened naturally;

we literally worked with what was here.

We’ve got wonderful old cornicing and we have a beautiful ceiling rose.

This building is very early 1900s and

they are wonderful little buildings. The florist had a coffee shop and there was a bar area for making coffee, so I just extended it.

We’re right next to Queen’s Park in

Glasgow so there’s lots of greenery around. We’ve got big giant plants, and our lovely

and definitely young families. We’re

just next to Govanhill, which is a hugely ethnically diverse area and historically always has been. It’s quite famous for

having a bad reputation for slum housing. There’s constant flow of social and ethnic groups and they will always leave a bit

of themselves so it’s really different and diverse.

I don’t really have a demographic and I

don’t plan to have one. I’ve had 18-yearolds in, and 80-year-olds. We’re a good

location because we have a nice broad mix. You’re working long hours. How are you making buying decisions – do suppliers

wallpaper from Cole & Sons matches those

come to you?

And the logo – the stag with the wings?

stone, so mostly wine fairs.

schemes.

Where did he come from?

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 36

The tastings I go to mostly tend to be the

ones where you can hit all birds with one

With the wine scene in Glasgow there’s


Elaine Robertson

MARCHTOWN

Anthony Reynolds: “We’ve become a little warehouse”

lots of interesting things popping up. You

You’re into low-intervention wines.

have that yet. It’s an interesting one, but it’s

just find the time when you can.

As far as possible yes. However I don’t go in

London because it tied in with something

is a bit of a fad at the moment – that’s not

best-selling wines?

somewhat restrictive.

go through phases.

London … I barely ever get to go. I think

I managed to get to one wine tasting in

else. There’s lots of stuff in Edinburgh and

I’m always surprised at that because those

tastings are always full of people who have travelled from Glasgow.

What sort of suppliers are you working with? I work with smaller suppliers. I enjoy the

personality of smaller companies. We work with Alexander Wines; Wildflower locally. Alliance are probably the biggest one we work with.

for the only-natural or only-orange thing. I think there is an extent to which that

to diminish it or demean it by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just that it can be

For example, back in the day you might

hear someone say “I only drink Sauvignon Blanc”, and now you’re getting people

saying “I only drink natural wines, I only

drink orange wines”, and that’s restrictive. I’ve seen places online that will only sell

long skin-contact wines, murky and dirty and funky and soured and so on. Maybe

the fact that we’re a smaller city, we don’t

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 37

exclusive to the point of exclusion.

What are your favourite wines and your If customers ask me, I say I don’t have any

favourites – but we all do, and we definitely I definitely have an old-world focus,

possibly because at the back of my mind I’m thinking air miles and so on. But I

live in Scotland, so it’s got to come from somewhere, right?

It’s very seasonal. We have pretty

horrible winters up here so you won’t sell Continues page 38


MERCHANT PROFILE

From page 37

rosé. It won’t happen.

A quarter of what you sell in the winter is

white and then a quarter of what you sell in the summer is red – it’s that extreme.

When we were a bar, if we were really

well stocked, we’d have 200 wines, which isn’t a huge range. It was always a focus

that we would get at least half a dozen to a dozen new ones every week. It’s a pain

in the butt when it comes to putting them in the till system and pricing them up but

it’s worth it to force you to have new things and have something different so your

customers don’t get bored and you don’t get bored.

Is there anything on your list that’s a bit of an indulgence for you? My indulgence, and it has been for quite a

long time, is appassimento-style wines, red and white.

I’m a total sucker for these, which is

interesting because I don’t have a sweet tooth. For the longest time working in

wine I’d not seen a white appassimento in Glasgow – it’s beautiful stuff.

Something I can’t necessarily always get

behind but they go anyway are the big,

chunky, oaky, South African whites. Not

my style. I don’t mind oaky Chardonnays – I’m all for a big beautiful Meursault

or something. But I think South African

wine is a slap around the face; there’s no subtlety.

For the first two years we were open we

didn’t have a single South African wine in

here and that was my wine prejudice, but through a demand from customers and suppliers persuading me …

Is social media a big deal for you? Your Instagram feed looks pretty professional. We opened in March 2017 and we’ve

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 38


MARCHTOWN

probably spent less than £100 on

marketing. It’s been fairly organic, which is nice.

I always get that suspicious eye when

disaster and pandemic.

How are people hearing about your mystery cases?

places pop up and within six weeks

I don’t know! It was my plan to put some

it’s worth – they’ve paid someone to get

be because we have a large following

they’ve got three times the followers we

have. That’s not envy, I just wonder what numbers. It’s just numbers rather than an organic following, and that can be problematic.

Instagram is definitely the one we have

the most interest and engagement on.

Facebook is fairly strong and Twitter tends to be just re-posts from those. I’m not a

social media person myself; I’ve not had a

personal social media account on anything. I do the majority of the social media

content and you’ll notice that my face is

never there. I don’t like being on it. I always feel like an old man when I’m trying to put stuff online: like, what’s a hashtag?

We picked some royalty-free fonts when

we opened the place and my brother is

a talented graphic designer who works mostly in advertising and he put some resources together for us.

Are you doing any food at all, maybe as part of the deliveries and online orders? At the moment we have no perishables on

site. In the next couple of weeks, we might

bring back the cheeseboards and have little takeaway versions of those. But that would be the extent of it for now.

We’re doing nationwide delivery on

cases now – pre-packaged mystery cases.

Those only went up about four weeks ago. I’ve always wanted to do pre-packaged

cases and deliveries and things like that,

but I’ve never had the time to sit down and focus on it. But lockdown has allowed us

money into national delivery and it’s

happened already, which is nice. It might on Instagram. We ran a competition on Instagram recently to win a case and people had to tag their friends, that

was probably quite useful because it

emphasised that it could be anywhere in the UK.

I get to email people and phone people. It

still feels human and still feels like contact. One thing that is a strange adjustment

for me, is that when people are buying on

the website, you’re not saying hello to the customer, and that feels a little strange. I like the thought that people think it

was special and maybe that’s harder to do online – that’s why I go to the extra effort of writing the tasting sheets to go in with each order.

What plans were going through your

We are using DPD, which came on a

mind for the next couple of years and

personal recommendation, and they seem

how has the current Covid situation

to let our friends and family buy stuff,

this year, maybe a little further away from

to be best of a bad bunch.

affected your thinking?

we had cases delivered and there were

this one.

While we had the website open for trials

breakages. I learned a lot about packaging. I refuse to buy cardboard when we have

so much cardboard coming in already. We repurpose all these boxes. I’ve ordered some packing tape which says, “please

reuse and recycle your boxes, we did” and on my new version, for the benefit of the

delivery drivers, I’ve added “gently does it, fragile, glass and stuff”.

Do you miss the interaction with

to run shipping from, which would be an

myself as an introvert – I love me time.

absurd and unexpected result of a national

So we are still seeing customers.

Which couriers are you using?

customers in the shop?

re-open I might need to get another unit

door open seven hours, five days a week.

‘I’ve had time to focus on retail, which is my background. There’s definitely no rush to open a second bar site now, that’s for sure’

that time.

We’re kind of at the point of when we

long time. As of this week we will have the

I come across as a very outgoing and

confident person, but I would describe

I can’t see tastings happening here for a

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 39

I was probably going to open Marchtown II I’ve had time to focus on retail, which is

my background. There’s definitely no rush to open a second bar site now, that’s for sure.

Last September we opened a second bar

downstairs and we had the licence changed to allow that, as previously it was just for tasting events.

We were able to recoup the money from

the refit and we recovered from that, and it’s all paid for, in time to cope with this

pandemic. One thing it’s definitely taught me is not to rush into anything – just

wait and see. If you’re going to commit to

something, try to make sure it’s pandemic proof.


Meat and drink Weino BIB styles itself as a taproom and deli. Owner Kirsty Tinkler relies on wine for the majority of her sales, but has found that customers in north London – and further afield – are equally impressed by her range of specialist foods. Graham Holter reports

K

irsty Tinkler laughs when she’s

asked how many food suppliers she works with.

“It’s out of control,” she admits.

“Ordering is the biggest part of our week. We have about 50 or 60 suppliers.

“We deal with people like Neal’s Yard and

there are people who specialise in French

cheese or Spanish cheese. We’ve just taken on some olive oil from a Greek family.” Weino BIB, based in Dalston, north

London, is a good example of an

independent wine shop that specialises in more than just wine.

“It was the wine that made me do this,”

Tinkler says, “but then if you’re sitting in

a shop selling wine, why don’t you do the other things as well to get people in?

“We do eggs, milk, bread and a big range

of cheese and charcuterie. We’re expanding our pantry at the moment, because we’ve

got time on our hands, and so we’re getting

in more things we can sell to people further afield, online as well – from preserves to

tins of fish or olives and speciality pasta.” Tinkler, an Australian who came to

market and keeping ahead of people like Waitrose is really difficult.

“The beauty is that once you have the

bricks and mortar, people come to us with products for us to try. The product has to

Home delivery “went crazy” in April but

plates to take away.

The store’s meat and cheese selection

about 50 cheeses in the fridge at the

selling wine for both local and national

delivery, Weino BIB is offering charcuterie “Wine sales have always been about

moment,” says Tinkler. “It’s goat’s cheese

60%, 65% of turnover, whether it’s retail

Yard. Sadly I’ve just heard that they have

refill at £12 or £13. If it’s not good enough,

season and we’ve got a range of French

ones through to Innes Brick from Neal’s

sold their farm, so we’ve got the last batch of Innes Brick that ever will be.

“There’s something so satisfying about

selling well-made things like eggs and

or drink in,” Tinkler says.

“We’ve got a great range of wines for

I won’t sell it. People are choosing to do it for the sustainability aspect, and they do know they are saving money.

“People like the experience of it. They are

bread to people. It’s like a soul food.

helping to save the planet, and they are not

to admit we wouldn’t be able to do half

bottles and their egg cartons to refill. We

else.”

local and national delivery. “We don’t want

“We’ve started working with a farm:

we get half a cow once a month. I have

of what we do if we didn’t have the wine, because that allows us to do everything

Tinkler says.

the big distributors – it makes life so much

outside.”

is a particular source of pride. “We have

price ratios and being a high quality.”

easier,” she says. “But it is a competitive

“I can see why people only work with

On July 4 I’ll be seeing if I can seat people has since “settled down a bit”. As well as

B

College of Art, has a particular affinity with

is a distribution centre for our deliveries.

look good as well as working with the right

small artisanal food producers.

London to study sculpture at the Royal

“The restaurant space at the moment

efore lockdown, Weino BIB was about to be relaunched as a

restaurant. “But we’ve had to do

a U-turn on that and focus on the deli and

I’m looking forward to re-opening the bar,”

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 40

having to compromise on quality.

“People bring back their jars and glass

have detergents on tap too.”

There are separate lists of food items for

to send cheese on a two-day delivery – it’s

possible but it’s just so expensive,” Tinkler says.

“Locally we’ll deliver all the cheese and

charcuterie – we drive round ourselves and do that. We outsource to further afield, but only things that will travel well.”


“There’s something so satisfying about selling well-made things like eggs and bread to people” THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 41


SUMMER FORTIFIEDS

strength in depth Most of us in the trade have experienced the unalloyed thrill of a chilled Fino on a scorching summer’s day, or a cold white Port with a bowl of salted almonds. These are pleasures we have a duty to share with consumers – and the versatility of fortfied wines for summer drinking is broader than even wine pros sometimes realise. By David Williams

T

in which, among other higher strength

perhaps even most of their customers –

popular.

here’s no doubt that selling fortified wines in the summer is a little counter-intuitive.

All merchants will have customers –

who confine their fortified wine drinking to a two-week window at the end of the year. The rest of the customer base may be

more open-minded. But are they willing

to trade in their Sauvignon Blanc and rosé – even, heaven forbid, their Riesling – for

wines that could well have as much as 50% more alcohol, when the sun’s high and hot in the sky?

Well, why not? Nobody would deny

there’s a tendency to seek out lower

alcohol and refreshment in wines in the

summer. But we are also living in a time

drinks, the gin and tonic, the Negroni, the Aperol spritz and vermouth both straight

and mixed have arguably never been more With just the slightest of nudges from

a trusted merchant, fortified styles – but

specifically those made from white grapes

– could find a happy home with the exactly those sorts of drinker and occasion.

What follows, then, is a handful of

suggestions for drawing attention to these overlooked glories of the wine world, and some examples of the best of the breed.

A tonic for sales

Everyone enjoys a white wine spritzer from time to time. But we have to admit that it’s

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 42

not the world’s most exciting long drink. Too often it tastes like what it is: diluted wine.

You couldn’t say the same about a white

Port and tonic. Indeed, a better point of

comparison would be the gin and tonic. The complexity of flavour and viscous

richness in classic white Ports – blended as they are from intriguing, aromatic

Douro grape varieties led by Malvasia Fina – are such that a WP&T offers a similarly

fragrant, crisp experience to a G&T but at a

fraction of the ABV. Is there a possibility for a promotion here? Free tonic with every bottle bought?

Continues page 44


THE WINE MERCHANT 43

july 2020


SUMMER FORTIFIEDS

‘We sometimes forget just how alien the trade’s serving and storage suggestions can feel when you come across them for the first time’

From page 42

Two to convert your customers: Graham’s Blend No 5 White (Fells) is a super-aromatic, medium-dry, tiny

production blend of Malvasia Fina and

Moscatel Gallego specifically designed with tonic-mixing in mind.

Taylor’s Chip Dry Port (Mentzendorff):

a classic dry white Port from a classic

shipper that makes for a classic aperitif with or without tonic.

Beyond the shipper’s sundowner As good as it can be, the WP&T – a

drink that is strongly identified with the

traditional shippers of Vila Nova de Gaia

– is by no means the only long drink in

but with impressive exotic lushness, it’s a

producer that has been revitalised by new

Chilling and keeping

which white Port can play a starring role.

The team behind Quinta da Pedra Alta – a

flavoursome stand-in for gin.

ownership since 2018 and which is making

The process of learning that fortified

recommends its very stylish white Port as a

months or years into a tiny thimble of a

a range of modern wines and Ports from its old vineyards high up in the Cima Corgo –

stand-in for gin in a range of cocktails and long drinks.

We thought it got a little lost in a

Negroni. But its citrussy crispness was

brilliantly effective in other gin classics

such as the Tom Collins, and Gin (or rather, White Port) Fizz.

One to convert your customers:

Quinta da Pedra Alta Pedra No 3 White

Port NV (Winetraders): bright, almost racy

© nito / stockadobe.com

Salted almonds: the official food of white Port and Fino Sherry

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 44

wines are not at their best if they’re served warm from a bottle that’s been opened for glass is a rite of passage in the wine trade. But we initiates sometimes forget

just how alien the wine trade’s socially

acceptable serving and storing suggestions can feel when you come across them for the first time.

If you’re used to a schooner of lukewarm

Bristol Cream, for example, being served Continues page 46


PLEASE ENJOY TAY LOR’S PORT RESPONSIBLY

PORT & TONIC A R E F R E S H I N G A N D O R I G I N A L C O C K TA I L Pour one part Taylor’s Chip Dry over ice, add two parts Tonic, top with a twist of lemon and a sprig of mint. P lease contact your Account M anager at M entzendorff & Co Ltd. Tel: 020 7840 3600 or i nfo@m entzendorff.co.uk

TAY L O R . P T

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 45


SUMMER FORTIFIEDS

From page 44

a proper white wine glass of cool Fino

straight from the fridge will, initially at

least, feel as confoundingly odd as the firstever experience of iced gazpacho after a life of hot soup.

And if your sole experience of Port is

of the red variety, it’s always going to be

strange to be offered a glass of something

be as different as listening to music live or

– and that they

feeling of watching a sceptic’s heart melt

conjuring up a

on a tiny, tinny mobile phone speaker.

Two to convert your customers: The

after they’ve compared a warm schooner and a chilled glass of both Krohn Lágrina

White Port and Fernando de Castilla Classic Fino is one of those moments that makes working in the wine trade worthwhile. (Boutinot)

that looks like a white Burgundy – all the

White fortifieds as “proper wines”

A counter tasting that compares and

suited to mixing than light wines, what’s

more so if there’s a couple of ice cubes and

For all that white Port and Fino or

contrasts these serving styles – the old and

sometimes forgotten by wine drinkers is

a mint leaf in there.

the new – can work wonders in opening

palates to white fortifieds, showing them to

Manzanilla Sherry may be much better

that these styles are every bit as complex and crafted as their unfortified relations

Delicious wines brought to you from two of our long-standing agencies A fine white port from Krohn, Lágrima spends a full seven years in wood to produce a luscious, very sweet style. And a range to suit every need from sherry master, Jan Pettersen’s, Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla: Fino en Rama – bottled in spring and autumn, straight from the barrel. Classic Fino – aged around 4 years in solera, and now also available in magnum (so perfect for sharing)! The superb, complex and award-wining Antique Fino – a carefully selected and aged ‘Pasada’ style.

boutinot.com

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 46

have the same capacity for

sense of place.

In the case of

white Port, that sense of place

might be built

on indigenous

grape varieties. A wine such

as Kopke Dry White Port

(Hayward Bros), for example, uses Arinto, Viosinho, Gouveio and Malvasia Fina, in its elegant blend – just the sort of varieties that your more

now availab le in mag num s


‘White Port is great with green olives, bacalhau and – in its sweeter styles – fruity desserts or simple fruit salads’

to seal the deal and fully persuade your customers that summer fortifieds are

quality “wines” rather than something

from the back of a dusty pub bar – food. We all know how well Fino and

Manzanilla Sherry go with ham, almonds,

olives and garlicky prawns. But white Port

too is great with green olives, bacalhau and adventurous punters love to experiment

away from a tasting.

winemaking and the terroir of the winery.

glories of biological ageing – plus the

with and learn about.

Or it may be more a matter of

Certainly that’s the case with flor-aged Sherry. The yeasty veil never fails to

intrigue novice wine-drinkers – it’s just

the sort of easy-to-digest nugget of expert knowledge that customers like to take

Add in such nuances as “en rama”, where

– in its sweeter styles – fruity desserts or simple fruit salads.

One to convert your customers: Quinta

the minimal filtration amplifies the savoury

do Noval Lágrima White Port (Gonzalez

Oloroso or the fascinatingly inbetweeny

Gouveio, Rabigato and Códega among

potential for comparing flor wines with

Palo Cortado – and you have the beginning of an obsession.

And if all that fails, there is another way

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 47

Byass) – from a master of Douro terroir

wines and Ports, a blend of Malvasia Fina, others, with an average of three to five

years’ ageing, is distinctively, sweetly rich, exotic and gorgeous with blue cheese.


More Covid-19 heroes receive thank-you wines from their local indie merchants

W

ine merchants all over the country are continuing to engage with their communities to say thank you to local Covid-19 heroes. Independents who signed up to receive two free cases of wine from Hatch Mansfield for this very purpose have been able to express their appreciation with a gift of Vidal Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chilean Pinot Noir.

Vintoto in North Yorkshire was pleased to thank these two customers (left) “for continued fundraising efforts throughout the pandemic on behalf of Wakefield Hospice”.

Mumbles Fine Wines awarded a case to George from Môr restaurant (below) in Mumbles who initiated FeedTheNHSWales, a campaign to get quality food to frontline NHS staff. Through crowd-funding the campaign has raised over £65,000 to date. Will Bentley of Bentley’s Wine Merchants in Ludlow surprised his loyal customer Roger Davies with some wine as a thank-you. Davies, a retired GP, returned to the local practice to offer his support to the surgery during the Covid crisis. The story was reported on the front page of the Shropshire Star.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 48


FOUR WELSH VINEYARDS England does not have the monopoly on wine production in the UK. Wales has its own small, but thriving, wine scene, making still and sparkling wines that are being well received around the world, as well as in the domestic market. To celebrate Welsh Wine Week (July 27 – August 2), we talk to four of the producers aiming to put Wales on the winemaking map. By Claire Harries


LLANERCH VINEYARD HENSOL,VALE OF GLAMORGAN Wine tourism is key at Llanerch: it boasts the UK’s first vineyard hotel and is also a wedding and events venue. Its restaurant and farmhouse shop emphasise the importance of local produce and ensures custom from people living nearby. Until recently Llanerch’s Cariad wines have only been available direct from the vineyard, but this is about to change. Owner Ryan Davies reports that lockdown has allowed the business to concentrate on its online offer. “We’ve been delivering locally from our farmhouse shop but we are about to launch a national delivery service,” he says. Davies already sells Nyetimber and hopes to collaborate with fellow Welsh vineyards: “We want to put bundles together and allow people to buy a mixture. We want to become a go-to place.” The 12,000-bottle production from Llanerch has been upped by the addition of a vineyard in nearby Cowbridge. Davies says: “Last year we made about 18,000 bottles of wine but it will go up to around 22,000 if we have a good year this year. The thing with Wales is that notoriously we get more rain than England so we have got to use varieties that are more disease-resistant. “We find the hybrids work really well. Our Cariad sparkling blush is 95% Seyval Blanc and 5% Triomphe. The Triomphe has the lovely strawberry and British summer fruit flavours. It’s still a Brut but it gives these lovely characters and that lift, and that’s the one we tend to win all our awards with.” Llanerch continues to grow with a field newly readied for an extra seven acres of vines, which will be Solaris, Phoenix and Seyval Blanc.


WHITE CASTLE VINEYARD, ABERGAVENNY White Castle’s marketing seems to be taking care of itself for the moment thanks to some recent media exposure. “We were on the TV in April with James Martin on his programme Islands to Highlands and we were on Saturday Kitchen for St David’s Day and we’ve been pretty busy ever since,” says owner Robb Merchant, pictured with wife Nicola. “Within a week our wines were showcased on This Morning and our website crashed. We had 10,000 people on there the other day all at once.” He believes there has been “a change in perception of Welsh wine”. “People realise that we produce quality wine first and foremost now, which is the main thing. We’re lucky in Wales; we get help from the government. They realise how important food and drink is to the economy.” White Castle currently grows seven varieties including Cabernet Franc, which is due to crop for the first time next year. Merchant says he’d be a very happy man if he could do something along the lines of a Chinon rosé. He also has big plans for the future. “I’d like to say that in the next five years we’ll have an on-site winery. We use Three Choirs, and what they do for us is absolutely fantastic, but I have this burning desire for my own winery. “This is my passion and it’s everything to me. We’ve got two boys and they help out as and when. The youngest one has half an interest but he’s 25; he’s got to go and live his life first. I was about 45 when I came to wine. I’m hoping to build a legacy for our grandchildren.”


MONTGOMERY VINEYARD, POWYS The Lennard family bought the property in 1970 as a country retreat but it wasn’t until 2011 that Woody Lennard, armed with his geology degree and a love of wine, realised the meadow would make a perfect vineyard. “We really champion Welsh wine,” he says. “It’s really important to us to be Welsh and to produce award-winning wine that’s recognised in the UK and internationally.” Since the first vintage in 2016, the wines have consistently won awards including Highly Commended status in The Wine Merchant Top 100 last year. Lennard explains: “Because we grow cool-climate vines at such high altitude (900 ft above sea level), on virgin ground, the result is smaller, more intensely flavoured grapes, which produce wines of exceptional quality and taste.” So, what’s his favourite? “They’re all my favourite! It depends what you are eating and what you want to go for. I’d say from a viticulture point of view the Solaris would probably be the best grape variety that thrives in the environment. They all do – but the Solaris is really comfortable.” Montgomery occasionally exports to Hong Kong, Barbados, France and Spain, but Lennard says this is not a “concentrated effort”, simply because the wines from each vintage sell out every year within the UK market. Indies can buy the wines from Daniel Lambert. The wines are made in partnership with Halfpenny Green Winery and Lennard praises “their unwavering support and superb winemaking skills”. “Between Martin Vickers, Clive and Ben the process from vine to wine has been seamless,” he says.


ANCRE HILL, MONMOUTHSHIRE Ancre Hill is the only biodynamic vineyard in Wales, but owner Richard Morris is hoping that will change. “There is a perception that biodynamic and organic farming isn’t possible in our climate but actually it’s the opposite,” he says. “Because we are biodynamic, we are able to cope with the vagaries of our climate far better. “The rainfall level is high in Wales but there are areas like the Vale of Glamorgan, Monmouthshire and the Border Country where we have a very good climate and you can grow vines as long as you get your rootstocks right, your clones right and the site right.” Until the latest addition of 20 acres of vines fully mature, current annual production at Ancre is 30,000 bottles and this is sold domestically. Morris says: “We don’t export, not for want of being asked. Scandinavia, Hong Kong and America we could sell to today but until these new vineyards come on stream, we just haven’t got the volume. Why export if you have probably the best market in the world on your doorstep?” Morris admits that Welsh wine is a relatively young industry and says there is “a way to go” yet. “I suspect Welsh wine isn’t perhaps as far on as it could be – it depends who you talk to. I think the perception of our wines is very positive but I think that’s more because we are biodynamic and organic rather than because we are Welsh. “I’m trying to persuade other producers to look at organic production and maybe specialise in orange wine. Our Albariño orange wine is selling hugely in London. I think Wales could do that sort of thing to have a USP.” Although Morris is optimistic that the sector will continue to go from strength to strength in the next 10 years, he won’t be as involved. Retirement is beckoning and Ancre Hill is on the market. “I’ve just turned 68, and as much as I would like to go on at some stage you just have to say enough is enough,” Morris explains. “We’re talking to a number of interested parties at the moment. We want to make sure we sell it to the right person or organisation who will carry on the brand.”


THE SPIRITS WORLD

Pirate theme for Gower spiced rum Swansea independent merchant Cheers teams up with Gower Gin to create Môr Ladron, a blend of Cuban and Welsh raw materials

selling their first bottles. “They produce

a phenomenal gin,” says Morris, “but they didn’t know how to sell it. We helped

them launch and we sold an unbelievable amount in the first month – about 1,600

bottles. They’ve done really well and are selling all around the country now. They

share the same ethos as us, and everything is top quality.

“The fun bit for me was sourcing the

bottles, the labels, the ingredients and,

as you can imagine, the test distilling and

C

heers in Swansea launched its

tasting was fun.

own rum, Môr Ladron, last month

“Funnily enough, the first test wasn’t

– and it’s flying out the door.

too far away from the end result – we

The company’s Dafydd Morris says the

went twice in the wrong direction, but we

project was inspired by his holiday to

came back to the beginning and tweaked a

Barbados and his tour of the Foursquare

couple of things and it worked really well.

rum distillery. “When I got home, I was

That’s because in my head, I knew what I

desperate to get this off the ground, so I

wanted.”

spoke to the Gower Gin Company,” he says. This is the second collaboration with

Gower: Cheers already has an established own-brand gin, named after Morris’s daughter, Ivy.

The organic molasses for Môr Ladron

may come from Cuba, but everything else about this rum, from the locally foraged

gorse flower to the label design via its back story, is uniquely Welsh.

“Môr Ladron means ‘pirate’ in Welsh,”

says Morris, “and we wanted to go down the pirate theme, so I spoke to my tattoo

artist and he drew that label from scratch – it’s really cool.”

One of the two red piratey treasure

map style crosses on the label marks the location of Port Eynon, which was the

hang-out of infamous pirate John Lucas.

Morris says: “It’s really weird, but one of

the guys who gave us a hand with labelling up the bottles could actually trace his

heritage back to John Lucas who we based the story on.”

The spice blend contains the same range

of botanicals used in Ivy Gin including

orange and vanilla, and the coconut flavour

Môr Ladron retails for £29.95.

The rum is available to other indies

comes from the gorse flower, which grows within a mile of the distillery.

“It’s a proper handmade product as

bespoke as anything could be, even down to the fact that it’s hand dipped in wax to seal it,” says Morris.

Within three weeks of launching, Cheers

had already sold around 500 bottles, and although they have four barrels, which

Morris estimates is enough to make about

Alpine flavour for new Off-Piste gin Off-Piste Wines has produced a gin in collaboration with the family-owned Sibling distillery based in the Cotswolds. It’s made from pure cane sugar-based

spirit and combines the classic botanical

flavours of juniper, cardamom and lemon

zest with alpine botanicals of mountain ash

2,300 bottles, he admits the challenge moving forward will be continuity.

“The biggest issue is having somewhere

to distil,” Morris explains. “We could

have bought all the equipment – it would have cost me thousands of pounds but I wouldn’t have had a Scooby what to do

with it, so my advice would be to get pally with someone who knows how to distil.” Morris’s relationship with Siân and

Andrew Brooks at Gower Gin started

four years ago when they needed help

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 58

Made in the Cotswolds, not the Alps


berries, alpine cornflowers and Saaz hops.

and cooking the corn in alkaline solution

increased demand for premium spirits and

cereal.

Andy Talbot, managing director of

Off-Piste Wines, says: “We have seen an especially gin.

“We are approaching this in a very

different way to our wine business,

building the brand organically through independent retail and e-commerce.” Off-Piste Gin has an RRP of £37.50.

before it’s washed and hulled. The process unlocks the flavours and aromas of the The whisky is double distilled in

handcrafted copper stills and finished in new toasted and used oak casks.

Abasolo is distributed by Mangrove UK

and has an RRP of £34.99.

Limited edition Frapin Cognac Frapin Millésime 1992 is a new vintage and the latest addition to Frapin’s collection of vintage Cognacs. A limited release of just 3,000 bottles,

this new 1992 vintage has been gently

ageing in the cellars on the Frapin estate, in the heart of the Cognac region, for 26 years before its bottling.

This “aromatic and complex” Cognac

Made with an ancient cooking technique

First Mexican whisky hits UK Traditionally Mexico is associated with tequila, but as whisky is apparently the country’s second most popular drink, it should be no surprise that Mexican distiller Casa Lumbre has now launched its first foray into the category. Abasolo, made from 100% Mexican corn,

is said to be the first Mexican whisky to be available in the UK. Described as a smooth spirit with flavours of roasted corn and toffee and hints of caramel and toast, it

promises to be an intriguing addition on the world whisky stage.

A process called nixtamalization, an

ancient cooking technique, is applied to

draw out the bold flavours of the corn. The centuries-old practice involves soaking

is bright in colour, with aromas of prunes

and liquorice and a note of orange. Frapin cellar master Patrice Piveteau describes the palate as “elegant and refined with

delicate, floral notes that soon become rich and fruity”.

As with all Frapin

Cognacs, this expression is single estate using grapes grown on the Frapin Grande Champagne

estate and then distilled and aged entirely on the Frapin domain.

The Cognac joins the

collection of Trésors du

Château which includes

Fontpinot XO, Cigar Blend

and the 15-year-old which was launched last year.

The RRP ranges from

£145 to £160, according to UK distributor Louis Latour Agencies.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 59

While the UK’s drink of the age is the G&T, the Japanese have been going potty about Highballs. The classic Highball combines whisky and ginger ale, though the name has increasingly become a generic description for any sort of long spirit-mixer combination. This twist is inspired by Japan’s passion for exploring the Highball’s limits and is a cool, refreshing but grown-up alternative to more archetypal “summery” cocktails on a hot day.

50ml Japanese whisky 50ml cooled green tea 75ml soda or sparkling water

Put the kettle on, make the tea and leave to cool. Put the whisky, tea and plenty of ice in a Highball or Collins glass. Stir. Top with the soda or fizzy water. Garnish with a lemon wedge or wheel.


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

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

DISCOVER RIESLING With the ABS Masters of Riesling, 15th June - 31st July

We are delighted to be working with a selection of our Masters of Riesling, Villa Wolf, Louis Guntrum, Gunderloch, Schnaitmann and Dr Loosen to curate 3 very special case offers for the 31 Days of Riesling. Talk to your Account Manager for further details of how you can get involved. Offers will run 15th June - 31st July.

SAVE

orders@abs.wine www.abs.wine

WIN

@ABSWines

SAVE 15% WHEN BUYING ANY 1 OF THE 3 CASE OPTIONS BELOW. BUY 2 OF THE CASE OPTIONS BELOW TO AUTOMATICALLY BE ENTERED INTO A PRIZE DRAW Win an all-expenses paid place on the 2021 Masters of Riesling trip visiting all our German growers

1

DRY RIESLING EXPLORER CASE

2

CLASSIC RIESLING EXPLORER CASE

3

THE ORGANIC CASE

E & OE apply | For more information please contact your Account Manager or email us at orders@abswine

Free case of Crémant for our loyal independent friends

Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France cdavies@lgcf.fr 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich

Famille Helfrich is exactly that – a family owned business, and the family are doing all they can to protect its family, namely its workforce.

This crisis is affecting us all, whether you’re a producer, supplier, retailer or consumer.

I’m so impressed with the can-do entrepreneurial spirit shown in the indies sector, and I wanted in a small way to show our appreciation.

We have launched our Sparkling Relief initiative in

which we are offering a free case of Crémant with every mixed pallet order during the crisis.

This can be delivered with the order or sent direct to a

relative, friend or customer to put a little fizz into their life at this awful time. For more details and to see a few of our winemakers talk about the eight different Crémants on

offer, head to our new YouTube: Famille Helfrich Wines & Spirits.

Finally, thanks as always for the continued support and

They’re all smiles to your faceloyalty … of our friends in the independent sector. We wish

you all good health and hope that you continue to provide the excellent services you do so well.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 60

Chris Davies


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

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

Organic Chablis from Simonnet-Febvre Introducing a range of organic Chablis from Simonnet-Febvre’s new winemaker Paul Espitalié. The range is certified by ECOCERT and currently comprises four 2018 wines: Petit

Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru Montmain and Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume. The village and premier cru wines

are available to order from UK stocks and the Petit Chablis is available on ex-cellars orders.

To learn more about these wines visit our YouTube Channel (search “Louis

Latour Agencies”) where you can hear Paul speak about his experiences one

year into the job as Simonnet-Febvre’s winemaker.

hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 info@hatch.co.uk www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield

HATCH MANSFIELD BECOMES CARBON NEUTRAL

Carbon Neutral

Organisation

We are proud to be the first in the industry to achieve a trio of recognised sustainability accreditations: ISO 14001, BRC Agents and Brokers together with the latest Carbon Neutral confirmation. A considered approach to the environment it embraced by all our producers including Louis Jadot whose philosophy is one of minimal intervention. For the past 20 years they have banished the use of all synthetic products on their own vineyard soils, applying traditional practices instead. Our summer pick from their extensive range is. Louis Jadot Chablis ‘Cellier de la Sablière’ available in Magnum, Bottle and Half Bottle

One of the world’s most famous dry white wines, taut and crisp with zesty acidity and a stony character. Despite these unpredictable times, Hatch Mansfield continue to take a long-term approach to the market focussing on providing the finest quality wine and service possible. We encourage the spread of kindness and community spirit and thank you for your support and loyalty. If there is anything we can improve on or help with over the coming months please do not hesitate to contact any of the Hatch Mansfield team.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 61


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 info@richmondwineagencies.com

@richmondwineag1

Contact us for more information

fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB 07552 291045 info@finewinepartners.co.uk www.finewinepartners.co.uk

Established in 1836, Houghton is Australia's third oldest winery. It is also the most awarded winery in Western Australia. A fine wine of elegance, fruit flavour and power balanced by firm fine-grained tannins, Jack Mann is the finest Cabernet produced by Houghton. Accordingly, it is named after legendary Houghton winemaker Jack Mann, who presided over the winemaking for 51

consecutive vintages. Jack’s unrelenting search for flavour and character and his desire to make wine to exacting standards was legendary within the industry.

Jack Mann Cabernet evokes a sense and scent of

place, with crushed-blackcurrant and herb-garden aromas, beautiful concentration, and perfectlyripe tannins and tremendous drive. Jack Mann

Cabernet Sauvignon is a single-vineyard wine from the Justin Vineyard in the Frankland River region

of Western Australia. This region is characterised by cool winters, warm summer days and cool

summer nights. The Cabernet grapes for this wine were hand-picked from a small patch

of 45-year-old vines. The particular clone of Cabernet Sauvignon is an original Houghton clone selected by Jack Mann.

Please contact Fine Wine Partners for further details on all of the Houghton wines.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 62


liberty wines 020 7720 5350 order@libertywines.co.uk www.libertywines.co.uk

@liberty_wines

Top-scoring wines from Uruguay

by David Gleave MW

“Uruguay is one of the most exciting, up-and-coming wine-producing countries in the

world right now,” Tim Atkin MW recently remarked in his first report on the country, in which Bodega Garzón features heavily.

A family-owned winery, the Garzón story began in 2007 when owner Alejandro

Bulgheroni invited consultant winemaker Alberto Antonini to visit his 700-hectare olive farm in Maldonado on the Atlantic coast of south eastern Uruguay.

Analysis of the soil and conditions revealed to Alberto that this site had huge potential to

produce premium wines. The rolling hills have since become a patchwork

quilt of 1,150 individual plots of around 0.2 hectares, each carefully chosen for a specific variety according to its soil and microclimate.

Bodega Garzón’s “world class” Petit Clos ‘Block #212’ Tannat 2018

was Atkin’s joint top-scoring red: “This takes South American Tannat

to a new level … it’s a wine that manages to be both international and

distinctively Uruguayan”. The 2019 Pinot Noir Rosé was named ‘Value Rosé of the Year’: “A modern, direct-pressed pink that’s just the ticket”.

Atkin was particularly impressed by the quality of Albariño in Uruguay.

It was one of the first varieties Alberto Antonini planted at Garzón, having

identified the cooling Atlantic breezes and well-draining granitic soils

similar to Galicia. Of 58 hectares of Albariño planted in the country, 35 are on the Garzón

estate. Garzón viticulturalist Eduardo Félix predicts that “within five years, Albariño will be an iconic grape in Uruguay. It feels perfectly at home in our Atlantic climate.”

C&C wines 109 Blundell Street London N7 9BN 020 3261 0927 enquiries@carsonwines.com www.carsoncarnevalewines.com

@CarsonWines

We’ve handpicked a selection of bestsellers and seasonal wines and, with the support of our producer partners, can offer indies an interesting range of promotional wines from July until September, including wines from:

Australia: Hentley Farm – the only Barossa Valley producer to be awarded Australia’s

Winery of the Year by James Halliday. Punt Road – Located on one of the oldest estates in Coldstream, listed in Matthew Jukes’s Top 100 Australian wines.

Italy: Savian – A family-owned and operated certified organic producer based in

Veneto. La Lomellina – until recently La Lomellina sold all production to the region’s most acclaimed wineries; we’re delighted they decided to make their own wines. Tenuta Sant’Antonio – one of the most respected winemaking families in Veneto and Tre Bicchieri recipients for over 10 consecutive years.

Spain: Bodegas Sonsierra – Based in Rioja

Alta and named by Tim Atkin MW as the best cooperative his 2019 Rioja Report.

Vina Costeira – One of Galicia’s most forwardthinking producers.

Please contact C&C Wines for more information and pricing.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 63


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

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

@WalkerWodehouse

Ferrari Trento joins the Walker & Wodehouse portfolio One of the stars of the Italian sparkling wine world, Ferrari has been described as “the finest, oldest, and most celebrated producer of Metodo Classico sparklers”.

The quality and finesse of the Ferrari range have propelled the brand to ever-rising heights, with the winery picking up over 20 awards in 2019 alone, including the hotly-contested title of Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. Ferrari only produce traditional method wines from their organically certified vineyards, within the Trento DOC. Their story began over a century ago when Giulio Ferrari, inspired by the geographical similarities between Champagne and his native Trentino-AltoAdige, planted Italy’s first ever cuttings of Chardonnay across the slopes of the Dolomites. International acclaim for his traditional sparkling wines soon followed ... and the rest is history! All lines are available to order now. Please contact your Walker & Wodehouse account manager for more details.

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

Rosé-er times ahead? As life is slowly heading back towards a ‘new normal’ with our amazing indies gradually reopening their doors, the warmer days are back giving us the perfect excuse to crack open the rosé! We’ve picked two little pink numbers from our wine list which we’ve sourced from either side of the planet.

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

PHEBUS MALBEC ROSE, MENDOZA ARGENTINA

Produced by Hervé J.Fabre who knows a thing or two about producing award-winning malbecs, this is what he calls a ‘proper’ rose which is crisp, medium-bodied with vibrant and refreshing red-berried fruit flavours. Served ice cold, this is a delight with grilled chicken or halloumi for any Asado style BBQ.

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

PĀ ROAD ROSE, MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND

Produced by te Pā family vineyards who have a Maori heritage going back 800 years, this Pinot Noir rosé is a delight in simple sophistication. With bright primary fruit, refreshing acidity and medium body, this works a treat with a feta and tomato salad or a piece of salmon with spring vegetables.

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 64


mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600 info@mentzendorff.co.uk www.mentzendorff.co.uk

enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX www.enotriacoe.com 020 8961 5161

E&C is the UK’s leading drinks supplier, and we have delivery hubs around the country. We own and operate our own fully integrated, state-of-the-art supply chain and systems, enabling us to deliver on target and support your business. We recognise that during this tough time, there is a lot of pressure on your business. As people are limiting their travel, your community is increasingly turning to you as their local wine and spirits supplier. E&C is ready to supply you with an alternative range of wines, spirits, beers, ciders and softs to meet this new demand. Please call 020 8961 5161 for our latest indies offer. Or email customerservices@ enotriacoe.com.

@EnotriaCoe

THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 65


Profile for The Wine Merchant magazine

The Wine Merchant issue 93 (July 2020)  

The July 2020 edition of The Wine Merchant magazine, a specialist trade publication for independent wine retailers in the UK.

The Wine Merchant issue 93 (July 2020)  

The July 2020 edition of The Wine Merchant magazine, a specialist trade publication for independent wine retailers in the UK.

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