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
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
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
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 email@example.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries firstname.lastname@example.org Accounts: Naomi Young email@example.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 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
years slowed down on importing, that too
Northallerton, which is about 14 miles to
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
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.”
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
1. Unwashed Dalek Wooer 2. Nan Hurt Moth 3. Arbitrating Weasel 4. Apes Evenly Screed 5. Rotting Soave Mark Matisovits
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 email@example.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
from 16 months in new French oak mouthwatering and spicy, with a juicy intensity and a distant truffly note. RRP: £39
Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391)
Famille Helfrich (07789 008540)
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
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Bibendum (0845 263 6924)
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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
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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
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
Vindependents (020 3488 4548)
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
Wine trade lacks ethnic diversity The UK wine trade has “significant”
innovation” for the category since the
problems with ethnic diversity and
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
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
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 email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2020 20
Perfection in Paso Robles
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
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
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
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.”
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.”
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
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
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 havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just replaced the newspaper and cinema. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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
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
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
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 rosĂŠs. Distilleries et Domaines de Provence harvests the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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
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
ike a lot of people involved in
the Scottish wine trade, Anthony Reynolds has an Oddbins
“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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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’
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
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
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
the big distributors – it makes life so much
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
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
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
in which, among other higher strength
perhaps even most of their customers –
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
‘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
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.
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
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
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 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 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
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
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
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.
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810
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Free case of Crémant for our loyal independent friends
Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France firstname.lastname@example.org 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
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
0207 409 7276 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield
HATCH MANSFIELD BECOMES CARBON NEUTRAL
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
richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 email@example.com
Contact us for more information
fine wine partners Thomas Hardy House 2 Heath Road Weybridge KT13 8TB 07552 291045 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. Jackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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.
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liberty wines 020 7720 5350 email@example.com www.libertywines.co.uk
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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.carsoncarnevalewines.com
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
walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 email@example.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.com www.mentzendorff.co.uk
enotria & COE 23 Cumberland Avenue London NW10 7RX www.enotriacoe.com 020 8961 5161
E&C is the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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.
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