The Wine Merchant issue 108

Page 1

THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 108, November 2021

Dog of the Month: Umka Irene, Camberwell

You just can’t get the staff, say independent merchants Brexit is blamed for shrinking the pool of talent available to retailers – but for some, recruitment presents few issues


ndependent merchants are struggling

to recruit and hold on to staff, blaming Brexit for shrinking the pool of talent.

There are fears in some quarters that the

problem will get worse once the hospitality industry is back up to full speed, and out-

competes retailers by offering higher wages. Christopher Sherwood, owner of Bottle

Apostle, which has four stores across

London, says the company has experienced “one frustration after another” with its recruitment.

“It’s been mainly at two stores that we’ve

had difficulties,” he says. “We have much

“I can’t think of another reason to

lower response to any adverts, whether it’s

attribute to the hiring problem other than

100% of our problem”.

speeded up by Covid. But who can say?

part-time or full-time.”

Sherwood believes that Brexit is “90% to He adds: “London restaurants and

independents have always depended on

Europeans. Until now, British people have

always been a minority in our company. W we haven’t got an opinion about that: we

don’t mind where people are from in any

way whatsoever. It’s made the whole thing a richer experience for people.

the pool of labour is simply smaller.

“Brexit supporters would say that’s been

There’s certainly talent moving home, and the restaurant industry must be suffering from that too.”

Andrew Lundy, owner of Vino, which

has three shops in Edinburgh, says: “We

had a vacancy in April and I felt we would have no trouble finding people. But, with

furlough still on, it was like a ghost town. “We had a handful of CVs and one

knockout candidate. Were it not for that

person I am not sure what we would have done.

“Brexit has been a massive influence. We

are a melting-pot city in Edinburgh with

lots of EU citizens making a home here and wine is such a natural subject for French

kids who grew up drinking it. We miss that influence on our business already.”

Jeroboams, which has eight London

shops, is having issues recruiting sales

assistants, according to chief executive Matt Tipping.

He adds: “We’ve always been very proud

Chris Cassell has left the world of drinks marketing to open a specialist wine shop in Islington. Full story and more pictures on page 9.

of the international nature of our shop

teams. They bring welcome diversity and

Continues page 2


Inside this month

Brexit blamed for vacancies From page 1

8 COMINGS AND GOINGS The wine shop just arriving on Brighton Station is …

knowledge, with many hailing from wineproducing countries across the world.

14 tried & TESTED The eight wines that made us go “mmm” this month

“The pool of talent has undoubtably

shrunk over the last 12 months and it is

the international part of that pool that has been hit hardest.

20 the bottleneck The Broadstairs indie gets the London look under new owner

25 bright ideas Pairing wine and chocolate: any wine lover’s holy grail

“My belief is that Brexit is a significant

factor, both directly, through our normal pool of recruits being diminished, and

indirectly, due to other industries now

looking at our pool of potential recruits due to shortages in their own sectors.” But some independent merchants

are reporting no major problems with

32 just williams David tastes some supermarket wines so you don’t have to

recruitment and staffing.

“I am aware that numerous companies

are finding recruitment either tricky or

impossible,” says Ted Sandbach, owner of the Oxford Wine Company.

“But I can say, hand on heart, that we are

having no trouble at all.

“We have opened a fourth shop in the

centre of Oxford and found two top quality people from a good pool of applicants. “We have strengthened our support

team here at HQ with an addition to our marketing and retail teams as well as

finding a top quality sales/retail person

to take over responsibility for the Oxford colleges.

“We have recently added two drivers

too, which I thought was going to be tricky but, despite low pay compared with the supermarkets, who are desperate, we

managed to make the job, hours and wine discounts work in our favour.” • More on pages 4 to 6.

40 the vineyard The Ramsbottom indie has benefited from a considerate local council

54 the british are rumming UK-made spirits add a new twist to a traditional category

64 supplier bulletin Bottle Apostle’s Hackney branch

THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter Assistant Editor: Claire Harries Advertising: Sarah Hunnisett Accounts: Naomi Young The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 982 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2021 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 2


Staff and nonsense Six independent wine businesses discuss the challenges of recruiting and maintaining a strong team in the aftermath of Brexit and the Covid pandemic. For some, the problems are more acute than others


Bottle Apostle Location: London

Location: Edinburgh

Number of branches: 4

Number of branches: 3

Bottle Apostle employs 18 staff, including

“We are lucky and still have a third of the

health reasons,” says boss Christopher

or more,” says boss Andrew Lundy.

original staff we opened with in 2010, and

four part-timers. “We went through

over 50% have been with us for five years

Covid only losing one person due to

“Currently we are stretched but fully

Sherwood. “It was a sad loss but totally

staffed until the start of December when a


temporary role for a returning member of

“In fact, because of the level of trade, we

the team is arranged.”

added another two people to the team and increased the amount of management as well.”

But in recent months, recruiting has

Christopher Sherwood of Bottle Apostle

reject them.

“Some of it has been the usual time-

pay packages once the hospitality sector is

Sherwood. “We’ve had people from two

whole load of sommeliers, senior or junior,

wasting of people just seeking better

conditions than their current job,” says other notable London independents

doing that to us and obviously that is very annoying.

“It all goes very well until you talk about

salary, and they’ll say, ‘well, I’m on £3k

more than that’. And then you think, ‘really? You’re on a basic of £27k?’”.

Sherwood is pretty certain that Brexit

has left a shallower pool of talent for

indies like Bottle Apostle to fish from.

Although the company has upped its wages, Sherwood is concerned that restaurants

will probably be offering more attractive

candidates for jobs that are advertised, noting that non-British nationals from

countries with a winemaking tradition

proved difficult. In some cases, positions

have been offered, only for the candidate to

Lundy blames Brexit for a shortage of

fully back to normal.

“When we hire, we normally have a

getting in touch and we almost always know it’s a waste of time to even meet

them because not many people are really

serious about a drop in salary. And we can’t

have always injected extra energy into the Vino team.

Covid is also taking its toll on personnel

management. “Our biggest challenge has

been contact tracing with the schools going back,” Lundy says. “Every shop has been hit with short-notice gaps in staffing for up to five days at a time.”

give people £30,000 as a starting wage.”

Might the recruitment problem put the

handbrake on future growth plans for the business? Sherwood hopes not.

“Long term I think it would be overly

cautious to not expand because of this

problem,” he says. “I think you can find

people, it’s just going to be harder, and you might have to pay more.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 4

Andrew Lundy of Vino

© Tyler Olson /

Oxford Wine Company Location: Oxfordshire Number of branches: 4 Owner Ted Sandbach reports “no trouble

at all” with staff recruitment and retention, either at his shops or with the on-premise side of the business.

“The Oxford Wine Café has kept all its

main staff during lockdown and taken on another three recently,” he says.

“Sandy’s Piano Bar lost staff but, unlike

many other bars in Oxford, has had no issue recruiting good staff.

“Maybe we have been lucky. Maybe

people are attracted to a family-style

company where individuals get treated

with respect and are valued. I would hope the latter, but we have the most talented

team we have ever had and are all excited

about the future and what we can achieve.

Merchants have traditionally welcomed job applications from European residents in the UK

“In essence a lot of staff are looking for

the work/life balance and the fact that we

offer this, and great flexibility, has probably worked in our favour. I hope so.”

It is perhaps taking longer to fill vacancies than it did – although we are happy to hold on to find the right person Mark Wrigglesworth

Ted Sandbach of Oxford Wine Company

The Good Wine Shop Location: London Number of branches: 4 Is owner Mark Wrigglesworth finding it harder to attract staff with the skills he requires?

“Not really,” he says. “While there are

fewer candidates applying, we are still

managing to find people with the right mix

of skills we want.”

there are fewer European applicants than

vacancies than it did,” is Wrigglesworth’s

recruitment, and our additional size means

Does the business have many vacancies?

“No, but it is perhaps taking longer to fill

response, “although we are happy to hold on to find the right person.”

Has Brexit affected the situation at all?

“I would say the problems are the same,

although the reduced volume of applicants is probably a sign of Brexit’s impact as

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 5


“Generally we are finding things OK with

we tend to carry a little more cover across the business, so we can wait for the right candidate.”

Continues overleaf


Indies say: let’s get personnel

Le Vignoble Location: Plymouth, Bath and Bristol Number of branches: 3 Owner Yannick Loué is exasperated by staffing problems.

“People had 18 months off because of

Jeroboams in Belgravia

Covid and they are re-evaluating what they what to do with their lives,” he says. “We are becoming a society of lazy people, I

think. I know a lot of employers who are experiencing the same problem.”

Jeroboams Location: London

Le Vignoble furloughed members of

Number of branches: 8

“They came back for a month, and

have been able to fill the positions that

its team during the worst months of the pandemic.

“In general terms across our business we

have a brand new team everywhere. It’s

recruits,” says chief executive Matt Tipping.

left,” he says. “Since we re-opened we horrendous.

“I think they should pay a percentage

back of what we paid during furlough, because a lot of people think the

government paid us the money and

it didn’t cost the company anything.

Actually it cost us corporation tax, payroll submission and NI, and it’s just not fair.” Loué is one of several merchants

concerned by wage inflation.

have become available with high quality “However, where we are experiencing

issues is in our shops and specifically recruiting sales assistants.” Tipping

believes Brexit is a “significant factor” in this problem.

Jeroboams is doing all it can to make

itself an attractive prospect for newcomers. “We have been working hard as a

paying £20 an hour to people who are “I have made the decision to open

shorter hours; I have had no choice. I’m not the only one.

“In August, for the first time ever in 10

years, we paid bonuses, and even then, people took their bonuses and left.

significantly invest in our in-house

training, both product and business, and to add more depth to our offer through

initiatives like Cycle to Work, an improved staff discount and more flexible pension arrangements,” says Tipping.

“This has undoubtably helped us in the

last few months. It hasn’t, however, made us immune to significant wage inflation driven by the pressures on the wider labour market.

“I am confident that we will go into

Christmas fully staffed, but it has been a

monumental effort by our retail leadership team to get us to this point.”

“The fight is on to see who is going to

pay more,” he says. “Some employers are completely unqualified.

company over the last two years to

Some employers are paying £20 an hour to people who are completely unqualified

“I’ve been in catering since I was a young

Yannick Loué

boy and I’ve never seen things like this.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 6

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 7

Second branch in Brighton station

and pick up when they get to Brighton.

Oliver also thinks the location means

there will be a lot of gifting. She adds: “I’ve had a few comments on Instagram with

Seven Cellars has opened a shop on the

just the words ‘train beer!’, which I find

concourse at Brighton station.

quite funny. We will do a little bit of ready-

The business is already well-established

to-drink, but not too much – probably the

in the nearby Seven Dials area of the city

Brighton Gin & Tonic in cans, and we might

and owner Louise Oliver is excited about

expand our range of half sizes.”

this latest expansion.

East London to Western Australia

“As soon as I opened six years ago, I was

thinking about opening shop two, and

it’s taken me quite a long time to find the perfect location,” Oliver explains.

“That tricky second shop – it’s such

a burden because you get yourself a

Wine shop and deli To Be Consumed, in More than 17 million customers to aim at

little business going, you get yourself

Leytonstone, is up for sale. Owners Nick and Bianca Chapman are

established and you think, OK, it’s stable,

moving back to their native Australia but

second shop and the last thing you want

The couple originally relocated to the

I’m paying the bills – it’s working.

will be sorry to leave the vibrant east

“Then you decide to take that leap to the

London neighbourhood behind.

is to jeopardise the business you have.

UK to join Nick’s sister, but she also moved

But I’ve really worked at it, my team is

back earlier this year. Now with two very

absolutely fabulous, they work so hard and

young children, Nick and Bianca are keen

I couldn’t ask for more really, so I feel the

to rejoin her and the rest of their relatives

timing is right.”

in Perth.

Seven Cellars’ original branch carries

“We’ve been

around 600 wines and 320 spirits as well

in London for

as an impressive range of craft beers. Oliver

14 years now,”

says that selecting the products for the new

explains Nick, “but

shop was a real dilemma.

“We had to pare down the range because

it is really small premises. We’ve got space for around 100 wines and 180 spirits

because it is quite tall inside and we’ve had

there’s nothing like 100 wines and 180 spirits are available

these wonderful library ladders designed,”

of the first to benefit from the revised

have organised it by colour and price.”

businesses in stations has got an innovative

she says. “At Seven Dials we display by

region and country but in the new shop we Official figures estimate that 17.5

million commuters pass through Brighton station every year, and in addition there

is regular tourist activity. Pride weekend, for example, guarantees an extra 15,000

people coming through the station every hour.

Oliver says that she thinks she is one

commercial thinking from Network

Rail. “The guy responsible for putting

approach concerning the south east,” she says. “They are changing their attitude

towards small businesses and are saying

that it would be lovely to have a flavour of the businesses of the towns in which the stations are in.”

The new shop will offer click-and-collect

to allow commuters to order from work

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 8

a global pandemic to

solidify what’s important.

“Leytonstone is a lovely place to live

and work, with a lot of support for local

businesses. There’s a lot of young blood coming in. It’s got that vibe of people

looking for something family focused but

with the opportunity to still go out and get quality food and bits and pieces.

“There are some great local restaurants

and the Leytonstone Town Team, which is a collaboration between local businesses

and the council, is really active in trying to push the area.

“There’s lots of exciting things going on

and it’s getting better each year.”

Bacchus New site means big range increase

followers to 5,000.”

The Wine Club in Rainhill, near St

was installed. “Every single wine on our

Helens in Merseyside, has taken on a second premises just a few doors away from the original shop. This longed-for expansion will allow

its owners, sisters Danielle Milnes and

Rochelle Garbutt, to quadruple their wine range.

“We did well in the first year that we

opened [2018], with the cheese and

charcuterie platters,” explains Garbutt. “But we decided that the only way we

would build the business, especially during lunchtime midweek, was to try and expand the menu, so we had to think about a hot food option.”

Plans for a pizza oven were soon

underway but first the business had

to survive the pandemic. The sisters furloughed their staff and set about

fulfilling hundreds of orders for wine and platters, eventually engaging the help of their family.

“It was insane,” reports Garbutt, “but

it massively grew our online presence

because people were getting the wine and

the platters and sharing them on Instagram and Facebook. We went from about 1,000

By the time the Eat Out to Help Out

initiative was in full swing, the pizza

oven was fired up, and a Verre de Vin

list is available by the glass, right up to

Champagne,” says Garbutt. “Our team is

really well trained and Danielle and I are

there all the time so it’s really easy to talk

to customers about the wines and get them to try new things.”

They also invested £18,000 on a huge

weather-proof parasol which, complete with heating and lighting options, has

doubled the capacity of the original shop.

Garbutt says: “It’s already paying for itself

because on Friday and Saturday nights we

A duvet day in Gosforth

California isn’t in a position to send its wine people to tastings in the UK at the moment. No problem – we can beam them into our stores via the miracle of Zoom. But won’t the computer screen be rather too small for the paying public to crowd around? Again, no big deal – simply project the video on to a screen. No screen available? Well, this is where indies have to get really resourceful. Which is how Jody Bogle, of Bogle Family Vineyards, came to address customers of Carruthers & Kent in Gosforth recently from within the folds of the duvet cover belonging to owners Claire and Mo.

are completely full.

“The new shop will have the wine shop in

the front with spirits and a gift box service and back of house will be the takeaway food service and delivery section.

“The current Wine Club will be solely

for in-house dining,” she continues. “The extra space means we will really be able to extend the wine range. I’ve always

struggled with holding the variations of wine that people want and ask for.

“Now we’ve got much more scope and

we can have a natural wine selection and

an English wine selection and we’ll have a

lot more space for mixed cases ready to go.”

Above: Rochelle (left) and Danielle Right: The new weatherproof seating area

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 9

Threshers smells a rat

There are lots of interesting names to choose from if you’re starting an independent wine shop. The current vogue is to couple some winey terms that combine to sound vaguely like a business partnership: Tartrate & Bentonite, Punt & Dregs, that sort of thing. But one indie in Shrewsbury hit on an idea they thought was even better. How about … Threshers? And why not use the same colour scheme and the same logo as the late lamented First Quench Retailing flagship chain? The shop at least had the decency to add the words “all new” to its fascia, and traded happily for a number of years before catching the attention of the company which now legitimately uses the Threshers name for an online drinks business. The real Threshers was at pains to explain to the Shropshire Star that it has no association with the Shrewsbury pretender. But an intellectual property dispute is the least of the shop’s current troubles. It’s been temporarily closed by the local council due to a serious rat infestation.

Vinological moves to new location

“I’m not new to the wine industry; I’ve

been supplying wines to wholesalers for a number of years. My other side of the

business is food but we decided to move

After three years trading inside Chester

into retail. And it’s all been so smooth and

market, Vinological has set up shop

easy with the first shop that we decided to


roll out into another one and then another.”

Ramsay says he hasn’t set out to compete

Simon Parkinson, who also owns Vin

with Corks Out or Laithwaites at Alderley

Santo, says he knew from day one there

Edge. His USP is the extensive range of

would be a time limit on the original

spirits, including 200 tequilas and the

premises as Chester council was building a

focus on celebrity branded drinks: Snoop

new market to which he’d always intended

Dogg, Cara Delavigne, the Kardashians and

to move.

Breaking Bad are all namechecked.

But there were some “serious issues”

with the terms being offered by the local

Barnes is back with bigger shop

authority. “There were some outrageous restrictions,” explains Parkinson.

“We couldn’t agree on an acceptable

proposal for the new market. We wouldn’t have been able to open on Sundays or

Joseph Barnes Wines stepped away

had to move for the good of our business.”

imposed a 25% rent hike.

from bricks-and-mortar retailing in the

bank holidays, and we wouldn’t have been allowed to sell beer or food. Ultimately we

spring when the company’s landlord

manager, Will Honeywell, had a chance

he missed seeing his customers face to

Luckily, Parkinson, and Vinological’s

conversation with an estate agent that

Simon Parkinson (left) and Will Honeywell

and the city centre itself.

their own personalised bottle.

led them to their ideal premises in Brook Street, located between the train station

or Cognac, from which customers can pour

operate in,” says Parkinson. “It’s culturally

Just Plonk has plans for chain

“It’s an area we’ve always wanted to

diverse with some great shops and

restaurants. It’s a road that people come to

when they are looking for something out of

But owner Charles Hardcastle realised

face and is now preparing to open a bigger premises, near the original shop in Saffron Walden, Essex.

“A friend has got quite a big unit in the

middle of the town and was prepared to offer it at quite a good rate,” he says.

“The online business is booming but at

the same time, like a lot of indies we’ve

taken the decision to offer a bit of food,

the ordinary, so this location is absolutely

Last month Just Plonk opened in

expand the range to include more of the

the first of many shops to come from

regular wine drinker.”

Christmas in Altrincham and Ramsay says

Patel and recently partnered by Shane

prime locations to grow his brand.

a shop in the area, he tweeted that a free

I’ve just jumped on,” he explains.

brave enough to come forth to claim it.

perfect for us.”

Alderley Edge, Cheshire, and if

natural, funky wines alongside the core

owner Nigel Ramsay.

Honeywell adds: “We’ve been able to

range which is more acceptable to the

• Tomoka Fine & Rare, founded by Jass

Cody, has opened new store at The Royal Exchange in London. It features a lined cask that will be filled with exclusive whisky, rum

everything goes according to plan, it’s

The second shop is due to open before

he’s identified Lytham St Annes, Knowle

probably just one and a half days a week.

“There are four rooms, and we’ll use two

for retail and two for the food side. We’re installing a rudimentary kitchen.”

• The Vine Shop has opened in Stroud

and owner David Almeida has taken early online trolling in his stride. In response to an

and Solihull in the Midlands, and Essex as

unfriendly post attacking him for opening

I’ve done my research, it’s not something

critic (nom du plume Grannytickler) was

“I’ve already picked out those areas and

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 10

bottle of l’Idiot Merlot was available if his

Bush (pictured bottom right) was “looking for colours and ideas that were different”

Drinks marketer takes the plunge into wine retailing October saw the opening of Must & Lees in Islington, a new wine shop and tasting room owned and run by Chris Cassell. After a career in drinks marketing,

which included a stint at the MDCV group

(owners of UK vineyards Sedlescombe and Luddesdown) Cassell has settled down with his young family in London.

He says: “I wanted to do something on

my own and although I’ve always worked

in booze and mainly spirits, as they tend to spend a bit more on marketing, wine has always been my passion.

“This project was born a little from the

idea of being more mindful of what we

drink and getting more enjoyment out of it. “I’ve done my WSET educator course

and I’ll be teaching levels 1 and 2, so the business is half events-based and half bottle shop.”

Must & Lees is working with suppliers

including Liberty, Boutinot, Fredericks and The Modest Merchant.

Cassell hopes to get his AWRS licence

next year so he can direct import.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 11


Chancellor’s duty plans will be ‘catastrophic’ for the wine trade Merchants and importers are warned new system will be an admin nightmare and push up prices of most wines


he proposed overhaul of the

alcohol duty system was given a

cautious welcome by many in the

independent trade. But as the detail is

digested, there are warnings that the new regime could be “catastrophic” for wine importers and retailers.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has listened to

industry calls to harmonise the tax on still and sparkling wines, and is planning to

introduce a new framework in 2023 which taxes wine and other drinks according to

their alcoholic strength in six duty bands.

The proposals are subject to a consultation ending on January 31, 2022.

According to the Treasury’s consultation

document, published on October 27,

“wines with a strength between 8.5% and

It adds: “This will be between existing

still and sparkling rates and will be set at

approximately the current rate per unit of an 11.5% abv still wine.”

But Daniel Lambert of Daniel Lambert

Wines says the Treasury is being

“incredibly devious” by dressing up an

estimated £4.5bn increase in alcohol duty as a reduction in the trade’s tax burden. Lambert says that, far from being the

“single flat rate” that the Chancellor

described, “the base level they’re using

is 11.5% and then it increases: basically

you’re then penalised for every 0.5% unit

of alcohol in a wine, all the way up to 22%”. He adds: “From a declarations point of

view, I do not know how you could do a

groupage pallet because with potentially

© macrovector /

22% abv will be taxed at a single flat rate

per litre of pure alcohol”.

25 different rates to choose from across,

say, 10 or 15 wines, you would literally be there hours trying to do the right coding.

“That in its own right isn’t going to work.

It probably explains why CDS [the new

Customs Declaration Service] has got 156 parameters when CHIEF [the system CDS replaces] had 66 parameters.”

Lambert warns that retailers will

struggle to calculate margins and pricing under the proposed system. He also says that shippers will be bound to increase

their fees to cover the extra admin involved in duty clearances.

The budget also includes a 50%

temporary reduction in business rates and a 5% tax decrease on draught beers. • Burning Question – page 29

HAVE YOUR SAY The government has invited the trade to respond to its plans to overhaul the duty system. Submissions must arrive by the end of January. Visit winemerchantmag. com to find the link to the consultation document and the address to which evidence should be sent. Almost all wines in the consumer’s basket will rise in price under the proposals

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 12


GRAND TOKAJ ASZÚ: PERFECT FOR CHRISTMAS The wine of kings has a long and noble heritage and comes into its own when paired with rich seasonal treats


maceration and a second fermentation.

rand Tokaj is best known for

The wine is then aged in small oak barrels

its sweet Aszú wines, which

for a minimum of four years and given

continue to be made following

a further nine months in bottle before

the traditional techniques established in


the early 17th century.

Aszú wines are ideally suited to the


Christmas season. With a minimum sugar

content of 120g per litre and bursting with warm fruity aromas, they pair perfectly

it source grapes from over 1,400 small


producers but it offers growers advice and

Due to the popularity of these luxurious

resources to enable them to grow grapes of

wines among European royalty, Tokaj

the highest quality.

came to be known as Vinum Regum, Rex

Exclusive to the Pol Roger Portfolio

Vinorum (wine of kings, king of wines).

are Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2013, with

Royal devotees included Louis XIV of

complex, exquisite aromas and notes of

France and Emperor Franz Josef of Austria

orange, quince, pear and apricot; Aszú 6

would send Queen Victoria 12 bottles of

Puttonyos 2013, with aromas of spring

Tokaj Aszú every year for her birthday.

chamomile blossoms, dried orange,

Grand Tokaj is one of the largest Tokaj

tropical fruits and a hint of pink pepper;

producers still in Hungarian ownership

Aszú 6 Puttonyos Szarvas 2013, with

with 70ha of vineyards in Tokaj-Hegyalja, a Having converted a series of 400-year-

of the largest cellars in Tokaj-Hegylja.

Not only does this vast cellarage allow for a huge variety in stock, but also for the

storage of some excellent vintages, some of which go back to the 1920s.

The conditions that need to be met

in order to produce these wines means that Aszú wines are highly prized and often reserved for special occasions.

Although the climate of the Tokaj region is ideally suited to the production of sweet

the region’s viticultural practices

winemaking traditions. Not only does

puddings and blue cheese as well as most

old rock mines, Grand Tokaj now has some

continuation and protection of

and views itself as a guardian of Tokaj

with rich seasonal treats such as sweet

UNESCO World Heritage site.

he company plays a key role in the

The vineyards are in a UNESCO World Heritage site

botrytised wine, it is still not uncommon that in some vintages some wineries are unable to make Aszú at all.

A base wine is made in September from

healthy grapes and from mid-October, raisin-like, sugar-rich Aszú grapes are

handpicked into “puttony” baskets and

lightly crushed. These noble rot grapes are added to the base wine, which undergoes

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 13

flavours of pear compôte and quince

jelly with a slightly smoky bouquet, and Eszencia 2013, which is defined by an amber-golden yellow hue and an oily, dense texture.

For more information visit or call 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger


Luminous Hills Pinot Noir LUX 2019

Graham Beck Yin Cap Classique 2016

Luminous Hills in Oregon is the home estate of Seven

Yin is a 60-40 Pinot-Chardonnay blend; Yang, sold in the

this Pinot, with its raspberry notes and distant wafts

initial visual statement that’s backed up on the palate.

of Hearts owner and winemaker Byron Dooley. The

cool vintage of 2019 adds to the unshowy elegance of of incense. It expertly straddles the divide between

Yin just edges it, with its pale pink colour making an

We picked up strawberries, grapefruit pith and a saline note, as well as creaminess from the Chardonnay.

Burgundian austerity and new world jam. RRP: £40.50

same gift pack, reverses that polarity. For our money,

RRP: £80 (two-pack)

ABV: 13.5%

ABV: 12.5%

Walker & Wodehouse (020 7449 1665)

Vindependents (020 3488 4548)

Alma Gemela Carignan 2019

Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir 2017

This boutique winery in the north of Mendoza is run by Mariana Onofri and Adán Giangiulio, and ticks

Using fruit from three vineyards in the same cool-

bright iteration of Carignan, easy-going, medium-

There’s a tannic grip in evidence here but it’s part

climate subregion of the Mornington peninsula,

all the right boxes when it comes to sustainability,

Richard McIntyre ferments his wines with wild yeasts.

minimum intervention etc. In the glass it’s a pure,

of the wine’s structure rather than anything jarring.

bodied, clean and fresh, with plummy richness and a

Notes of liquorice, cloves and cherries add to the fun.

pleasing herbal lift. RRP: £16.99

RRP: £25

ABV: 14%

ABV: 13%

Vindependents (020 3488 4548)

Condor Wines (07715 671914)

Jorge Navascues La Nevera 2017

Lyme Bay Chardonnay 2020

Mariano Navascues is a renowned oenologist and

Cool-climate Chardonnay is quietly becoming a trump

DO Cariñena wines from Aragon. This 60% Garnacha,

a reliable source of ripe grapes. It’s a world away from

wine writer, and his son Jorge is clearly a chip off the old block, attracting acclaim in his own right for his

40% Carignan blend gestates for nine months in oak and emerges tight, dry and meaty, with fruit that is clearly perfectly ripe but doesn’t exude sweetness. RRP: £15.99

card for the English wine industry, with the Crouch

Valley in Essex (the source of the fruit in this example) what still English whites used to be: yes, there’s a

zingy acidity but it’s moderated by tropical fruit, and

the softening effects of French oak. Beautifully poised.

ABV: 14.5%

RRP: £23.99

C&C Wines (020 3261 0927)

ABV: 13%

Lyme Bay Winery (01297 551355)

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2017

De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat NV

It was technically a drought year but winemakers

After you’ve negotiated an evening meal with wines

Needless to say, the wine is a joy, with its familiar but

this. An explosion of sticky fruits, coffee and caramel,

say 2017 provided a “textbook” growing season with “exceptionally healthy” Muscat de Frontignan fruit.

still exotic tangle of honey, flowers, peaches, citrus fruit and saffron. More prosaically, almond cake mix too. RRP: £60

ABV: 14%

Mentzendorff (020 7840 3601)

that are models of restraint and subtlety, it’s time to

let rip with something as unashamedly exuberant as bolstered by oaky vanilla, it’s a wine that should be

poured for Rishi Sunak before future duty negotations. RRP: £15.99

ABV: 18%

North South Wines (020 3871 9210)

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 14

brightening up brighton terrace in walthamstow


orest Wines is the proud owner of a freshly-painted

installation attracted lots of customers. “Luckily we had really

mural which makes the shop a community focal

lovely weather that week,” she says, “and people were


coming in and taking pictures and asking questions.

Owner Jana Postulkova explains: “There are a lot of

“We always feature the latest art arrival on our Instagram

murals around in Walthamstow and we worked with a local

and it’s highly engaging content. The annual Art Trail has

organisation, Wood Street Walls, in order to get ours. They

created a map of where all the murals are so people can

work to connect artists with public spaces, so it’s not only for

walk or cycle round to see them all.”

businesses but also private homeowners who might have an

Naturally, Postulkova had to seek permission from her landlord, but Wood Street Walls took care of everything else

end of terrace, for example. “We’ve always had this huge wall and over the years

and introduced her to a few artists. She commissioned and

our customers have said it would be nice to have something

collaborated with Albert Clegg, tag name AGWA, and she’s


thrilled with the result.

The appearance of new murals in the area always creates

“I feel that it’s a nice addition to the neighbourhood,” she

a buzz, so Postulkova was not surprised when the week-long

says, “and a good way of investing back in our community.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 16

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 17

Rising Stars

Michael Huband Amathus, London


ichael Huband, an English graduate with teaching experience, has proved to be the perfect fit for a role encompassing wine education for a rapidly expanding retailer. Tim Jackson MW, head of marketing at Amathus, explains: “Michael initially started in our Soho store, supporting Sam who runs it. He very quickly got to grips with and engaged in the wine business. We have really seen his proactivity, delight and pleasure in getting involved in more and more things.” Michael is now the assistant manager at the South Kensington store, which he recently helped to open, and he is thriving in other areas too. “For the last six months he has been the voice of Amathus on all of our social media because all our central accounts are run by him,” says Tim. “Michael is a former English teacher and he is a really good writer so we have tapped into his historic talents in a really nice way. He’s really taken it to the next level in supporting the other stores in their social media activities. “He has that combination of enthusiasm, initiative and intelligence to be able to support the business in multiple ways to drive things forward, beyond simply being a good seller of products in a shop. “He’s showing us really fantastic ways to engage people coming into our stores and drive the business more broadly than just being an assistant manager. Once you have gems you nurture them and give them the opportunity to grow, and Michael has taken that with both hands.” Michael swiftly realised that teaching in a secondary school was not for him, but he has retained his enthusiasm for education and has fully embraced his additional role as “head of grammar” at Amathus. “It never hurts to have someone to proofread everything,” he says. “When I did my WSET Level 3 about four years ago I decided the education element of it was something I really enjoyed and would be well suited to. I was lucky in that within six months of joining Amathus the WSET course provision was on their radar. Unfortunately for senior management, that gave me licence to pester them about it!” His “pestering” paid off and Michael says he is looking

forward to running the courses. “I know I will love the structuring and the pedagogy of it. I love managing our events because there is something so powerful about demystifying wine. I find it extremely satisfying to know that I am helping someone to enjoy something and empower them to find something that they really like. “Wine can be exceptionally difficult to communicate, even if you have a bottle open in front of you. Often you have to have that slight sense of poetry, metaphor or idiom because taste and smell are very difficult to articulate and we are also talking about something that is very complex and can be emotionally loaded. So communicating this, on both the sales side and the educational side, is something that really appeals to me.” And what are his particular favourites when it comes to wine? “I’m a little bit of a wine tart,” Michael laughs. “I like everything, although I have a particular love for Spanish wines. Godello in particular has a special place in my heart. Often I tend towards rich, fleshy whites, so South African Chenin has always been a favourite of mine too.” Michael has no regrets when it comes to his career change. “The lovely thing about this industry is that you are talking about and dealing with something that you can really enjoy,” he says. “Starting work at Amathus could have been intimidating because these are very much spirits stores as well as wine stores, but there was this infectious enthusiasm and I was so interested in all the products they were offering.”

Michael wins a bottle of Grand Tokaj Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2013 If you’d like to nominate a Rising Star, email

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 18

It's time to Taste Rueda Get behind this dynamic Spanish wine region and you could qualify for a £250 bursary and a useful POS pack


he Taste Rueda campaign is back and

independents are invited to apply for a £250 bursary to support their own

in-house promotion.

Between October 2021 and April 2022,

wine retailers and on-trade outlets are

encouraged to promote the wines from DO Rueda to their customers and there are free POS materials up for grabs.

Recent changes at DO Rueda involving

new categories and varieties provide

plenty of talking points for indies to share with their customers.

Rueda is Spain’s number one selling

which is at

many different varieties and styles to be

should be used in any promotion.

white wine and although the region might be synonymous with Verdejo, there are

discovered. Winemakers have embraced

the new classifications and are producing unique and exciting wines.

The rise in popularity of Rueda wines

is reflected in the growth of the export markets, including the UK, where the

region anticipates significant growth.

To take part, merchants can apply for

a POS pack at the #tasterueda website,

The Rueda logo and hashtags

#tasterueda @DORuedaUK @DORueda

Merchants must increase their existing

listings of Rueda to include at least another two wines from the region.

The wines must have the official DO back

label – they cannot be Verdejo from Castilla Leon or La Mancha.

Bursary requests should be accompanied

with photos and proof of the store’s promotional activity.

Your at-a-glance guide to the Rueda modifications In 2019 the Denomination of Origin Rueda ratified a series of modifications to its regulations and labelling instructions. Some of the most important changes are as follows: • The old classifications of Rueda Verdejo and Rueda Sauvignon have been merged into Rueda. It is the only category that will be in place for the still white wines 2019 vintage • A new category, Gran Vino de Rueda, has been created for wines made with grapes from vineyards older than 30 years, with a yield of less than 6,500kg per hectare and a 65% processing ratio. The production of these wines started in the 2020 season and bottles will feature a different back label

• Rueda Pálido, a fortified wine, aged under flor, that had disappeared from the DO’s classification system back in 2008, has been reintroduced • A new type of wine now exists, called Vino de Pueblo, which may show the municipality from which the grapes derive, provided that the percentage of grapes from that village is equal to or greater than 85% • Sparkling wines (Rueda Espomoso) may include the words “gran añada” (meaning excellent harvest), when the entire production process, from pressing to disgorging, exceeds 36 months. This reference must be followed by the year of the harvest • Viognier and Chardonnay are the two new white varieties now allowed and Syrah has also been introduced.

In association with

#DORuedaUK #DORueda #TasteRueda

BIG STEPS in b roa d sta i rs A t r a d i t i o n a l w i n e s h o p o n t h e e a s t Ke n t co a s t h a s b ee n t r a n s fo r m e d i n a shor t space of time by new owner Mitch Swift. As he explains to Claire Harries, this is just the beginning of an ambitious long-term programme

The Bradford on Avon shop was previously known as Ruby Red Wine Cellars

people come in and say, ‘you could expect to see this shop somewhere in london’, and for me that is such a compliment


lmost a year on from buying The Bottleneck in Broadstairs, Mitch Swift is “tired, but happy.”

He has successfully introduced on-premise sales,

launched an e-commerce arm and carried out a refit. And, he says, there is more change to come.

Although Swift grew up away from the UK, his family

always had a home in Broadstairs and so it seemed an obvious place to put down roots and start to grow his business. He bought the leasehold from Chris and Lin Beckett in 2020.

“It all clicked very nicely,” he says. “It’s a fantastic spot

on the high street. We did a full refit but we wanted to

keep the classical feel of the shop by keeping the original

timbers. It’s an old building from the 1890s, I think – two fishermen’s cottages put together. Sometimes young

people can go in all guns blazing and rip it all out and get carried away, but we tried to modernise it in a sensitive way.”

By incorporating the previous office area at the rear

into the footprint of the shop, Swift has allowed room for 22 covers. “It’s a small shop, though, he says, “so I keep it really simple with four reds, four whites a rosé and a

sparkling. We change the wine list every single week, and customers want to rebook for the following week to try the new menu.”

His plans for next year include installing lighting and

heaters in the courtyard, which will allow for an extra 20 covers, and possibly having a tasting room with Enomatics.

“I’m very lucky, I have a large cellar with a triple vaulted

ceiling, so I have the space,” Swift says. “It’s just finding the funds to do it.”

Swift might have a business degree but admits that he

has to evaluate whether he’s thinking with his heart or his head when it comes to that kind of investment.

“From a business perspective, would you do it?” he

asks himself .“ No. But from a personal perspective, as a

wine lover, do I want to do it? Yes. It works in places like London and it’s great because they make their money

back straight away, so for me it’s probably about a more long-term investment. Really we want to focus on the wine shop side and make it an amazing experience.”

He estimates that he has around 800 alcoholic products

in the shop, including a “massive” craft beer selection, spirits and a fine whisky section.

“When I took over there were 130 lines in the wine

range,” Swift says. “Now we are close to 400. I spend a

lot of time buying wine and I try really hard to work with

suppliers to avoid having the same wines as anyone else.”


he hard work is paying off. Swift reports the response from locals has been nothing but positive. “People come in and say, ‘you could expect to see this

shop somewhere in London,’ and for me that is such a compliment.”

Swift says he works with over 30 suppliers and he is

keen to promote local growers and producers.

He dedicates a corner of the shop to a different wine

each month.

“I do a little write-up of the wine. We’ve done wines

from Domaine of the Bee and from Folc, among others. I sell about 200 bottles of the wine of the month so it’s great for small producers,” he explains.

Swift is looking forward to Christmas and is confident

it will be a little easier than the 2020 experience. “Last

year,” he says, “I took over and I was on my own, brand

new to the industry, brand new to having a shop; I’d never worked in retail before, and all of a sudden I was trying to stock this whole shop.

“I was in here probably 17 hours a day for the first six

weeks. It was crazy. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, but at the same time, what you put in, you get out.”

So, what’s next? “I have this big five to 10-year plan and

I’ll be developing the brand, because I think what we’re doing is bringing a really nice approachable younger modern twist on selling wine,” Swift says.

“I’ll keep re-investing in the business, because it’s my

pride and joy. I’ll have this business forever.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 21


Forget any preconceptions you have about Chilean wine. The MOVI collective of smaller producers demonstrates just how innovative, imaginative and energetic the country’s winemakers can be


OVI is a collective of 39 boutique

Chilean producers who have joined

forces to give their wines a better profile and open up new distribution opportunities.

Its UK distributor is Propeller, described by its founder Jamie Wynne-Griffiths as a

“disruptive incubator”, providing exposure and coverage for new entrants in the UK. “Wholesalers have lots of distractions

preventing them taking on new wines but retailers have customers demanding new

wines, so we’re here to help them through that bottle neck and give them a start in the market,” says Wynne-Griffiths.

Propeller has taken an initial container of wines from MOVI – full name

Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes – and is already pulling together a second.

“It was a long time in the planning, but the wines are here and selling like hot cakes,” Wynne-Griffiths adds.

The essential concept behind MOVI is about collaboration. Members meet at

each other’s wineries to taste wines and

share experiences, and publicly represent wines from across the organisation, not Nina Cerullo just their own.

A Zoom tasting for Wine Merchant

(RRP £14.45) and Maurizio Garibaldi

Ridgway, co-owner of La Despensa.

Corinne O’Connor, operations manager

readers was hosted by two members: Sven Bruchfeld, co-founder of Polkura, and Matt Bruchfeld says MOVI aims to break the

stranglehold of Chile’s big producers and the main generic body that, he says, is geared towards them.

“Chile has by far the biggest average

winery size in the world,” he says. “South

Africa is next biggest, but its average size is about half that of Chile.

“Chile has maybe 300 wineries that

export, including the cheap and bulk wine

exporters, yet Wines of Chile only has around 80 members, which is about the same as you might find in one town in Europe.

“Knocking on doors on your own is

nearly impossible; knocking on doors as a group is much more powerful.

“It gives us an opportunity to show

the diversity of Chile from a completely different angle.”

That diversity was evident in the wines included in the Wine Merchant tasting,

which kicked off with the single-vineyard La Recova Sauvignon Blanc 2018

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 22

Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (RRP £17.99), both from Casablanca.

at Propeller, says: “It’s really interesting tasting these side by side because they are really different from a lot of the

commercially-made Chilean Sauvignon and they’re also really unique styles in themselves. There are differences in

winemaking and vineyard location that translates into the aromas and palate.”

Graham Sims of New Forest Wines raises

an eyebrow at the vintage. “But it’s lovely

and I can see it needed some age,” he says. “I adore this [La Recova] – it’s genius,”

adds Jane Taylor of Dronfield Wine World. Bruce Evans, of Grape to Grain in

Crediton, says: “There is a great opportunity for these wines with the consumer being forced to move away from New Zealand.”

Loreto “Loly” Arteaga of Nerikhue and David Giacomini from La Recova

Maurizio Garibaldi’s 2016 Malbec/

Syrah/Durif blend from Maipo’s Coastal

the variety’s American name Mission.

Marchigue in Colchagua.

of Maipo area, outside the box in terms of

in Maule tends to be much lighter, almost

Grenache, 2% Tempranillo and 2% Petit

Range (RRP £31) also featured.

“It’s from the chilly side of the western end viticultural areas,” says Bruchfeld. “It has a

much longer oak- and bottle-ageing regime

and the wine needs it because this area is not the lush Maipo we normally expect.”

Tringario’s Ludopata 2020 is a rare

100% Marselan varietal from Colchagua Valley (RRP £17.99).

“Marselan was invented in France in

the 1960s when they crossed Cabernet

Sauvignon with Grenache,” says Ridgway. “It grows really well in Colchagua. It

produces small berries like a Cab but big bunches.”

Say Colchagua quickly and it can sound

like Cold Shower, and that was the cheeky

name Ridgway chose for his 100% Pais wine, because it’s not a permitted variety in the

region and, hence, he can’t put Colchagua on the label. The wine is sub-branded Mission: Impaissible (RRP £19.99), a word-play on

Ridgway: “The vines for this are about

150 years old. The Pais from further south like a dark rosé. The Colchagua wines are

much more concentrated with more colour and structure. They’re very different – not necessarily better, but different.”

The wine was a winner for Rob Hoult of

Hoult’s in Huddersfield. “Love the label and love the name, a terrific sense of fun and

bonkers enough to not look naff,” he said.

Ridgway’s La Despensa Field Blend (RRP £21.45) is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, with a “dollop” of Marselan.

Ridgway adds: “Our GSM blend is always going to be fairly boozy, at a round 14%, but we’re looking for a fresher style. We

co-ferment all the grapes because it becomes much better integrated when it’s done from the start.”

The tasting featured Bruchfeld’s Polkura Random 2017 (RRP £15.99) and Polkura Malbec 2018 (RRP £21.99), both from

The 2017 Random is 45% Syrah, 30% Malbec, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3%

Verdot, but no vintage is ever the same, hence the name.

The 2018 Malbec actually has 13% Syrah in the blend, though normally Polkura blends in Petit Verdot.

“Polkura is really a Syrah project and I planted Malbec thinking of using it as

Syrah blender,” Bruchfeld says. “In 2008 we had a bush fire that almost destroyed the Malbec vineyard. It was super-emotional

and we decided that the Malbec deserved to be bottled.”

The tasting also featured a different take

on Chilean Cabernet in the form of Nerikhue Quiebre Cabernet Sauvignon (RRP £19.99), from Colchagua Valley.

Ridgway says: “They’re looking for a

fresher style of Cabernet rather than

typical Chilean super-concentration.” Bruchfeld adds: “It’s a super-steep

vineyard and they’ve used every square foot of the hill. It’s very difficult to go

up with a tractor so they do everything by hand. They’re very creative; a great contributor to the MOVI gang.”

Feature sponsored by MOVI and Propeller. For more information visit Or call 01935 315539 Email


THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 23

Visit the new Wine Merchant website

WINE BAR, BOTTLE SHOP & DELI FOR SALE This unique venue, located in increasingly hip Leytonstone, East London, takes advantage of strong local support and growing investment from new residents. With 1000 sq ft of indoor space and an outdoor seating area, it offers a relaxed and comfortable environment to enjoy wine, craft beer and light meals. The new owner would inherit a lovely, profitable business with stock, social media and healthy balance sheet. Handover support can also be provided.

It is much, much better than the old one.


The business is being marketed by and enquiries should be directed to them.

customers we could do without

29. Ricky Tankard … I tell you what, them supermarkets ain’t half a rip-off … like we didn’t watch the budget on the news and see for ourselves exactly what old Siri Junaks was saying about cheaper Prosecco and cheaper rosé and cheaper beer … we seen it with our own eyes, them tax cuts on booze, and still them prices look exactly the same! That’s why I come in ‘ere, support the little guy, cos the big boys are creaming off all that extra profit for theirselves … my sister-in-law swears by some posh rosé that you might know, Twittering

Supplier of wine boxes and literature • 12 Bottle carrier box with dividers • 6 Bottle carrier box with dividers • 12 Bottle mailing box with dividers • 6 Bottle mailing box with dividers • 4 Bottle mailing box with dividers • 3 Bottle mailing box with dividers • 1 Bottle mailing box with dividers

01323 728338 • •

Congratulations to the five Wine

Angel, Shimmering Angle, something like that – twenty-

Merchant reader survey respondents

odd quid a bottle she reckons! Anyway, I says to her, don’t you be paying that sort of money no more, not now the government have forced them to put their prices down … reckon you can get that kind of gear for eight or nine quid if you go to a normal shop

AM ANAand TIaMCoravin, GRwho E courtesy of each win

ourChancellors partner Hatch Mansfield. Can you unscramble these of Exchequer? If so, you win the chance to set next year’s budget. Peter Fawcett, Field & Fawcett, York

where the boss man ain’t on the make … plus I expect you © UTBP /

whose names were drawn at random

can afford to put your prices down even more now they cancelled your rates …

1. Hyena Diesel Anthony Borges, The Wine Centre, 2. Raisin Husk Great Horkesley, Essex 3. Man Not Normal Ristanovic, 4. Zoran Beer Gorge Soon City Wine Collection, 5. Ailing Laird’s Rat London Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines, Dorset Riaz Syed, Stonewines, London

THE THEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANT november october 2021 2021 24

ight ideas br

27: left-field wine & food pairing Rebecca Palmer Corney & Barrow, London

In a nutshell: Don’t shy away from the

showing their wares, and again, just like

your own palate in the process.

product. The chocolate tastes wonderful

with wine, consumers want to learn about

notoriously difficult wine and chocolate

the provenance and the authenticity of a

pairing. You may even discover more about

and the packaging is absolutely amazing so

Tell us more …

of course it’s great for gifting.”

“A friend of mine set up Cocoa Runners

Will you continue with the tastings in

about seven years ago, doing what we do

for wine but for chocolate. He goes around

the Zoom format?

we started, for fun, trying to pair chocolate

don’t have to factor in the expense of a

the world seeking out artisan producers

“Definitely. I think virtual tastings are here

and wine. We tried to look for subtle

babysitter or a taxi. Cocoa Runners were

to stay. They are convenient in that you

who produce bean-to-bar chocolate and

already doing a lot of consumer events

pairings between really fantastic flavourful

before lockdown and then they were very

chocolate and both red and white wines, so not just the standard port or Pedro Ximenez wines.

“Over time we started to develop a bit of

an understanding of certain grape varieties

Chocolate: the ultimate wine pairing problem

that work and the styles or winemaking

might conche the chocolate, stir it and so

Would you say there is a natural synergy

parallel worlds of wine and chocolate you

techniques that formed an accord with particular chocolate beans.”

between wine and chocolate? “Yes! Just as in the wine world we have the thing of swirling the glass and allowing

forth. It’s absolutely fascinating and it’s really good fun. I think in pairing these

discover a bit more about yourself in how you taste and what your preferences are.”

The tastings are in November. Is this the

the aromas to come up and then holding

best time of year for them?

melt and understanding it’s not just about

difficult, maybe because people are

the wine in your mouth – it’s like holding

“I think Spencer at Cocoa Runners can

the percentage of cocoa, but about how it’s

thinking of their bikinis! But it gets to

the chocolate in your mouth and letting it

been made; the techniques or the variety of bean. The way we might extract tannins or

let the wine rest in oak and have batonnage and things like that to make something

more creamy, it compares to the way they

generally find the summer months quite about this time of year and people really want good chocolate. For example, there

was a chocolate fair last weekend at Kings Cross and they had 5,000 people pop in. “People behind the products were

up-and-at-them with their Zooms during lockdown so they had an established

format. We drew on some of the pairings we’d made already and rolled them out

into tastings. We can open a window onto a new experience and get people to taste

along with us. It’s a really fun experience. “Also, I find one of the most difficult

things about making wine accessible

and fun for people is that tastings can be

intimidating. We use an online tool called Menti. You can input things anonymously and they all come up on screen at once.

“Virtual tastings offer so many benefits

and learning opportunities that I hadn’t anticipated before lockdown.”

So chocolate and wine is a good thing? “I do think craft chocolate is a really good

add-on for wine merchants and it is an area that will develop. Chocolate made this way is better for you and for the planet.”

Rebecca wins a WBC gift box containing some premium drinks and (appropriately) a box of chocolates. Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for you and you too could win a prize. Email

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 25

© Sandor Kacso /

Spotlight on Hungary The specialist food and drink importer Best of Hungary ships 75 wines from 24 Hungarian wineries to the UK, with a plethora of indigenous grapes ensuring plenty of points of difference. Sommelier Zsófi Kiss took readers of the Wine Merchant on a tour of some of the portfolio’s key styles

Bull’s Blood The tasting showcased an array of wines from arguably Hungary’s best known red blend, Bull’s Blood, or Bikavér in Hungarian. The wine’s

name is said to derive from invading Ottoman soldiers becoming alarmed at

believing that Hungarian

troops who had red wine

dripping from their beards had really been drinking bull’s blood.

Generally, there must be a blend of at least

three grapes, including

Kékfrankos. Two layers of

classification were added in 2009, Superior and Grand

Superior. The yields are less in the higher

World Wine Awards, becoming the first

In the tasting, a range of wines including

exceptional ageing potential.

grades, producing more full-bodied, richer styles.

Szent Gaál Bikavér 2018 from Szekszárd and St Andrea Bikavér Superior Bull

2018 from Eger demonstrated the nuances

Hungarian red wine ever to achieve this. An energetic and vibrant wine, it has

Kékfrankos, aka Blaufränkisch, usually

gives the body to Bull’s Blood so it was

interesting to taste a 100% Kékfrankos

from Vesztergombi winery, the Kétvölgy

around blending across different regions. Vesztergombi St László Bikavér

Kékfrankos 2018.

yield Kékfrankos, Kadarka, Cabernet

Sauvignon and Merlot. On the nose, there

very small proportions in Bikavér is the intriguing traditional grape Turán, and

2017 from Szekszárd is a blend of low-

One variety that is sometimes used in

are dark berries, dark chocolate and red

Best of Hungary also ships a single varietal,

peppercorn; this is a big, bold red with round acidity and a long finish.

Attila Pince Turán 2016.

“It has red skin and flesh, which makes

St Andrea, Egri Bikavér Grand

wine with a very deep colour, with a taste

one of the Best in Show at the Decanter

says Kiss.

Superior Nagy Eged Cru 2017, which also featured, was recently selected as

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 26

something like a Shiraz. It’s quite spicy,

with rose petals and a kind of gaminess,”

© zgphotography /

Tokaj vineyards

Lighter reds Hungarian red is about so much more than just Bull’s Blood. Szent Gaál Kadarka

2019 comes from Szekszárd in southern Hungary. Kiss says: “It’s quite warm but

they produce such elegant, lifted wines and focus on preserving the freshness without

She adds: “People can be a little reserved

Harvest 2019 is, says Kiss, “an elevated,

more you’ll love it. It also makes a great

acidity but still make a sweet style of wine.”

about Furmint at first because they might not know it, but the more you try it the pairing for seafood.”

“It was a challenging year with lower yields and fewer botrytised berries. However,

fantastic wines; that’s where the identity

comes from. The variety has great potential and it is Hungary’s answer to Pinot Noir.”


attractive, stylish label. “In the nose, a black

Attila Pince Egri Leányka 2013 comes

red and blue fruit notes,” says Kiss.

Hungarian variety, Leányka. “It’s an orange

Dry whites

Lantos Harlequin Kövidinka 2020

Tokajicum Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2017,

is from “a very complex vintage”, says Kiss.

wasn’t difficult they wouldn’t be able to make

like Syrah, with lifted florality and some

That poise was also shining through in the

Balassa Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2010

it’s thin-skinned and prone to rot, but if it

pepper spiciness is coming through, almost

adds: “They’ve managed to balance great

months in oak barrels.

“Kadarka is hard to cultivate because

designed for the UK market, with an

floral and fruit forward style of wine”. She

which has a freshness despite spending 30

too much oak influence on the wines.

Lantos Mr Frank 2018 was especially

Tokaj berries with botrytis

from the cool-climate Eger region in

northern Hungary and is made from an old wine but the winemaker doesn’t really like

the quality of the ensuing wines was great,

characterised by a rich minerality reflective of the volcanic terroir.

“If I want to explain Tokaji to customers, I say it has a higher sugar level than

Sauternes but lower alcohol and with fresher acidity.”

Feature sponsored

it to be called that,” says Kiss. “He believes

by Best of Hungary.

the bottle. The skin carries more of the

to find out more

white wines are better if left on the skins

For more

flavours of the wine. It’s a great grape, with

about their range

as they are less prone to oxidation in

information and

super-interesting aromatics.”

of award-winning

Furmint is a little more familiar in the

“You need crazy amounts of fresh grapes,”

wine tasting, visit

says. Balassa Tokaji Furmint 2019 is

Three wines were included in the tasting,

0780 571 7576

comes from Kunság, the largest wine

region in Hungary. “Lantos is family-owned and focuses on local grape varieties,

including Kövidinka. It’s a bright, easy

drinking soft wine which can open up to be enjoyed on its own or with fish.”

UK. “Most wineries started to make dry

white Furmint wines in the 2000s,” Kiss “really bright, quite toasty, and has an element of chamomile florality”.

Sweet Tokaji wines

fine food, perfect for your next

says Kiss of Hungary’s famous dessert wines.

showing subtle variations in style.

Email info@

“It’s very hard labour for the winemaker.”

Or call

Tokajicum Tokaji Muscat Lunel Late

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 27


Favourite Things


Aldi goes upmarket with wine launches Aldi has shaken up its wine list with the addition of a range of classic premium wines under the Winemaster’s Lot label, as well as adding more premium and esoteric wines from interesting regions for Christmas. Winemaster’s Lot sits above Aldi’s

Gabor Juhasz

Shepherd Market Wine House London Favourite wine on my list

I’m in love with our heavyweight Chilean Purple Angel, from the Montes family. It’s great value with a fascinating story behind it regarding Mr Montes, who created the first premium Chilean winery. The wines listen to Gregorian music for their first two years of maturation time!

Specially Selected range, and comprises 10

classic wines from key areas. These include an English sparkling wine (£19.99), Barbaresco 2018 (£17.99), Pouilly

Fumé 2020 (£10.99), Vacqueyras Blanc 2020 (£9.99), Sancerre 2019 (£12.99),

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and a Côtes de Provence Rosé (£7.99).

The Drinks Business, October 26

Favourite wine shop

I’d like to say a word for the Rosemary Organic Hungarian restaurant at New Cross Gate in London; a great little selection of Hungarian wines, especially organic, biodynamic and natural wines.

The outlet will be open from November 2

until the end of January 2022. Decanter, October 13

Byzantine winery unearthed in Israel A 1,500-year-old wine factory has been discovered in Israel. The factory, which includes five wine

presses, ageing and bottling warehouses as the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The site dates back to the Byzantine era

around the 4th-5th century CE, making the winery the largest known to exist from the period.

The Drinks Business, October 12

Favourite wine trip

Favourite wine trade person

Ouriet to Bérêche and Veuve Fourny.

uncovered by archaeologists according to

One of my favourite food matching moments is a very classic one. A medium-rare fillet steak with garlic spinach on the side, accompanied by 1998 Chateau Musar. It felt like a gastronomical wedding.

It is hard to pick a favourite person because everyone in this industry is so passionate about their work. However, I would shout out for Thierry from Champagnes & Châteaux. He is great at helping and organising.

bubbles from Krug to Dom Perignon, Egly

well as kilns for firing amphorae, has been

Favourite wine and food match

I have been on a few trips, however so far not enough to pick the one favourite. If I could just daydream for a second, I would go for a Chilean south to north trip, reaching out for the big names and discovering the hidden gems.

the cork on some of the most sought-after

Mayfair bar will be open until February

Villa Maria is sold to Indevin NZ

Coravin opens bar in centre of London

Indevin New Zealand has acquired

Wine technology company Coravin is

Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Auckland

gearing up to open the doors to its first pop-up wine bar. Situated in London’s Mayfair, Coravin’s

Wine & Bubbles Bar will feature what the business claims to be the longest list of sparkling wine by the glass in the UK.

Putting its latest innovation to the test –

Coravin’s preservation system for sparkling wine launched in June — the team will pop

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 28

100% of the shares of Villa Maria Estate, for an undisclosed sum. The sale includes Villa Maria’s

wineries, vineyards, supplier agreements, the flagship brand Villa Maria as well as

Esk Valley, Vidal, Leftfield and Thornbury. Indevin makes wines for producers

and retailers all over the world, has three wineries and controls supply from more

than 3,000ha of vineyards in Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. Decanter, October 4

Pomerol takes the lead on weedkillers



What’s your reaction to the Chancellor’s proposed duty changes?

A tax on bubbles, which are full of air so therefore a tax on nothing, always seemed unfair! As sparkling wines are arguably the best wines we produce as a nation, the drop in duty can only be positive for growers, sellers and consumers. The hike on higher-alcohol wines is an odd one. I know we are encouraged to drink less alcohol and appreciate the health benefits this has. However, grapes that are grown in hotter climates are naturally higher in alcohol so it seems a bit unbalanced to punish them.

Pomerol has become the first French appellation to ban all chemical weedkillers in its vineyards, with the proposed changes to the region’s winegrowing regulations (the “Cahier des Charges”) passed into law.

Until now, weedkillers could be used if

it could be guaranteed they were applied

Jonathan Cocker H Champagne winner H Martinez Wines, West Yorkshire

with precision, and leaving more than 60% vegetation in the vineyard rows.

The only other major change of note is

that irrigation will be allowed in cases of

prolonged drought – a clause becoming all too common in many French appellations. Wine-searcher, October 24

I’m glad the Chancellor left duty alone. Sparkling wine duty being in line with still wine makes perfect sense. But equating stronger red wines to high alcohol ciders is a bit wrong. We will wait to see how much he increases the stronger and fortified wines. I would have thought a minimum price on units of alcohol was more sensible. However most of this is not happening until spring 2023… so let’s not hold our breath!

Noel Young NY Wines, Cambridge

Changes to wine duties will make pricing a lot more difficult. What happens when abv changes from vintage to vintage? This strikes me as a measure thought up by someone who really doesn’t understand how the trade operates. No longer can we do the mental arithmetic required to add duty to an ex-cellar price. It might play well with certain parts of the electorate but it looks as though we’re going to have to factor in the abv of every product whilst calculating selling prices.

Bottle shortage means oak surplus

The supply-chain issues snaring container ships in traffic jams and

Chris Connolly Connolly’s, Birmingham

emptying store shelves are also threatening one of California’s most famous products – wine. A dire shortage in glass bottles is forcing

some winemakers to let wine age in

wooden barrels for too long, which can

lead to the drink tasting “like a sawmill”,

Phil Long, the owner of Longevity Wines in Livermore, California, said.

As independents with strong trading with the on-trade sector, the business rate relief to the hospitality and retail sectors must be a good thing, although the cap at £110,000 per business will mean that there are too many of our customers who will be unable to benefit. The duty freeze will certainly help stabilise things and is ultimately a decrease, given that inflation is running over 5% in our sector. Chris Piper Christopher Piper Wines, Ottery St Mary, Devon

With prices of nearly every good needed

to bottle wine soaring, Long said vineyards may eventually be compelled to raise the

price of wine as well. The cost of glass has skyrocketed by 45% compared to 2019.

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584

Business Insider, October 19

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 29

Roussillon Too often overshadowed by its larger neighbour, France’s sunniest wine region has every reason to feel confident about its credentials as a source of wines that can really fly in the independent trade



Council (CIVR).

80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Roussanne,

oussillon wines deserve more

recognition for its “hidden story”

wines, says Eric Aracil, co-director

in charge of exports at the Roussillon Wine It’s a hidden story that’s rich in diverse micro-terroirs, old vines and low yields. “The UK represents about 5% of our

volume and 4% of the value of our exports and we’ve increased by 41% in volume

since 2019,” Aracil tells a group of Wine

Merchant readers during a recent round-

“This is from an area with maritime climate and stony soils,” he says. “The

vines are more than 100 years old. It is

planted in nursery vineyards dedicated to white wines.

“People talk a lot about Chardonnay, but

Grenache Blanc is taking its own place with its structure, freshness, mineral expression and length.”

Becka Leigh of Oxford Wine Co thinks it

‘It’s a region that’s rich in diverse microterroirs, old vines and low yields’

table Zoom session.

has “lovely freshness and a beautiful mineral

really expressing something,” he adds.

Collioure (RRP £18, Enotria&Coe) is a

“Consumers are searching for wines with good personality at decent prices that are Surrounded by mountains to the north,

south and west, and the Mediterranean on the east, the diversity of soils and climate in the valleys around Roussillon’s three rivers means its wines actually express many different somethings.

It has 24 principal grape varieties, and deploys over 80 in all, with the highest

average annual sunshine hours of any wine region in France.

Cazes Clos des Paulilles 2020, AOP

blend of 80% Grenache Blanc and 20%

Grenache Gris, grown on coastal Cambrian schist terraces which, Aracil says, delivers “great minerality from the schist and salinity from the sea”.

Rob Freddi from Albertine Wine in London describes the wine as “very

evocative … sea spray, wild herbs and great salinity on the finish”.

Domaine Gauby, Les Calcinaires 2019,

“We have one of the biggest ranges of

IGP Côtes Catalanes (RRP £16.50, Liberty

has to offer, kicking off with the white


wines in the world,” says Aracil, as he

presents a snapshot of what the region Rancio Domaine du Rombeau @ Michel Castillo

seam underpinning a concentrated palate”.

Domaine Lafage Blanc Centenaire

2020, IGP Côtes Catalanes (RRP £11.60,

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 30

Wines) is mainly Grenache Blanc, with

a balance of Chardonnay, Macabeo and

“It is a blend from young and old vines,” says Aracil. “It has a herbal character –

Aspres ®CIVR

some thyme, rosemary and white fennel.

after three years. The Black Grenache adds

The first of two reds was M Chapoutier,

The round table also presented the

The Chardonnay is from new vines, bringing freshness.”

Occultum Lapidum 2017 AOP Côtes du

Roussillon Villages Latour de France (RRP £20, Hatch Mansfield).

“This is from Chapoutier’s Domaine BilaHaut property and is 50% Black Grenache with the rest made up of Syrah and Black Carignan,” says Aracil.

“There is finesse in the wine; we have

big potential in Roussillon for this because we are not using over-extraction or overmaturation. When you have wonderful terroir you have to respect it.

“These days people want to have a wine

to drink right now, and with Roussillon it’s possible to do this – but if you have a good cellar you can lay it down and you will be happy too.”

Becka Leigh at Oxford Wine Co adds: “I love the powerful fruit character in this

wine – [and the] very food-friendly tannin structure”.

Dom Brial, Château Les Pins 2014,

AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages, was the only wine tasted yet to find a UK agent.

“Château les Pins is on stony terraces

with clay and some grey schist,” says Aracil. “This is 60% Syrah with Black Grenache

and Mourvèdre, aged in oak, and released

a little more acidity from the skin, and

there is some spice from the Mourvèdre.” chance to sample Vin Doux Naturel, the

fortified sweet style made by adding 96%

neutral grape alcohol to a small proportion of the grape must.

The wine has to be aged for at least 24

months, and some go to over 20 years, with different ages sometimes blended in the same bottle.

Vineyards in Collioure ® CIVR

Becka Leigh at Oxford Wine Co thought

it as a “stunning example of an ambré. This

de Pyrene) was “so juicy, but still with a

with bread-and-butter pudding if you are

the Mas Amiel Maury Vintage Blanc

2018, AOP Maury (RRP £26.70, Les Caves nice, chalky minerality”.

Aracil adds: “Vins Doux Naturels are

amazing with Indian or Arabic dishes. You

can keep it in the fridge after opening it for a few months. It is a wonderful ingredient for your cooking.”

Château de Jau Chez Jau 2007, AOP

Rivesaltes Ambré (RRP £16.60, Les Caves de Pyrene) is a blend of 80% White

Grenache and 20% Macabeo, aged for four

is fantastic with pumpkin pie if you are

celebrating Thanksgiving, but very good being more British about it”.

With UK consumers more open to the

idea of fortified wines than they have

been for some time, and wine merchants increasingly trusted by a new wave of

customers, the conditions seem perfect to convert Roussillon from a hand-sell to a region that people ask for by name.

years in 600-litre barrels. “The result is

a wonderful expression of gingerbread,

complexity of spices, preserved peaches

and quince, with a little touch of roasted almonds,” says Aracil.

McDiarmid at Luvians in Cupar describes

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 31

Feature sponsored by Roussillon. Web: Insta: roussillonwines


Just how worried should you be about supermarkets? Imagine that you had a friend who would taste all the most significant wines from the multiple grocers’ autumn line-ups and then feed back an honest assessment of their quality. Well, you have, and his name is David Williams


e do the X so you don’t have

to” is a surprisingly resilient bit of marketing boilerplate.

In the last few days alone I’ve spotted

it on the vans of a local plumbing firm

(“dirty work”), an estate agent’s mailout

(“leg work”) and a Stonewall initiative for

improving conditions for LBGT+ people in the work place (“hard work”).

And so, in the spirit of another deathless

cliché, if it ain’t broke, I’m happy to say that I too have done my bit of labour-saving labour. Over the past couple of months

I’ve tasted my way through hundreds of

supermarket wines to prepare the latest in

my occasional series of reports on the state of play in the multiple grocers for Wine

however – as I returned to large-scale

market as a coherent ranging strategy.

of the multiples was largely gleaned from

aisle at Lidl, which has always seemed to

supermarket tastings after a more or less two-year hiatus in which my impression sporadic samples – is how and in what ways their ranges have changed, both individually and as a sector.

What follows then are a few headline

developments which I feel may be of particular relevance to independent

merchants – the shifts in emphasis and focus that in ways both good and bad

will impact your business and shared customers the most.

Finding the Found and the Loved & Found

Merchant readers – and all so you don’t

The needle on my bullshitometer flips deep

been boom times for supermarket wine

track wines. It’s not that the wines

have to.

These pandemic years have of course

(and other booze) departments, just as they have for many in the independent

sector. Last year saw double-digit growth

in BWS sales across the grocers, although a dip of 6% for the sector in August

(according to Nielsen) suggests things

might be moving back towards pre-Covid

levels as customers return to the on-trade. What was most interesting to me,

into red whenever I hear supermarkets trumpeting unusual, or off-the-beaten-

themselves are bad necessarily (although they may be). It’s more that my innate cynicism about supermarket margins

and buying practices suggests that wine

quality probably came second to price. I’m always suspicious that the supermarket in question is making a marketing virtue out of buying necessity, passing off a slightly

random set of purchases made on the spot

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 32

That remains my default setting

whenever I find myself browsing the wine me to be a reactive rather than proactive wine seller, finding the cheapest parcels

and adapting its range accordingly (albeit with some occasionally excellent results),

rather than seeking out wines to fit a preexisting slot.

The needle was twitching, too, when I

noticed that both Marks & Spencer and Waitrose had introduced very similar ranges – in terms of name, price and

concept – last year. But the quality of the wines in M&S’s Found and Waitrose’s

Loved & Found selections presented a challenge to my cynicism.

In both cases, these are wines that

deserve to be found (or rediscovered):

whether it’s Chilean old-vine País (in both ranges), South African Grenache Blanc,

or Gascon Gros Manseng. Varietally true,

and with consistent quality, at reasonable

but not stupidly, unsustainably low prices (around £7 to £9), this strikes me as

being exactly what a supermarket wine

range should be, offering a safe space for

exploration to neophyte or cautious wine drinkers.

rut The Loved & Found range is just part of

a very healthy-looking wine selection at Waitrose, which is full of good things at

every price level sourced by a buying team

which has very much got its mojo back. It’s clearly the market leader in the multiple

grocer sector, and would challenge many indies, too.

Some way back in second, M&S has put

most of its creativity into two baskets:

the Found range and Classics, its similarly

shape, with some genuinely excellent finds

which has continued to diversify its

a smattering of well-chosen brands from

genuinely good unusual bottlings sourced

in its The Best own-label range (Rioja and

English fizz being personal favourites), and the new and old world alike. The Co-op’s tightly focused range is similarly full of smart choices from a reliable roster of

suppliers, while Tesco, if not setting pulses racing exactly, does a pretty good job with its main priority – the Finest range – with typically reliable staples from the likes of Concha y Toro and Villa Maria.

Sainsbury’s, however, is stuck deep in

well packaged, clear and consistently good

the same mediocre rut it’s been in for some

rest of the range, however, while offering

occasionally comes to interesting life in

quality counterpart comprising better-

known wines from claret to Zinfandel. The generally consistent quality, could do with a bit of a refresh.

In the chasing pack, Morrisons, led by

the engagingly thoughtful head of wine

operations, Mark Jarman, is in pretty good

time now, its sole focus the rather ordinary Taste the Difference range, which only southern France and Spain.

Aldi: Can discounters do “fine wine”? Besides Waitrose, the standout multiple grocer player at the moment is Aldi,

range in sometimes surprising ways. Like M&S and Waitrose, it has added a line of

from Lebanon, Greece, Canada, Bulgaria, Switzerland and China.

Also of interest for independents is the

company’s new “super-premium” line. The range’s name, Winemaster’s Lot,

may sound like a title for a slightly naff

fantasy film or board game, but the wines themselves, while small in number (10), are actually pretty good.

It may well be that you have better

white Burgundy and Nebbiolo than Aldi’s

Mont de Sène Chassagne-Montachet 2019, or Winemaster’s Lot Barbaresco 2018,

on your shelves. But don’t be surprised if some of your customers aren’t using

the Aldi price tags (£34.99 and £17.99

respectively) as benchmarks for both styles this Christmas.

“Our intrepid buyers discovered this winery during an internet trawl of the spot market”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 33

© Space_Cat /

Waitrose No 1; Sainsbury’s still in a

WHY PORT IS GOING DOWN A STORM Port has been booming in recent years, even in the summer. “One of the reasons, we believe, is that it is seen as a comforting drink and, when everyone was isolated and alone, it reminded them of family and times with friends.” That’s the view of Anthony Symington, part of the famous Anglo-Portuguese port dynasty who is now brand manager for port and Douro wines at Fells, the UK distributor owned by the family. “It was great that people rediscovered port and seemed to continue drinking it. As we can see from our sales, we had a record year last year and it’s continuing as people are buying port more regularly and out of the traditional drinking time, which is fantastic for us.” Symington Family Estates incorporates Graham’s (its favoured house for independents) as well as Warre’s, Dow’s and Cockburn’s. “They are run as individual companies within Symingtons. They have their own style that has been developed over many years. “Graham’s is more of an opulent, rich, sweeter style of port with a lovely minty eucalyptus note in the finish. Dow’s is historically slightly drier with a long, spicy peppery finish and then Warre’s is more elegant and fresher in style. We see ourselves as custodians of these great houses.” THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 34

Anthony Symington reflects on some remarkable changes at his family company: its people, its products, and its challenges

Feature produced in association with Fells and Symington Family Estates For more information, visit or

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 35


A RESPONSIBILITY TO THE ENVIRONMENT Symington Family Estates is now on to its fifth generation. “We have strict rules in our family,” explains Anthony. “One is that you have to retire when you are 65. It’s a good way to ensure that there are new ideas always coming into the business.

The Douro is one of the hottest and driest wine regions in the world. Looking after

“Likewise, you are not automatically guaranteed a role in the business just by dint of your surname. You have to go and work elsewhere for a number of years and gain experience. It might be in wine or it might be in another industry that could add benefit later on, whether that’s finance and accounting or more of a marketing role.”

dry. We average around 500ml of rain. Imagine feeding your houseplants with the

Anthony’s cousins Rob, Tom, Harry, Charlotte and Vicky all have roles in the Symington business. “We all get on incredibly well. I’ve been best man to two of my cousins – we genuinely are very close and very good friends. Growing up together in a small city like Oporto, you’ve all shared many of those formative childhood memories.

the environment was near the top of the Symington agenda long before sustainability became such a fashionable idea. “We are right on the edge of where agriculture is possible and far more susceptible to small changes that maybe don’t affect more temperate areas so immediately,” says Anthony Symington. “Not only is it mountainous and almost impossible to mechanise, it is also incredibly equivalent of a pint of beer over the course of a full year; they would quickly die. So vines and olives really are two of the things that can grow in this climate.” In the past 40 years, average Douro temperatures during the growing season have soared by 2.3˚C, already past what environmentalists would call the point of no return on a global scale. Symington’s is an accredited B Corporation, which means it is required to maintain certain environmental and social standards. Compliance involves perhaps unexpected activities such as beach cleaning and organising groceries and medication for isolated pensioners during lockdown, but also carbon capture during fermentation. “We are looking at capturing it and turning it into fertiliser or selling it to carbonated drinks companies,” Anthony explains. “We are working with our bottle providers to reduce the weight of the bottles and reduce the energy used in creating them, and then with our haulage partners to reduce the carbon emissions on the transport side.”

“In business we can talk to each other constructively without offending, which is key.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 36

Ideas that breathe new life into the port market In this most traditional of categories, NPD remains at the top of the Symington’s agenda

“I genuinely feel that there is a sense of excitement around port now,” says Anthony Symington. “The value of tawny port sales has gone up by £21m in the past eight years, and that is from the aged tawnies to the new single harvest limited releases. They are small releases from a specific year, maybe just one or two casks, and they are appealing to more of a collector or a whisky drinker and getting them involved in the category. “Port is so much more diverse than people give it credit for. Traditional reserve ruby port is what people often associate with port: dark red, fruit-forward; have it after a meal with cheese. “Tawny is a totally different drink in terms of flavour profile. It has these lovely nutty caramel, salted toffee flavours and goes very well with anything from ice cream to crème brûlée. You serve it

of mint. It’s incredibly easy to make and it has captured people’s

chilled. It’s a hand-sell to start with but 90% of people who try it


love it. If you could sample a bottle in your store, I’m sure your

“People have gin fatigue, so it makes a nice change.” A ruby partner has been launched in the form of Graham’s

sales would go up hugely.” White port is also booming: Symington’s saw sales rise by 250%

Blend No 12. “The grapes are picked at night from a high-altitude vineyard to keep them fresh, so this is a fresher style of ruby port

last summer. “As a result of that we launched Graham’s Blend No 5, the first ever premium white port made for mixing. That has been really popular. It mixes really well with tonic, a slice of lemon and a bit

targeted at a younger consumer and made to be mixable. “We’re trying to inject a bit of colour, personality and excitement into the range.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 37

Into the valleys Undurraga winemaker Rafael Urrejola introduces Wine Merchant readers to the TH range. These are wines that demonstrate just how varied Chile’s terroir can be, from the northern desert to the cool south, with mountain elevation or Pacific breezes also playing a key role


he TH range from Chilean

producer Undurraga aims to show

the regionality and diversity of the

country’s winemaking areas.

The initials stand for Terroir Hunter and head of winemaking Rafael Urrejola says

it’s a project that is constantly evolving as

to make more interesting wines with

important for ripeness.

through some highlights from the portfolio

ocean because there are

character, identity and sense of place.” Urrejola took Wine Merchant readers during a recent Zoom event.

Chardonnay, Limarí

it explores new areas.

(RRP £18.49)

since 2010 we have been exploring much

Atacama desert starts. The climate

“The roots of the company are in the

“This is from one of the most northern

more to the north and south, where there

conditions are very special. We have a lot of

central areas of Chile,” he explains, “but are more extremes of soil and climate

viticultural areas in Chile, where the

light because of the desert and that’s very

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 38

But it’s not hot, because

we get influence from the no mountains.

“Temperatures are

quite similar to Burgundy and Champagne, which is perfect for Chardonnay, and there is a chalk

component between

alluvial and gravel soils which brings a lot of

texture and freshness. We work the lees a

can ripen maybe two clusters per vine. We

lower yields, which means we get a bit

“We don’t use a lot of oak. The overuse

much closer in style to a Côte-Rôtie than

“It’s not the most intellectual or complex

lot to get a creamy texture and to hold the acidity.

of oak was very bad for Chilean wines. We already have sweet flavours, and then you

add toast and vanilla and chocolate flavours and you get a dessert feel to the wine.”

Chloe Malone of Champion Wines in

Chislehurst says: “It’s beautifully elegant. I

love the marzipan notes on the nose – very charming.”

Russell Paine at Clipper Wines in

Southsea also “loved” the wine. “Great

balance, and delicious on the finish” is his verdict.

Sauvignon Blanc, Central Coast, Leyda Valley (RRP £17.99) “Leyda is eight miles from the Pacific Ocean, so it’s a very cool,

humid, maritime climate. All

those conditions preserve the natural flavours and acidity

of the grapes. It’s like cooking

slowly on a low flame rather than rushing on a high one.

“The result is not

a typical new world

Sauvignon Blanc style

with tropical flavours, but more herbal and flinty; a bit of fennel, gooseberry leaves and some

tangerine – but not

overripe citrus aromas.

“It’s a little bit more austere than

most new world Sauvignon, but that elegance is nice because there are a

lot of exuberant and upfront ones in the market.”

Syrah, Leyda (RRP £19.49) “Leyda is a very cool climate to

produce Syrah in, but because of

that it’s one of our most successful wines. It’s a dry-farmed block of

3.1 hectares facing north where we

produce less than one bottle per vine to be able to properly ripen the Syrah, and it’s Syrah from other parts of Chile, or from Australia.

“It’s herbal, with lots of laurel, tarry notes, black pepper and lots of fruit

strength. It’s ready to be drunk now but

more structure and complexity than you normally find with Carménère.

wine in the range but it’s the most popular because it’s very approachable.”

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cauquenes, Maule Valley

has good potential for ageing. Leyda gives

(RRP £17.99)

firm but will soften up in the future.”

soils and sea breezes that give

us that because of the acidity and the

“Cauquenes is an area with a

Cabernet Franc, Maipo

some cool nights. Here we have

structure of the tannins, which are quite

(RRP £19.49) “We have a small vineyard in Maipo

with lots of gravel soil which produces small berries and gives a nice

concentration. Cabernet Franc is

quite a vigorous variety but, if you can help it to produce fewer and

smaller clusters and berries, you

get a concentration of herbal and

floral notes with nice structure and finesse. It’s not over the top; it’s

balanced, elegant and drinkable. “We’re not into producing

massive blockbuster wines where

you have a glass and want to go for a

pint because it’s impossible to drink more. “Normally TH wines are just one variety but the Cabernet Franc has a touch of

Merlot from the same vineyards to bring a little fruitiness and soften the tannins.”

Mediterranean climate, granite 70-year-old vines farmed by

small growers we work with.

“It’s is an area where

we have a lot of great success

with Carignan, Grenache,

Syrah and Marsanne. But

because TH is a dynamic

and challenging project, we

wanted to try to produce Cabernet

even though we don’t have alluvial, gravel soils. We have granite soil

with lots of coarse small rocks that play that role.

“Maybe it doesn’t have the

softness of Maipo Cabernet but

it has a lot of strength from being

a Cauquenes Cabernet. It’s one of the

wines where we are really pushing the boundaries.”

Carménère, Peumo, Cachapoal (RRP £19.49)

Sponsored feature

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For more information about

to ripen but cool nights to

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preserve the natural acidity

Hallgarten & Novum Wines:

can hold its humidity until


and freshness. It also needs soil with a lot of clay that

the end of the summer for the grapes to ripen.

“These vines are more than 25 years old and

are naturally producing

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 39 Or call 01582 722538


Stuart Rothwell, Ramsbottom, October 2021

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 40


In it for the long haul Stuart Rothwell was in the transport business before joining the wine trade. The Vineyard at Ramsbottom in Lancashire adapted well to lockdown and has emerged from the other side in good shape, despite all the familiar challenges. Nigel Huddleston says hello


tuart Rothwell admits that

The Vineyard has had a bit of a

spruce-up especially for The Wine

Merchant’s visit.

“My wife’s tidied up,” he says, while

he was away over the weekend playing

cricket, in Portugal of all places. “There are normally boxes everywhere. Customers

will wonder if there’s something wrong. I’ve had two customers this morning comment on how tidy it is.”

The Vineyard opened its door in the

Lancashire town of Ramsbottom, a dozen or so miles north of Manchester, on the

seventh day of the seventh month in 2007. Since 1999 Rothwell had been one half

of R&R Fine Wines in Bury, but he got the wine bug before that, helping out wife Geraldine, who managed a deli called Ramsbottom Victuallers.

“My parents were both teetotal, so it

wasn’t from them,” he says. “I’ve never been a big drinker, a beer drinker, or

“I had a haulage business, but was selling

that, so it just seemed to fall into place.”

He went to night school to do his WSET

exams, which was “brilliant, not like doing maths or English”.

After eight years of R&R he decided to go

full time?’ They had a premises in Bury, so we started a wine shop.

How did the outside come about?

get on well. When shutdown came he was

providing an outdoor lockdown-plus space on the street.

“When we set up there were Victoria

Wine and Thresher in the town, but they did their thing and I did mine. I’m not

saying we’re upmarket, we’re not, but

we were at a completely different level to those two. They’ve gone, of course, and we’re still here.”

The business is a family affair, run by

Stuart with Geraldine and daughter Becky.

How was lockdown in a business sense?

people couldn’t get their heads round the

customers said, ‘Do you fancy doing this

in 10 we’d be happy, and we have done.

now has a temporary marquee/gazebo

retail space over two levels, and which

giving people recommendations. I didn’t get paid for it, it was a hobby. One of the

who’ve stayed. I said if we could keep one

We put up the marquee in the street. There

Ramsbottom, and the current site, a small

It’s been good. We became a delivery

afternoon and help out with the wine,

But we found new customers through it

it alone and moved five miles up the M66 to

anything like that.

“I used to go into the deli on a Saturday

and we’ve seen that drop to 20-25 a week.

service within a few days of the first

lockdown happening. We were open but fact that we were open when the whole

town was shut down. We knew it wouldn’t last [after the end of lockdown]. We were

probably doing 15-20 local deliveries a day,

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 41

are two restaurants either side, tapas and pintxos, both owned by the same guy. We

gutted, obviously. We got wind through our MP, who we get on with, that the council had to do anything they could to keep people in business.

So Sergio came up with the idea of how

we could move outside. We didn’t get much sense out of the council at first but all of a sudden they said we could close the

street. We had to go through a few hoops

with Covid rules, risk assessments and the licence.

We had to get public liability for £10m

rather than £5m. We are both insured

by the same local company. It cost about £20 and the insurance broker [Monroe

Greenhalgh] asked if they could sponsor

the marquee, so it’s got their branding on it. It’s been fabulous.

Continues page 42


From page 41

How does it work in practice? Sergio does the food and we do the wine. It’s worked really well. Overnight we

became a hospitality business. It’s totally

different but we worked hard at it, and it’s been totally brilliant really.

The plan is that next spring the council

will decide to close the road permanently and make it pedestrianised, which I think they will, and then we’ll put a proper weatherproof structure up.

But we’re still using it: we’ve got the

Halloween tasting in there and we’ll do a Christmas market and one or two other events.

It sounds like there’s quite a supportive business network in Ramsbottom. There is. It’s all independents; the

only chains are Lloyds the chemist and

Ladbrokes. It’s an old mill town and there

there’s a tasting in each shop that they

for Portuguese wine from 2014. Would

for the retailers, and the suppliers can talk

It’s from Wines of Portugal. We are the

shop, a French shop … we never have

another one. We had it on the van but we

walk around. They all put food on; we do

you regard yourself as a Portuguese

to people and get them to try things that

holders of that award still, because they

the brochure. It creates late night shopping


they wouldn’t normally. We have a Spanish

pulled the funding and there hasn’t been

anybody in here. We can’t be bothered with that. Just go and bother everybody else.

We had the ports in the solicitor’s and he

was taking 10% off if people want to do a

will at any time. Just getting to know them. Jonathan Cocker at Martinez in Ilkley

wanted to do the same but he said the

licensing people weren’t happy, but ours

were OK. You can do it in a small town, but

you couldn’t do it in Manchester. That’s the beauty of it.

How would you describe what you do

People go, “what the hell’s a wine-dering

How many independents are there in

We organise the Wine-dering Tour.

tour?” At Christmas, I get all my regular suppliers to come up – Enotria, Bibendum, a lot of smaller

ones, Raymond

Reynolds etc. We take over eight

shops and I put a supplier in each:

the underwear shop, the hairdresser, the

solicitor. For the Love of

Wine does the Italian wines in the art gallery.

How does it work? Customers come to me, get a glass and

It was just a little thing that other shops

didn’t really get into. A lot of retailers do

France, Spain or Italy, but Portugal’s always an afterthought. It really started through Raymond Reynolds, who are just lovely to work with, when we went on a trip

to Portugal. The wines were lovely and I decided to try to bring them to people’s

attention. So Portugal’s always been a bit

of passion really … and great wines. If I tell

‘At Christmas we take over eight shops. We had ports in the solicitor’s and he was taking 10% off if people wanted wills’

are few others dotted round us. You’ve got to work together.

just took the date off.

day-to-day? the country? 700 or so? We’re similar to 650 of them,

which is that middle level with more quality. We’re

about quality, not quantity. We’re

a bit eclectic and

try to cover most

bases with a bit of


We’re busy at Christmas

with people who normally

shop in the supermarkets who want to

buy something a bit special.

You have an anonymous-looking award

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 42

people the grape varieties they’ll go over

their heads, so we don’t go that deep into

it. In the wine trade we think people should know about varieties, but why should they? What are the people of Ramsbottom drinking at the moment? Whispering Angel. “Have you got that

rosé?” That’s all they have to say and you know what they mean. Our biggest seller

is an Italian red, Sampietrana, from For the Love of Wine, and it has been for four or

five years. It’s behind the counter; we don’t even put it on the shelves because it goes out that fast. It sells because we push it.

You get people coming in who want to

know about wine but are a bit frightened, and ask for a recommendation. They go

away and try it and then we sell cases. We take a full pallet for Christmas, which was


Sarah Dodd has hung on to some of the new customers acquired during lockdown

All set for Halloween … but suppliers have warned about Christmas shortages

a big decision the first time but it all went

year; we always have done and it does very

With all the supply issues and

As an ex-haulier, do you ship any wine

suppliers to investigate but, apparently, it



yourself? No, not now. With all the paperwork, who’d want to be an haulier? It’s a nightmare

getting wines in at the moment, isn’t it?

We’re bottom of the pile at Rotterdam.

well, even though it’s an old-fashioned

everything else that’s been happening,

won’t be the third Thursday in November,

I suppose it has in some ways. They

Are relations with suppliers generally

being one we could mention. We had an

thing. I’ve got two alternatives from other

has 2021 been worse than 2020 in some

it will be into December.

keep saying about Christmas shortages


All our suppliers are just saying, “you can’t

It’s mainly specialists in particular

things out of Italy is difficult because there

characters who try to knock them down on

have this, you can’t have that”. New Zealand Sauvignon, especially – and trying to get

aren’t enough companies going into Italy to bring it out.

Beaujolais Nouveau has been cancelled.

We get it from Georges Duboeuf through

Berkmann. We do a good promotion every

countries. I don’t abuse my suppliers

because I need them. I’m not one of those

price. If it weren’t for the Italian specialist,

the Spanish specialist … we use Moreno for Spain and a small importer in Manchester for Spain – and For the Love of Wine and Liberty for Italy.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 43

.... top-end Sauvignons, Greywacke

allocation from August to Christmas of

14 cases but that’s no longer happening.

There are alternatives but if you like New Zealand Sauvignon you like New Zealand

Sauvignon. There’s not a lot like it. People

are saying about South Africa and Chile but it’s not the same. Loire is not the same.

Continues page 44

© Jeremy /


From page 43

It’s got to be damn good Chilean or

South African to match New Zealand. But

the situation might change people’s tastes as well. We’ve probably got 15 or 16 New Zealand Sauvignons. Why do we need so many?

Talking of down under, your Australia sign is upside down. We had all the signs done by a young girl who said “I’ve made a mistake”, but we

decided to keep it that way. There’s always some wag who will say: “Why isn’t your

Ramsbottom was named as one the best places to live in the UK by the Sunday Times

New Zealand sign upside down as well?”

team plays social matches against local

doing phenomenally as well. The cocktail

Australia is a country that goes up and

me business as well. We’ve just taken two

rum cocktails.

Kids love it when they come in with mum and dad, so we kept it as a talking point.

down. You sell a lot and then nobody asks for it.

The pricing has gone up of course. All

our suppliers are telling us there are price increases coming across. There has to be

because of the prices people are paying for

clubs, and I sponsor banners at a lot of the

grounds. It’s good advertising and they give new cricket clubs on. That’s all kicked in

and the restaurants have opened up again. And retail is doing well, so we have that too.

A big part of the shop is devoted to

containers, etc.

spirits. How important is that?

Back to 2019 levels?

whisky. They know their stuff and I end

Where are you in terms of turnover? We’re way ahead of 2019. Last year was a funny year but a brilliant one really

when you look at it. Turnover has gone up 25% over 2019. The outside helped

and wholesale has come back now. We do local restaurants … and cricket clubs. Our

culture came in with gin drinkers and all

the bars in Manchester are selling a lot of Tequila and mezcal are quite good, and

the specialist liqueurs for cocktail making. If a recipe says “a dash of Angostura” you

have to add it. You can’t get away without it.

Your catchment area includes a lot of

It’s massive. We have a certain brand of

very notable independents.

up asking them questions. We do well

good. Phil at Wino’s in Oldham is a good

customers who are knowledgeable about

You won’t get better than D Byrne and

in Cognac, and gin of course. It’s slowed

friend. Reserve Wines [in Manchester] are

down slightly but that’s only the quirky gin liqueurs, the cheeky flavours, like

bubblegum. We’ve got a massive selection of proper gin and it’s still good. Rum’s

‘Turnover has gone up 25% over 2019. Last year was a funny year but a brilliant one really. Wholesale has come back and retail is doing well’ THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 44

Tom [Jones] at Whalley Wines is very

brilliant. Kwoff in Bury have been there

for about six or seven years. They’re big

Boutinot customers and I never really have been, so we do slightly different things.

Our catchment area is probably a 15-

mile radius. People who come to us from

outlying villages know Tom and they know Byrne and they’ll shop in each of us. We work well with Kwoff who’ll ring if they have customers in the shop asking for

things they don’t have – and we do the same for them.

In the independent trade, that’s how it

works. You’ve got to get on with each other.

. T H E D R AY M A N .

Nothing bland about consistency Winners of the Brewer of the Year crown are all explorers, but rarely hit-or-miss novelty acts. Their beers are balanced and drinkable


embers of the British Guild of Beer Writers have

it’s worth checking out its majestic dark beers as well.

just been asked to cast their vote for their 2021

What all three have in common is an appreciation of the

Brewer of the Year from a short list comprising

importance of poise in their beers. Like the best wines, great

Stacey Ayeh of Rock Leopard, Charlotte Cook of Coalition,

beers seek balance: bitterness with malty sweetness, fruit notes

John Hatch of Ram, Robin Head-Fourman of Beak, Andy

with spices, silkiness with a pleasing tannic grip.

Parker of Elusive and Jeremy Swainson of Utopian.

I’d suggest these are all explorative brewers, rather than

Making the selection is an interesting exercise, not just

experimental ones, searching for the best they can possibly get

because it’s nice to champion a favourite, or to see whether your

from the basic raw materials and techniques of beer making,

choice also grabs the attention of your voting peers, but because

not pushing the boundaries, as many do, in the name of novelty,

it gives pause to reflect on what makes a good beer and a good

with variable success.


The other thing they all achieve is consistency. That’s

With the victor not due to go public until December, rather

sometimes regarded as a dirty word in beer writing circles

than pick a winner, it might be more appropriate to name a few

because it suggests uniformity, safety, even blandness. But for

stand-out great modern brewers of recent years – and identify

me, it’s a reassuring sign of a brewer’s competence. It doesn’t

what they have in common.

have to mean boring beer; you couldn’t accuse any of the above

Mark Tranter worked at the then-independent Dark Star in

brewers of producing anything of the sort.

Sussex before setting up Burning Sky in the county in 2013.

It just means you know what you get is going to be flavoursome,

He won the Guild’s Brewer of the Year just a year later, gaining

drinkable, balanced, true. Buxton, Burning Sky and Kernel are

recognition for his speciality in saisons and a nice line in

all prolific brewers, but I’ve never had a bad beer from any of

drinkable pale ales and, more recently, some very fine lower-abv

them. It’s no coincidence, either, that these three have all been

table beers.

around for a while now, proof that genuine quality will rise to

Evin O’Riordain at Kernel is another ex-winner who began with exploration of single varietal or hop blends on an IPA

the top and stay there. Oh OK, if you insist: Robin Head-Fourman at Beak.

theme. Over time, Kernel’s range has spread tentacles into other styles, with each new iteration continuing to show the subtleties of different hops and what a skilful brewer can get from them. Burning Sky beers come in colourful cans and Kernel’s in brown bottles with plain brown paper labels. Both, in their own way, express quiet confidence about the contents. Buxton Brewery seems to be more under the





ironically, it has a higher commercial profile, with supermarket listings alongside bottle shop patronage. Like Kernel, it favours micro-

87% of winners also wear caps

variations on the hoppy pale/IPA theme, though

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 45

Bordeaux’s hidden treasures

Almost 60% of the Bordeaux vineyard is classified as Bordeaux or Bordeaux Supérieur. At an online tasting, and a London round table, merchants had the chance to discover and discuss whites and rosés from these AOCs


he reputation of Bordeaux’s

famous red wines is unrivalled but the region is shining a light on its

white and rosé wines, in a bid to broaden its appeal.

As with its reds, differences in growing

conditions contribute to a diverse array of

styles in Bordeaux whites and pinks, which was evident in a tasting led by Bordeaux wine tutor Laura Clay for readers of The Wine Merchant.

“There’s been increased quality in

white wine in the last 10 to 15 years,” she says. “There’s a lot of skin contact, skin maceration and lees stirring. All those

things are making the whites better quality. “The diverse soil types and micro-

terroirs bring a lot of complexity, interest

“There’s a lot of Sauvignon Gris character

Sauvignon Gris.

Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and

more generous,” says Clay.

“It has really smoky, creamy, toasty

and reliability when blending. It’s a very versatile category.”

Muscadelle are the principal varieties in white Bordeaux blends but Sauvignon Gris is increasingly being used, as in

Château de Bonhoste Cuvée Prestige 2020, a blend of 90% Sauvignon Gris and 10% Sauvignon Blanc.

here, a kind of peachy, apricot aroma, some dried fruit character. It’s much plumper, “If I was tasting it blind I wouldn’t

identify it as Bordeaux, but that’s not a

bad thing. Let’s have diversity, let’s have difference, let’ shake it up a bit.”

Château de Lussac Le Blanc 2020

combines 65% Sauvignon Blanc with 35%

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 46

It’s fermented in oak for eight days and aged on the lees for six months.

notes,” says Clay, “but also with some orange blossom citrus character.”

Le Loup de la Loubière, from Entre-

deux-Mers producer Vignobles Jade, has 32% Sauvignon Gris tucked into a more conventional blend.

is nothing like New Zealand Sauvignon.

cool fermentation and lees stirring for four

elegant, more food-friendly.”

The Sauvignon Blanc from Château

That’s not to put New Zealand down, but

Bordeaux is more restrained, lighter, more Château Roc Meynard, from Vignobles Hermouet in Fronsac on the right bank, is

a straight 50-50 Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon split. “This is very limey and minerally “In the past if a wine was stated as

90% Sauvignon, it might have been partly Sauvignon Gris, but producers didn’t

really differentiate,” says Clay. “Now they

are doing so because Gris is looked on as being trendy.

“Le Loup is fresh, zesty and zingy

without being over the top on the palate, compared to New Zealand Sauvignon, which would be more punchy.

“Generally, Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc

with some quince flavour,” says Clay. “It has got a lot of fresh acidity but what is really noticeable is that the Sémillon makes it a slightly heavier wine – but still one that

is beautifully balanced. There’s a hint of creaminess from the lees stirring.”

Two single varietal Sauvignon Blancs with similar production approaches

highlighted how different sites produce nuances of style.

Château Labatut Cuvée Prestige 2020 is night-harvested to ensure freshness in

the grapes, and made with skin maceration,

months to produce “gentle floral aromas and a crisp, persistent acidity”.

La Verrière has a slightly warmer

fermentation than normal for whites, at

18-20˚C, and, says Clay, has “more complex aromas, with hints of jasmine, lime and lime leaf”.

The relatively recent revolution

in Bordeaux rosé was led by British

winemakers, making pink wine for the UK market, says Clay. Their success has led to

many more producers developing specific sites to grow grapes to make rosé wines.

“They’re picking the grapes earlier and taking the same approach as for white

wine,” says Clay, “with cool fermentation, as opposed to just drawing off a little

juice when they want to make a more

concentrated red wine. As a consequence,

Merchant feedback Angus Weir, Great Grog, Edinburgh “Being a relative newbie in this industry, I haven’t really been exposed to the whites and rosés of Bordeaux but I thought they were all very good, in particular the Château de Lussac and Château Penin. In a world where Sauvignon Blanc is so popular, but a hole created with the limited stock of New Zealand plonk, I can certainly see Bordeaux whites filling that gap.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 47

they’re more elegant, more balanced and

can cope with it.”

Château Caminade Haut Guerin

Château Penin 2020. “It’s really bold but

more marketable.”

The tasting featured several examples. Rosé 2020 is a 90-10 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend that, Clay thinks, has

“almost saké aromas” and Hubba Bubba bubble-gum notes that resonated with some readers.

The 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Château Gandoy-Perrinat Rosé 2020 was more

“red fruit character, summer pudding, with a nice sharpness to it”.

For Clay, the authentic Bordeaux rosé

shade is the currently-fashionable pale pink. “The colour is definitely a way to encourage younger drinkers to try Bordeaux,” Clay adds.

“But just because they’re paler it doesn’t

mean they lack depth or body. Some rosés are pretty good matches with lamb – they

An example of the more robust style

was the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant

not over the top,” says Clay. “It’s still a very

approachable and friendly wine that ticks a lot of boxes.”

Belle Rosée de Fontenille 2020 is made from the fruit of 30-year-old vines and is similarly “really bracing, very long, very fresh, very bold and distinctive”.

Merchant feedback Jane Taylor Dronfield Wine World, Derbyshire

The tasting also included Château

“We only stock one Bordeaux Blanc at the moment but will definitely look to extend the range in the light of this tasting.”

bank with “upfront aniseed, grapefruit,

John Kernaghan, Liquorice, Shenfield

Mousseyron Rosé 2020 – a mouth-

watering, aperitif-style wine from the right

and distinctive acidity” and a hint of amber in the colour – and Carrelet d’Estuaire

Confidences 2020, a 100% Merlot with a “lovely raspberry character, a hint of

strawberry – very easy drinking with a light freshness”.

I was really taken aback by the quality of the wines and would love to explore selling more from Bordeaux Aimee Davies

“Across the board the rosé colour was ‘on brief’. Against a Provence rosé they may have been a touch darker but none were what I would call dark. That is always the starting point. “Château Penin was the most balanced of the range: dry, subtle, and with a medium long finish. Superb on its own or with a chicken or grilled fish salad. “Le Loup de la Loubière was a great start. If you wanted to win someone over to Bordeaux whites this was the winner. Thirst quenching yet still classed as dry; good length and quite gluggable. “The Bonhoste was my other favourite. Sauvignon Gris is obviously the winning element in this style of winemaking. It adds a texture which brings the wine together. This one was my dinner table wine.”

Aimee Davies Aimee’s Wine House, Bristol “I was really taken aback by the quality of the wines and would love to explore selling more from Bordeaux. “I was surprised by the oak use and lees techniques in the wines, along with the minerality. “The rosés were more than comparable to Provence styles. One that stood out was Château Caminade Haut Guerin with its great character of anise notes and Hubba Bubba gum flavour. “The labels on the rosés were all really presentable. And I was very surprised with all the food matches that were discussed for the rosés. They are very versatile wines.”

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 48

White heat Indies agree that white and rosé Bordeaux deserves a wider audience. So what’s the best way to draw in consumers? For some, familiar grape varieties are key. For others, it’s the halo effect of a famous region


écile Frémont of Planète Bordeaux says: “Younger winegrowers

want to develop another image

of Bordeaux wines. Today there is a large diversity of Bordeaux wines, with the

possibility of finding wines for all tastes

and occasions. Bordeaux white and rosé

wines are easy to drink, and delicate, with fresh and fruity notes.”

Bordeaux whites are made from a variety

of grape varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.

Josh Castle, of Noble Rot and Shrine to

the Vine, is a fan of rounder, Sémillon-led

styles of Bordeaux Blanc and suggests that “consumers are less aware of that fresher, zippier style of Bordeaux Blanc” that is typically the result of Sauvignon Blanc dominance.

Consumers are certainly familiar with

that particular grape variety. So might that be a good way of hooking them into the white Bordeaux category?

Andrew Gray of Plume in Covent Garden thinks there’s a better approach.

“I think we’re a fairly icon-led market

when it comes to wine,” he says. “People care about Bordeaux because it has the

name. Anything you attach to that name will have some success linked to it.”

Rudy Hovath of Urban Cellar believes

that consumers do relate to Sauvignon and this can only help with the process. But he also draws a parallel with Rioja: everyone

knows the red wine, but the white version

not disagree but adds it’s important to help

“We have only one type of white

He also points out that a price and

can come as a pleasant surprise, especially with the halo effect of the region’s name. Bordeaux, so I’m quite excited to taste

more,” he adds. “It would be nice to have more on our shelves.”

Playing the Sauvignon Blanc card is

probably not the best route into Bordeaux

Blanc in every case. Gray refuses to sell the New Zealand iteration of the variety, due

to its ubiquity. Andrea Viera at Last Drop

Wines thinks consumers are beginning to share Gray’s antipathy.

“Our customers say they hate Sauvignon Blanc,” she says, adding that, while such

claims may or may not be strictly true, it’s a position that people cling to. Perhaps it’s a

classic case of familiarity breeding contempt. “I don’t know anyone who tells me they love Sémillon,” she says. “But they buy it because I tell them it’s a great wine.”

She adds: “There isn’t any baggage

to white Bordeaux, it’s just completely

unknown. We just need to get it in front of people. Most of the white Bordeaux we’ve

had in the shop we’ve purchased with our

en primeur order. We really liked the white and thought, at this price we’ve got to be

consumers appreciate just how varied and complex Bordeaux’s white blends can be. quality ladder exists. “Bottle-aged

Bordeaux Blanc at the higher end is

competing with some of the great white wines of the world,” he says.

The whites in our tasting line-up were

described as “great value and very clean” by Gray.

“I would say these are extremely

dependable wines,” he says. “I would buy a large proportion of these wines, being

confident I could sell them at those price

points. It’s not a risky biscuit investing in them.”

The rosé wines also went down well. “I was really impressed with the rosés on

the whole,” says Castle. “I think that they were all really pleasantly dry, and they

ticked the colour box – which is something consumers really do care about.” Indeed Castle argues that rosés, being closer in colour to Bordeaux’s famous reds, represent less of a leap of faith for consumers than the whites.

Published in association with Planète

able to sell it – and if we can’t, we’re happy

Bordeaux, the Bordeaux and Bordeaux

prospects may be enhanced by increased

fr, or call 05 57 97 19 27, com@planete-

to drink it ourselves.”

Superieur wines union. For more

British tourism to the region. Castle does

Hovath thinks that Bordeaux Blanc’s

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 49

information visit www.planete-bordeaux.


are you?’”is back – not from the on-trade

asn’t it nice, do you

who all look fantastically well, rested, clear

remember, when the norms

skin, lost some weight, knocked the Class

were let out again and people

As on the head for a while, actually had

were asking, How are you? – and listening?

time to face themselves and think maybe

I have this thing about people listening,

just listening rather than this halfy-listen but mostly I-really-want-to-check-my-

phone/tell-you-my-thing listening. I would like to point out (especially to my beloved Ann) that listening is not the same thing as remembering. Just because I don’t

remember something does not mean

I wasn’t listening. I am in the present!

Doesn’t anyone listen to my new-found

mindful proselytization? Maybe they don’t

13. BACKED UP Phoebe Weller of Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow is experiencing the natural consequences of a vegetable deficit. The following article contains scenes that some readers may find upsetting

that their current lifestyle is unsustainable – but from my fellow front-liners, haggard and fatter-from-crisps and older and

certainly a bit more miserable (maybe

we’re constipated?) my fellow essential

workers, my peeps, the Wine Merchants. How are you? we ask nervously and

thoughtfully, perhaps over an Amazing

trade-tasting Lunch (squirt that celeriac

puree directly into my mouth, thank you,

and don’t bother with the biscuits with the

remember. Maybe they are constipated.

cheese) and goodness, you don’t say, really

Sometimes, everything apart from meat

really busy? bleat the ones who don’t ask

and cheese falls away from my Amazing

or listen, who just foghorn out the same

Lunches. The result of this is sometimes

old trite shite, and blessed be the ones who

I have the occasional backup. And it

say, Actually? Not great. Sometimes

is very consuming. Concentration,

I just can’t be bothered anymore. I

good humour, attention, light-hearted

mean it’s busy and everything but I’m

frivolity all fall into the void of not-void.

tired and I don’t know what’s going to

The realisation that anybody may be

happen next.

experiencing the same all-encompassing concern is very levelling. The customer


that doesn’t return my cheery “hello!” – hey, maybe they’re constipated. The

motorist who can’t see this giant, reflective

hat happens next in

real terms is beautiful pints of pishy, watery

cyclewoman with a golden

lager in unnecessary amounts, and then

Greed, hatred, ignorance,

because it’s Monday and no one works in

shouting at some reps and stumbling to

cycle helmet – hey, maybe

some food, any food, but everything is shut

they’re constipated.

incompetence – hey, maybe everyone

is constipated. So I added it to the

containing two sachets of a particularly

“Running it LIKE a Business”, in nice clear

the shop wishes to claim as their own or,

Inspirational Quote blackboard at work,

above “Lower your Expectations” and after capitals: “Maybe they’re Constipated”.

Funny story: I showed this to a customer and it pleased her. A few days later an

unlabelled envelope arrived at the shop

effective laxative. Now either we have

opened a packet of laxatives that no one in MY VERSION, the nice and funny lady just

sent some laxatives to us because she was listening to my words of wisdom. Ha ha!

Now that we are back at tastings, “How

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 50

restaurants any more and the Young Ones run to the 24-hour shop and get gigantic bags of crisps and somehow magically

make it to the train because they’re young and blessed.

It’s nice to see other people who have

gone through some of the madness that

you’ve gone through in the last year and a half, because michty, what a trip that was. Good to see youse. Eat your veg.


Wines of Chile Annual Tasting

ABS French Portfolio Tasting

Wines of Chile wants to showcase the

The importer is presenting a snapshot

diversity of the country’s wines with its

of its offer from France, showcasing

annual trade tasting.

three wines from each of its French

More than 250 wines from the length and

breadth of Chile representing a plethora of

grape varieties, blends and sparkling wines will be available to taste. There will also be themed focus tables and masterclasses. For more information contact Anita

Jackson: Thursday, January 13 RHS Lindley Hall 80 Vincent Square London SW1P 2PE

growers. These include Domaine des Malandes,

Domaine D’Ardhuy, Vins Auvigue, Domaine Richard Rottiers, Domaine des Marrans, Château Canon-Chaigneau, Château

Fontesteau, Maison Montagnac, Mas de

Cadenet, Domaine de Galuval, Vins Julien Schaal and Champagne René Jolly.

In a reminder of what life used to be like

before Covid, ABS says that some growers will be present on the day to pour their wines.

For more information or to register email

French Wine Discoveries

From boutique family producers to

London SW1Y 5ES

Wednesday, January 19 67 Pall Mall

négociants and cooperatives, there will be broad representation of French wines on show, from the classics to emerging regions. For more information and to register,

contact Antoine Couillabin Loiselier:

Wednesday, January 19 Tower Bridge Hotel 45 Prescot Street London E1 8GP

Liberty Wines Portfolio Tasting For more information email events@

Wine Australia Annual Tasting Wine Australia is delighted to be back hosting this popular London tasting in real life.

I won’t hear a word against Baileys. It works because it’s a lovely drink IMHO. And the huge marketing budgets of course, which would make it quite understandable to want to explore other cream liqueurs options for this Christmas treat. Welsh Whisky Co’s Merlyn, Ireland’s Coole Swan, and versions by the English whisky distiller Cotswolds and Scotch maker Edradour are all good candidates.

2.5cl cream liqueur of choice 2.5cl Black Cow milk vodka 2.5cl Patron XO Café coffee liqueur 2.5cl double cream

The event will focus on “helping

distributors to place premium Australian wines on the retail shelves”.

There will be wines on taste from

producers who are seeking distribution

and others that already have a UK presence of some kind.

For more information about the event

or to register to attend, contact uk@

Tuesday, January 25 Tuesday, January 18

The Lindley Hall

The Kia Oval

Elverton Street

London SE11 5SS

London SW1P 2PB

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 51

Add the liqueurs and cream to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well but not too much; just enough to blend the ingredients and until the shaker is cold to the touch. Strain into a martini or coupe glass. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Ricardo Macedo


or a country with thousands of years of winemaking tradition, relatively little is known about

Georgia and its wines in the UK. Though

trading links between Britain and Georgia were strong up to the 19th century, those ties weakened in the 20th when Georgia

fell under the influence of the Soviet Union. “When the Iron Curtain came down,

Georgia’s role was to provide wine to the Soviet Union,” says Sarah Abbott MW,

delivering a fascinating masterclass on

Georgian wine for Wine Merchant readers.

Today’s wine industry is shaking off that

role to celebrate a wine culture that dates back further than any other country. UK

independents have been ahead of the game in rediscovering its delights.

“We’ve seen a mini-boom,” says Abbott.

“It’s still very tiny, but it exceeded US$1m in sales to the UK for the first time last year.”

Georgia doesn’t conform to the

modern global conventions in wine.

Apart from a small historic presence of

Cabernet Sauvignon and some “crazies”

experimenting with Sangiovese, Georgian wine producers almost universally

embrace indigenous varieties. The white Rkatsiteli and red Saperavi account

for 60% and 30% of total production respectively.

“The joy is that there are so many

varieties that are new to us in the UK

but are really ancient ones,” Abbott adds. “Producers are so relieved to have been

able to save their native varieties that they have made that their focus, rather than international grapes.”

Georgia is only about the size of Scotland

but its geographical position as a land bridge between the Black Sea and the

Caspian Sea, with the Caucasus mountains acting as a barrier against the cold from

A window on Georgia In her recent online masterclass, Sarah Abott MW explained why this cradle of winemaking is so exciting to modern consumers – especially in the UK, where sales have experienced a mini-boom thanks to the enthusiastic support of independents

Russia to the north, provides a wide variety of growing conditions, almost unparalleled in such a small area.

“In the west it’s a mild, almost sub-

tropical climate, with high humidity,” says Abbott. “There are a lot of high-trained varieties that have evolved with quite

thick skins because of the humidity. They sometimes get harvests going on into November.

“In the east are the Kartli and Kakheti

wine regions. Here, the warmer air comes over from the east – it’s sunnier, hotter and

drier. This is where

you’ll find



wines and

trademark, rich

amber wines made from

extremely ripe, stemmed grapes that go through a full maceration.”

The country as a whole has 55,000ha

under vine, down from around 150,000ha

when it was focused on churning out lower quality, cheaper, sweet wines for the Soviet Union.

The number of wineries, however, has

grown, from 402 just five years ago to

over 1,500 today, with a focus on smaller estates making higher quality wines

from smaller properties. Many of the 60 or so brands already shipping to the UK

come from Kakheti, which accounts for

70% of all Georgian wine production, and Kartli’s wines are also among those more frequently exported to the UK.

Imereti, Racha and Guria are leading the

chasing pack of regions with their sights on the UK.


t’s a country whose wine scene is full of surprises. Abbott says: “There are amber wines that look like sherry,

but smell like white wines and feel like red wines when you drink them. Or there are

reds that look like rosés, or reds that smell like reds, but whose balance and perfume

on the palate feels more like a white wine.” A big attraction for western wine geeks

is Georgia’s continued use of qvevri, the earthenware fermentation and storage

vessels sunken into the ground to provide a gentle, cool, protective environment for the wine. “Everything about qvevri has

been designed to cope naturally with the

was forced to look to other markets to

support a wine industry that is a strong contributor to GDP.

As a result, there’s plenty of government

backing for the industry today, including

funds to help those selling its wines in the UK and an online hub to put retailers into contact with export-ready producers

“They love the UK,” says Abbott. “We are

one of their fastest growing export markets and last year we grew by 248%.

“They like the UK because it buys the

wines they want to make.

“It’s not weird stuff you have to be afraid

of. There are lots of niche and quirky wines but also a lot of accessible, really enjoyable wines.

“Georgia offers a sense of discovery. It

adds colour and excitement for customers who come to indies looking for those things.”

Feature sponsored by Swirl Wine Group,

challenges that come with making wine,”

which organises the promotional

production in modern Georgia but Abbott

information and a suite of resources for

says Abbott.

campaign for Georgian wine in the

adds: “They have far more weight in their

importers and retailers.

Qvevri only accounts for about 10% of

impact on the market because they are a

symbol of Georgia’s bloody-mindedness –

and a link to its culture and heritage – in a

country that has its own language, its own alphabet and its own traditions.”

After Vladimir Putin banned imports of

Georgian wine into Russia in 2006, Georgia

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 53

UK. Visit for more

The British are rumming

It seems that rum is finally fulfilling long-held expectations by being the next big thing in spirits, as consumers look for exciting new places to go after gin. One interesting micro-trend is a rise in British rums, either blended in the UK by enthusiasts buying casks from overseas, or those taking raw ingredients to create something completely fashioned on home soil. None other than legendary London spirits emporium Gerry’s, in Soho, has reported a surge in interest in British rums this year. The emergence of new rum producers and brands plays into two bigger trends: the rising demand in craft spirits as a whole, and the interest in “local”, which has played out in numerous food and drink trends, including, notably, gin and beer. Nigel Huddleston introduces a quintet of British producers who spell out what makes their rums stand out from the crowd.

Starting from …

created to “challenge the predispositions of

Scratch rum is, as the name suggests, made

the flavoured and spiced rum category”.

completely from scratch in the UK.

Gill adds: “We age it in first-use, charred

Doug Miller of the company says:

American oak, which is pretty rare, and

“Our climate, being cooler, means that

then steep it in three botanical ingredients

fermentation and maturation happens

– ginger root, black peppercorns and hand-


picked Scottish seaweed – all fresh and at

“This impacts flavour profile and

food grade.

enables us to create a rum full of a broader

“We add no colouring, artificial flavours

spectrum of flavours – in our case, typically

or sugar, which creates a balanced, drier

fruitier and sweeter in nature.

“We’re super-transparent about our

processes and don’t add anything post-

distillation – an area that the wider rum industry has come under scrutiny for previously.”

Scratch uses a number of different spirit

and wine casks for a variety of flavour profiles in its limited releases.

“Our Faithful and Botanical rums work

amazingly well in a simple Daiquiri,” says Miller. “Our Golden goes great in a Jungle

and more honest spirit. Bird [made with Campari and pineapple juice] and our aged Patience rum works

well on its own or in a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.”

Variety through spice Scotland’s John Paul Jones is a Lowland

rum that, says co-founder Finnian Gill, was

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 55

“It is incredibly versatile, delicious in a

rum and tonic and in a rum Old Fashioned.”

Scouring the universe Dark Matter is a spiced rum assembled in Aberdeenshire from the best ingredients

from around the world, including Oriental

ginger, Thai green peppercorns, Indonesian long pepper and South American allspice berries.

What is very much “a hands-on, batch

process” creates “an explosive flavour

profile”, according to owner Jim Ewen: “a

distinctively rich, decidedly different and literal interpretation of spiced”.

Ewen adds: “Creating a humdrum spiced

rum was never the plan. Dark Matter is the perfect accompaniment to a ginger ale for

a Dark and Stormy. It’s simple to make and you don’t need a degree in mixology.

“While a spiced rum isn’t traditionally a

sipping rum, it’s purely down to personal choice and many drink Dark Matter straight.”

A bespoke, warming, Christmas

serve involves the addition of cider and

traditional mulling spices for a Mull It Over, garnished with apple and star anise.

The perfect marriage Mainbrace golden rum positions itself as “born in Cornwall, sourced in the

Collective responsibility


Cabal takes its name from a panel of

“It stands out as it is made from a blend

consumers and rum experts who taste and

of two distinctive styles of rum that have

approve selections of Caribbean and South

never been bottled together before: English

American rums to go into blends created

navy rum from Guyana and French agricole

by Harpalion Spirits of Edinburgh.

rhum from Martinique,” says co-founder

Founder Claire Kinloch says: “Our first

Richard Haigh.

expression, Cabal No 1513, is an aged rum

“Our Navy Strength is made from the

that is a combination of pot and column

same blend, but at a 54.5% abv rather than

distillation techniques, with rums that have


been carefully selected from prominent

Its signature serve for the 40% rum is

distilleries in Guatemala, Guyana, Trinidad,

with tonic and a slice of orange.

Panama and the Caribbean, tropically aged

“For Navy Strength, we would

at origin.

recommend a combination of lime juice

“The liquid is then finished in Pedro

and Mainbrace, garnished with a slice of

Ximénez casks in Speyside, creating a

lime. More adventurous cocktail makers

distinctive and complex, yet smooth taste

could also make our Espresso Rumtini –

profile,” which is, she adds, “perfect for

Mainbrace, butterscotch, coffee, Kahlua and

sipping neat, and offering an ideal base for

caramel syrup, garnished with an orange

a wide range of long drinks and cocktails”.


THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 56

FRENCH CONNECTIONS This year’s French Connections tasting featured 37 French wine and spirits producers from all the main wine regions, showcasing more than 100 wines. All of them are keen to do business with UK independents. Organised by Business France in partnership with The Wine Merchant, the London event attracted a group of wine professionals including independent wine specialists. Meet all of the producers in the following four pages, with details of the wines that stood out for the indies who went along.

DOMAINE DE FONTENAY Situated on the banks of the River Cher, Domaine de Fontenay cultivates 13ha of vineyards using integrated crop management. This exceptional terroir produces Sauvignon, Chenin, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Côt wines, with complex aromas, in the Touraine and Touraine Chenonceaux appellation areas. LE SAUVIGNON 2020,

AOP TOURAINE: Lovely white

flowers and herbal notes, and a chalky texture in this restrained and easygoing take on a popular variety.

CHAMPAGNE CHASSENAY D’ARCE Founded in Ville-sur-Arce in the Côte des Bar in 1956 by five pioneers, the Chassenay d’Arce house now encompasses some 130 families and three generations of winemakers. The house style is an expression of the family’s personality and the terroir they cultivate, using less familiar Champagne grapes like Pinot Blanc as well as the classics.

DOMAINE CLAUDE ET CHRISTOPHE BLEGER The Claude & Christophe Bleger estate is located at the centre of the Alsatian wine route. Vineyards are split into 30 parcels in four villages, allowing the domaine to

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 58

express the differences of various types of soil. Working with the seven Alsatian grape varieties, the producer releases 20 different cuvées each year. CRÉMANT D’ALSACE CŒUR

DE CRU 2017: An organic blend of

Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois and Pinot Gris, with mouth-filling mousse, a burst of fruit and an appealing hazelnut undercurrent.

CHÂTEAU DE LABORDE Hervé Kerlann is from Brittany but fell in love with Gevrey-Chambertin, and is now an honorary Burgundian, making wine in a 17th-century château in the heart of the Côte d’Or. From the prestigious 1er crus of Chambolle-Musigny and GevreyChambertin to the fresh terroirs of the Hautes-Côtes, and the fruit-driven regional appellations, Château de Laborde has a wine for every occasion. HAUTES CÔTES DE NUITS


Classic Chardonnay characters, including ripe apples and buttered toast, but a refined freshness too.

CHÂTEAU DE CHAZOUX In the heart of the Macon region, Chazoux Estate has been in the same family for two centuries. Christophe de la Chapelle, a landscape gardener, is now at the helm with the aim of carrying on the tradition and authenticity of its wines, with a

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 59

© OceanProd /


modern twist. The wines are produced in a traditional vaulted cellar.

DOMAINE DE VAUROUX The history of Domaine de Vauroux is intertwined with the rebirth of the Chablis winegrowing region itself in the 1970s. Olivier Tricon’s father, Jean-Pierre, and his uncle, Claude, planted their first vines in 1972. They subsequently acquired multiple plots, eventually creating an estate of 13ha in one contiguous area. Since then, the family farm has been almost exclusively dedicated to viticulture.

CHÂTEAU HENRI BONNAUD Château Henri Bonnaud is located at the heart of the Palette wine area, close to Le Tholonet village in the south east of Aix-enProvence. The family-run estate produces AOC Palette, AOC Côtes de Provence and AOC Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire wines, as well as IGP Méditerrannée. The whole vineyard is organic and covers an area of 30ha, 14ha of which are classified AOC Palette. CUVÉE QUINTESSENCE 2019:

Ugni Blanc, Clairette Blanche and Clairette Rose combine in an interesting blend that works well. There’s a lot going on with the aroma and flavour combinations. A well balanced and long finish.

DOMAINE GRAND PÈRE JULES Located between Vaison La Romaine and Gigondas, the Domaine Grand Père Jules has been in the same family for five generations. Fully organic for more than 20 years now, its wines are mainly Côtes du Rhône, Plan de Dieu and IGP Méditerranée. All its wines reflect local traditions and the family history but with a modern flavour.

MAS ISABELLE Isabelle Boulaire has 12 generations of winemaking expertise to inspire her efforts at this Lirac property, where the Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Cinsault vines can be a century old. The 17ha are farmed using environmentally friendly methods, with a special few devoted to the special reserve Grand Roc wines. Isabelle gives special attention to the selection of lowyielding parcels, to the exclusively manual

selective picking and to a classical style of winemaking which is as respectful of natural processes as possible. CUVÉE BLANC ROC 2019: A blend of Roussanne, Grenache, Clairette, Viognier and Ugni Blanc, with 20% aged in barrel on fine lees. Ripe orchard fruit flavours and a serious, savoury note too.

POULET & FILS Family owned for four generations, with 25ha of High Environmental Value 25-yearold vines (on average) planted on chalkyclay slopes and shaley marls in the Rhône valley. Poulet is a sparkling wine producer, making Crémant de Die (dry) and Clairette de Die (sweet), but also a still red wine, Châtillon-en-Diois, which is 100% Gamay. CLAIRETTE DE DIE TRADITION

NV: Lovely Muscat nose and

palate. Fruity and sweet but with balancing acidity. Easy to imagine with Christmas pudding or even blue cheese. This wine really stood out at its price point.

DOMAINE LES BASTIDES A small family property at the north of Aix-en-Provence, certified organic for more than 30 years and composed of 65 acres of organic vines of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvèdre, Rolle, Ugni Blanc, and Clairette. The domaine makes natural wines: red, rosé, white and vin cuit (a traditional Provençal dessert wine). BLANC 2020: A fabulously

pungent blend of Rolle, Clairette, Ugni Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, with a suggestion of warm haystacks. Delicious with strong, ripe cheeses.

LES VINS MARGNAT Based in Aix-en-Provence, the Margnat family was a famous producer and négociant for most of the 20th century, starting out as far back as 1895. There was even a Tour de France team bearing their name between 1958 and 1965. The Margnat brand was brought back to life in 2018 by Jean-Patrice Margnat, greatgrandson of the founder.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 60

1895 CUVÉE: For Guy Dickerson at The Secret Cellar in Forest Row, Sussex, this was the tasting’s “top red by a long stretch”. An AOP Minervois blend of Grenache and Syrah with dark fruit, spice and vanilla depths.

ENCLOS DES ANGES Enclos des Anges produces its organic grapes and wines in Calvi in Corsica. Grown on the estate’s 18 hectares are both indigineous Coriscan varieties (Niellucciu, Sciaccarellu, Vermentino) and typical Mediterranean grapes. Red, rosé and white wines are produced. CUVÉE SESTO ROUGE

2018: Made with Niellucciu (a

synonym for Sangiovese), Syrah and Sciacarellu (a synonym for Mammolo), this is a big, fullbodied wine, its full flavours balanced by plenty of acidity and tannin and a long finish. Ideal for wild boar casserole.

ANNE DE JOYEUSE Anne de Joyeuse was created in 1929 by a group of winegrowers who decided to dedicate this cellar to the production of red wines from the start. Its name was inspired by the history of the Aude, in particular by the Duc de Joyeuse, born in 1560 in the Château des Ducs de Joyeuse near Couiza. It aims to produce exciting wines from the vineyards of Limoux and the upper valley of the Aude river.

DOMAINE PARPALHOL Domaine Parpalhol (meaning butterfly in the Occitan language) is a story of two friends with a passion for authentic wines and symbols of Languedoc treasures. The estate covers almost 30ha, near Béziers and Corneilhan. It’s an exceptional landscape planted by Romans centuries ago, now farmed organically: Ecocert accreditation was granted in 2015.

GRES SAINT-PIERRE Domaine d’Isnard has been a family estate since 1760, located in Languedoc on the exceptional terroir of Méjanelle. The vineyards are mainly located around Montpellier, but also at Jacou, Saint Aunès,

Castelnau le Lez and Le Crès. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Merlot is grown for the reds, Chardonnay and Viognier for the whites, and Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah for the rosés.

JOSEPH CASTAN A specialist in Languedoc and southern Rhône Valley wines. Vianney Castan visits estates across the south of France in search of producers who, like him, are in love with their terroirs. Joseph Castan Fine Wine finds, produces and vinifies wines from estates that are close to his heart. The permanent range includes Château SaintJean D’Aumières and Château Saint-Louis La Perdrix, as Vins de Pays (IGP) and AOC wines from the region.

LA VIGNE D’ULYSSE A family estate for three generations located between Limoux, Carcassonne and Castelnaudary. For 30 years it has specialised in bag-in-box packaging and has technically adapted the entire vineyard, made up of about 15 grape varieties, in order to ensure the best quality/price ratio.

CHÂTEAU DE PERRON Dating back to the early 17th century, Perron operates within two appellations: AOC Madiran for the red wine and AOC Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh for the white. Its vineyard is principally Madiran, of which the dominant grape variety is the emblematic Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. AOC Pacherenc de VicBilh is made from Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu. AOC PACHERENC DU VIC-BILH:

A wine described by one taster as “a joy”, full of tropical fruit richness and floral exuberance.

CHÂTEAU DES PEYRAUX A small organic vineyard of 5ha in the appellation of Fronton (south west France), made up of indigenous and historical grape varieties such as Négrette. Great attention is given to the soil and to natural rhythms, and the manual care on the vines is meticulous right up to the harvest by hand. Its first cuvées without added sulphites were created in 2019.

CUVÉE PETITE NÉGRETTE 2019: Dark and inky. Crunchy

red and black fruit on the palate. Something interesting and different and very good price.


One of the best-known properties in Cahors, with 37ha planted among the Lot valley’s oldest terraces. The southern exposition of the vineyard allows Malbec to mature perfectly. Brother and sister team Lise and Benjamin represent the fourth generation of the Gayraud family to farm this land, making “typical wines from Cahors appellation which combine sincerity, balance and freshness”.

DOMAINES LATRILLE CHÂTEAU JOLYS Pierre-Yves Latrille, an agricultural engineer, could see the potential of Jurançon and in 1958 bought Château Jolys – while neighbouring farmers were switching to crops other than grapes. Over 10 years, he completed the planting and production of 30ha of Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng. Aimed at the premium market, the wines seduce with their finesse and include dry wines and sweet styles, aged in vats or in oak barrels. CHÂTEAU JOLYS CUVÉE

CÉLEBRATION 2018: With its

slightly wild character, marmalade tartness and bready warmth, this is a lovely example of Petit Manseng’s charms.

CHÂTEAU AMANIEU D’ALBRET Located in the commune of Cardan, near Graves, spread over 11ha, making a range of wines spanning the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur Appellations. Combining modern technology with traditional methods, the château strives to produce high quality wines, “unique and atypical to these appellations”. Minimal inputs are used in the vineyard or in the cellar – and the products that are used are naturally based.

CHÂTEAU D’ARCHE, GRAND CRU CLASSÉ 1855 Château d’Arche is a magnificent 70ha

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 61

estate producing great Sauternes wines as well as a dry white wine, a rosé, a red and a traditional method sparkler. Its new cellar is at the cutting edge of sustainable development and symbolises the owners’ commitment to reducing their ecological footprint. In the vineyard, as in the cellar, innovation is at the heart of every project as the business pursues its ambition of precision viticulture in line with its values: purity, naturalness and ecology.

CHÂTEAU DE CHELIVETTE Just outside Bordeaux, this 70-acre property overlooking the hillside of Ste Eulalie and St Loubes has seen a real revival since 2014 with the conversion of the vineyard to organic. Wines are classified Bordeaux Supérieur and Côtes de Bordeaux. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec are used to make reds, and Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris for whites. LE CLAIRET DE CHELIVETTE

2020: A textbook example of why

clairette can be so much more interesting than bland rosés. An explosion of flavour with red fruit, iron, blood and roses.

CHÂTEAU DU PETIT PUCH A family-run estate in the AOC Graves de Vayres, bought in 2004 by Marie-Paule and Bruno de la Rivière, opposite Fronsac, Pomerol and St Emilion. Wines are made available when the couple think they are ready to drink, generally after four years of ageing. In the 12ha vineyard, sustainable HVE farming is practiced, with low yields to allow a natural concentration of aromas and flavours.

CHÂTEAU MEYRE Situated in the heart of the Médoc and the terroirs of Moulis and Margaux, the estate has been listed since 1876 among the first crus of Avensan. It has been classified Cru Bourgeois since 1932, joining the ranks of the newly-created Cru Bourgeois Superieur in 2020. Committed to sustainable agriculture since 2008, the property obtained organic certification in 2011.

DOMAINE BONABAUD Domaine Bonabaud covers 25ha

surrounding a series of small, but contiguous, vineyard plots forming Château Gauthier and Château Nézereau. The estate sits at the confines of the Blaye, Bourg and Fronsac wine appellations, at the heart of the broader Cotes-de-Bordeaux region. Its wines may be best enjoyed after three to five years, or kept for ageing for up to 15 years. In 2020, the estate was awarded HVE certification for its outstanding farming practices and efforts to protect biodiversity in and around the vineyard.

MAISON KAVAKLIDERE Working within two appellations, Cadillac Côtes-de-Bordeaux and Bordeaux, making red, white, and rosé wines including four special blends and the flagship wine, L’Exception du Domaine de Saint Amand. The grape varieties are Merlot, Malbec, Sémillon, and Sauvignon. The packaging reflects the modernity of the wines. The aim is to produce honest, quality wines with good balance, offering excellent value for money.



FAMILLE DUBOIS DISTRIBUTION Laurent Dubois represents the ninth generation of winegrowers. There are 140ha of vines, with a production of 1m bottles a year. As early as the 1990s, the estate installed a weather station to prevent risks and reduce interventions in the vineyard and it has been a pioneer of green viticultural initiatives. The four châteaux of the Dubois family – Château Les Bertrands, Château Bellerives Dubois, Château de Cor Bugeaud and Château Le Chêne de Margot – offer a wide range of wines representative of all the styles of Bordeaux, classified as AOC Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux (red and white), AOC Bordeaux (red, rosé, white and sweet), and Vin de France.

HOREAU BEYLOT Created in 1740 by Pierre Beylot, HoreauBeylot is the oldest négociant on the right bank. It owns 15 prestigious châteaux in this area of Bordeaux and is a distributor of classified growths. The company employs 20 people and markets nearly 2m bottles per year. In 2008 Ali Basman, head of Kavaklidere, a Turkish family-owned wine producer, met Stéphane Derenoncourt. The pair bonded over their very precise and empirical approach to vine growing and winemaking in order to express the uniqueness of each terroir while respecting the natural balances at work. So Maison Kavaklidere was born, allowing four generations of Turkish know-how to apply itself to the Bordeaux terroir. The wines are a result of the careful selection by Arnaud Medeville, whose family has been here since 1826, from 180ha of vineyards. This range consists of only environmentally friendly wines from vineyards accredited with High Environmental Value, Environmental Management System, TerraVitis and organic status. The estate is divided into 11 châteaux on both banks of the Garonne. Medeville Collection represents a complete range of Bordeaux appellations. GRAVES ROUGE 2019: A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Lively, fresh and herbaceous, with some deeper tarlike notes.

SCEA DU VIEUX PUIT SCEA du Vieux Puit is a viticultural and vinicultural production company. In 1996 the first vines were planted and the first wine was the Château du Vieux Puit, whose emblem has always been present on the family estate, which produces mainly red wines. LE LOUVETEAU 2014, AOC BLAYE


mellow, wistful, medium-bodied Merlot/Cabernet blend which seems tailormade for Sunday roast.

VIGNES SECRETES / DUMONT, DORLAND & CLAUZEL Vines at this 14ha vineyard are primarily planted in two south- and west-facing

slopes on clay-limestone, using sustainable methods. This diverse terroir is conducive to the production of various blends characteristic of Château La Tuilière. The grape varieties are representative of the Côtes de Bourg: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. Cuvées are aged according to several methods, depending on the quality of the harvest, the vintage, and changes in consumer trends. CHÂTEAU LA TUILIÈRE

TRADITION 2018, AOC CÔTES DE BOURG: Juicy, warming blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Malbec, full of dark fruits and savoury edges.

VIGNOBLES CHAIGNE ET FILS Château Ballan-Larquette and Domaine de Ricaud have been family-owned estates for several generations. The family company Vignobles Chaigne et Fils was created in 1992 when Régis Chaigne joined his parents to take care of the family’s vineyards. Today, the vineyard totals 27ha of vines classified as Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur and Entre-deux-Mers. The HVE label was awarded in 2018 and the conversion to organic farming began in August 2019. BLANC 2020, AOC ENTRE-

DEUX-MERS: Tasters loved the

exotic flavours of Muscadelle, the floral notes of the Sémillon and the freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc in this blend.

DISTILLERIE HEROULT A micro-distillery established in southern Brittany in 2019. It makes four types of gin – Avis de Tempête, Abysse and Ephémère (Autumn and Winter), all winners at the London Spirit Competition 2021. New cereal-based products will be made this winter, under the Irresistible name. ABYSSE YELLOW: Original takes on gin are rarer than ever, but there’s something very special about the grapefruit and saline characters found in this cloudy spirit.

You can find the complete list of wines here

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 62

© Richard Semik /



liberty wines 020 7720 5350


Sweet treats for the festive season As the nights draw in, and with the festive season in mind, now is a great time to explore the diversity offered by the world’s best sweet wines.

Botrytised wines such as Château Laville’s Sauternes, Dobogó’s Tokaji Aszú 6

Puttonyos and Sattlerhof’s Sauvignon Blanc Beerenauslese are typically full-bodied and display creamy textures with aromas of honey, apricot, marmalade and caramel, thanks to the oxidising enzyme laccase, a by-product of Botrytis cinerea.

Passito wines are made using grapes dried on racks in the sun (like Donnafugata’s

‘Ben Ryé’ Passito di Pantelleria) or in temperature- and humidity-controlled drying centres (like Allegrini’s ‘Giovanni Allegrini’ Recioto Classico). Both producers eschew the development of noble rot during the dehydration process to help maintain acidity

alongside the concentration of sugars, giving wines with great flavour intensity balanced by wonderful freshness and elegance.

Grapes for late harvest wines such as Domaine Cauhapé’s ‘Symphonie de Novembre’

Jurançon Moelleux are left to dry and shrivel on the vine before harvesting, while those for Inniskillin’s Riesling Icewine are picked at -10°C then pressed immediately while the

water content is frozen in crystals, to yield a few precious drops of highly concentrated juice.

The Fairview Paarl ‘Sweet Red’ and Familia Castaño ‘Dulce’ Monastrell are fortified

to halt fermentation and retain residual sugar, while the luscious Chambers Rosewood

Old Vine Rutherglen Muscat and Sandeman Jerez ‘Royal Ambrosante’ Pedro Ximénez, both made using a special solera, are perfect with festive chocolate or spiced puddings.

richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550


Introducing AR Lenoble Champagne, a grower we have been working with for over 30 years! AR Lenoble was founded in 1920 by Armand-Raphael Graser, who gave it its name by combining his initials AR with Lenoble as a tribute to the obility of the wines of Champagne.

Four generations later, it is still in the family and run by the brother

and sister team of Anne and Antoine Malassange.

A key point of difference with AR Lenoble’s winemaking is that


2010, the reserve wines which are used in making the non-vintage

Champagnes have largely been kept in magnums under natural cork for a minimum of four years. As a process, this is time-consuming

and more costly than the traditional way of keeping reserve wines

in vats or barrel, but the advantage is that ageing wines in magnum boosts the quality and avoids any notes of oxidation and retains freshness as it preserves acidity better.

Sustainability is also vitally important to AR Lenoble, the

vineyards were certified HEV (high environmental value) in

2012 and to boost biodiversity, beehives were introduced to the domaine a decade ago.

THE THEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANT september november 2021 2021 64

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

0207 409 7276

Highlights from our current seasonal offer For more information contact your LLA sales manager or email Frapin VSOP: This extra aged VSOP Cognac is Christmas in a bottle. Smooth and rich with abundant spice and dried fruit. Made from vineyard to bottle, 100% on Frapin’s single estate in Grande Champagne. Michel Redde La Moynerie 2019: The flagship wine from this family estate in Pouilly Fume who have vineyards across the major Pouilly-Fume terroirs. This is a blend of the region’s key terroirs from vines of 25 years and older. Viu Manent Secret Sauvignon 2020: A great and affordable alternative to New Zealand Sauvignon. Secret Sauvignon hails from coastal vineyards and is fresh and zesty with balanced peachy fruit flavours. Banfi Summus 2017: In Summus, Sangiovese is blended with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon all coming from Banfi’s Montalcino estate. This vintage is new to the market with a packaging overhaul.

Smith & Sheth CRU Heretaunga Syrah 2017: From Steve Smith MW’s relatively new operation focusing on Hawke’s Bay, this is a mid-weigh Syrah which is intensely perfumed and vibrant with savoury olive and spice notes.

hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 @hatchmansfield

Roger Goulart Cavas since 1882 - traditional method pioneers with 139 years’ experience of producing sparkling wine.

NEW Roger Goulart Brut Reserva 2019*

This bright and vivid Cava from the historic Roger Goulart Cava House in Penedès is quintessential Cava at its best. Made from the traditional Cava grape varieties that give great structure and ageing potential, this a very versatile wine with fresh acidity, clean white fruit and hints of citrus. Brilliant for festive aperitifs and gatherings.

Roger Goulart Gran Cuvée Gran Reserva 2015

Made with the classic Cava grape varieties Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada, each variety is vinified separately. This is a sparkling wine with great intensity of ripe white stone fruit, offering wonderful complexity from the minimum of 5 years ageing on its lees. Good acidity provides a refreshing and lasting finish.

Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo! Please contact Hatch Mansfield for further information *Available early December 2021

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 65


Fells Fells House, Station Road Kings Langley WD4 8LH 01442 870 900 For more details about these wines and other wines from our awardwinning portfolio from some of the world’s leading wine producing families contact:

@FellsWine je_fells

top selection 23 Cellini Street London SW8 2LF Contact: Alastair Moss Telephone: 020 3958 0744 @topselectionwines @tswine

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 66

mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600

Established in 1815, Fonseca is regarded as one of the most stylistically consistent of the classic Vintage Port houses. Port has been made there by five generations of the Guimaraens family since its foundation. Blended for consistency of character and quintessentially Fonseca in style, it has an intense, rich, fruity nose crammed with blackberry, cassis, cherry and plum aromas interwoven with notes of spice. The palate is full-bodied and round, with a smooth velvety texture balanced by firm mouth-filling tannins. The juicy black fruit flavours linger into the rich, luscious finish.

For more information, please contact your Mentzendorff Account Manager.

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



CHRISTMAS OFFERS Christmas is almost upon us and we have put together a selection of festive offers from both the Old World and the New to take you right through the holiday season. Try Champagne René Jolly on Christmas morning, crisp Fürst Riesling or zesty Federalist Chardonnay to accompany the traditional turkey or if you’re a lover of big reds how about a bold Fabiano Amarone, or the rich and spicy Hedonist Ecology Shiraz alongside an alternative feast. End the day sipping a glass of Quinta do Portal LBV Port or Campbells’ Rutherglen Topaque, delicious with a square of dark chocolate! For more information contact your Account Manager or email us at | E. and O.E Offers valid from 01/11/2021 until 31/12/2021

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 67


BERKMANN wine cellars 10-12 Brewery Road London N7 9NH 020 7609 4711

The perfect treat for the festive season. We now have a two glass gift pack available – to offer or treat yourself to a moment for two. Fully in line with Drappier’s sustainable credentials, the gift boxes are made of recycled paper and are 100% recyclable. If you buy six bottles of Drappier Carte d’Or cuvée from our trade promotional website, you receive three gift boxes for free. This offer is available until December 31st or until stocks last.

@berkmannwine @berkmann_wine

Please contact your Berkmann account manager or to get access to our exclusive promotional website for independent retail customers.

buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 68

walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665


Fizz this Christmas with Champagne Palmer & Co Palmer & Co have been making noteworthy and elegant Champagne since 1947.

They began as seven winegrowers, who came together with a shared vision and passion for making ultra-premium wine. Time is of the essence for Palmer & Co, as their self-confessed most important ingredient. The long lees ageing gives the wines their characteristic refinement and aromatic complexity: a minimum of three years for non-vintage, while the vintage cuvées are aged for six to eight years. Not to mention the larger bottles, left in the cellars for 10 years or more! Unanimously appreciated for their excellence, Palmer’s cuvées are regularly distinguished in major international wine competitions. For more information, contact your account manager

Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich

They’re all smiles to your face …

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 69


hallgarten wines Dallow Road Luton LU1 1UR 01582 722 538


The Wine Merchant Magazine Essential Oil ... is not yet available. While we work on that, the only way to experience the heady, just-printed aroma of your favourite trade magazine is to get your own copy, and breathe it in while it’s fresh. If you don’t qualify for a free copy, you can subscribe for just £36 a year within the UK. Email for details. Or you can read every issue online, as a flippable PDF – just visit There’s no registration, and no fee. And, sadly, no aroma. © aleutie /

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 70

C&C wines 109 Blundell Street London N7 9BN 020 3261 0927

@CandC_Wines @carsoncarnevalewines

vintner systems The computer system for drinks trade wholesalers and importers 16 Station Road Chesham Bucks HP5 1DH

Vintner Systems has been supplying specialist software solutions to the wine and spirit trade in the UK and Ireland for over 30 years. After 300 installations at a wide range of business types, we have developed the ultimate package to cover everything from stock control and accountancy to EPOS, customer reserves, brokering and en-primeur. Whether you are a specialist wine retailer, importer or fine wine investment company, our software will provide you with the means to drive your business forward.

THE WINE MERCHANT november 2021 71

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