THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers
Issue 113, May 2022
Dog of the Month: Cleo Museum Wines, Blandford
How can we compete with Wine Society free delivery? Independents look for ways to reduce courier costs as their number one competitor drops its shipping charges
he Wine Society has dropped all
in Great Horkesley, Essex. “How can anyone
companies who who put these limitations
problematic for independent merchants,
problems obtaining competitive rates from
delivery charges to its customers in a move that could prove
who are already battling to mitigate rising costs.
“They’re the new Amazon of wine,” says
Anthony Borges, owner of The Wine Centre
Borges says small businesses like his face
couriers. “Either our turnover is too small
and the big boys just aren’t interested – or
alcohol and liquids are prohibited,” he says. “The strange thing is, the same
on their courier services seem to
be distributing for the major drinks
For more than 20 years, Borges has
used a local courier, Tendring Express, a franchise of the national APC network.
Although Borges argues that its rates are
higher than he would like, “I lived with it, since website sales were always small”. He adds: “However now, with a new
website, and the increased effort in making it work better for us, I feel a stronger need to be more competitive with our courier charges.
“We charge £9.99 per address, up to
45kg. On small packages of one or two
bottles we make £1-£2 profit. Obviously
we make more on 12 bottles because of the increased margin in cash terms.
“A £9.99 charge on a small £30-£50 gift
is too high – we know that. But we have no
choice because of our high costs. Even on a case of wine of £120-plus it is considered high. We know for a fact we have lost custom because of it.” Hugo Meyer Esquerré’s Provisions business – a combination of wine shop and deli – has opened its second branch, located in Hackney, north London. Read our interview on pages 22-23. Only about half of revenue comes from walk-in custom
Borges is hoping there could be a way of
indies pooling their buying power to obtain better courier rates to compete with larger players like The Wine Society.
Julia Jenkins of Flagship Wines in St
Inside this month 4 COMINGS AND GOINGS New openings in Camberwell, Peckham and Covent garden
11 BRIGHT IDEAS How an engraving machine pays dividends for Saxty’s in Hereford
24 Just Williams Pomerol and California have new classification systems. But why?
29 south africa round table Indies discuss the prospects for Cape wines in the UK market
38 artisan wine & spirit The story behind a thriving Salisbury independent
Albans says it was “a big surprise to see
The Wine Society offering free delivery across the board, especially when fuel
prices are going up so significantly and
most delivery companies are adding a fuel surcharge increase”.
Flagship Wines does have “some
crossover in lines with the Wine Society”, she says.
“Fortunately there are not too many
for us, but people do make generic
comparisons, like with a Chilean Merlot, to give one example.
Positives galore from a nation that hits all the right notes
cost to having goods delivered, but free delivery is very attractive. It makes you wonder how sustainable it is.
“With wine prices and shipping costs
everything coming together. We are being
extremely careful how we send things out and we are managing our costs to the nth degree.
64 make a date More tastings for your diary
67 supplier bulletin Some essential updates from
“I think people are realising there is a
going up too, it’s the perfect storm of
50 portuguese wine
‘I would argue everyone’s real competition is The Wine Society’
“We offer free local delivery for orders
over £60 and we are managing to keep to
that, but that’s very local deliveries. Apart from that it is £10 per delivery and it’s a matter of working out how to keep that going.”
Wayne Blomfield at Park Vintners in
London says: “I’m sure everyone has some
overlap with The Wine Society. I think
you’d have to work really hard not to have
something because of the mix of their ownlabel stuff and recognisable brands.
“I would argue that everyone’s real
competition is The Wine Society.
“We have always been very open about
couriers. We charge the customer exactly what the courier charges us. We don’t
send a lot out. I think we’ve sent maybe
four cases this month; we’re mostly local delivery that we do ourselves.
“Delivery does cost, and I suspect that
The Wine Society will adjust their prices upwards to make up for it.”
THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE
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THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 2
Albertine bids farewell, for now
nowhere like that around,” he says.
“Literally after a week of looking, my
wife found a great premises. It’s a listed
building that I fell in love with. I viewed it
After 44 years of trading, Albertine, the
in the afternoon and by 5pm I’d placed an
iconic London wine shop and bar, has
offer on the table.
“We did a soft launch in November and
Owners Rob Freddi and Allegra McEvedy
we did lots of work between Christmas and
are hopeful that they will be able to find
New Year and now we are fully open. We’ve
a new home for the business in the near
had such a great response from the locals.
future, but the changing landscape of their
We are mainly retail, but we do offer wine
local area has proved to be one challenge
by the glass as well.”
“Since Christmas we had started to get
very busy evenings again,” explains Freddi. “The reality, however, is that the area
around Wood Lane has radically changed since March 2020. We had lost our
historical customer base when people
started working from home, or returned to the office for only a couple of days a week. “The broadcasting corporations around
us [including the BBC and Loftus Media] that had been giving us excellent lunch
trade, private room hires, filming, events over the year, were no longer a reliable source of business for us.
“It became evident last autumn that
waiting for that kind of trade to return
would have been a romantic, unrealistic idea.”
Freddi admits that while local Shepherds
Bush residents remained loyal and
supportive, they just weren’t contributing
the level of trade needed to grow or sustain the business.
“We took the hard decision to call it a day
Sarah Hobday of Vin Van Cymru BBC’s Wood Lane departure hurt Albertine
Norwich indie HarperWells has plans before getting into financial troubles,” he
for its first on-trade location to open
Mad Wine, an import company which has
style cheese carousel, which will allow
wines from small family domains. He will
glass. The focus will be on the cheese
before the end of the year.
been “feeding” Albertine’s wine list with
for several covers, and there will be a
A couple of years ago Freddi set up La
exclusive imports of French and Italian
now focus on expanding the portfolio while working with the team on finding a new site for Albertine.
Hythe indie has Italian specialism Alessandro Allegretti has opened Hythe Cellar on the Kent coast. This is the third shop for Allegretti, who
The project will comprise a Yo Sushi-
minimum of 20 wines available by the
and wine pairings and there will also be
a retail element to the new site, which is earmarked for Norwich city centre.
The plan is to trade under the Fredricks
name, reflecting the branding of the company’s deli in Diss.
Second store for Ultracomida
owns two enotecas, Bon Vino Dockhead
Ultracomida is set to open a new site in
shops, Hythe Cellar will specialise in Italian
our wine warehouse that we opened in
summer and spotted a gap in the market
storage space on one side of the building,
(in Bermondsey) and Bon Vino Maltby
Cardiff this summer.
wine, all of which he imports directly.
Aberystwyth last year,” explains owner
Street (in Southwark). As with those two
Allegretti says he moved to the area last
for a good wine merchant. “The only thing Rob Freddi
HarperWells to open Norwich bar
I want to do on a Saturday morning is to go
and have a cup of coffee, buy a loaf of bread and a nice bottle of wine, and there was
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 4
“It’s very much along the same lines as
Shumana Palit. “We’ll have warehouse
with the wines and food offering on the
other side. This is slightly bigger and will
have a mezzanine space where it will look and feel like a bar.”
Bacchus A new pearl for Covent Garden
Matt Lovell and Rob Hampton, the
manager has a BSc from Plumpton in wine
restaurateurs behind The Oystermen, have ventured into wine retail with the launch of Bedford Street Wines in Covent Garden. Plumpton graduate Alex Prymaka is
the general manager of the shop and has been involved with the project since the beginning.
“We wanted to open in December last
year,” she says, “but Westminster Council,
as lovely as they are, took their sweet time to get the licence through. It’s given me
plenty of time to work on the wine list and that’s been really fun.”
Prymaka has also been working with
the team converting the premises and was delighted that behind the “drab
décor” there were some original features to uncover, including some “lovely high ceilings and an amazing wooden floor,
under layers and layers of hardboard”. The wine shop will be completely
separate from the restaurants, with its own identity and dedicated staff, all with formal
“We’re going to have a big English
wine focus,” Prymaka explains. “I got
my master’s at Plumpton, my assistant
business and a lot of our friends are old Plumptonians.
“We feel that while English wine is well
represented in the countryside, that is not the case in London. There is definitely a
conversation to be had to promote English wine. We’re in Covent Garden so there are lots of tourists, it’s very international so I think the opportunity is there.
“We also have wines from all over the
world. We have a whole range from Liberty and we’ve taken some natural wines from Les Caves de Pyrene and from Ben Slater
at 266 Wine. He imports a lot organic and biodynamic wines that are really good. “I’ve got a friend who’s a nomadic
winemaker and we’re going to have some
of his wines – we want to work with great people who do amazing things.”
The shop has space for around 10
customers to drink in, but the main focus
is retail and e-commerce. Local deliveries will be fulfilled by Deliveroo and Zedify, a company that uses electric bikes.
Prymaka (right) with the Bedford Street team
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 5
The consumption of communion wine has still not returned to pre-Covid levels as the Church continues to struggle with science versus the sanctity of medieval legislation. “The most ridiculous thing is that the obvious way forward is for everyone to have individual cups so that you’re not spreading disease anyway, but under the Sacrament Act of 1547 that’s written in old English, it’s not allowed,” explains Francis Peel from Whitebridge Wines, who for many years has run a profitable trade with clerics. (His communion wine is also popular with non-believers among his client base, who refer to it as Father Jack.) “Despite the fact there have been six eminent QCs saying it’s fine, the archbishops have decided they don’t want to go down that route.”
Champagne’s vineyards often take the breath away of first-time visitors. But that shimmering, sparkly effect coming off the soil is not caused by fairy dust. It’s actually ground-up glass that was chucked there, along with the rest of the Parisian trash that was dumped, supposedly as fertiliser, in the 1970s and 80s. That also explains the occasional appearance of decaying batteries and severed dolls’ heads, and shredded blue plastic rubbish bags. The region is supposedly cleaning up its act, but not quickly enough for journalist Caroline Henry. Writing for Wine-searcher.com, she claims Champagne’s vineyards “increasingly resemble a nuclear wasteland” thanks to injudicious chemical use. “For the past month, many of the region’s sloped vineyards have been nuked by herbicides, changing the lush green winter landscape into something resembling a Martian desert,” she says. “At Hautvillers, the UNESCO heritageprotected vineyard slopes resemble a deserted Syrian battlefield, with the burnt orange only sporadically being interspersed with a bit of greenery – coming mostly from the Moët & Chandon or Taittinger vineyards, or those of a rare organic grower.”
Camberwell duo take the plunge Patrycja Lorek opened Véraison Wines in Camberwell, south London, last month. Previously responsible for the wine
listings at the Great Queen Street
restaurant in Covent Garden, and latterly with stints at 10 Cases and Bubbledogs
Champagne bar, Lorek is more than ready to go it alone.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own
business,” she says. After moving to
Camberwell with her husband John Baum, from The Winemakers Club, the pair
intervention wine, but if there is a
beautiful conventional wine, why wouldn’t I put it on the shelf? Primarily it’s about
what, in our opinion, tastes nice and clean. “We will change our by-the-glass range
quite often so people can try different
things. At the moment we have five whites, five reds, a rosé, an orange wine and one sparkling available by the glass.
“We’re very flexible; we had a customer
who wanted a glass of something that
wasn’t on the list, so we just opened the
bottle and then sold the rest by the glass.” Lorek intends to refurbish a back
room in time for the Christmas season so customers can book a private area.
Indigo boss opens Peckham store
restaurants and shops for the last 20 years,
“John is importing so there are quite
Ben Henshaw, owner of Indigo Wines,
wines to take away, there is seating for 30
Raeburn, Vine Trail and Carte Blanche,
The Sourcing Table originally launched
spotted that the area was missing a good wine shop. “When the site came on the
market, we decided to do it ourselves,” she says.
a few of his import lines on the shelves,
opened a wine shop and bar in Peckham
and I’ve got a few tastings lined up so I can
as an online-only retailer in October 2020
but I’m also working with Howard Ripley,
expand the range.
and is run separately from Indigo Wines.
“We’re trying to focus on low-
“Having sold artisanal wine to
I didn’t think I’d ever find myself on the
other side of the counter,” Henshaw says. In addition to the range of over 400
people, and all bottles are available to drink in for a corkage fee.
Jo Lory at Indigo Wines admits that
while Indigo’s portfolio will play “quite
a big part”, there are wines from “at least another eight suppliers, including Les Caves de Pyrene and Flint”.
Lory is keen to avoid stepping on the
toes of Indigo’s customer base. “The indies got us through lockdown. We are very
conscious of that and so thankful of the support we got from the independent
retailers that we sell to. They are important customers to us.”
• The Bottle of Hastings is soon to open on Queens Road in the East Sussex town. James Hickson and Sam Coxhead, the team behind the new venture, have extensive on-trade experience, including spells (like Patrycja Lorek of Véraison, above) at Covent Garden’s Great Queen Street restaurant. The new wine shop is an addition to their pub, The Royal, in nearby St Leonards, which they Véraison Wines: “Primarily it’s about what, in our opinion, tastes nice and clean”
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 6
opened in 2019.
‘We think we’ve got the lowest mark-ups on wine in the country’ As Andrew Byrne steps away from his famous family business, D Byrne & Co in Clitheroe, he reflects on what’s made the company so successful – and what’s given him most pleasure
fter over 50 years in the trade
Andrew Byrne is ready to retire. But he’s leaving D Byrne & Co
in the capable hands of his brother Philip, and his own son, Joseph, who is now the
fourth generation to run the iconic family business.
The oldest of 14 children, Andrew always
knew he was expected to join his father in the shop, but he saw it as a positive
opportunity rather than mere filial duty.
“This business is a great place to be to
learn stuff,” says Andrew. “You get taken all over the world. I left school at 14, which
was allowed in those days. We were grocers back then but Philip and I grew the wine
side of things. We’re both self-taught, and I’ve taught my son Joseph all I know. He’s
become a great whisky expert.”
There is a lot of affection in the trade
for D Byrne & Co. It’s been the recipient of many awards over the years and has
a reputation for its huge range of wines,
made all the more exciting by being housed (until Covid hit) in a rather romantic
Victorian building that invites exploration and discovery.
It’s easy to imagine that many indies
have been inspired by a visit to the shop on King Street in Clitheroe.
“We’re probably one of the best-known
wine businesses in the country,” Andrew
concedes. “I’ve grown up with wine and as wine drinking has grown in this country, we’ve grown with it. We’ve tried to be at the forefront of everything as far as we could be, all the time.
relocated the entire operation to their
competed against us, and we’ve always
property, was more conducive to shopping
“We’ve always had opposition – there’s
been three big wine companies that have managed to outdo them because we own our own buildings.
“We think we’ve got the lowest mark-up
on our wines in the country. That’s how we built our business up – if somebody wants something they know they can probably find it in our shop and we’ll probably be the cheapest in the country for it. And that’s how we’ve built our reputation.
“We’re not greedy with our profits. Me
and Philip, we don’t drive fancy cars or Wine’s loss is gardening’s gain
Crucially, the company owns its premises
anything like that. We’ve not been down that route.”
A couple of years ago, the family
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 8
warehouse which, being the complete antithesis to a labyrinthine Victorian
in Covid times. It was an opportunity for some long-awaited maintenance on the
high street premises, which Andrew says
will re-open, in addition to the warehouse
site, as soon as they find a replacement for him to work in the shop.
He admits that while the character of the
more quirky premises was probably part of the attraction for customers, the company has certainly not lost any business by operating from the warehouse.
“We’re just as busy as we always were,
and it’s better because there’s somewhere
to park. We’ve actually increased our range
myself busy. I do enjoy gardening and so
now, because there’s more room there.”
my garden should be in prime condition
Two particularly memorable trips during
his career stand out. “My favourite trip was
“I’ve enjoyed the trade very, very much
with Boutinot,” Andrew says. “We did Chile
over the years. It’s been a great place to
and Argentina and saw all our agencies out
grow up in and I’ve made many friends.
there. That was a stunning trip because I
“I’m a member of a club round here
really enjoy cooking and in Argentina we
where all the merchants meet up regularly
were looked after by a Michelin-starred
for blind tastings and things like that. We
chef and he taught us to cook.
always have a good flight of wines that
“I also went to Italy where I made my
we taste blind and we’re all as bad as
own wine. We went to Araldica, a Barbera
each other at guessing what they are. I
d’Asti Estate, and we tried about 30 or
40 samples from different aspects of the vineyard with different combinations
of wood and non-wood. I made my own
Barbera wine and that was really enjoyable. I had to commit to about 10 pallets. It sold
well, as I’ve got pictures around the shop of me making it, so customers can see exactly how I did it.”
After all this excitement, what will
A self-taught wine expert
Andrew be doing in his retirement?
“Well, it’s not something you can just
drop easily,” he says, “but I’ve had my
first week off now and I managed to keep
was at one run by Leeds Brewery and we finished up with a bottle of 1962 Mouton
Rothschild. It was in perfect nick and it was one of the best wines I’ve ever tried in my life.
“I remember selling that when I first
came into the trade and, if I remember
rightly, it was about 12 shillings. It’s about £5,000 a bottle now.”
JOIN THE CELEBRATION! SATURDAY 18 SUNDAY 26 JUNE
From in-store tastings to featured wines and promotions, there are plenty of ways to celebrate English wines Visit winegb.co.uk/trade for further information and how you can get involved
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 9
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NOT YOU AGAIN!
customers we could do without
34. Bernadette Dunderfield … I like to drink rosé, you see, but I’m a bit fussy about my rosé, because for me it has to be dry, not sweet … do you sell any dry rosés? OK, let’s have a look at them … yeah, you see, these are all much sweeter than the ones I like … you can tell by the colour … honestly, that’s a foolproof system and it’s always right 110% of the time … well, let me have a look at this in some better light, by the window … yep, too dark, that one’s gonna be sweet … this one … bit better, but still on the red side … I expect you have lots
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 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.eastprint.co.uk
Congratulations to the five Wine
of ladies come in who have a really sweet tooth but that’s
Merchant reader survey respondents
not me at all … bone dry for me every time I’m afraid, it’s just the way my taste is … OK, this one is a bit paler, are you super super confident it’s not sweet? Really? OK … but I’m relying on you because I do not like sweet things … I’m putting my faith in you, Mr Professional Wine Expert,
whose names were drawn at random
AM ANAand TIaMCoravin, GRwho E courtesy of each win
our partner Hatch Mansfield. Can you unscramble these common wine faults? If so, you win a £5 Bottoms Up voucher. Peter Fawcett, Field & Fawcett, York
so you’d better not let me down! OK, we’re done, I reckon ... I’ll take two of these, this big bar of Galaxy, a box of Ferrero Rocher if you’ve got ’em, and a bottle of cherry brandy please …
1. Oil Deal Activity Anthony Borges, The Wine Centre, 2. NATO Trick Great Horkesley, Essex 3. Snotty Embrace Zoran Ristanovic, 4. Tights Liker City Wine Collection, 5. Menu is SOSLondon Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines, Dorset Riaz Syed, Stonewines, London
THETHEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANToctober may 2022 2021 10
ight ideas br
31: A Bottle Engraving Service Carl Evans Saxty’s Wines, Hereford
In a nutshell: Make it personal for
Quite the kit. What does it do, exactly?
labelling, wedding favours or the simple
and labels too. If you’re doing simple text
customers. Whether it’s a large corporate
“It allows us to engrave onto the bottle
addition of a birthday message to a bottle
then you don’t have to be particularly
order requiring multiple logos and bespoke of Champagne, engraving is a service guaranteed to give you an edge. Tell us more …
“We’ve been doing engraving for a
few years as we’ve got quite a large
independent corporate side and we used to outsource it. But the lead times got longer and longer, and the prices crept up a little
bit, so we thought we’d take the plunge and move it in-house.
“It has made it more cost effective
and efficient and a smoother service for everyone. The turnaround time could
take weeks when we were using a third party, whereas now I can engrave a
and onto gift boxes, and other glassware arty. We’ve been doing custom labels
and bespoke engravings for a while and we do all the designs in house. We have a few people here who have developed their skills with graphic design tools
like Photoshop and Illustrator. You’re
not engraving by hand. You do it all on
computer and push it over to the engraving machine, so it’s quite simple. The more
you use it, the easier it is and you learn
which engraving works best depending on the thickness of the bottle. There are little tricks you learn as you go.”
Is it mostly bottles of Champagne you get asked to personalise?
straightforward ‘happy birthday’ in 10-15
“It’s a wide spectrum of drinks, really.
Did the machine cost a lot to set up?
congratulations messages, but we’re
minutes, not a problem.”
“It was an expensive outlay but we
projected it would pay for itself in 18
months. It’s been just over a year and we’re definitely on track. We charge a flat rate of
£10 per engraving. We went for the highest
spec we could get and the company that we used were really good because they came in and did training with us.
“It’s not huge, but it’s the size of an old-
fashioned fax machine. It’s really heavy, it
took quite a few of us to get it in, so I don’t think it will be moving anytime soon.”
It’s normally Champagne for celebratory things like a birthday or general
finding with vintage port, people might want to buy a bottle for their godson
and engrave their date of birth with the
intention that they keep it for their 21st.
Especially when most online retailers have got roughly the same products at roughly the same price, by offering something a little bit different, we’ve found the
customers really enjoy that and we’re
getting repeat business from it, which is
great. We’ve also got sample bottles with ‘engrave me’ on them dotted around instore.”
Have you been asked to engrave
It’s the same with whisky, and a lot of
asked to put in a bit of a cheeky message
companies ask us to do gins and non-
“Some people ask us to write certain rude
How have you advertised it?
with an online order. We’ve had people ask
alcoholic drinks too as they want to cater
“We’ve put it on social media and as an option online and that’s really popular.
things on there, just like on occasion we get us to engrave pictures onto bottles, which we can do and have done successfully – it depends what the image is like.”
Carl wins a WBC gift box containing some premium drinks and a box of chocolates. Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for you and you too could win a prize. Email email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 11
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Harvest time in Devon
Brian Croser, Tapanappa Wines It is not an accident that Chardonnay is a special variety for all discriminating wine consumers of the world. It combines the aromatic freshness and intensity expected of great white wine with the texture and complexity of flavour of a great red wine. Chardonnay is special for me because I first experienced it in California in 1972 while I was studying oenology and viticulture at the University of California, Davis campus. It was mind-altering to taste the great Chardonnays of California at that time. Those are the wines that made us determined to find a suitable location and grow Chardonnay in Australia. We chose the Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills, based on the teachings of my viticulture professors Olmo and Winkler and oenology professor Maynard Amerine. These legendary men impressed that Chardonnay needed to be grown in a cool, damp environment to elicit its best qualities.
It took more than two decades for recognition that the warm to hot regions were unsuited to fine-wine Chardonnay. Now there is little Chardonnay grown in those regions and the new generation of Australian fine-wine Chardonnay vineyards are in the cool locations of Tumbarumba, Orange, Gippsland, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula, Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, Great Southern and Margaret River.
The change of vineyard locations changed the Australian fine wine Chardonnay style profoundly, from yellow-coloured broad wines, alcoholic, low acid, heavily oaked and buttery from malolactic fermentation to refined, intense wines defined by their varietal and regional fruit with light doses of oak, malolactic influence and matchstick and with refreshing natural acid that also confers longevity. Instead of honey, caramel and vanilla, the key descriptions of modern Australian Chardonnay include apple, nectarine, pear, white peach, quince and grapefruit.
The Tiers Vineyard is a north facing slope, a clos, enclosed by hills and forest. The soil is clay rich and ferruginous, derived from a 1.6 billion-year-old rock strata, an uplift of the basement rock along a fault line on the edge of the vineyard. It has the highest rainfall location in South Australia at more than 1 metre a year. It is also the coolest location. Tapanappa will continue its journey of incremental refinement of the viticulture and winemaking in the vineyards and regions it has founded. Slow replanting of the very superior selection/clones of the original 1979 Tiers Vineyard, with the same genetic material on rootstock, and closer spacing, will bring long-term improvement of quality and vineyard resilience. The winemaking changes are less transforming but ongoing, with yeast and bacterial influence and barrique
Tapanappa is the continuation of the 40-year mission of pioneering winemaker Brian Croser and his family to make world-class wines from the most distinguished sites in South Australia. Tapanappa wines are imported into the UK by Mentzendorff 0207 840 3600 www.mentzendorff.co.uk
management receiving the most attention.
I consider myself privileged to have discovered and nurtured this distinguished site that has dominated my viticultural and winemaking thinking for the past 43 years. I take great satisfaction that it will continue to grow superior Chardonnay beyond my tenure of its precious vines.
Tapanappa Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2020
Tapanappa Tiers 1.5m Chardonnay 2020
Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay 2019
Very fruit aromatic and ripe with yellow peach, fig and quince dominating the spicy oak and a trace of matchstick complexity. The texture is refined and the acid in moderation, achieving balance with the core of sweet fruit. This above all is a ripe fruit wine from a cool, superior vintage.
Made from grapes grown on the Tiers Vineyard 1.5M block. Again the aroma is of ripe Chardonnay fruit, of white peach more than yellow peach, and of pear. The spice of the oak is evident. There's more texture than the Piccadilly Valley and more acidity to balance the strong ripe fruit flavours.
This is from the original 1979 planting of at superior clone of Chardonnay on its own roots. The crop level in old Tiers is half that of the 1.5m Tiers but it ripens more slowly and later. The freshness of Tiers becomes apparent on tasting, revealing a greater fruit intensity than the other two.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 12
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 13
Feature sponsored by Vintrigue Wines
like being with someone face to face, so it’s good to be back on the road and it’s been really positive. I’m always happy
For more information about
Being involved in tastings is one of the
Call 01207 521234
the company, visit
to meet with people, see my customers
and meet with their own customers too. most enjoyable things of the job, it’s a
huge part of what we do. One the things I
On the Road We talk to James Dainty, senior business manager at Lanchester Wines and a driving force behind Vintrigue Wines, the company’s dedicated indie portfolio
like most about my job is the people I get to spend time with. For example when
you’re presenting new wines to a retailer and tasting great bottles together, that’s definitely a highlight.
The changing seasons definitely affect
I really enjoy the
ordering patterns, and my customers
I’ve recently been talking about some great
meet them and see the
are stocking up for spring and summer. I
have with our
summer drinking wines from Tombacco,
level of detail they work to,
always try to be as seasonal as possible, so
producers. When you
one of our Italian producers. The Archivio
the sheer effort they put in and
range comprises a Primitivo Rosato, a
Pecorino and an Aglianico. We’ve also got
some new wines from California, including I completed a master’s in human rights and was working at a university and
thinking about finding a new job when
the Seaglass range from the Central Coast region, with really beautiful cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
how well they overcome various challenges like frosts and fires, their dedication is incredibly admirable.
I don’t have a flash car, it’s all about safety and economy. My Volvo is a hybrid
and I don’t think the infrastructure is there just yet to go fully electric with the miles I do.
a friend of mine started working in the
wine trade. I joined Majestic and worked
Driving to north Wales and crossing
in Esher and Richmond before I went to
Bibendum in sales support. Then I worked
the Pennines are both particularly
and joined Hallgarten, before joining
mountains and the landscape around
for Walker & Wodehouse and that was
enjoyable drives. I’m lucky my area has
Lanchester Wines in November 2018. We
Saddleworth Moor. When driving north on
such stunning scenery, including the Welsh
really good fun. Then I moved to Yorkshire
the M1, I know I’m close to home when I
set up Vintrigue Wines in 2020 with a
see the Emley Moor Tower.
specific goal of creating a dedicated range
for indies, but with the established delivery
I have a Bedlington Terrier called
and warehousing service of Lanchester Wines.
George and he never says no to a walk.
I cover the M62 corridor, the Midlands and
got a flat tyre. It was pitch black so I
Actually, the night before we got George
I was doing a tasting in east Yorkshire and I
I work across a large geographical area.
couldn’t see to use the repair kit so had to
Wales. You could say that planning is key.
wait for help. I didn’t get home until after 2am and I was exhausted … but getting a
You can do a lot over the phone or on
new puppy soon woke me up.
Zoom or Teams, but there’s nothing
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 15
TRIED & TESTED
French Bulldog Chardonnay 2020
Land of Hope Reserve Chenin Blanc 2020
It’s the time of year when a wine merchant’s thoughts
Old bush vines, ocean-facing Helderberg slopes, free-
and looks the part. Zippy, but with more than enough
unsurprisingly, it is. Rich but refreshing, it’s another
might be turning to affordable, crowd-pleasing summer whites and this Pays d’Oc Chardonnay certainly tastes buttery, sunshiney depth, it’s a wine that will behave impeccably in the company of al fresco salads. RRP: £14.99
Buckingham Schenk (01753 521336)
run juice fermented on its lees in French oak barrels for eight months … it ought to be a recipe for success and, illustration of how Cape winemakers are avoiding
complacency with Chenin, and aiming for perfection. RRP: £16
Les Caves de Pyrene (01483 538820)
Tio Pepe Fino En Rama 2022
Le Mortelle Poggio Alle Nane 2017
The very words “en rama” are enough to stiffen the
spine, dilate the pupils and make arm hairs stand to
A blend of Cabs Franc and Sauvignon, with a small
disappoint. Selected from 96 barrels in the solera, it’s
a sophisticated drop, with liquorice and balsamic
attention. It’s an invention that has made all of our lives better, and Tio Pepe’s latest edition does not
wild, creamy and salty all at once, helped on its way by flor that thrived over the course of a mild winter. RRP: £16.50
Gonzalez Byass UK (01707 274790)
percentage of Carménère, from an estate in Maremma, Tuscany, that joined the Antinori fold in 1999. It’s
depths encased in silky tannins, that demands your best glasses and more appreciative friends. RRP: £56.99
Berkmann Wine Cellars (020 7670 0972)
Alheit Vineyards Hemelrand Vine Garden 2019
Domaine de Champ-Long Ventoux Cuvée Speciale 2017
Chris and Suzaan Alheit could churn out a decade’s
This family-owned estate is in the process of
blend of five varieties from a marginal single vineyard
Grenache, 30% Syrah blend in concrete to maintain
worth of undrinkable filth and still retain legendary
status, such are their achievements. This vibrant field is dazzlingly good, with so many labyrinths of flavour it requires a novella, not a mere review. RRP: £30
Dreyfus Ashby (01636 642800)
converting to organics. The Gely family are clearly
proud of their terroir, ageing two-thirds of this 70% fruit purity. Deep, dark and powerful, it’s a sinusclearing wine that lifts you slightly off your feet. RRP: £15.75
Hallgarten & Novum Wines (01582 722 538)
Teusner The Riebke Shiraz 2019
Tapanappa Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019
Most of us know what we’re looking for in a Barossa Shiraz, and when vignerons aim for a leaner,
Fog and Pinot Noir seem to be natural bedfellows, and
unashamedly ripe, but by no means one-dimensional.
in South Australia. It’s bright and fruity on first
supposedly more elegant, style, the results are often underwhelming. Here the juice is generous and
Dark, soft fruit, a sprinkle of Asian spices, mellow
tannins: a reassuring presence in an uncertain world. RRP: £21.50
Enotria&Coe (020 8961 5161) enotriacoe.com
Brian Croser is achieving impressive things with the
variety in the maritime-influenced Fleurieu peninsula
inspection; what hits you next is a playful rasp, and an unravelling smoky earthiness. RRP: £32
Mentzendorff (020 7840 3600) mentzendorff.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 16
CORNELL VINEYARDS JOINS POL ROGER PORTFOLIO The organically-farmed estate on Napa Valley's Spring Mountain produces elegant, fruity and powerful wines that reflect their exceptional and varied terroir
ol Roger Portfolio is proud to
welcome Cornell Vineyards to
its growing list of top Californian
After buying the land, set in the rugged
terrain of the Mayacamas, Henry Cornell spent a decade of careful planting and
experimentation to establish his vineyards, and he and his wife Vanessa produced
their first commercial wine in 2013. Just a year later, Cornell Vineyards achieved
California Certified Organic Farmers status, confirming its commitment to organic practices.
The site, on the western flank of Spring
Mountain, has varying slopes and aspects between 1,600 and 1,900 feet. Cornell was not the first to recognise its great
winemaking potential: winemakers were
Henry and Vanessa Cornell
working the same land from as far back
flavour and structure.
our first foray into Sonoma, they represent
had lain fallow for 80 years.
viticulture and winemaking, and consulting
shoulder to shoulder with our Napa peers,
as 1850, although when Henry Cornell
purchased the 46.5ha plot in 2000, the land Now comprising 20ha of cultivated
vineyards, the estate is also home to wild spaces and species. It is divided into 20
vineyard blocks according to the soil type, and blends of these plots are decided
each year. All five red Bordeaux varieties are present in the vineyard for optimal blending potential.
Coming from ancient seabeds and
volcanoes, the colourful soils include volcanic rock, sandstone, shale,
cobblestone and loamy clay. Cornell
Vineyards believes that their terroir
holds a natural fingerprint this allows
the winemakers to weave a story of place
and vintage on a consistent framework of
Three wines are produced under the
guidance of Elizabeth Tangney, director of winemaker Francoise Peschon.
The Cornell Estate Cabernet
Sauvignon launched in 2013 and pays
tribute to the exceptional viticultural area. The Courtship Estate represents the love and care that Henry and Vanessa Cornell have for their plots, and the Cornell
Chardonnay launched in 2018 to great acclaim.
All the wines typically spend around
20 months in new French oak. They are
made in a distinctly Napa Valley style, with
elegant, fruity and powerful characteristics. “We are thrilled to welcome Cornell into
the portfolio,” says Pol Roger Portfolio head of fine wine Will Dennison. “While this is
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 17
some of the best mountain fruit wines
on Spring Mountain and certainly stand if not the greats of California.
“The shift in Californian wines has been
enormous over the last 20 years and the emphasis on site and winemaking has
never been greater. It is exciting to find a relatively new and undiscovered gem in
California, working with an incredible site
which will only grow into its own over the coming years.”
www.polroger.co.uk 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger
Lisa Howard HarperWells, Norwich
‘Something that was a hobby is now ingrained in my everyday life. I’m on a journey of discovery’
espite recent growth for the business, co-owner Dean Harper says “HarperWells remains a small team” – and members of small teams everywhere know they are both visible and accountable. So it would be fair to say that for any new member of staff, the pressure might be on to make their mark, and Lisa Howard has certainly done that. “Lisa joined us nine months ago and initially it was to assist in the running of our deli, Fredricks Fine Foods, in Diss,” explains Dean. “However her role quickly expanded to purchasing for the deli and items for our HarperWells flagship store in Norwich. “Having a new perspective from Lisa has made our range feel more rounded. She has a great eye for what will sell and what is exciting for the range, and the changes she has made have been a big hit with the customers. Lisa has taken to her role with us like a duck to water.” At a time when positive Covid tests have been rife, Dean explains just how appreciative the business has been of Lisa’s capabilities. “We have somebody who can step up and run the place on their own,” he says. “At a moment’s notice, Lisa single-handedly prepared 500 sausage rolls for the local butcher and cooked off the quiches, cakes, scotch eggs and fishcakes while serving in both the deli and the wine shop, in addition to her normal role, and she achieved it all with a smile. You realise at times like this what assets you really have.” This multi-tasking, unflappable and calm approach just might have something to do with Lisa’s previous career. She has almost two decades of experience as a primary school teacher. “My change of career has been an ease for me, a lot less stressful,” she says. “I’ve always loved food and wine and so something that was a hobby is now more ingrained in my everyday life. I’m on a really good journey of discovery, exploring things I’ve always loved and selling them to other people. “I’ve learnt a lot of new skills in terms of production of deli items and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about cheeses and sourcing a wide range of local and international ones for our counter.
“We aim to stock products that people haven’t seen in this area before. We’re fairly rural here and there aren’t that many specialised shops, so it’s about finding those niche products.”
ean adds: “She has a great eye for what will sell and what is exciting for the range. We’ve had comments from customers like, ‘oh, this is just like Borough Market’.” Lisa has also embarked on her WSET exams. “As a teacher you kind of have a bit of a zest for learning anyway, so exploring that more academic side of wine, that element really appeals,” she says. “I think I’m developing my palate. We’re very lucky around here to have so many great restaurants and that helps. When I go to food fairs I’m always tasting and comparing.”
Lisa wins a bottle of Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2017 If you’d like to nominate a Rising Star, email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 18
BITS & BOBS
Rising raw material costs and a shortage of wine bottles are likely to cause increases in the price of wine in France over the coming weeks and months, due to the impact of both Covid and the war in Ukraine. Glass prices are now 20% higher than
Morgwn Preston-Jones Redwood Wines, Perthshire
Favourite wine on my list
Groth Sauvignon Blanc, Oakville, Napa Valley.
Favourite wine and food match
We love Jean-Luc Jamet Valine Syrah paired with our freshly prepared steak tartare, made using the best Scottish beef. The silky, spicy delicious red complements the dish perfectly.
Favourite wine trip
We visited Ridge Vineyards a few years back while visiting family in California. There’s a particularly delightful warm and fuzzy feeling at Ridge, and of course we love their wines.
Favourite wine trade person
Have to give a shout out to my mate Charlie Hunt of Thorman Hunt. He is one of many outstanding wine professionals we have the pleasure in working with. People with passion and enthusiasm for wine are infectious!
Bottle shortage will mean higher prices
they were a year ago. This is also due to the rising price of fuel and gas, on which glass
manufacturers depend to heat their ovens.
The price of cardboard packaging, corks,
Champagne,” said Carter, who joined the company last September.
Chapel Down sold 1.5m bottles of wine
and spirits last year, with sales of sparkling wine in 2021 up 39% from 2020. Financial Times, April 25
Investors cheated in fine wine scam
and even labels has also risen.
Global Wine Exchange Ltd, an
Sales are fizzing at Chapel Down
techniques to encourage members of
Sales have soared at English winemaker
the opportunity to invest in fine wines with
The Connexion, April 27
Chapel Down, as a growing number of Britons swap Champagne for sparkling wines produced in the UK. Andrew Carter, Chapel Down’s chief
executive, said it was good to be a “leading English brand” following Brexit, adding that people were “very proud” to drink
sparkling wines produced at its vineyard in Kent.
“A major source of our volume
growth, really, are consumers who drink
investment company, has been wound up after using high-pressure sales the public to invest in fine wines that were never bought. The company offered would-be investors
the promise of “significant” returns, coldcalling potential clients and using highpressure sales techniques.
Several customers were vulnerable or
elderly, and the Insolvency Service said one was reportedly suffering from Alzheimer’s. Investigators have only been able to
identify wine stock purchases of £770,000 compared with income of £1.9m between January 2019 and March 2021. FT Adviser, April 13
Favourite wine shop
We love Bedales in Borough Market. Relaxed, down to earth, with the nicest team of people. They keep the wine offering interesting and you can grab a bottle or stay for a glass.
Chapel Down’s Tenterden vineyard
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 20
Fifty years of Tanners Claret
THE BURNING QUESTION
What wines do you think will be a hit for you this summer?
Rosé sales have already started and I’m noticing that my South African rosés are doing incredibly well. Because I open wines for people to try in the shop, it gives them the opportunity to see that the darker rosés aren’t sweet, which is the misconception. They might be a darker pink, but they are still soft, with plenty of fruitiness. They go down really well and they are very good value. South African wine in general is stunning and doing very well for me.
Tanners Claret, the best-selling wine from Shrewsbury-based merchant Tanners Wines, has reached its half century. The idea for the claret was devised by
the late Richard Tanner in conjunction with
Peter Sichel of the famous Bordeaux Sichel family, owners of Château Angludet and part-owners of Château Palmer.
The wine first went on sale in autumn of
1972 at the grand price of 88p per bottle – 75p to the trade.
James Tanner, chairman of Tanners and
the fourth generation of his family to work in the company, said: “My father, Richard, always maintained Tanners was the first merchant to sell a house claret, and a
scout through old wine lists from other
Sarah Truman Sarah’s Cellar, Battle, East Sussex
In Orkney, even in summer, it’s a bit risky to go outside without a fire burning, so you might want something to go with your barbecue. Last summer we introduced an Ancellotta, made by U-Turn. It was an instant hit. It’s a grape originally used to make Lambrusco, and here it is in Argentina being used to make a lovely light, low-tannin red wine. It’s generous, soft and fruity and it’s a great all-round, all-weather red. It gives me joy to find that kind of wine.
merchants seems to corroborate this.”
Duncan McLean H Champagne winner H Kirkness & Gorie, Orkney
Shropshire Star, April 20
Now the sun is out, rosé sales are kicking off. If we have bottles open, people will go for the darker styles, but if it’s straight off the shelf they automatically reach for the paler Provence rosés. We had an Australian one, Silent Noise. It tasted of strawberries and cream, and bloomin’ hell it was great. As soon as people tasted that, they loved it. Customers are heading for the fridges to see what they can buy to enjoy on the beach. Lighter styles of Albariño and Sauvignon are going really well.
Frost bites Oregon and California Oregon winemakers and grapegrowers are assessing the damage after a severe
late frost struck Willamette Valley. The week of April 10 saw record-low
Elly Owen The Old Garage, Cornwall
temperatures – down to 26°F in some areas – just as the vineyards were starting budbreak. “We have never seen such cold
temperatures so late in the season,” vintner Josh Bergström said.
California’s Central Valley and eastern
foothills experienced their worst frost in
recent years, inflicting widespread damage and taking vintners by surprise. “We were
experiencing 90°F temperatures three days before. So it was very strange weather,”
said Stuart Spencer, executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission.
Natural and orange wines are becoming a big seller for us. We initially started off with two SKUs, but now we have 12-14 different varieties on a weekly basis. We’re stocking our fridges with Albariño and Chardonnay, mostly crisp white wines with a bit of minerality to them. We’ve also really increased our cider range. At a time when people are concerned about paying bills, they come into our shop for good service and to buy something that’s really good quality. Cameron Tait The Beerhive, Edinburgh
Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584
Wine Spectator, April 27
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 21
THE HACKNEY EMPIRE Provisions has chosen the London borough as the site for its second branch. There could be more to come, as Hugo Meyer Esquerré tells Claire Harries
ix years on from the launch of Provisions
on north London’s Holloway Road, a second
branch has opened in Hackney. Owner Hugo
Meyer Esquerré couldn’t be happier.
Meyer Esquerré started the business with Ben
Proctor, who he met while they were working at Borough Wines.
Proctor left the partnership in July 2020. “Things
have changed quite a lot since Ben left,” Meyer Esquerré explains. “The employees got new
responsibilities and I had to change things around because of the pandemic, too.
“Ben and I had considered a few sites together for
our second shop, but had a few disappointments and we had put it on the backburner. When you
first do a shop, you realise it is quite good to have a partner because you share the responsibility
and you have conversations and make decisions
together, but when you are on your own it is a bit
more stressful. So after six months of building work, it’s a great feeling to be open.”
The Hackney store showcases wines from
Roussillon, Languedoc and the southern Rhône.
“About 50% of our entire selection is dedicated
to these regions,” Meyer Esquerré says. “We can
demonstrate the diversity and richness of these places and show the different type of soils and
climate and the new generation of winemakers.
“In Hackney there are quite a lot of wine shops,
and we felt the need to offer something that is a
bit different and quite precise. So to focus on these regions felt like the right match.”
The wine range, which sits alongside a varied
selection of cheese and deli items, is also sourced and imported by Provisions, and supplemented
by suppliers including The Modest Merchant, Vine
Trail and Les Caves de Pyrene.
The second shop is also considerably larger, with
65 square metres of retail space and a basement area, which incorporates a cold room for all the food prep. The space will also allow for wine
tastings and will occasionally open as a bar. It will
also be home to the Provisions Wine School, which launched last summer.
“The course focuses on organic and biodynamic
viticulture, and I would say it sits somewhere
between WSET Level 1 and 2,” says Meyer Esquerré. The course is run by employee Sam Povey, who
suggested the idea to Meyer Esquerré.
“He’s a young guy, full of ambition, so it’s great
to have him on board, and we’ve set up a separate company together. We are working on the second stage of the school, which will focus solely on
hospitality. It is a class designed to help waiting
staff, front-of-house, shop owners or managers of
restaurants. It will just be a day’s class to teach the fundamentals and basics.
“We try to promote curiosity. Whenever we
go and visit vineyards we like to get as much
information as we can and get our customers to
understand the products as much as we do. The
education part is another step to make that official.” So, will there be more shops to follow?
“There is so much potential with the Hackney
shop. There is a lot to do because the space is
bigger. We are also reopening the bar at Holloway Road – that was very popular for Islington locals.
“We will be streamlining our operations, focusing
on our wholesaling and enjoying seeing customers
come through the doors of both shops. We’ll see in a couple of years where we are, but it’s exciting times for sure.”
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 23
Classified information: how best to rank a region’s producers? The 1855 Médoc classification has become an irrelevance, but can modern-day attempts to rank the leading wineries of a region do any better? David Williams considers the new Pomerol Classification and The California List
ine classifications are the vinous equivalent of the
caste system. Hierarchical
throwbacks that are almost feudal in the
way they separate the haves from the havenots.
Still the wine trade can’t seem to do
without them. This year alone we’ve already had the launch of two new
1855-alikes for regions that have hitherto
been resistant to the idea of the immutable ranking.
The first, The California List, arrived
in March, an attempt by the UK branch of the Wine Institute of California to,
in the Institute’s own words, focus “on
the producers that have been the most important in creating and driving the
California wine category in the UK. A list of
exceptional California producers renowned for their quality and overall impact in the UK”.
The list, which was put together by a
panel comprising Jancis Robinson MW,
Mark Andrew MW, Sarah Knowles MW,
Ronan Sayburn MS and Stephen Brook, was whittled down to a final 51 from a
longlist of 200. It differs from the 1855
Classification, or a similar ranking such as the Langton’s Classification of Australian
On your bike – you missed out on a place in the top nine
Wine, in focusing on the producers, their
“reputation and performance”, rather than
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 24
individual wines or vineyards.
L’Évangile, 7. Château Trotanoy, 8. Château
regularly buy from the region, will know
a round number, although the fact that
line in Le Figaro’s commentary on the
outside the classification are producing
According to the Institute, there was
no insistence that judges should settle on the final list numbers 51 producers was apparently the result of disagreements
about which producer would be left out in a putative 50.
And for California wine-lovers casting
their eyes down the list, from Roederer in
Mendocino to Williams-Selyem in Sonoma County, it’s certainly hard to argue that
each of the names deserves their place.
All the expected names are there, but it’s
far from conservative: from what might be called the “New California” of Arnot
L’Église-Clinet, 9. Château La Fleur-Pétrus. But it was a seemingly throwaway
classification, about why the list stretched only as far as nine rather than a neater 10 estates, that has piqued the
interest of Bordeaux lovers and winemakers and château owners in Pomerol itself.
“We noticed a significant
difference in level between the property in ninth
position and the one in tenth, [so] our classification only
covers nine châteaux.” Cue speculation
that the bulk of the 1855 rankings are no longer accurate, and that many châteaux consistently better wines (and, just as
relevantly, at higher prices) than many of
those still officially inside. But despite its manifest obsolescence, its
influence remains strong in merchant marketing and press coverage.
As the climate crisis
bites, the aristocratic
land registry that is the
classification system in Burgundy
and Champagne is also starting to feel
about the identity of numéro dix and the
increasingly anachronistic. As growers look
Eagle and Sine Qua Non, there are
to mitigate rising temperatures and shorter
Any quibbling about its composition is
appropriate) discussions over their
Roberts, Kutch or Domaine de la Côte, to
the Judgement of Paris classical old guard of Stag’s Leap and Chateau Montelena, to the glossy cult names of Screaming
extent of the gap to the relegation places.
representatives of each of California wine’s
Other than provoking pedantic/
likely to concern the omitted rather than
precise make-up, is there anything more to
various winemaking “schools” or genres. the included.
The Pomerol Nine Something similar can be said about
the other high-profile new ranking that
emerged this spring. Like the California List, discussion about Le Figaro’s
classification of the greatest estates of
Pomerol is inevitably going to focus on who missed out, rather than who made the cut. Unlike the California List, the Pomerol
Classification, which used the historical
price and wine critic score data collected
by UK wine writer Ella Lister’s Wine Lister website (now part of Le Figaro stable), has a clear hierarchy, ranking estates
from one to nine: 1. Pétrus, 2. Château
Lafleur, 3. Vieux Château Certan, 4. Château La Conseillante, 5. Le Pin, 6. Château
intellectually stimulating (delete as
such lists than a publicity stunt? Do they actually serve a useful purpose for the general wine-drinking public?
To me it all rather depends on how
flexible the list is, with the most successful and useful regional classifications all
having mechanisms for adapting to change. That’s very much not the case with
1855, of course, which has famously had but three alterations in its 177 years
of existence: the inclusion of Château
Cantmerle after it was unintentionally left out when the list was first drawn up; the promotion of Mouton-Rothschild from
second to first growth in 1973; and the loss of Margaux third growth Château
Dubignon after it was absorbed by Château Malescot St-Exupéry.
Of course, anyone familiar with
Bordeaux, and certainly those who
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 25
to supposedly lesser crus or (village or
region-level AC land) higher up the slopes growing seasons, so the map of where the best wines come from is being rapidly if unofficially redrawn.
Happily, both the Pomerol Classification
and The California List do offer scope
for change. Indeed, The Wine Institute of
California’s UK directors, Damien Jackson
and Justine McGovern, are clearly aspiring to steer clear of officially sanctioned complacency.
As the pair put it in the statement
accompanying The California List’s launch: “The California List is intended to be a snapshot of California wine in the UK
market at a single moment in time, so the inaugural list, this Edition 1, reflects the current state of play.
“In the years to come, we will undertake
this process again to discover new
producers who the judges believe are now worthy of a place on the list, and perhaps
even some who no longer hold their spot.” A classification based on transparency,
and democratic, meritocratic principles? Sacré bleu! It’ll never catch on.
Is this Spain’s most dynamic wine region?
Navarra’s growing conditions is about
more than the climatic variations. As you make your way through the DO’s 100km
length, from Pamplona in the north to the Ebro River plain in the south, you move through a complex tapestry of different
ecosystems, landscapes, expositions, and soils, with the Navarra DO’s 10,200-plus
hectares taking in slopes, river plains and plateaux.
To this heady assortment of different
terroirs, Navarra can also add its unique
cultural diversity and heritage. Navarra’s
It’s a claim that can be made, with plenty of justification, for Navarra – a surprisingly diverse corner of north eastern Spain where winemakers have been unleashing their creativity for decades. Today’s Navarra wines are varied and versatile, providing plenty of scope for independent merchants in the UK to explore.
pain is not exactly short of exciting wine regions at the moment.
Across the country the standard of
winemaking has never been higher, while the wines themselves have never been
more interestingly and deliciously varied. Even in such a competitive context,
however, one region stands out. Ideally situated for fine-wine production at a
north eastern Spanish meeting point of
cultural and climatic influences, Navarra is arguably the single most dynamic region in Spain right now, with a diverse cast of
talented winemakers producing a range of distinctive, well-priced wines that offers something for every wine lover. Ideal situation
As with all great wine regions, Navarra’s
natural advantages start with the situation of its vineyards. Located in the far north east of Spain, Navarra – uniquely for the
Iberian peninsula – sits at the confluence of three distinct climates: Atlantic,
France, and its long historical connections with the country, have brought a
fascinating vini-viti-cultural mix of
influences, a combination of Spanish and French that makes it quite distinct from
other regions both north and south of the border.
Nowhere is this sense of cultural
crosscurrents meeting more apparent than in Navarra’s collection of grape varieties. As Camilla Wood, founder and managing director of leading independent West
Country wine merchant The Somerset
Wine Company in Castle Carey, puts it,
“The interesting thing about Navarra is
that you can find high-quality wines made from well-known ‘international’ varieties,
like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, planted alongside the likes of Garnacha
and Tempranillo. That means the region
has a real versatility of style – in all colours – that’s very useful for getting customers engaged.”
Versatile and diverse
Continental and Mediterranean.
Versatility is indeed the watchword in
Alta and Ribera Baja – are therefore each
as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and
Navarra’s five distinct sub-regions – Baja
Published in association with Wines of Navarra
position just across the border from
Montaña, Valdizarbe, Tierra Estella, Ribera shaped by their proximity to the Bay of
Biscay and the Pyrenees to the north, and by the moderating influence of the Ebro River Valley in the south.
But the extraordinary diversity of
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 26
any analysis of Navarra’s recent history. Although international varieties such
Chardonnay had been present in the region for centuries, and had long-since proved
their suitability to Navarra’s terroirs, the
region’s growers began to plant them more widely, alongside the native Garnacha,
© Khun Ta / stockadobe.com
Navarra’s 10,200-plus hectares include hillsides, river plains and plateaux
Reds account for 63% of Navarra’s output, with rosé on 24% and white wines on 13%
Tempranillo and Viura, in the 1980s. The
accounting for 63% of Navarra’s output,
grapes account for 70% of Navarra’s
result was a creative explosion of new
styles, often in blends that were unique to As the 1980s turned into the 1990s,
a new generation of growers emerged, bringing with them a fresh injection of
innovation, a restlessly curious mentality that continues to the present day.
That’s left Navarra with what Riaz Syed,
of Stonewines in Barnet, north London, calls “surprising diversity”.
“I’m a bit of a fan of the Navarra
region,” Syed says. “Beyond rosado, the diversity is surprising, from Bordeaux
rosé 24%, and white 13%.
In terms of specific varieties, “native”
vineyard, and international ones 30%,
with Tempranillo (23,584,104kg in the
2020 vintage) and Garnacha (19,413,107
kg) topping the production of red varieties ahead of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (both with around 9,000,000kg), while Chardonnay tops the whites (with
4,547,759kg) ahead of Viura (2,374.888kg) and Moscatel (754,417kg). World-beating styles
blends of exceptional value to classic style
Navarra’s diversity may be one of the keys
skew towards red varieties, with red wine
but the region is nonetheless strongly
Tempranillo and Garnacha reds.”
A quick glance at the numbers shows a
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 27
to its enduring popularity in both Spain
and its numerous growing export markets,
identified with a handful of key
Navarra is justifiably famous for its rosé,
with Navarra rosado being easily the most popular style of pink wine in Spain. It’s
possible to find high-quality examples at either extremes of the rosé colour and style spectrum, with wines both pale
and interesting and deeply coloured and richly flavoured. But the general trend
at the moment is for growers to look to
the traditional, darker-hued, sangrado or
saignée method wines with which Navarra first gained international attention. In red wines, Navarra’s knack
with international varieties, both as
single-varietal wines and in blended
combinations with each other or the native varieties, is one of its distinctive calling
cards. But an exciting recent development has been the resurgence of Garnacha. Growers, particularly from the latest
generation, have been reassessing and recuperating their ample stocks of old
Garnacha vines, as well as planting new
vineyards to the variety. The quality of the results is striking, with wines in a variety of styles, from aromatic and pale, to deep
The Navarra landscape is influenced by nearby France, but has an identity all of its own
“Possibly the hidden gem is the Moscatel,
not the sweet wine but the off-dry
version that’s sometimes blended with Chardonnay,” he says.
“It’s a fantastic summer white, it goes
well with spicy food, is especially able to
handle chilli heat, and it’s generally lower
abv so it works well for lunch or afternoon drinks.”
From fragrant Moscatel, to chiselled
Chardonnay, and from world-beating red
An exciting recent development has been the resurgence of Garnacha in a variety of styles, from aromatic and pale to deep and vividly fruity
blends to succulent modern Garnacha,
this extraordinary region really does have something for everyone.
and vividly fruity.
In whites, the undisputed leader in
Navarra is Chardonnay. With growers taking advantage of the long growing
season in Navarra’s cooler sites, Navarra
Chardonnay is regularly ranked as the best in Spain, with a distinct cool-climate style that balances ripeness with scintillating acidity.
“I’ve been very impressed by the Navarra
Chardonnay I’ve tasted,” says Wood.
“It’s definitely one of the region’s real strengths.”
Syed agrees, but also wants to speak
up for one of the region’s many other intriguing specialities.
Chardonnay is the undisputed leader among white grapes, while Moscatel is a hidden gem
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 28
ROUND TA B L E In April, seven independent merchants met via Zoom to discuss how Cape wines are performing, what lies behind their recent success in the UK market, and what the future might hold. Our five-page report, published in association with Wines of South Africa, starts here.
SOUTH AFRICA ROUND TABLE
MEET THE PANELISTS Chris Racey, Mumbles Fine Wines, south Wales
The Mumbles South Africa range currently has around 70 SKUs but is “growing all the time”, Chris says. “We’re constantly looking for new expressions from the country.”
Aimee Davies, Aimee’s Wine House, Bristol
“We sell quite a lot of South African red,” says Aimee. “We have a good mix of entry-level Chenin Blanc, and South African Sauvignon Blanc goes very well for us.”
Penny Edwards, Cellar Door Wines, St Albans
“Our range is quite South Africa heavy,” says Penny. “At any one time we have about 150. The range is continuously expanding at all price points and among all grape varieties.”
Jason Millar, Theatre of Wine, London
Space constraints keep the South African range fairly compact. “We rotate the wines quite regularly,” says Jason. “We have lots of producers and move wines in and out to keep it dynamic.”
Alan Irvine, The Scottish Gantry, Stirling and Milngavie “We have about 14 SKUs, so not a massive holding,” says Alan, “but it’s equal to the representation from other countries. We’ve seen an increase in sales of reds rather than whites.”
Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines, Blandford Forum
South Africa accounts for 75% of Museum’s business. “For retail we have over 200 wines from South Africa,” says Daniel. “Our agency portfolio represents 15 farms in the UK.”
Erik Laan, The Vineking, Surrey
The business typically carries upwards of 40 South African lines across a variety of price points. “South Africa for us is very, very exciting and has been, I think, for the last 15 years,” says Erik.
Chris Racey: “I’m a big fan of South Africa and have been
travelling there for many years. We are 38% up on South Africa year on year.
“A lot of effort has gone into it. I don’t think it’s customer
driven, it’s more by the team who promote it in store.
“We have had given it a bit more shelf space and run regular
offers. The uptake has been very positive and we get repeat custom.
“We sell a lot of entry-level stuff as South Africa is good value,
but I think the terroir-driven wines are starting to express
themselves as opposed to the more generic varietals. The estates
that are more cognisant of terroir and its role in the final bottling are succeeding more than those who have their heads in the sand.”
Penny Edwards: “I am southern African and have family in
South Africa, and lots of friends who are winemakers or work in the wine trade, so I have made an extra effort over the past two
years to increase my range and push South African wine on social media and in store. Our uplift has been quite significant.”
Alan Irvine: “If you have customers who’ve visited South Africa, been in the vineyards or have family out there, that is a key part to your selling.
“We’ve brought in wines that cover broad bases in terms of
styles and price points and they all move equally well. Probably the mid-range, at around £15 to £20 a bottle, sells best. I would
say our growth is in line with the [overall 28% export increase] figure and it’s driven by various things.”
Daniel Grigg: “I think it’s the best value wine in the world. The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc we were selling to pubs at £7.50
is now nine pounds something and it’s not any better. All of our trade accounts have switched to a South African. They’re still paying £7.50 and they’ve got a better wine.
“Similarly, Provence rosé is not as good value as it was and
South Africa is one of the few countries outside of France where
they have figured out that people want a pale pink rosé with just 12% alcohol. The South Africans are tapping into that.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 30
A BOOMING BUSINESS
The UK accounts for about a quarter of all South African wine exports. Last year, the value of the Cape’s trade with the UK rose by an incredible 28%. Jo Wehring, UK market manager for Wines of South Africa, says: “Over the past 10 years we’ve been working on changing the image of South African wine from being cheap and cheerful to being a premium, exciting producer. The UK indie sector has been vital in getting that message across.” “Then there’s MCC, Champagne method sparkling wine. We’ve
got a zero dosage wine, which has spent eight years on lees and it’s £14 to the trade or £24.99 on our website. If you compare that to Champagne, it would be three times that, at least.”
Jason Millar: “We’re not really relying on cross-selling: we don’t need South Africa as an alternative, for example, to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Provence rosé.
“It’s sold very much on the basis that it’s an interesting country
that has a lot to say for itself. It has old vines, it has interesting
blends and great winemaker stories and those are the things we
lead with, particularly since the South Africa new wave when we started listing these wines about a decade ago.
“Rather than have a conversation based around price point,
I’m more interested in talking about what winemakers like Chris
Albrecht [at Bouchard Finlayson] and Sam O’Keefe at Lismore are doing and the way they are shaping and defining the industry.
“The dynamism and creativity coming from South Africa
excites my customers.”
Erik Laan: “What’s been fascinating for me is, over the last 10 years, the new generation coming in.
“South Africa works really well for us, though I think my
customers do struggle a bit on higher priced wines, and some of the styles are a little bit more niche.
“For real wine geeks we love the wines that are a bit more
ethereal, Grenaches and things like this, but my customers still love Meerlust, and the classics.
“The South Africans have got the can-do attitude in spades.
They have a real collegiate approach to winemaking.
“They have a good system via Stellenbosch University where
they take people in from the townships to work in the wineries. There’s a real rise of talent there that you don’t see anywhere else.”
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 31
Is South Africa doing best with international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet – or is its trump card its quirky blends, and trademark single-varietal Pinotage, Cinsault and Chenin?
Penny Edwards: I think South Africa does well with all grape
varieties. It’s through our own love of the wines that we sell the strange blends and quirky wines.
“I am guilty a little bit of trying to substitute New Zealand with
South Africa and people have said to me, ‘it’s just different, it’s
just not New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, so why try to substitute that on a wine list?’ They are totally different wines and should be sold in their own right.
“On the premium side of things, I’m seeing an uplift in
Cabernet. I do sell a bit of Pinotage and I do have people coming in asking for Pinotage, specifically Diemersfontein. I think they
have done really well with branding – as with people coming in
and asking for Chocolate Block [from Boekenhoutskloof]. People don’t realise it is South African.
“One of our biggest sellers is the Bruce Jack Moveable Feast.
It’s £20 on the shelf and I sell cases and cases of it. People ask,
‘what is it?’ and I can’t remember how many grape varieties are in it, but they come back and keep buying it.”
Baixas but it’s a really interesting wine and we like it a lot.
I imagine most people work with the False Bay range from
Thorne & Daughters is popular.
Jason Millar: “Chenin Blanc is our most popular wine by far.
Boutinot. It’s a really strong range with amazing sustainability
credentials and we’ve had a loyal following for it for many years. “My own view is that wine generally, certainly for our
customers, is post-varietal. We don’t really tend to sell wines
based on grape variety. We don’t organise our shelves by country or grape variety.
“I think it’s really interesting to look at new-wave South
African wineries that have been developing things like Cinsault, for example. Natte Valleij is one of our most popular light reds. Light reds have become a trend, so whether it’s Pinot Noir or
Cinsault, it doesn’t really matter; it’s more about the
stylistic nature of the wines.
“We also have
that’s been really
popular. It’s actually
more expensive that Albariño from Rías
“Things like Mourvèdre do really well. Red blends and white
blends from Waterkloof; the Circle of Life range is popular,
“For us it is more about having the conversation around the
wine rather than being led too much by varieties. Aside from the
big French varieties, most customers don’t have a big impression about what Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre or Cinsault are going to taste like.”
Erik Laan: “What I’m looking forward to is the development of regional identity. People will still go to the shelves and grab a Pinot or a Chardonnay but stylistically things are different.
“Cinsault is a style that is beloved more by us in the trade than
the general public – at least in the ‘burbs, anyway.
“I think blends are very exciting. We sell shedloads of
Chocolate Block, Visionaire from Holden Manz, Vuurberg via Boutinot, and really good blends from Donovan Rall.”
Chris Racey: “We do extremely well with South African Chenin. “I think one of the key issues is how the growers over the
years have adapted their philosophy. Twenty or 30 years ago you would talk to a grower in, say, the Franschhoek Valley and he’d show you a flat plot of land with no elevation. He’d say he was
growing eight varietals on it. The discussion then would be, why on earth are you trying to be everything to everyone?
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 32
Does the UK pay a fair price for South African wines or are growers getting a raw deal?
Chris Racey: “Perhaps the entry-level wines are guilty of the
exploitation – and I use that word carefully – of the opportunity to buy wines in volume. If we represent 25% in the UK of their volume, then perhaps there’s a lot of buying power.
“But as a business we are spending a lot more money on niche
products coming from more boutique wineries where the price
point is still very robust. We’re not talking cheap wines, but great value wines.
“If someone is spending £20 to £30 on a bottle at retail, my
argument is that is still a £50 bottle in anybody’s eyes from
SOUTH AFRICA ROUND TABLE
“Certainly in the last decade the growers are understanding
what works well on their land and they are making their wines to be terroir-expressive, and this is what we need to be sponsoring and featuring.
“I’m thinking of estates like Glenelly, which has a French
influence as Elie Lencquesaing is French, but the winemaker
there is South African and he has taken on looking at what the
land can give to him, as opposed to what he wants to get from the land.
“These people are developing their craft on a worldwide
footing and they are producing some fantastically interesting wines.”
Daniel Grigg: “There is a huge amount of Pinotage that
is borderline undrinkable, but it is in the top 10 searched
varietals on Vivino, so that shows there is huge demand for it
from consumers and we sell a lot of it at all price points, from
Lanzerac at £13 to Môreson Widow Maker, from the Stellenbosch
University site, at £25, to Spioenkop, which was the first Pinotage to be planted at Elgin. It’s £40 but it’s delicious and people buy cases of six or 12 from us.
“Our best-selling white wine online last year was Stark Condé
field blend, which is predominantly Roussanne, Chenin Blanc,
Verdelho and Viognier. It’s much more difficult to sell a wine like that through an email; you’ve really got to communicate how good it is. It won six awards last year and that was helpful.”
somewhere else on the planet ... quality-wise, I think there is great value there.
“A lot of that comes out of the weakness of the rand, which is
historically a weak currency. It’s an exploitation of the economics of the country rather than of the people in the wine industry.”
Jason Millar: “What Chris said is really important, and there is a real tension about the value for money versus sustainability thing that we don’t always talk about.
“As merchants our job is to find good value wines. Price is a
really important part of everyone’s buying decision when buying these wines, but we have to think a little bit carefully about what we are saying about South Africa and how we present it.
“The rand is hugely important in determining pricing. In some
cases, South Africa is the only country in my entire portfolio
that has seen price drops. Bearing in mind Brexit, Covid, war in Ukraine, all the inflationary cost pressures we are facing, I’ve seen wineries put their prices up by €5 or €6 in France.
“South Africa is pretty unique in having cost prices going down
and margins going up. As a businessman I should be very pleased about that, but as a human being, I am uncomfortable.”
Penny Edwards: “Both Jason and Chris have echoed my
sentiments exactly. We have a duty as buyers to strike a balance and have a conscience when purchasing.
“I try to be conscious of sustainability and I’m aware of the
economic circumstances, which affect people I know in South Africa. I will just try to continue to support them across the range.
“I think producers like Waterkloof do it quite well in terms of
volume versus their slightly more premium product. I don’t feel that I am exploiting them because I am buying huge volume at
the lower end of the range, and I think it balances it out across
the range. To support at both ends of the spectrum … I think that is the key.”
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 33
SOUTH AFRICA ROUND TABLE
Daniel Grigg: “I particularly agree with Chris’s point that a £30 South African wine is often as good as, if not better than, a £40-
£50 wine from America or Australia, for example. We’ve actually put that to the test with South African versus the Rest of the World blind online tastings.
Alan Irvine: “It would be interesting to see if they go down the
with them for two years now. I said to them I thought it would
blends. It would be interesting to see if they break the shackles of
“We had a unique price increase recently, and I initiated it. It
was with Black Elephant in Franschhoek; we’ve been working be fair if we talked about the pricing and he asked me what I thought it should go up to.
“For one wine it went up 25p FOB, which is about 10%. For
another one, in his MCC range, initially when they showed us the
FOB list the wines were £9.50 and I said that would be about £30 to £35 retail. I thought they wouldn’t be able to sell the volume
he needed at that price. We agreed on £6.50 and, 18 months on,
we have built up a demand for it, it’s got good traction and we’ve
got the volume now. It can withstand a price increase so it’s gone up to £8 FOB, so he’s happy and I’m happy.”
Erik Laan: “Currency is an issue because it can fluctuate, but the biggest problem I have is the length of time shipping. Stuff that I ordered all the way back in July turned up on December 14.
“I think independents buy well and we buy decent stuff. Where
the less scrupulous activity happens is with supermarket buying and I think this is where the big problems are.
“Premiumisation of Cabernet in Stellenbosch is really
interesting. They believe the value should be much higher than
where they are, but the punchline is they can’t get hold of bottles or labels, so they said it would be bag-in-box. So they have a
serious problem over there in getting hold of goods – I think that is across the board.”
Alan Irvine: “The exchange rate is in our favour, but I think we’d all agree that if the prices went up by £2 or £3 a bottle, we’d still be getting tremendous value.”
What do you hope South Africa’s wine industry will have achieved in 10 years’ time? Chris Racey: “They’ve come such a long way in the last
10 to 15 years, and they’ve executed everything they’ve
learnt in their own way. South Africa deserves to have its own
identity in the world of wine, and they should just carry on with what they’ve been doing.”
Penny Edwards: “Obviously I hope for South Africa to be
politically and economically stable with everyone safe and living in harmony. I hope in the wine trade they continue as they are.
I’m very, very proud of what South Africa is doing and I’m very
proud to be selling South African wine, and long may it continue.”
single varietal route where they become experts in Sauvignon or Cabernet, for example, or if they become experts in field Pinotage and Chenin.”
Erik Laan: “I agree with Chris. Out of all the new world
countries, they are the leading country with the most interesting wines. And I echo Penny’s thoughts – it’s a wonderful country,
but there are a lot of political problems and social issues as well.” Aimee Davies: “I think they will just keep doing what they are doing. I think they are doing everything right – their wines are really accessible. A lot of our customers are everyday drinkers
and they think that it’s an unpretentious category and range that we have.
“We have a local Green Party councillor who did a Fairtrade
event and used a lot of our wines for that, so it is an issue around here and I would like to see more of those stories come across.” Jason Millar: “Over the past 10 years we’ve seen so much
experimentation and dynamism and creativity with what South
Africa can do. Whether it goes after the big international varieties or focuses on old vines and heritage grape varieties, and white blends and so on, are really important conversations to have.
“I suppose on the other hand I would be wary of narrowing it
down too quickly. South Africa is still fizzing with ideas, it’s very fresh, there’s still a lot of new things coming out of the Cape …
it’s really exciting. I hope the focus over the next 10 years will be
about creating premium wines that are distinctive to South Africa and tell a story about South Africa.”
Daniel Grigg: “You don’t see innovation like this anywhere else in the world.
“We’ve got one customer who used to buy 300 bottles a year
of Chablis premier cru but she is now drinking Colombard
from Vredendal – and they are in their 60s, so not your typical followers of a revolution.
“We get it with Cinsault too. You get guys coming in with an
ageing Land Rover Defender with very bald tyres, red trousers
and yellow socks wanting to pay £19.99 for a Gevrey-Chambertin – and I’m like, ‘so would I, but that’s not going to happen! But we do have a Swartland Cinsault that Jancis just described as having a Burgundian elegance’. And he says, ‘cool, I’ll have that’.
“He drinks that at home, but I know when he has guests he
buys Gevrey-Chambertin for the dinner table. That’s what we need to get over in the next 10 years … and for people to stop saying, ‘that’s good – for a South African wine’.”
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 34
. T H E D R AY M A N .
That joke isn’t funny anymore The days of cringeworthy humour, bawdy sexism and enticements to over-indulge seem to be drawing to a close in the brewing community
ack in the 1980s there was a Norfolk beer called
Unity Brewing voluntarily changed the name of one if its core
Crippledick. It was a dark, sweet, sludgy concoction of
beers – a 6.2% abv hazy IPA – from Collision to Only the Sea.
around 8% abv that pubs would only serve in halves,
The beer was originally a collaboration with a local craft beer
with a name that is now evidently wrong in many ways. But,
bar with a “punk/metal/alternative” vibe, said Unity founder
as the anti-woke commentators of today casually invoke to
and head brewer Jimmy Hatherley, a former Oddbins manager,
justify the excesses and embarrassments of the past, those were
who told me that he had personally always had misgivings about
In beer that meant real ales were frequently marketed with
Now a part of its core range, and with links to the bar severed,
names that deployed Carry On humour or forecasts of hangover
its new name is a quote from the French film director Claude
expectations, and, in the case of Crippledick,
Chabrol that, in cinema, “there is no new
what now seem bizarre and unpalatable
wave, only the sea”. It was chosen to reflect
references to disability and impotence.
how the beer was inspired east and west coast American IPA styles.
Since then, brewers have collectively cleaned up their act. The role of the Portman
“Collision just didn’t reflect what we’re
Group, though much maligned in some
about,” says Hatherley. “Beer names are really
quarters, shouldn’t go uncredited in helping
important.” The Collision switch has served as a
it do so.
reminder that brewers need to be mindful
Portman’s work goes on, though perhaps
when choosing names.
more under the radar than it used to. As recently as last September its scrutiny
“You see in craft beer that people knock
persuaded the Welsh craft brewer Tiny Rebel
out so many releases that the thought doesn’t
to drop a beer called Bump & Grind as it
always go into [the name] as much as it should,
breached the rules on names referencing
and that makes beer appear to be less special,” Hatherley adds.
sexual activity. The case suggests the group’s rules on alcohol marketing are still useful even if its judgments can sometimes seem absurd. In a 2020 case, it received a complaint that a collaboration between London brewer Hammerton and Brew by Numbers called Buoyancy Aid was suggesting it could “aid swimming after consumption”. To its credit, Portman’s complaints panel didn’t buy the idea, leading to the public pronouncement that it “did not believe the product was suggesting that it gave the
“Everything you put out is representative of your brand. Unity isn’t just a name; it’s an ethos as well. We’re all about people getting together and having a good time – a more soft and friendly vibe. The name Collision never sat right with me. “It is inherently quite an aggressive word – nothing collides in a friendly way.” Overall, he feels, the modern craft beer industry is doing a decent job of making its branding inoffensive and inclusive. “The old sexist, sometimes homophobic and even racist
consumer the ability to float better”. Even without Portman’s advice, brewers are generally
beer labels of old are talking to one group of people,” he says.
becoming more self-aware about the impact their branding can
“We want to appeal to everybody. I don’t want people to look at
our beer and think it’s not for them. There are a lot of modern,
I was reminded recently of Crippledick when Southampton’s
progressive breweries who are trying to push that really hard.”
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 35
Elegant wines from a win Feudi di San Gregorio’s line-up of indigenous varietal wines from Campania proved to be an eye-opener for an invited group of independents. Visit feudi.it to find out more or contact UK importer Hallgarten & Novum Wines
e’ve all got our mental image of southern Italy. Olive trees, scorching summers and cloudless skies normally loom large. Campania, on the shin of Italy’s famous boot, is a bit more complicated than that. Avellino sees around 1,200mm of rain a year; London gets around 690mm. Summer in the region can see temperatures edge towards 40˚C, but winters can be brutal, with the mercury dipping as low as -9˚C. It’s a mountainous place, characterised by volcanic soils and olive trees, hazelnut and chestnut groves, and the conditions are tailormade for four grape varieties: Greco (di Tufo), Fiano (di Avellino), Falanghina (del Sannio) and Aglianico (most famously in Taurasi). These hardy varieties provide the backbone of the portfolio of Feudi di San Gregorio. The company may be steered by a young team, but it’s acutely aware of Campania’s time-honoured winemaking traditions and viticultural heritage. It has partnered and invested in many research projects into its treasured indigenous grapes, and harvests fruit from some 800 plots across 300 hectares, with an emphasis on sustainability. (The company has Equalitas certification and
150-year-old pergola vineyards
Benefit Corporation status.) Vineyards can be as old as 150 years, and it’s not uncommon to see the ancient pergola system in action. A group of London-based independents was invited to sample some of the Feudi di San Gregorio range, distributed in the UK by Hallgarten & Novum Wines, over a memorable lunch at Norma in Charlotte Street.
A sparkling Falanghina, DUBL Brut, got things under way. Made in the classical method, it spends 24 months on its lees prior to release. Fresh and fruity, with a steely edge, it was a standout wine for Alex Prymaka of Bedford Street Wines – “a really interesting crémant or Prosecco alternative” – and Carlos Blanco of Blanco & Gomez was also impressed. “It is a well-made and balanced sparkling which is drier than the average Prosecco,” he said. “Considering that it’s traditional method, I find it good value for money.” “Lovely, with a great leesy nose,” was the verdict of Charlotte Dean of Wined Up Here. “But not overly weighty and a bit grapey on the light finish. Being Falanghina gives it a nice point of difference.” Falanghina is a vigorous grape, noted for its acidity and aromatics. Like most of the Feudi di San Gregorio wines we tried, Serrocielo has an interesting blend of texture, fruit and minerality (“definitely an aquatic saltiness,” as Andrew Gray of Plume put it).
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 36
This variety thrives in Campania’s clay and volcanic soils. Another vigorous variety, it can produce rich and complex wines. First up was Fiano di Avellino, known to many as the “Mosaic Label” from the Classic Series. Jason Millar of Theatre of Wine picked up on its waxy texture and lovage aroma and enjoyed the “distinctive linearity”. For Andrew Gray, it’s “an accessible spring or summer wine that could be cross-sold against other white varieties from Italy and the wider world, with some white pepper and herbaceous notes that give it the ability to stand on its own or with food”.
Greco di Tufo
Greco is a grape that is said to have been introduced to Italy by the Greeks, and it’s right at home in the volcanic ash and sulphurous soils of this small Campanian appellation. Feudi owner Antonio Capaldo finds it helpful to think of Greco almost as a red variety, because of its structure and ageability. The first example we try is simply labelled Greco di Tufo and the change in gear from the Fiano is palpable. It’s somehow both weighty and enjoyably austere, and definitely not a gulper. Charlotte Dean suggests it’s a wine for a long summer afternoon; Andrew Gray can imagine it working well with a bean casserole. The next Greco is the single-vineyard Cutizzi, which has an extra zippiness that tasters noticed straight away. “It’s
ndswept land beautiful,” said Penny Champion of Champion Wines. “When it comes to Campania, Greco di Tufo is the white wine that people will recognise,” said Carlos Blanco. “This particular cuvée is a very good representation of the appellation with good structure and minerality.” Andrew Gray sees it as a wine with broad commercial appeal. “It’s a middle weight wine that will please a lot of customers, with enough finish and presence to please drinkers with more experience, whilst being vibrant, moreish and accessible to the casual crowd at an event,” he said. “Cool bottle, too, with mystique driven by a small perfume-esque label.”
Aglianico produces long-lived, structured reds, thriving in some of Campania’s most inhospitable spots, so it was a shock to the system to encounter Visione, a delicatelycoloured rosé which, we are assured, was made entirely from the variety. The wine, in its distinctive frosted bottle, was a hit at recent Hallgarten tastings. “I love the presentation – I think it’s really
good,” said Penny Champion. “I would never guess it was an Aglianico in a million years.” Charlotte Dean added: “It will sell well because it will stand out from Provence rosé, and it’s great for us to have a point of difference in our summer rosé selection.” The next wine, Taurasi, brought us to more familiar territory. Taurasi as a region offers Aglianico the wild and windswept terroir it craves, creating intense but elegant wines that are enhanced with judicious oak ageing. “Taurasi is the most iconic wine from Campania when it comes to red wines,” said Carlos Blanco. “This is a wine that needs time to develop in the bottle. But I have noticed that Feudi are making it with a modern approach, so you do not have to wait years and years for the wine to reach its potential.” Charlotte Dean said the Taurasi was the star of the show. “Great wine, full and flavoursome,” she said. “My customers would buy that and come back for more.”
MERCHANT FEEDBACK Jason Millar, Theatre of Wine
“I think, for my customers, these wines have lots of potential. The wines of Campania have several on-trend points in their favour that will appeal to avantgarde wine lovers: old vines, heritage/ native varieties and volcanic soils, not to mention a great historical angle that goes back at least to Roman times. “Plus we have seen the general resurgence of southern Italy in the past decade, starting with Primitivo and Negroamaro in Puglia, followed by Nero d’Aviola and then Etna on Sicily, and now the wines of Ciro in Calabria – so it is on trend among knowledgeable wine drinkers. The time has never been better to list them, sell them or drink them.”
Andrew Gray, Plume
“I found the wines were all very accessible and have enough in their storytelling cache to continue to grow in the on and off-trade. “All have pronounceable and fun-tolearn names and etymologies/histories behind them to stand their ground, especially the movement from historic Greece. This winery in particular, offering a modern spin on historic varieties, is in a strong position.”
Alex Prymaka, Bedford Street Wines
“I was really impressed and loved the philosophy of Feudi. “The whites had a really beautiful saline edge to them while still expressing nice varietal characteristics. Campania whites are less well-known compared to the classic Aglianico and require more hand-selling. But I think, once customers know what the wines are about, they are something they will return to. They would work well in a wine shop organised by wine styles rather than countries and regions, something which we are thinking of adopting.” Antonio Capaldo, CEO of Feudi di San Gregorio
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 37
Liz Coombes and Simon Hill, Salisbury, April 2022
Siezing the opport THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 38
ARTISAN WINE & SPIRIT CO
Simon Hill and Liz Coombes weren’t on a mission to open a wine shop. But when the chance arose to take on a former franchise of Cambridge Wine Merchants in Salisbury, the stars seemed to align – and Artisan was born By Nigel Huddleston
hen Simon Hill and Liz
Coombes were looking for
a brand identity for Artisan
Wine & Spirit in Salisbury city centre,
inspiration came from an unlikely source: the cover of New Order’s 1985 album
Brotherhood, a close-up shot of some sheet metal.
“We liked the early-80s industrial look,”
says Simon. “The album was an influence as opposed to a direct copy. I’m a New Order
fan. I grew up with them in Manchester and I used to go to the Hacienda in the mid-80s. The ‘carpe vinum’ writing in our window was the closest font we could find to the cover.”
The end result is less stark than that of
the Brotherhood sleeve. “We want the look
to be welcoming, a bit more friendly,” adds Simon. “We don’t want to scare people off. I used to go into Eastern Bloc Records in
Manchester and I’d be scared stiff because the staff were so cool. You’d take a record
for Australia’s Wingara. After a break
from drinks helping run a family firm that organised the Manchester Marathon, he
started a property development business. He moved to Salisbury in 2019 as a result of changing family circumstances.
Liz had already landed in the city some
years before. She had been working for
Plantation Rum distributor Identity Drinks and had previously been a wine buyer
for the Co-op, and worked on the supply side of wine with Paragon Vintners and Berkmann Wine Cellars.
In March 2020, Gareth Thomas decided
to call it a day after running Salisbury’s
furthest franchise outpost of Cambridge Wine Merchants, and the premises’
availability and track record as the site of a wine shop provided the catalyst for Simon
and Liz finally coming together to work on their own business.
“The stars certainly aligned,” says Liz.
Simon adds: “It was one of those where
to the counter and they’d look at you as if
everything lines up and you think, it’s an
in who didn’t know anything about wine
but at the same time I’d always thought we
you were an idiot.
“We wanted people to be able to come
and just have a laugh – talk about anything
they want, ask daft questions and we won’t ridicule them for it.”
Simon and Liz met when working at the
western England wine merchant Tanners in 1995 and have been close friends ever
since. After Tanners, Simon went on to have spells in sales with Louis Latour and Peter Lehmann, and ran the European business
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 39
opportunity that you can’t really let go.
“I wasn’t really looking to run a shop,
could do a good job at it, having visited so many others through my jobs and seeing
what did and didn’t work. We had a good idea of which way to go.
“We sell some expensive wines but really
it’s about finding those more interesting ones at £10-£20. Rather than stocking
Continues page 40
From page 39
a £30 Sancerre, let’s go and get a really
interesting £12 Sauvignon Blanc from just over the boundary.
“A guy came in the other day asking what
we had from California. We only have a limited range but I showed him and he
said, ‘no, I don’t buy anything less than
£60’. I thought, you don’t need to spend £60.”
From your time on the supply side, you say you saw what did and didn’t work. Can you expand on that? Simon: Not trying to compete with the supermarkets is a big one. What’s the
point? You’re never going to win. They
Yield N16 opened in 2015, initially as a wine bar with a small retail element
don’t have a great range between the £10 and £20 mark because they’ve got to buy so much.
The £10-£20 range is our sweet spot. Our
average bottle price is about 15 quid and we can sell those wines every day of the
week. But we go a bit higher, with things like Taaibosch Crescendo from South
Africa, which is £30, and it’s such an easy sell. Miles Mossop Chapter One Cinsault
is £20 and we can’t get enough of it. It just flies out.
The shop front is not quite as stark as the New Order album cover that inspired it
Does the shop have any areas of wine
What are your personal passions in
How’s rum doing in Salisbury?
Simon: South Africa. I can remember
Simon: The next bottle! Spanish and Italian:
Liz: We can’t get enough of it. We sell more
the old, dry, dusty South African reds.
Liz: South Africa and New Zealand for me.
tasting South Africa wines when I was in
the hotel business around 1991 and it was I’ve always had a thing about South
African wines not being good enough,
but then I tasted the range for here and I
was converted. Richard Kelley at Dreyfus Ashby came and showed us a really good selection.
They’re just really good value. There
are some brilliant wines and we’re fast becoming a South Africa specialist.
I love eating, and Italian wines are just made for food.
I’ve spent so much time being involved with both of them. There’s so much
potential, especially in South Africa. It’s really exciting. We had a South African
producer – not of one of our wines – who
came in before Christmas and said we had one of the best South African ranges she’d
seen anywhere. It really made my day. And then gin and rum for me too.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 40
rum than we do whisky, perhaps because I know the rums inside out.
Simon: Whisky’s picking up, as we
develop the range and understand where we can get good value whiskies and be competitive. If you’re buying from an
agency company, they’ve got to put their
margin on and you can find yourself selling things that are £10 dearer than they are
on the Whisky Exchange, Master of Malt or
Amazon. But if we go direct to the producer we can actually compete.
Liz: Vermouth is important to us. It’s a
ARTISAN WINE & SPIRIT CO
slow burn for Salisbury. We did a vermouth and tapas night a few weeks ago at a local pub, and that was really cool. We had 25 customers and a supplier who took us
‘Events have become a big thing in our portfolio. Our big spring tasting is in the Guildhall. We’ve got 250 people coming’
through six vermouths, and they all left
saying they hadn’t appreciated before that there was so much diversity.
Simon: We’ve got the cocktail ones and the sippers: acacia wood, oak, special limited
editions, a Monastrell one from Spain, and the red Montenaro aperitivo. Add that to
Mosgaard tangerine gin from Denmark and you’ve got the ultimate Negroni.
Who are your main suppliers? Simon: We’re part of Vindependents. That makes up a good whack of the range,
probably about 40%. Boutinot, Thorman Hunt, Dreyfus Ashby, Hayward Bros and
Hatch Mansfield have all been really good. Being with Vindependents gives us
access to some really good Burgundy
growers. Burgundy’s always expensive but
The wall of artisans, paying homage to some of the people behind the wines
we can ship directly from Burgundy and get some wines that are good value for money and punch above their weight. With the spirits we try to go direct,
which is very important, because of the
margins and because we do a lot of local
gins anyway. We also do really well with
with on a couple of wines that we wanted,
Vineyards up the road, a Madeleine
tasted it. There’s no point. We need to be
English wine from Lyme Bay. There’s
another great English wine from Danebury Angevine for £12.50, which is really good
value. We’re still struggling to find a decent English red.
now we refuse to list anything if we haven’t able to say to people, “this is what it tastes like”.
How have you raised awareness of
How do you split roles? Is one of you the
Artisan in the city?
buyer or is it a collaborative effort?
Simon: Events have become a big thing
Liz: There are roles within the business that have naturally developed. Si’s the
business brains and I tend to do all the
social media, events and the marketing
side. But the buying side is 100% a joint
effort across the board. If one of us were to take responsibility for a particular country or category, the other one wouldn’t be Vermouth has become an important category
where couldn’t get hold of samples, but
invested in it.
Simon: We make sure we taste everything. We had to take a leap of faith to start off
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 41
in our portfolio. It gets people to interact with us and allows us to focus on certain products.
Our big spring tasting is in the Guildhall.
We’ve sold out and have got 250 people coming. We did a pre-Christmas one at
the local grammar school which was 165
people. We only planned to do a Christmas one, but so many people on the way out
Continues page 42
The Newington Green store has “a nice kitchen vibe”
From page 41
were asking if we were going to do a spring or summer one, so we have.
We usually come up with a theme and
pair wine with food. We did a Six Nations thing where for Scotland v Ireland we
paired off two Scotch and Irish whiskeys. Then we did France v Italy with two red
wines, and then for dessert we did English v Welsh gin with Welsh cakes and English gin trifles.
The big one is going to be our jubilee
event at Arundells which is where [ex-
prime minster] Ted Heath used to live on
Cathedral Close. It’s an amazing Georgian
house. We did a tasting there last summer with food, wine and music in the garden that went down a storm.
What does your other marketing look like? Liz: Social media definitely works for us. If
I post on Friday morning about grabbing a
gin and tonic on the way home, people will come in and say they saw our Instagram. When I do a post I’ll try to make it
‘In 2021, 21 new independent businesses opened in the city centre, which is amazing for a pandemic. It’s such a good city to be an indie in’
in front of an iconic Salisbury location.
You often get skateboarding outside the
Guildhall, and we got one of a bottle of a
sparkling wine with a skateboarder in mid
air over it. I took a new gin to the cathedral the other day and it happened to be when the BBC were filming Great Expectations up there.
We collaborate with a lot of other
businesses and we’re getting approached by other indies as well. There’s a swanky
jeweller on the market square [just yards
away from the shop] and we linked up with them, a florist and baker up the road for a Mother’s Day giveaway, which generated a huge amount of interest: “If you follow
all of us we’ll pick one winner at random.”
You would turn on the phone and see them popping up. There were over 100 new
Top: Benji the delivery man; bottom, some of the bottles that make Artisan a Cape specialist
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 42
ARTISAN WINE & SPIRIT CO
followers for the cost of a bottle of Bolney sparkling wine.
Has the city centre returned to normal since the lockdowns? Liz: In 2021, there were 21 new
independent businesses that opened in the city centre, which is amazing for a
pandemic. It’s such a good city to be an indie in. There will always be moaners who won’t go into the city centre but
generally there is so much support for
people like us, and if you can work with the other businesses it grows awareness for everyone.
Simon: It is getting busier. Someone did a
The duo split their roles: social media is Liz’s domain, including the Instagram shot below
measure of increases in footfall last year
and I think Salisbury was seventh or eighth
Is wholesale important to you?
Having launched in the pandemic, what
one range and realised it wasn’t perfect. We
in the country.
Simon: It will be. We’ve got a few little
have been the biggest challenges?
completely got rid of it in January and had
wholesale accounts. We started off with
Simon: The biggest is logistics issues
a clear-the-decks sale of mystery mixed
cases for a minimum of a 25% discount.
caused by Brexit and foreign workers going
We did a big tasting of a whole load of
back to Europe, leaving certain suppliers
new things and, rather than have three
without any staff.
or four of something, decided to just have
The increased bureaucracy that the
one. You only really need one Australian
bonded warehouses have had to undertake
Chardonnay, or one Australian Shiraz.
because of Brexit – you can probably tell
I’m not a fan – has led to some ridiculous delays.
We were trying to get some Armagnac
for Christmas and LCB had pallets of it but just said they weren’t clearing any more.
We could have sold cases and cases of it but
That’s saved a lot of money and made life a lot easier.
Are you doing e-commerce?
they just couldn’t cope at the warehouse
Simon: Technically! We’ve got a website,
systems just imploded.
a full-time job. We plug all the events
and get it booked on the system so it could be delivered out. Another supplier, their
Vindependents have excelled in tackling
these issues. When everything gets shipped in from different countries the paperwork
is unbelievable. They set up a consolidation warehouse in France. Everything goes into
there and one delivery goes from there into the UK, so there’s one set of paperwork.
but there are only so many hours in the
day and running a website is pretty much through it and we do get a few bits and
bobs [in sales], but it’s maybe something we’ll develop more in the future.
Keeping it up to date is such a hard job.
It’s a bit like cleaning your house. If you
don’t do it for a few weeks, it’s a massive job, but if you do it little and often …
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 43
We don’t go and have a day in the trade
selling to potential customers but as and
when they come along, we’ll interact with them. We want people who want to work
with us, rather than to strongarm someone into doing so.
We’d really struggle to be the cheapest
[in wholesale] because our focus isn’t on the cheapest wines.
We’ve actually found a really good
value Chardonnay. We could go and find a cheaper one, but as an Aussie winemaker
once said to me, “you wouldn’t wash your dog in it”. I don’t know exactly what that
meant but it sounded good. The point is,
everything we sell has got to be something we’d happily drink.
THE VERDICT Emily Silva The Oxford Wine Company
Joe Whittick Whitmore & White Heswall
Jeff Folkins Dalling & Co Kings Langley
Dean Harper HarperWells Norwich
Nic Rezzouk Reserve Wines Manchester
Our panel of independent merchants tasted a selection of Veneto wines from the portfolio of C&C Wines. Tenuta Sant’Antonio is one of the most well-respected Valpolicella and Soave producers, whose sister brand SCAIA champions the primary characteristics of the region’s grapes to produce fresh and aromatically complex wines. Lugana-based Le Morette is a 30ha family-owned and operated farm producing award-winning elegant wines, with an incredible passion for the territory. Savian is a certified organic producer of still and sparkling wines in a state-of-the-art energy saving winery. For more information, visit carsoncarnevalewines.com, or call 0203 261 0929 If you are interested in tasting these wines please contact Jon Carson: email@example.com
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monte Ceriani Soave Superiore DOC 2018
“Top-quality Soave with excellent typicity and a real elegance. It has the chamomile note that I always get with good Garganega, combined with fresh, pithy, primary fruit character. It also has good concentration and length.” – Emily Silva “A Soave with a bit more punch. Juicy. Slight occasional hint of banana. This would be an interesting addition to the range.” – Joe Whittick
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monte Garbi Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso DOC 2018 RRP £18.99
“Terrific nose which converts into a fantastic wine. Lovely dark fruits with cinnamon and clove hints. Great mouthfeel and finish.” – Jeff Folkins “An earthy, savoury Valpolicella with some great crunch and texture. A bit old-school, in a good way.” – Dean Harper
Le Morette Mandolara Lugana DOC 2019 RRP £19.99
“I liked the mineral quality to the wine alongside its tropical fruit and green apple freshness. It had a nice textural feel too – quite serious (in a good way).” – Emily Silva “A good quality floral summer wine. Pleasant citrus flavours. Classy. This would sit well between our less expensive and more premium Italian white wines.” – Joe Whittick
Savian Organic Prosecco DOC Extra Dry NV RRP £14.99
“A crisp, fresh Prosecco with very pleasant mid-palate fruit and nice finish. The packaging is good: an expensive looking embossed bottle. Quite classy.” – Dean Harper “I was very pleasantly surprised by this wine. It is beautifully balanced and has a good level of complexity. It is dry and crisp and felt like a real step up in quality from much Prosecco on the market.” – Emily Silva
SCAIA by Tenuta Sant’Antonio Rosato Veneto IGT 2020
Savian Organic Pinot Grigio DOC Venezia 2020
“A moreish rosé whose flavour belies its pale colour. Full of summer fruit flavours.” – Dean Harper
“Lovely fruit, rounded, quality stuff. Pinot Grigio for us has gone down a lot in organic sales. But it’s a good wine. I would consider it, even by the glass.” – Nic Rezzouk
“Classy Italian rosé which could challenge the dominance of Provence. Aromatic, well balanced, floral and fresh. It was at a much higher quality level than any Veneto rosé I’ve tried before, so that was a really nice surprise.” – Emily Silva
“Nice and fresh, with a little spritz. A touch more sophisticated than most Pinot Grigios, and good value for the money. The organic and sustainability credentials are good.” – Joe Whittick
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 44
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Alessio Planeta, Planeta Wine Sicily is a mosaic. We start the harvest around August 10, and finish it in October, which says a lot. We have vineyards in the completely white soils, with the finest texture, to the black and loose ones on Etna; from the red sand in Vittoria to the alluvial-clay spots in Menfi. The island is an infinite playground for viticulture. It has more than 20 native varieties, grown in various microclimates. Rainfall can vary between 300mm and 1000 mm a year. Sometimes it’s hard to describe just how varied the menu of Sicilian viticulture can be. Our style of winemaking is to be as non-interventionist as possible. We don’t ignore technology or hygiene, but we want to ensure our vineyards achieve the maximum expression. It’s a territorial winemaking philosophy.
We’re doing continuous research and development, including thousands of microvinifications and ageing tests, across five different territories, but broken down for every individual vineyard. We also consult experts on topics like vineyard management, winemaking, local varieties and biodynamics.
Native grapes on the island have never been abandoned. There was a moment when the region was in the spotlight thanks to the international varieties, which helped get us back on the world stage; but it was always clear that the identity of the
island would be expressed through its local grapes. Today there is a great balance: the focus of the R&D is on the native varieties. Nero d’Avola, Grillo, Grecanico, Carricante and Nerello Mascalese, among others, are arousing the curiosity of the consumer, too, finally! Huge steps have been taken qualitywise in the whole region – and the best is yet to come. The family has always been very active in social causes. With every bottle sold of the only DOCG wine on the island, Cerasuolo the Vittoria, support goes to a foundation running an orphanage and AIDS research projects. In Capo Milazzo we rent La Baronia: our activity and the wines produced there help children from difficult social conditions. Lately our focus has obviously also turned towards the war in Ukraine. We are doing our best to work with our importer and to send support to those in need.
The UK was our very first export market. Francesca’s [one of the three founders] mother is British, and as far back as 1996 we were present in the market. We also have a very special partner, Enotria&Coe, which has led to longstanding friendships. Since the beginning we’ve hosted clients and media here. There’s been an active interchange with the UK market which has helped us every minute and taught us a lot. The market is always among the best performing first three export destinations for Planeta, alongside Germany and the US.
After completing his master’s degree in agriculture, Alessio spent the best years of his youth studying the history of Sicily and its viticulture. In the process, he became a selfconfessed wine nerd. The natural next step was to embark on his own winemaking path. Teaming up with family members, he created Planeta, which now operates six estates, focusing as much on expressing the island’s myriad terroirs as they do on protecting and promoting its biodiversity. Planeta wines are imported into the UK by Enotria&Coe 020 8961 5161 www.enotriacoe.com
Planeta Etna Bianco
Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Described by Jancis Robinson as the wine which has helped put Sicily tback on the world winemaking map. The fruit of two vineyards: Ulmo Storico, an important, serious style, and the more vibrant, nervous, fresh grapes from Maroccoli, from 400m altitude.
Our way to introduce the Carricante variety, the “mountain white” of Etna, from the northern side, around 700m above sea level. A yellow-tinged, gentle, complex but flexible white, with peach, melon and broom notes; sapidity and a great ageing potential.
From a unique spot, on red sand layered above tufa rock, close to the sea on the south eastern side of the island. Nero d’Avola and Frappato combine in this aromatic, explosively fruity but smooth red. A great companion for food but also very interesting to taste on its own, by the glass.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 45
FOUR DAYS TO CELEBRATE
The extended bank holiday on June 2 and 3 gives independent wine merchants plenty of scope to tap into the patriotic fervour of their customers – or simply cater for those who just want a party
f anyone needs perspective on the
a pretty big fuss about seven decades as
because it’s the 69th anniversary of the
longevity of the Queen’s reign, consider
head of state.
that when she acceded to the throne, in
This year’s end-of-May bank holiday
Naturally, a four-dayer has the potential
1952, the Korean War was being fought,
has been shunted into early June, and a
to be rich pickings for wine merchants: a
Sir Winston Churchill was Prime Minister
three-day weekend has been turned into
double whammy of an extra day’s holiday
and Newcastle United were the winners
a four-day one. And if that wasn’t radical
and a weekend of national celebration.
of a domestic football trophy. Yes, really.
enough, there’s no Monday involved, with
Street parties are being planned and the
the two Bank Holidays taking place on
TV schedules wiped to accommodate
Thursday, June 2 and Friday, June 3.
footage of revellers in the Mall wearing
Seventy years in any job is a pretty big achievement, so it seems reasonable
The change of shape is to allow the
enough that the nation is going to make
weekend to kick off on the Thursday
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 46
red, white and blue bowlers hats and waving mini Union Flags.
Drinks sales will be turbocharged and English fizz and London dry gin. Pimm’sstyle summer cups seem certain to be ordered in extra quantities. Butler’s Wine Cellar in Brighton has already been blogging about a selection of English wines it’s recommending for Jubilee weekend. Vino Vero in Leigh-on-Sea is hosting two Jubilee tasting sessions on the evening of June 1. And Salisbury’s Artisan Wine & Spirit is hosting a big Jubilee tasting at the former
Jazzing things up for the Jubilee with special editions
home of prime minister Ted Heath in the city. Cassie Gould at Butler’s says: “I’ve got a big calendar of events for 2022 because, after the last couple of years, it’s good to have some positive things to look forward to. “We’re well aware that not everyone is a fan of the royal family, but everybody is a fan of having a long weekend. “We’re doing a push on English wines and have put together the blog post around ‘wines fit for the Queen’. We’re especially focusing on Ridgeview because its wines were poured for the Queen and the royal family at her 60th Jubilee celebrations. “We’ve tied in a couple of recipes and we’re trying to bring back the kir royale. Breaky Bottom have bottled some of their cassis, so we’ve got some stocks of that and think it will be a really nice cocktail to promote with a bit of Victoria sponge.” Butler’s is also running in-store tastings with Sussex wine producer Rathfinny. “It’s a couple of weeks beforehand, on May 20, so that people can potentially come along and then buy their wines ready for the Jubilee weekend.”
• Cotswolds Distillery is among a number of producers marking the Jubilee with a special product. Its limited-edition Platinum Jubilee gin was inspired by “classic British summer desserts”, with its nine botanicals including strawberries and raspberries. • English sparkling wine producer Nyetimber has made a multi-vintage fizz with a Union Flag sitting behind the brand’s shield motif on the label. Seven crowns incorporated into the Classic Cuvée MV pack design represent the number of decades the Queen has been on the throne. • Taylor’s Port has produced Very Very Old Tawny Port to commemorate the Jubilee. It’s a limited edition of 2,000 bottles, each in a beechwood presentation box. • Provence producer Château d’Esclans has released a special edition of its Whispering Angel rosé and is an official partner of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. • Berry Bros & Rudd has a limited run special label for its Good Ordinary Claret.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 48
AN EXCEPTIONAL PORT FOR A SPECIAL JUBILEE Taylor's Platinum Jubilee Very Very Old Tawny is a limited-edition port that offers a fitting toast to Her Majesty the Queen’s 70-year reign
aylor’s is joining in the Queen’s
Platinum Jubilee celebrations with the release of a very special port.
The monarch’s 70 years on the throne
will be marked by an extended bank holiday weekend from June 2-5 and
Taylor’s Platinum Jubilee Very Very Old Tawny is perfect to toast the occasion. “To celebrate this unprecedented
anniversary, Taylor’s Port, a Royal Warrant Holder to HM the Queen, decided to bottle a Very Very Old Tawny Port,” says Taylor’s managing director Adrian Bridge.
“This exceptional Port is drawn from
our extensive reserves of the finest wood aged wines, which have been maturing in seasoned oak casks since the Queen
succeeded to the throne, silently attesting
to Her Majesty’s extraordinary reign as the longest serving monarch in British history. “We are delighted to celebrate such an
exceptional commemoration with the
launch of a unique Port wine: the perfect glass to raise a toast to Her Majesty.”
The component wines for this limited-
edition bottling have been individually
Vilafonté winemakerQuinta Chris de Douro: Quinta de Vargellas, deVries Terra
palate of this extraordinary wine, which
them to contribute their own character to
selected by Taylor’s blenders. The attention to detail in the cellars is displayed on the
has notes of anise, marzipan, quince, and
subtle hints of butterscotch, and balanced
acidity. The decades of ageing in wood have concentrated this astonishingly refined wine almost to an essence, producing
intense, complex nutty and spicy aromas,
elevated by a crisp acidity which gives the wine an attractive freshness.
The pioneering spirit of Taylor’s and the
dedication to the highest standards in Port is encapsulated in this wine, combining
with grower Edward Pietersen
Feita and Quinta do Junco. Each occupies a distinct geographic location, allowing Taylor’s inimitable house style.
Taylor’s centuries-old cellars, with thick
granite walls and high ceilings, maintain
a steady low temperature throughout the year, providing the perfect conditions for
long-term ageing. The cellars’ proximity to the Douro river and the Atlantic provide
humidity that contributes to this process by limiting the rate of evaporation.
elegance and poise as well as subtle power
Taylor’s Platinum Jubilee Very Very Old Tawny
houses, established in 1692. It has been
Tasting note: “Rich mahogany with a pale ochre rim. An opulent, heady nose overlaid with cigar box, roasted coffee, pressed rose petals and a hint of ginger. An intense, heather honey bouquet with some singed leather, scents of fine oak, five spice and figs. On the palate, wonderful concentration and bright, racy acidity. Notes of anise, marzipan, quince, scorched orange peel, molasses, cardamom and a subtle hint of butterscotch; precise, in-balance and alluring.”
Taylor’s is one of the most historic port
a family company ever since, specialising solely in high quality port wines,
controlling everything from the planting
of the vines through the production of the wines, to ageing and bottling.
It owns three grade A vineyards in the
Suggested pairings: Desserts with figs, almonds or caramel; crème brûlée; wild strawberries; walnuts or dried fruit at the end of the meal. Sponsored by Mentzendorff mentzendorff.co.uk For more information, visit taylors.pt
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 49
0207 840 3600 at Vergelegen Gardens
© Kushnirov Avraham / stockadobe.com
he past two years have felt like a watershed for Portuguese
wine. Commercially speaking, a
country that was bubbling under for years, without ever quite joining the European establishment, has consistently posted sales figures that put the rest of the
continent’s wine producers to shame.
According to data released by Wines of
Portugal on the eve of the organisation’s
London tasting in March, the country grew
its exports by 8.2% in value in 2021, taking the total figure to just shy of a billion euros (€926m).
Importantly, this isn’t just a sign of a
return to normality after the market-
distorting effects of Covid in 2020. The country has been growing slowly but
steadily at a little over 3% per year in value for the past decade, but even in 2020 itself Portuguese wines added some 4.5% in value.
Crucially, as generic body Wines of
Portugal is happy to point out, this has
made Portugal the only European country
to have grown in both value and volume in the past year.
A wine country on the up Booming UK sales, a healthy 2021 harvest, rave reviews from indies and now even a consumer show in London all testify to Portugal’s continuing ascendancy, as David Williams reports
What’s more, Portugal’s performance in
the UK has been particularly impressive:
despite the teething problems of Brexit and other supply-side issues, exports to the UK
grew by more than 12% in value in the first six months of 2021, consolidating the UK
as the third biggest market for Portuguese wine after the US and France.
More pertinently for readers of this
magazine, independent retailers have
played a significant role in Portugal’s UK rise.
The sector’s enthusiasm was particularly
evident in this year’s Wine Merchant reader
survey, in which Portugal was way out
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 50
COUNTRY FOCUS: PORTUGAL
in front as independents’ most exciting
and will feature more than 50 producers
by Liberty Wines, which has significantly
which of 19 countries and regions they
Reading down the event line-up, from
London-based supplier in 2019, the 2021
country. Some 56.3% of respondents listed Portugal in answer to a question about
find “most interesting at the moment”, far
ahead of the 44.7% scored by South Africa in second place, and the 43.8% of Spain in third.
The positive pro-Portugal mood was
also visible in a promotion run in 15
selected independent retailers by Wines of Portugal last summer. The promotion saw
participating outlets grow their Portuguese sales by 286% in volume and 300% in
value during the promotion, which ran for the whole of June.
A World of Difference The promotion was part of Wines of
Portugal’s ongoing World of Difference
campaign, which is designed to build the
profile of Portugal as a source of value and quality, but also of wines with a distinct regional sense of place based on its
unusually diverse selection of indigenous grape varieties.
That sense of diversity was very much
on display at the annual Portuguese trade
tasting in London, both in the topics of the free-pour tables and masterclasses and in the 600-plus wines, from 10 Portuguese regions, and 70 producers.
But, in a mark of how far Portugal has
penetrated the British wine-drinking
mainstream, diversity will also be at the
heart of a new addition to the UK’s events calendar: the consumer fair, FESTA.
Described by its organisers as “a ground-
breaking celebration of Portuguese wine, gastronomy and culture”, FESTA’s first
outing will take place at held at Tobacco Dock in East London on June 24 and 25,
showing 250 wines produced from more than 100 grape varieties.
Vinho Verde’s Aphros and Soalheiro to
Alentejo’s Esporão and the Azores Wine
Company, it’s hard to disagree when FESTA wine director, the Portugal-specialist
wine writer and educator Sarah Ahmed,
says “the calibre and range of wines and
producers is extraordinary”. It’s a roster of the big names and rising stars of “artisan” Portugal that really does “represent
everything that is exciting about the Portuguese wine scene today”. Meeting demand
That Portugal is in the rare European
position of having plentiful supply to work
increased its Portuguese presence since Sogrape took a majority stake in the
vintage was characterised by much cooler
conditions than 2020, with a later harvest. “Despite the challenges posed by the
2021 vintage, winemakers across Portugal are excited about the quality of the wines produced as a result of hard work in the vineyards and the wineries,” the Liberty report says.
All of which suggests that Wines of
Portugal’s bid to get exports past the
landmark €1bn mark is likely to be a shortterm rather than a long-term goal for a
wine country that is clearly on the way up.
with only adds to the sense that its time
has arrived. Certainly, the 2021 harvest in
Portugal had none of the yield- and spiritsapping extremes found in France and
other parts of Europe, where frost and hail have led to the smallest crops in 30 years. Portuguese grape growers instead
oversaw a harvest that, while not without its challenges, was up by 15% on the
previous decade’s average, with only Vinho Verde of the major regions seeing a drop in production versus 2021.
According to a report on the vintage
Exports to the UK grew by more than 12% in value in the first six months of 2021, making it Portugal’s third biggest market THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 51
Vineyards at Santa Marta de Penaguião
COUNTRY FOCUS: PORTUGAL
14 wines to expand your Portuguese list Série Impar (Liberty Wines) Few companies in the world can match
Sogrape for its ability to make convincing wines at every price point. But while
it may be home to some of Portugal’s
biggest historic names (Mateus, Barca
Velha, Azevedo, Sandeman), one of the secrets of its continued success lies in
category from the new world”. That’s partly down to the mix of Portuguese varieties (Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira) and
international rivals (Syrah, Petit Verdot),
but also has something to do with a style
based on concentrated but balanced fruit.
they’re trying to say and do.” And having
it a grape variety, a zone or a production
encountered the 2018 vintage of the D&V
technique”). So far, the series has produced
for the first time in late 2021, we’d have
dry whites from Bairrada’s vanishingly
to say what Raposo is saying and doing is
rare Sercialinho grape by António Braga
(of Azevedo and Quinta da Romeira) and
a blend of Arinto, Roupeiro, Bical, Fernão
Quinta Azevedo (Liberty Wines)
Niepoort (Raymond Reynolds)
When he’s not making scintillating small-
The queijo grande of fine modern
(and Sogrape’s) most enduring brands.
of stylistically varied Ports and Douro
ambassadors for the region.
Azamor (Liberty Wines) A serial winner in The Wine Merchant Top 100 competition, the wines of Alentejo
estate Azamor are, as one judge put it, “a
really good introduction to Portugal for the
kind of drinker who might be coming to the
things to the next level with his own
“It’s not about the price. It’s about what
finding something new and different (“be
racy, and superb value, they are exemplary
table wine, then Raposo himself is taking
clock in around £100 DPD ex-VAT a bottle:
and which involves Sogrape winemakers
have never been better: pristine, pure and
Portugal on the map as a producer of fine
told The Wine Merchant of wines that
literally translates as Experimental Series,
Under Braga’s stewardship, the wines
Niepoort did more than most to put
Verde. As importer Raymond Reynolds
with its tiny production Série Ímpar, which
job is at the helm of one of Portugal’s
If Carlo Raposo’s former boss Dirk
vines in his home region, Dão, and Vinho
experimental. That’s certainly the case
production rarities, António Braga’s day
Vinhos Imperfeitos (Raymond Reynolds)
project of dry white wines based on old
its willingness to embrace the new and
Pires and Tamarez from the Alto Alentejo.
David Williams makes his suggestions
Portuguese wine shows no sign of letting up, with an ever-expanding portfolio
table wines joined by some increasingly beautiful creations from Bairrada. One
of Dirk Niepoort’s most intriguing recent projects has been the NatCool initiative,
which is designed to be an umbrella brand
Cabeças do Reguengo (Marta Vine) The Niepoort influence is also apparent at Cabeças de Reguengo, in the glorious countryside of the natural park around Portalegre in the Alentejo. Here the
Niepoort-inspired winemaker is João
Alfonso, whose lithe, impeccably balanced, natural and near-natural wines, many of them field blends, are emerging as new-
wave Portuguese stars in their own right.
Ramilo (Raymond Reynolds)
for natural wines from various producers
A family that has grown grapes for
in 1-litre bottles. His red Bairrada
wines: it’s a story that has shaped the best
that are made from local varieties, easy
to drink, with low alcohol and packaged contribution to the series is, naturally enough, a highlight.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 52
generations is transformed when the latest generation decide to bottle their own
of modern Portuguese wine every bit as much as it has Spain, Italy and regional
Quinta do Vesúvio: the Queen of the Douro The historic single vineyard, regarded as the Douro’s first growth, is celebrating its railway connections with the launch of Comboio do Vesúvio
ounded by the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide
Ferreira, Quinta do Vesúvio is one of the great Douro estates, known locally as the Queen of the Douro,
famed for producing some of the region’s very best longestliving wines.
The estate comprises seven hills and 32 valleys, and
Charles Symington (above) was keen to acknowledge the railway’s role in the life and history of the quinta
covers 326 hectares, of which 133 are planted with vines. The rest is conserved in its natural state as a haven of biodiversity.
The property has great variations in altitude, from 130m at the
riverside to 530m on the highest ridge, with vineyards that face all compass points, providing a remarkable range of conditions.
As it is relatively far inland, the estate experiences climatic
extremes, reaching very high temperatures in summer and very low ones in winter. It is also very dry, with an average of only 400mm of rain each year.
Dona Antónia bottled the first known single-estate wine in the
Douro in 1868, creating the estate’s globally recognised status as the Douro’s “first growth”.
When the Symington family bought the property in 1989, they
decided to resurrect Vesúvio as a single-estate wine, rather than bringing its grapes together for a brand as most quintas do.
Since then, its singular mission has been to create outstanding
wines, both vintage ports and Douro DOC wines, using only the best grapes on the property.
The 19th-century winery is one of the last places where all
the grapes are still trodden by human feet. All the property’s top wines are produced in this traditional way, using a technique passed down through the centuries.
The property’s flagship Quinta do Vesúvio Douro DOC red wine
is made from the best Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta
Amarela vineyards on the property.
Touriga Nacional, the principal component, gives the wine
elegance, structure and excellent ageing potential.
Pombal do Vesúvio is the quinta’s second wine. Pombal is
the Portuguese word for dovecote, and it’s the property’s own
vineyard-surrounded dovecote that gives the wine its name. The wine has a higher proportion of Touriga Franca than Quinta do Vesuvio, giving it a silky smoothness and floral aromas.
This year the Symington family have released their inaugural
2018 Comboio do Vesúvio, meaning “Vesúvio train”.
There has been a station on the mainline Douro railway at
Quinta do Vesúvio since 1887 and the trains that call there are very much part of the property’s daily life.
“It felt only natural to evoke the propitious coexistence between
railway and vineyard,” says Charles Symington.
Comboio do Vesúvio is unoaked, to underscore the wine’s
youthful, fruit-forward profile.
Feature produced in association with UK importer Fells. To find out more about Quinta do Vesuvio, visit fells.co.uk or call 01442 870900
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 53
France. Here the protagonists are
brothers Nuno and Pedro Ramilo who,
since returning to the family fold in 2013, have been making impeccable, low-
intervention wines from their vineyards in Sintra and Colares. For wines of such immense character and verve, they’re superb value.
Luis Pato (Raymond Reynolds) Another big influential name still turning out superb quality in deceptively
effortless fashion is Bairrada master Luis Pato. His Baga reds and Bical and Maria
Gomes whites are established in any list of Portugal’s top wines. Pato has also led
the way with a style that
has never been one of the
country’s strong points but
Tammy Nell, David Nieuwoudt and Alex Nell of Cederberg
which, in Pato’s hands, can be scinitillatingly distinctive.
Filipa Pato (Clark Foyster)
Having long since carved out her own
vinous identity, Luis Pato’s daughter Filipa continues to push the boundaries in her
native Bairrada, aided and abetted by her Belgian restaurateur partner, William
Wouters. Working biodynamically, she’s an influential figure on the Portuguese
scene, and has been instrumental in lifting
Houses facing the Douro river
the reputation of the local varieties Baga
Carthusian monks, Cartuxa’s poised,
intriguing, and excellent value, recent
elegant but full-flavoured wines are, as
Morgado do Quintão (Graft Wine and Oakley Wine Agencies)
concerns back home in Portugal. The
recent introduction of the Geno entry-
The Maçanita name will be familiar to
as gloriously primary and bright as their
lovers of new-wave Portuguese wine
siblings Antonio and Joana Maçanita in,
and Bical, with the Dinamica brand, using grapes sourced from local growers in an development.
Cartuxa (Mentzendorff) A genuinely historic producer in the Evora sub-region of Alentejo with a winemaking pedigree dating back to 16th-century
importer Mentzendorff rightly says, cult level range – a red and a white that are colourful packaging – should mean the
Cartuxa name is much better known in the UK soon.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 54
thanks to the funky work of winemaking
among other places, the Douro (Maçanita), Alentejo (Fitapreta), and the Azores
(Azores Wine Company). At Filipe de
COUNTRY FOCUS: PORTUGAL
Vasconcellos’ Morgado do Quintao,
it’s the Algarve that gets the Maçanita
touch, with Joana producing a range of perfectly pitched, naturally-adjacent, modern-traditional wines from local varieties.
Almeida Garrett (Oakley Wine Agenices) This century-old family-run winery (the family in question being
descendants of the 19th-century poet who lends his name to the
brand) quietly and consistently makes some of the best-value
wines in Portugal from its vineyards
in Tortosendo at the foot of the Serra de Estrela, in the Beira Interior. Graceful
Chardonnay (still and sparkling) is a speciality, alongside fresh,
fragrant but deeply flavoured reds based on Touriga Nacional.
Esporão (Hatch Mansfield)
One of the biggest names in Portuguese wine, Esporão
played a crucial role in the
re-invention of Alentejo as
a quality wine producer. Its Herdade de Esporão estate continues to be one of the
leading players in the southern
region, while the company also has
standout estates in the Douro (Quinta
dos Murças) and Vinho Verde (Quinta do
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 55
Ameal). In April it began a new era in the UK after switching to Hatch.
Quinta do Montalto Uncondemned (Portuguese Story) As with so many exciting vinous projects, Uncondemned is all
about the recovery of some very
old vines. In this case, the vines in
question, mostly Fernão Pires and Trincadeira, can be found in two
sites, aged between 120 and 150
years, just north of Lisbon. They’ve
been rescued, and transformed into
some delightful naturally made wines,
by winemaker Andre Gomes-Pereira in partnership with Portuguese Story.
Partners in Wine raymond reynolds LTD And susana esteban Bush (pictured bottom right) was “looking for colours and ideas that were different”
Susana Esteban has found her natural home in the Portalegre hills of the Alentejo – and in Raymond Reynolds Ltd, she’s also found her natural partner to bring her terroir-driven wines to the UK market Susana creates some very pure, “fresh and balanced fine wines. Her attention to detail at all levels is quite remarkable, and she has this special ability to be focused while confidently open minded.
I feel privileged to have access to such unique vineyards, so take great care to let them express their characteristics through simplicity in my winemaking. There are no limits to what can be made in this place.
Back in 2013 we were scoping out producers in the Portalegre region of the Alentejo. Portalegre is a unique terroir in the granite hills of the Serra de São Mamede: small plots, old vines, variety of aspect, elevation, low yields and quality varieties. There was something about the freshness and balance of Susana’s wines that got us intrigued. Then when we went to visit her and saw what she was doing, and listened to her approach, we knew her project had enormous potential to develop. RR Ltd’s mission and purpose is bringing to this market authentic and innovative winemakers from Portugal. To help them to tell their story and establish a footing. Susana’s project and commitment fits that brief, which excited us from the beginning. She planted her own vineyard recently and a small winery will follow next year. This base will allow her to truly establish herself as one of Portugal’s finest producers, as she hones her craft.
Susana Esteban INHO 2018 RRP £19
Susana Esteban Procura Tinto 2016, RRP £49
Susana Esteban Procura Branco 2017, RRP £40
I felt I needed to understand the Alentejo beyond the ubiquitous soft, easy, warm reds. Then I discovered the Portalegre hills. So 11 years ago I took the leap and began exploring this area in depth – talking to growers, buying grapes, making wine – and so my project took flight. Vineyards are minimally managed and allowed to achieve a harmony with their surroundings. It was about learning what each plot’s fundamental expression was. That meant very little intervention, something I also learnt from tasting and visiting some of the world greatest wineries. Selling our wines is a constant challenge, which excites me. It requires a sustained enthusiastic approach, which is what Raymond Reynolds Ltd does so well, given their deep knowledge of Portugal. They really understand what I do. It’s an excellent partnership, and we’ve made good progress, to the point of making a white wine together called INHO.
Published in association with Raymond Reynolds Ltd Visit raymondreynolds.co.uk or call 01663 742230 for more information
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 56
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Quinta da Lagoalva, Tejo wine region I am the first winemaker in the family. Lagoalva has made wine since the mid1990s but we used to sell it as bulk. We started making wine with our own brand at the end of the 70s. At that time my father hired some winemakers – a French guy, then a Californian guy then some Portuguese. Then I started in 2003, together with Pedro Pinhão, the other winemaker.
Lagoalva was the first estate in Portugal to graft Syrah and we became quite well known for this variety. It was a big boost for us in terms of sales here in Portugal. We were one of the first in the Tejo region to grow the Alfrocheiro grape. It’s a variety that works here very well.
Clark Foyster is our UK importer. Lance Foyster has been working with our family for almost 20 years. He fell in love with our 1999 Alfrocheiro at Vinexpo in Bordeaux.
On the nose, I like to make very new world styles of wine. Very fruity and showing the grape character in terms of aroma and in terms of typicity. But in terms of the palate, I prefer the European style. We don’t make big, high alcohol wines with lots of sugar. For me, in the mouth wines should be very elegant, very gentle. I like my wines to show the terroir and the typicity of the grape variety. We do our Syrah here at Lagoalva in an open tank. We are quite gentle with it. For our grand reserva Syrah we pick by hand.
Lagoalva White Our entry-level white wine is a blend of five different varieties: Alvarinho, Arinto, Fernão Pires, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho. After settling for 48 hours, the must is fermented at 16ºC in stainless steel tanks. Fruit forward with peach and lemon note, it's zesty, clean and intense, with freshness and a light persistence.
It’s leaner and less fat than the new world style and quite gentle, with a lot of pepper and a lot of traditional fruit of the variety.
On the reds, we have Alfrocheiro, Syrah, Touriga Nacional, and Tannat – because sometimes I need some power and some structure. Also we are going to introduce some Sousão to get more colour and some more energy – we don’t want the wines to be too soft. On the whites we have Fernão Pires, Alvarinho, Sauvignon Blanc, Arinto, Chardonnay and also, because I like it a lot, Viosinho. We have some Verdelho: it’s a grape that I like, it’s very aromatic, but it can be a little bit tricky sometimes. If you don’t pay attention during fermentation, it can be a problem.
We try to ferment everything separately. Even the blocks are separated, if we see the soil is different, or if one was irrigated and the other wasn’t. So far we have been quite successful by seeing the potential of all the grapes separately.
Ten years ago I was worried about the perfection of winemaking. I was cautious about using the right enzymes, the right temperature, but now I am much more relaxed, partly because I know more. Now I can look back and see the mistakes I have made, if any, and learn from those. I am still worried about fermentations; I am still worried about pH, because that can be crucial. I think the aromas of the grapes are
Lagoalva de Cima Grande Escolha Alfrocheiro Alfrocheiro grows very well in our terroir. Only produced in exceptional years, this wine has a garnet-red colour and an intense aroma, with notes of spices, ripe black fruit and tobacco on the nose. In the mouth it feels deep, and is long lasting with elegant tannins.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 57
Diogo polished his winemaking skills during stints in Australia’s Hunter Valley and has recently embarked on the Master of Wine course. His wines from the family estate in Tejo are recognisably Portuguese, but with a subtle new world influence. Lagoalva wines are imported into the UK by Clark Foyster Wines 020 8961 5161 www.lagoalva.pt much more evident in my wines than they were 10 years ago.
Everyone needs a hobby. I did Thai boxing for 10 years; I was in the national championships. I like rugby and I became a coach. I like to motivate other people. For me, playing rugby was very important but what I enjoyed even more was building a team. When you can make a team, wherever you go, wherever you work, it’s like making a blend in the winery.
Lagoalva Reserva The vinification of the different grape varieties – Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional and Syrah – is carried out separately before blending. Again, an intense garnet-red colour, with complex aromas of ripe black fruits, spices and vanilla. In the mouth it has a full volume, with elegant tannins, and long length.
MAKE A DATE: LONDON WINE FAIR
See you at Olympia
ature is healing. The London Wine Fair is back, in person, after a two-year hiatus, and
only slightly later than anticipated after a certain rival German fair lumbered, at
the last minute, into the LWF’s traditional, late-May slot.
And like its exhibitors and attendees,
this much-loved and much-missed event returns a little changed for what will be its 40th anniversary – a little older and
wiser, and having learned a few new ways of doing things over these past two weird years.
As Hannah Tovey (pictured),
the fair’s director, reports,
back,” she says. “And we have definitely
benefited from the return of some really longstanding missing people.”
Tovey lists Wine Australia and ProChile
among the big returning names, and generics including Murcia, Galicia,
Armenia, Romania and Ukraine are all lining up stands for the first time.
The LWF has given Wines of Ukraine a
free destination stand, with “high-profile
wine industry professionals” volunteering to help in the inevitable absence of the country’s winemakers.
UK suppliers have also been
effusive in their support, and
Wine Merchant readers will
the LWF was far from idle in
be pleased to hear that the
that period. “We developed
a whole, full three-day
digital event during the
pandemic,” Tovey says – and a
highly successful one at that, with
thousands of visitors coming together
for an award-winning 100% virtual 2021 show.
This year’s event will make the most of
all that new experience, with a digital event running two weeks after the in-person
Olympia one. “The big point of difference
this year, the big change in how we operate
it, is that this is the world’s most intelligent wine event, with enormous flexibility,” says Tovey.
“Every visitor, and exhibitor can do live,
digital or both. If you’re unable to travel, or not ready to interact in person, there are hundreds of opportunities to meet.”
Tovey has been enormously encouraged
by how the trade has reacted to the LWF’s return. “There is this real drive to see it
zone, with its raft of small
and specialist importers,
remains a feature of the show.
Look out for the The Wine
Merchant Top 100, which will have a
pop-up stand adjacent to Esoterica on day
two of the show, at which the 2022 Trophy winners will be available to taste.
Vast range of events
Other highlights this year include the vast range of masterclasses, panel discussions and tastings.
With sustainability and wine’s
environmental impact very much at the top of the agenda, Tovey is particularly excited about a genuine scoop she’s secured for the event, with leading climate scientist
Dr Alistair Nesbitt using the fair to unveil
findings from his long-standing and major research project on how the climate crisis is impacting the world of wine.
Tovey and her team have also made a big
effort to address another hot-button issue
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 58
in the wine trade: diversity. “A lot of people are talking about it, but the next stage is
about seeing some visible improvements,” says Tovey. “At the LWF, we’re becoming
more diverse in how we operate the show,
and we’ve made sure we’ve pulled together properly diverse panels, best suited to this day and age.”
Tovey highlights masterclasses hosted by
the likes of Wines of India, Wines of New Zealand, Wines of Chile, Côtes du Rhône
and various Italian producers, as well as
a series of individual sessions devoted to
“icon producers” hosted by suppliers Hatch Mansfield and Enotria&Coe.
The sheer range of wine available to
taste can be overwhelming, so the LWF
has teamed up with independent experts to put together tasting trails. There’s a
wine writers’ edit, in which a selection
of leading critics have been asked to pick
three wines that most interest them from
the LWF’s enormous selection. And there’s an Old Vine Trail, in which the Old Vine
Conference, an organisation dedicated to
developing a new category of wines made
from old vines, highlights some of the many wines that fit the bill across the LWF’s exhibitors.
All of which activity barely scratches the
surface of what’s on offer across the digital and live events, which Tovey stresses have
also absorbed another of the lessons of the past two years. Covid safety will have an effect on the show’s layout and logistics. “We have invested massively in
contactless arrival”, says Tovey, “with a bank of 10 iPads, to address any
congestion. There are wider aisles
throughout, so it won’t be cheek-by-jowl.”
Older, wiser, safer: the 40th LWF promises to be its best edition yet.
The 40th London Wine Fair Olympia, London Tuesday, June 7: 10am – 6pm Wednesday, June 8: 9:30am – 6pm Thursday, June 9: 9:30am – 5pm
Tickets are £45 to attend both the digital and live event; or £25 to attend the digital event only. There is a group booking offer where companies can purchase 10 tickets and get one free. Exhibitors will be allocated free tickets for their guests and a number of members of the drinks trade will receive free tickets, including verified media, Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers.
SUMMER CUP MULE
The Wine Merchant/LWF independent bursaries The LWF is offering 30 lucky independent wine merchants a special bursary to help them attend the LWF22. The first 30 verified applicants will receive free entry badges for themselves and up to two guests each, worth £45 and including access to the live and digital events. Each applicant will also receive up to £100 toward travel expenses. “Independents are a hugely important visitor demographic of the LWF,” says LWF event director Hannah Tovey. “We very much welcome their attendance, but we know it can be difficult to run a store and get along to the event. That is why we have invested in these independent bursaries.” To claim your bursary, email Indies@londonwinefair.com.
There are a few decent alternatives to Pimm’s that negate the need to go up against Tesco through the summer. Bramley & Gage’s Slider infuses sloes left over from its flavoured gin in artisanal cider, for example. There are also many ways to enjoy such spirits other than the traditional long way with lemonade and a fruit pick ’n’ mix. Sacred Gin suggests its Rosehip Cup as replacement for Campari in a Negroni or with sparkling wine for a more decadent long drink. Summer cups such as those from Ableforth’s and Sipsmith can also be mixed with tonic as a change from G&T or turned into sundowners with orange juice.
5cl of chosen summer cup 15cl good quality ginger beer Lime wedges Fresh mint sprig
The Wine Merchant Top 100 The Wine Merchant Top 100 will once again be returning to the LWF for the much-anticipated unveiling of the latest winners of the annual competition. Come along to meet The Wine Merchant team and taste the 2022 Wine Merchant Top 100 trophy-winning wines in our popup stand adjacent to Esoterica on Wednesday, June 8.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 59
Pour the summer cup and ginger beer into a highball glass containing lots of ice. Garnish with lime and mint.
A fresh look at Canada
anadian wine has come of age. Although Canada has been making wine for some time, there has been a real expansion over the last 20 years leading to a growing reputation for wines that combine the fruit brightness of the new world with the
cool-climate sensibility of many of the old world’s classic regions.
Many people think of Canada as a cold northern country, so it’s not surprising that the
success of its Icewines has overshadowed other developments. But now the dry table wines and sparkling wines being produced there have caught people’s attention.
There are four main wine regions, with the two major regions of British Columbia and
Ontario spread far apart. Out west we have the Okanagan Valley, some five hours’ drive or a
short flight from Vancouver. Based along two long lakes, it has a variety of climates, ranging from cool in the north to positively warm in the south, abutting the US border.
Feature produced in association with the High Commission of Canada in the UK. Landscape photography by Jamie Goode
Then, heading to the east, a 90-minute drive south from Toronto, we have the Niagara
Peninsula, relying on a large lake to moderate winter lows and summer highs. Both regions share a cool-climate character. In addition, further east there are Quebec and Nova Scotia, the latter of which is establishing a reputation for its sparkling wines.
Here are some highlights, now available in the UK, selected by Jamie Goode.
What independents say about Canadian wines Monta Konrads, Vinvm, London “Canada is an exciting cool-climate wine region with many delicious high quality wines to offer. Well known for its Icewines, we find that Canada is gaining recognition for other styles too such as Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With consumers always looking for new and fascinating wines, Canadian wines are on top of our recommendation lists and, once opened, they speak for themselves.”
Benjamin Bridge Brut Rosé 2016
Nova Scotia From one of the top fizz producers of Canada, this is fruity and expressive on the nose with sappy, leafy cherry fruit, a touch of redcurrant and some wet stone character. The palate is bright and focused with sappy red fruits. This is very refined. Agent: Flint
Ben Franks, Novel Wines, Bath “The exciting thing about Canadian wines is they offer quality additions to our fine wine list and come with an established trust for Canada as a brand. In the UK market, Canada is best known for Icewines, which are traditionally expensive, so there isn’t an expectation that Canadian wines come cheaply. This makes pricing the wines easier than other long-distance imports like premium South American or Asian wines. “Haywire wines, the Gamay especially, have a natural fruit intensity that’s balanced by beautiful acidity thanks to Okanagan’s diurnal range and continental climate, giving our list a snapshot of something different that sits between the best of Beaujolais and new world Pinot-style wines. That something different and consistent quality, are two big plus points for a retailer like us, specialising in lesser-known wines.”
Peller Estates Ice Cuvée
Rosé NV, Niagara Peninsula Traditional method with Gamay providing the colour, and a dosage of Icewine for the liqueur d’expedition. Very pale pink. The distinctive nose is fruity and jellyish with some melon and apricot, and a touch of cherry. The palate is bright and lively with an emphasis on fruit. Agent: Enotria&Coe
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 60
Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2018
Niagara Escarpment Attractive nose with ripe pear and peach fruit as well as a hint of butterscotch. The palate has depth with some peachy richness and notes of nuts and honey, but also nice acidity and focus. Very stylish and expressive, with depth and complexity. Agent: Daniel Lambert Wines
Burrowing Owl Chardonnay
Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay
2018, Okanagan Valley
2019, Okanagan Valley
There’s some generosity here with pear and pineapple fruit, as well as some lemony notes on the nose. On the palate, it’s fleshy and fresh, with lovely expansive tropical fruit richness countered by bright citrus, and just a hint of toasty, spicy oak.
13% alcohol. From the south (Osoyoos and Oliver) and the middle (Naramata) of the Okanagan. A lively acid line with lovely pear, pineapple and lemon fruit, with some spiciness and a touch of cedary oak. It’s detailed, nicely complex and a really lovely, bright expression of Chardonnay.
Brand ambassador: Stefan Neumann, firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman Hardie Niagara
Quails’ Gate Stewart Family
Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
Reserve Chardonnay 2018
Pinot Noir 2019
Intense nose with powerful lime oil and lemon notes as well as some spicy struck-match notes and a hint of toast. The palate has keen acidity, more lemon and lime, some toast and hazelnut, and then a tapering, spicy, mineral finish, with a hint of gun smoke.
This is an ambitious and wellexecuted Chardonnay with sophisticated barrel-ferment characters of nuts and toast meshing well with ripe but balanced pear and white peach fruit, with a spicy citrus finish. Savoury, mealy, nutty notes add real interest here.
Long ageing in mostly older oak, from a really interesting site 5km from the lake at 110m, with clay-limestone soils rich in magnesium. Fresh, pure, detailed and nervy, with sweet red cherry and redcurrant fruit as end notes of iron and dried herbs.
Agent: Berkmann Wine Cellars
Agent: Liberty Wines
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 61
Continues from page 61
Checkmate Opening Gambit Merlot 2014, Okanagan Valley
Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2018
Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara From a 10.45ha vineyard planted in 2000 and 2001 with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Some post ferment maceration, and aged in 25% new oak. This is a supple, well balanced Pinot with a core of sweet red cherry, some wild strawberry and asavoury, spicy oak notes adding some structure and framing to the vivid fruit. This is sophisticated and gastronomic, and I’d give it a couple of years to let the fruit and oak marry into a seamless whole. There’s a delicacy here that’s quite compelling. Agent: Liberty Wines
Haywire Gamay 2018 Okanagan Valley 12.5% alcohol. From the Secrest Mountain Vineyard in Oliver, in the south of Okanagan. This is a mix of destemmed and whole cluster fruit, fermented naturally in concrete and then aged in concrete. It shows lovely aromatics of red cherries and strawberries, together with some fine herbal hints – the green integrates well. On the palate this is quite light, sappy and drinkable, with pure red fruits and some fine herbal hints. Very expressive and bright with nice clarity and poise, and some stony mineral undercurrents. Lovely stuff. Agent: Graft
14.5% alcohol. Interesting to try this ambitious Merlot with a bit of bottle age. It’s sweetly aromatic with hints of ash, gravel and mint as well as sweet cherries, plums and blackcurrant. The palate is smooth and resolved with sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, as well as touches of tar and spice. There’s still some grippy structure here. Sleek, warm and polished and beginning to drink very well, in a lush, forward style. Agent: Bibendum
Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 2020, Ontario
One of the few remaining hybrid varieties in Niagara. This is juicy and bright with a meaty edge to the sweet brambly fruit. There’s a hint of bacon, and the palate has both sweet fruit and also some spicy framing. Juicy and delicious with accessibility and drinkability. Agent: The Wine Rascals
Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classique 2017
Okanagan Valley This spends 18 months in French oak, of which a quarter is new. Fresh and supple with some peppery notes as well as sweet black cherry fruit. Lively and fresh with some depth on the palate, showing ripe black cherry fruit at the core and also some salty, peppery notes around the fringes. Agent: Flint
Painted Rock Red Icon 2017 Skaha Bench
Stratus Riesling Icewine 2020 Niagara Peninsula
It’s unusual to find an Icewine with this much alcohol (13.8%), but the result is a stylish, vinous Icewine with textured, spicy citrus fruit, a hint of baked apple, some honey and a long spicy finish. There’s a warmth and intensity here. Agent: Bibendum
Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019
This ripe, expansive Bordeaux Blend has quite a bit of Petit Verdot in the mix, as well as a touch of Syrah. It’s rich, smooth and mellow with concentrated, sweet blackcurrant and blackberry fruit as well as some grainy tannins and hints of ash, gravel and tar adding some savouriness. It’s texturally rich, but finishes with some freshness.
Cherry red in colour, this has a pure, aromatic nose of wild strawberries and cherries, with a slightly jelly-like edge. The palate is fresh, sweetly-fruited and very sweet, with some acidity providing a foil to the liqueur-like cherry and strawberry fruit. Has a long stewed strawberry finish. This is a beautifully balanced, complex sweet wine. Quite remarkable.
Agent: The Wine Treasury
Agent: Liberty Wines
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 62
talking of the great cosmic vibration or the
ne thing I quite like about being
release of energy created by moving the
the boss is that people are paid
Greek section to eye-level.
to listen to me and do what I
There was some confusion about keys,
ask. I mean, I don’t ask them to do very
too, which meant that I wouldn’t even be
much, because I don’t want to patronise them, which may or may not be a good
management “technique”. And not that, in actuality, anyone listens to me anyway.
Recently I decided that I was not going to
have my birthday in April, opting instead
for August, another month beginning with A, April’s manky cousin, taking all the
tenderness and cleanliness of April and
replacing it with dried bodily fluids and wasps.
This decision was not influenced by
me turning 40 in any way, I’m super chill about it, super chill, but more than that I
18. BLOODY FORTY Phoebe Weller of Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow doesn’t have big plans for her milestone birthday. But that doesn’t mean she wants to, you know, work
am not in a particularly celebratory mood,
favourite activity apart from Self-Imposed
plans because someone invariably gets
see recent solo weekend holidaying in
and also if the last two years has taught
us anything it’s taught us not to make any Covid.
o yesterday, my birthday/non-
birthday, I was woken by Carla
phoning to tell me that she had
Covid and that my hard-won short shift of work (“I really really don’t want to
do anything” “… but what about a little
lunch in the new place that rhymes with
Schmucks?’” “no, I really really don’t want to do anything,” (gaah, not even a Happy Boozy Little Lunch which is literally my
Expectation Management (another
excellent Management Technique) –
Morecambe and my usual Birthday Treat, a drive to the TK Maxx in Port Glasgow and then happily
gazing out at the rolling postindustrial Clyde wastelands,
capped with a paddleshuffle in the water enjoying the drizzle
and some chips: GOOD TIMES) was morphing into a full day
of work, and work-type Work, Carla replacement type Work, not my usual floating about
I could have been a proper person, you know, not some plastic clog-wearing, endlessly inappropriately dressed ageing ‘character’
THETHE WINE WINE MERCHANT MERCHANTmay may 2022 2022 6363
able to concentrate on directing my breath to release stored emotional trauma in my hips by lying in Supta Baddha Konasana
for 20 minutes (science: something about your psoas and your adrenal gland and
your sacral chakra and that) and why is my life so unfair it’s my birthday for goodness
sake and I’m bloody 40 I could have been a proper person, you know, not some plastic clog-wearing, endlessly inappropriately dressed ageing “character”, Gaaaah.
magine my delight when someone else said they had keys and could open the shop, leaving me plenty
of time to not only wash but to stare at
my 40-year-old self in Goddess Pose and
that my colleagues had not listened to my
protestations of non-birthday, and I floated in an hour late to their sneaky happy faces hiding a very burnt cheesecake adhering to the no-gluten but a gentle blind eye to
sugar rule, and had bought me a very fancy necklace showing symbolically Everything and Nothing and a pearl, and wrote me a card that it was very difficult not to burst into tears over.
Gah. It’s good to be the boss, and I
like my plastic clogs.
MAKE A DATE
Bourgogne Trade Gonzalez Byass and Press Tasting Portfolio Tasting The Bourgogne Wine Board has brought
Join the Gonzalez Byass team to taste
together over 35 producers to showcase
old favourites and see what’s new in the
a selection of wines suited to the UK
company’s line-up of wines and spirits.
independent market. This will be an opportunity to taste
around 10 Chablis Premier Cru Climats
from the right and left bank of the Serein river as well as a range of Crémant de Bourgogne.
For more information contact Solenn
Guillermin: email@example.com. Tuesday, June 7
London Wine Fair First floor, London Olympia
Highlights include the newly released
1975 vintage sherry and this year’s Tio
Pepe en Rama, and a masterclass session
on innovation in Jerez, which will be led by either Antonio Flores, or his winemaker daughter Silvia (depending on travel restrictions).
The second masterclass will be
presented by Christian Seely from Quinta do Noval, who will guide participants
through outstanding table wines from the Douro and offer a preview of the 2020 vintage Port.
June will mark the release of some
fantastic new vintages: the 2021 range
from Zind Humbrecht in Alsace, the highly coveted new release of the 2021 Achleiten
Gruner Veltliner and Riesling from Domane Wachau, and two new prestige cuvées from Champagne Deutz.
For more information or to register,
email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tuesday, June 14 IET London 2 Savoy Place London WC2R 0BL
London W14 8UX
Wines of Roussillon Trade and Press Tasting The Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Roussillon and 18 leading producers invite you to taste a range of still dry wines and Vins Doux Naturels from Roussillon’s 14 AOPs and two IGPs. In addition to the approximately 200
wines available to taste, two masterclasses will be presented by Eric Aracil.
Roussillon Whites 12pm-1pm: an
exploration of Roussillon’s native grapes and terroirs.
Roussillon Reds 3pm-4pm: the influence
of soil and micro-terroirs on the red wines of Roussillon.
To register or book a masterclass, email:
email@example.com Monday, June 13
Church House Westminster Deans Yard London SW1P 3NZ
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 64
The Vindependents tasting takes place on March 21
Bancroft Wines Portfolio Tasting The Bancroft team has added over 70 new properties to the portfolio in the past two years and describes this tasting as a chance to “showcase the producers that are integral to the history and the future of Bancroft, highlighting the current strength of our offering”. The full list of producers in attendance
and list of wines has not yet been
published, but it has been confirmed that
approximately 90 producers are planning to attend, so it’s a great opportunity to taste across 400-plus wines from the
portfolio. There will also be masterclasses on the day.
Among many others, agencies include
Álvaro Palacios, Bodega Luigi Bosca,
Cederberg Private Cellar, Champagne
Gaston Chiquet, Champagne Joseph Perrier, Château Montelena, Dog Point Vineyard, Domaine des Deux Roches, Edi Simčič, Michael Opitz, and Weingut Knoll.
Registration is required. Contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Tuesday, June 14 RIBA 66 Portland Place
Taste the best of Spain on June 20 and 28
London W1B 1AD
Wines from Spain Annual Tasting Glasgow and London will host two events for Eat & Drink Spain, as well as the digital tastings also on offer from Wines From Spain this year. A sit-down tasting in Glasgow will see
a team of sommeliers pouring over 200 wines and there will be masterclasses
presented by Rose Murray Brown MW and Miguel Crunia.
The London event will host a plethora of
importers and exporters of Spanish wines
presenting portfolios that cover many DOs and grape varieties. It’s a chance to taste
the latest releases and vintages, reconnect
with importers and meet wineries seeking
about the tasting packs, contact Otaria
Communications: winesfromspain@otaria. co.uk.
Monday, June 20 Royal College of Physicians
11 Queen Street
in a self-pour tasting, and masterclasses
Tuesday, June 28
London event, or for more information
London SW1P 2QW
The selected winners from the 2022
Glasgow EH2 1JQ
will also feature in the day’s programme.
RHS Lindley Hall
Wines from Spain Awards will be available To register for either the Glasgow or
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 65
MAKE A DATE
The Big G Wines of Germany’s annual trade event is back, with a mixture of masterclasses, tastings and networking opportunities. Sessions confirmed so far include: Making a list: 10am-11am. How to curate
a high-quality German wine list and what this can do for your business.
Riesling 101: 12pm-1pm. Get to know
one of Germany’s star grape varieties and
how it fits into the world of wine with Bert Blaize.
Big GG: 2pm-3pm. Hosted by the VDP,
this is an in-depth session exploring
Grosses Gewächs, top single vineyard sites, soils and sense of place.
The Riesling Vanguard: 3.30pm-4.30pm.
A panel discussion to close the day, with three of Germany’s leading producers. To register, email germanwine@
Wednesday, June 22 The White Space, The Ministry SE1 79 Borough Road London SE1 1DN
Ellis of Richmond 200-year Tasting Ellis is celebrating its 200th anniversary by holding a tasting of its portfolio. The supplier said: “For the first time in three years, we will be together in the beautiful Paul Hamlyn Hall at this iconic venue. “We look forward to welcoming
customers and guests to meet our
producers who have been part of the fabric of our company for many years.”
Wednesday, June 29 Royal Opera House Bow Street London WC2E 9DD
Nightlife on the Mosel
THE WINE MERCHANT march 2022 66
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES 12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
0207 409 7276 email@example.com www.louislatour.co.uk
Introducing Gosset Grand Millesime 2015 We are pleased to announce that Gosset’s newest vintage,
Grand Millésime 2015, will be arriving in the UK this month.
2015 is an outstanding harvest from which Pinot Noir was
a star. This resulted in a Grand Millésime dominated by Pinot Noir for only the third time in the cuvée’s history, following the 2006 and 1990 vintages.
The wines for this cuvée were selected for their lively
and aromatic characters and come from 12 crus including
Ambonnay, Trépail, Verzy and Villers-Marmery. It is a blend
of 59% Pinot Noir and 41% Chardonnay, placed in the cellar
in May 2016 and disgorged in November 2021 with a dosage of four grams per litre.
Grand Millésime 2015 has rich and complex bouquet with notes of
freshly baked pastries, fresh fruits, nougat, marzipan, candied oranges
and Mirabelle plums. The palate combines freshness and rich flavours. It begins with flavours of nectarine and peach which give way to zesty rhubarb notes on the mid-palate. The finish is clean, direct and saline with a pleasant bitterness and a hint of verbena.
hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield
THETHE WINE WINE MERCHANT MERCHANTfebruary may 2022 2022 67
gonzalez byass uk The Dutch Barn Woodcock Hill Coopers Green Lane St Albans AL4 9HJ 01707 274790 email@example.com www.gonzalezbyassuk.com
SAVE THE DATE TUESDAY 14 JUNE 2022
VIEW OUR DIGITAL PRODUCT CATALOGUE ON YOUR PHONE
vintner systems The computer system for drinks trade wholesalers and importers 16 Station Road Chesham Bucks HP5 1DH firstname.lastname@example.org www.vintner.co.uk
IET London: Savoy Place 2 Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL #GBUK2022
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 THEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANTmarch may 2022 2022 68
hallgarten wines Mulberry House Parkland Square 750 Capability Green Luton LU1 3LU 01582 722 538 email@example.com www.hnwines.co.uk @hnwines
condor wines Henge Court Thame OX9 2FX 07508 825 488 firstname.lastname@example.org www.condorwines.co.uk Condor_Wines Condor.Wines condor_wines Condor Wines
THETHE WINE WINE MERCHANT MERCHANTfebruary may 2022 2022 69
liberty wines 020 7720 5350 email@example.com www.libertywines.co.uk @liberty_wines
Portugal’s master blenders Few wine-producing nations can match the value and diversity that Portugal
has to offer, and the country’s best winemakers are masters in producing
sophisticated, beautifully balanced blends, both red and white, from the 250+ indigenous varieties at their disposal.
Casa Ferreirinha was the first Douro producer dedicated entirely to making
fine wine, rather than Port. The great Luís Sottomayor has been head winemaker since 1989 and restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to create wines that have a vibrant freshness allied to a wonderful texture and depth. New to our list is Luís’ ‘Castas Escondidas’ (‘hidden varieties’) Douro Tinto 2018 – an elegant
and perfumed red that showcases some of the lesser-known grapes of the Douro, such as Marufo Tinto, Touriga Fêmea, Tinta Francisca and Bastardo, as well as the concentration of old-vine, field-blend fruit.
In the heart of the Dão, Quinta dos Carvalhais has been instrumental in
the region’s quality revolution and in saving its native grape varieties, such as
Encruzado, from near extinction. One of the stars of head winemaker Beatriz Cabral de Almeida’s very impressive range is her Dão Branco Especial, a hugely complex non-vintage white comprising oak-aged Encruzado, Gouveio, Semillon
and old-vine field blend wines from seven different vintages, each imparting their own
unique personality. The new 2021 bottling sees the delicious ripeness from warm, dry years such as 2006 and 2015 balanced by the more crisp and aromatic wines of cooler vintages like 2014.
richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 firstname.lastname@example.org
THETHE WINEWINE MERCHANT MERCHANT september may 20222021 70
BERKMANN wine cellars 104d St John Street London EC1M 4EH 020 7609 4711 email@example.com www.berkmann.co.uk @berkmannwine @berkmann_wine
buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 71
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: email@example.com
top selection 23 Cellini Street London SW8 2LF www.topselection.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Alastair Moss Telephone: 020 3958 0744 @topselectionwines @tswine
Top Selection are proud of our long partnership with Yves Cuilleron. For details of the range, prices and availability of these outstanding Rhône wines, please contact Alastair Moss.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 72
mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600
Celebrate International Sauvignon Blanc Day with Klein Constantia, Southern Right & Langlois-Château 94 points, Tim Atkin MW, 2021 South Africa Report
92 points, Tim Atkin MW, 2021 South Africa Report
For more information, please contact your Mentzendorff Account Manager
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES
28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810
@ABSWines Come and visit ABS at London Wine Fair at stand E53 from the 7th - 9th June 2022 Contact your Account Manager for further details of the wines we will be showing or to book a meeting.
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 73
6th July 2022 • 10:30 - 16:00 A first chance for the trade to taste the newly released 2021 vintage Rieslings & 2020 Pinot Noirs from our top growers including: Dr Loosen - Villa Wolf - Gunderloch Louis Guntrum - Karl H Johner - Dönnhoff Schnaitmann - Jean Stodden - Fürst - Allram 67 Pall Mall, St. James’ Room, London For more information or to RSVP call 01306 631155 or e-mail email@example.com
jeroboams trade 7-9 Elliott's Place London N1 8HX 020 7288 8888 firstname.lastname@example.org www.jeroboamstrade.co.uk
NEW ARMENIAN WINE STORK 2020 KANGOUN
For enquiries on stock available in the UK: 0777 570 6328 email@example.com www.cascara-gourmet.com @stork_wines
This crisp dry white wine is made to delight the palate and stir the soul. It is an homage to storks who seasonally migrate to live and raise their young alongside the grapes of the Ararat Valley. For centuries, storks have used old vines to make their nests. Throughout the growing season, they take wing over the vineyard and complement an already majestic landscape. Aromatic and delicious STORK wine is made from Kangoun grapes grown in our single vineyards in the village of Taperakan, Ararat Province (800+ metres above sea level). From this frost-resistant variety we received mineral-driven, elegant, easy drinking young wine that showcases the characteristics of terroir and variety. Colour: light lemon with golden hue Nose: fresh aromas of citrus, apple blossom, and melon Palate: delicate, mineral-driven with refreshing acidity Pairing: ideal to be enjoyed on its own as an appetizer or pair with seafood, pastas with mushrooms or creamy sauces, poultry and sushi rolls.
Style: White Dry Vintage: 2020 Grape Variety: Kangoun 100% ABV: 12.5%
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walker & Wodehouse 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 firstname.lastname@example.org www.walkerwodehousewines.com
Longavi joins Walker & Wodehouse Longavi is a collaboration between two winemakers, Chilean producer Julio Bouchon and South African winemaker David Nieuwoudt from Ghost Corner.
Founded in 2012, Longavi means “snake’s head” and draws on the spirit and legend of the two countries. Longavi’s vision is to reflect the diversity of Chilean wines, with grape varieties that express the full power of the terroir. Walker & Wodehouse will be distributing their GLUP wines, which are named after the sound of swigging delicious wine. The wines are organic and are made from grapes from premium selected vineyard parcels. For more information, please contact your account manager.
Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France email@example.com 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich
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