The Wine Merchant issue 113

Page 1

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

T

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

multiples.”

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

compete?”

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


NEWS

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

Wayne Blomfield

“I think people are realising there is a

going up too, it’s the perfect storm of

50 portuguese wine

leading importers

‘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

winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter graham@winemerchantmag.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries claire@winemerchantmag.com Advertising: Sarah Hunnisett sarah@winemerchantmag.com Accounts: Naomi Young naomi@winemerchantmag.com The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 1,004 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2022 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82

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.

closed.

“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.”

too many.

“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

says.

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

wine qualifications.

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

Communion confusion

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.”

Nuking Champagne

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

Ben Henshaw

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,

last month.

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

A

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

come autumn.

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


MARCATO DIRECT BROCHURE FREE WITH THIS EDITION OF THE WINE MERCHANT Marcato Direct is a group of Italian winemakers providing a portfolio of estate-produced wines from family vineyards across Italy. In 2011, an opportune trip to Italy for Rebecca Skeels resulted in a three-year stay at a vineyard; a venture from which Marcato Direct was born. Along with talented winemaker Enrico Marcato, Rebecca has been importing authentic wines from small, family producers across Italy for over 10 years. From Trentino Alto-Adige to Sicily, their diverse and original selection is available exclusively to independent wine merchants in the UK, keeping wines unique from vineyard to glass. From their warehouse in Leicestershire, where all stock is held duty paid, Marcato Direct offers flexible buying options that allow merchants to order as little or as much as needed depending on the time of year or size of business. Fast, efficient deliveries within two days enable stock levels to be kept under control. With an updated brochure featuring new wines added for 2022, bring the taste of Italy to your customers, share the passions of the winemaker and enjoy authentic wines of origin with Marcato Direct.

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

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01323 728338 • sales@eastprint.co.uk • 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

anything unusual?

for everyone.”

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 claire@winemerchantmag.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.

RRP: £29.50

RRP: £35.50

THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 12

RRP: £45


THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 13



James Dainty

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

vintriguewines.co.uk

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

relationships we

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

ABV: 13%

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

ABV: 14%

Les Caves de Pyrene (01483 538820)

buckingham-schenk.co.uk

lescaves.co.uk

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

ABV: 15%

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

ABV: 14%

Berkmann Wine Cellars (020 7670 0972)

gonzalezbyass.com

berkmann.co.uk

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

ABV: 14%

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

ABV: 14.5%

Hallgarten & Novum Wines (01582 722 538)

dreyfus-ashby.co.uk

hnwines.co.uk

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

ABV: 14.5%

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

ABV: 13%

Mentzendorff (020 7840 3600) mentzendorff.co.uk

THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 16


SPONSORED EDITORIAL

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

P

ol Roger Portfolio is proud to

welcome Cornell Vineyards to

its growing list of top Californian

producers.

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


Rising Stars

Lisa Howard HarperWells, Norwich

‘Something that was a hobby is now ingrained in my everyday life. I’m on a journey of discovery’

D

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.”

D

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 claire@winemerchantmag.com

THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 18



BITS & BOBS

Favourite Things

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!

Magpie

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

S

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


JUST WILLIAMS

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

W

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

Classify that

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.

S

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,

www.navarrawine.com

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,

the region.

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

attributes.

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


SOUTH

AFRICA

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

Albariño from

Newton Johnson,

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

B

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

different times.

the name.

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

have.

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

W

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.

Falanghina

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

Fiano

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

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


MERCHANT PROFILE

Liz Coombes and Simon Hill, Salisbury, April 2022

Siezing the opport THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 38


tunity

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

W

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


MERCHANT PROFILE

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?

specialism?

wine?

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”


MERCHANT PROFILE

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: j.carson@carsoncarnevalewines.com

Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monte Ceriani Soave Superiore DOC 2018

RRP £16.99

“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

RRP £14.99

“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

RRP £11.99

“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 Chardonnay

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.

RRP: £35

RRP: £24

THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 45

RRP: £18.85


FOUR DAYS TO CELEBRATE

SEVENTY YEARS

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

I

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.

coronation.

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

Newcastle!

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


SPONSORED EDITORIAL

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

T

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.”

and persistence.

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

T

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

Dirk Niepoort

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

thrilling.

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

F

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.

RANGE HIGHLIGHTS

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.

Raymond Reynolds

Susana Esteban

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 //

Diogo Campilho

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

N

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

ever-popular Esoterica

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.”

Encouraging response

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

C

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, internationalsales@burrowingowlwine.ca

Agent: Bibendum

Norman Hardie Niagara

Quails’ Gate Stewart Family

Bachelder Wismer-Parke

Niagara Peninsula

Okanagan Valley

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara

Chardonnay 2016

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: Bibendum

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

Okanagan Valley

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

Niagara Peninsula

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


O

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.

S

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.

I

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: sguillermin@sopexa.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 ejones@gonzalezbyassuk.com. 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:

winesofroussillon@otaria.co.uk Monday, June 13

Church House Westminster Deans Yard London SW1P 3NZ

Domane Wachau

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:

marketing@bancroftwines.com. 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

UK distribution.

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

Elverton Street


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@

thisisphipps.com.

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.”

Email 200years@ellis-wines.co.uk.

Wednesday, June 29 Royal Opera House Bow Street London WC2E 9DD

Nightlife on the Mosel

THE WINE MERCHANT march 2022 66


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

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

0207 409 7276 enquiries@louislatour.co.uk 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 info@hatch.co.uk www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield

THETHE WINE WINE MERCHANT MERCHANTfebruary may 2022 2022 67


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

gonzalez byass uk The Dutch Barn Woodcock Hill Coopers Green Lane St Albans AL4 9HJ 01707 274790 info@gonzalezbyassuk.com www.gonzalezbyassuk.com

PORTFOLIO TASTING

SAVE THE DATE TUESDAY 14 JUNE 2022

@gonzalezbyassuk

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 sales@vintner.co.uk 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


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

hallgarten wines Mulberry House Parkland Square 750 Capability Green Luton LU1 3LU 01582 722 538 sales@hnwines.co.uk www.hnwines.co.uk @hnwines

condor wines Henge Court Thame OX9 2FX 07508 825 488 orders@condorwines.co.uk www.condorwines.co.uk Condor_Wines Condor.Wines condor_wines Condor Wines

THETHE WINE WINE MERCHANT MERCHANTfebruary may 2022 2022 69


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

liberty wines 020 7720 5350 order@libertywines.co.uk 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 info@richmondwineagencies.com

@richmondwineag1

THETHE WINEWINE MERCHANT MERCHANT september may 20222021 70


BERKMANN wine cellars 104d St John Street London EC1M 4EH 020 7609 4711 indies@berkmann.co.uk www.berkmann.co.uk @berkmannwine @berkmann_wine

buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 info@buckingham-schenk.co.uk www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

THE WINE MERCHANT may 2022 71


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

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: info@fells.co.uk

www.fells.co.uk

@FellsWine je_fells

top selection 23 Cellini Street London SW8 2LF www.topselection.co.uk info@topselection.co.uk 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.

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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

info@mentzendorff.co.uk www.mentzendorff.co.uk

92 points, Tim Atkin MW, 2021 South Africa Report

For more information, please contact your Mentzendorff Account Manager

STA

AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES

ND

E53

28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810

MASTERS OF

RIESLING

orders@abs.wine www.abs.wine

@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.

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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 lesley@abs.wine


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

jeroboams trade 7-9 Elliott's Place London N1 8HX 020 7288 8888 sales@jeroboamstrade.co.uk www.jeroboamstrade.co.uk

@jeroboamstrade

cascara gourmet

NEW ARMENIAN WINE STORK 2020 KANGOUN

For enquiries on stock available in the UK: 0777 570 6328 info@cascara-gourmet.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 orders@walkerwodehousewines.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com

@WalkerWodehouse

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 chris.davies@lgcf.fr 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich

They’re all smiles to your face …

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