THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers
Issue 115, July 2022
Cat of the month: Sohla El-Waylly, Kerb, Manchester
Indies say slimmed-down London fair was productive Merchants want to see more big-hitting exhibitors return, but report that this year’s LWF was a worthwhile exercise
isitor numbers at the London
an opportunity to access free wine than to
forced to choose between the Dusseldorf
Wine Fair fell by about a
engage seriously with exhibitors.
event and the UK fair.
third this year, but organisers
Brintex, which runs the fair, says visitor
Some of the independents who spoke
maintain the policy of charging most
numbers dropped to 8,822 people over
to The Wine Merchant were disappointed
people to attend was the right one.
the three days. But it was braced for such
that they had been charged to attend
The entry fee was first introduced in
a fall, given the ongoing problems created
a slimmed-down show, with many not
2019, the last time the show took place
by Covid, as well as the threat on day one
qualifying for any financial help with travel.
before two years of Covid disruption. The
of a Tube strike. The decision by ProWein
charge is intended to reinforce a sense of
to rearrange its show for the London Wine
exhibiting suppliers which enabled them
value in attending, and to discourage many
Fair’s original dates in June also caused
to enter Olympia for free, and Brintex
of the visitors who treat the fair more as
problems, with several exhibitors being
allocated a number of bursaries to assist
Many indies received codes from
with travel costs. John Chapman, managing director of the Oxford Wine Company, had not realised there was an entry fee. “When I saw that I almost fell off my chair, and I probably said a few expletives at the same time,” he says. “But thinking about it, it’s actually not a bad thing in principle because that in itself kept out a lot of people who are not helping the overall scope of the fair.” Chapman says he pays to attend other major European wine fairs and believes London should retain the same policy. “The plus point was that it wasn’t what the London Wine Fair had started to become, which is like a clone of Imbibe Live, where you have to fight your way around For 15 years, Kasia Smith dreamt of opening her own wine shop. This summer it finally happened when Finley’s in Hoxton, east London, opened for business. Full story on page 6. Only about half of revenue comes from walk-in custom
and fight to speak to somebody,” he says. “Having been to all the big fairs in Europe this year, it felt on the functional level a
Inside this month 4 COMINGS AND GOINGS
‘Much smaller, but more diverse’ bit like those, which is a really big
The indies moving to bigger shops,
compliment. With the exhibitors I spoke to,
and some that are saying goodbye
it was a lot more productive.”
10 the cost of brexit
was the exhibitors that weren’t there which
Has leaving the EU added £1.50 to
was the bigger shame. There weren’t as
the price of a bottle of wine?
many of the big hitters that are normally
He adds: “It wasn’t so much the people, it
there. I think it’s something that will
18 tried & TESTED
change – as soon as the dates were moved,
The wines that grabbed our
a lot of people couldn’t reschedule or get
attention in a busy June
the right people to man the stands.”
30 english wine round table
Christchurch, Dorset, admits he planned
Seven merchants discuss how the
his trip to the fair “with some trepidation”
trying to put on a show that tries to be all
category can grow for indies
because of the “prospect of having to pay
things to all people, especially in straitened
to get in and no chance of a cheap train
Graham Northeast of Bonafide Wines in
ticket”, and “talk of some of the major
The only shop in the UK that
players staying away”.
specialises in records and wine
He adds: “We booked for Tuesday and Wednesday. Upon arrival it almost seemed
“I went purely because I needed to try a couple of wines and thought it would be good to say hi to a few people. I have the luxury of being local.
46 buying trip to spain
that we had arrived two days before the
We team up with Berkmann for an
event and that it was still to be set up –
masterclass list was a bit meatier this year
unforgettable visit to Rioja, Rueda
much smaller than previous years, but
– I just didn’t have time to go to any.
and La Mancha
more diverse, I would say.
“In support of the event, I think the
“For future fairs, I would like to see a
“What struck me as interesting was
better focus on practical areas, grouped
54 south american wine
the amount of space devoted to the more
together, easy to locate at Olympia and
An A to T of the grapes that are
unusual wines: Georgian, Indian and
on the programme. For me, the London
generating most excitement
Ukrainian, to name just a few.
Wine Fair should be more of a discussion,
“All in all, a good show – they just need to
68 supplier bulletin
learning and networking forum.”
fill the upstairs [Esoterica] area again.”
Essential updates from importers
Paola Tich of Vindinista in Acton says: “I think the organisers have a tough time
• The quiet charm of the London Wine Fair – page 28.
THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter email@example.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: Sarah Hunnisett email@example.com Accounts: Naomi Young firstname.lastname@example.org The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 1,007 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 july 2022 2
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 3
Zero-waste store lands a Kilo blow A Birmingham-based zero waste supermarket has converted one of its sites in the city into a café bar and refillable takeaway wine shop. The Clean Kilo has rebranded its Digbeth site as Kilo Ziro to distinguish it from its supermarket brand. It continues to operate its other original Clean Kilo shop in Bourneville in the city and has opened another in Moseley. The Kilo Ziro bar offers a self-serve range of five on-tap wines from 20-litre Cocktails are made from local and sustainably-made spirits
refillable kegs supplied by Sustainable Wine Solutions. It also carries 25 wines for off-sales in deposit-paid bottles that
wines for the shops. To get a premises
customers can have refilled or recycled.
licence to sell three lines of wine wasn’t
on,” Wong adds. “When we do use fruit,
going to work for us, but to do it on a
we use the skins to make sugar syrup [for
bigger scale with the café bar was.
cocktails]. If we have any wine wastage
Kilo Ziro is serving cider made from locally-sourced apples, and cocktails made from sustainable and local spirit brands,
“There’s lots of experimenting going
“We think about not just about each
when we pull the first glass out of the tap
flavoured with citric acid instead of whole-
product, but about how each one comes
wall, we use it to make vinegar. We have
fruit garnishes to cut down on food waste.
to us and about how it’s disposed of – the
a new cocktail menu which incorporates
waste fruit and veg.”
“The pandemic changed a lot of consumer shopping habits,” says co-
“There are so many spirits being distilled
Former menswear designer Wong and
founder Jeanette Wong, “and we found with
around Birmingham and local craft beer
business partner and ex-chemist Tom Pell
Digbeth, which has a lot of surrounding
and cider is easy to find here. But we won’t
set up The Clean Kilo in 2018, specialising
offices, that things didn’t return to normal,
take bottles or cans, only keg.
in loose food ingredients to cut down on
and that really affected sales. “As a grocery store – where people are encouraged to bring their own containers to cut plastic pollution – it was difficult. “We didn’t want to give up on the concept
“We have two carbon-negative local gins and Scotch whisky from a carbon-neutral distillery.” Kilo Ziro is also selling spirits in bulk refillable “eco-pouches”.
packaging waste. “Between 2018 and 2021, 500 zerowaste shops appeared in the UK, and we were one of the first five,” Wong says. “Taking that idea into the drinks and
of what we do, which is local sourcing and
hospitality industry can hopefully raise
reducing packaging, so we thought about
awareness that it can be done and be a
what we could do in the space that would
positive change for the environment.”
fit Digbeth. • The award-winning Bodega wine bar and
“The council’s pandemic recovery grant gave us the confidence to diversify the
shop in Christchurch has been sold by its
business and move the contents of the shop
founder after six years of trading. Megan
Fowler-Spink handed over the keys to Jason Giddings and Dave Burns, owner of the next-
“Bourneville and Moseley are more residential and Digbeth has an established
door-but-one Thomas Tripp pub, on July 2.
social scene around bars and restaurants.
They intend to keep the Bodega name and concept with operational “tweaks”.
“We had always thought about refill
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 4
Bacchus Larger site found for Tell Me Wine
co-founder. “As we’ve looked to grow, the model of the business has moved towards larger venues.” These include the recently opened Borough site, and the Birmingham
Fabien and Christine Voisin at Tell Me
branch, the first venture outside of London
Wine in Chepstow are planning a move
for the Vinoteca team, set to open this
to a larger premises in the town. The
relocation coincides with the lease expiring on their current shop.
The company has redeployed all team members from Marylebone.
“The new location is more central and much bigger,” explains Christine. “For the past five years we have really built up a picture of what our clients want, the wines and the food they love, and we can do more
Little Palais thinks bigger
events and have more people drinking in
St Ives bar and bottle shop Little Palais
with our new shop.”
is moving to bigger premises in the
All going well, the couple will open the doors at their new location in August.
Cornish town. The original site in Barnoon Hill has now closed and the business is setting up shop
• Rebecca Smithson’s Bottle wine shop in
in a larger space at the Old Custom House,
Highgate, north London, has expanded
in nearby Wharf Road.
into an adjacent unit to create a bar-store
The business is run by Richard Crossan,
hybrid. It will be selling wine on tap as
a former bartender at steakhouse chain
well as in bottle, plus German, Belgian and
Hawksmoor and its former London
British craft beers and The Newt cider from
restaurant offspring Foxlow, with local Jess
Sampson. The bar and shop specialises in modern, low intervention and biodynamic wines,
Unlocked van is the key
Some indies are very proud of their smart branding on the side of their vans, and justifiably so. But one Midlands merchant is happy to ride around in an unmarked vehicle. “We used to have our name on the side,” he explains. “But when people saw it parked at night, they assumed there would be wine in it, which there never is. We had the door crowbarred, which causes a lot of damage and is a pain to get fixed. So now we leave the van unlocked. We know that people still take a look inside, but there’s no wine for anyone to steal, and we save money on dealing with damaged doors.”
Doesn’t he look lovely?
Congratulations to Cassie Gould and Henry Butler of Butlers in Brighton, who are tying the knot this month. There’s no doubt that the wedding celebrations at nearby Ridgeview vineyard will be one of the social highlights of the year in this part of Sussex. But there is a chance of the flamboyant Henry perhaps stealing some of the limelight from his bride. “Everyone wants to know what Henry will be wearing,” Cassie tells us. “I don’t know what he’s wearing. He’s keeping it as a surprise.”
and cocktails to drink in, or mixed and bottled to take away. In a social media post, the owners said: “This is a bittersweet time for us as we are excited about the next step but, at the same time, will miss our home where Little Palais grew into what it is today.” Rebecca Smithson
Marylebone too small for Vinoteca
The Barnoon Hill site has a workshop space which has been upgraded to continue to make Little Palais’ own bottled cocktails and ice cream. • Change-of-use and premises licence
Vinoteca called time on its Marylebone
applications have been submitted by Valerio
site last month. The site on Seymour
Giacobelli to East Herts Council for a new
Place opened in 2010, the second for
wine bar and shop in Bishop’s Stortford.
Paisa will take over the premises of a
“We’ve had a fantastic 12 years in Marylebone,” said Charlie Young, Vinoteca’s
former clothes shop in North Street in the centre of the Hertfordshire town.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 5
The big questions
Julian Kaye, owner of The Wright Wine Company in Skipton, was serving a life ban, imposed by his wife, from talking to the trade press ever again following his entertaining interview in The Wine Merchant in November 2018. But, sensing that bygones might by bygones, we approached him last month for our vox pop, requesting his nomination for the most underrated grape variety. The great man duly complied, but first suggested questions he considered more interesting. Along with topics connected with ferret racing, these included “which is the shittest bond ever?”, “which suppliers should you be wary of?” and “which suppliers don’t consult you before they open an account two miles from you?” Answers to all the above were helpfully provided.
Hobby becomes a career for Kasia Hoxton is now home to Finley’s, a new wine bar and shop. The venture was a long time coming for owner Kasia Smith, who says it’s been “something I’ve wanted to do for the last 15 years, at least”. But, as she explains, “life happens”, and she worked in graphic design in her native Australia before moving to London 10 years ago. “Wine has always been a hobby, kind of in the background,” she says. When she found herself furloughed during Covid, she turned to that hobby, embarked on some
Finley’s fitting-out relied on the help and good will of some talented friends
formal wine education and started to put her plans in place. “We’ve been up and running for two months now,” says Smith, “so we’re just figuring out the hours, when it’s busy and
I’d focus on that, tell their stories, promote their business and their wine and show that it can hold its own.”
of the freehold to a new landlord. “It forced our hand,” says Michael Watts, who ran the business with wife Debbie. “We looked at buying it, but the numbers
when it’s not so much. At the moment I’m
Smith built the initial wine list with
not opening on Mondays or Tuesdays. I’ve
her friend Eleanora Kausinyte, the head
don’t work out at the moment with
found that most people midweek want to
sommelier at Maison François and,
commercial mortgage rates as they are.
pop in to buy a bottle on the way home
working to her criteria, they discovered
“The new owner wanted to put us on a
rather than drink in. Then on Thursday
that the only problem was whittling the
long lease and the rent would go up, so we
to Sunday the wine bar is open alongside
list down to just 50 wines for Finley’s wine
decided it was time to go. Otherwise, we
the retail. There are parks and the canal
wall. “It would hold more if I had one of
probably would have stayed another two or
quite close by, so a lot of customers have
each, but I have three of each wine and the
been coming in to buy to take away. We
idea is to constantly change it to keep it
have fridges, so everything that needs to be
more interesting,” adds Smith.
chilled is chilled.” Smith is working with a number of
Totally self-funded, the project relied on Smith roping in some friends with very
“Finding somewhere else that would be suitable at the right rent without being tied to a long contract was impossible.” The couple will be semi-retiring,
suppliers including Graft, Indigo and
particular skill sets: plasterers, electricians
continuing to run a mobility shop that they
VineTrail and her focus is on wines either
and carpenters all pitched in. A time-lapse
also own nearby.
made by women or by wineries that have
video on the website shows the team
women at the helm of the business. “Part
completely transforming the premises.
regions we’ve drunk wine from but never
of being aware of what you’re drinking is understanding who made it and what their story is,” Smith says. “I’ve always been really interested in female entrepreneurs or women doing
Last withdrawal at The Wine Bank
really awesome things and the stories
The Wine Bank in Lee-on-the-Solent is
behind them. There needs to be a light
to close after four and a half years.
shone on women in general so I thought
“We’ve got a motor home, so we want to go and doing some travelling to visit all the
The decision was prompted by the sale
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 6
actually got to,” says Michael. “We knew nothing about wine when we started but is been a fun trade to be in and we’re sorry to be leaving it. “We’ve made some good friends and hopefully we’ll still be able to sneak into a few tastings.”
Festival puts new indie in a pickle
without problems,” says manager Keron
Last month saw the launch of a cheese
lockdown in 2020 the shop had to close,
and wine shop, Milne & Pickles, in
and it remained closed. We consolidated to
the internet side of things, which did well
Magee. “The business kicked off in 2009 and we had the shop for a few years. With
McLean and Gould have been friends
for a while, but that’s tailing off now.
since school. They had been thinking
“It’s a sad day but it’s been a good
about working together for some time and,
journey. We’ve had some really lovely
prompted by the pandemic to make some
feedback from customers.”
changes, they decided “life was too short” and to “go for it”. The pair had been searching for the right premises in Peebles for about 18 months
Old friends: Julia (left) and Lorna
before finding the shop in Northgate. “It
The best wine shop in Hull
Consolidation for Twisted Cork
It’s taken a Scot to do it, but finally
Christine Longden at the Twisted Cork
spoilt for choice with a plethora of indies,
sourced from Mellis in Edinburgh and
has closed her shop in Tiptree, Essex,
he realised that if he and his wife Anna
charcuterie from Peelham Farm, an organic
to consolidate the business at the other
wanted to get their hands on some decent
producer in Berwick, as well as from
site in Kelvedon, which she opened 12
wine and whisky, they’d have to do it for
Edinburgh’s East Coast Cured.
was a wellness shop before,” explains McLean. “It was light airy space and had a really nice feel to it.” The produce is mostly local, with cheeses
Sourdough and scones are supplied by
Longden says she is continuing to deliver
there’s an indie wine shop in Hull. When Mark Bjornson-Sutherland moved to Hull from Sheffield, where he’d been
“We had no background in the trade
the local baker and there’s room on the
wines to customers in Tiptree, and many
at all,” admits Mark. “I’ve done my WSET
shelves for local honey. Beers are sourced
of them are popping in to enjoy a drink at
Level 2 and I’m planning to start my Level
from Tempest Brewery and Broughton
3. Other than that I’m a stereotypical
Ales, and gin from Tweed Valley Distilling.
“The general feedback was that the
Scotsman who really enjoys whisky and
customers missed the interaction with
has visited a lot of distilleries and done
match the meats and cheeses. “We use a
me, if I wasn’t at the Tiptree shop,” she
company in Fife called L’Art du Vin,” says
explains. “It’s a huge compliment really.
But the fact is, I cannot be in two places at
Chris Lockett of Lockett Bros, “an old
family friend”. After spending a week
The wine range is chosen specifically to
“We have six whites, six reds, a couple of
Help was also on hand, courtesy of
with Lockett, who generously passed on
rosés and a sparkling. We have some nice
Perth indie closes after 11 years
his contacts and supplier list, Mark then
week-long annual Beltane festival. After
Exel Wines in Perth is closing, with
including Marta Vine, Raymond Reynolds
four days of trading had to close the store
owner Alan Rodger retiring.
and Gonzalez Byass UK.
light ones for daytime drinking and some fuller bodies wines for the evening.” The pair could not have chosen a busier time to open – right at the start of the
in order to re-stock the shelves.
No buyer was found for the business, and
attended the Northern Lights tasting in Leeds where he met a number of the suppliers he’s currently working with
The shop, which is situated in the
the company served its last customer at the
Avenues area of the city, will stock around
it would be,” admits McLean. “It’s the
end of June. “We had problems with Brexit
150 wines and 300 to 400 beers. All the
festival’s first year back after Covid, so
because we were bringing in a lot of wines
products are vegan and biodynamic or
everyone was mad for it.”
from producers in Spain and France, not
“We didn’t anticipate just how busy
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 8
COME AND MEET BORDEAUX WINEMAKERS BORDEAUX DAY IS BACK THIS JULY WITH EXCITING TASTINGS IN MANCHESTER AND LONDON Now in its second year, Bordeaux Day will be returning to Manchester and London in
July for two days of tastings, meetings and conversations. Join winemakers, UK agents and the Bordeaux Wine Council at Stoller Hall, Hunts Bank in Manchester on Monday, July 11 and at Arlettie, 13-14 Margaret Street in London on Wednesday July 13
What to find at Bordeaux Day?
Bordeaux Day is the perfect opportunity to taste your way around Bordeaux and discover the incredible diversity the region provides – from unexpected cuvées including reds, whites, sparkling, sweet and rosés, to wines from forward-thinking new winemakers using innovative winemaking techniques. Bordeaux Undiscovered will offer an opportunity to taste the unexpected and explore wines seeking representation in the UK. For the first time this year, winemakers will be on hand at both events to talk you through their portfolios, presenting an exceptional selection of modern wines from across the region. This is a must-visit area for buyers throughout the industry, looking to expand their Bordeaux offering. Visitors will also get exclusive insight into the region and have the chance to taste this year’s Hot 50 Selection, a carefully curated collection of Bordeaux wines tasted by some of the UK’s top palates and all priced between £6 and £25. The newest Bordeaux wine offerings from leading UK agents will be available to taste at BDXchange. Meet the winemakers, discover something new and open the door to some exciting new business opportunities. Bordeaux may still surprise you!
We can’t wait to meet you
“Thanks to a new generation of winemakers who are introducing fresh styles, experimenting with new varieties, combining new and traditional techniques, our region and its wines have never been more exciting. Now is the time to discover, or rediscover Bordeaux,” says Caroline Vigneron, CIVB marketing manager for the UK. “We’re thrilled to be bringing Bordeaux Day back to London and Manchester this year. Winemakers will be with us for the first time presenting their wines and showing the great quality and value today’s Bordeaux offers. We can’t wait to welcome you!”
Whether you come for an hour or for the whole day, there is so much to discover at this year’s Bordeaux Day. Register for Manchester on Monday 11th July
Register for London on Wednesday 13th July
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 9
Attending winemakers include representatives from Bordeaux Families, BWine, Château de Bouillerot, Château de Chelivette, Château de Piote, Château Fleur La Mothe, Château Frontenac, Château Magdeleine Bouhou, Château Maison Noble, Château Malromé, Château Renard, Château Roquefort, Château Vieux Landat, Domaines des Grandes Maisons, Domaines Rollan de By – Jean Guyon, Expression des Domaine Corporandy, Gericot, Château Maine Gazin, GFA LR, Passion des Terroirs – Château Doyac, Les Vins de Lisennes, Maison Bertrand Ravache, Maison Ginestet, Maison Sichel, Passion de Vignerons / Château Tifayne, SARL Château Nouret, Bantegnies & Fils, Celliers de Bordeaux Benauge, Vignobles Jean-Christophe Icard, Michel Gonet, Alliance Bourg, Terre de Vignerons, The 3 Thinkers, Vignes Secrètes – Dumond, Dorland & Clauzel, Vignobles Carreau Selection, Vignobles Chaigne et Fils Earl, Vignobles Lévêque, Famille Ducourt, Château de Rayne Vigneau, Vignobles Jalousie Beaulieu, Château Montlau and Château Chantegrive.
How much is Brexit costing?
UK wine merchants have had to adapt to the realities of life outside the EU single market. Everyone agrees it’s created aggravation and expense. But there are differences in opinion in exactly how much Brexit is costing wine importers, and wine drinkers. By Graham Holter
ew people in the wine trade had
he was now in a position to tot up the
due to the unreliable lead times, which
good words to say about Brexit
additional costs that Brexit has imposed on
means more capital is locked up,” Lambert
before it happened. Six years on
his business, and how these translate to the
tweeted. “I still don’t have a firm figure for
price paid by the consumer.
this, but my best estimate is a further 20p
from the referendum, most still haven’t. Stories abound of shipping delays,
In the days of EU membership, Lambert
a bottle. Remember this is just to stand still
burdensome paperwork and rising costs.
says, the average cost of shipping a pallet
But can those costs really be calculated and
of wine from another member state was
Add it all up and Lambert arrives at a
quantified? Well, maybe they can.
typically between £170 and £190. It was,
Brexit premium of 58p per bottle. Factor
he reports, “easy and cheap to trade”.
in standard supply-chain margins, he
Daniel Lambert, the south Walesbased wine merchant, has seen his
Now single pallets can cost as much as
and offer our regular service.”
says, and consumers are paying an extra
Twitter fanbase explode to more than
£280 from France, and £340 from Italy,
£1.50 per bottle on the shelf, not counting
15,000 followers – most of them with no
and there are new charges associated
other inflationary pressures such as fuel
connection to the wine trade – since he
with import/export forms, which can
started articulating the post-Brexit realities
add another £25 to £150 per document.
of life as an importer. His forthright
Lambert has recruited a full-time team
analysis has added some welcome light to
member just to handle Brexit admin, which
a social media conversation more usually
in itself adds an estimated 13p to every
characterised by heat.
bottle he ships.
In a recent thread, Lambert revealed
“We then need to hold more stock,
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 10
here’s a certain vagueness in the UK wine trade about the full impact of Brexit. This is
understandable. Covid’s disruption of international and domestic trade has
“Whereas you used to be able to ship
muddied the waters, making it harder
the moment, delays in Europe aren’t really
to isolate the problems created (or
to do with Brexit but are largely being
just one or two pallets of wine direct from
exacerbated) by EU withdrawal. Shipping
caused by a shortage of containers coming
a winery and make the numbers work,
delays, for example, have been an irritant
from China, where roughly four-fifths of the
you now really have to be looking at a
for importers and exporters all over the
world’s containers are stored and shipped
minimum four-pallet order to gain any
planet since 2020, with ports stricken
from. Ongoing pandemic restrictions in
by labour shortages and containers
China are causing staff shortages and
accumulating in the wrong places. There’s
bottlenecks, meaning freight forwarders
arriving in a timely manner now, if all the
also a sense that Brexit is still a work in
in Europe can’t access enough containers
paperwork is correct”, which he attributes
progress (nobody in Northern Ireland
quickly enough, or at a good price.”
in part to the efforts of an “amazing freight
will need reminding of this) and maybe workarounds will emerge to mitigate the current problems. Or perhaps those
Then there’s the issue of global shortages of essentials like glass and cardboard. “The cost and lack of availability of dry
Wharton says EU shipments “seem to be
forwarding agent that we use”. He adds: “The problem now is more to do with deep-sea shipping. The container
goods are causing significant delays for
shipping companies are raking in massive
wineries preparing shipments, which
profits as far as I can see, holding everyone
the same size as Daniel Lambert Wines,
has as big an impact on export costs and
to ransom because they are bumping
hasn’t done the maths. But he is dubious
delays, while having nothing to do with
orders or ignoring those that aren’t willing
about the £1.50 figure, at least as far as it
Brexit,” he says.
to pay their currently obscene surcharges.
major factor, despite what some in the
But this isn’t Brexit-related.”
trade like to say.
2022 on wines he brings in (see box).
way they buy, so that price increases can be
problems will get worse. The owner of one wine supplier, roughly
pertains to his own business. “Brexit is affecting input costs, but in reality this is far from the sole contributing factor,” he says. “I’m not even sure it is a
“The ongoing effects of the pandemic on supply chains, war in Ukraine, inflationary
harles Wharton, managing director of Ellis Wharton Wines in Cornwall, has done some price
comparisons between May 2019 and May For him, Brexit is “certainly annoying”, and it has “definitely added a cost”. But,
nticipating the extra costs that Brexit would generate, many wine importers have changed the
minimised. John Chapman, managing director of
pressures generally ... these all seem to be
he says, “that has probably been dwarfed
the Oxford Wine Company, admits that the
more immediate problems. For example, at
by all the cost increases of the last few
impact of Brexit has not been quantified
exactly. But he estimates it’s “closer to 30p
Wharton calculates that EU admin has
May 2019 v May 2022 How prices have changed at Ellis Wharton Wines House Pays d’Oc Merlot Price has increased by 30p (7%), but almost a third of that is blamed on a surcharge for glass costs passed on in the last couple of months. Smart Pays d’Oc Chardonnay Another 7% increase in the FCA price – €0.23 a bottle – and now with an additional 3% surcharge to cover glass price increases. House Italian Pinot Grigio A 14% increase: €0.17 a bottle. Next month a €0.10 surcharge will apply, to cover the glass price increases.
added €49 per order and an extra €12 per
or 40p across the board” in terms of the company’s own costs.
pallet. On top of that, there’s a £50 charge
“We’ve bought better, we’ve renegotiated,
for UK paperwork with each order. These
or resourced, so most of our EU wines have
costs are unwelcome, but only amount to
probably gone up by 65p on the shelf,” he
an extra 5p per bottle, Wharton calculates,
thanks to economies of scale. “There have certainly been increases since Brexit, but I certainly don’t see prices increasing by £1.50 a bottle that I can relate to Brexit,” Wharton says. “Price increases in Burgundy etc from short harvests and other issues might have caused price rises, but I’m not sure these can be pinned on Westminster or Brussels. “Shipping and haulage costs have pretty much doubled since 2019, but that
includes increases in the last couple of months from the massive rise in fuel and energy costs.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 11
Adam Clarke (left) with John Winchester
“Instead of buying 100 cases of something, maybe we’re buying 1,000 cases. That way we can mitigate the cost,
‘Currency has a much bigger effect than people realise. Some hedge, some don’t. What you do with it can affect 9% or 10% of your final price’
and admittedly not everyone can do that. But if you look at the prices that indies are buying at from the agents, the agents’ prices haven’t gone up by that much.”
hasn’t really noticed price increases at all. “I feel people’s pain about all the trouble, but the exchange rate is a lot better now
moment. If it carries on like that, we’ll have to put the price up, like everybody else.”
we are all facing, and will continue to do
sometimes at €1.16, €1.17 and on a good
that,” says sales director Sara Bangert.
day €1.19 or €1.20. When you do large
to the single market could even happen, in
“With those adaptations there are some
shipments, that’s a lot of money you’re
the long term. But for now, wine importers
cost savings as well as extra expense. But
have adjusted to the new normal, even if
The General Wine Company in
than pre-Brexit,” he says. “We were near
Hampshire has “changed our business
enough on €1.10 to the pound in those
model to adapt to the challenges that
days, sometimes €1.09. Now we’re trading
the important focus for us is to keep our
Shipping is not a major element of Le
customers supplied with wine. If we have
Vignoble’s business model, but Loué
no wine to sell, we have no business.”
reports “very little difference” in the costs
Can she put a figure on the additional costs that Brexit has created? “Unfortunately, we will never actually
of the wine he does bring in. “We don’t really go to the trouble of using CHIEF [the Customs Handling of Import &
t’s possible to imagine a scenario in which Brexit’s impacts are reduced or reversed. Streamlining the current
system seems a feasible ambition. A return
there’s disagreement about exactly how painful this is proving. Attention is turning to storm clouds gathering on the horizon, and some which have already started to burst. Tony Schendel, director of sales at
know what the cost of Brexit has been
Export Freight system] and all of that,” he
Hayward Bros, believes that exact Brexit
or will be for the UK as it has become so
costs are “impossible to quantify” but
intertwined with Covid,” she says. “Costs of wines from the southern
“I prefer to pay the shipper, the transporter, to do that for me. We pay for
actually “fairly minimal”. So what are the costs that he’s worried
hemisphere have shot up because of
the clearance about £55 per shipment: one
about? There’s a long list, including the
shipping costs but that has nothing at all to
pallet, 10 pallets, or even more than that.
dry goods shortages that others have
do with Brexit.
And we pay £65 for the declaration. So all
“Russia’s devastating attack on Ukraine
in all it costs us another £120 per shipment
“There are lots of increases in shipping
adds another layer of costs in fuel while
but you can have as many pallets as you
costs from the new world which are
extra difficulties with dry goods etc are
want. If you do that cleverly, and take into
nothing to do with Brexit,” he says. “It was
account the exchange rate, our prices
the smallest harvest in Europe and New
actually haven’t gone up. And we have
Zealand for a generation – again, nothing to
negotiated more with our suppliers.”
do with Brexit.”
increases from UK agents he works with?
London City Bond, created by staff
depend on the time scale you select, but
“No. The only things we’ve seen recently,
shortages. This, he concedes, may be a
if we focus on recent extremes, the pound
which are now starting to hurt, are raw
Brexit-related issue, but equally Covid is
was worth €1.06 in August 2019 and
materials – and a lot of [wine] production
likely to have played its part.
€1.20, briefly, in March this year.
has been cut by half in France. Someone
ne of several elephants in the room is the exchange rate. Any calculations, and conclusions,
Has Loué noticed Brexit-related price
Schendel also cites higher costs from
New labelling requirements for
has to swallow that at some point. Loss of
European wines, which will create
people realise,” says John Chapman. “Some
production and raw materials going up –
headaches for the supply chain, are a
people hedge currency, some don’t, so
bottling, cardboard, you name it – that’s
problem that Schendel argues has been
when you’re looking at real costs, what you
what’s been affecting us big time.”
created by the UK government rather than
“Currency has a much bigger effect than
do with currency can affect 9% or 10% of your final price.”
Then there’s fuel. “I used to fill my van up: £80 for a full tank. Now it’s £120, £40
Brexit per se. “Smaller merchants and those that do
extra every week. You multiply that by 52
groupage are definitely worst hit,” says
branches in Plymouth, Bath and Bristol,
weeks … who’s going to pay for it? Do I
Schendel. “The truth is there are more
feels that exchange rates are currently
need to put an extra pound on each bottle?
costs on the way, and no sign of reversals in
working in his favour – so much so that he
I don’t know how to swallow it at the
next 12 to 24 months.”
Yannick Loué, owner of Le Vignoble, with
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 12
WINES OF GR EAT BR ITAIN TRAD E & PR ESS TASTING 202 2 Tuesday 6 September 10.30am - 5.30pm RHS Lindley Hall Elverton Street London SW1P 2PB
VISIT WWW.WINEGB.CO.UK/TRADE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
NOT YOU AGAIN!
customers we could do without
36. Yolanda Scrillington So as I say, we knew he loved his wine, but we didn’t realise how much he’d stowed away over the years and it was such a surprise to see all those dusty racks in that cupboard under the stairs … we thought the obvious thing to do would be to talk to an expert to get an idea of what it’s all worth … a small fortune I would think … and then maybe agree a price to clear the whole lot … such a fantastic collection, all sorts of wonderful vintage wines … you can tell how old some of them are because the prices are still on some of the bottles … £2.99 from Asda one of them, must be worth 10 times that now! The kids used to buy him a bottle of Bristol Cream every year on his birthday, and he kept all of those – saving for some big family occasion I expect, bless him … yes, he did like to drink wine for pleasure too – every month there would be a box arrive from the Society of Wine, I think it’s called, and those were his everyday sort of drinking wines … but all the special stuff, things we gave him or that friends brought round at Christmas, all that went into his secret little cellar … we honestly have no idea about value … but you can have the lot for, say, a thousand if you like …
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Congratulations to the five Wine Merchant reader survey respondents whose names were drawn at random
AM ANAand TIaMCoravin, GRwho E courtesy of each win partner Hatch Mansfield. Can you unscrambleour these vineyard problems? If so, you win a PDO in a county of your choice. Peter Fawcett, Field & Fawcett, York
1. Tory Bits Anthony Borges, The Wine Centre, 2. Dowel My Wind Great Horkesley, Essex 3. PX? Oh, Really? Ristanovic, 4.Zoran All Foul Rivers City Wine Collection, 5. Arse Sidepieces London Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines, Dorset Riaz Syed, Stonewines, London
THE THEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANToctober july 2022 2021 14
ight ideas br
34: Live Music Cameron McKeown Oak N4, Finsbury Park
In a nutshell: Welcome the return of live music for you and your customers. You don’t need loads of space and it can liven up a usually quiet Sunday evening. Tell us more… “We started doing it about four years ago. One of our staff members at the time was a singer and she started curating a musicians list and getting them in on a Sunday night to play. It could be a jazz singer, a blues guitarist, a classical guitarist … we had a couple of girls doing samba. It evolved over
things when you’re out and about.”
time and we started to gather a bit of a following and it really got the customers in.
“On social media we post on the Thursday prior to the Sunday, but on our
Is there any kind of music that works
website we do have an events page, which
has the calendar, and all the musicians are
but since we’ve reopened and found our
“Some of it is background music and just
on there. We don’t charge for tickets but it
Sundays a little bit slow, we thought we’d
nice to hear; other performers naturally
does get busy, so we recommend people
relight the fire under live music in the bar.”
command the audience a little bit, get
book a table in advance.”
“Obviously over lockdown it ceased,
involved and chat to people and talk about How do you go about finding musicians
the songs. Some artists have their own
Any famous bookings yet?
and how do you know they’ll be good?
fans who come along. We have a Japanese
“There’s a local guy who calls himself Mr
“A lot of it is word of mouth. Often the
classical guitarist who’s played for us a
Finsbury Park and he knows everything
musicians who have already played here
number of times. He is just amazing and he
about the history of music in Finsbury
recommend someone they know who’d
has a loyal following of Japanese ex-pats
Park, Wood Green and the surrounding
also like to play. We then reach out by email
who like to come and watch him work his
area – he’s like a living almanac. He has
and ask for their bio, and often we can see
magic, so when he plays we always have a
stories like, if this person hadn’t met that
a bit of YouTube video of their music and
person then Fleetwood Mac wouldn’t
we can tell from that if it might work.
have existed. So he knows a lot of people You’ve got your own little Ronnie Scott’s
and brought in a guy last week who was a
my family a few weeks ago and there were
drummer from a famous band.
musicians playing. One was playing the
“It gives a platform to local musicians.
guitar and the other guy was playing a
Since Covid, a lot of places where artists
would be to somehow get Gregory Porter
banjo and then a piano accordion, and I
would perform went bust so I think this
to come and play. I’d love to reach out to
just introduced myself and said I had a bar
helps to keep live music going. We don’t
him and say, ‘hey, I’ve got this little wine
nearby and asked them to get in touch if
pay a lot, but we give them a little rider of a
bar, do you want to come and play? We
they wanted to play for us. So you just hear
glass of wine and some food.
won’t tell too many people!’”
“I went to an open-garden thing with
“I joke with the staff that my dream
Cameron 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 15
Portugal’s popular for a reason It’s a country that is finally beginning to achieve its potential in the UK, especially in the independent trade. The #JuneIsForIndies campaign may be over for another year, but Portugal’s surging popularity is certain to continue for the foreseeable future. Published in association with Wines of Portugal Smashing it in the UK market #JuneIsForIndies gave independent merchants a great chance to promote Portuguese wines, making even more of a splash for a country that is performing well in the sector all through the year. When someone has achieved beyond expectations, the Portuguese like to say “partir a loiça toda” (to break all the dishes). It could be said that Portuguese winemakers have taken the idiom to heart, as they are certainly smashing it in the UK market. In this year’s Wine Merchant magazine reader survey, 56% of respondents identified Portugal as the country or region they are most excited about. This impressive number put Portugal well out in front and showed the inarguable opportunity for Portuguese wines to further strengthen their foothold in the UK market. In the words of Rob Woodhead at Graft Wine Company, “Portugal has heritage, indigenous varieties and small producers in abundance”. Wine drinkers are enjoying discovering the wines of Portugal and the diversity the country has to offer. Across its 35,000 square miles, Portugal delivers everything
from zesty, lively white wines to bold, voluptuous reds.
A wealth of white wines Let’s talk white wine. “There’s an openness to whites as well as reds … it was a Portuguese white wine that was the bestselling wine by the glass [in the June is for Indies promotion],” says Hannah Wilkins, from Vineyards of Sherborne. Alvarinho is arguably Portugal’s bestknown white and there are a host of breathtaking examples to be found. Just as stunning are the single-varietal wines being made from the likes of Loureiro, Arinto and Encruzado. Loureiro takes its name from the laurel flowers that the wine’s aromas
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 16
often emulate. Summer orchard fruits and citrus are other hallmarks of these refreshingly elegant wines. By contrast, Arinto is sprightly and racy, bringing vivacity and ageing potential in blends and an increasing presence as a stand-alone variety. Encruzado, meanwhile, has to be on every wine explorer’s list. Found mostly in the Dão, it delivers impressively structured wines that are rich and generous.
Reds resist rising temperatures Red blends are familiar territory for Portuguese wine enthusiasts. This offers useful protection in our ever-changing global climate, though it is worth noting that Portugal has a host of red grapes that
deliver good acidity in warmer vintages, such as Tinto Cão and Sousão. Two red grapes that offer uniquely delicious drinking are Jaen (Spain’s Mencía) and Trincadeira. The latter stands out for its explosive aromas, bright acidity and not-too-punchy tannins. Just as in neighbouring Spain, Jaen is being turned into exquisitely aromatic wines with lovely dark hedgerow fruit. Increasingly confident and skilled winemaking is giving these indigenous varieties a strong voice and they offer refreshing and delicious alternatives to more mainstream choices.
Endless culinary combinations Mike Best of Boutinot is spot on when he says that much of the appeal of Portuguese wines is that they are “so easy to get on
with”. This fits in a country that is wellknown for its warmth and hospitality. Portugal is also renowned for its rich culinary culture and the wines fit neatly with modern tastes. Sardines are back on the sustainable list and adored – grilled – by the Portuguese. It would be a brave body that disagreed with Vinho Verde as an ideal accompaniment: about as deliciously refreshing as it gets. The perfect piri-piri sauce is open to debate. Chilli, paprika, garlic, brown sugar …. whatever the combination, a full-bodied Alvarinho will strike a joyful gastronomic chord. It is impossible to spend any time at all in Portugal and not bump into bacalhau, in some form or another, with its key ingredients of salt cod, eggs, potatoes and black olives. It’s tempting to go white, but you might find a glass of crunchy Trincadeira equally satisfying.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 17
Portugal’s sweeter wine offerings are not solely limited to port. A visit to the Península de Setúbal will uncover some truly magnificent fortified Moscatel wines. It’s important to note that Setúbal alone on the label means there’s less than 85% of Moscatel in the blend. Wines identified as Moscatel de Setúbal, or Moscatel Roxo, exceed that amount. A foodie pairing suggestion for the sweet-toothed is, of course, the scrumptious pastel de nata – custard tart to the Brits. Queijo da Serra da Estrela is a creamy sheep’s cheese, made in the mountainous region of the same name and another winner with a snifter of Moscatel. There has never been a better time to be selling Portuguese wines. The quality to be found at each price point is terrific and consumer interest is high. A rich diversity of styles and grapes, means Portugal has a wine for everyone.
TRIED & TESTED
Michel Redde et Fils Pouilly-Fumé Petit F 2020
Ciacaron Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro NV
It’s hardly news that Pouilly-Fumé achieves feats with
Riccardo Bassoli’s enthusiasm for Lambrusco is almost
Sauvignon Blanc that elude imitators all over the world.
evangelical, and the wines he creates are authentic,
The secret lies in the terroir, and here the fruit comes
gastronomic, but most of all fun. The fruit comes from
from four communes, each with its own quirks. A rich,
an organic vineyard in the Modena hills and it creates
almost oily wine with hints of geranium and Turkish
a soft, convivial wine with luscious blackberry and
delight, but also a stoney freshness. A class act.
pomegranate notes. Perfect with cheese or ham.
Louis Latour Agencies (020 7409 7276)
Marcato Direct (07900 115372)
IDDA Etna Rosso 2019
Vandal Pet Bat 2020
A partnership between the Gaja and Graci families, the
This Marlborough project has a devoted fan base in
IDDA project is now a few vintages old and is creating
the indie trade, so the glow-in-the-dark label and
even more of a buzz around this trendy corner of Sicily.
punning name are added bonuses to a wine that is
It’s effectively a single-varietal Nerello Mascalese, pale
already bound to attract plenty of interest. A 50-50
as Pinot and with some Syrah-like sweetness. Every sip
blend of Muscat and Chardonnay, fermented together
seems to reveal new depths, whether it’s vanilla pod,
in French barriques at ambient temperatures, it’s a bit
cocoa or mountain herbs. Boring label; lovely wine.
wild, quite orangey, and beautifully fresh.
Hatch Mansfield (01344 871800)
Antipodean Sommelier (01733 238942)
Avondale Jonty’s Ducks Pekin White 2018
Koerner Pigato Vermentino 2021
Paarl-based Avondale has a proud tradition of
Brothers Damon and Joe Koerner have added a subtle
looking after its workers, which includes its army of
European twist to their 40-year-old family wine
ducks, whose job it is to control the snails that have
business in the Clare valley. This joyous Vermentino
developed a taste for its vines. A biodynamic Chenin
spends 20 days on its skins and seven months on fine
Blanc, with some Roussanne, Muscat, Semillon and
lees, emerging with zippy acidity and intriguing notes
Viognier in the mix, it’s a pleasant summer quencher.
of peaches, curry leaf and eucalyptus.
Cachet Wine (01482 581792)
Graft Wine Co (020 3490 1210)
Ver Sacrum Doña Mencia de los Andes 2016
Peter Vida Bonsai Kadarka 2020
Yes, there is Mencia in Mendoza, but the Spanish
Hungary’s indigenous thin-skinned Kadarka variety
template isn’t always visible in this wine from Ver
isn’t the easiest to work with, but in Peter Vida’s
Sacrum, which has fun in a garage winery with
expert hands these 100-year-old dwarf vines in
Mediterranean varieties. There’s no skin contact
the Szekszard region deliver something special.
during fermentation, and the wine emerges delicate,
It’s a vibrant, red-fruit wine, with some cherryade
light and pretty, but with cherry-tinged concentration.
playfulness and spicy seasoning.
Ucopia World Wines (01435 517080)
Malux Hungarian Wines (020 7164 6925)
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 18
On the Road JASPER BEGAN HIS CAREER AT JEROBOAMS IN 2007, AND WAS MANAGER OF THE NOTTING HILL BRANCH. HE RETURNED TO THE COMPANY IN 2021 AS ACCOUNT MANAGER
I do a mixture of on and off-trade in all parts of London. I travel to north Wales every so often as that’s where my wife is from, and when we’re headed that way I check out the indies around Manchester and Chester. We don’t really do much in that area yet. There’s a lot happening there so we’d like to get to know those independents a lot more. Although I have worked in retail at Berry Brothers & Rudd, and as an account manager for FMV, I started my career at Jeroboams in Davies Street. I was not long out of university and needed some money for Christmas presents and I just went into my local Jeroboams to ask if they were looking for Christmas staff. I was in my early 20s and didn’t really know much about wine at all, although there’d always been wine on the table at home and we had a house in France that we went to every summer. I’d always had that natural curiosity for flavour. At the end of my first or second day in the shop, they opened a bottle of Dom Pérignon and I was blown away by it. I was like, “wow, this is what wine can taste like!” After that, I just wanted to taste everything.
Our Californian range really showcases what’s happening in the Californian wine scene. I absolutely love Newfound Wines and Valravn. Both producers demonstrate the excitement and experimentation from a young generation who are producing wines under AVA California. They are delivering wine that has the right ripeness, aromatics and acidity. At the recent Wines of California tasting, the Newfound Gravels red went down really well, and the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that have just landed from Valravn are superb. I think they will be popular because they fit a price bracket that people have been looking for. They retail at £22.95 and £24.95 respectively. Sometimes people assume that Jeroboams is very traditional and my mission is to change people’s initial perception, because although we do have the classics, we have lots of wines that are made from really unusual grape varieties. For example, our Italian range is really good and a lot of it is really affordable. We’ve had a lot of success with Gianni Tessari from Veneto. He makes a Grenache at about 12% ABV and it’s perfect, as well as being a really good price. It’s actually made with Tai Rosso, a grape indigenous to Bereci, but genetically identical to Grenache.
I was really pleased recently with a recommendation I made to one of my customers. They have put on Château Montfrin’s Reverie Blanc (RRP £15.95)by the glass and they are selling so much of it. The customers love it. It’s a fresh and aromatic Rhône white, with flavours of spicy peaches and honey. It’s organic and vegan too.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 19
When I was 28, my brother and I hiked across the Pyrenees. It took seven weeks and we raised £12,000 for charity. I take pride in my sense of direction. I think it comes from doing my Duke of Edinburgh in a time before iPhones, so I had to be able to do proper map reading and use a compass to get across the Brecon Beacons. And, although I didn’t really enjoy studying geography at university, it’s really come in useful for my job. When I was first learning about wine, I totally got why climate is so important, the difference in soil types, and I understood where all the regions were in relation to each other, how they linked up.
I sometimes use the train to get around London to my clients, but mostly I use the Santander bikes. There’s a basket on the front but I plan ahead and send the wines in advance. You can only get about three bottles in the basket. In fact I know never to put too much in there because at Christmas the company gift was a bottle of Champagne, and as I was cycling home, I went over a hump and it shot out and smashed everywhere. When I relayed the story in the office, one of my colleagues gave me their Champagne, as they said they weren’t drinking at the time. I definitely work with very nice people!
Feature sponsored by Jeroboams Trade For more information about the company, visit jeroboamstrade.co.uk Call 020 7288 8888
BITS & BOBS
The UK drinks industry has responded with alarm to a proposal from Jacob Rees-Mogg that post-Brexit deregulation could include allowing sparkling wine to be sold in plastic bottles. The Brexit opportunities minister
Trevor Ayling Renoufs Pantry Westbourne, Bournemouth Favourite wine on our list
I have so many wines to choose from, but if I were to narrow it down to my perfect style of wine – creamy oak, spicy, black fruit – it would have to be the Méntrida Tierre Fuerte Graciano.
Favourite wine and food match
A generous helping of the triple-cream Brillat-Savarin cheese and an equally generous helping of the elegant sparkling Pinot Meunier from Bride Valley. The only problem is, the cheese is a little fattening and the sparkling is so hard to get hold of.
Favourite wine trip
If you ever visit the Paphos area of Cyprus, I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the Vasilikon winery in Kathikas. They have an extensive food menu and there’s nothing finer than enjoying stunning views of the mountains and sea, while enjoying some fantastic Cypriot wine.
Favourite wine trade person
A very interactive Phil Hayley from Enotria&Coe does a pretty good job of keeping a reliable flow of some of our mainstream wines.
Favourite wine shop
A lovely local wine shop called the Jolly Vintner Too. A great selection of wines, and a very knowledgeable owner who is passionate about everything wine, and the host of regular in-store tastings.
Brexit benefits just keep on coming
Domestic wines see big sales leap English and Welsh wine enjoyed soaring demand in 2021, with 9.3 million
identified a rule requiring fizz
bottles sold – representing a 31%
to be sold in glass bottles as
increase, according to figures released
one of the Brussels regulations
which could be expunged
While the vast majority of sales are
from UK law following EU
taking place at home, with British-based
buyers making up 96% of the total, notable
But the Wine & Spirit Trade Association
export markets are emerging, in particular
warned that any change must not jettison
Scandinavia, and Norway more specifically.
health and safety requirements, with the
The 9.3 million bottles sold in 2021
high pressure created by bubbles during
marks a significant increase of 69% on
fermentation making plastic an improbable
bottles sold in 2019. That figure stood at
and expensive choice of container.
5.5 million bottles.
The Independent, June 2
The Drinks Business, June 21
Sussex PDO ‘a joke’ Naked share price crashes by 37% says Kent rival Winemakers in Sussex are celebrating
Naked Wine lost nearly 40% of its
a new designation which will see the
market value on Thursday [June 23]
region get Champagne-style status,
after it warned of “greater uncertainty”
intended to guarantee quality and
in the economy.
geographical provenance. Sussex has been appointed as a Protected
The Norwich-based company, which connects shoppers
Designation of Origin for wine by the
Secretary of State for Environment, Food &
signs of waning customer
However, its neighbours in Kent aren’t
retention and slower
so happy about the designation, with one
growth. Its share price
winemaker describing it as a “joke”.
fell by 37% on Thursday morning to 176p.
Graham Barbour, founder and owner
The sobering outlook came after Naked
of Woodchurch Wine Estate, said: “This
Wines benefited from an increase in wine
is just a marketing exercise based on the
purchases during the pandemic lockdowns.
political boundaries of a county. It tells you
Nick Devlin, chief executive, said the
nothing about the geographical features of
business had “fallen short” of its goal
a particular vineyard or the quality of the
to convert upfront investment into new
customers who become loyal members.
The Independent, June 16
Financial Times, June 24
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 20
Craggy Range knows its Place
THE BURNING QUESTION
What’s the most underrated grape variety?
I’m enthusiastic about lots of weird and wonderful grape varieties but if was I sticking to the mainstream, the grape I think is most underrated is Chenin Blanc. I can’t think of another grape that is as versatile, making still, sparkling, dry, off-dry and sweet wines that can be drunk well in youth or with considerable bottle age. I’m a big fan of white Saumur, white Chinon, Vouvray and Montlouis, and also partial to Savennières.
In a first for New Zealand wine, Craggy Range will be featured in the September release of the Bordeaux négociants network La Place de Bordeaux. The estate, which comprises the Gimblett Gravels (Hawke’s Bay) and Te Muna Road (Martinborough) vineyards, will
Jason Yapp Yapp Bros, Mere, Wiltshire
be represented at La Place by two of the oldest négociants, CVBG and Mähler-Besse, in both Europe and Asia. The 2020 vintage of Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah and Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir will join the ranks of some of the world’s most renowned wines. Decanter, June 15
Cabernet Franc. I love it in every incarnation, from the Loire to Friuli, to Right Bank Bordeaux and beyond. It has everything that Cabernet Sauvignon has, and more: the body, fruit, tannin and power, balanced by more aromatics and that lovely green leafy edge. Any customer of mine will now ask for Cab Franc to accompany roast lamb or a barbecue, and any supplier will let me know when they add a new one to their list. I’m a sucker for Cab Franc, and proud of it.
Gemma Welden The Jolly Vintner, Tiverton
My team have to stop me when Mr Rick, aka the Liberator, walks in with yet another Alheit, the new-kid-on-the-block old-vine Chenin Blanc producer from South Africa. They know, even before the bottle is open, I will say yes, we will stock it, adding to our overflowing abundance of Chenin Blanc. Most of my customers don’t appreciate it, and my long-suffering manageress looks glumly at me with hands held high, saying ‘where the f••• are we going to display that?’
Te Muna Road in Martinborough
Cocaine concealed in wine bottles Irish police have arrested seven people and seized drugs worth more than €2m (£1.7m) in a major operation against alleged organised crime in Dublin. The operation also led to the seizure of significant quantities of cash. As part of the drugs seized, officers discovered a significant amount of suspected liquid cocaine concealed in wine
Julian Kaye H Champagne winner H The Wright Wine Company, Skipton
Furmint is responsible for both the world-famous Aszu sweet wine, Louis XIV’s ‘king of wines and wine of kings’, and for wonderful dry white wines. It’s often characterised by a crisp acidity, but is a true terroir grape that really reflects both its land and local growing practices. The 20th century saw the destruction of its spiritual homeland’s viticulture traditions through two world wars and forced socialist collectivisation and a slip into relative obscurity. But it remains a grape marked by a rich history, glamour and versatility. Roland Foxcroft Cellar Magnifique, Woking, Surrey
and Champagne bottles. The police said the operation had disrupted a drug trafficking route and “exposed” a new way of hiding drugs.
Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584
BBC News, June 24
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 21
The Spring into Summer tasting at Lancaster Town Hall
INDIES BACK ON THE BIG STAGE Organising wine fairs for customers, in venues much bigger than their own shops, was an important part of the yearly business plan for many independents – until Covid put such events in the deep freeze. Nigel Huddleston talks to two merchants who are happy to see the return of the grand off-site customer tasting.
BARRY HOWARTH’S BIG TASTING TIPS • Start small and then build it up: our first ones were only around 12 tables and 100 people.
• Plan early: for the Christmas event, invite suppliers as early as the previous January or February. I’ve got 12 booked in for our Christmas one already.
• Don’t hold it on the last Friday in November because everyone else does things then. Suppliers have only got so many people and they can’t split them in half. Ours is on the third Friday. It also gives us an extra week to get orders in for Christmas.
• Get suppliers on board before you tell your Barry Howarth (left) with colleague Roger Lumb
s lockdowns recede into the background,
from them through the year because I like to go to
the live wine events circuit is ramping up.
their portfolio tastings.
Lancaster Wine Co is one business that’s
“We take orders on the night and for a week after
returned to mass happenings, its recent Spring into
– under £100 and they get 10% off and over £100
Summer tasting featuring 21 suppliers providing
and they get 12.5%. We did our first one for two
samples of more than 150 products to the same
years last November and got about £5,000 worth of
number of ticket holders.
orders. The spring one was around £4,200.”
“I don’t even have to advertise them,” says
But the benefits aren’t solely measured in pounds,
co-owner Barry Howarth. “I send the weekly
he says. “It’s a great public relations exercise
newsletter out and it just goes crackers.”
because people are always talking about them and
Suppliers – which this time round included national operators such as Berkmann, Condor,
want to know when the next one is going to be. It builds customer loyalty as well.”
to new consumers. Indeed, Lancaster even uses its
events to run what amount to auditions for one or
Salisbury’s Guildhall, a stone’s throw from the shop,
two prospective new suppliers.
for anyone with a good arm.
Liberty and Fells, alongside local producers Gan Yam Brewery and Three Wheel Gin – are persuaded to attend for free, Howarth’s philosophy being that the shop is giving them a leg-up through exposure
“The idea is that you can come to my tasting and
rtisan Wine & Spirit in Salisbury launched in the lockdown era but has already made large tasting events a part of its sales
and marketing toolbox. Its spring tasting was in
“We started off doing it at the local school, which
you can show your wines to my customers, and if
wasn’t ideal anyway, and it was so popular we
I get lots of orders you can go on the shelves,” he
needed a bigger venue,” says co-founder Simon Hill.
says. “If not, then bye-bye.
“It was the biggest venue we could find in the city
“It works well for us because we don’t have to buy
centre. “We went from 150 people to 250 and that one
anything if we don’t have any orders.” But the majority are suppliers with which Lancaster has well-established relationships. “Most suppliers are brilliant,” says Howarth.
sold out as well. “It meant increased venue hire costs and we have to pay for some samples and a few other bits and
“They will generally do 10 or 12 wines each, so
pieces – the logistics of it all and staff – so we need
if you get 10 or 12 suppliers you’ve got over 100
wines for people to try, which is more than enough
Artisan enlists sample support from some suppliers and foots the bill for more exclusive stuff
for most.” The Spring into Summer event was held in Lancaster Town Hall’s Aston Hall, named after
that it sources through Vindependents. “We had about a dozen or so suppliers in all
James Williamson, Lord Ashton, a Victorian/
and around 150 wines and spirits for people to
Edwardian Liberal MP and pioneer of lino
try,” adds Hill. “Obviously we benefit from sales
production, fact fans.
at the end of the night and offer a discount on
“It’s a very big, elegant room,” says Howarth.
products featured in the tasting. But it also keeps
“We’ve had 300 people in there before. This tasting
the interaction with our database going without us
was only 150 because we kept the numbers down,
becoming too annoying. “The spring one sold out with eight weeks to go,
but the Christmas one will be 250-300. “We sold tickets for £14, which covered the cost
so at Christmas we’re going to do two sessions and
of the hall, a van and staffing, and then the suppliers
change it from a Friday to a Saturday when people
provided all the samples. They’ve all got budgets for
aren’t working. We should be able to double up and
this sort of thing, and I don’t take a lot of samples
get 500 in.”
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 23
Vins sans frontières We’re happy to go along with regional denominations that span thousands of kilometres, but the wine trade gets jumpy when boundaries are blurred with wines that come from more than one place of origin. Is that fair? David Williams ponders the point
t’s about 150 miles, or some twoand-a-half hours by car, from Vienne south of Lyon to the Camargue in
Provence. In California, a road trip south from Vallejo to Lompoc takes the best part of five hours and covers 300 miles, while the 1,200 miles from Ceduna in South Australia to the intersection of the Tropic of Capricorn with Australia’s eastern coast is a transcontinental car journey of some Some arbitrary borders to enjoy
28 hours … I’ll stop there. Much as I love these sorts of facts and figures and could go on (and
the relatively short trip from Côte-Rôtie
on), I do realise this column has begun like
to Châteauneuf-du-Pape takes you from a
the start of one of the more convoluted
Continental to a Mediterranean climate,
there’s anything strange or untoward about
questions in a GCSE maths exam.
from strictly limited Syrah and Viognier
the bigger regional appellations. We are
to a seething varietal melting pot, and
happy to talk in general terms about their
straightforward: some of the wine world’s
from granite and schist to galet pebbles: a
style; we are even prepared to welcome
ACs, GIs and AVAs (Côte du Rhône,
journey between two completely different
the best cross-regional blends – to the top
California’s Central Coast and South East
winemaking worlds, in other words.
table – from Grange to most of the Grandes
My point is actually quite
to region to village to vineyard to plot. At the same time, we don’t tend to think
Australia in case you hadn’t guessed) are
Members of the wine trade, and many
really quite big. Too big, you might say, for
of its consumers, might well these days all
them to mean very much at all.
subscribe to the idea that a wine increases
when winemakers make something
in fineness in inverse proportion to the size
that doesn’t fit into the rigid geographic
the vast Central Coast and still-vaster South
of the vineyard from which it is sourced:
boxes that wine law – both written and
East Australia contain multitudes. But even
the quality pyramid that goes from country
unwritten – allocates for them. A weird
In terms of topography, soil and climate,
Marques and much of Rioja . And yet, something funny happens
double-standard is at play when the wine
A weird double-standard is at play when the wine industry’s imaginary boundaries come up against the imaginary boundaries of geo-politics
industry’s imaginary boundaries come up against the imaginary boundaries of geopolitics. I’m thinking, here, of wines that are blends of two different regions, countries,
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 24
or continents: they are never taken
European Wine by Oenope Is
common practice of beefing
seriously. They are treated as gimmicks, as
first of all a solidarity project in
up claret with a dose of Rhône.
cynical solutions to sourcing problems, as
front of globalisation, climate
Californian iconoclast Randall
homogenising challenges to the very idea
changes and health crisis,” the
Grahm’s Pacific Rim Riesling was
of wine as a region-specific product.
project’s website proclaims. “It
for years a blend of wines from
is about creating a link between
California, Washington, Oregon
much of the response to a new multi-
European winegrowers, to
and Germany, and all the more
national wine brand, The Borderless
promote their know-how, their
interesting for it. And Alto-Adige
European Wine by Oenope. The work of
terroirs and their cultures
producer Alois Lageder makes
three friends based in Italy and France,
echoing the motto of the
a really rather lovely “pan-
the project, which aims to make wines
European Union: ‘United in
Alpine” blend, Terra Alpina, of
blended from across the continent as an act
Pinot Grigio, Macabeu, Xarel.lo,
This, certainly, seemed to characterise
All the same, I’m unwilling to
Moscato Giallo and Pinot Bianco
from the European Cultural Foundation in
denounce the wines (which I’ve
using fruit from Pyrenean Spain,
2020. And, after apparently encountering
yet to taste) out of hand. I may, like every
Hungary and the Lageder family’s home
some difficulties in finding producer
other wine lover I know, need to overcome
partners prepared to mix the fruit of their
a certain amount of prejudice whenever I
terroir with wines from foreign soils, the
encounter multi-national or multi-regional
But then neither, if we’re honest, do most
first releases arrived earlier this year: a
blends. But the fact is I’ve had some very
French-Italian-Spanish red blend and a
good examples of both over the years.
of “solidarity”, picked up a €30,000 grant
The 50-50 blends of Château La Lagune
These may not qualify as wines of place.
Indeed, what we usually get are wines of places – and how we feel about them has
and Jaboulet Hermitage made by French
more to do with arbitrary geographical
the marketing a little de trop in its pro-
winemaker Caroline Frey, for example, are
distinctions and borders than we might
European sentimentality. “The Borderless
a fascinating high-end return to the once-
like to think.
You don’t have to be pro-Brexit to find
Caroline Frey: reviving an old tradition of the Bordeaux-Rhône mash-up
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 25
Lauren Lascelles and Rachel Fender Cheers, Swansea and Mumbles
o unearth one fantastic store manager is a wonderful thing, but to find two must feel like winning the lottery. Dafydd Morris at Cheers can certainly vouch that his life has changed for the better with two equally brilliant women running his shops in Swansea and Mumbles. “Rachel [Fender] and Lauren [Lascelles] work really well as a team and that’s why I can’t separate them for this nomination,” explains Dafydd. “They are both so steady and reliable and having the two of them has changed my working life. They have kind of become their own team and they don’t involve me anymore, which is fab for me.” Rachel manages the branch in Mumbles and has been with Cheers for 10 years. She says that, as her mum actually used to work for the business, she has known Dafydd and his dad Andrew for a long time. “I was a customer before I started work in the shop,” she says, “and at first it was just an evening job, but I got more interested in wine and by the time the manager’s job came up, my kids were in school for longer and it suited me down to the ground. It’s a great place to work, it’s a fun atmosphere, we’ve got a great team and there’s always a face that customers know when they come in.” Dafydd says: “Rachel is the most personable person. She really does make that shop her own and I know that whoever visits it is going to have a great experience. We took Lauren on in lockdown and she was by far and away the best interviewee. It was quite apparent that she was a good fit for the job and she wanted to learn more about wine. She’s managing the shop at West Cross in Swansea and helping us turn into a hybrid. She’s spent the last couple of months redecorating the shop, moving stuff around to make more space. “Because of her hospitality background it’s given me confidence that we can have people drinking in, which we’ve never done before.” While Rachel and Lauren rarely work alongside each other, they have built a successful working relationship as well as a firm friendship over the past 18 months and have been able to attend tastings together.
“We speak together at least four or five times a day, unless we’re too busy to get to the phone,” says Rachel. “We try to take the onus off Dafydd and Andrew a bit. Dafydd is busy managing the warehouse and making sure the internet side of things is going well. Andrew would probably like to retire, but we can’t do without him just yet! We just make sure the majority of the day to day running of the shops is taken care of.” The imminent addition of drinking-in and the upcoming whisky and wine tastings that they have organised have really given Lauren a buzz. “It’s so exciting now the tasting table has arrived,” says Lauren. “Now we can get the ball rolling with some in-store tastings and hopefully establish the outside area this summer. Coming from a hospitality background, I’ve really wanted to use those transferable skills. Andrew, Dafydd and Rachel are so knowledgeable. In addition to my WSET courses, I’ve learnt so much from working with them and I’m excited to see what else there is to learn.”
Rachel and Lauren each win a bottle of Joseph Drouhin Côte de Beaune 2018 If you’d like to nominate a Rising Star, email email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 26
Marco makes his mark Partners in Wine ENOTRIA&COE AND FONTANAFREDDA
The long-established Barolo producer and its UK supplier provide a platform for the diversity of Piedmont, with a shared Italian heritage – and shared values on tradition and sustainability The product range and diversity “reflects the region. Fontanafredda has dedicated specific wines to different sectors of the UK market, allowing us to leverage the breadth of our customer base and offer high quality wines to all our customers. Sergio De Luca, Enotria&Coe
Fontanafredda has been a faithful partner to Enotria&Coe since 1978. In our portfolio Fontanafredda represents Piedmont. Since Oscar Farinetti [the founder of restaurant group Eataly] took over Fontanafredda in 2008, the winery has seen strong growth in the UK. We are also strongly aligned on our commitment to top-quality products that are made sustainably. I would highlight the Barolo Serralunga, possibly the first “village” wine in Barolo, but also the Le Righe range, meaning “the lines” in English, which offers the most important styles of Piedmont: Nebbiolo and, of course, Barolo, but also Barbera, Dolcetto and Gavi. The name symbolises the impeccable rows of vines at Fontanafredda, and is a nod to the characteristic decoration of houses on the estate with terracotta stripes.
Our wines respect the history and traditions of the territory in which we have been producing since 1858. Our goal is to offer a classic interpretation of the grape variety and a wine with finesse, balance and great drinkability.
Alberto Frea, Fontanafredda 2021 Gavi di Gavi DOCG, Fontanafredda RRP £19.95
2018 Barolo di Serralunga d’Alba DOCG, Fontanafredda RRP £46.50
2020 Ebbio Grappolo Intero Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Fontanafredda RRP £20
The partnership came from the common Italian heritage and shared ambition of Enotria’s founder Remo Nardone and our winery. The relationship remains solid and dynamic. Fontanafredda is the winery that best represents the complexity of styles, native varieties and denominations in Piedmont. With Barolo, we have a hierarchy of wines that can appeal to everyone, from the fruity and elegant Barolo Classico to the more terroir-driven, complex, tannic and austere MGAs, Vigna and Barolo Riserva. We have introduced numerous innovations which have since become the standard, such as ageing fresh reds in concrete vats. The concept of municipal Barolo was introduced by Fontanafredda in 1988 and this year we are celebrating the 30th vintage anniversary with the release of the 2018.
Published in association with Enotria&Coe Visit enotria.com or call 020 8961 5161 for more information
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 27
The quiet charm of the LWF The UK’s biggest wine event needs more of its exhibitors to return. But not all of its visitors
his year I did something almost unprecedented at the London Wine Fair. I tasted some wine. It’s a curiosity of the event that, in its traditional form, it’s a difficult place in which to get much tasting done. There are too many bodies between you and the bottle. The people doing the pouring are flustered, barking out memorised details about soil types and oak ageing as ever more empty glasses are thrust towards them. There’s too much noise, not enough space, and never enough time. I’ve always found the fair to be great for renewing old friendships and beginning new ones. Some people complain that it’s not as businesslike as ProWein or Vinexpo, but for me that’s part of its charm. It’s a place for chance encounters, chit-chat, the comparing of notes. Actually tasting wine – tasting in a way that might lead to a buying decision, or in my case a review – is a different matter. Entering the Grand Hall at Olympia this year, it was impossible not to be struck by the serenity of the room. It was almost spookily calm. There was a momentary sense that you might have come to the wrong place. But no, this was the return of the London Wine Fair, after two Covidenforced missed years and some hasty
rescheduling thanks to ProWein trampling over its original dates in May. It was immediately apparent that the fair was smaller than normal. “We’ve got two days here,” sighed a Lancashire merchant who stopped by at our Wine Merchant Top 100 stand. “I’m not sure how we’re going to fill them.” An importer manning one of the tables in the Esoterica zone shook his head. “It’s so quiet,” he said. “I don’t know how much longer this fair can survive.” I spent quite a while with this exhibitor, working my way through the wines he’d brought, taking photos of the bottles, and tapping notes into my phone. I had time to listen to stories about the growers and the grapes. It was a novel experience, and quite a pleasant one, so I repeated it, up and down the Esoterica balcony. It seemed to me that, once visitors and exhibitors alike had adjusted to the new dynamics of the fair, attitudes softened. Independent merchants reported useful conversations with new and existing suppliers. People running the stands spoke of a better grade of attendee. Quality, rather than quantity, was something they could buy into. Organisers say there were 8,822 visitors this year, compared to 13,260 in 2019. We
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 28
shouldn’t denigrate all the missing 4,000, but many of them really had no business being at the fair in the first place. We usually meet a lot of them on our stand: the people who help themselves to a breakfast of port or Champagne; blokes with badges identifying them as security advisers for a wine shop in Hertfordshire we’ve never heard of; women who liberate unopened bottles of Chablis from our fridge. We didn’t see any of these people this year. The freeloaders had been eliminated (despite, we are told, attempting to register as many as 20 times, using different names).
he £25 entry fee was controversial, but it filtered out some of the less serious visitors, and many indies were offered free tickets by suppliers. John Chapman, managing director of the Oxford Wine Company, says: “You have to think about the UK fair as being in the same mould as the other big European fairs. Everyone pays to get into ProWein. I think the ticket price is part of the solution and the way forward.” Chapman reports a productive visit to the fair, with tangible results. “You could speak to people without having to wait 10 minutes to get to the front of the queue,” he says. “There were a lot of exhibitors missing who definitely will be back, but then it’s down to people in the UK wine trade to push for that. To say it’s poor, or not as good as Paris … that’s basically us outsourcing our fair requirements to Europe. “I reckon there’ll be a 50% increase in exhibitors next year and then you’ll start edging back to where it should be. With the market the way it is, and Brexit the way it is, there’s going to be more importance in UK-stocked products, and agents are going to need to showcase those products. “It is our UK wine fair, and to lose it would be to lose part of the wine trade’s heritage.”
A promotional campaign that allows you to shine the spotlight back onto one of the world’s best-known wine regions and the value and unexpected diversity that it offers. “Bordeaux Wine Month is a great and fun campaign that allowed us to focus on Bordeaux … people know about the region, but they don’t always appreciate that great white wines are made there, and they maybe forget some of the fantastic dessert wines that are available… the social media support and the customer literature really made a difference.” Andy Cole of Vinotopia, Nailsworth, which took part in last year’s Bordeaux Wine Month and was crowned one of the three winners, alongside Amps Wine Merchants and Highbury Vintners What’s on offer for participating
2022 is your chance to promote the fantastic
indies? Cash support to the tune of £200,
value that today’s Bordeaux offers.
promotional materials, a digital toolbox and social media assets too. Once you’ve signed up you will be part of
Which wines to promote? A focus on the diversity and accessibility of Bordeaux wines
a country-wide campaign that will include
will highlight the quality and value that
events, training and in-store tastings.
they can offer and help increase customer
Bordeaux Wines has a dedicated social media
awareness of the different wine styles. Take
team on hand to support you every drop
red Bordeaux wines for instance, from a
of the way, and your participation will be
timeless Saint-Emilion blend to more a
publicised through its own channels.
fruitier single variety found in Côtes de
In return? You will be asked to hold at least three, in-store tastings, over two
Bordeaux. Stockists of Crémant de Bordeaux will be
weeks during September. A minimum of 60
able to sing this wine’s sparkling praises and
customers over the three events should have
show it off in both its white and pink forms.
the chance to taste at least four Bordeaux wines, including one dry white.
You’ve also got the delicious white wines from the 2021 vintage to play with. Feedback for the 2021 white wines has been uniformly
Why do it? Bordeaux Wine Month provides
excellent, meaning there’s rarely been a
a chance to enthuse your team and your
better time to be promoting them.
customers about Bordeaux and in line, boost sales – during last year’s promotion each store sold an average of 120 extra bottles of Bordeaux wines. What’s more, you could be a winner! First
And don’t forget the dry, food-friendly rosé wines that are also made in Bordeaux. Bordeaux Wine Month is a well-supported campaign that is guaranteed to boost sales in the
prize secures an exciting three-day trip to
category, as well as creating
Bordeaux to meet the winemakers and taste
a platform on which future
the wines. Four runners-up will earn £250
sales can build.
for their businesses, to put towards new Bordeaux listings. Talking about the great wines of Bordeaux
Spaces are limited, so don’t delay in registering your interest via the QR code.
is rarely tricky, but with customers tightening
Registration closes on July 31. Contact
the purse strings, Bordeaux Wine Month
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 29
MEET THE INDIE PANELISTS Simon Hawkins, Hawkins Bros Fine English Wines, Godalming, Surrey Simon runs the business with brother James, selling English wines from a wide range of counties including some bottled under the Hawkins Bros label.
Dan Abbots, CA Rookes, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
This wine business has been a fixture in the Warwickshire town since 1939, with Dan Abbots buying it from John Freeland in 2021.
Jeff Folkins, Dalling & Co, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire
This bustling business, which is half delicatessen and half wine shop, was established in 2009. Jeff buys wines from far and wide including some direct imports from Austria.
Oliver Gauntlett, Eynsham Cellars, Oxfordshire
Oli and business partner Iain Boyce started out in 2010, rebranding and reimagining a former Wine Rack shop to make it more of a destination for wine lovers.
Stefan Botfield, The Wine Cellar, Bedfordshire Stefan’s original shop in Woburn was quickly followed by a second, in Olney. Before establishing the business in 2016 he was head of purchasing at Amathus Drinks.
Simon Thomson, Talking Wines, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Now approaching its 20th anniversary, Talking Wines is principally a wholesale business but also operates a large shop within its premises, with online sales continuing to grow.
Jeremy Hill, Vinotopia, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire
In his own words, Jeremy has been “marinating” in the wine trade since 1977. He attributes the success of his Cotswolds business to “being everything that a supermarket is not”.
Looking for a
The Hundred Hills estate and winery in Oxfordshire, the sett In doing so it brings something different to the English wine
one of this happened by accident,” says Stephen Duckett, surveying the view of the vines that cling to the slopes of his Stonor Valley estate in Oxfordshire. The vineyard slots so perfectly into the quintessentially English landscape that it looks like it’s always been there. But this project is just a decade old, and it’s the result of meticulous planning and a scientific attention to detail. A bottle of 1992 Nyetimber gave Stephen and Fiona Duckett their initial taste for English wine, providing the spark for a lifestyle change that eventually took Stephen away from a successful career in tech, and gave Fiona a new challenge following the completion of a PhD in applied linguistics. Their search for the right piece of land took four years and covered much of southern England. “We were really looking in chalk valleys,” Stephen says. “We looked at 300 sites. We realised quite early on that if the land already had crops on it, it was too fertile, and if it had horses on it, it wasn’t steep enough.” The gradients at Hundred Hills are certainly unusual in UK viticulture. Part of the estate is thought to be the steepest vineyard in England: to emphasise the point, people have been known to ski down its access track in winter. But cold temperatures are not a problem for the vines, and frost is unheard of in the growing season. “This valley is 2˚C warmer on
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 30
ENGLISH WINES ROUND TABLE
ting for our round table, borrows from Champagne, California and Burgundy in its approach. e industry that fits perfectly with independent merchants, say owners Stephen and Fiona Duckett
average, every day, than it was in the 1970s – similar now to the conditions in Champagne in the 60s and 70s,” says Stephen. “And the Chilterns, like the South Downs, have the same chalk bedrock.” With the help of experts such as former Roederer winemaker Michel Salgues, appropriate Champagne clones were planted where it was calculated they were most likely to thrive. Tellingly, nothing has needed uprooting or relocating. “We wanted 10 parcels of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” says Stephen. “We wanted to make sure that in any given year, four or five of those parcels are in the right place. We actually have three times as many grapes as we need.”
hese days, August harvests are increasingly common in Champagne. Stephen believes the longer growing season in England gives wineries like Hundred Hills an advantage. “To make fine wines the key is to keep the grapes on the vines as long as you can,” he says. Viticultural lore tends to advocate 100 days; at Hundred Hills, it can be as many as 120. “All the interesting stuff, all the complex flavour molecules, are a function of time, and most of that process takes place right at the end,” Stephen explains. “It has to happen in
the vineyard. You can’t fake it in the winery.” The wines, which are pressed, vinified and disgorged on site in a Napa-inspired cellar, are now favourites of Raymond Blanc at nearby Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and have also found favour with several London sommeliers. Typically there are four or five releases each year, all vintage dated, with the wines spending two to five years on the lees in bottle. Most see no malolactic fermentation, in a bid to preserve the complexity and natural richness of the fruit, though careful bâtonage seems to suit the house style. Most of the wines are sold direct to consumers, but the project is now at the stage where it can establish a small network of specialist independent retail partners, which the Ducketts say they can support with pricing equivalent to their own, good margins, reliable supply and tasting activities.
• The Wine Merchant teamed up with Hundred Hills in June for an English wine round-table discussion. Full report begins overleaf.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 31
ENGLISH WINES ROUND TABLE
How important is the English wine category in your business? Simon Hawkins: We’ve been going for six and a half years, and we now deal with over 60 English vineyards. We try to deal direct with the vineyard rather than through wholesalers because we like to have a relationship with the owners. I think that’s very important. The customer appreciates that because we can then tell the story, and I think English wine is still about telling the story. Over 50% of our sales now are still wines, despite the fact that 70% of English wines are sparkling. Obviously Bacchus is the premium still wine grape but we’re seeing a lot more Pinot Gris and lovely Chardonnay coming through: Kit’s Coty Chardonnay and Simpsons Roman Road; in Maud Heath’s Chardonnay there are lovely buttery things going on. Freedom of the Press [an urban winery in the Cotswolds] is making some lovely wines, with a completely different model. We don’t have a big enough shop to stock everything we want to stock, so we have a rotating policy. Oliver Gauntlett: We’ve got about 10 English sparkling wines at the moment, and a similar level of still. It’s a category that has picked up a little bit, but not quickly. People are coming in for it more and more. Our main difficulty with English wine hasn’t been the quality at all, it’s always been profitability. It’s not that the price on the shelf is too high, it’s that we’ve struggled to find producers who will sell it for a price that we can make as much margin on as we would on our imported wines. That’s always been something that’s held us back. We want to support English wineries. A lot of them are fantastic, and there are a few we work closely with. Stefan Botfield: We probably stock a similar quantity of English wine to Oli. We have a fairly healthy English wine selection, possibly more still wines than sparkling at the moment – I’m not sure why, it just evolved that way. I think it’s an easier way to get people into the category. I completely echo Oli’s sentiments about margin. We’ve recently expanded our English wine portfolio because of English Wine Week, and because of the jubilee, and we’ve got three English wine tastings running this month and they’ve all sold out. The demand is definitely there. But from our perspective, quite a lot of the time we’re up against producers that have their own websites and sell direct at such low margins. You can’t possibly match that. That’s anti-business. Either you accept that you’re selling at a higher
price than they are themselves, or you don’t stock it. Jeff Folkins: I have no English wines. I had Simpsons for a while, but their production just couldn’t keep up. They have allocations with their primary customers, and I get that. We’ve worked with some English still wine producers as well but there just wasn’t the consistency. In our customer base we have people that want speciality treatment, they want certain wines, and they will ask for things. Nobody’s asking for English wine, but that’s probably our fault because we’re not providing it. I know for a fact that if I did a tasting in my shop of [Hundred Hills] wines I’d have big orders on the back of it. I’m absolutely certain. Stephen Duckett: This business is not accidentally this size. I think there’s a sweet spot for wineries. At a certain size you’re obviously not big enough for consistency of supply and there are lots of diseconomies of scale in terms of stuff you need in the vineyard and stuff you need in the winery. But once you get too big there are other diseconomies and having to be in a supermarket is one of them, once you’re above 100,000 bottles a year. In a business this size, about 50,000 bottles a year, you can ensure continuity of supply but you haven’t got so much that you’re forced into supermarket and multiple relationships. Jeremy Hill: We’ve got about a dozen English wines. It’s quite polarised. We’ve got people who want inexpensive English wine … there’s an interesting concept! There is the ubiquitous Nyetimber, which we try not to stock because it’s in supermarkets, but when we’re asked for it, we get it. We have Gusbourne and we had a tasting of that on a Saturday a month ago and that was extremely successful. I would very much like to do a Hundred Hills tasting and have equal success. A lot of our market is weddings and there is much more demand now for high-level English wine. We’re not a million miles from Three Choirs so I expect we’ll wind up doing a certain amount with them; we do get asked for Poulton Hill. But at the Gusbourne end there is an increasing demand. Simon Thomson: We have a dozen-ish English wines, mostly local to Gloucestershire. We’re mainly wholesale and work with about 100 restaurants and pubs from fine dining down. So we have a lot of English wines on our list; they don’t necessarily move in great volumes, but they are present. Some vineyards sell direct to public houses so that cuts us out of that market. And we can’t make the same money on English wines as we can wine from elsewhere because of their pricing structure. English wine producers need to really understand about making a margin for everyone in the chain, then we can all get behind it. 30% retail is fine.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 32
IN ASSOCIATION WITH HUNDRED HILLS
Dan Abbots: I deal with two local vineyards but my biggest battle with them is they couldn’t care less if I’m buying their wine or not because they have their own market, and when they run short, we get no supply. I bring in probably a dozen lines. The drive behind English sparkling wine is definitely there, I totally see that. But I don’t get any support from the producers around me. They’re more interested in doing their own vineyard tours and selling the wines direct or from the cellar door. The trouble is they will almost actively market to your customer base, and you end up losing out on those sales. Graham Holter (The Wine Merchant): What advice can we give to producers who want to sell more successfully to indies? Simon Thomson: If they want to work with the independent sector, price accordingly and look at their own behaviours. If they just want to go direct to consumers, that’s a perfectly fine strategy, but it isn’t going to work with the independent merchants. Dan Abbots: It is about building a working relationship: you’re both buying into what you’re doing. It’s a very simple process but I actually think the English wine industry is way behind on that. Stephen Duckett: From our standpoint it’s a very young industry, it’s still emerging, and you’ve got all sorts of people in there, some of them who’ve never been in wine before, like us. You’ve got a group who are really focused, inevitably, on supermarkets. All the producers who are growing hectarage have to end up there. And then you’ve got people who are quite small and only have a few hectares and rent their machinery and they
probably have to sell directly to make it work. Hopefully there’s a group in the middle ground, somewhere between 20,000 bottles a year and 50,000-60,000 bottles a year, and they are probably the group that’s most at home with the independent sector. Then it’s just a case of having a coherent channel strategy, which is frankly not that complex. Then provide a lot of support, like in-store tastings. New releases coming out around the edges, so you’ve got stories, and the opportunity to bring people into your vineyards but not to poach independents’ clients. There ought to be an opportunity around the world for domestic producers and independents to work well together. Jeff Folkins: There should also be more support from the government. Every other European country has very little duty on their wine, and they do things to help their producers. The wineries we deal with in Austria … you should see them. The money they’re getting from Europe to build these places. It’s fantastic. Producers here are paying the government tax they shouldn’t have to pay. Stephen Duckett: We fill in a regulatory form a day, every day, on something. It’s completely ridiculous. Simon Thomson: The biggest opportunity is in sparkling wine, because you can premiumise that. Presentation is very important and the more you can emphasise a sense of place on the back label or front label … that is a real opportunity. Stefan Botfield: We want to talk about a sense of place and the terroir; what makes a wine special.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 33
ENGLISH WINES ROUND TABLE
Has English wine now moved beyond the Champagne template and Champagne comparisons? Simon Hawkins: It was our sense of insecurity. We didn’t have a history of wine production. Now it’s accepted that we certainly produce good sparkling wines and better still wines – and are getting better by the year. I don’t get people saying anymore, “ooh, English wines … really?” Jeremy Hill: Do you find people are making fewer comparisons now between English sparkling wine and Champagne? We’re still finding people, especially on the pricing point, who are very interested. Our house Champagne is less than some of the topend English wines. They say, “so why would I buy English?” Get patriotic and try it! But they need persuading. Simon Thomson: I think a better comparison to make, actually, is Franciacorta, because you’ve got Prosecco on its doorstep – a Charmat-method, simple wine – and Franciacorta tries to be a bit different, with the traditional method and Champagne grapes. They are small, often have a tourist element as well, and it’s not a million miles away from what a lot of English wineries are trying to do. They are trying to be distinctive and higher quality. That is quite a good model for English wine.
What effect will Charmat-method wines have on sales of English traditional-method wines? Stefan Botfield: Those Charmat-method sparkling wines do have their place because they come in at a price that is more affordable for a great many of our customers. We’re fairly good in our shop in explaining why one English sparkling wine is £40 and one is £20. And people do ask. Stephen Duckett: It’s a completely different product, for me, that will have to compete firmly and squarely with upmarket Prosecco. But good luck to them. It’s an interesting experiment. I haven’t looked at the economics of Charmat in this country, but I suspect they’re a bit tricky. This is not the obvious place to create a bulk wine. Simon Hawkins: We’ve seen quite an increase in sales of English wines in cans: Three Choirs, The Uncommon, Poulton Hill, Whitehall in Wiltshire.
Visit the website at hundredhills.wine or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 01491 877616
Stephen Duckett: Any emerging wine region in the world sees this profusion of different strategies. That’s all part of becoming a serious wine region.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 34
IN ASSOCIATION WITH HUNDRED HILLS
New vineyards are coming on stream. What effect will the extra volumes have on the English wine market? Simon Hawkins: I think we’ll see more quality still wines. Lots has been planted that isn’t yet in production. I think it’s going to be a bit of a shock to some vineyards who’ve become so used to selling all they can produce. It will eventually put downward pressure on prices. But, at the moment, there is none – people are running out. Stephen Duckett: My take is that lots of people haven’t planted in very good places. Their yields will be very disappointing, and/ or they might not be in business in five years. So I’m not sure that volumes are going to rise as much as everybody thinks. In the last couple of years people have had difficulties, somewhat emanating from difficult sites. Frost and mildew are the two big things but there are plenty of other important factors. For example, vines don’t like to sit in water and, if the land isn’t free-draining naturally, effective drainage systems are a tall order in England.
Are consumers feeling more of a sense of pride in English wine now, and more of a connection with the industry? Jeremy Hill: Yes, I think that’s coming through. There is pride. Dan Abbots: Nyetimber went big with the jubilee, stuck the labels on it, added a bit of a price increase and boom – everybody went down that patriotic route, and I will guarantee that most people who went into Waitrose looking for sparkling wine probably came out with some Nyetimber jubilee sparkling. There was this patriotic thing, and it was a masterstroke for them because it sold a hell of a lot of English sparkling wine. Stephen Duckett: Most local wine of any quality anywhere in the world is consumed in its local market. That, over time, you would guess, is what’s going to happen here. Stefan Botfield: That “shop local” thing really took off during Covid. People made a point of going to smaller businesses. There is an opportunity there that’s residual, specifically for the English wine market, I think. It’s also more environmentally-friendly, purportedly, because we’re not shipping it halfway across the world. You feel like you’re shopping more ethically, I guess. Stephen Duckett: It’s all about telling real-life local stories. Wineries and vineyards create those stories, especially in the countryside. They employ lots of people in very different jobs and I think that will ripple through – that whole sense of place.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 35
. T H E D R AY M A N .
Even more expensive than petrol A labour shortage was already set to push up the price of hops. The Ukraine war will impact on barley. Consumers will have to take some of the pain
ine retailers are only too aware of the impact of
This year’s problems come on top of the pandemic, the effects
Brexit, the pandemic and global shipping issues
of which hop growers are still recovering from. When pubs
on wine prices. Those who sell beer as well are
closed for 10 months, some growers were asked to supply only
almost certainly going to see wholesale prices in that category
half their annual crop despite having legally-binding contracts
increase too in the coming weeks and months.
for their whole acreage, resulting in losses and debts for many.
A shortage of EU workers to pick hops is expected to cause
The study says that this year’s cost increases should translate
problems for the 2022 British harvest. Pressure is also being felt
into an average farm gate price of £11.91 per kilo for British
by farmers from rising energy prices and the general impact
hops. The BHA points out that this still compares favourably
on wage costs of inflation, which at the time of writing had just
with the £20-£30 routinely paid for imported hops, particularly
passed the 9% mark.
from the US, which have becoming de rigeur for brewers
A study by farming consultant Anderson Midlands for the British Hop Association forecasts a minimum increase of 15% in wage costs, a doubling in outlay on fuel – primarily for hop drying – and significant increases on other inputs, including fertiliser, spray chemicals and even the string to trail the hop
searching for fruitier flavour profiles over unbridled oldfashioned bitterness. It says it is “reaching out” to brewers and others in the supply chain to ensure this theoretical price increase becomes a reality. But for brewers, retailers and drinkers, the problems don’t stop there. The other main solid ingredient, barley, is becoming
bines. That all translates into an increase in the cost of production
a scarcer commodity globally because of the war in Ukraine and a drought last summer in the main growing regions of the US.
of £1.11 per kilo between the 2021 and 2022 harvests. “I have never seen anything like these cost increases in a lifetime of growing hops,” says Mark Andrews, chairman of
Global market prices have risen by more than 30% in a year. The inevitable outcome of all this is that shelf and tap prices of beer will rise. Adnams says that production costs of its beers
Wealden Hops in Kent.
could increase by between 25% and 30% this year, at least some of which will have to be passed down the line to retailers and consumers. Most people tend to be OK with price rises when they know there’s a good reason, so it’s worth being in possession of the facts. A pal recently posted a picture of a jokey A-board outside a pub that said: “Beer is now cheaper than fuel. Drink, don’t drive.” It induces an instinctive chuckle given the furore about pump prices recently. But the facts don’t support the sentiment. Even when a litre of unleaded pushed towards £2 a litre, beer at £4 or £5 a pint in a pub – roughly £8-£10 per litre – was already way more expensive. And as production costs spiral, the A-board author’s wishful thinking isn’t going to become reality UK hop production costs are forecast to rise by £1.11 per kilo
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 36
MEMOIRS OF A NAPA LEGEND Tor Kenward, whose TOR wines are prized by connoisseurs across the world, has stories to tell – and they’re all in his new book
Reflections of a Vintner: Stories and Seasonal Wisdom from a Lifetime in Napa Valley Hedonism Wines, £18.99
or Kenward’s book is not only an account of an insider and major player in the Napa Valley
wine scene, but a sharing of stories of friendships with food and wine legends of modern America. Kenward recollects memories of his mentors and friends including Robert Mondavi, Andy Beckstoffer, Julia Child and André Tchelistcheff, among others. Even Kenward’s early life, before he made his vinious mark on the world, is
Kenward worked in Vietnam hospitals and founded a jazz club before wine became his focus
worthy of a book. His parents are described as “bohemians”: his mother was a painter and his father a playwright, and inevitably
acknowledged and celebrated when in the
interest and curiosity about Napa Valley
some interesting characters flowed
October 2021 Judgement of Napa, TOR
in the trade and media that is honest and
through his childhood home – at one point
Cabernet was judged to be number one.
refreshing. I’ve watched this interest
the actor James Cagney was a house guest.
It out-scored legendary Bordeaux estates,
grow and expand into a vibrant market for
Napa Valley rivals and
blue-chip Napa Valley wines. Our importer,
hospitals in Vietnam,
international peers with its
Pol Roger, knows this well, and makes my
Kenward returned to
scores from leading critics
trips to the UK even more enjoyable and
California and founded a
After working in
jazz club with friends. They
TOR wines, coveted by
Reflections of a Vintner is full of
promoted concerts with
inspirational stories that shaped this iconic
performers including Tom
received seven perfect
winemaker’s decades long journey through
Waits, Chuck Berry and
100-point ratings from
one of the world’s most interesting wine
leading critics for their
2018 Napa Valley wines.
nspired by the
This month, Tor Kenward
Judgement of Paris in
celebrates the launch of his
1976, Kenward began
book in the UK.
work at Beringer, where his unofficial title
“For close to 50 years I’ve been involved
was “VP of all the fun”. But he clearly knew
with the UK wine market and the trips to
how to work hard, too. After almost half
the UK have always been memorable for
a century’s worth of experience in Napa,
good reason,” he says.
Kenward’s achievements were recently
“From the beginning there is genuine
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 37
Find out more Visit www.polroger.co.uk Twitter: @Pol_Roger
Steve Tattam, Manningtree, May 2022
Liz Coombes and Simon Hill, Salisbury, April 2022
MERCHANT PROFILE: WINYL
Steve’s found his groove Winyl is a unique retail idea: a shop specialising in both wine and LPs. For a small Essex town, it’s been a colourful addition to the retail scene. For its owner, it may have been a life saver. Graham Holter pays a visit
or many people, Manningtree is
picking it up at the supermarket, taking it
being able to take beer and alcoholic drinks
synonymous with witchfinder
home and hoping you’ve got a good one.
in while watching a movie.”
general Matthew Hopkins, who
“But working in the airports is an insane
There followed a four-year interlude
lived and died here. But it seems churlish
job. 6am to 9pm when you have a family
running shops selling outdoor gear, and
to endlessly saddle a pleasant Essex town
just doesn’t work.”
then a left-field detour into veterinary
with associations to a reign of terror that
After that he got a job at Borders in
resulted in the murders of more than 100
Norwich. “Vinyl had gone and died a death,
but with the books and reading tables you
services, “helping vets to open their own businesses within the Pets at Home group”. Tattam was coming to the conclusion that
could sit and relax and listen to music, and
the next career move would be his most
cognoscenti, Manningtree is now also that
there were board games and computer
important one. “You get to a point in your
place where there’s that shop specialising
games and nice Paperchase products.”
life when you just think, ‘what am I doing?’”
Perhaps things are changing. Among the
in both wine and LPs. Nowhere else in the country has one. The man behind the concept is Steve Tattam, whose CV is so long you wonder
The next step was managing a cinema.
“That’s where I got my licence. When an
“I’d just turned 50 and had a few trips
over-18 film was showing we could sell
to A&E with heart concerns brought on by
alcohol instead of ice cream. People loved
stress and anxiety. It made me stop and ask
how someone in their mid-50s could have
myself what I enjoyed in life. The answer
crammed quite so many things into one
was working in a record shop and going out
and drinking with my mates.” And so, in October 2018, Winyl opened
For about 20 years he worked for Virgin,
running Megastores in various parts of the UK, until CDs supplanted vinyl as the format of choice and the fun started to
Maybe some people would open a shop
drain away from the job.
like this as a hobby. Were you relying on it working financially?
“I then went to work in the duty-free in Stansted, and that’s where I started to
Yes. I did a business plan, and luckily my
learn a bit more about wine and spirits,”
partner, Whilmari, had some cash she could
Tattam says. “Previously my experience of wine was, like with a lot of people, just
The store opened in October 2018
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 39
Continues page 40
From page 39
lend me. I didn’t have to get extra finance. We realised we could make it work as a financially viable business with me earning a minimal salary, but we could build it, and in time it may become something we could develop and later sell. But it’s something I enjoy doing and getting up every day for. Some things are worth more than money. I’ve always enjoyed putting on a record and opening a bottle of wine. On the weekend we’d listen to music and drink some wine and try to educate ourselves
Boats on the Stour estuary at Manningtree
about the wine. Do you know of any other retailers doing the wine and records combo? No. There are a few record shops which will serve tap beer, and there is one in Southampton that opened after us and
‘It’s something I enjoy doing and getting up every day for. Some things are worth more than money’
they have tapas out the back. There are fusion stores, which I think is the way to
taken by big chain restaurants because
We’re on the main commuter line, London
go. I don’t think a pure record shop would
they are the only people who can afford it.
to Norwich, so we’re an hour from London,
survive here – well, some didn’t survive through lockdown, and it goes to show you
I’m really happy with the deal we got here with our lease.
need something else. There’s one in Bury
10 minutes from Colchester, 10 minutes from Ipswich and an hour from Norwich. A lot of people who are moving here are
St Edmunds that serves coffee and cakes,
What kind of town is it?
coming directly from London, or we’ve got
encouraging that dwell time.
We love Manningtree, we love the feel.
people here from Colchester, and people from London move to Colchester, so it’s
How did you find the right premises to
almost a knock-on effect because they want
bring your idea to life?
to get out of the big town, but they can still
We were looking at old wine bars or pubs
get to London if they want to.
that already had the facilities, but the rent
The first Saturday of every month there’s
was higher than I wanted to pay.
a vintage street market and that really
The thing for anyone trying to open a
brings a lot of people into town.
small business now is trying to get to the
It’s a lovely town. It’s been through
council to drop those rates, if they want
some ups and downs where things have
to encourage independent businesses.
closed and supermarkets have moved in.
The rates are ridiculous. Once you run the
But we’re getting more lifestyle things
numbers, you realise you can’t afford to
opening and this is where we fit in. We are
open once you’ve kitted it out and bought
an experience place where you come in and
you can listen to music.
If you go into our big towns there are so many empty units, and they are all being
We did have a record deck in here for a Another satisfied customer
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 40
while, but we found that we were replacing
the needle too often. We used to do a Sunday singles club, which was quite funny because it was for vinyl singles, but we had a group of ladies turn up saying, “we’re here for the singles club”. We explained it was not that sort of single and they stayed for a drink anyway. Mostly middle-aged men turn up with a bag of records, to be honest. But the women joined in and had a nice time in the end. How many people live here? Manningtree’s population is about 945 but we’ve got about 5,000 who live, where I do, in the adjoining parish of Mistley. We are getting more houses. It’s brilliant for the town and the economy. I’m part of the local business chamber which encourages people to come and spend money here, and we spend money on events like the street market and food market. I’m involved in putting on a festival at the end of June, which will be across the whole town. How did you set about putting the wine range together? I went to the London Wine Fair for the full three days and walked about soaking up what was going on. I looked at the labels because I knew that I wanted to have interesting labels because of that affinity
The wine lounge opened in the unit next door, also providing welcome cellar space
with vinyl artwork. know too much about vegan wine or food,
supplying too many people in the area
to take a punt on picking up a record: “It
and that triggered something, so I started
already, so he put us on to Lea & Sandeman.
looks like I might like that record”. I have
looking into that.
We don’t place any orders with any of them
Back in the day, before Spotify, you had
the same theory with wine. A lot of people buy with their eyes.
In the end we opened up with three
suppliers. One was Morgenrot; we had the Loxarel range from them. They were vegan,
How does the range look these days?
in any way, shape or form, but we want
biodynamic and the labels were great as
We have 50 wines in the shop. Sometimes
good quality, drinkable wine.
well. They were towards the top end of
we work with a supplier for a bit, but the
what my price point was.
wines aren’t shifting so we have to drop
I didn’t set myself up as a fine wine store
It occurred to me that there was something we could do more than just
We worked with Myliko as well, from
the funky wine labels. We went for dinner
Manchester, and Lea & Sandeman. The
with friends who were vegan and I didn’t
guy from Liberty said to us that they were
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 41
them. Continues page 42
The Newington Green store has “a nice kitchen vibe”
From page 41
We change our range frequently for different seasons. I picked up a new
‘The wine has got to be made by people who care. It’s got to have a funky label, it’s got to look good and I’ve got to like it’
supplier at SITT recently, Vineyards Direct. We’re doing a French wine tasting on the back of that. I got a couple of Bordeaux
good on the shelf and I’ve got to like it.
and Provence rosés and I wanted to launch
and a strange snobbishness that a funky
them properly, so I got a couple of other
Would you refuse to list an LP if you
things from Alliance to do a tasting.
didn’t like the cover?
Now we’ve got the cellar [Tattam
always a market for more traditional labels label must mean the wine isn’t very good. We hold our tasting events in the Winyl
That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?
lounge, where we can try out great wine
recently acquired the next-door unit to
There is definitely an affinity with LP
with more normal labels and tell the story,
create a wine lounge at ground-floor level,
artwork and wine label art and, before
so we have options.
with storage and events space below], I can
streaming, the artwork on albums really
take on a bit more volume, and Alliance
did have to try and give a clue to the style
How much crossover is there between
have always got new stuff coming on.
your record-buying customers and your
Their rep, Alex, is very good and always so responsive.
This isn’t always possible with wine,
which is why we do make careful selections
We have a few customers that don’t drink
and make sure that we like the juice as well
wine or are under-age, and some that don’t
we want; they know it has to be vegan.
as the label. We do make recommendations
have a record player. The majority of our
Organic where we can get it, or, if not
– “if you like this, you might like this” – on
customers, I’m happy to say, have a toe or
certified, then organic and sustainable
both wine and vinyl.
even a whole leg in each area. If they don’t,
All our suppliers know the sort of thing
There are some great new labels coming
we try and convert them through some
It’s got to be made by people who care.
out and it seems a lot of wine producers
free tasting or convincing them not to sell
It’s got to have a funky label, it has to look
are making more effort, although there is
their old records, but to get a record player instead and then buy more. The evening service does appeal more to wine drinkers out for a post-work, predinner glass, but then that can also help decision-making in buying some vinyl. We have had customers who buy a record and don’t actually have a player, just because it’s brought back so many great memories. Are the margins better on vinyl than they are on wine? They’re about the same: 35%. HMV could push 45% on their margins but they get a deeper discount because of the amount they buy. We hold a lot more stock of records than we do wine: 50 wines against 1,200 records. How are you coping with rising costs?
A customer’s impression of a normal night in the Winyl lounge
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 42
We’ve had to put our prices up, which I
There is a movement saying every day is Record Store Day, so you should use your independent record shop every day, otherwise they’ll shut down. I think celebrating independent shops and encouraging people to use us because they are going to get good advice and quality is definitely the way to go. Celebrating Malbec Day and Chardonnay Day and things like that are really worthwhile. We always support those days. We tried Beaujolais Nouveau Day for the first time last year and we sold two thirds of the bottles we had on the day and the rest over the next week or two. We have Wine Wednesdays, which we always post about, often with a new wine we’re getting in, and it works with the live music as well. We have bands coming Steve Tattam says retail margins on wines are about the same as vinyl, at 35%
in here and it gets people in to have an experience. How many people can you seat in here?
don’t like doing, but we’re being squeezed
You take environmental responsibilities
A dozen if you’re seated comfortably. We
from all sides. It’s not just the cost of the
seriously. Tell us a bit about that.
have been rammed with about 20, 25
wine but our power and the transport of
We’re very eco-conscious. We’re a plastic-
people and people standing outside. We
getting everything to us.
free champion in the town. We reduced
have, on Record Store Day, shut the street,
all single-use plastics, we’ve got a cork
put a stage in and had live music out there.
When we change the ranges it’s an opportunity to ease the price a bit without
recycling station and we worked with
There’s a cellar downstairs in the wine
making a statement about it. We normally
Borough Wines for a bit with the zero-
lounge next door. It’s gone down really
wouldn’t make a statement about it,
waste bottle return. It worked until our rep
well and for private events it means we
but this time we did say, “look: the last
changed and then the relationship just fell
don’t have to shut the shop. We do tastings,
opportunity to buy at these prices”.
away. It was a great concept and we had
sometimes with a host, which is a better
gone a little way to looking at their on-tap
way of doing it.
I would say that everyone said they understood, and people always say how surprised what good value the wine and the vinyl is. I don’t have staff to pay so I can
wine as well. We have to do business in an eco-friendly kind of way, otherwise we’re all screwed.
It sounds like everything’s worked out exactly the way you hoped. If I’d carried on doing what I was doing
keep the margins low. Record Store Day has become an
with the stress I put myself under, I don’t
money, so I subscribe to the fact that I’d
important event. Could a similar idea
think I’d be doing that well.
like you to buy from me because I’m a
work for independent wine merchants?
People have worked hard to earn their
This has almost saved my life, and
reasonable price, you get an experience,
The thing with Record Store Day that
despite the ups and downs of life in
and we have a loyalty scheme. You get
makes it really work is the limited releases
general, I’m doing what I enjoy. I’m
money back once you’ve reached 100
that are out on one day. Once it’s gone, it’s
surrounded by music and good wine, and
points – you get a fiver off – so there are
gone. How you’d do that with wine, I don’t
I’m surrounded by great people in the wine
lots of reasons to come and shop from me.
and record industries.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 43
California with character Over the years, E & J Gallo’s Fine Wine Portfolio business has made a string of well-judged acquisitions which have added some of California’s most prestigious names to its portfolio. These are premium wines aimed at the independent trade, so we invited a group of Wine Merchant readers to taste a selection during a recent Zoom event.
Published in association with E&J Gallo Winery Purveyors of Fine Wine www.gallo.com
& J Gallo Winery’s reach in California has extended rapidly into fine wine territory in the early years of the 21st century. Over the past 30 years, Gallo has focused its investment into high-quality brands and properties; Louis M Martini joined the line-up in 2002, J Vineyards came on board in 2015, Orin Swift in 2016, Stagecoach Vineyard in 2017 and Pahlmeyer in 2019, the same year as the partnership with Randall Grahm began on Language of Yes. One of the earliest steps on Gallo’s evolution towards fine wine was the purchase of Louis M Martini in 2002, an acquisition which brought together two companies founded in 1933, both with their roots in Italy, and both with a strong winemaking heritage. Louis M Martini is a Cabernet Sauvignon specialist, one of the first Napa Valley wineries to be founded after Prohibition. The winery has had only four winemakers in 80 years, so its Cabernet expertise is rooted in a consistent approach, though each winemaking generation has brought its own evolutionary take. Readers of The Wine Merchant recently enjoyed Louis M Martini’s signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, as part of a luxury portfolio tasting, alongside wines from Talbott and J Vineyards and the cult favourite Orin Swift. The tasting was led by Edouard Baijot, a Master of Wine, who is the company’s director of fine wine in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Louis M Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (RRP £38) is 87%
THE WINE MERCHANT june 2022 44
Cabernet, with a supporting cast led by Petite Syrah, a role that was historically given to Merlot. It is aged in a combination of French and American oak, and Baijot said: “The French oak brings structure; the American oak flavour and intensity – dark fruits, cassis, chocolate and some cigar smokiness. It has nicely integrated tannins, nothing astringent or harsh, but you can see the ageing potential of this wine. It could age for at least 10 years without a problem.” Emily Silva at Oxford Wine Co was impressed: “A total winner: power and elegance in one glass,” she said. “I would love to see how this evolves.” One interesting aspect of the tasting was a chance to see how wines made from traditional Burgundy grapes perform in different Californian terroir, through a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir each from Talbott and J Vineyards. The Talbott wines are from the Sleepy Hollow vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. “This location is ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot as it has one of the longest growing seasons in California,” said Baijot. “Cool breezes and fog intrusion from the Pacific Ocean create a kind of natural air conditioning that balances the intense sunlight on the hillside vineyards.” The tasting provided the opportunity to experience how expressions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vary between Santa Lucia Highlands and Russian River Valley. Talbott puts more emphasis on fruit with freshness, and bright acidity – a Burgundy style with a Californian twist – while J is known for its bolder profile and darker fruit characters.” Emily Silva loved “the savoury quality,
Zinfandel maverick Dave Phinney in the Orin Swift vineyards
and the delicate floral and spiced aromatics” on the Talbott Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay 2018 (RRP £35), while Chris Bain of Harris & Co liked “the bags of melon fruit and integrated oak”. Sleepy Hollow, named as a Grand Cru vineyard by The Wine Enthusiast, featured again with Talbott Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir 2017 (RRP £45). “This was a good vintage for Pinot Noir,” said Baijot. “It’s a lovely wine to drink now. I like the beautiful fruit expression of this vineyard. There is always black cherry character, a bit of raspberry, and spice coming from the oak ageing, but also an earthiness and minerality which is very interesting.” While the Talbott wines are both singlevineyard in origin, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from J Vineyards are blends from across a number of prime sites. Baijot described the J Russian River Chardonnay 2019 (RRP £30) as “a Chardonnay with a riper fruit expression”. He added: “On the nose, there’s a tarte tatin character, a bit of caramel and some peach.“
There was a similar difference of varietal expression in J Russian River Pinot Noir 2017 (RRP £35). “Pinot Noir is quite complex in California,” said Baijot. “I like the contrast between these two approaches. With the J Pinot Noir we have more dark fruit character, a bit more smokiness and sweet spice.” The end of tasting treat was 8 Years in the Desert 2019 (RRP £38, allocation only), a wine from maverick winemaker Dave Phinney at Orin Swift, who has
always had a special affinity with Zinfandel. Phinney has established a loyal fan base with his bold, juicy wines and this example was a good introduction to his style. The name is a reference to the embargo that was imposed on Phinney, preventing him from working with Zinfandel after he sold his brand The Prisoner. “He doesn’t like to share too much information, but I can tell you it’s a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Syrah,” said Baijot, “and that it includes Zinfandel from real Zinfandel country, including Dry Creek and Lodi. “It’s mainly aged in American oak,” he added, “because it brings out all the juice and sweet spiciness. It’s the perfect match for ribs with a barbecue sauce, venison in the winter or a chocolate dessert.”
• Wines available from Vineyard Cellars and Enotria&Coe. For more information contact Sarah Dixon: Sarah.Dixon@ejgallo.com
THE WINE MERCHANT june 2022 45
BUYING TRIP TO SPAIN
A masterclass in terroir
That’s how one merchant described our buying trip to Spain, where a group of indies visited the three estates of Familia Martinez Bujanda in Rioja, Rueda and La Mancha, organised in partnership with UK importer Berkmann Wi n The family’s hospitality, the hot air balloon ride and the quixotic windmills will live long in the memory. But, as Claire Harries reports, the main attraction was the wine itself, which ticked all the right boxes for our intrepid grou
even merchants discovered the earthly pleasures and heavenly delights of Rioja, Rueda and La Mancha on a trip that encompassed three wine estates belonging to Familia Martinez Bujanda. The Martinez Bujanda family has been making wine since the late 19th century, but the story of the Tres Fincas on our agenda started with the vision of the fourth generation: brother and sister Carlos and Pilar Martinez Bujanda. Their desire to build the family’s winemaking legacy and produce estate wines from notable locations began with the construction of Finca Valpiedra in Rioja Alta in 1997. Finca Antigua in La Mancha followed in 2003; and finally, in 2008, white wine became a focus with the construction of Finca Montepedroso in the heart of DO Rueda. Now, Pilar’s daughter, Marta, and Carlos’s son, Adrian, are at the helm of the family business and the winemaking is in the hands of Lauren Rosillo.
First stop: Finca Valpiedra It is immediately obvious why the Finca Valpiedra’s name translates as “Stone Valley”. The vineyard has been carved out by the River Ebro and the bush vines are nestled among large river pebbles, which provide drainage and retain heat. The vast majority of grapes grown here are Tempranillo and grapes are handharvested before a manual selection.
Our group of merchants was eager to explore
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 46
p of buyers. The Martinez Bujanda family
We are greeted by export manger Karin Nylund who escorts us to lunch on a shady terrace. The vestiges of early morning travel are soon shaken off as we relax to the sounds of the river and devour the first of many wonderful meals. Karin says the family exports to around 65 markets, but their relationship with the UK remains key. “Like Paris is to fashion, the UK is to wine; in many aspects it is at the forefront of new trends,” she says. “It’s a market that focuses a lot on meeting with the consumer. We also feel that you really need to understand wine through experiences, and this is why we want to get across the story telling of the three fincas.”
he vista from the tasting room is breathtaking and sets the tone for the rest of the trip. The architecture may be extremely modern – all glass and steel and stone – but each winery is perfectly integrated into the landscape. As Carlos Blanco from Blanco & Gomez observes, “the attention to detail shown everywhere, in the wineries, in the tasting rooms, is reflected in the quality of the wines, which have a uniqueness, a minerality, which would be almost impossible to get from anywhere else in Rioja”. For Jaime Fernandez of Vino Vero in Leigh-on-Sea, the Finca Valpiedra Reserva Blanco 2016 is a stand-out. “I’m a huge fan of barrel-aged white
Rioja and this wine doesn’t disappoint,” he says. “It’s complex with lots of smoky stone fruit and fleshy lemon, but still really fresh and approachable.” Both Thom Allinson from The Oxford Wine Company and Devon Mahon from The Wine Loft in Brixham particularly enjoy the Cantos de Valpiedra Rioja, and Carlos says he also intends to add it to his portfolio as it “will catch the eye of any wine lover”. “It has an expressive red-fruit character with a touch of oak coming through on the finish,” says Thom. “Having this served slightly chilled really adds to the refreshing fruit character.” “The Cantos surprised me,” adds Devon. “It’s an amazing example of Rioja and I can’t wait to have this on our menu served chilled, just the way we drank it in Spain. “Although I have had the Finca Valpiedra Reserva many times before, it still blows me away with how complex and elegant it is. The minerals and black fruit are so beautifully balanced with the use of French oak that it makes this wine incredibly special,” he adds. The tasting finishes up with a tour of the barrel hall and what Karin refers to as the “sleeping beauty room”: racks and
racks of bottles waiting to be labelled, a process that has become more complicated due to each country’s individual laws and requirements. We settle into an evening out in Logroño, and Karin judiciously waits until we have beers in hand before she asks us to divulge how much we weigh. This information needs to be passed on to a hot air balloon company so the relevant calculations can be made. Surely the following exquisite dinner of lamb chops, asparagus and gorgeous things with freshly shaved truffle on top, wouldn’t add any extra poundage? Too late. The numbers have been collated and recorded. We have thrown caution to the wind.
The road to Rueda The sign for Finca Montepedroso becomes visible several minutes before arrival. The huge green letters are a welcome beacon, rising up Hollywood-style from the scrub. This is a single-varietal estate, dedicated to Verdejo and, with 25ha under vine, it is smaller than Valpiedra’s 80ha. The vineyard is 750 metres above sea level and the harvest here is done by machine. We embark on a vertical tasting, showcasing the 2021, 2017 and 2015
‘The attention to detail shown everywhere,
in the wineries, in the tasting rooms, is reflected in the quality of the wines’
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 47
BUYING TRIP TO SPAIN
vintages. It proves “a really good way of showing us the ageing potential of these wines and how they change,” says Dean Harper of HarperWells in Norwich. “I really love the 2017, which has a fantastic balance between the age and the vitality of the wine. “We have customers who look for white wine to lay down to drink a few years later and these wines, with their complexity, would be perfect for that.” Claire Carruthers from Carruthers & Kent in Newcastle is also a fan of the 2017. “There would definitely be a place for that at our shop,” she says. “We’d put it on by the glass with a little food matching.” Devon says he would be keen to recreate the tasting for his customers. “The 2017 vintage is beautifully elegant,” he says. “We would be interested in stocking each of the vintages to be sold in threes.” Carlos adds: “This is what Rueda is all about. The Verdejo shows its full potential after three to four years of ageing, but even young it’s beautiful, well balanced and gorgeous to drink.”
t’s a rare treat to have the opportunity to taste Montepedroso Enoteca 2019, a wine made only in exceptional harvests, and with an average bottling of fewer than 4,000, there is scarce availability in the UK. The 2019 is beautiful, deep and aromatic, with clear cellaring potential. Full of a lunch that includes gazpacho, fois gras and a never-to-be-forgotten Russian salad, we pile back into the minibus and head for Valladolid. After a few drinks in the square, observed by a couple of peacocks, and a short walk to a superb dinner, the idea is to be tucked up by midnight as we have a very early appointment the next day with a hot air balloon. We have a sneaky suspicion that local bar owners are in on the plan, as shutters are lowered along the
street; and for this, punctual and clearheaded at 6am on Wednesday, we are grateful.
Up, up and away to Finca Antigua Just as the sun is rising we meet Roberto and his team from VallaGlobo. Safety rules and landing positions established, the balloon, carrying its intrepid explorers, gently floats up and away over Valladolid. An hour later, with a landing smoother than the one afforded to us at Bilbao airport two days previously, everyone is feeling rather Zen.
In the blink of an eye, a table appears, complete with cloth and flowers, and the traditional toast, or re-baptism of souls to the land, is made, accompanied by some very welcome breakfast. Despite the heat and the travel, the general feeling of calm and quiet well-being endures all the way to La Mancha, where we lunch at Finca Antigua. The remote vineyard boasts an extreme landscape at over 900 metres above sea level. Some 421 of the 1,000 hectares are under vine and the various parcels are made up of non-native varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah) with the remainder indigenous grapes (Viura, Garnacha, Tempranillo and Moscatel).
‘The wines of Finca Antigua offer real value for money at the pricing sweet spot for our customers, at around £15’ THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 48
The vineyard is working towards being fully certified as sustainable and organic by the end of this year. As Karin says, the monte bajo (scrubland) that surrounds the vines adds to the character of the wines. “The typicity of the wines at Finca Antigua is also due to the surrounding plants,” she says. “They play an important role in the characteristics of the reds, especially. You get the spicy and vegetal tones in the Syrah and Cabernet.” “We have a strong emphasis on organic and biodynamic wines with minimal interference,” says Vino Vero’s Jaime Ferndanez. “Having seen the process from start to finish at each winery, we know first-hand how these wines follow the ethos of the products we already stock. “The fact that they are pushing for full organic certification, making them the largest organic estate in Europe, is extremely impressive and something our customers would buy into, and the wines would fit in perfectly to our range. “The Finca Antigua Viura 2021 is the perfect summer white. Really fresh and juicy with lots of texture from the lees ageing. It’s the kind of wine where you can really taste the quality of the fruit and the care that has gone into making it,” he adds. Claire Carruthers agrees. “We will put the Viura and the Moscatel on by the glass as soon as we can,” she says. “The Finca Antigua Viura is, without doubt, my favourite white of the trip. It is one of the most delicious Viuras I have tasted in this price range. It has a delicious creamy unctuousness with an added lovely elegance.”
he Moscatel strikes a chord with all the merchants, who appreciate the direct branding onto the bottle rather than a label. “Not only does it taste divine,” Claire continues, “it looks amazing and is totally the right price. Everything about it works.” For Dean Harper, the Finca Antigua Garnacha is a highlight. “I love this wine for its complete balance, wonderful use of oak and silky smooth tannins, as well as gorgeous brambly fruit and hints of the flora on the estate, like wild fennel,” he
especially after such a long hiatus in buying trips, no amount of Zooms and tastings can replace such an experience. “Having started my WSET Diploma this year, it was great to get among vineyards and wineries in person to help connect some of the dots learned in a classroom,” says Thom. Matt Wallis from Brigitte Bordeaux in Nottingham agrees. “I’ll never forget walking into that tasting room at Finca Valpiedra,” he says, “and I’ll remember these wines for the rest of my life.”
The best way to see Valladolid, before the final leg of the journey to La Mancha
says. “A lovely wine to drink now, either with food or on its own. Great versatility and value for money.” “The wines of Finca Antigua offer real value for money at the pricing sweet spot for our customers, at around £15,” adds Thom Allinson. “The quality of the wines punches above that, at closer to £20, in my opinion. I would be looking at introducing these to our customers as a ‘more wine for your money’ alternative to regions of Spain like Rioja and Ribera.” Carlos agrees and says: “Of all Spanish wines, the wines from La Mancha have never been the most popular when it comes to quality, but the ones from Finca Antigua are definitely worth having. They are excellent value for money and so well made with such good balance, that they have changed my preconceptions about the wines from La Mancha in general.”
Thanks for the memories As we are in the heart of Quixote country, we can’t resist the opportunity to tilt at a few windmills. Karin and her team have anticipated our literary curiosity and we enjoy our last evening together under the stars amidst a romantic backdrop of windmills and a distant electrical storm that intermittently lights up the sky. We return to the lavender-filled courtyard at Finca Antigua on our final day, reluctant to abandon the tranquillity of the finca for Madrid airport. It’s agreed that,
bove and beyond the unforgettable hospitality, the ultimate impression of our trip was the successful blend of the old and the new – a respect for tradition dovetailing with the continuing innovation shown by Rosillo and his team that shines across all three estates. “There was a strong sense of modernity and tradition at each winery,” says Jaime Fernandez. “It is clear they are focused on progression and forward thinking, but at the same time never losing sight of the traditions of each region. “What impressed me most across the whole range of Lauren’s wines at the three estates is the consistency in the purity of the wines.” “There’s a definite house style across the Tres Fincas wines,” says Thom, “with a real finesse and class. There’s an emphasis on showing the varietal character of the grapes as well as expressing the terroir of each of the regions. It’s at the heart of his winemaking.” “You could describe this trip as a masterclass in terroir,” adds Dean Harper. “Having visited the three fincas, you can completely understand why the family wanted to make wine in these different areas in order to have a broad portfolio. “I was super-impressed with what Familia Martinez Bujanda are doing at Finca Antigua. These single-varietal wines are a revelation.”
• Contact your Berkmann Wine Cellars account manager for more details of the Tres Fincas wines.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 49
THE VERDICT Emily Silva The Oxford Wine Company
Joe Whittick Whitmore & White Heswall
Jefferson Boss StarmoreBoss Sheffield
Philip Amps Amps Wine Oundle
Dean Harper HarperWells Norwich
Nic Rezzouk Reserve Wines Manchester
Our panel of independent merchants tasted a selection of Spanish wines from the portfolio of C&C Wines. Tim Atkin’s 2022, 2021 and 2019 Rioja Cooperative of the Year, Bodegas Sonsierra champions a modern, elegant style of Rioja and is making waves with its new Viñedos Singulares project. Ribera del Duero’s small family-run Monteabellón is located in the small town of Nava de Roa, and is the product of the experience accumulated over decades and through generations by the García family of Vega Sicilia fame. Navascues Enología is the personal project of Contino and Zorzal’s head winemaker, Jorge Navascués, who is forging an impressive career as one of Spain’s leading winemakers. For more information, visit carsoncarnevalewines.com, or call 0203 261 0929
Navascués Enología, Cutio Garnacha DO Cariñena 2019
Viñedos de Sonsierra - Viñedos Singulares, Viñedo Singular ‘El Rincón de los Galos’ 2017
“I loved this wine for its juicy, crunchy fruit-forward style – versatile and delicious! It had a really modern feel which translates nicely through the packaging.” – Emily Silva
“Opulent, rich and intense Rioja. Super-concentrated with generous oak. This wine feels really premium.” – Emily Silva
“Elegant ripe nose, quite opulent and engaging spicy red fruits. More rustic on the palate, herby spicy red and black fruits, good long finish. An interesting wine with excellent layers.” – Philip Amps
“Full, rich and heady, stuffed full of blackberries, a touch of warming wood spice, a hint of rosemary, black olive and dark chocolate.Very well made.” – Jefferson Boss
Navascués Enología, Mas de Mancuso Garnacha DO Cariñena 2018
Bodegas y Viñedos Monteabellón, Verdejo DO Rueda 2020
“A perfumed, herby delight. Engaging fruit in perfect balance with wood and herbs.Very nice finish with some fresh acidity. An allround well made and hugely enjoyable wine.” – Dean Harper
“This is a hugely enjoyable wine that our customers would enjoy. Lovely aromatic nose of very ripe apricots and tropical fruit. A long, lingering finish that makes you want to come back for more.” – Dean Harper
“I’m a real lover of Garnacha, and this wine didn’t disappoint! It had an amazing wild-strawberry perfume that was ripe but not jammy. The palate was super concentrated but still elegant.” – Emily Silva
Bodegas Sonsierra, Reserva DOCa Rioja 2015 RRP £14.99
“Dark cherry, plum, leather and vanilla notes. Lively acidity and structured tannins Drinking well now but it will be good to see it develop over a couple more years. Great value.” – Jefferson Boss “Good value, great balance, a nice bit of complexity and decidedly Rioja, true to style. Ripe strawberries with layers of vanilla and liquorice. I’m sure Rioja lovers would love this.” – Nic Rezzouk
“A little bargain at £13.99 and a wine that I’d happily stock and promote. A good alternative to New Zealand Sauvignon and probably a little bit more fun too.” – Jefferson Boss
Bodegas y Viñedos Monteabellón, Tempranillo 14 Meses DO Ribera del Duero RRP £22.99
“The wine is great. It needed a bit of air time to open up but then really delivered power and persistence on the fruit and oak. Big dark fruits, with oak well integrated and adding complexity. I think this is great value.” – Nic Rezzouk “Sweet dark fruits, spicy long finish, good balance.” – Philip Amps
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 50
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Falua, Tejo wine region The Tejo region has grown a lot in recent years, both in terms of quality and the popularity of its wines. A joint effort from several operators has made the region evolve a lot in terms of knowledge, technical know-how and market development. Falua continues to play a very important role in this journey. For the last 25 years we have continuously worked towards asserting ourselves as a reference for Portuguese wines around the world, highlighting the historical nature of different terroirs and developing oenology projects that celebrate quality and differentiation. Since the beginning, Falua has worked with national, regional and international varieties. There is not just one reason for this. In fact, the diversity of terroirs in the region allows us to embrace varieties that evolved elsewhere, giving us a wider range of possibilities for the creation of wines with great quality. I say many times that some of them are so well adapted, they are also ours. We feel at the moment that some markets, like the UK, are now much more interested in our native grape varieties and in the genuineness of our region. But international grape varieties still have their importance in foreign markets. Every day, we have a greater connection to the soil and the way we conduct our agricultural practices, which are based on having very healthy plants, respecting the entire ecosystem. Sustainability, a theme
that has been with us for many years, begins in the vineyard but then extends to the cellar at various levels. Aas an example, we currently produce almost 40% of the energy we use. Part of the richness of the Tejo region is its diversity. There are three very different sub-regions in terms of terroir, which makes it possible to produce many styles of wines, with very different profiles and characteristics. Falua has most of its vineyards in Charneca, a sub-region located on the left side of the Tejo River, characterised by the poverty of its sandy soils with pebble stones. It also has vineyards in the Campo sub-region – the most fertile area by the river – and we have also developed a close partnership with some farmers in the Bairro sub-region where limestone clay soils predominate. Across the region, Falua has about 100 hectares of its own vineyards and 200 hectares owned by farmers with whom we have developed a very close relationship for many years. Our iconic Vinha do Convento vineyard is located in Charneca. This was part of the bed of the Tejo river more than 400,000 years ago, and the pebbles have remained there. What most distinguishes this vineyard is the characteristics of the soil in which it is planted – soil consisting almost exclusively of pebbles. These unique characteristics give rise to a very particular microclimate next to the plant and promote
Falua was founded in 1994 in the Tejo region. In 2017, it was acquired by VITAS Portugal, a subsidiary of the Roullier Group. Falua now exports its wines to more than 20 countries. Its wines are imported by Oakley Wine Agencies. More information at falua.pt
greater root development. It allows us, above all, to make unique wines, with a very marked identity. Wines that reveal the essence of the place, the grape varieties, the people and the passion for nature that characterises the entire team at Falua.
Nazaré North Canyon
Conde de Vimioso Sommelier Edition
To celebrate the giant waves of Nazaré, the sea and the surfers, we created the Nazaré North Canyon wine in 2017. It's a wine for the daring, for nature, sea and surf lovers; a wine for those who have the vitality to live, the same vitality as the giant waves of Praia do Norte. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Aragonês. Deep ruby red vibrant colour. A full bodied wine packed with blackcurrant, capsicum, plum and a hint of cedar and spice. A ripe juicy attack is followed by lush soft tannins and an abundance of rich ripe fruit. A balanced wine with a finish of red fruits that lingers for some time.
The Conde Vimioso range is a seal of historical legacy, whose wines assume their own identity. Conde de Vimioso Sommelier Edition is a wine whose final blend results from the joint decisions of oenologists and renowned Portuguese sommeliers. Ruby red colour. Aromas of red fruits and jam, with slight nuances of spices from the wood. Soft tannins confer a very pleasant and well-balanced structure and elegance, ending with persistent notes of ripe black fruits.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 51
Of cats and catapul
Wirra Wirra’s wines are all about fun, and it’s a tradition that dates back to the roguish founder of the McLaren Vale estate. At a recent dinner and tasting, sales director Damian White told the stories behind some of the names in the Wirra Wirra line-up. Sarah McCleery was there to hear them, along with a group of independent merchants.
Feature produced in association with Gonzalez Byass UK. For more information, email email@example.com or visit gonzalezbyass.com/ en-gb
irra Wirra is the McLaren Vale winery built on modern-day founder, Greg Trott’s, philosophy, “Never give misery an even break, nor bad wine a second sip. You must be serious about quality, dedicated to your task in life, especially winemaking, but this should all be fun.” Quality wine and fun? A Wirra Wirra dinner at London’s Lantana restaurant was set to be an unmissable affair. The evening kicks off with a Mrs Wigley Ginscato Cocktail – perhaps the perfect start in one of the warmest days of the year. Mrs Wigley’s Moscato (RRP £14) is an effusively red-berry fruity number with a soft mousse and zero pretentions. The optional gin addition makes it a bit more grown up. The obvious question: who was Mrs Wigley? Funny you should ask, says sales director Damian White. The original property was purchased by Robert Wigley in 1894. He was chased out of polite society, having made off with a pie cart – horses and all – after a cricket game, and made the McLaren Vale estate his home. Under his
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 52
ownership, the wines made here became highly sought after. Something of a larikin (that’ll be a joker to us Brits), he never married but his mischievous approach to life and his winemaking skill has touched Wirra Wirra. When a stray feline moved in, long after Wigley’s death, and was adopted as the cellar cat, she became known as Mrs Wigley. The Moscato is named in her honour.
riendless and childless, Wigley’s estate was turned over to the Crown. It was entirely neglected until Greg Trott came along in 1965. Trott, like Wigley, saw the winemaking potential here and was savvy enough to snap it up. The stories and tasting continue with 12th Man Chardonnay (RRP £22). Much of the fruit for the wine comes from the Lenswood vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, the cooler climate lending good briskness and freshness to the limey, lemon curd fruit. 12th Man is a hit with Lisa Owens of Liquorice in Essex, and Riaz Syed of Stonewines in Barnet, who appreciates the elegance and food-friendliness it offers.
ts The name? Well, Trotty – as he was called by his pals – yearned to playing professional cricket despite being pretty poor at the game. He dreamt of wearing the baggy green gap of the national team, even if it was only to carry the drinks as the 12th man. In 2015, Wirra Wirra was offered the opportunity to buy the leading estate, Ashton Hills, in the Adelaide Hills. We are poured the Estate Pinot Noir 2017 (RRP £43) with some yummy mushroom arancini, and, for many, it proves to be a hugely satisfying gastronomic moment. Owens at Liquorice is impressed, enjoying its “fruit-forward palate, delivering everything you’d expect from a high quality Pinot”. It wouldn’t have taken Holmes and Watson too long to work out which previous owner the Absconder Grenache (RRP £44) was named after. For Giuseppe Polli of Symposium Wine in London, it is the wine of the evening. “It has lovely balance, and the wood isn’t too forward,” he says. “I like the fruit on this very much.” Opulent and heady, it has a pleasingly fresh underscore of acidity. Church Block Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot (RRP £16.49) is apparently the most widely-sold McLaren Vale red wine
W in Australia. It is also the top-selling wine for Wirra Wirra in the UK. You can’t fail but appreciate the astonishing value for money it represents, oozing quality, ripe fruit from start to finish. A 2019 Woodhenge Shiraz (RRP £21) comes next and is a monument to big ideas and “a bloody big fence that weighs about 10 tonnes”. There’s no shortage of plush, black fruit on this full-bodied, chocolatey Shiraz. Aged in both French and American oak, there’s about 35% new in the final blend. It’s a treat to sample the 2015 RSW Shiraz (RRP £44). Named after the muchloved eccentric Robert Strangeways Wigley, this is the flagship Shiraz from Wirra Wirra, fermented by parcels in two-tonne open fermenters and then aged separately for 18 months in French oak. It’s a blast of a red wine with floral, spicy notes alongside black raspberry, mulberry and plum. The palate has impressive presence with a long, lingering finish.
e finish the evening with the 2015 Dead Ringer (RRP £44), which is soon to be renamed Vintage Bell. It’s a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes as fresh as a daisy and clearly has legs for a few years of ageing yet. As you’d expect, there’s a story in the name. Trott bought a three-quarter tonne bell from a ruined church in Adelaide, without a purpose in mind. It sat idle for a long time, until a bell tower was built for it. Today, when the harvest is set to begin in the Vale, all the local growers and winemakers come to Wirra Wirra to mark the start and to hear the bell ring. Though not part of the evening’s line-up, it’s worth telling the tale of Wirra Wirra’s Catapult Shiraz. It’s a firm favourite with the independents and you may have wondered how it got its name. It seems Greg Trott had a dream to build a trebuchet – a medieval siege instrument – so he could fire wine bottles at his winemaking neighbours. Sadly, Trott never saw it in his lifetime, but the winery is now home to a fullyfunctioning trebuchet, from which staff intermittently launch not glass bottles but watermelons. Robert Wigley would have enjoyed it.
Trott had a dream to build a trebuchet – a medieval siege instrument – so he could fire wine bottles at his winemaking neighbours Julia Hoyle, Hosmer
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 53
An A to Z of South America’s grapes
Of all the developments in South American wine in the past two decades, perhaps the most significant has been the greater attention winemakers across the continent have paid to terroir. But as important as the “where” (the vineyard) has become, the “what” (grape variety) and the “who” (producer) still perhaps offer the best means of navigating Argentinian, Chilean and Uruguayan wine. In terms of volume, the emphasis across the continent may still be on the big familiar names with which each country first made its vinous name. But the range of grape varieties being used to make attractive, drinkable and, in many cases, genuinely fine wines has greatly expanded over the past decade. Here is David Williams’s guide to the most signficant South American grape varieties, an A (Albariño) to T (Torrontés) of uvas variadades and the places, winemakers and wines that best represent them.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 54
Bonarda Originally from Alpine France, and with just a little planted as Charbono in the US, Bonarda has been an almost exclusively Argentine affair for much of the past two centuries, becoming, during the 20th century, its most widely planted variety. Now way down in second place behind Malbec, it’s been enjoying a revival in recent years with producers such as Matias Riccitelli, Sebastian Zuccardi and Maurico Lorca, among others, making wines with depth of fruit and racy Italianate cherryish
Cabernet Franc Plantings of the “other” Cabernet have been slowly growing across South America so that there are now some 1,250ha in Argentina, 1,500ha in Chile, and 250ha in Uruguay. In Argentina, the variety’s upright structure and leafy freshness is an ideal foil for generous Malbec, but solo bottlings from the likes of Zorzal, Durriguti, Bodega
country right now. Chilean and Uruguayan
the country’s vines) is still responsible for some of the world’s most consistently reliable entry-level reds (such as the Cabernet in LFE’s independent favourite range, Ladera Verde). Higher up the food chain, the country’s winemakers have fully embraced the global mood for greater elegance, dialling back on extraction and oak. Vine age is also playing a part in the balance and depth of recent vintages of Cab-based top wines such as Almaviva and Seña. Interest in the variety is also growing
to watch, as plantings close to the coast
impressive Bordeaux blends.
Teho, Riccitelli, Catena and Atamisque are
in Chile (it accounts for around a third of
In Chile and Argentina, Albariño is one
country’s growing portfolio of seriously
acidity from old, high-altitude vines.
The most widely planted grape variety
with the variety on its own or as part of the
on the other side of the Andes, with Catena, Angulo Innocenti, Susana Balbo and Atamisque among those impressing
among the most exciting red wines in the Cab Franc is also progressing, with stylish wines from the likes of Viña La Roncière, Undurraga, Santa Rita and Maquis (Chile) and Viña Progreso and Garzón (Uruguay).
Carignan The tale of Carignan in Chile is remarkably similar to the variety’s modern history in France. Planted as a workhorse variety to give bulk to blends in the southern heartland of the wine industry (for Languedoc-Roussillon, read Maule), it fell into disuse as the region went into decline, only for the abandoned old vines to be rediscovered and put to new use by a generation of winemakers in the early 21st century. As in southern France (and northern Spain), the wines from the Vigno
begin to come on stream in Pacific Chile’s
association of old-vine Carignan producers,
Leyda Valley (Garcés Silva) and Atlantic
among them Bouchon, De Martino, Torres,
Argentina’s Chapadmalal (Trapiche’s Mar
Garage Wine Co and Gillmore, are dramatic,
y Pamapa). In Uruguay, however, the Rías Baixas-like maritime climate of Maldonado and Cannelones has already proven ideally suited to the variety, and producers such as Bouza and Garzíon are making some of the most convincingly floral-salty-peachy dry whites yet made from the variety outside
Bottlings of Cabernet Franc are among the most exciting red wines in Argentina right now
its north western Iberian home.
savoury, sinewy, deeply flavoured wines of place.
Carmenère Given the origin story of Carmenère in Chile, it’s not surprising that Chilean winemakers initially didn’t quite know what to do with it. More than two
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 55
decades since the Merlot mix-up was uncovered, it might not be quite the commercially all-conquering, countrydefining, Malbec-style flagship variety some had hoped. But there is a much greater understanding of how to work the variety, and a much greater consistency of style. Some fine wines too, from the likes of Montes (the increasingly elegant Purple Angel), Santa Carolina, Terranoble and Bouchon.
Chardonnay For all the explosion of interest in other varieties, Chardonnay remains hugely popular in South America and is still the white variety by which many South American winemakers look to be judged.
As with Cabernet Sauvignon, South American Chardonnay has benefited from the fashion for greater sensitivity in the winery – and, like Sauvignon Blanc, it’s
some of the country’s most adventurous
thrived as winemakers have moved to
winemakers are beginning to show what
Like Cinsault and País, Muscat has been a
cooler spots. Among our current favourites
the variety can do. Notable exponents
key variety in the hip natural-leaning scene
from each country: Errazuriz Las Pizarras
include the Ver Sacrum project in Mendoza
in Itata. Fruit from very old, ungrafted bush
from coastal Aconcagua; Catena Zapata
and Alcohuaz in far northern Chile, both of
vines in this cool southern climate seems
Adrianna Vineyard from Gualtallaray in
which take advantage of extreme high-
to take well to extended macerations, often
Mendoza; and Familia Décias Extreme
altitude sites to produce wines reminiscent
in tinaja clay pots, with Chile’s first (and
Vineyards Subsuelo from Maldonado.
of those made in Spain’s new-wave
increasingly excellent) orange wines made
Garnacha hot spot in the Sierra de Gredos.
from Itata Muscat. Producers to watch
include De Martino, Koyle, Rogue Vine,
Cinsault’s Chilean story has many
similarities to Carignan’s: a southern
The ever-growing sales are one thing, but
French import that had fallen from favour
what’s really intriguing about Malbec in
País / Criolla
is revived by a new generation of growers
Argentina over the past 10 years is how far
From fine-wine pariah acceptable only for
in thrall to the high-quality fruit of its
it’s come stylistically. That development
use in the cheapest domestic bulk wine,
neglected (very) old vines. What’s different
has gone hand in hand with a quantum leap
to red star of the natural-adjacent South
is the setting – Itata, south of Maule, near
in understanding of the country’s terroir
American new wave: the turnaround in the
the city of Concepción – and the style of
(including finding new places to plant)
reputation of the variety known as País in
wines: red-fruited, brisk, and crunchy,
and the way it intersects with altitude. But
Chile and Criolla Chica in Argentina since
as seen in bottlings from Vigneron Fine
winemaking, too, is so much more sensitive
2010 has been startling. In Argentina,
Wines, De Martino, A Los Viñateros Bravos
– and much more geared towards vineyard
projects such as Sebastian Zuccardi’s
and Rogue Vine.
expression – in the best examples from
Cara Sur and Marcelo Pelletriti’s Vallisto
such recent favourites as Per Se, Zuccardi,
have set the piercing, sappy Criolla Chica
Colomé and Bodegas Caro. Chilean Malbec
stylistic template. In Chile, it’s the southern
Chile and Argentina have been slow
can’t quite offer the same fine-wine thrills,
sites of Bío-Bío, Itata and Maule where
to catch on to the global fashion for
but wines from Viu Manent, Indomita and
the likes of De Martino, Bouchon, Torres,
Grenache/Garnacha as a pale and slinky
Bouchon, among others, show the variety’s
Montes and Tierra del Itata are among the
warm-climate alternative to Pinot Noir, but
potential on the western side of the Andes.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 56
Montes and Torres.
If some of the earlier iterations of South
At a time of short harvests in New Zealand,
Some of the most impressive
American Pinot Noir were object lessons
Chile has played a useful role in filling the
Argentine Sauvignon Blanc
in how not to make it (over-extracting
gaps in the UK’s supply of Sauvignon Blanc.
can be found in blends with
and over-oaking fruit from very young
But the burgeoning quality of its premium
its traditional Bordelais
plantings of poorly-chosen clones in hot
bottlings means it deserves to be regarded
partner, Semillon. Each
sites), more recent developments have
as far more than an emergency back-up or
vintage, Susana Balbo’s
been very encouraging.
a cut-price alternative.
“Graves in the Andes”
In Chile, vineyards developed expressly
Coastal Chile has become a genuine
Signature White Blend,
for Pinot such as coastal San Antonio/
reference point for Sauvignon Blanc, from
which also has a little
Leyda (Casa Marin/Viña Leyda), Aconcagua
Paradones (Casa Silva) to Leyda (Viña
Torrontés in the Muscadelle
Costa (Errazuriz), far northern Atacama
Leyda) to Zapallar (Montes).
role, is consistently one of
(Tara) and far southern Malleco (Baettig)
Argentina has nothing like the same
Argentina’s finest white
are maturing and producing genuine
amount under vine (around 2,000ha), but
wines. Argentinian growers have also
elegance and complexity, while much the
wines from the likes of Matias Michelini
been making varietal wines of fascinating
same is true of Argentina’s cool-climate
in Mendoza and Trapiche on the Atlantic
savoury herbal depth and verve from old
Pinot Noir hotspots such as Patagonia,
Coast in Chapadmalal are showing the
vines in Patagonia (Riccitelli) and Mendoza
home to Chacra and Noemia, and the high-
variety’s potential in the country’s cooler
(Mendel, Taho Zaha). Chile has much
altitude Uco Valley (La Cayetana).
less Semillon planted, but those making delicious use of old-vine fruit include Carmen, Santa Carolina (both Colchagua) and Rogue Vine and Bouchon (Itata).
Syrah In terms of numbers, Argentina has the Tammy Nell, David Nieuwoudt and Alex Nell of Cederberg
edge on Chile when it comes to Syrah, with just under 13,000ha under vine, largely in Mendoza and San Juan, to Chile’s circa 7,400ha. Until relatively recently, neither country exactly set the world on fire with the quality of what was more often bottled as Shiraz, but a lot has changed in the past decade. That’s particularly the case in Chile, which is now home to some outstanding Syrah, produced in numerous variations on a Rhône theme, from the Colchagua richness of Montes Folly and Lapostolle to the ethereal lightness of Ventisquero’s Atacama project, and the peppery-meaty cool-climate Matetic in San Antonio. Argentina is catching up, however, with recent standouts including wines from La Cayetana and Finca Decero.
Discussing Maradona’s legacy in Buenos Aires
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 58
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Roberto del la Mota
Mendel, Mendoza, Argentina Mendel is situated in typical Mendoza conditions. That is to say in a desert, cultivating at high altitude to find fresh temperatures. In our country we have many different regions, and the most important are those to the west of the Andes; valleys with dry conditions, poor soils and irrigated with water coming from melted snow. We have three vineyards. One is in the heart of Luján de Cuyo in Mayor Drummond, at 960m above sea level, with 18ha of Malbec planted in 1928, and where we have the winery. The other vineyard in Luján de Cuyo is on the right bank of the Mendoza River, in Perdriel, at 1100m, with very stony and dry soil. There we have two old Malbec blocks and 3ha of very special Cabernet Sauvignon. The biggest vineyard is in the Uco Valley in Altamira, 100km south of the winery, on the right bank of the Tunuyán river, at 1100m. The soil in Altamira is very special, not only because it is really stony with very good drainage, but because it is very calcareous. This last vineyard is called Finca Remota and there we have Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Semillon. In 2002 a family from Buenos Aires came to Mendoza looking for good terroir and vineyards to produce a very high-quality wine. When I visited, I was so surprised. It’s so difficult to find a big block of Malbec, nearly 20ha, planted in 1928! I quickly fell in love with it. I said the
potential was huge and they asked me if I wanted to be part of the project. For me, as a winemaker loving the region – and Malbec – it was a dream. We definitely have a Mendel style. Once, a good winemaker friend told me: “Finally we’re making the wines that we love to drink”; and of course, it’s true! In the old vineyard of Malbec, we have nine blocks and they are all different. We have four full of intensity, concentration and the potential to make very impressive wines. Three have the potential to generate very intense, fresh aromas, full of black cherries, plums and violets. Those grapes are the base of the Mendel Malbec. We have two big blocks that give us very fresh wines, intense in aromas and very soft tannins. We also have great vineyards in Altamira, with climate and soils that are really unique and special. Without a doubt my nine years working with my father, who had a big old-school Bordeaux technique, and my studies and training in France, working with the Cheval Blanc team, all had a big influence on my winemaking. But I think that I have a huge local approach too. Malbec is a great variety with huge potential. We have a lot of examples. Malbec wines of 30, 40 years and more that preserve deep colour, intense fruit aromas, good and round tannins and incredible length. In 19th-century France,
With their mature vineyards fed by meltwater from the Andes, familyowned Mendel Wines is a partnership between Roberto de la Mota – one of Argentina’s most respected and experienced winemakers – and the Sielecki family. At around 1000 metres above sea level, the grapes ripen slowly, allowing the flavours to intensify. Wines are imported by Armit Wines 020 7908 0600 armitwines.co.uk it covered more than 60% of St-Emilion’s vineyards before phylloxera. Unfortunately, the variety suffered when it was grafted with resistant rootstocks and so it was substituted for Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In Argentina we were really lucky because Malbec was introduced before phylloxera and, for that reason, we have a huge population with enormous genetic richness, with the capability to produce a wide variety of Malbecs.
Mendel Malbec 2019
Mendel Semillon 2020
Mendel Unus 2020
Our most important wine. It's important to pick grapes with enough ripeness but with good freshness and acidity. The window is no more than three days. The 2019 vintage is very interesting because it was very fresh and dry. With those conditions, wines are very fruity, fresh and especially elegant.
I love this variety, which is very traditional in Argentina. Our Semillon is planted in Altamira. This terroir is very special, not only for the cool climate at 1100 metres above sea level in the Uco Valley, but because of the calcareous soil which gives the wine a special elegance, minerality and freshness.
One of my favourite wines; three varieties give it great complexity. I love the combination of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The Cabernet's tannins are a very good frame for the roundness, soft tannins and fleshy character of the Malbec. The Petit Verdot plays more in the mouth than on the nose, giving volume and structure.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 59
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Labid Ameri, Domaine Bousquet Our vision is very much “Argentine wines made with French style and elegance”. Hand-picked, hand-selected organic fruit receives the gentlest treatment possible, with minimum handling and intervention.
on our virgin terroir. Roots of organicallygrown plants penetrate deeper, absorbing trace minerals that give wines their authentic local taste. The wines exhibit greater concentration of flavour, thanks to lower yields.
For ageing, the team employs a light hand with oak, often using larger (400500 litres) and older French oak barrels. The icon wines are both fermented and aged in barrels in order to have well integrated wines, and show a velvety style. Adopting the French philosophy, the team blends parcels and varieties for greater complexity and consistency, even in the single-vineyard wines, rather than individually bottling micro-parcels.
Organic farming is healthier for the environment and, crucially, for the people who tend the vines. All Domaine Bousquet selections, still and sparkling, are made from 100% organic fruit. As Domaine Bousquet’s demand for grapes has increased, our team has worked with nearby growers, helping them to convert to organic farming. Organic grapes often show more purity in taste than conventional grapes, and our duty as organic ambassadors is to show the true taste of our grapes.
We craft high-altitude wines at 4,000feet [1.200 metres] elevation in the Andean foothills. Near constant breezes from the Andes help mitigate heat stress in this desert-like climate, with its huge day/ night temperature differentials. Grapes develop increased levels of sugar due to the warm days and acidity from the cold nights. Thicker skins, developed by the grapes to protect against heat and cold, yield wines with greater body, colour, flavour and aromatics. The intense alpine sunlight in 360 out of 365 days gives the wines big, bold fruit Thanks to the dryness of the area and its phylloxera-resistant sandy soil, we have farming organically from day one
We purchase approximately 30% of our grapes. Our team works with growers throughout the year, teaching and observing organic and sustainable techniques. We also provide growers incentives to produce organic high quality grapes. These practices and relationships help us make sure our growers provide grapes that are of the highest organic quality and standards, while maintaining the Domaine Bousquet style. We think organic wines will continue to gain traction in the future. Ten years ago, organic wines had less than half of their current market share, and growth
Labid is co-founder and CEO of Domaine Bousquet, which claims to be the number one organic wine producer from Argentina. The business was founded in the Gualtallary valley in Mendoza in 1990 when Jean Bousquet realised he’d found his dream terroir, perfect for a blend of French and new worldstyle wines. Domaine Bousquet wines are imported into the UK by Vintage Roots. domainebousquet.com
is rapidly gaining pace. I think people are more health conscious and making healthier choices in all aspects of life, including with their wine purchasing decisions. Being 100% organic, Domaine Bousquet is well positioned to respond to consumer needs.
Domaine Bousquet Premium Organic Malbec
Domaine Bousquet Reserve Organic Malbec
Domaine Bousquet Reserve Organic Chardonnay
Our premium wines not only offer a great price/quality ratio, they consistently maintain and present a clear sense of place. Intense violet colour. Mushroom, fig and berry aromas. Medium body and round velvety tannins.
Our reserve wines are all made with hand-picked, organic, estate fruit. With its rich aroma, plummy and briary fruit flavours, this Reserve Malbec has a gentle oak influence and Bousquet's hallmark elegance.
Offering tropical aromas, citrus and lime notes, this Chardonnay comes with a dash of French elegance and a touch of oak. The wine is a testament to its Argentine heritage and the French origin of the Bousquet family.
2021 90pts Wine Spectator; 2020 90pts Decanter 2019 90pts James Suckling
2021 92pts Tim Atkin 2020 92pts Decanter 2019 92pts James Suckling
2021 90pts James Suckling 2020 91pts James Suckling 2019 90pts Wine Spectator
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 60
Tannat There must be times – perhaps when they’re scanning the latest export data from across the Río del Plata – that Uruguayan wine producers curse their
South America’s increasingly diverse wine offer for independents
forebears for their choice of south western French grape. For all its manifold appeal to wine lovers, burly Tannat is never going to compete with fleshy, perfumed Malbec when it comes to mass consumer appeal. But the thick-skinned variety thrives in Uruguay’s varied but generally humid climate, and, at its best, from the likes of Pisano, Pablo Fallabrino and Garzón, produces distinctive, gastronomic red wines with something of the structure and contrast of northern Italian reds.
Torrontés Argentina’s love-it-or-hate-it floral tribute has become considerably less divisive in recent years, with producers learning to balance its Muscat-by-Lush aromatics with finer acidity and freshness. Susana Balbo remains the standout producer, with her Crios blend of Uco Valley and Cafayate the benchmark. But her barrel-fermented version, from a single parcel in Paraje Altamira in the Uco Valley, takes the variety to hitherto unexplored heights of smoky complexity.
Lee Evans, managing director, Condor Wines Women of the vine It’s been fantastic to see a growing number of female winemakers breaking into this traditionally male-dominated industry. Whether we’re working with larger wineries or smaller boutique producers, we’re seeing some outstanding female-produced wines come into our portfolio – like Lauren SV Cabernet Franc from Martina Galeano at Casarena. Totally terroir We’re seeing some very seductive wines produced by winemakers passionate about exploring and better understanding their terroir, whether that’s a particular micro-region (Marco Puyo’s Dagaz project in Pumanque, Colchagua), a particular soil type (Bodega Volcanes de Chile) or even a particular vineyard (Casarena). The increase in singlevineyard production is especially significant in growing a premium portfolio. It’s fascinating to explore the endless nuances that a single varietal can develop with even the smallest changes in location. Unusual suspects Malbec is the backbone of our business but we’re seeing increasing interest, from both retailers and consumers, in other varietals. Mendoza producers such as Falasco Wines are delivering some amazing Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. We’re tasting some impressive new bottlings of Rhône varietals like Carignan and Garnacha. Some of the latest Pinot Noirs from Patagonia have also been receiving well-deserved recognition in the 2022 awards season. A broader choice of varietals is tempting new consumers into the South America category. Low intervention Although not always certified, we have some long-standing organic, biodynamic and sustainable producers such as Francois Lurton’s Bodega Piedra Negra and Hacienda Araucano. But now we’re seeing more winemakers embracing low intervention during the winemaking process as well; moving away from excessive use of oak and looking for alternative fermentation vessels, such as concrete vats and eggs, to allow the pure characteristics of fruit and terroir to shine through. Unoaked reds from producers like Mariana Onofri and Karim Mussi offer blasts of delicious fresh red fruit – great for people looking for highly drinkable reds that you might not always associate with Argentina.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 61
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Jorge Andrés Matetic, Ventopuro by Matetic The export manager of this innovative Chilean wine project, known as much for its ethics as the quality of its products, shines a light on how Ventopuro has developed – and what might come next. UK importer: Vintrigue Wines 01207 521234 www.vintriguewines.com
Tell us a little about Ventopuro and how it fits into the Matetic family. Ventopuro is a brand that cares about environmental and social wellbeing. We are developing three different projects, reflecting each different range. We have a bottle recycling project, a barrel recycling project and a reforestation project. Matetic, on its side, is focused 100% in sustainability, working with organic and biodynamic agriculture to protect the health of our soil and our workers. You work in some very diverse terroir. We choose terroirs depending on where the variety is best grown. For example for Pinot Noir, we choose a cool-climate area close to the ocean, with not much temperature difference between night and day to ensure that we have a controlled maturation. On the other hand, we grow Cabernet Sauvignon in hotter areas in order to achieve the maturation that these grapes need to give us a first-class wine. Which regions are most exciting for you at the moment? We love Itata for Pinot Noir as we grow
Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard Trade price £10.99 This wine comes from decomposed granitic soil from San Antonio Valley, west of Santiago, around 10km from the Pacific Ocean. Strong ocean influence with a crisp mouth feel, great natural acidity and a pleasant finish.
very old vines there, close to the ocean and with an excellent terroir for the variety. Another one is Casablanca and San Antonio, where we grow our Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to obtain great natural acidity and crispy wines. How would you describe the Ventopuro winemaking style? Obviously the terroir will differ but is there a signature characteristic we could identify in all of your wines? We look for fruit-driven wines, with controlled oak maturation, aiming to reflect the terroir as much as possible. You are committed to sustainability in lots of different ways. Is this something that you believe wine consumers are now expecting from producers and are they prepared to pay for it? It’s a trend that is going to be a must in the coming years, and the new generations will for sure pay those extra cents to support sustainable farming and winemaking. How do you think the Ventopuro
winemaking style has evolved since 2016 ... and how do you think the wines of Chile as a whole have changed in that time? We’ve been trying to make earlier-drinking and fruit-driven wines to adapt to new consumer trends. Chilean wines can be found all around the globe and you will probably see a big trend to lighter, loweralcohol, and easy-drinking wines. Which grape varieties do you have the most success with, and which ones do you think might have the most potential for the Ventopuro range? We’ve had great success with the Pinot Noir Reserva. We have great potential here since we have old vines and a story to tell behind this DO that is becoming famous for being one of the oldest winegrowing regions in Chile. How have the wines been received in the UK market? Excellently. Sales are growing year by year. As well as offering excellent quality for the price, the brand is innovative, and consumers appreciate it.
Pinot Noir Single Vineyard
Carmenère Single Vineyard
Trade price £10.99
Trade price £10.99
This wine was awarded 90 points by Decanter. It comes from old vines in the south of Chile, close to Concepción. These produce really low yields, leading to an easy-drinking, medium-bodied wine with lots of fruit.
Grown in Apalta, the best-known region for producing Carmenère. It's really hot in summer which helps the grapes ripen in a very desirable way for this variety. There are steep slopes with deep soils with decomposed rocks that help roots break through easily.
THE WINE MERCHANT july may 2022 62
Why I’m slightly obsessed with Criolla This family of South American grape varieties is widely misunderstood, but is making some incredible wines
’m no ampelographer, but I’ve become fascinated lately with the Criolla story in South America, and particularly
in Argentina. About 250 years later, Jesuits took Muscat of Alexandria to South America.
family of vines currently makes up about 30% of all of Argentina’s vineyards. I find it fascinating that these natural,
This is a bit of a floozy variety, whose
wild vine resources, which have been
flowers actively attract cross-pollination.
left very much to their own devices for
information coming from DNA research
Listán and Muscat got it on, so to speak,
centuries, are now being recognised by
is shifting our understanding all the time.
and “gave birth” to a whole family of new
some winemakers for their amazing vinous
True experts will, I hope, forgive my
What’s so intriguing is that the
More than 40 have been identified so far,
It would be silly to generalise too much
including most famously Torrontés, but
about the many personalities of these
first taken to South America from the
also Criolla Grande, Pedro Giménez (which
grapes, particularly when overlaid with so
Canary Islands by missionaries in the early
is not the same grape found in Jerez but is
many recent winemaker interpretations,
16th century, probably to provide them
often spelled Pedro Ximénez in Argentina;
but I personally love them for their
with a means of making rough communion
it is often more helpfully – and arguably
aromatic qualities, often led by floral
wine. This variety, which has relatively
more accurately – called Criolla Blanca),
characteristics. And these varieties have
low colour compounds in the skins, does
Moscatel Rosado and loads of others.
evolved in situ over centuries, adapting
Listán Prieto cuttings and seeds were
nonetheless have naturally high tannins and so it is a beguiling and tricky grape from which to make high-quality wines. Listán Prieto spread quickly through the Americas and came to be known as Mission in California, País in Chile and Criolla Chica
perfectly to their surroundings with
ost, but not all, of the Criollas
optimum natural acidity levels and skin
have these same parents and it
thicknesses to cope with Argentina’s
is thought that there are many
unforgiving sunshine at high altitude.
more sub-varieties that have not been identified, let alone studied. The Criolla
I can heartily recommend the Criollas to anyone interested in finding exciting new styles of wine from Argentina, and I am duty-bound to name-drop a few of ours. • Mauricio Lorca makes the gorgeous Recoleta Criolla Grande – a pale, delicate, highly aromatic red. I’ve never tasted a Pinot Noir at this price anywhere near as interesting. • Pancho Lavaque’s Vallisto Criolla Chica from way up north in Salta at 2,600 metres above sea level, is full of intense, crunchy red apple-like fruit and rasping acidity, tense as you like. • Eduardo and Emilia Soler make a sumptuous, fleshy-textured Criolla Blanca under their La Cayetana label. They also do weird and wonderful stuff with Criolla Blanca aged under flor – just to make things even more confusing. • Laurie Webster is managing director of
More than 40 versions of Criolla have been identified so far, but there will be more
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 63
Ucopia World Wines.
‘If your vodka
Its detractors find it bland, boring and bogu
examples of vodka that make a virtue of p e
t appears that vodka is back. Not that it ever went away, of course; despite the mania around gin for the last 10 or 15
years, vodka always remained a massively high seller in mainstream retail, if not for many indies. But with CGA figures showing vodka overtaking gin again in the on-trade, there appears to be a bit of a buzz about it once more. The nation’s favourite cocktail, the Passion Fruit (née Pornstar) Martini has a vanilla vodka base, and numerous start-up distillers that cut their teeth on gin are now turning to vodka. Portobello Road is among them, and Jake Burger, bartending legend and co-founder
How has the Ukraine war affected your approach to vodka? “We have pulled all Russian vodka from our shelves. Russians are still our biggest customers for vodka and we still have stocks if asked directly, and we have them available online. There are many non-Russian vodka alternatives, so I wouldn’t say it has affected our overall sales. Perhaps, as a show of support, customers are choosing to purchase non-Russian vodka, but I certainly don’t have any data to back this up.”
Aljoscha Wright, Oxford Wine Co
“In terms of Russian vodka, we used to stock Legend of Kremlin and Beluga, which we were intending to do some brand activation with. However, since the Ukraine invasion we have, like pretty much most retailers I would imagine, delisted these. We still have a little stock left and so will have to sit on it until it’s appropriate to relist them, which I imagine will be a very long time in the future.”
Jefferson Boss, StarmoreBoss
of the gin brand, says the fortunes of the two white spirits are closely intertwined. “In some ways the catalyst for the gin boom was a rejection of what vodka had become,” he says. “There have always been plenty of great vodka brands but perhaps too many artificially-flavoured, sugar-sweetened, glittery-finished vodkas. A lot of people were rejecting that in favour of something more authentic – and London dry gin certainly fell into that category.” Now, British vodka producers are using botanical distillation methods from gin for a new generation of vodkas. Portobello Road’s include bergamot, coffee bean
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 64
a is neutral,
king the wrong stuff’
us. But look beyond some of the famous names and you’ll find
ersonality and actually taste of something. By Nigel Huddleston
and vanilla vodkas, in addition to its base
and 2000s. Where we are seeing interest
potato vodka. A spring edition asparagus
is in the base ingredient that vodkas are
vodka was inspired by Beaujolais Nouveau,
going from field to bottle in under a week. In some ways, such an approach
“People are exploring the differences between potato, rye, wheat and milk – for
represents a 180˚ about-turn for a category
Black Cow – and are also interested in
which two decades ago claimed USPs
the cultural differences around vodka: for
based on out-there filtration methods
instance, the Polish way of sipping at room
and multiple distillations, with purity
temperature or a little chilled, compared
and neutrality as aims. It was more about
to the Russian way of freezing the liquid
taking flavour out than leaving it in.
and shooting it. When people explore
“The idea that vodka should be
the different grains used then the whole
flavourless and characterless was flawed,”
18-times distilled thing is less of a sales
Burger adds. “The traditional vodka-
making nations of Poland and Russia never
Aljoscha Wright, spirits buyer for Oxford
thought that was the case. It was a modern
Wine Co, says vodka is his “go-to drink”
idea forced upon us.
and he’s surprised it doesn’t get more love
“We’re only using natural ingredients
“I still believe the strength of the
and distil it a minimum number of times.
category lies in its purity,” he says, but
It’s got some weight, some viscosity, some
adds: “If your vodka is neutral, trade up:
creaminess and still some flavour in there,
you’re drinking the wrong stuff.
“I’ve always been a fan of Pleurat Shabani’s Konik’s Tail. I always have a
efferson Boss, at StarmoreBoss in
bottle of this at home … one or two drams
Sheffield, says there has not been any
of an evening and I still wake up with a
massive recent swing from gin, but
clear head. It’s the perfect drink to help
instead “vodka has been steadily going about its business for a while”.
The Notting Hill Carnival returns to its traditional August bank holiday slot this year after two years’ absence through Covid. A Jamaican-style punch recipe helps the vibe, whether there in person or merely spirit, pumping out summery tunes over the barbecue in the garden. Wray & Nephew Overproof White rum is the authentic favourite in Jamaica, but the Appleton’s single-estate rum is a premium upgrade that will moderate the alcohol content. The adventurous can add a DIY twist by making their own syrup with fresh strawberries – in essence: boil ripe fruit in water for 20 minutes, strain, return to the heat, stir in sugar and cool.
in our distillations. We don’t filter it at all
even in the unflavoured variety.”
CARNIVAL RUM PUNCH
wind down after a hectic day. “Ed Wood from [local producer] Wood
He adds: “Flavoured vodka hasn’t been a
Brothers Distillery knows his way around
particularly big hit for us. I think that really
a still too, and his Wood Bros Single Estate
damaged the category back in the 1990s
vodka is something special.”
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 65
5cl Jamaican rum 5cl orange juice 5cl pineapple juice 1.5cl Monin strawberry syrup 1cl lime juice
Shake all the ingredients with ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.
The Vindependents tasting takes place on March 21
nsurprisingly, I am a big fan of dopamine. I mean, we all are, welcome to Earth, welcome to
ne area of dopamine-chasing until recently relatively untapped is that of gambling, a little flutter,
a small wager, which distracts me from
being an organism. Little neurotransmittery pleasure
my jellified insides and makes things “a
buzzes, let me count the ways: buying
little more interesting”. All betting terms
things, selling things, drinking alcohol, shunting bright squares of sweet nothing around a screen and gaining another level, pings of attention from a disembodied human (probably) liking a picture of my kitten (she’s fine, thanks for asking – I’m bribing her with Dreamies to get her to like me which works for 30 to 40 seconds), eating things (at present a dim memory. A mirrored crabpalace has opened up
20. DOPAMINE FLUTTER How long will it take Phoebe Weller and members of the Valhalla’s Goat team in Glasgow to spot somebody who “needs to go home”? The stakes are high
have to be intoned using a nasal, slightly Australian/Cockney accent for some reason, one of the strongest in my library of underused voices, given that most of my “funny voices” are now a little bit offensive to someone (I am over 40 and this comes with the territory). We had a couple of days recently which were over the 20˚C mark – no we so did – so I encouraged Prince of the Pigeons Harry to
directly in the path of my house from the
put a pound on the time of the appearance
shop, and amongst the many delicacies
of someone who “needed to go home”. We
there exists really only one: seared scallops
the Huel of times past/passed? This is
chose this catch-all category of “need[ing]
with anchovy butter. What I (and my
natural Huel, a seed that takes on 10
to go home” after some deliberation, as this
fellow Glaswegian carb enthusiasts) like
times its bodyweight of water, fills you up,
state could include several of the following
to do is toss the seared scallops to the
and has a slightly laxative effect. It also
qualities: oversunned, undressed (ie taps
floor and pour a portion of Skinny Fries
goes all pleasingly jellified and satisfies
aff), boozed, lost pals/phone, begging to
into the bubbly fishy fat. Turns out Skinny
childhood dreams (just me?) of drinking
use the toilet, incoherent whale noises,
Fries – unlike Skinny Prosecco and Skinny
the frogspawn you had collected from the
Mario/golfer/Ali G costume soiled/askew.
Vodka – don’t actually make you skinny.
pond in your jamjar (although I never did
We couldn’t decide on how many of these
this, I “collected” butterflies and fed them
were required, so “needed to go home”
thimbles of moscato and suffocated them
would win the sweepstake nestling in the
in old Gino Ginelli tubs then buried them).
pale blue puckered bowl not covered in
Thusly this episode of Phoebe’s Amazing Lunches is sponsored by chia seeds. Mind
dried-out chia seeds.
ittle did we expect Big Mike to swoop in at the last minute with another pound on his half-hour time-slot, only
to scoop the inconsiderable booty with his spot of a 90th birthday party leaving the Overly Bright Italian Restaurant, helium balloons deflating like a poor analogue version of the popular Pixar tearjerker, Up. They needed to and indeed were going home, with the benefit of several doubleparked Ubers at their disposal. Damn you,
They needed to go home
Big Mike! Next time I bet I win.
Vineyards in the Hunter Valley
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 67
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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 july 2022 2022 68
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Introducing two new additions to the Louis Latour Agencies Portfolio Two Provence châteaux have just joined our portfolio. Both are established, family owned properties, that produce red, white and rosé wines evoking their particular terroir. They follow environmentally responsible working practices holding High Environmental Value Level 3 certification since 2019 and working towards organic certification from the 2022 harvest. Château Sainte Roseline Cru Classé is Les Arcs-sur-Argens between the Gorges du Verdon and Saint Tropez. The estate includes 110 hectares of vines alongside two national monuments: an 11th century chapel and 12th century cloisters. Château des Demoiselles is located in the Esclans Valley in the Var. It contains 72 hectares of vines which sit within a Natura 2000 reserve which was established for the protection of habitats, species and biodiversity. The vine growing and winemaking approach at both châteaux relies on low yields and night-time harvesting to ensure wines with concentration, complexity and freshness. Château Sainte Roseline received two top awards in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards: Platinum for Cuvée de la Chapelle Rouge 2014 and Gold for Lampe de Meduse Rouge 2017.
hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 email@example.com www.hatchmansfield.com @hatchmansfield
THE WINE MERCHANT july june 2022 69
liberty wines 020 7720 5350
Exploring new sub-regions in Chile and Argentina Trailblazing winemaker Aurelio Montes Snr’s passion for discovery led him on a quest to find new premium sites, pushing the boundaries of Chilean viticulture to their “outer limits”. Montes’ 45-hectare Zapallar vineyard is the only one planted within this cold and truly coastal DO, just 7km from the
firstname.lastname@example.org www.libertywines.co.uk @liberty_wines
Pacific Ocean in the northern part of the Aconcagua Costa region. The extreme conditions here have put Montes’ winemaking abilities to the test, yet the long growing season and clay-loam granitic soil give rise to intensely aromatic and exceptionally balanced wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Aurelio also ventured across the Andes to explore the potential for premium viticulture in Mendoza with his Kaiken winery. Discovering two outstanding sites in Los Chacayes, at the heart of the Uco Valley, Kaiken planted vines at the sub-region’s highest point of 1,250m, on both the northern and southern slopes of Arroyo Grande. Kaiken also planted in the largely unexplored Valle de Canota sub-region, surrounded by the Andean foothills and climatically regarded as Andean desert. Three different expressions of Malbec from these two GIs have been released under the Kaiken Aventura label, unoaked to preserve the character of each individual site – the old alluvial soils of Los Chacayes ‘Norte’ imparting an elegant, saline character to the wine compared with more powerful depth of fruit concentration derived from the free-draining sandy-loam soils of Los Chacayes ‘Sur’.
richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 email@example.com
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The grapes come from a southerly hillside with less sun exposure with the soil having more clay than granite and good porosity at depth. A fresh, lively palate shows excellent integration of oak to offer a seamless hazelnut-pastry character alongside lemon and peach.
buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336
The Casali del Barone range showcases some of the most typical wines from the Piedmont region including Langhe, Piedmont, Barbera d’Asti, Barbaresco and Barolo. Winemaking is supervised by Daniel Ress whose experience is crucial to creating this range of wines which are well-balanced and aim to be flag bearers for wines of the area.
THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 71
Langhe DOC Nebbiolo
Barbera d'Asti DOCG
Piemonte DOC Barbera
Langhe Bianco DOC
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THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 72
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THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 73
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THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 74
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area: 70 ha
Litmus Element 20 Established in 2008 in Surrey by John Worontschak, with the aim to make quality cool-climate wine, moving away from the traditional fruity and sometimes one-dimensional English style. A blend of Chardonnay and Bacchus, the wine displays complex buttery and mineral notes on the nose. Balfour Luke’s Pinot Noir One of England’s finest red wines. Created only in exceptional vintages such as 2018 and 2020, it is made from vineyards planted specifically for the still wine production. Leaning towards cool-climate New World rather than Burgundy in style, with clean cherry and mulberry notes and judicious oak. Coates & Seely Brut Reserve NV Nicholas Coates and Christian Seely use traditional Champagne methods and cutting-edge winemaking technology to reflect the terroir of the chalk-rich Wooldings vineyard in the North Hampshire Downs. Complex, yet graceful, with a smooth finish and pure white fruity notes on the finish.
Ridgeview Blanc de Noirs A world-class sparkling wine producer in England’s South Downs, run by winemaker Simon Roberts and sister Tamara, Ridgeview’s CEO. A carefully locatio A privileged created blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with delicious notes of cherry, in central Chi sweet spice and fresh herbs.
A diverse offer of international wines
1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France
Largest winegrow A privileged location outside E A privileged location in central Chile in central Chile
OUR ICONIC LABEL
OUR ICONIC LABEL
Property in Apal most celebrated, p award-winning r worl
Largest winegrowing acquisition Largest winegrowing acquisit outside Europe Appellation
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OUR ICONIC LABEL
Famille Helfrich Wines
Total area: 70 ha
Total area: 70 ha
Our pick of the best English wines
outside Europe D.O. Ap
Property in Apalta, one of the most celebrated, prestigious and Property in Apalta, one of th “Chile, protectedregions by award-winning in the 70 hect two natural barriers, most celebrated, prestigious the Andesworld and the
Pacificaward-winning Ocean, regions in th provides vineyards with the ideal Appellation of origin world conditions for 93% planted with D.O. Apalta producing organic wine wines.”
(mainly Syrah Appellation of origin D.O. Apalta
Mourvèdre, Caber “Chile, protected by Pierre Viala hectares two natural barriers, Expert70 in Chilean wines and Carm the Andes and the of organic vines Pacific Ocean, provides vineyards with the ideal “Chile, protected by conditions for 93% planted with grapes for red two producingnatural organic barriers, wines the wines.” Andes and the
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THE WINE MERCHANT july 2022 75
Pierre Viala Expert in Chilean wines
(mainly Syrah, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvign and Carmenère)