The Wine Merchant Top 100 supplement 2015

 

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The Wine Merchant Top 100 supplement 2015

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Winners 2015

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Contents 4 Introduction 8 2015 competition review 12 Trophy winners 25 Top performing suppliers 26 Sparkling wine winners 28 White wine winners 38 Rose wine winners 39 Red wine winners 57 Fortified and dessert wine winners 58 Highly commended wines 65 Top performing countries Supplement published by Graham Holter Ltd July 2015

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INTRODUCTION The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 4

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There really is a point to all of this. There are a lot of wine competitions in the world. Let’s be honest: too many. So why did we launch another one? The reason is pretty simple. We could see the merit in a competition that focuses entirely on the independent sector, a part of the wine trade that has seen some explosive growth over the past five years, and where most of the excitement is happening. Not only that: we wanted our competition to be judged by independents themselves. They’re the ones selling the wines, after all. THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 36, May 2015 See you at Olympia New stores on the way for ambitious indies growth in the sector with Oeno, Planet of the Grapes, Vagabond Wines and Bottle Apostle all planning to open new sites in the next few months. In August wine shop-cum-wine bar pioneer Planet of the Grapes is to close its original location in London’s New Oxford Street and replace it with a bigger site nearby in Holborn’s exclusive Sicilian Avenue. It also aiming for a July opening for a shop and bar in the former home of Fox, an iconic City umbrella retailer and gents’ tailor. The listed building has a famous art deco frontage and neon sign featuring the name of the original business, so Planet of the Grapes Established independents are leading bomb-proof window installed in World War II and pre-war interior cabinetry. “We’re very excited to get our hands on and spirits”. will trade from there under the Fox name with secondary signage to emphasise “fine wines Other notable features include a curved THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS Can you really make a profit on £1 corkage charges? Somerset’s got soul, and it’s all change in Horsham 4 comings & GOINGS it,” says owner Matt Harris. “It’s a beautiful building. You can’t change the sign, so it made sense just to use the name rather than go with something like ‘Planet of the Grapes at Fox’. “But in terms of the wine, the buying and the operation, it’s very much owned and run by Planet of the Grapes.” The shop, at 18 London Wall, will Continues page two be over 6 tried & TESTED Wines that explode with flavour … or just explode 9 merchant profile 11am on a Tuesday Dalling & Co: busy even at 14 david williams Just tell him the price, please The independents marketing The treats in store at Olympia 16 three-minute heroes themselves with films 20 london wine fair 32 FOCUS ON ARGENTINA Malbec and much more Versatile, premium and ‘more 32 FOCUS ON rum 44 SUPPLIER BULLETIN Wines from Navarra have been creating a stir in the independent sector of late. You can find out why at this year’s UK tasting. See Make a Date, pages 52 to 55. Essential updates from leading agents and importers interesting than gin’ THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 35, April 2015 Sorry it’s a bit heavy this month Normal service resumes in May out by the surge in entry levels this year, and the numbers of merchants applying to take part. We turn away wines that are sold in supermarkets or which don’t yet have a UK importer. Our competition isn’t about those products (though we could probably quadruple entries if it was). It’s a formula that has resonated with retailers and suppliers alike, as borne One in three indies set to sell wine on premises Just under a quarter of independent wine for wine specialists are now selling consumption on the premises, according to a Wine Merchant poll. 18% This year’s reader survey reveals that wine of independents have been serving while to their customers for at least a year, within another 5% have started doing so say they the past 12 months. A further 5% wine for have definite plans to start offering while a on-premise consumption this year, further 14% have yet to make a decision. (see 70-30 in favour of on-premise sales page four). The company already allows customers this has branches and owner Ruth Yates says contributed to a 20% increase in take-home trade for the company. However the proportion of independents has rejecting the idea of on-premise sales this risen from 48% last year to 58% in to drink on the premises in other THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS Missed Prowein? Then you may have missed a trick Four merchants lock up their shops for the last time 4 comings & GOINGS 6 tried & TESTED its sixth Corks Out, which is about to open this branch, embodies the trend towards the new hybrid wine shop/wine bar format: Knutsford store is expected to be weighted year’s survey. in There has also been a marked increase the the proportion of retailers dismissing but the concept of offering food of any kind, are survey reveals that 87% of independents now selling beer. 21. • More survey analysis starts on page Greek Tannat, you say? Don’t mind if we do nicest thing about Plymouth Le Vignoble: arguably the 9 merchant profile 16 david williams A treatise on the absurdity of wine tastings Why juniper is jumping in independent stores 34 gin blossoms 49 focus on champagne glitz and grocery discounts leading agents and importers The May events vying for a slot in your diary Essential updates from Life beyond the marketing 58 SUPPLIER BULLETIN 65 make a date Each year, since our launch in 2013, we’ve mixed up our panel, partly to give as many independents as possible the chance to get involved, and to ensure that the judging doesn’t get too stuck in its ways. But it’s good to have some level of consistency, which is why we have a fixed senior judging team to help us ensure wines are marked fairly and that every entry has been thoroughly assessed before its fate is decided. We’d like to thank all the independents who took a day out of their businesses to make the judging run so smoothly. It’s not just that we couldn’t do it without you … we wouldn’t do it without you. as part of a the wines of Franciacorta recently Six independent merchants explored in Read their verdicts on what they encountered Wine Merchant trip to the region. our report on pages 28 to 30. THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 34, March 2015 New stores help indies to hit £506m sales high Wine Merchant. broken the £500m barrier, according to exclusive research carried out by The Sales in the independent trade have The market is now worth £506.5 million, up 4.8% on last year’s total of £483.2 million. The figure is ahead of the Consumer Price Index at 1.46% and the wine duty rise of 2.47%. they are “very optimistic” about the chances of a sales increase in the coming year – exactly the same figure as reported last year. Forty-seven per cent are “fairly optimistic”, compared to 50% last time. £673,583. was down marginally from £681,997 Forty-two per cent of respondents say to There’s a reason why our sales people aren’t too pushy THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS Why are independents suddenly less credit worthy? We don’t need wharfs but we like pubs and cafés Some star picks from a frenzy of February trade tastings The Naked Grape: shops don’t get much more independent 4 comings & GOINGS 6 tried & TESTED that average sales per business slid from £927,517 to £920,971. The figure per store because average turnover per business and per shop has dipped slightly. The Wine Merchant reader survey shows The growth has been achieved principally as a result of new entrants in the market, • More survey analysis starts on page contributing less to independent turnover than a year ago, the survey found. 18. Fifteen per cent of independents say it’s likely they will open one or more new branches in the coming year, compared to 11% in 2014. Wholesaling and online sales are 9 merchant profile 16 david williams Reviewing Robert Parker live in concert in London 26 SMALL WORLD A new feature with generic news from near and far 36 GUEST COLUMN WSET Diploma Julie Frankland praises the 37 SUPPLIER BULLETIN Essential updates from leading agents and importers Hattingley Valley is one of dozens of English wine producers already doing good business with independent merchants and hoping to make more progress during this year’s English Wine Week. Retailers discuss the category from pages 28 to 32. A couple of April tastings for your diary 43 make a date Graham Holter Editor and Publisher The Wine Merchant The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 5

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Above: Ted Sandbach and Kate Goodman Below: Julia Jenkins and Tim Carlisle The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 6

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Above: Hal Wilson, Kelli Coxhead and Jamie Tonkin Below: Daniel Lambert and David Perry The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 7

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2015 REVIEW The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 8

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We believe in blind tasting and blind justice. What makes a wine work in the independent sector? Is there a magic formula that guarantees success? If you’d watched the judges doing their thing at this year’s Top 100 competition back in May, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s futile even to ask these questions. Here, after all, was a microcosm of the trade, with 16 very different individuals, representing 16 fiercely individual businesses – and all of them willing to express a contrary opinion. Good luck with finding a single response from that lot. In fact, while there may have been (amiable) disagreements over some flights in both this year’s and in the previous two (Top 50) competitions, a consensus about which wines deserve their place in the final classification – and, by extension, which wines work best in the independent sector – does tend to emerge quite quickly and painlessly from our four-stage judging solera. So what does go down well? Although some countries and suppliers have performed consistently well over the years (with France and Boutinot coming out top again in our league tables in 2015), when you look at the diversity of both supplier and origin in the wines presented over the next 50-odd pages, you’ll see that success isn’t really about where a wine’s from. What matters is where it’s at. Whether it’s a Greek Assyrtiko, a classic Chablis, a Champagne, a Fino Sherry, a Cape Bordeaux blend or a Sicilian Grillo, what our judges are looking for is individual character and quality at a price (not necessarily cheap) that works in their shops – and, we hope you’ll agree, in yours. David Williams Competition Director The Wine Merchant Top 100 The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 9

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Above: Hal Wilson and Philip Amps Below: Hannah Wilkins and Penny Champion The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 10

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Above: Jim Dawson and Archie McDiarmid Below: Paola Tich and Lisanna Tammsalu The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 11

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We started out with 430 wines. So how did we end up with 100 winners? Judges are split into teams of two for the morning session, and asked to assess various flights of wine. They know the style of wine and its price but have no other information. Is the wine interesting? Is it a good example of its genre or perhaps noteworthy because it’s offering something different to the norm? Is it a wine the merchant would be confident to sell at that price? If it is, it goes through to the next round. If not, it’s rejected. Our senior judging team retastes all the rejected wines, to ensure nothing deserving slips through the net. It’s a highly subjective business and as you’d expect there are often clashes of opinion. But in the end we reach a decision that reflects the majority viewpoint. This year 190 wines made it through to the final judging stage. They were reflighted and tasted again, but this time we asked merchants to mark them out of 100. Every wine was also retasted by senior judges, meaning that any wines that made the final cut could have been tasted by as many as nine people, and certainly by at least six. This final tier of judging is there to iron out any inconsistencies in the marking and to ensure every wine has had a really thorough assessment. The winners are the 100 wines that emerge with the highest scores, subject to a few final checks on their credentials, to ensure they are exactly what the suppliers say they are. Many thanks to this year’s judges. They are Hal Wilson of Cambridge Wine Merchants; Philip Amps of Amps Fine Wines in Oundle; Ted Sandbach of The Oxford Wine Company; Kate Goodman of Reserve Wines in Manchester; Penny Champion of Champion Wines in Chislehurst; Hannah Wilkins of Vineyards in Sherborne; Archie McDiarmid of Luvians in St Andrews; Jim Dawson of The Jolly Vintner Too in Bournemouth; Paola Tich of Park & Bridge in Acton; Lisanna Tammsalu of 10 Green Bottles in Brighton; David Perry of Shaftesbury Wines in Dorset; Julia Jenkins of Flagship Wines in St Albans; Jamie Tonkin of Old Chapel Wine Cellars in Truro; and Kelli Coxhead of The Wine Tasting Co in Winscombe. We were also pleased to welcome Daniel Lambert of Daniel Lambert Wines, an independent supplier whose wines were not involved in this year’s competition; and former SH Jones marketer Tim Carlisle, a late replacement for a judge who had to withdraw at short notice. The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 12

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TROPHIES CHAMPAGNE CHARLES HEIDSIECK BRUT RESERVE CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE NV It may have had more competition this time around, but for the third year running, the consistently excellent Champagne Charles Heidsieck was the stand-out producer in a strong sparkling wine field at The Wine Merchant Top 100 in 2015. And, as with the 2014 competition, it was the Brut Réserve – a 40/40/20 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier blend – that just squeaked past Heidsieck’s Rosé Réserve to take top honours, a wine that wowed the judges with its classic Champagne style and unusually good price. “Hosanna in excelsis,” the judges declared, “this is a truly superb Champagne. Biscuity with citrus notes, perfectly integrated and hinting at some maturity. A benchmark for quality non-vintage Champagne, this would be a must-buy special-occasion wine.” SUPPLIER LIBERTY WINES RRP £42 ABV 12% SPARKLING WINE TROPHY “A benchmark for quality non-vintage Champagne, this would be a must-buy specialoccasion wine” The Wine Merchant Top 100 2015 14

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Seckford Agencies are delighted to support The Wine Merchant magazine. Having entered a few wines into the Top 100 competition each year, we were particularly delighted to achieve 9 WINNERS in 2015. We believe that Seckford’s ratio of winners to entries must be one of the best in this year’s competition, at 52% … these being: Spice Route, Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – Swartland, South Africa, RRP £10.95-£11.95 Spice Route, Mourvedre 2013 – Swartland, South Africa, RRP £11.50-£12.50 Coriole, Sangiovese 2013 – McLaren Vale, Australia RRP £14.50-£15.50 Pike and Joyce, Rapide Pinot Noir 2013 – Adelaide Hills, Australia RRP £12.99-£13.99 Pikes, Traditionale Riesling 2014 – Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, Australia RRP £14.99-£15.99 Waipara Springs, Riesling, 2013 – Waipara, NZ RRP £11.25-£12.25 Waipara Springs, Chardonnay 2013 – Waipara, NZ RRP £11.25-£12.25 Wooing Tree, Pinot Noir 2011 – Cromwell, Central Otago, NZ RRP £29.50-£30.50 Indaba, Merlot 2014 – Western Cape, South Africa RRP £7.99-£8.99 We’d love to chat to you about these great wines, and many more in our portfolio. For more information or to request samples, please contact David, Jo or Julie on: first name@ Seckford Agencies, Old Barn Farm, Harts Lane, Ardleigh, Colchester CO7 7QQ www.seckfordagencies.co.uk | info@seckfordagencies.co.uk | Tel 01206 231686 | @seckfordagency

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