THE WINE MERCHANT.
An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 39, August 2015
We’re ready for the Dirty Dozen
Fraudsters pose as UK wine merchants
Fraudsters posing as independent merchants are placing orders for wine with producers and wholesalers across Europe. could be embroiled in the scam without use genuine VAT and Companies House registration details, the email and web There are fears that dozens of merchants has been tricked into supplying stock without receiving upfront payment. Recently 28 pallets of Romanian wine worth €44,000 were after being ordered in the name of The Good Wine Shop. The fraudsters have recently established a Owner Mark Wrigglesworth says the even realising it as although the fraudsters delivered to fraudsters at an address in Sussex,
Flash sales, bread tastings and an inland beach
4 comings & GOINGS
New independents in Dorchester and Twickenham
addresses quoted in their correspondence are not those of the retailers they pretend to be. and Halifax Wine Company have both been has also been affected. Although most recipients of the emails The Good Wine Shop in south west London
fake website for the business and appear to be ramping up their activities. problem started in April and has gradually worsened. “The problem is we’re utterly helpless. I’ve got at least 20 emails from wineries across Europe – lots of them in Spain. The email always asks for 28 pallets. I’ve even
Continues page 2
6 tried & TESTED
Wines that made us go “hmm”, in a good way
10 merchant profile
caught up in the scam – and Jancis Robinson either see through the fraud or take steps to
Grape & Grind’s debt to Philglas & Swiggot
22 david williams
check their authenticity, at least one producer
Domestic wines are still seen as silly-season stories
26 focus on chile
Have perceptions changed in the independent trade?
30 viva virginia!
Retailers give their verdict on the state’s best wines
38 wine merchant lunch
Why Beaujolais wines are bang on trend
48 make a date
Four independents – Carlos Blanco of Blanco & Gomez, Julia Jenkins of Flagship Wines, Stuart Campbell of Fyne Wines and Kelli Coxhead of The Wine Tasting Company – joined a Wine Merchant trip to the Centre-Loire last month. Read about their exploits and what they The store closes at the end of August after 24 years tasted on pages 31 to 33.
Strap yourself in for the September tasting frenzy
Patersons it was immediately evident Wrigglesworth echoes the point: “It’s the mud. It’s becoming hugely time a stop to it,” he says§
“there were several things that should
have made you suspicious”, including poor grammar and inconsistencies with the company name and website details. The the town. website is listed as halifaxfoodfest.co.uk, “I got in touch with Trading Standards
potentially dragging your name through
consuming and I just want someone to put of all the incidents to Action Fraud – a other merchants to do the same. The Patersons have passed on details
which is the domain of a genuine event in and they told me to phone Action Fraud,”
division of City of London Police that deals
Independents in identity scam
From page 1
Karen says. “In between doing that I had an email from one of our suppliers who had also received the email. It must be four or
with these kinds of scams – and encourage they can link all of them together and trip up,” says Karen.
somewhere along the line these guys will wineries themselves should also submit are in no way liable to pay for stock against fake websites if they were An Action Fraud spokesman says that
“If they get people reporting these things
had people like Alliance asking why I’ve I’m now at the point where one of my least once a day.” He adds: “We were contacted by a shops is being contacted by a winery at
been in touch with one of their producers.
their evidence. “They are the main targets obtained in their name by fraudsters.
of the crime,” he says, adding that retailers He says police would only take action
Romanian winery who said ‘we’ve sent this wine and now we can’t get in contact with that they were approached at ProWein by an actual individual.” Shop’s name bear a striking similarity to details. the people who ordered it’. Their story was The emails issued under The Good Wine
directly involved in fraud, but encourages independents affected by such activity to contact the domain host and request for the site to be taken down. In a separate incident Halifax recently
received an internet order from a person
Halifax ustomer wanted 60 bottles
those sent bearing Halifax Wine Company’s terms in its name from drinks wholesalers in Spain. The messages claim that Halifax is a restaurant company interested in to “establish a permanent business relationship”. buying “food, wine, cava etc” and is looking They request a price list and for a credit Attempts have been made to gain credit
requesting 60 bottles of Charles Heidsieck Champagne. “Within about 20 minutes we had a phone call from the customer,” says Karen. “Andy said the guy sounded really the Champagne for a wedding.”
five times this has happened in the past
month. I’m hoping it will just die a death
and that six or eight months down the line we don’t get a legal letter from someone. will check it out. If you ring the number you just stay on hold. would say ‘this isn’t right’ and most people you are given several keypad options but “But the people sending the letter are “If you look at the email, 99% of people
genuine. He had been ‘recommended to us by a friend’ who lived near us and needed was not in stock and would have to be retrieved from bond, and a pro forma The caller was told that the Champagne
line to be opened with terms of 14 days. Company with husband Andy, says: “We a call from a wholesaler in Spain.”
invoice was issued. The customer said
had a call from a lady in London who works for the Spanish Embassy. She had received When the email was shown to the
Karen Paterson, who owns Halifax Wine
the money would need to be transferred we heard of him,” says Karen. When the checked out, nobody of that name was found to live at either place. “I’m wondering if we had said the
clever – they’ve been to Companies House to get our details and they know there is a food festival going on.” been a massive time wasting exercise.” She adds: “For us the whole thing has
by his wife in Norway. “That was the last
delivery address and billing address were
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 2
Champagne was in stock he would have
just turned up and tried to scam us with says. • Action Fraud can be contacted on
some sort of fraudulent payment,” Karen 0300 123 2040.
Terre a Terre in the city. September.
Fourth & Church opens in mid-
• Ake & Humphris has opened its third store, at Blossomgate in Ripon. The premises includes an upstairs wine bar which also offers a selection of charcuterie and draught craft beers from the UK and overseas.
Butler’s branding at new Hove deli
Brighton independent Butler’s Wine Cellar will have co-branding at a new wine shop, deli and restaurant venture in neighbouring Hove to which it will be supplying wines. previously worked at Butler’s, which is owned by Henry Butler and has shops in Brighton’s Hanover and Kemptown districts. Chefs Paul Morgan and Sam Pryor
Market Harborough in Leicestershire is around 70 miles from the coast but that hasn’t stopped the town’s wine merchant getting into the holiday spirit. centre stage at the launch party for the Harborough on Sea festival. Duncan Murray Wines has taken
“Our Man with the Facts”
• Petite Sirah, popular with vignerons which was created when Syrah pollen • Chemical classes of compounds germinated Peloursin vines.
in California, is actually the Durif grape,
wine to take away as well as by the glass events and private wine dinners in the basement.
or bottle for on-premise consumption for a small mark-up. There are plans for tasting “Fourth & Church will have an informal
Their Fourth & Church venture will sell
in the town centre turned into a beach for and fairground rides.
a week complete with a Punch & Judy show around,” says Duncan Murray, who has teamed up with local micropub The with the issuing of “passports”. The £5 tour” of the drinks world. “There’ll be a few knotted handkerchiefs
The annual event sees the main square
found in wine include esters, alcohols, acids, lactones, carbonyl compounds, acetals, phenols, sulphur-containing volatiles, nitrogen-containing miscellaneous substances”. volatiles and – er – “other
retail feel focused on wine and it will be will be a mix of tapas bar, New York deli and London wine bar,” says Morgan.
Beerhouse to provide drinks on the launch travel document will entitle holders to sample four wines or beer on a “European and we’ve been getting a lot of good feedback,” Murray reports. “We’ve both been selling the passports
for us to select from. We have an agreement on costs and there will be some crossbranding. It will showcase Butler’s wine to a wider audience and it will drive volumes.” promote a selection of bottles for under £10. It will showcase local sparkling wine, Fourth & Church will run a monthly focus
“Butler’s offers a fantastic range of wines
signature red variety, accounts for just • A German physician, writing in 1493, they reached the age of 18 months, and given should at least be “white, light • The world record for balancing a glass of wine on the forehead is McManaman of Nova Scotia. and well diluted”. that if this proved difficult, the wine switch to water and honey – adding stop giving their children wine once recommended that mothers should 7.4% of vineyard area in the country.
• Pinotage, considered South Africa’s
on different regions and grape varieties and
beer and cider plus British charcuterie, and cheeses and vegetables from Sussex farms. consultancy business. Morgan and Pryor also run Fervere, a Brighton-based food events, education and the award-winning vegetarian restaurant They met when they worked as chefs at
Duncan helps to set things up
27 minutes 26 seconds, set by Doug
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 3
Banham heads west to Dorchester
Dorchester will have a new wine merchant and tasting room by early September. educator Mark Banham of the Dorset Wine School and his wife Caroline MorrishBanham. Mark Banham previously ran the wine Morrish & Banham is being opened by
Essex independent Luckins and Tanners.
• After almost 10 years of trading, Heaton Wines in Romsey in Hampshire is to close. Owner Paul Dawkins says there is a break with a significant birthday, so it seemed like a good time to retire. Dawkins will still organise wine dinners with a local restaurant. clause coming up in the lease that coincides
will be between £8 and £13 and that he abroad. “We want to change people’s
wants to showcase wines made by Brits
perceptions of what wine is – and it will
be interesting to do that by saying ‘look at these people who gave up their jobs and in wine’.”
went out and made a career for themselves the planning with red tape around the The opening has been eight months in
lease holding things up, Matthews says.
operation of Palmers Brewery in Bridport and his new business has beery links too, as it will be located in the town’s new Brewery Square development in the shadow of the former Eldridge Pope site. there will definitely be a good selection from France, Italy, Germany and Spain –
to go in and plan everything very carefully a very easy job.” The shop will have Enomatics but stop “We’re coming into a location where
in advance so that when it came to it, it was short of an on-trade by-the-glass offering. there’s a restaurant with an outside area and we don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes at the start,” he adds. association and a lot of time goes into
The Brewery Square development
“It did mean that the shopfitter was able
“The range is still a work in progress, but
but the New World as well,” says Banham. go up to £50.99. I want it to be really high quality with lots of individual wines.” Local English vineyards and spirits will “We’ll open up with a few at £5.99 and
maintaining it. There are regular al fresco been used as a film location.”
“Church Street has a strong trading
be represented and Virginia is on his radar. be that in due course,” he says. Caroline Morrish-Banham is a local
evenings and floral displays – and it’s even
“We might have a speciality and it may well tourism officer and keen photographer, and is overseeing the shop design and layout.
Warren wait ends
Wine education will play a big role in the offering of a new wine merchant opening in Twickenham in south west London. Rack manager James Hamlett and is being set up with help from consultant and cofounder Mike Matthews, who has worked While with First Quench he was an inhouse staff wine tutor. for Wine Rack, Thresher and Bottoms Up, Warren Wines is owned by former Wine
End of Bin Ends
Cotwsolds wine merchant Bin Ends at the Bear is closing because its premises have been put up for sale by the owner. of Rodborough Hotel which has been put and that has led to the wine shop being asked to vacate the site. The shop is in the grounds of the Bear
who has produced images for the branding Morrish & Banham will combine retail A rotating range of by-the-glass wines There are plans for monthly tasting
sales with a selection for consumption on the premises with a £5 corkage fee. and charcuterie. will also be sold along with local cheese
on the market by Cotswolds Inns & Hotels, The shop is in Rodborough Common and
and had a spell as a freelance wine writer. “We realise that it’s a retail environment
opened in 2012. The team are considering continuing as an online business. • Lancelot Wines in East Molesey, south established in 2002 by Laurent Moign.
events and wine dinners, in-store tastings and team-building events for corporate clients. A Claret Club will offer en primeur sales Before Palmers, Banham worked for
but we have lots of ideas about how it can be more than that,” says Matthews. “The wine world can be quite exclusive but about and enjoy wine.” we want everybody to be able to find out
west London, has closed. The business was
and there will be national mail order and free local deliveries for case purchases.
Matthews says the sweet spot for prices
• Inverness independent Highland Bottle Shop has closed. The store was opened by
Nick Lyon in the centre of the town in 2013.
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 4
tried & Tested
Château des Tourtes Cuvée Prestige 2013
A Côtes de Bordeaux Blaye Sauvignon Blanc with an aromatic, exotic nose and a great combination of depth and minerality. Made by the Lallez sisters, it’s aged in its lees, which helps explain the rich, almost buttery flavour and lingering – even intensifying – finish. RRP: £13.90 ABV: 12% thefrenchwineproject.com The French Wine Project (0033 546 49 79 92) 400-litre new oak barrels and spends nine months on
Louis De Grenelle Cuvée Ivoire Brut NV
A Saumur blend of Chenin and Chardonnay, this is a bracing, flinty fizz that initially seems deliciously austere but opens up a little bit on the finish, where subtle floral and fruit elements shimmer into view. classy food-friendly wine at a pretty sharp price. RRP: £13.50 ABV: 12% Le Bon Vin (0114 256 0090) lebonvin.co.uk
It’s straight and linear with no twists and turns, but a
The Pitmaster Viognier 2014
Pitmaster is a brand conceived by Inverarity Morton and winemakers on Australia’s Limestone Coast, the idea being to produce simple barbie-friendly wines. This hits the spot with its peachy aroma, lemon, creme brulée notes and subtle hints of iron and chalk. At this price it’s a pretty satisfying glass of wine with none of the irritations that Viognier can present at this level. RRP: £7.99 ABV: 14% Inverarity Morton (0141 649 9881) inveraritymorton.com
Feria et Fêtes Grenache Noir 2012
Hailing from the Pays des Côtes Catalanes, this is a spicy, and scaffolded elegantly by the 50% oaked RRP: £7.80 ABV: 15% heady and crowd-pleasing wine at a price that seems, on face value, to have a digit missing. Soft, warm and and the subconscious lighting of barbecues. Caution. Boutinot (0161 908 1300) boutinot.com component, it’s a wine that inspires fantasies of meat
Il Grillo di Santa Tresa NV
Organic sparkling Grillo, you say? Don’t mind if we do. The aroma conjures up sherbet dip-dabs, bubble bath and pineapple, which is usually enough to get friendly charms; the flavour intensified as fridge RRP: £9.99 ABV: 12.5% North South Wines (0161 908 1300) northsouthwines.co.uk us in a party mood. We over-chilled our bottle so it took a while for us to appreciate its fruity but food-
Château Lestrille Capmartin Bordeaux Clairet 2014
Clairet is a style that should be claiming some of the rosé action and this is a pretty good introduction. Of on the colour, so hand-selling is probably part of the finish, it’s a decent shout for autumn evenings. RRP: £13.99 ABV: 13% hallgartendruitt.co.uk course your rosé regulars will assume it’s sweet, based
shock receded. A sparkling wine that really sparkles.
deal. Full-bodied, rich and rounded, with a taut, mineral Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines (01582 722538 )
Two Sisters Central Otago Riesling 2009
Riesling confuses and confounds even those who enjoy it, but if they were all as good as this it would be everyone’s favourite white variety. Everything about (but rounded) finish. Pretty special stuff. RRP: £28 ABV: 12% thedamnfinewinecompany.co.uk it is spot-on, from the gorgeous buttery aroma to the gently honeyed palate, clean acidity and pure, mineral The Damn Fine Wine Company (07990 586509)
Champagne Lallier R.012
Most of the Pinot Noir-dominated fruit comes from the 2012 vintage, but Francis Tribaut has blended in juice from the 2002, 2004 and 2008 harvests – the aim being to reflect “the Lallier style through a
predominant vintage”. Tight, dry and savoury – indeed verging on saline – with glints of green apple, it’s a RRP: £29.99 boutinot.com ABV: 12.5% Boutinot (0161 908 1300)
wine that craves salty snacks. The kids had eaten ours.
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 6
bits & BOBs FAVOURITE
Old Chapel Cellars Truro
It’s hard to make money in Hunter
More than 90% of production in Australian wine regions including the Hunter Valley, Riverland and Swan District is unprofitable, according to the Winemakers Federation of Australia. with wine production in cooler climate regions much more profitable. Decanter, July 23 Its report points to a two-speed sector,
boxes into a van. The vehicle, later revealed to be carrying a large quantity of wine, was stopped by police as it attempted to leave men inside to jump out and run off. A dog unit and a police helicopter the site via Bradley Lane, leading the three were called in and three men were later arrested, as was a woman on suspicion incident. July 23 Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser,
Favourite wine on my list
La Suerte de Arrayan 2012 Garnacha. was named best Garnacha in a recent We bring this in ourselves from Decanter tasting.
of assisting an offender in relation to the
Mentrida – it is suprisingly delicate. It
Stanley Gibbons has bought online wine trading platform Bid for Wine. firm into the stable of companies which includes stamps specialists Stanley art, antiques and books auctioneers
Riverland: “Only 10%” of wineries profitable
Favourite wine and food match
Sports Mix! Failing that I think a bottle on my local beach with freshly caught mackerel cooked on a driftwood fire. of Domaine Augis Valencay 2013 I have yet to find a match for a bag of
The acquisition brings yet another
Favourite wine trip
Gibbons, numismatic specialists Baldwin’s, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury and London dealers Mallett. Antiques Trade Gazette, July 16
Every time I get to go to the Languedoc. supermarket (sorry!) I have been back many times since – I love the wild countryside and the food. I first went when I worked for a large
Dogs of Denbies
The manager of Denbies Wine Estate praised the “rapid response” of police officers after a break-in at the vineyard led to the arrest of four people. to the estate in Dorking at about 1am Surrey Police despatched several officers
• The government spent £70,000 stocking its vast wine cellar last year, new figures reveal – an increase of more than £20,000. quaffed thousands of litres from the 34,000-bottle store in another year of harsh spending cuts. The Mirror, July 16 Guests, foreign visitors and dignitaries
Favourite wine trade person
There are many, but I recently met Phil entertaining chap. He enjoys a proper pasty and a pint, which helps. Barnett from Les Caves De Pyrene: a charming, knowledgable and
following reports of a group of men loading
Favourite wine shop
plus Peter Prescott is one of the most knowledgeable people I have met. Also some amazing cheese!
oasis in the middle of the city. A well balanced and eclectic mix of wine,
The Wine Library, London: a wine
The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 766 independent wine shops. Except one, and that’s deliberate. The magazine is edited by Graham Holter. Printed in Sussex by East Print. Registered in England: No 6441762 © Graham Holter Ltd 2015 VAT 943 8771 82
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 8
Crus Bourgeois du Médoc 2013 Official Selection
Tasting on Thursday 24th September 2015 10am to 5pm The British Academy 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH To register please go to www.phillips-hill.co.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 07909 522797 Phillips-Hill Wine Marketing, PR & Events, in association with Winevox Association de Promotion des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc email@example.com – www.crus-bourgeois.com
Le Bon Vin shares the logo of the Cavavin group from which it buys, but operates as a separate entity
Ben Carfagnini, June 2015: “There are big shoes to fill, for sure”
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 9
merchant profile: grape & GRIND
From Battersea to Brist
Five years managing a branch of Philglas & Swiggot is bound to leave a lasting impression on anyone. But Grape & Grind isn’t a mere carbon copy of Darren Willis’s former employers’ ideas
ometimes the chatter about
charcuterie and on-premise sales. None of & Grind, and the business seems to work pretty well without them. It is, in essence, a classic wine shop in
independent wine retailing gets
those elements are part of the mix at Grape
a little obsessed with Enomatics,
the modern mould: stripped floorboards, funky lighting, cool branding, full shelves
annotated by hand-written tasting tickets
and Neil Young playing in the background. ready for a change – essentially it hasn’t That was on November 26, 2010. The
It looks great. “It’s all right,” shrugs Darren changed all that much since we opened.” artery in the Bishopston area of the city a half-hour hike from Temple Meads
Willis. “There are a few little things that are
store is on Gloucester Road, a north-south station. It’s a bustling place, dominated by independent shops, and it didn’t take long the right location for their new business, having first done what most Bristol newcomers do and checked out Clifton. it’s quite an unusual place with a high proportion of students,” Willis says. “Clifton is a bit more well-heeled but
for Willis and his wife Polly to identify it as
came here. It’s not as busy as Gloucester that isn’t really embedded in the local community. The more we looked at it
Road. You have a quite transient population the more we weren’t really convinced,
“We went and had a look when we first
even though there are some really smart
Willis: queues outside the butcher and bread shop were encouraging signs
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 10
businesses there. us. The more time we spent here the more for us.” Although Gloucester Road does have we realised this was the spot that was right some multiples – the Co-operative and “Some friends said, come and stay with Tesco are both within sight of Willis’s store first impressions suggest the clientele is families rather than hipsters. “Just down that way there’s an
– the vibe is definitely independent, though
independent bread shop,” explains Willis,
gesturing along the road. “Up there there’s a butcher and a fishmonger – that was just willing to give this street a go. “Each time we came on a Saturday there
Gloucester Road has a lively mix of independent retailers
opening. I liked the idea that a fish guy was was a queue outside the bread shop and the road. You don’t see that very often. It wasn’t at Christmas, these were just regular Saturdays.” offering ground coffee as part of their specialism (hence the “Grind” that And so the couple took the plunge,
Philglas & Swiggot was a real blueprint for independent wine shops, wasn’t it? Yeah, definitely. They were our inspiration, no question. If I hadn’t worked there, I wouldn’t have done this. doing? It was really about them more than necessarily about what they were doing. They were just extremely unpretentious about wine and I really warmed to that very easy place to walk into. straight away. They were very relaxed in
realise who would fit with them and their misread the signs and it didn’t work out. Just too stuffy.
personality and their way of doing things.
a queue outside the butcher – and I don’t
They did employ one guy once where they
just mean one or two people, I mean down
How would you sum up what they were
So when you came here was it a case of bringing a little bit of Philglas & Swiggot to Bristol, with a little something of your own on top? You put your own spin on it but I liked their formula, and I had no plan to come here and launch an assault on the wholesale market. I know that having a deli, and doing a little bit of off and on-trade has remember that Bristol is not London Philglas & Swiggot here.
accompanies the “Grape” in the name).
Willis had worked at Harvey Nichols and Rogers at Philglas & Swiggot, where he the Battersea branch. The experience
Fine & Rare before joining Mike and Karen spent five years – most of them managing
their manner and very welcoming. It was a As an employee, did you get trained into that culture or did you just absorb it? They’d been doing it long enough to
become very popular, but I didn’t really
helped to define his idea of wine retailing.
want to do that either. But also you must and you can’t just drop a carbon copy of What kind of place is Bishopston? The population around here is fiercely
Continues page 12
The more time we spent here the more we realised this was the right spot for us
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 11
merchant profile: grape & GrIND
From page 11
actually. We pretty much covered every purely on the buying side, though I’ve
Has the coffee side of things grown or scaled down since you opened? In terms of the amount that we carry, it’s the same. But the sales of it have gone up very popular. It pulls people in here who otherwise wouldn’t come. Peter, the guy me the way. He’s a fascinating guy. coffee on the premises? We could do but there’s so much of that we’ve probably reached Peak Coffee. along this street. If anything I would say What about the online side of things? Are you looking to build that up? Well, yes. We do nothing online at all at the moment really so that’s why we’re paying for our website to be redone. We definitely who runs the coffee business, is a family
loyal. We completely underestimated it.
wine region in south west Germany. It’s
They love this street and want this street to succeed. Once they’ve checked you out and you sell what they want at the right price, they’re fiercely loyal. It’s incredible. road ... That’s the trendy part, Stokes Croft – it’s the Shoreditch, if you like. The young couple of years ago. side of things? I’m very fond of Italy and I would say that Spain has been the thing that I’ve increased more than I saw the anti-Tesco mural down the
important. Trips work – not necessarily
bought some new things from the German exchange ideas.
trip. It’s what you learn. It fires you up. And you meet new people there … you chat and Have you ever teamed up with other independents to ship your own wines? I haven’t, no. It would have to be the right person. The advantages are obvious, but I can see the pitfalls. By the time that I left Philglas they were importing a lot of their own wine – things they were
and up and up over the five years. It’s small, as you can see, but it’s good coffee and it’s
friend of my wife’s and he kind of showed Have you thought about actually serving
crowds hang out down there. That’s also where the riot against Tesco happened a
What are your specialisms on the wine
fairly confident they could move, a lot of it Champagne, Chablis, Côte d’Or, a few
anything else. That’s just a combination of wines that we’ve tasted and enjoyed regions of Spain.
Trips work, but not always for buying … it’s what you learn. It fires you up
Australian growers, Italian growers. I pressure cash flow-wise. get bits and bobs of house wines from Boutinot, direct, and there’s always a bit of Do you do tastings and events in here? Yes, every four to six weeks – we shift out that [display unit] in the middle and get out no problem at all. about 30 people in, we usually sell them What kind of ticket price? Depends on the wines ... normally £15. wines bought on the night? No, but I’m going to do that, a decent discount on the night for single bottles
at the right price point and do really well for us. It’s been a shock, I would say. All What suppliers do you work with? I didn’t start out with Alliance but I do increasing amounts with them. I think they’re working really hard – they’re doing some really good stuff. I’ve got a lot of suppliers but maybe half a dozen I use more than anyone else: Caves de Pyrene; Boutinot; Liberty; FMV. I really enjoy the ABS wines. I work with Fells as well. Do you get to tastings?
want to try and direct a bit more through there and see how that goes. I certainly don’t ever envisage that being huge. You accept the Bristol pound and work?
payments by text – how do those things The Bristol pound came about three years notes – and there’s also text-to-pay. I do a lot more text-to-pay than I do currency. within Bristol and trade more locally.
ago. It’s currency – £1, £2, £5, £10 and £20 The idea really is just to keep the money
Does that include a discount against
I like to go to tastings but it’s not always always possible or feasible. What about trips?
Obviously for me, in terms of buying, that’s not particularly relevant although some of the beer guys accept it so I pay my bills on board and I can pay my business rates using it. If the council hadn’t been on board I’d have been left with this surplus in Bristol pounds. The most relevant thing for me is that they got Bristol City Council
easy to get to them. The manager Rob and I try to share them between us but it’s not
or cases or whatever. It’s really good: we so it’s not just the same crowd.
I’ve just been to Germany with ABS
always seem to have an even split between
people who’ve been before and new people
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 12
of currency that I would have had to swap
back into sterling.
people who take part of their salary or pounds.
convert part of their salary into Bristol
It works well for me; there are a lot of
an account with Bristol pounds. You buy, say, 100 Bristol pounds but rather than
Text-to-pay is exactly the same. You have
pick it up from the credit union or one of say, £20. now?
their outlets you’re given a unique ID and PIN so if someone comes in they text me, What kind of turnover have you got This year looks like it’s going to be about
£650,000, I think. Given where we started, slap bang in the middle of recession time,
our estimates were quite conservative. We
were realistic, I think, and we far exceeded myself, effectively. business? People ask me this very often. The most the right place. common question is “when is the next one opening?” We could do it, if we could find
our expectations. It was definitely the right move. We own the building so I pay rent to
What would you like to do next with the
second shop in North Street which was the obvious place: the other side of the river, shops and housing prices are more it’s finding another one of those. a smaller scale … lots of good independent reasonable. It’s a good, happening place … of it; I don’t want it to be a vanity project. North Street is now pricing the next we’d potentially have a look at that.
Corks [of Cotham] have just opened their
and it’s a street not dissimilar to this but on
I don’t want to open one just for the sake
generation out so there’ll be another place
in Bristol that will tap into that market, and
Continues page 14
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 13
merchant profile: grape & GrIND
From page 13
I guess what you’re proving here is that you don’t have to have an Enomatic and you don’t have to sell cheese, or do ontrade sales … Someone asked me about the cheese thing I didn’t want to give up any more space. quite early on, when we’d just started, and With the benefit of hindsight it was a good move. We looked at a much smaller shop
I’ve got too many suppliers, but getting the right wines is important
hasn’t been passed down to the sales guy. came in recently with a new list and they’re changing the way they approach I’m starting to see little changes. Enotria quite interesting. Alliance are very good really do. – they totally get the independents, they Does it matter how many suppliers you work with? I’ve got too many suppliers, but getting the right wines is important. Aside from minimum, and some of them are a good deal more. It’s all very well opening an account
than this, maybe half the size, and whilst it a family street and we get a lot of buggies puts some people off. they do not so well? I think that they’re slowly understanding how important indies are. But they still don’t fully grasp why we get a little bit shirty when they’re selling us a wine and then dropping it into the multiples. They don’t get why we need to know that, and mind some crossover, with some people, door and if I see a wine in there … why we don’t like that crossover. We don’t
independents completely, and I found that
might have worked we need this space. It’s
in here and with steps and a smaller area it What do suppliers do well, and what do
one supplier that I’ve just started working with, every single one of them is 10 cases
and having a trial list of wines … I worked with a really nice supplier last year and his minimum order was 14 cases and his range wasn’t that big. A couple of the wines worked brilliantly, a couple were OK and a couple didn’t work that well at all. It’s just very difficult. I like working with quite a big range – I
and that happens. But I’ve got a Co-op next
the wine doesn’t even realise that someone else in their group has just sold them a whole container of it and the information
Peak Coffee, perhaps, but not Peak Champagne
Occasionally the person who’s selling me
could possibly shrink the range slightly and expand my number of suppliers but I’d find that really difficult. I know that’s kind of a big range. Show me someone who runs a wine shop and doesn’t like buying wines! flaw in my own buying: I quite like quite a
behind the man behind the counter
Age: 40 Home city: Birmingham University: Hull Family: Wife, Polly, and children aged six and four Interests outside of wine: “I like mountains – I try to get to Scotland as much as I can. That’s my mid-life crisis. I’m trying to climb all the Munros with my wife.” What would you be if not a wine merchant? “I was a design engineer for an aeronautics company, but I didn’t enjoy it, so I definitely wouldn’t be that. Centre forward for Aston Villa? Yeah, maybe. I probably took the wrong A-levels. I should have done something language-based.” Where would you like to be selling wine if you could move the shop anywhere in the world? Maybe this would work well in San Francisco? “I’ve never been to the West Coast of America. I like New York but if this could work in Seville, that’s where I’d perhaps do it.”
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2015 14
It’s back, and bigger and better than ever.
The Great Sherry Festival is the perfect opportunity for independent merchants to celebrate and promote the stunning wines of Jerez. Turn to page 16 for more details or visit www.sherryinstitute.co.uk.