The Wine Merchant issue 43

 

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The Wine Merchant issue 43

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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 43, January 2016 You asked for more, so we gave it to you Uber-style courier firm set to expand nationally A business that has been described as the Uber of the courier market is looking to expand beyond its London heartland. wine merchants among its client base and boss James Middleton says he will “definitely” be rolling out the service to other cities. package they want collected and delivered. the client chooses between them. Clients go online to enter details of the Street Stream has a number of the capital’s better value for both the customer and the courier. The business, which uses a mixture “We have a Street Stream-branded cargo of cargo bikes, motorcycles and vans to make deliveries, is “doubling in size every month”. a great big platform on the front. We can wine. bike,” he says. “It’s basically a push bike with THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS Wine matched with Greggs pasties, and cocktail refills 4 comings & GOINGS Yet another Brighton indie, and a second for Truro Self-employed couriers, vetted and insured by Customers are kept up to date about the carry quite heavy loads.” Middleton says it can “That’s greener – and in London, it’s often London independent merchant Bedales is 8 tried & TESTED Street Stream, then quote for the business and delivery “at every stage” and are invited to rate the courier they use on the website. Middleton argues that the system provides comfortably take the equivalent of two cases of much faster – than getting a van through the centre of town.” Wines that taste of fireworks and orang-utans 12 AKE & HUMPHRIS Was it a wine merchant that made Harrogate so happy? Continues page 2 18 david williams Just how many vintages of a lifetime can a person experience? 22 called to the bar The indies who moved beyond traditional retailing 34 tour of britain The Scottish merchants who are keeping it local 46 supplier Bulletin Essential updates from agents and suppliers 53 make a date Many retailers venture off-site for their annual wine fairs but few choose venues as spectacular as Manchester Cathedral. More pictures from Hangingditch’s Christmas event on page 20. Strap yourselves in: the tasting season is back!

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BACCHUS Frazier’s signals Hedonistic intent “My aim is to make it like the Hedonism of the Midlands,” says William Frazier, discussing the £500,000 investment in his company’s new wine studio. “That’s a fair target, isn’t it?” trading in the Birmingham area, in one aware of its fine wine offer. Frazier’s Wine Merchants may have been b explains. Technology will be at the heart of the new space but there are no plans for Enomatic-type machines and Frazier going to make sure it looks like that,” he says. Frazier’s also operates a small store is keen to stay faithful to the architecture. “It’s a 1930s hairbrush factory and we’re in Lapworth, Warwickshire, and derives 25% of its sales from retail business. Frazier expects the studio in Solihull to doubling of turnover within two years. wines? “We’ve already got a fantastic have a positive impact and is predicting a Frazier’s will be sourcing more top-end Does the Hedonism comparison mean Greggs tasting was a sell-out at £25 a ticket Who drank what with all the pies? Don’t let anyone say that proximity to a branch of Greggs is bad for a wine shop’s image. tickets – in record time and at £25 a throw – for a tasting at which selections from the Greggs Christmas takeaway range were who owns the shop and wine bar. In all, Vesuvio matched wines with paired with wines chosen by Darren Smith, eight delicacies including a tuna crunch turkey, stuffing and cranberry relish Darlington’s Vesuvio Wines sold all 35 selection of Bordeaux,” responds Frazier. well that we can use. “We just need somewhere to display that “I hope the brand awareness will drive and it’s about creating an events space as all parts of the business. We’re a small form or another, since the 19th century but there is a sense that not enough people are devoted to wholesale business, but Frazier is investing in a refurb that will showcase more of its wines for retail sale, as well events. as create a setting for tastings and other The head office near Solihull is mainly independent family business and most of the reactions we get are ‘we haven’t heard of you’ or ‘we didn’t know you were here’, profile as well. “It’s about learning, understanding and so it’s about telling a story and raising the educating – and becoming the go-to place for wine in the Midlands.” baguette with Bernard Haas & Fils Cremant d’Alsace; a festive flatbread – containing – with the same region’s Frey Sohler the business about four years ago,” he says. “It’s about developing the brand. centre for Morris’s Wine Stores, which was my grandfather’s business, supplying 30 “Currently we just have a reception so shops, so it’s much more of a warehouse. “Originally this was the distribution “It’s been my plan since I came back into Courier scheme set for expansion From page 1 among Street Stream’s clients. “In the last few months of using Street Stream we Jamie Watts. Gerwurztraminer; and a Christmas muffin with Ca del Console Extra Dry Prosecco. and chicken club baguette with a lightlybig successes. “The baguette was quite a bit of acidity and creaminess in it.“ oaked Loire Valley Chardonnay, had been Smith said sausage roll with dry red Dao, rich sandwich so we just wanted a little of by a customer who had seen Smith eating a it but then thought, actually, it wasn’t the worst idea in the world,” he says. The idea for the tasting was suggested people can place orders online or phone us currently have a display area because it’s a working environment.” of the site. “We’re moving the offices from the front of the building upstairs,” Frazier The studio will occupy about one third have cut our costs, saved time and become up and come and collect them, but we don’t more flexible and responsive,” says director courier and postal companies for very else.” He adds: “We will still use the traditional Greggs pasty. “We had a bit of a laugh about Smith initially intended to buy in the food large or long distance deliveries, but for the majority of work we won’t consider anyone and only approached Greggs for permission to use its name, but staff at the baker’s head office liked the idea so much they THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 2

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supplied the food free of charge and sent people down to support the event. including one of “Soviet” wines from the old Eastern Bloc and another featuring iconic wines of the 1980s. Vesuvio has held other unusual tastings, bottle and £28 for 50cl. The drinks are selling for £15 for a 25cl and starting to make them at home,” says spirits you need.” gimmick,” Smith adds, “but it’s always the followed up with one pairing wines with pies and Scotch eggs from local butcher Taylors, and there are hints of a Greggs high street. The Greggs event has already been strange tastings that sell out the quickest.” “We don’t really want it to be seen as a Symonds, “but there is always that thing of However, should any customers fancy “People are more interested in cocktails Flying Füchs having to buy three, four, five bottles of the buying three, four or five bottles to make Symonds’ pre-mixes are available to buy as well. adds. “They’re all spirit-forward and “We change our flavours weekly,” she their own, all the individual ingredients in follow-up when its summer menu hits the Brahms cocktails added to Liszt Refill wine systems have been making their mark in independents in recent times, but one east London specialist has come up with its own take – refillable cocktails. mezcal brand owner Melanie Symonds has created a range of ready-made cocktails opened last year in Hackney. for her Brahms & Liszt wine shop, which Hospitality professional and Quiquiriqui designed to be taken home and go straight over ice. There’s nothing perishable in like a bottle of spirits.” dramatically”. them, so you can keep them indefinitely pre-mix cocktails on the market “varies Symonds says the quality of branded “Our Man with the Facts” argues that humans are programmed to have an attraction to alcohol. He drawn to fermenting fruit because it has reached peak calorie content. suggests that primitive people were • American biologist Robert Dudley coming in like [cocktail guru and creator of but then you get the other end of the additives and sugar. spectrum where things are pumped full of of the shop is promoting amazing spirits for sipping or as a base for cocktails.” “I’m quite anti that and the whole point the Mr Lyan’s brand] Ryan Chetiyawardana She adds: “There are some new people with grape vines in 1788. The river was discovered accidentally by Lieutenant searching for escaped convicts. John Shortland, who had been • The Hunter Valley was first planted to someone who over-indulged in cheap fortified wines, such as Thunderbird. • The world’s tallest wine rack is claimed to be the four-storey, coined in the Great Depression to refer • The term “wino” was originally 16,000-bottle creation at the Aureole harnesses to access bottles stored in the 42-foot high structure. Restaurant in Las Vegas. Staff wear Symonds’ refillable cocktails are spirit-forward and anti-sugar horseback to make a £1 sale of his wine. New Zealand, would travel 80 miles on year. Founder Josip Babić, a Croat who spoke no English when he arrived in • Babich celebrates its centenary this THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 3

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‘It’s a grown-up toy shop wine shop’ After working her socks off at Wadebridge Wines for over 12 years, with a brief interval making wine in the Pyrenees, Tamsin Jones has found her happy place on the north coast of Cornwall. Mission Wines is the “happy accident” same day. The Carruan Shop & Café incorporating basis. The café can seat up to 24 people, serving breakfast, brunch and supper. all the wine in the UK. I’m using Carte Blanche, Caves de Pyrene; a bit of Boutinot and Alliance. I’m relying on the reps a lot right now but in January and February London for tastings.” wine side of the business and we’ll be in we’ll close the café and concentrate on the Jones says: “At the moment I am sourcing the bars and they come because we know what they like. Having that aspect in the shop is vital.” Now it’s time for the gallery Truro has a second independent wine merchant with the arrival of The Art of Wine. Stokes and girlfriend Enora Senlanne have established the business in a two-storey former clothes shop. “The ground floor will be given over to Former construction worker Roland conceived by Jones and her friend Emma “We both love wine so much and we Stephens after both quit their jobs on the want everyone to engage with us,” says having to do the vast commercial work I did for Wadebridge, it’s like having a grown-up toy shop wine shop!” It’s no secret that relations are not bottle sales and we’ll have a 16-bottle Wine room and art exhibitions. We’re going to hold opening nights for artists. It’s Wanted: one manager Jones. “We are workaholics but having a Emotion machine in there,” Stokes explains. “Upstairs is given over to food, a tasting great time. It’s brilliant because without something we’re just both passionate hand.” The shop is less than five minutes’ always friendly between Cornish indies Raising the bar Jo and Thierry de Magneval already own two wine bars and have now opened their first shop: Cellar Magneval Boutique de Vins & Épicerie Fine in Ripley, Surrey. “We’ve taken our wine bar concept and are putting it into a shop,” explains Jo. Koffmann at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge and for Michel Roux. Jo says: “We want to take that sommelier feel into the shop. The main thing in our bars is the level of Thierry has worked with Pierre about and art and wine seem to go hand in walk from the Cornish city’s existing But Stokes says he believes the two wholesalers and we’re aiming for and Jones reports being on the receiving end of some petty behaviour at tastings in the past. “It can be very small town-y … it “Despite the number of really amazing independent merchant, Old Chapel Cellars. businesses will offer different things. “We’ve sought out smaller independent is very tough down here. A lot of reps don’t restaurants and nice cars, there’s also a lot of poverty. If you go five miles inland there are people relying on food banks. There’s natives, are shaping their plans Jones and Stephens, both Cornish realise – they just tend to see the shiny bits. uniqueness within Cornwall. We’ve tried to find suppliers who are not necessarily as well. We’ve used the likes of Indigo, HispaMerchants and Aussie Rules.” not that much [business] to compete over.” accordingly. “We know that for the main three months of the season we have to supplying in this neck of the woods – and looking for organic and biodynamic wines Stokes lived in France for 10 years and really work every hour. At present the café part of the business is quite dependent on build it up. “We’re flipping it on its head and customer service – we make sure everyone is welcomed with a smile and a hello, and really like.” At we went to press they were looking we love helping people find the wine they for a manager. “We’ll be there at the start, and involved because it’s our brand, but feel comfortable. we want to find a manager who is happy to talk about wine all day and make people “We have so many regulars who come in California for two. “I have always been really passionate about wine,” he says. always been reading and tasting lots.” the tourist trade but that will change as we building a business to appeal to the locals, and the tourists will be a bonus.” Sunday, but can open up on an ad-hoc The store opens from Thursday to “I put myself through the WSET and I’ve wine shop was crystallised by the arrival wines,” he says. “There’s a round model He says his ambition to open his own of wine dispensing machines. “It’s such a fantastic bit of tech to allow people to try that Wine Emotion is about to bring out so THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 4 we’re looking to expand with that upstairs.”

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InternatIonal Cool ClImate WIne SympoSIum 2016 26th to 28th may - Hilton metropole, Brighton Brighton plays host to the biggest and most important international wine conference of the year. your chance to taste the latest new cool climate wines, meet and network with key international experts and find out the latest news and trends. TickeTs: £250+VAT (1 dAy) • £600+VAT (3 dAys) WWW.ICCWS2016.Com @ICCWS2016 InternationalCoolClimateWineSymposium THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 5

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Seven Dials for Seven Cellars Seven Cellars is the latest wine merchant to open in Brighton and Hove, a city fast becoming the epicentre of the wine industry in southern England. graduate with a particular passion for Owner Louise Oliver, a Plumpton College Veritas, in September. and does all the buying for the shop. “The customers who aren’t real wine experts to feel inadequate,” says Orchard-Lisle. “But equally the guys who really know seem to like us because they aren’t made Scarlett has the background in wine Refill and refuel at Islington store Two ex-Borough Wines employees started their new Islington venture, Provisions, just in time for Christmas. coincided with Hugo Meyer Esquerré’s Ben Proctor’s departure from Borough their stuff are coming in and saying ‘thank you’ because they really like our selection of wine and our general knowledge of the wines. We seem to striking a really nice intimidating.” Sicilian and Portuguese wines, says the from suppliers. venture will be a generalist wine merchant Cask ale will also be on sale at the store directly importing wine as well as sourcing in the Seven Dials neighbourhood, a short walk from the main railway station. which sells Italian sparkling wine in kegs. Inspired by travels to Italy, the business wholesalers, restaurants and Sussex 20-litre kegs. started two years ago and now supplies seen sales shoot up since taking on the balance of knowing our stuff and not being renovate the derelict shop, which now has a tasting room large enough for up to 25 covers. For a corkage fee (£5 during the enjoy a bottle of wine in-house. Orchard-Lisle adds: “We offer small week and £7 at weekends), customers can amounts of food to complement the wine: baked Camembert, a charcuterie board, a selection of cheeses, olives … things like that.” It took the pair about three months to return from Norway where he had been running a wine bar and deli in Oslo. Proctor admits that their new shop, which sells 100 wines and 70 cheeses, is “surrounded” by greatly as they import most of the wines themselves from France and Italy. At the refill station customers can other wine retailers but says the list differs Oliver also runs The Wine Keg Company, purchase a bottle at £2 and fill it with their choice of red or white wine (there are two of each on offer), for £6. Proctor says they to a consumer level; grab a glass and a list you want”. have “brought an element of a trade tasting County Cricket Club – which has reportedly “I want to attract people for whom wine of wines and you go round and try anything is a hobby, offering all price ranges,” says Oliver. “We want to offer a selection of wines from all around the world, that you can’t buy anywhere else. We want to have from buying wine in supermarkets.” fantastic price points to tempt people away independent wine merchants in Brighton and Hove, but Oliver is undeterred by the competition. “In Seven Dials we are quite away from the likes of Quaff and Butler’s and I am not treading on anyone’s toes.” Seven Cellars joins a growing number of Cheesy feat Only, perhaps, in the hipster territory of Walthamstow would you find a wine merchant who also works as a sound engineer and record producer. Scarlett opened their first shop, In Vino Jamie Orchard-Lisle and partner Eleanor Vini Italiani has opened its second wine café and store. The new branch in The Piazza, Covent Garden, is based on the original in South Kensington, offering wines from 20 Italian regions either by the glass or the bottle. Both branches also sell Italian cold cuts and cheeses, as well as hot snacks. “Morning coffee and a new Italian breakfast menu will be on offer, together with a selection of breakfast wines,” the company says. THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 6

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Adeline Mangevine Not just a shop, but ‘a sociable club’ The Beckford Bottle Shop opened in Tisbury, Wiltshire, on December 12. already have two successful country pubs: The Beckford Arms, also in Tisbury, and The Talbot Inn in Mells. Brod says: “Over time we’ve learnt what Owners Dan Brod and Charlie Luxton Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing the local customers want. This shop space just came up in the nearby village so we so why not retail the wine?” thought this would be a good thing to do. At weekends they serve charcuterie, Basically, we had the distributors in place, G reetings fellow wine merchants! I’m writing this column from my private beach in Barbados, bottles featured will rarely rise above £8. Independents will be routinely ignored for the sake of “accessibility”. 5. There will not be a Sherry revival. sunning myself on a bed made from all the crisp £20 notes I raked in over the festive season, with my own personal hour, on the hour. butler on hand to top up my glass every thank you very much, and I am on a beach. But sitting, in a sweater, on OK, OK. Yes, it was a good Christmas, Nor a German Riesling comeback. They will both remain the preserve of wine geeks and pensioners. I will make an of their ways. But, despite the initial really”), sales will remain static. effort to try to show customers the error unbridled enthusiasm (“it’s quite nice Rhodes. Got to make all those crisp £20 notes last until people start drinking again in February. (NB: That doesn’t sourced from the local delicatessen, “just to help people taste the wines”, says Brod. merchant look” but inside there’s an art Pier. The shop exterior has a “traditional wine deco-style tin ceiling and shelving made Brod adds: “It looks really great and from wood reclaimed from Southampton we’re going to have a massive leather red sociable club.” No awards,no imports: include me. I’m – ahem – helping the Greek economy.) 10 things that As I stare into the blustery Aegean, I ponder the year ahead and things that I won’t happen know won’t be happening. It is my first in 2016 January column, so please indulge me … until the third week of January, when willpower finally breaks down and customers collapse through the door 1. I will not see a single customer Sauvignon Blanc or Malbec Day. In this country, that’s EVERY day. They don’t January.) 6. I will not be celebrating a special in a heap, desperate for a decent glass can-I-go-without-losing-money sale. sparkling blush Pinot Grigio. need any more help. (Except, perhaps, in fruition, despite reading wine merchant profiles in this august organ that tell me that anyone who doesn’t import is a “fool”. I’m a fool. A fool without cash 7. My plans to import will not come to sofa – it’s not just a shop, it’s going to be a • Brian Wilding, owner of Chordale Wine Merchants in Chorley, retired in December and is selling his shop. He estimates he has sold almost 500,000 bottles, the most expensive being “a Remy Martin Louis XIII for £950, about 10 or 15 years ago. That bottle would be worth £1,500 now”. • The Grape & The Good has opened for business in Wells, Somerset. The shop offers craft beers and speciality ciders in addition to a wine range “with something for everyone”. • Covent Garden wine bar and restaurant Dalla Terra has opened Vetro, “an informal wine shop, cafe and enoteca” offering more than 30 wines by the glass from its Soho premises. of wine. Any wine really. So, I will shift all the stuff I want rid of in a how-lowValentine’s tat. Yes, I’m looking at you, 2. The shop will not be winning any Which then gives me cash to buy all the merchant awards. This is because I won’t have the time, nor the money, to enter utter surprise at winning (again), and wine on their tables tasted. again, get lost in the post. any of them. Instead, I will watch from afar, as the usual suspects declare their tweet just how delicious the sponsors’ snarled up in hundreds of bottles I need to create a wholesale channel to move. the arguments change. Consumers in 9. Wine points will remain over natural wines will not end. Nor will 8. The trade’s bi-monthly war of words most of the country will remain oblivious. meaningless, as the most mediocre of 10. I will not be prepared for wines continue to garner scores of 80. visit the best cellars in Champagne will, TV in any meaningful way. The price of 3. My invitation to join a trade trip to 4. Wine will continue not to feature on Christmas. Nor for the starkness of the New Year. Nor will I be off to Barbados any time soon. Perhaps I should import ... THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 7

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tried & Tested Swartland Winery Limited Release Viognier 2015 The buzz in South Africa’s wild west may be coming with Swartland Winery (est 1948) to create a series of exclusives, including this pure, peachy, rounded RRP: £9.99 ABV: 13% from the young guns but the more established players are part of the action too. Hallgarten has joined forces Viognier with an orangey tang. Great fun, great value. hdnwines.co.uk The Pawn The Gambit Sangiovese 2013 Hand-crafted in the cool-climate Adelaide Hills from a blend of two Sangiovese clones, this is an intriguing and satisfying melange of dense, earthy flavours and chess puns: just write a cheque, mate. RRP: £14.75 ABV: 14.5% seckfordagencies.co.uk our tasters put it: “It tastes of fireworks.” No need for Seckford Agencies (01206 231188) a sour cherry, cranberry-like component. Or, as one of Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines (01582 722538) Recolta Malbec 2015 OK, we know that Malbec sells itself and maybe it’s and yet … you’d need to be a pretty hard-hearted time to broaden our Argentine horizons. And yet … Latitude 41˚ Nelson Hill Block Pinot Gris 2014 Fruit from Marlborough and Nelson combines in a French oak and lees ageing. A bit of butter, a bit of wine that’s fruity and rounded, with a little help from contrarian to find fault with this entry-level example from Mendoza. Robust but smooth, with hints of tar and liquorice and a faint whiff of smoke, it’s a really well-made and honest wine at a bargain price. RRP: £9.99 ABV: 13.5% Las Bodegas (01435 874772 ) lasbodegas.co.uk vanilla; pears, spices … and then a nice zesty crispness to round it all off. Collect the vine cuttings on the neck week by week to create your own replica vineyard. RRP: £16.99 ABV: 13% McKinley Vintners (020 7928 7300) mckinleyvintners.co.uk The Liberator Old Breton Cabernet Franc 2013 Did Cabernet Franc (known as Breton in parts of the Loire valley) arrive in South Africa with the 17thcentury Huguenot settlers? It’s a question that arises and crunchier, greener elements. RRP: £16 ABV: 14% dreyfus-ashby.co.uk Bossi Fedrigotti Fojaneghe 2011 When Bossi Fedrigotti made Italy’s first Bordeaux blend in Trentino it was seen as a pretty radical move. is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a earthy but by no means OTT. Excellent stuff. RRP: £24.99 ABV: 13.5% berkmann.co.uk sprinkling of Teroldego thrown in for good measure. Fifty years on, it’s close to perfecting the art. The 2011 It’s captivating fare: fumy, juicy, rich, wholesome and Berkmann Wine Cellars (020 7670 0972) from the history lesson that accompanies Episode 5 of the Liberator saga. A mouthwatering mix of dark fruits Dreyfus Ashby (01636 858774) Tenuta J Hofstätter Meczan Pinot Nero 2014 A couple of sips of this and we were transported to the southern Tyrol, breathing in the fresh Alpine air and (no jam in Alto Adige) but the palate gradually fills out, with umami notes and a cool mineral edge. RRP: £19.99 ABV: 12.5% Berkmann Wine Cellars (020 7670 0972) berkmann.co.uk making eye contact with goats. This was always going to be on the lighter, fresher end of the Pinot spectrum Milton Park Chardonnay 2015 Any wine with a back label making reference to “fossicking sandpipers” – a handy expletive, incidentally, to adopt in 2016 – is all right in our book. Hailing from South Australia, this unoaked, mediumbodied Chardonnay has a luxurious, slightly oily RRP: £9.50 ABV: 12.5% prickle on the finish. Great value at under a tenner. Seckford Agencies (01206 231188) seckfordagencies.co.uk texture, with peach and pineapple notes and a gentle THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 8

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bits & BOBs FAVOURITE THINGS Stephen Finch Vagabond Wines London Taittinger invests in Kent countryside Champagne Taittinger has bought land near Chilham, Kent, where it plans to make wine in partnership with Hatch Mansfield. business,” says Pierre-Emmanuel “Competition is good in sport and respectable company”. Magpie meant a “cheap, brash wine unsuitable for The 10 silliest wine terms, and the Just 23% understood the term “terroir”. Favourite wine on my list 2012. I came across Eagles’ Nest when did. This “entry level” Bordeaux blend and Merlot working well together, yet does so well. was shockingly good – distinctly Cab I visited South Africa a few years ago, Eagles’ Nest, Little Eagle Red Blend Taittinger, president of Taittinger. “We now have many very good English sparkling is more generous. percentage of customers likely to use them are: bouquet, 21%; nose, 11%; tart, 10%; quaffable, 10%; legs, 5%; terroir, 3%; 2%; vegetal, 2%. The Drinks Business, December 15 unctuous, 3%; herbaceous, 2%; hollow, wines. Global warming helps as the climate about nationality. Mozart is Mozart. Alec is Brigitte Bardot.” The Telegraph, December 9 “But when things are good we don’t talk and was blown away by everything they Guinness is Alec Guinness. Brigitte Bardot Wine ‘may help with Alzheimer’s’ Alzheimer’s sufferers who drink a single glass of wine every day – or the equivalent of two to three units of alcohol – are significantly less likely to die of the disease than those who drink more or are teetotal, research suggests. Copenhagen who conducted the study said However scientists at the University of with the full, clean fruit that South Africa Favourite wine and food match Chassagne/Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Favourite wine trip Stellenbosch. Utterly fantastic wines. Jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery. France). And terrific restaurants Favourite wine trade person Phil Barnet of Les Caves de Pyrene. He’s incredibly thoughtful recommendations. We’ll take his calls any day. Favourite wine shop effort to know our business, and makes a sales rep who puts in the time and everywhere. with fish ‘n’ chips. Call me a heathen, but I love having a Brigitte Bardot and Alex Guinness celebrate the results may be down not to the effects young. Wineries that cater to visitors (ahem, Confused by tart A survey has revealed the 10 wine terms that customers are least likely to understand when deciding what wines to buy. “tart” means. As many as 11% thought it One in three people don’t know what of the alcohol itself, but because the social Dr Andrew Sommerlad at University atmosphere in the pub helps keep the brain College London said the results of the study were “interesting” and built upon may even confer some health benefits”. The Independent, December 11 other evidence suggesting “drinking small amounts is unlikely to be damaging and winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 winemerchantteam@gmail.com Twitter: @WineMerchantMag anywhere. Philglas & Swiggot always has excellent Australian wines that you can’t find anywhere else. – probably the most thoughtful I’ve seen their German and Burgundy selections I love The Winery in Maida Vale for The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 780 specialist 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 2016 VAT 943 8771 82 THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 10

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merchant profile: ake & HUMPHRIS Happy days in Harro Seventy per cent of Laan’s range is imported direct Jim Nicholson, Crossgar, September 2015: keen on further expansion if the right opportunity presents itself Paul Auty, October 2015. “I was one of those people who would bleed Oddbins if you cut them in half” Ake & Humphris has opened its third branch and brought in a new UK director. Paul Auty, who manages the Harrogate store, is relishing the changes but says the buzz of selling good wine is the same as ever H arrogate has, apparently, conceivable that Ake & Humphris played a small part in this achievement. Yorkshire spa town is about a mile south of you’d expect to see tourists with their where the locals go. cameras poised. You sense this is a place The company’s branch in the North topped the league table of Britain’s happiest places and it’s native who ran Oddbins stores across the UK before linking up with the business, got started by taking on a former House Harrogate branch, which had been part of First Quench’s doomed empire. More It’s managed by Paul Auty, a Leeds to retail, while upstairs the Friends of Wine bar offers wine to drink in. are based overseas these days but new managing director Martin Jeffrey has achieving turnover in excess of £1m. Edward Ake and Jonathan Humphris originally known as Wineways. The owners of Townend shop in Collingham, and the the centre, not a part of the borough where recently joined the business, which is now and they were two of them,” Auty explains. “The other director was involved at the beginning but parted company around “There were originally three directors, recently the Ake & Humphris estate grew branch in Ripon. Downstairs is dedicated to three, with the opening of a two-storey THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 12

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ogate October 2011 and went off to do something completely different. with the Collingham site; he also brought the name Wineways along. while for me to get my feet under the table and then say, ‘hang on guys, this doesn’t really say what we do’. It sounds to me too much like a Threshers-style name or a discounter and didn’t really reflect the “I never really liked the name. It took a “He was the one who had the history are very much shopping trips with a list in mind. You walk around a room and invariably you will lean towards trying things later on in the day that are probably more to your own taste. And you’re like, be interesting to see if we can sell that”. possible to get institutionalised in a company like that? When I worked for Oddbins I was one of those people who, when you cut them in end up having the greater affinity with. respects but there’s still at its heart a Working here is different in a lot of “wow – that’s really opened my eyes, it’ll You spent a long time at Oddbins. Is it wine. That’s never going to go away. The Oddbins blueprint of the 1990s has influenced so many people in the independent trade. But it’s interesting that people now running their own shops seem to have moved on from that formula. It dawned on me when I left Oddbins and it a bit more: actually you can’t just open You’ve got to be quite active and then your doors and expect people to come in. I had some breathing space to think about half, would bleed Oddbins. But it turns out it’s actually the product and the people you think about something that’s going to give you an edge – that extra thing that makes you different from the norm. Some people have the enoteca side, some quality. So we came up with a list of about 10 names that we could call the business vote.” Auty was amused by the name The and put it to a staff vote, then a customer desire inside everyone in the business to put a great bottle of wine in somebody’s hands and for everyone to get excited Oddbins from a staff point of view. about it. I think that was always part of people have the tasting, sampling thing … obviously that’s quite cool in London but I haven’t seen too many of them up north. Maybe it’s a London thing at the moment. Continues page 14 Kabinett. “I don’t know whether that would have worked, or whether it might have been a bit too esoteric,” he says. Where do your buy your wine? We do an awful lot of sourcing parcels of things, bin ends, things like that. We do I will still get a buzz from selling a bottle of The décor is high-spec and borrows ideas from merchants as far afield as Latvia have stuff that’s sourced direct from Italy comes through basically cherry-picking from UK agents, trying to find people people in the middle, as it were. events? We get an awful lot of visits – there are a with this particular winemaker or this drop in. We go to some of the big portfolio but the majority of stuff from the retail side who do have the agency rather than other Do you go to many London tastings and couple of people who say they are touring particular wine representative, and they’ll tastings in London or in Edinburgh, or sometimes even Manchester. For me those The Harrogate store was originally branded Wineways and before that was a Threshers THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 13

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merchant profile: ake & HUMPHRIS From page 13 What is the Collingham branch like – is it along the same lines as this one? Collingham was a wine shop for a very long time in a kind of off-licence style. House of Townend had it for a while. a business called Collingham Wines and The director I mentioned before had An Australian Pinot at £20 was our third-best selling product last year something new comes in how well it’s Collingham than we do. going to work and sometimes if it’s a New The teams get excited about different World product they might sell more of it in products. Up in Ripon, my colleague Des what that wine is supposed to be and making sure that it’s a decent price for that product. It means that for a long time we didn’t have a Châteauneuf on the shelf we did have a lot of Villages around. You put the name “wine specialist” obviously it became Wineways after that. It’s slightly smaller than here, but it’s got most of the things we have here. Its focus is probably a little bit more New World than store. we are. France, Spain and particularly Italy make up a big chunk of what we do in this We’re all working off a broad list, as it [Tinline] is absolutely mad, mad, mad on German Riesling and is a really big Pinot because we hadn’t found the right one but above the door and you have to make sure business can’t have every wine on the were, and each of the individual managers of the stores has the autonomy to be able to sell what works in their local environment or to feature one wine over Noir lover as well, particularly Old World. He has a little fridge of about 40 different to be able to make that work for him. German Rieslings and he has the language to go wrong having a good quality New At the end of the day you’re never going there are certain types of wine that people expect to buy from a specialist. But a small there’s that balance between things that can move really well and things that are you might want to put down. many staff do you have? Mr Humphris is in Spain and Mr Ake is in Hondurus. Edward Ake’s mother used to time. She’s retired now and when she absolutely amazing, I love her. comes in the store I call her “boss”. She’s into and fallen in love with the business. It’s a small team but each person is bringing their experience, personality, desires and passions … it’s a bit like a we want to do for the customers. and the other two directors. more of? Generally speaking people have fallen run a flower shop in Harrogate for a long aspirational – amazing bottles that are a shelf, and I certainly am keen to make sure another. There’s nobody saying, “this week you’ve got to have a deal on this particular product”. We all know when Zealand Sauvignon – it’s always going to to be in the top 10. Argentine Malbec is always going to be up there too. going to be in that mix but there will be in the top 10. Prosecco is always going All these known-value items are always birthday treat to yourself or something that How does the team fit together and how also be some surprises. One particular Australian Pinot was third-best selling product of the year last year and it was £20 per bottle, so there’s always going to be as a gang that might not necessarily fit the in the marketplace. something that we’ve found and got behind normal patterns of being a successful wine So is the buying responsibility shared between a few of you? I see Des is the “fine wine buyer”. To be fair it’s almost like a panel – we all want to try as much of the entire range as family. We don’t agree all the time – but we always agree on one thing, and that’s what Des, Simon, Adam, Martin, Tara and me, There are less than 10 of us. Barry, Alex, we can. We always go to tastings even if it’s last year is right for this year. to keep up with vintage changes and things What underpins everything is that like that, to make sure that what we bought we are trying to find a good example of Is there anything you wish you could sell THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 14

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I’ve always been a huge fan of South America and I think that I’d like to be moving South American wines at the price of reasonable Bordeaux, and reasonable bottle of wine from Chile is really more somebody a bargain. Burgundies, because I think that your £25 like a 40 or 50 quid bottle anywhere else in the world. So you feel like you’re selling Are people around here reasonably well educated about wine? Yes, I think they are, generally speaking. You always felt that Harrogate customers what they’re into, and make suggestions from there. a small village like Collingham, where the touch paper for a lot of people – at the price they want to pay for it. wouldn’t take too much guidance: ask them You can see a marked difference between So it’s a shop downstairs and a bar upstairs. Are the wines in the bar supplied by you? Harrogate wine drinkers don’t need too much guidance we have the other store, where it’s not as grow together and all the good ideas work for all parties. I think it represents one of for us in the last few years. My new boss in the UK saw the informed and it’s very much about lighting making sure they get a great bottle of wine difference between wine appreciation and what I would regard as medication. To varying degrees we are all appreciators and medicators: how much do you need appreciate it? I have this running debate about the Yes but obviously there are wines we won’t work upstairs nicely. Generally speaking if customers want to take something away we’ve got people on hand to recommend somebody you’ve got to make sure you the closest thing to it. It’s very early doors and when you’re working so closely with do downstairs just to make sure that things the most exciting things that has happened opportunity there and he asked me how I thought the numbers would stack up. Tell us more about the new boss. From day one, one of our suppliers was palate and has found some of the great parcels that we’ve had throughout our that have become what we do. Is he importing it himself? that glass of wine at the end of the day, and how much are you going to sit there and A colleague of mine said that he is an Martin Jeffrey of Spen Valley Wine. He has a wholesale business and he has a great history, and also found us a lot of really appreciator, so I said, “OK, I’m going to take the alcohol out of wine, would you still buy it?” and he said, “Oh, no, no, not at all”. far? At the moment we’re working with the wine bar upstairs and there’s a nice balance between retail and on-trade. Obviously the upstairs bit is a separate How is the Ripon branch performing so solid bread-and-butter products – things Some of it. Obviously he was able to buy stuff probably cheaper than we could as he was buying in large volumes and he was able to get us access to some of the biggest players, some of the big suppliers who we two shops. Our directors had a chat with him and Continues page 16 entity. It’s a growing thing – it was never be a slow burn. were probably a bit too small for with just suggested working closer in the future. It going to go “boom” overnight. The bar bit did but the wine shop was always going to Wine buying is a team responsibility THE WINE MERCHANT JANUARY 2016 15

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