THE WINE MERCHANT.
An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 46, April 2016
Come and taste the winners with us at Olympia
Line continues to blur between shops and bars
The proportion of specialist independent wine merchants selling wine for 24% over the past year. consumption on the premises has jumped by work involved. found that 28.4% of retailers now offer wine for on-premise consumption, compared to 22.9% in the 2015 poll. 12 months. The survey found that 4.5% of respondents The trend towards a hybrid wine shop/ This year’s Wine Merchant reader survey not work for everybody, often due to space constraints or a lack of enthusiasm for the extra that they have no plans for on-premise sales – last year’s survey. Indeed more than half of respondents insist
A new TV wine show; and Gene Vincent’s cool again
4 comings & GOINGS
though this figure has dropped markedly since role in independents’ businesses, with four in 13% on last year’s figure.
The bullish independents expanding their businesses
8 tried & TESTED
have started selling wine in this way in the past wine bar model has been taking hold among
© Syda Productions – stock.adobe.com
10 now selling food of some description, up by no plans to offer food of any kind has fallen sharply to just under 45%.
Food is also playing an increasingly important
Finally, a Vinho Verde that could rouse an elephant
12 last try wines
independents in recent years, but the survey results make it clear that the concept does
The number of respondents saying they have
• Six pages of survey coverage begins on page 20.
Twickenham merchant takes the own-label plunge
18 david williams
Being loyal to suppliers isn’t always the best idea
28 website review
The Lockett Bros site gets some expert scrutiny
38 FOCUS ON CHAMPAGNE
Joanna Simon looks at how indies approach the category
53 make a date
The LWF isn’t the only trade event happening in May
55 supplier Bulletin
Essential updates from agents and suppliers
The hybrid wine merchant/wine bar concept has become increasingly popular, but isn’t for everyone
New TV show has indies at heart
The co-presenter of ITV’s new Saturday teatime programme The Wine Show claims it will feature a disproportionately high number of wines that are sold by independents. ITV4 last Sunday (April 10) and will be of first and repeat screenings of the 13 during Euro 2016. Wine writer Joe Fattorini and wine The first hour-long episode went out on
Matthew Rhys, in the series which builds a Second World War, climate change and the Chilean earthquake. of the first show, Fattorini sought to allay vehicle for supermarket wine selections. he says. “We want to inspire people to a different way to Saturday Kitchen. tell the stories about those wines.” “We are not a recommendation show,” Speaking to The Wine Merchant ahead
narrative around broad themes such as the
level playing field.”
at Yorkshire independent Wright Wine Co, adds that during filming “we never once thought ‘where is that wine available?’” those are the most interesting wines to illustrate that story”. website ahead of airing. The wines are listed on the show’s One potential thorny issue for the He adds: “There are one or two wines
Fattorini, who started his career working
any fears that the programme would be a
that are not available in the UK at all but
try interesting wines and find wine more
captivating. It means we can approach it in “We want to find interesting wines and
programme makers is a commercial linkwines from the show offered online. Fattorini. “For most of the wines you will need
“the overwhelming majority will be wines that are broadly featured in independent lists or on-trade lists”, Fattorini claims. “Those are the sort of wines independent
Out of 137 wines featured in the series,
up with Amazon which sees a selection of to go to an independent retailer,” insists
retailers tend to stock because they are the sort made by interesting people and that have a story behind them. “I was talking to the guys at Hennings
we taste through the whole series about 30 are available through Amazon and the rest absolutely are not, because the producers want to go down.” are too small or that’s not the market they
“Off the top of my head, of the 137 wines
shown again at 5pm on April 16, a pattern
are, on the whole, a bit more expensive and and they already have a couple of the wines in the show in stock and are very excited about selling them. “There won’t be captions saying they’re
shows that will continue except for a break educator Amelia Singer advise the main presenters, actors Matthew Goode and
Dawson’s discs do a lot of good
Has any other independent wine merchant got a jukebox in their shop? Bournemouth thinks he might be the only one. Continental Mark 2, jukebox fans – has The vintage machine – a 1963 AMI Jim Dawson at the Jolly Vintner Too in
available from anywhere at all. It’s a totally
been in Dawson’s home for years but he decided to make it a feature of the store close friend from a brain tumour. The jukebox is powered by American
as a charity fundraiser after the death of a quarters, of which Dawson has a supply Since the jukebox replaced one of his
for customers who are willing to make a
minimum donation of 50p for three plays.
Fattorini (left) with fellow presenters Amelia Singer, Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys
drinks fridges in early February it’s raised £220 for the Brain Tumour Research and
THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 2
for people to buy food from the stalls and
take it into the shop to eat accompanied by wine from the shelves for a £5 corkage fee. says. “We gain from them being here and they gain from being able to come here – It’s bloody cheap compared to going to a restaurant.”
Gene’s allowed in The Jolly Vintner Too
“It’s been a rampaging success for us,” he
and the customers are as happy as Larry. The portfolio includes local food
operators Reggae Kitchen, Jalan Jalan, Steak & Honour, Holy Schnitzels, (offering pulled pork).
Brains Trust charities.
raise £1,500 or £2,000 by the end of the says.
year, which I’ll be quite pleased with,” he plus a couple of private tastings, and it’s been a bit of fun after the serious bit is over.
“If I can do that in a few weeks, I might
Provenance Kitchen and Pull Me Cheri
are taking part in Thirstyfest, a food and by Thirsty Cambridge on June 4. Around 40 producers from the store’s
“I have three customer tastings a month,
drink festival with live music being hosted portfolio of wine, beer and spirits
A number of the street food businesses
“Our Man with the Facts”
• Northamptonshire is thought to have time was significantly warmer than it • The American Declaration of is now. been a centre of wine production in Roman Britain. The climate at that
and I’ve got about another 350 sitting in reserve. memorable music from when I was oldest, from 1957. “I’m 58 this year so a lot of it is very
“The basket takes 100 45s at one time
producers will be in attendance and Owens aims to have a “fringe” element in the restaurants. days around the event, with tap takeovers in local pubs and winemaker dinners in
growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Be“The customers are loving it. The
Bop-a-Lula by Gene Vincent is probably the Saturday before last they were sitting on the floor doing the actions to Rock The Boat.”
event,” says Owens. “The whole idea is to stuffy like a wine tasting in a poncey old college.
bring booze to life and in a way that’s not hall in the City of London or a Cambridge to think from scratch about how you flog booze in these days we live in. we’re doing at our shop and take it out right across the whole of Cambridge.” The event is being housed in the “Everything we’ve been trying to do is
“We want to give it legs around the main
century the American colonies were accounting for about a quarter of exports from the island.
Madeira. By the end of the 18th
Independence was toasted with
hectare of vineyard. It’s planted mainly with Chenin and also some Pinotage. • A small number of grape varieties have red flesh as well as red skin. They are described by the French Bouschet and Dunkelfelder.
entirely by South Africa, has just one
• Lesotho, a country surrounded
Street food strikes Cambridge chord
“The aim is effectively to supersize what
Thirsty Cambridge – which opened last summer – has invited around a dozen local street food vendors to take turns setting up in front of the store. residence each night from Tuesday to Saturday every week. A different street food wagon takes
Bodyworks dance studio in the city with tickets at £15 a head. There will be two sessions with a combined capacity of 1,000. Owens adds: “The business has gone
word teinturier and include Alicante • The term “orange wine” usually refers to the modish practice of
gangbusters since we opened last August. We’ve brought something quite different and funkier to Cambridge and that has really hit a chord with the local market.”
The idea of co-founder Sam Owens was
orange peel before ageing in a solera.
term can also refer to the Andalucian practice of macerating wine with
allowing white grapes to macerate in contact with their skins. But the
THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 3
Deli inspiration for Lancashire store
Easter weekend saw the official opening of Barrique Wine Store in Lytham on the Lancashire coast. intended to be more akin to a stylish deli than a traditional bottle shop. of a fusion place – first and foremost an while [as a sommelier] the places I saw home.” that worked really well were the places Crimmin has put together a tapasThe interior has a contemporary look,
indie but after working in the trade for a
Owner Jake Crimmin explains: “It’s a bit
The artist’s impression of Barrique
Ellie’s experiments with café culture
Ellie’s Cellar is converting its Perth shop into a wine café before weighing up whether to do the same in two of its other six branches. renamed Grayson’s Wine Café and The former Haddows store will be
in the hybrid model where you’re getting people who have tried that up here yet.
higher margins from on-trade sales as well as some off-trade sales. There’s not many “Our thinking is that we could take the
offering things other than a bottle to take style menu with hot and cold food, all of to complement the wines on offer. He
knowledge and specialism that we’ve built up in our shops over the years and apply that to the bar trade as well.” – the reduction in the drink-drive limit Polley adds: “It’s been a tough year
which is prepared in a nearby restaurant belonging to his partner and is intended says: “Quite often customers are being told what matches wine as opposed to actually having the chance to taste the wine with pastries in the morning will hopefully A coffee machine and a range of fresh the food, so that was a major push for us.” attract the early crowd: Crimmin admits
offer a specialist range of wines by the consumption. Platters of cheese and with a large range of boutique gins. Director Gordon Polley says the
bottle or the glass, for on or off-premise charcuterie will also be available, along branch occupies “a good site” but has
has had quite an effect on our business.
Everyone was expecting it to affect things like golf clubs, but most of our shops are go anywhere. Some people are just not has gone down.” in villages where everyone needs a car to
he is “coming up with as many reasons as set up for 24 bottles, as well as a by-theglass list, with an initial bias towards Spanish and Argentinian wines.
possible to get people over the threshold”.
underperformed of late. “We did quite well for a few years, but we had a Sainsbury’s Local open up round the corner, which affected our business,” he explains.
drinking at all. I don’t think we’ve lost any
customers but the frequency that they visit
A Wine Emotion machine has been fitted,
Jo decides to go
Josephine Oldroyd is moving to new pastures after seven years at the helm of Camber Wines in Old Portsmouth. and has developed a three-tier operation one roof. MD David Moore is now looking for a Camber supplies historic ships HMS She started the business from scratch
the shop is set up, without the expense
of a cook and the need for a huge site to
Crimmin is confident that with the way
duplication of range, but it seemed to affect the customer flow past our shop. It took away all our impulse business.” Getting permission for the change of
“I was surprised because there’s no real
accommodate a kitchen, his new venture is “scaleable as a business model”, and hopes that in a year or so he’ll be ready to open a second shop. • The Humble Grape is opening its second branch, a 200-seater wine bar and shop off Fleet Street in London. The business opened its Battersea outlet last year.
use has been fairly straightforward. “Perth Council are really quite proactive with says. “We’re almost trying to position businesses and we got a good response ourselves as where you might go for a bricks-and-mortar wine shops have a from the licensing board as well,” Polley drink if you don’t want to sit in the pub.”
in wholesale, retail and the on-trade under “knowledgeable, motivated wine lover” to run the business. Victory and The Warrior as well as modern Type 45 Navy destroyers including HMS Duncan and HMS Dauntless.
future. “There seems to have been a growth
Polley is not convinced that traditional
THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 4
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THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 5
Five times the space for Glossop indie
Glossop independent Harvey Leonards has moved to a more central location in the Derbyshire town’s former Conservative Club. of the 100-year-old, three-storey, Grade II July 2013. The business has taken the ground floor
listed building, occupying a former bar and snooker room of the club, which closed in The new site is five times bigger than the Steven Leonard says the move to bigger
original Harvey Leonards store, opened by Steven and Suzanne Leonard in 2013. premises was sparked by booming onincreased from 30 to 200.
trade sales, with the drink-in capacity now the old place but the only negative ones high street,” he says. “We got a lot of good comments about
were it was too small and too far down the shop, so at night it can be closed up. So bar at night.” “We’ve now got a separate area for the
we have a lot of people using it as a shop during the day and it becomes more of a
Mayfair merchant on expansion trail
A wine merchant which started out as a pop-up has now established a permanent base in Mayfair and has already applied for licences for three more sites. and wine buyer Ben van de Meutter works with owner Nathan Lowry to provide a wide range of wines. Shepherd Market Wine House sommelier
The new Harvey Leonards occupies the ground floor of the old Conservative Club
Vagabond powers ahead in Battersea
Vagabond Wines is taking a flagship unit at the new Circus West development beside Battersea Power Station, opening in 2017. to go in there and take a punt. While we’re not expecting a whole lot of trade in the first couple of years before the Power happens it’s going to go bananas. Station itself launches, we think once that “In the meantime we’re also opening Owner Stephen Finch says: “We decided
the fourth Vagabond in Northcote Road in Clapham in June and another one in the Nova Victoria development in October.” Spitalfields template, where prepared food is an essential part of the mix and and accounts for 40% of business. The new sites are based on Vagabond’s
on-premise sales eclipse take-home trade. Longer term he is aiming for a new
Finch says retail is “holding up pretty well” e-commerce site and stores beyond the
feel there is a strong demand for Burgundy wines, white and red, so I might increase the selection of that.”
He says: “I listen to my clients here and I
capital. “I’m definitely keen to go outside London first,” he says.
of London but it’s important that we have
a strong solid core of seven or eight sites in
THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 6
Farewell to The Four Vintners
The Four Vintners chain has ceased trading after more than 60 years in business. January and its four shops – at Brentwood, Ingatestone and Stock in Essex, and at doors for the last time in early March. central London. Barons Court, West London – closed their and at one time had several shops across corporate and wholesale business in the City and West End. The company was founded by in 1954 The company entered administration in
Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing
ast column, I casually mentioned that I had hired an assistant manager, Alex. Internally, I was
camembert and Georgian wine pop-up in Brighton. the king of the upsell. Ask for a simple a £25 Pouilly Fumé before you could Finally, there was Premium Pete,
screaming with joy.
ladies (well, not literally as far as I know). Turns even the most boorish of men – the types who thunder in shouting “SHOW ME YOUR BORDEAUX!” – into eager from “The New World”. puppies, tails wagging furiously at the daring thought of trying an alternative
Affable Alex. Charms the pants off the
Sauvignon Blanc and he’d be ringing up he’d be wrapping an Alpha Montes M
blink. Request a cheeky Chilean red and in a heartbeat. He LOVED the boorish men, though they were less enamoured
In its heyday it also built up a substantial Romford-based drinks distributor Hills
few frogs to meet “the one”. As all wine merchants know, it’s hard attracting of low pay, unsociable hours, backFirst, there was Hopeless Helen. knackering lifting and dull samples.
Alex wasn’t my first. I’ve had to kiss a
with him. He showed them our Bordeaux
Prospect has taken over the Four Vintners
retail talent, despite the irresistible lure
Bob gets bigger
South London independent Bob Wines has opened a second site, close to Sydenham train station. follow the same mix of good value bottled shop which opened in Crystal Palace in October 2014. He hopes the location, between the Owner Kenrick Bush says the format will
Couldn’t read a wine label to save her life, despite having scraped through WSET Level 2. Constantly confused a a region. Memory like a sieve. “What grape’s in Chab-er-lease again?” she wine name with a grape, a producer or would bellow across the shop. Every time she said “savvigg-non” it was like nails scraping down a blackboard. When I saw her leaving the convenience store with She’s now an estate agent, I hear. a bottle of Barefoot, her fate was sealed. of skin-contact whites, teeth-shattering acidic reds and hater of any sulphites. “It’s good juice,” I’d hear him tell Rosé Woman, trying to convince her that what she really needed in her life was a Slovenian Pinot Grigio ramato. “Is it exclaim. To his credit, she came back
My chequered experiences in sub-human resources
alright, but it was always the top-end stuff. While he exceeded his weekly target, I lost customers. I’m told he’s now working with Hopeless Helen, selling to feed his own fine wine habit. to overseas buyers. At least he’ll be able Or perhaps that’s everyone who works Affable Alex for a while, before some agency snaps him up. A career in wine isn’t for everyone.
wines, cask wine and craft beer as the first
stupidly expensive investment properties
station and the high street, will provide drifting into on-premise activity. to be in retail.
higher footfall at the new shop and says he is firmly focused on off-sales rather than “Being a wine bar and being a wine shop “At the moment I’m sticking to two but
Then there was Smashable Steve, lover
for me. Fingers crossed I can hang onto
are two different services,” he says. “I want I’ll look to open another shop in the next couple of years.” sourced wines.
with a mix of direct-shipped and agencyacronym for “bring our bottles”. The “Bob” of the business name is an
The core range is between £8 and £15,
for more. But, generally, his strike rate was low. He was last spotted proudly his left bicep, working at a deep fried
sporting a new clay amphora tattoo on
THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 7
© vadymvdrobot – stock.adobe.com
DRY?” She’d ask. “It’s proper kit!” he’d
tried & Tested
Cuvée L’Artiste Champagne NV
Champagne can sometimes be so prim and proper that the fun gets forgotten. But not on David Léclapart’s watch. His tiny biodynamic plot produces some of the wildest and breathtaking fizz to be found anywhere, its complex blend of bread, spice and salinity, and amazing depth and consistency. RRP: £85 ABV: 12.5% hdnwines.co.uk including this earthy, energising blanc de blanc with
Rutherford Hill Barrel Select 2011
Everything’s polished, rounded and perfected in this Merlot-dominated blend from Napa, which also Malbec. The red-fruit flavours are bright and lively you make a wine this flawless and this enjoyable. RRP: £32 ABV: 14% The Wine Treasury (020 7793 9999) winetreasury.com includes Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and
but in balance. It must be hard to not look smug when
Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines (01582 722538)
False Bay Wild Yeast Pinotage 2013
Paul Boutinot isn’t the biggest Pinotage fan and wanted to indulge himself by producing “the cheapest Pinotage on the market with no faults”. What could have been full of restrained but lingering strawberry flavours. RRP: £6.99-£7.49 boutinot.com ABV: 14% Boutinot (0161 908 1315) the least pleasant wine at the Boutinot tasting turned out to be the nicest surprise. It’s light and bouncy, and
Casa de Mouraz Encruzado 2014
The first organic producer in Dão has crafted an explosive and zesty wine with a rich, warm undercurrent and a twanging minerality. The grapes represent a field blend from various parcels and love into each bottle. RRP: £17-£18 positively exude health and purity – you sense that Antonío Ribeiro and Sara Dionisío have put a lot of ABV: 13.5% Raymond Reynolds (01663 742230) raymondreynolds.co.uk
Este Loureiro Great Choice Vinho Verde 2015
This is exactly what you want from a Vinho Verde – Smelling salts for the palate, in other words, and ever need to tackle such duties. RRP: £11 Marta Vine (01636 816947) martavine.co.uk ABV: 10.5% well, we do, anyway. It’s eye-wateringly fresh, with a bracing, lemon zest attack and a crisp, saline finish. capable of rousing a tranquilised elephant, should you
Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling 2013
The California Pinots were showing very well at the Go West! tasting but there were some impressive we were dreading, it’s juicy and spicy but with a classy elegance and almost effortless simplicity. RRP: £23 ABV: 13.5% Bancroft Wines (020 7232 54870) bancroftwines.com Rieslings too, including this particularly pert example. Very gently honeyed but with none of the yuckiness
Algodon Old Vine Malbec-Bonarda 2009
The Bonarda in this classic field blend is picked 12 days early, providing crispness and acidity. The Malbec is picked 12 days late, which contributes to the warmth the pickers didn’t get mixed up because this is lovely stuff: elegant, fresh and juicy, and not too heavy. RRP: £24.49 ABV: 14.5% Condor Wines (07508 825488) condorwines.co.uk and lusciousness. Thank goodness the instructions to
Akemi Blanco Oak Aged Viura 2013
The winemaker’s brother is the top sushi chef in Spain and this wine was developed to accompany his intensity that fills in the gaps. Described by one RRP: £16 ABV: 13% Moreno Wines (020 7289 9952) morenowines.co.uk creations. The acidity is higher than you might expect
and the oak more restrained, but there’s a sub-tropical Moreno bod as “the gateway drug to aged white Rioja”.
THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 8
bits & BOBs FAVOURITE
Pallant of Arundel Delicatessen & Wine Merchant
Favourite wine on my list
Rivesaltes Ambré from Domaine Cazes is a that has been aged for more than seven Not something I drink every week but
At last, a wine with wifi connectivity
A Boston start-up is looking for crowd funding for a wine dispenser that keeps wine fresh for up to 30 days and has a touch-screen to connect to the internet. pairing and serving tips, and to tell the story of how each wine was made. The Kuvée device uses wifi to share food The device works with a range of wines
France’s output to more than 47 million hectolitres, Italy overtook its northern rival, producing nearly 49 million hectolitres. But last year, despite a slight increase in
delicious vin doux naturel of white Grenache years in old oak foudres. Candied citrus fruit and spice, yet as fresh as a daisy! Cazes are biodynamic, organic and very hospitable.
priced between $15 and $50 a bottle. The for $349.
a producer, took France’s mantle as the world’s top exporter last year. Telegraph, March 27
Spain, which remains in third place as
system can be pre-ordered with four wines beyond the glass bottle and cork,” said Vijay Manwani, CEO of Kuvée. Daily Mail, March 30 “The industry has been slow to innovate
Pensioners: the new vine pest
A group of pensioners wrecked 200 vines up to 50 years old by driving five SUVs into vineyards after getting lost looking for a local restaurant. destroyed part of a Macabeu vineyard and caused €8,000 in damages. constantly have to fight against rabbits, Viticulturist Ramon Serra said: “We In the process of getting out, they
Favourite wine and food match
We are just as much cheese as wine merchants goat’s cheese (preferably Charlie Westhead’s Dorstone) makes a perfect palate cleanser after a heavy meal. here. A fresh Loire Sauvignon with a chalky
Favourite wine trip
at Selfridges I was taken to Champagne Louis then of MMD. Thoroughly spoilt from start to finish – those were the days! You never forget your first time. Whilst I was Please don’t put it in the bottle bank
wild boars … and above all comes this, a most disagreeable surprise.” Decanter, March 18
Roederer with Nick Bay and Rachel Longstaff,
Italy’s back on top
France has lost its crown to Italy as the world’s largest wine producer. until 2011, when it was overtaken by the France regained supremacy. France was the world’s number one
• Brewdog will launch its new spirits arm in April under the name Lone Wolf Distillery. The division will produce vodka, whiskeys and gins and will be the “only craft distillery in Scotland to make base spirit from grain, under one roof”, according to the company. The Drinks Business, March 30
Favourite wine trade person
Energetic, engaging, enlightening: Alastair become more friend than supplier. The way he powered through his recent illness, treating it as more of a nuisance than anything else, was always our most memorable. a lesson to us all. His tasting evenings here are Llewellyn-Smith of Thorman Hunt has
Italians. After 2014’s poor harvest in Italy,
01323 871836 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WineMerchantMag
Favourite wine shop
Ten Green Bottles in Brighton has taken wine retail to the next level. I admire anyone brave enough to turn off-trade to on. I just haven’t had the balls to do it myself ... yet.
The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 786 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 APRIL 2016 10
merchant profile: last try wines
Ricardo’s new goal
Last Try Wines is part of the matchday routine for many England rugby fans. But for the past 13 years the store has relied on the locals of Twickenham for the vast majority of its sales, and Ricardo Garcia is ready to capitalise on what he’s built up during that time with new branches and an own-label range
f Owen Farrell stood outside
A316, there’s a reasonable chance the ball would come to a rest more or less outside Ricardo Garcia’s shop. wine shop to rugby union HQ: there’s a news ‘n’ booze place just a few metres along the road. But that’s not where are at home. Last Try Wines is not, in fact, the closest
Twickenham Stadium and aimed a wind-assisted drop-kick over the
you, I could see the real diversity of styles of bars and drinks. motivated. I’ve always been interested in a different array of wines, but people didn’t seem that interested in unusual beers – a really good reputation for interesting beers. You were ahead of the curve, then … Absolutely. It was helped by the rugby, because for example if England and beers of the world. That used to frustrate me as a customer. From day one we had A lot of it at the time actually was beer
supporters head for on days when England 14th year on the site, which he took over division. Having opened the TGI Friday’s branch at Heathrow he moved to nearby Trinidad-born Garcia is now into his
after a career with Whitbread’s restaurant Strawberry Hill, and saw the potential in and the famous old stadium.
Australia were playing then I would get in a lot of Australian beers. You end up specialists. label beers and wines under the Ricardo’s Cellar name. During your Whitbread years you would have seen the nightmare the company was having with Thresher, and yet you decided to open a wine shop … Yes, I would have seen the nightmare they were having with Thresher. But
a run-down general store located more or The format of the shop has been
sourcing all this beer and discovering beer Can people take drinks into the ground? No they can’t. So it’s a “roadie”! Over the go to, the Indian restaurant they go to, the year. years it’s become part of their routine. A
less midway between Twickenham station painstakingly fine-tuned over the years,
and although Garcia insists that perfection still eludes him and he is “never happy” to settle for what he has built up, the smile never leaves his face as he discusses the business.
lot of rugby regulars have their pub they
and Last Try Wines is a pit stop. It’s not all about rugby – that’s only 10 to 12 days of The shop is an interesting shape – almost a pure triangle. Almost. It’s great from a visual point of view. Sometimes it’s a little bit frustrating
mark but looks likely to increase as Garcia explores the possibility of opening new stores – and building up a range of own-
Turnover flickers around the £250,000
because of my background and because of seeing the bars of London and what have
predominantly being based in London, and
THE WINE MERCHANT APRIL 2016 12
Nantwich: an affluent market town with a broad demographic, from OAPs to Oldham footballers
Ricardo Garcia, March 2015: on the look-out for more shops
when you’re trying to stock and plan but as you walk in, it’s all facing you. We’ve done a lot of configurations, sometimes to the frustration of Ashley [Tuiri, wine buyer] it again, he’s got the tape measure out!” But this works the best. Often you see a way [towards the wine]. given time? It varies but we’ll have between 120 numbers than others. and 150. Some in smaller stock holding What kind of wines go best round here – do you have any specialisms or things you particularly push? We try not to push anything in particular and the guys. They’re like, “oh god, he’s at couple walk in and the guys go that way
unless we’ve picked up something that’s generated. At the moment Malbecs are five years ago we had one or two. boom continuing? That’s still the go-to but the more adventurous customers are now asking us what else we recommend. Prosecco is still selling well because of the price point. Fiano is selling really well and
really good value, parcels and things like
that. All the decision-making is customerflying out. We have eight or nine whereas And is the Prosecco and Sauvignon
we also have a local independent, Prestige Wines, which is big in Italian wines. We we use a real array. independents? They had an offshoot called Wine Studio, which had a range of wines that was exclusive to independents. It just didn’t of products that worked really well for me because I knew the wines weren’t work for them. But there were a handful anywhere else. The beauty of it was that I anybody else but it allowed me complete
also deal with Liberty, Ellis of Richmond … Are Matthew Clark a useful supplier for
[towards the beer] and the women go that How many wines do you carry at any
people are asking for things like Torrontes. Montepulciano is going well but I think good value. that’s because we’ve got one that’s very Who are your main suppliers? Ehrmanns, North South, Matthew Clark …
could have mixed boxes – I can buy a single bottle. There’s a minimum order like with flexibility to fill little gaps here and there.
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A few other local independents do that, but
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merchant profile: last try wines
From page 13
more based around a new wine supplier that’s why I still use Matthew Clark. Do you do any wholesaling? Yes, we supply several restaurants locally and a couple further afield. A fair chunk of it is functions and events. Weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs. So you don’t need to worry about keeping separate ranges for retail and wholesale. Exactly. We’ll start off with what I’ve got source it. It’s really straightforward. business? It’s predominantly social media and because we’ve become established it’s on the shelf but if it doesn’t match, we can How do you advertise that side of the come in and have maybe two or three on their way home from work.
or new product from an existing supplier: bottles open. That’s very much for people Are your suppliers normally pretty good with that kind of support? There are a couple we have to push a little bit, but generally speaking they’re very good. They’ve got to know me and
volumes to have big drops – 50, 60 cases or whatever from Ehrmanns – but sometimes it’s a case of when you just need a little bit of a top-up, you don’t want to have to buy 14 dozen. wine company but a big chunk of it is great but I think that’s because of my personal relationships. Giles, my rep, There’s an element of buying from the
you’re buying from the person. Liberty’s used to work for Wine Studio, so I’ve been
I’m a drinks merchant as opposed to just a wine merchant
long time. We get each other.
know I’m not the boy who cries wolf. I’m heard from me for a while and I’ve been come and do a tasting”.
word of mouth. We do numerous stalls Festival.
not always after samples and demanding tastings. It’s like, “right, look, you haven’t buying wine from you for however long – Are suppliers by and large getting it right with independents like you or are there opportunities that they miss? In my experience by and large they’re fry. getting it right. There’s always frustrations One of the most frustrating things
buying wine from him personally for a very I’ve seen at tastings how he’s adjusted The rep from Matthew Clark is excellent.
and what have you – for example during the summer they have the Twickenham We’re very involved locally, not for the
his approach depending on the customer,
because one size doesn’t fit all. And that’s If it doesn’t match, tough”. How big is the team?
the key to sales. Some suppliers are guilty
purpose of marketing, but because we’re contributing. But by being involved you for their weddings and charity events. you go off-site? will come to you for supplying the wines
of that – it’s like, “right, this is what we do.
become more exposed and a lot of people
Do you do tasting events in here or do A bit of both. Tasting events here would be
with a bigger company because we’re small is always minimum drops. I have the
There are four of us in total, as in
permanent staff. Then for functions or
whatever I’ve got what I call my reserve team – there’s another four or five. On a rugby day we’ll need five or even six. If as well. we’re doing a bar for a wedding, or a ball at Christmas, I need people here in the shop Where do you source your beer? The local stuff tends to be more alefocused. Kew; Twickenham Ales; Decent for their beers; you’ve got Cave Direct;
Brewery; Belleville. Lager comes from all over the world. Pierhead are pretty good Nectar Imports; Madison Drinks … all of world. New Zealand, Australia, Brazil,
The beginning of the own-label range
those guys are good with the beers of the
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Sweden, Hawaii, Germany, Nigeria … you name it. lagers.
is to have about 100, including ciders and You’ve got all this weird and wonderful stuff that people can come in and lose themselves in but also real staples like Stella Artois. Is that something you’ve always done? Always done. I’m not going to turn my back on the customer who wants to drink Stella. He’s just going to go to the supermarket. I’m here to provide a service. So we’ll always have it.
The aim, depending on the time of year,
You’ve obviously had to adapt and make changes over the past 13 years. If you were starting now, what would you be doing differently here? If I was starting now, this would be pretty close. Because there’s been a lot of
Rugby fans pass the shop on the way up from Twickenham station to the stadium
many boxes as possible. I might not have five different Carmeneres – I might just have one. Yes we have some weird and wonderful things but all the decisionthings that I like. making is made from a service point of
products under my own label. The beer is being bottled this month – we’re working in conjunction with Twickenham Ales. companies which I like. It’s a smooth red ale. The premise behind it is me picking a product from different So this beer exists under a different label at the moment? You’re rebranding the same liquid under your own label? That’s the beginning. Eventually it will be a beer that’s exclusive to here. There’s a big difference in numbers if you’re doing one of their beers under your own label, and much. It will be sold on draught as well. Have you been in touch with wine
tweaking over the years. At the beginning in the more boutique, unusual things but I did it too quickly. It started alienating certain customers. In truth this place is a traditional off-
the premises was a corner shop, and it was all the commercial stuff. I started filtering
view rather than filling the shelves full of What’s the most self-indulgent thing you have on the shelves? There must be one thing ... Not really! Maybe a slight self-indulgence would be two, maybe three more bottles of rum than I would probably have if it lot of value in rum. were purely based on merit. I was born in People will easily spend £35 or £40 on
licence. The term has become skewed over the years … I don’t sell bread or milk. But I’m a drinks merchant as opposed to just a wine merchant. And people appreciate that. right. People can come here and find some weird and wonderful things … preference or they can afford it. Now I like to think I’ve got the balance
Trinidad and I like my rum. I think there’s a a bottle of whisky. If you spend the same amazing.
one of your own beers. Their expectations
on the order side are about seven times as
some customers will drink that all the
time, whether that’s just their personal
money or even a bit less on a decent rum
suppliers about the own-label range? The first one’s going to be a red, Spanish. The wheels aren’t in motion just yet running. There are two wine suppliers I’ve because we want to get this one up and
the interesting things on the weekend or when friends are around, but Monday to cheaper. My philosophy is to try and tick as
There are some customers who will have
then you’ll have something that is, I think, What’s the next step for the business? My own brand, for beer and wine: Ricardo’s Cellar. For a while now I’ve
Thursday they like their Stella, and Stella’s
been in communication with a variety of
suppliers to roll out a number of different
spoken to about it. There’s an Italian wine
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