THE WINE MERCHANT.
An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 47 , May 2016
The magazine with the courage of its many convictions
France leads the field in bumper Top 100 contest
France’s continued hold on the affections of independent wine merchants has been reaffirmed once again, as the country scooped a quarter of the final places in The Wine Merchant Top 100. competition for independent-exclusive wines securing 25 places, well ahead of Spain in Italy (12). In what was the biggest year yet for the (A Metz Crémant d’Alsace Cuvée 1904 NV), Savagny Vin de Paille, Jura 2008). and Best Fortified/Dessert Wine (Domaine de Trophy (Bodega Aster Finca del Otero Ribera Spanish wineries accounted for the Best Red
The AWRS and business rates make life difficult for some
4 comings & GOINGS
with a bumper crop of 650 entries, a total of 13 countries made the final selection, with France second place (with 15), New Zealand (13) and scooping three of the seven top awards: Best Sparkling Wine (for Champagne Taittinger
del Duero 2012) and the Best Value White (for Bodegas Navajas Rioja Crianza Blanco 2012); White Trophy and South Africa’s Boutinot 2014 was declared the Best Value Red. Chardonnay, Marlborough 2014 took the Best Percheron Old Vine Cinsault, Western Cape Wine Fair, and a full rundown of winners, be published in a supplement in July.
New entrants, expanding businesses and relocations
while New Zealand’s Saint Clair Omaka Reserve
8 tried & TESTED
The wines that made the hairs on our neck stand up
The French also did well in the trophy count,
Nocturne Sec NV); Best Value Sparkling Wine
including 102 Highly Commended bottles, will
The final 100 was revealed at the London
A carefully-curated wine range packs a Suffolk punch
18 david williams
Why it’s natural to love the Real Wine Fair
34 Summer beers
Could sour and salty be the big trend of 2016?
40 FOCUS ON vodka
Strange flavours and local ingredients add a new dimension to a familiar spirit
46 make a date
Italy, Hungary and even Kazakhstan wine tastings
49 supplier Bulletin
Manchester’s newest independent wine merchant has been opened by Marc Hough, aka DJ Tintin, part of New Order’s touring entourage. Cork of the North, in Sale, opened for business with a first-night party. Full report and pictures on pages 28 and 29.
Essential updates from agents and suppliers
The AWRS: is anybody there?
AWRS number do not kick in until April
next year but some traders could still find themselves out of pocket long before that time. Makonnen says HMRC officers are to process applications – and adds that now talking in terms of “several months” further three or four months waiting for traders,” he says. David Richardson of the Wine & Spirit
and didn’t leave enough time for that.”
take on the AWRS. “I’ve developed a theory about it: I don’t think it exists,” he says. registered. There’s no one in the office – they don’t have an office. The phone “I think it’s very clever what they’ve done. Anyone who applies is automatically number just rings. Anyone who’s bona fide cost them thirty quid. It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant.”
One Suffolk merchant has a different
an appeal against refusal could result in a a hearing. “It’s a really awful situation for
Trade Association disagrees that the AWRS was poorly communicated. “If you missed evidence of actual [server] downtime managed to navigate the system successfully before the deadline. He adds: “I would expect HMRC to have this you weren’t paying attention,” he says. and to say that nearly 5,000 businesses
has applied. Nobody dodgy. They’ve solved
the whole problem – job done. It’s probably
A legal expert has predicted “tens of thousands” of rejection letters as HMRC processes applications for the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme. letters of any kind as they still can’t plagued by technical problems. Some merchants won’t be receiving
A new stage for Woodbridge
Woodbridge Wines in Suffolk is taking a cinematic approach to its tastings following the relocation of its store from a central shopping street to a smaller shop in Quay Street. of mine has got a cinema over the road Owner Richard Campbell says: “A friend
negotiate the website, which has been
instances of problems related to the browser that was being used by the
“Anecdotally, I think there were some
told The Wine Merchant that a surge of it originally promised.
last-minute applications has meant HMRC “It just seems that rightly or wrongly,
Khalil Makonnen of law firm Bark & Co
applicant. I also got the impression that ones, didn’t understand the process for
some businesses, particularly very small obtaining a Government Gateway log-in
is struggling to respond within the 45 days HMRC is swamped with these applications and I’ll wait to see if they do start processing them in 45 days,” he says. Merchants who missed the deadline, or
with a restaurant attached. We’re going to be doing tastings in the foyer. We’ll have growers in the cinema in the first three rows – they can go on stage and talk to people.” to have a cigar club – we’ll meet on the drink wine in the foyer.”
have struggled to log on to the applications site, should technically not be carrying independent continually encounters a out any wholesale trade. One Hampshire “down for maintenance” message when suppliers.
terrace, smoke cigars and drink wine. We’ll tie it in with a tasting so non-smokers can the shop nearer to Woodbridge’s pubs and restaurants, as well as the railway London,” he says. The artwork for this year’s Yapp Bros price list has been produced by Toby Ward. He joins a list of Yapp artists that includes Quentin Blake, Willie Rushton, Merrily Harpur and Glen Baxter. Campbell says the new location puts
He adds: “One night a month we’re going
she tries to register and has been forced to
pass on her local wholesale business to her telephone enquiries on the subject. “I just a brick wall,” she says. The fines for wholesaling without an
station. “We’re getting a different clientele “The shop is much smaller. I had a huge
coming in and there’s an hourly train from shop that cost thousands and thousands to fill and so we’ve downsized. We’ve lost a and cheap wine, stuff like that, so we’re reinventing ourselves, so to speak.”
feel now that I am beating my head against
Nobody at HMRC seems able to deal with
lot of the commercial stuff like cans of beer
THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2016 2
Rates grate with smaller retailers
Some small shops are faced with a steep hike in business rates after retail rate relief ended at the start of the current tax year. changes could mean the difference between survival and extinction. For one wine merchant at least, the The measure was introduced by the
to have to pay,” he says. There are dire consequences for his income. “When whole month for no pay,” he says. months are quiet, it means working a
“It’s obscene – an unbelievable amount
paying 10% of the rates that I am, just
because they’re not on the High Street.” two years ago.
“Round the corner you can have someone Street is now considering what happens
next with the shop, which opened just over
government in the autumn statement of on properties with a rateable value of subsequently increased to £1,500.
2013 and allowed for relief of up to £1,000 £50,000 or less for 2014-15 and 2015-16. Retail relief for the second year was The measure was flagged as an attempt
Corks club raises Bristol’s spirits
“Our Man with the Facts”
• Sangiovese is the most widely planted grape variety in Italian
Corks of Bristol has teamed up with the Hyde & Co bar group in the city to run quarterly whisky tasting events. banner of the Bristol Whisky Club with the evening sessions taking place at either the Thistle. The first event featured the range from for June 2, will focus on The programme is taking place under the
to help high streets as “they look to adapt people shop”.
to changing consumer preferences in how to run for two years, the government’s Though the measure was only intended
Chardonnay, in seventh place, is more widespread than Prosecco mainstay Glera and also Pinot Grigio.
vineyards, followed by Trebbiano.
refusal to extend it has left many retailers facing a sudden steep rise in rates, with commonplace.
main Hyde & Co bar or its sister venue Milk boutique Scotch whisky blender Compass whiskeys from the Swedish producer Mackmyra. priced at £15 a ticket.
• Roman soldiers in 200BC were urged to drink two to three litres of wine a • More than half of Austrian wine global sales. day to maintain good health.
increases in the region of 20% likely to be the delay of a five-yearly re-evaluation of rateable values. It was due to be carried two years. out in 2013, and the new rateable values This means that businesses are still applied during 2015, but was put back for be charged business rates on valuations crisis – and applied in 2010. The situation has been exacerbated by
Box and the second, scheduled
Both tastings have been Dominic Harman of
with the UK accounting for just 2.6% of • According to Greek mythology, the breast of Helen of Troy.
exports go to neighbouring Germany,
Corks says: “We had a
begun in 2008 – when the property market was hitting its peak ahead of the financial commercial property values has been so rates than they are rent. Matthew Street of Anglia Wine In some places, the collapse in
really good response for so they came down and
first wine glasses were moulded on the • Vitis labrusca grapes, native to North America, are sometimes referred to as away the skin, leaving the firm ball of • Argentina, Australia, California, a process also known as must enrichment. pulp intact. slipskins because it’s easy to squeeze
the first one. Compass Box ran through all of those. only have seven products
dramatic that retailers are paying more in Merchants in Ely, Cambridgeshire, has seen a 24% increase in business rates to £8,100 a year, on top of his £18,000 rent bill.
sell is 25-30, which is small, but hopefully it will be enough to generate interest in these products. “The following one will be American
“The maximum number of tickets we can
whiskeys, then we’ll probably do English point.”
and Japanese whiskey and others at some
countries which ban chaptalisation,
Italy and South Africa are among the
THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2016 3
Sampler inspires new Hereford indie
Hereford has a new independent merchant in the form of Noble & Wild, offering wines to drink on the premises or take away. offers wines from an Enomatic machine and also has four wines available on Roberson. The business has been started by The shop, in The Mews, St Owen Street,
draught in a four-tap system provided by Seonaid Brennan – who trained as a chef in South Kensington – and fiancé Theo Bulmer, a scion of the cider dynasty. year,” Brennan says. “When we moved “We first saw the place in May last
at Leiths before a stint with The Sampler
The wine on tap system is supplied by Roberson
back to Herefordshire I really missed the
independent wine merchants I was used to in London and thought this would make a could sit and have some meat and cheese. “Nearly all of the wines are from small
take them away. At the moment I’ve got a Lussac Saint Emilion at £12 to take away, have gone down an absolute treat. “The cheese is from La Fromagerie, so
perfect wine shop, but also somewhere you producers. There’s a lot of natural, organic advertise, necessarily – I just think they’re wonderful wines.” Suppliers include Indigo, Les Caves de
and also Prosecco on tap, which seems to it’s wonderful quality. I have a wine of the week – at the moment it’s a biodynamic is unfiltered and really nice. I’ve told La them.” Touraine Sauvignon Blanc. I’ve also got a Fromagerie the wines that I’m doing by Noble & Wild’s arrival gives Tanners Domaine Coston Languedoc blend which the week and they’ve paired cheeses with some competition in the town and
The Keltek soul brothers
Wine in Cornwall has moved from its Penryn premises to nearby Redruth. wholesale trade but achieves about 10% Cornish Brewery last year. owner Nigel Logan. The business, which is dominated by
and biodynamic wines. It’s not something I
of its sales from retail, merged with Keltek premises with an even smaller shop,” says space available and we are planning to been adapted.” “However the building has plenty of
Pyrene, Carte Blanche, The Vine Trail, FMV, Alliance and The Knotted Vine. The shop small spirits range. Brennan adds: “Having worked at The also sells craft beers and ciders and has a Sampler I always thought that Enomatics were a wonderful idea – such a nice way Borough Wines in Hackney and they “We lived just round the corner from
“We have now moved the wine into their
Brennan is confident there is room for both businesses. “They’ve had the monopoly a different style of wine shop that I’m bringing,” she says. for quite some time, and I think that it’s
open a proper retail wine merchant and
brewery outlet soon, once the building has Camborne have no specialist independent wine merchants or multiples at the moment, so the opportunity beckons.” • Enoteca da Luca is opening its fifth
for so many different people to try wines. had the wine on tap, bag-in-box. After
researching it I found out about the KeyKeg taps but now I’ve got two house wines that you can drink in from a half-litre carafe, or “Initially I was just going to have two
that have opened up in Hereford recently – of really nice little restaurants. “A lot of people who maybe grew up
system and then found out about Roberson.
there’s an amazing beer house and a couple here and moved away to London are now coming back,” Brennan adds. “I think Hereford will have its day.”
“There have been a few independents
He adds: “The twin towns of Redruth and
branch in London. Enoteca Old Street, in the new Bower development, is the group’s biggest premises so far, with three floors and an outside terrace.
THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2016 4
Amps to open second branch
Amps Fine Wines is to open a second branch, three-quarters of a mile from its existing one in Oundle, Northamptonshire. in a development of small retail units microbrewery Nene Valley. The site is due to open in late May
built as part of an extension of the local to free up the original site to host more still operate as a shop. “The current shop is a bit of a bestOwner Phillip Amps says the idea is
events with bigger capacities, though it will kept secret,” he says. “It’s down a narrow
passageway and the car park has barriers when they’re standing right next to them. visible in the town.” “The new site will make us a lot more He adds: “We’ll probably change the
Newcomer Wines, which opened its first branch at Boxpark in Shoreditch in 2014, is opening a new store at Dalston Junction. The Austrian wine specialist, which features hi-tech point-of-sale equipment, will have “more space and more events”, according to owner Peter Honegger. them all together.” “I don’t live too far away and we did “It’s very early days but we’ve been
on the gate. Even though we put A-boards
and signs out, people don’t see them, even
tap, restaurant and bottle store will be among Amps’ neighbours at its new location.
A bakery, flower shop and the brewery’s
some market research which showed people wanted something like this.
layout at the new place so it’s by grape
variety and then style, rather than country. looking for Sauvignon Blanc they can see “There’s a lot of logic to it. If people are
Ralph branches into retail
A specialist Spanish wine importer has branched out into retail with the opening of a shop in Whitton, near Twickenham. business Ralph’s Wines in 2008 and the shop has now opened under the name Ralph’s Wine Cellar. The shop’s range features wines from Ralph Smith set up the importing
welcomed very warmly and demand is
growing for wine, craft beer and cheese. quickly.
tasting pairings which are selling out very
“We’re doing fortnightly wine and cheese “The idea would be to have a few more in
different west London locations but it’s too early to tell. We’ve just opened the doors fun.” and I can’t describe my workload. But it’s
Portland store could fit the bill
Portland Wine Company is selling its branch in Tarporley, Cheshire. traded “consistently well” over the three According to Christie & Co, the store has
all over the world sourced through other importers. It is also selling craft beer, artisan cheeses and deli products. premises. Wines are served with charcuterie and “It was just something I’d always wanted
cheese platters for consumption on the
Amps: link with local microbrewery
years of its current ownership. “However a not only through extending the sales area but also by increasing the opening hours
to do,” says Smith.
new tenant could look at increasing profits,
THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2016 6
and making use of a currently unused onsales licence.”
Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing
Hodden aims for Bourne supremacy
Three years after opening his ArtisVin shop in the Meads area of Eastbourne, Steve Hodden has cut the ribbon on a second shop in a more central location. licence, is branded as South Street Cellar. and caught quite a large crowd, and 95% know we existed,” Hodden says. there. The new shop, which has an on-premise “We did a Christmas market down there
pring has sprung. The rosé is riz. I wonder where those competition invites is?
that various cups, challenges and participation to be judged.
trophies request the pleasure of my Off Sales Specialist awards. it chirrups, encouragingly.
It’s usually around this time of year
(you got it first time round, right?). He £250 on a handful of bottles.
shakes his head, before dropping a cool awards. Instead, I take my future in my hands and press “delete” button.
I ask if he’s heard of the DROSS awards
I could’ve used that money to enter the Then I have an idea. Why not round up
Ah, here’s one, from the Drinks Retail “Entering our award could mean the “Customers won’t know if it safe to
difference between success and penury,” shop with you unless your windows are afford NOT to take part?” still face a terrible fate?
a host of fellow indies and run our own industry awards? We’ll judge ourselves on the things that really matter: best
of the people that we spoke to didn’t even
craft beer pub. It’s much more visible down I’m running out of cellar space here, so I was looking at either taking on some another cellar.” The shop has an area for tables and “I needed more storage as well and
“A nice unit came up next door to a good
emblazoned with our prestigious brand. What if I enter and DON’T win? Will I “We’ve a cracking line-up of top wine Of course, none of these critics have
It only costs £200 + VAT to enter. Can you
warehouse storage or a second shop with
critics who’ll decide if you should hold
Don’t brace yourself for my acceptance speech this year
mark-up; most obscure wine on the shelf; smartest retort to a “just passing” rep; longest-serving red trousers. Author Trophy. We’ll judge them on long they can maintain a poker face recommended. We’ll invite critics to enter The Wine
your head up high or hang it in shame.”
actually run their own wine business. But some have done stints at a Wine Rack or Oddbins in their early twenties. Clearly, indies and their suppliers. this makes them true experts at judging these critics who, in turn, can attract major sponsors for our large back“We need your money in order to pay
categories such as how many customers have actually heard of them and how while drinking a sub-£5 wine they’ve
ArtisVin’s original Eastbourne shop
slapping bash. If you’re lucky enough to be nominated, you’ll be able to peer at we’ve hired.
chairs, which will initially be used for
our critic celebrities from your tables in
judge suppliers and agencies. I’ve not suggestions?
tastings and events, with the option of a demand there is for it,” Hodden says.
the far corners of the tired hotel ballroom to get mentioned in a few tweets, a ”So enter now, and be in with a chance
come up with an award name yet. Any
Finally, we’ll run an award where we
full on-trade service in the future. “We’ll
see how we grow into it and what kind of on “as long as it continues to perform”.
boosted by the arrival of Cru, a wine-led bottles for retail.
restaurant in the town centre which offers
Eastbourne’s wine scene has also been
A current customer walks in asking:
THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2016 7
© BillionPhotos.com – stock.adobe.com
He adds that the Meads shop will be kept
couple of industry mags and your local paper. Invaluable PR that will create a stampede of new customers through
tried & Tested
Castelforte Ripasso 2013
Ripasso offers more body and flavour than a typical is full of dark fruits and spices, but never feels topthey’re getting a bit of a bargain. RRP: £14 ABV: 13.5% morenowines.co.uk Valpolicella but retains lightness and vibrancy in a way you might not expect from an Amarone. This example heavy. All in all a pretty classy glass of wine at a price that should make even the grouchiest customer feel Moreno Wines (020 7289 9952)
Casal Santa Maria Ramisco 2006
Europe’s most westerly vineyard in the Colares DOC is owned by Baron Bruemmer, who got into the is phylloxera-resistant and yields charismatic red RRP: £37.99 ABV: 12% wine business at the tender age of 96. The sandy soil and white wines, in this case from bush vines. This Raymond Reynolds (01663 742230) raymondreynolds.co.uk example is meaty, concentrated and gently oxidative.
Cline Cellars North Coast Viognier 2014
All of the Cline wines at the recent Boutinot tastings the pick of the bunch. It’s the purity of the fruit that wine that closes gently on the finish. RRP: £11.99 ABV: 14% Boutinot (0161 908 1315) boutinot.com seemed to be winning plaudits and this was arguably gets the hairs on your neck standing up here, and the beautiful tropical and citrus balance. A nice rounded
Finca Constancia Altos de la Finca 2013
Petit Verdot and Syrah make happy bedfellows in this warm and spicy 60-40 blend from Castilla. It all kicks off with a caramelised, almost banana-like aroma, going on, but it harmonises beautifully. RRP: £15 ABV: 14.5% Gonzalez Byass (01707 274790) gonzalezbyass.com followed by a chocolatey black-fruit sweetness on the
palate, with the oak providing a gentle vanilla lift. A lot
LAN Reserva 2009
Winemaker María Barúa is a bit of an oak obsessive. Her studies have led to a greater understanding of the flavour compounds that dead trees bring to wine modern-style Rioja deliberately underplays the oak (a mix of French and American in the same barrel), creating a balanced wine with expressive fruit. RRP: £15.95 sogrape.uk ABV: 13.5% Sogrape UK (01865 263300)
Suertes del Marqués 7 Fuentes 2014
If you’ve been looking for a blend of Listán Negro and Tintilla, this bad boy from Valle de la Oratova in vines are old, in some cases up to 150 years; the air juicy and warm, with a pleasant zippiness. RRP: £16 ABV: 13% Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391) indigowine.com the hills of northern Tenerife could be your man. The is humid and the soil volcanic. The wine itself is rich,
– and an appreciation of the limits of oak ageing. This
Le Riche Richesse 2013
South Africa is producing some increasingly credible with Merlot and Cabernet Franc playing supporting palate. A special wine from a Cabernet specialist. RRP: £12.99 ABV: 14% Boutinot (0161 908 1315) boutinot.com Bordeaux blends and this Stellenbosch example is in the vanguard of that trend. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates, roles in a rich, dusky wine with notes of tobacco on the nose and dark, juicy fruits and a little chocolate on the
Ilercavònia Blanco 2015
Maybe Garnacha Blanca won’t be the next Pinot Grigio but this Terra Alta example is a good bottle to thrust begins and ends with Sauvignon Blanc. The floral all-out attack on your dental enamel. RRP: £12.99 ABV: 13.5% Iberian Wines (01622 432430) iberianwines.co.uk into the hands of anyone who thinks that white wine
richness persists for much longer than you expect it to and the acidity injects freshness without launching an
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2016 8
bits & BOBs FAVOURITE
Salut Wines Manchester
One in 10 bottles of wine bought online
Online wine sales increased to more than £800m in 2015 and now represent almost 11% of the market. found that 25% (7.4 million) of the UK’s wine on the internet last year, with an average spend of £7 per bottle. of wine drinkers searching online for to 17.2 million.
© Rebecca Abell – stock.adobe.com
spring storm has put their 2016 vintage under early pressure. Jean-Philippe Bret, of Bret Brothers, said. “I have talked to long-standing vine growers and they have never known a hailstorm during spring.” Decanter, April 18 “We have never seen anything like it,”
29.6 million regular wine drinkers bought Over the past five years the number
Statistics compiled by Wine Intelligence
Favourite wine on my list
because we had it in the Enomatics last year and I got to try a 50ml. You had to whole bottle in 20 minutes flat. There be quick, though – we went through a was a queue down the shop! Lafite 1990 – but I only know that
information about wine increased by 28% The Drinks Business, April 20
Chemical clanger is far from comical
More than 900 tonnes of grapes will go to waste after a pest controller sprayed vines with an unauthorised fertiliser. in the Marlborough wine region of New Zealand more than $1.6m in sales. on the plants in March. A phosphorus and potassium-based The mistake will cost seven vineyards
Favourite wine and food match
A decent Left Bank Bordeaux and some crusty bread, but it’s no good without (Amontillado or Palo Cortado) – with friends to share it with. Or Sherry anything.
fertiliser known as Perk Supa was sprayed Daily Mail Australia, April 19
Favourite wine trip
The last one! I just had a fabulous trip to Porto which reignited my love for Port.
• UK sales of Prosecco continue to outpace
Favourite wine trade person
Macon’s hail havoc
A heavy hailstorm in Mâconnais, lasting up to 50 minutes in some places, damaged vineyards over an area of 2,500ha. Growers say that the rare Burgundian
those of Champagne and offset a decline in the still wines sector, according to new figures from retail insights provider IRI. Prosecco sales rose 34% to £356m in the past year, compared to a sales increase of 1% for Champagne to £251m, and just 0.4% for the wine market overall.. Foodbev Media, April 18
us and never lets us know how ignorant
trip! No, really I think maybe Raymond Reynolds, who has always had time for we are.
Are these questions just so I can upset people? Whoever took me on my last
Favourite wine shop
Apparently they are the oldest wine cellar is an Aladdin’s cave. Nickolls & Perks in Stourbridge. firstname.lastname@example.org
01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag
merchant outside of London and their
The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 795 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 may 2016 10
Sherry Festival dates announced
Get behind this year’s festivities and you could win a trip to Jerez. Now’s the time to enter, so make sure your business is part of the action for 2016
campaign are being rewarded with a trip to Jerez later in the year. London and WoodWinters in Edinburgh were winners in the two-week long campaign run by Sherry Wines UK. Retailers who would like to emulate Bar 44 in Cardiff, Borough Wines in
the most successful promotions during the 2015 Sherry Festival
© Kondor83 – stock.adobe.com
he three businesses that staged
for Sherry with their customers.
dresses as window displays, winemakers flown in to host tutored tastings and lots more fun, innovative events besides. “But most importantly, the Sherry Festival shows how a little time spent dividends and sales rise as a result.”
“Some of them go all out with flamenco
explaining the qualities of Sherry pays
their success should sign up now for the 2016 Sherry Festival which runs from June 13 to 23 (details below). Forty-three stores, from St Andrews
in 2016 and wine merchants can claim a selection of POS to use for window events. displays, staff training and customer
The Sherry Festival is in its third year
down to Cornwall, took part in last year’s campaign to promote sales of Sherry and increase knowledge about Sherry among staff and customers. Sherry by offering free nibbles with interesting Sherry flights. Bar 44 enticed customers to enjoy Angeline Bayly adds: “It is evident each
To register to take part and to receive a POS pack, or to get more information about how to get involved, go to www.sherry.wine/sherry-festival/ registration or contact sherry@ bespokedrinksmedia.com.
© Kiko Jimenez – stock.adobe.com
every glass ordered, selling bottles at
year how much Sherry is beloved by wine merchants and the Sherry Festival gives them a chance to share their appreciation
retail prices to take-home and creating figures on Sherry sales were exceptional for us, lifting by about 80% compared to normal.” Sherry Wines UK campaign director
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
Owner Owen Morgan says: “Overall
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2016 11
merchant profile: wine-boutique
The Fantastic store
Wine-boutique is the retail arm of the Winefantastic wholesale business. Based in Felixstowe, its range of self-imported wines offers locals unfamilar bottlings from familiar appellations. The decision now is whether to continue with a winning formula, or to branch out into something a little more ambitious
ohn Greenwold didn’t set out to be a wine retailer. Sixteen years ago he
business importing virtually all its own
wines. Wine-boutique emerged four and a
established Winefantastic, a wholesale
at a restaurant in France drinking it and thought, we’d better have some of this. talking to the drinker – and they don’t. Here it’s more direct. with the restaurants we’re relying on staff We’re talking to the drinker, whereas
half years ago, a brand that works not only of partnerships with farm shops and delis. “I felt there was probably room for a bit
for the Felixstowe store but also for a range of retail within what we do,” Greenwold explains. “We do collect bin-ends from them in and they fly out fairly quickly. developed and evolved along the way, has.”
Are the wines here the ones that excite you and you think, “we can make these fly”, or are there some compromises in
The shop opened four and a half years ago
the retail range as well? There are always compromises. I would in here. A lot of them are hidden away behind well-known generics. love to think that we’ve got exciting wines For example Vouvray Sec: it’s a wine lots
time to time and we’ve bought cellars from pubs. We’ve got a rack where we can stick “That’s how the shop started but it’s
cheap and cheerful offers near the front door to lure passing trade. How does the retail range compare with the wholesale range? Is there any overlap? There’s a lot of overlap but there is significant exclusivity as well. The bulk of what we sell in wholesale is probably 20 We’ve got a small wholesale-exclusive “these are not retailed”. range? I don’t think there are any criteria. For example Jason found a Vouvray late last wines, and those 20 wines aren’t in here.
probably more than the wholesale business from the outside, and sits on a busy The Felixstowe shop is unprepossessing
of people will have heard of and they’ve
got a view on, but the actual wine that we Vouvray, forget it’s French, it’s just a nice dry white wine and it’s right up there. got one group of customers who know Vouvray – Communicating that is
but unremarkable road in a town that
have is amazing; it’s world class. Forget it’s
frankly looks nothing like Britain’s largest container port from this vantage point. Inside, the shelves are packed with wines that look familiar on first glance – a lot of generic boxes get ticked – but on closer inspection they’re not names that are
selection, which Jason doesn’t get to take,
so we can say to our wholesale customers How do you go about selecting the retail
difficult because you’ve
immediately recognisable. Greenwold and manager Jason Welham are proud of what of Europe. The range feels like it’s been genuinely curated, even if there are a few
they’ve built up by scouring the trade fairs
“it’s horrible and who’ve never
medium sweet” – and other people heard of it and
year. No one asks for Vouvray – we were
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2016 12
Felixstowe is the country’s biggest container port
don’t want to try now. So very few in the middle.
The range is quite clever in that people will recognise the names of most of these wines – Châteauneuf du Pape, Chablis – but I guess the work you’ve done is to find some really interesting wines to go behind those labels. That’s the big thing I think we’ve done in wholesale. I can do a list of Pinot Grigio, they will be really excellent products. expecting. What they’re getting in the glass is
little shot of it – “never mind what it is, see if you like that”. We launched it at one of the door, because it just won’t. But I feel interesting wine there.
What we’re hoping for is to give them a
Fumé. I’ve tasted and tasted and that is
the nuts. I got the one I wanted in the end. our Sancerre. And they’re the same price, neighbouring villages – lovely jubbly. from UK importers? Very little. We’ve got exclusives on 19 are the only importer. wineries – they’re not exclusive contracts, I would love other independents to be
I’m so happy with it and it’s so opposite to
our tastings and sold a few cases there and I can hold my head up and say I’ve got an he’s got to sell it. We’re not looking for a Jason can do what he likes in here, but
then. I don’t expect a pallet of that to fly out
How much of the wine range is coming
Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Sancerre … and actually a jump up from what they were because we’re actually talking to the In retail there’s a lot more knowledge
guaranteed high margin on everything. If he buys something in and has to dispose of it because it hasn’t sold, that’s fine. I’d much rather that than us never having anything new.
because I don’t believe those exist – but we able to use us. We already trade with one or two wine merchants but we could sell wines are not in multiples or even other
all the time. I do my beer shopping in here and I’m always surprised by what we’ve got.
Beer-wise it’s something that Jason does
drinker, one on one. We need Pouilly-Fumé. We need Sancerre. Especially when you’re charging 15 quid, the customer relies on a little bit of a crutch. This Pouilly-Fumé is brand new to us but it’s amazing. I’ve waited 16 years to ship my own Pouilly-
wine from any of those wineries and those other wineries where there is maybe just
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independents. Then there’s a whole load of
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2016 13
© harlequin9 – stock.adobe.com
merchant profile: wine-boutique
From page 13
I’m curious about why Vinho Verde was on your list to start with. Have people been asking for it? I’m conscious that the awareness of it has been going up. I try not to take too much notice of what the reporters write in the miles from here, and that’s all London. Sunday papers because London is a million
one other importer. So we’ve got quite a to shows.
You’ll be the only one standing there.
portfolio and that’s a side of the business
that I would like to develop without going But you’re quite good at going to shows on buying missions … You don’t see a lot of me! The [London] wine fair is a social. ProWein, we do shopping there. One of the things I love about ProWein is that I can talk to
take sandwiches. You’re in an overheated hall and you have to queue for about 45 How they think that’s catering, I don’t know. minutes in three degrees to get a hot dog
My advice to anyone going to ProWein is
that someone’s warmed up over a candle.
winemakers without the UK agent hanging around. Lots of them have other labels and there’s the possibility of actually doing business. I’m not interested in giving do the shipping from wherever. of your wines? The agents we use are for Australia, New Zealand and a little bit of South Africa … Actually, if you look round the shop, the selections are tiny. It’s not big enough – we’re going to sort that out this year. agents money because I’m quite happy to So why do you still use agents for some
A partner Wine-boutique might have 20 wines … they get nearly all the margin
What’s Felixstowe like? I get the impression it’s a kind of Everytown. I think the demographic is probably slightly older than average. It’s on the end not a through-road so you’re not passing through. It’s got a massive dock industry – the
ship it properly I think I can sell it at a good price. What other overseas shows do you go to – Vinitaly maybe? Vinitaly’s fantastic but I haven’t been for producers at ProWein. It’s something I a couple of years. I saw most of my Italian to anyone else. It’s chaos, it’s brilliant and plan any appointments for the mornings.
I think there’s a market for it and if I can
of the line; it’s on the edge of the water. It’s
and a little bit of Argentina, but that’s tiny. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
should be doing and I would recommend it
biggest container port in Britain, but that’s quite separate so it’s kind of two towns, almost. I think the population is about adjacent. There’s money here; there’s poverty here. Do some people come in the shop expecting to find a cheaper selection of wines? Of course. Having said that, I’ve got some Tall Horse there for £4 a bottle. We don’t make any money on that but we’re able laugh at you. to say to people, yes you can buy a cheap 30,000 including the villages immediately
we’ve got customers who want a little bit
more but we’ve got a strategy for that and Was ProWein useful for you this year? Extremely. We’ve been for nine years I think, consecutively. It’s extremely
Verona is amazing, but it will rain and don’t
productive. This time was exhausting, we had too many appointments, we had too days. We’ve just signed up a Vinho Verde
much to do. Next year will be three whole producer and I’d left him off my to-do list for some stupid reason, even though I sudden you’re in a section marked Vinho done a deal. I’ve taken a bit of a punt on that.
bottle of wine in here. Nobody is going to You have Wine-boutique partnerships in garden centres and farm shops – how does that work for you? It’s working out OK. I believe it’s probably the best work I’ve ever done but it’s so
knew it was a priority for us. Then all of a
Verde and the first bloke we talk to – we’ve
Only a few wines come via UK importers
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2016 14
hard to explain to a potential partner. They
are just resistant to it. There are some
conditions that I require; there’s a contract. the exclusivity. We don’t want Blossom Hill being sold under a Wine-boutique One of the deal breakers, regularly, is
banner and we say to them the wine has to come from us. If I was in their boots, with their awful wine selection, I would yet the resistance is so strong. jump at it, knowing what I know. I’m selling something that I believe in so deeply and wines, which would be perfectly doable. A partner Wine-boutique might have 20
They might have 10. We’ve got some with and wine is a small part of their business. So they’re getting the range, the brand and your expertise. Are they making much margin? Thirty per cent. They’re going out at the same retail price that we do.
30, 40, 50. Not many with much more than that. We’re mindful of the space they have
a little tasting on on a Saturday, but I can’t staff that. They’re getting nearly all the
They would do better if they were to put
Manager Jason Welham is encouraged to take a punt on wines for retail
margin on that product so it’s no frills: they don’t get credit, they don’t get lots of things for that. But what they do get is the margin and a competitive selling price, I believe. Where else are your partners, aside from farm shops and garden centres? There are a couple of pubs, where they’ve shop that we work with. and tough. I would do more of it but selling it in as got a shop within the pub, and there’s a gift an initial concept is quite time consuming How big a chunk of overall turnover comes from the shop? Specifically in here is probably 8%. Jason we tend to bunch those together. also handles the web sales from here and has taken off. People pay to be an Imbiber We have a thing called Imbibers, which
and in return they get a massive discount. What we were finding, and what we suspected, was that we were being used somewhere else. by people here for gifts and dinner party We wanted to make everything
So Imbibers get a 25% saving – how much are they paying for that? £4.99. Some of them have never used us because it’s a relatively small amount. [Jason: But the ones who are using us and are forgetting each month to cancel it are using us much more regularly. Instead of seeing a face once every two or three weeks, I’m seeing them every week.] The margin is ridiculous – 25% off, we’re
wine but the weekday drinking was going affordable without upsetting our wholesale customers. We have margin in these prices, a strong margin, but just to discount everything willy-nilly would just be tempting fate I think.
“would you like to pay an amount of money each month?” It’s a subscription, they don’t get anything for that money, but in return had, I believe, a good uptake. they can afford to use us for all their wine.
We asked a lot of our regular customers,
about two points down. The people who wine, where there’s no margin, and an occasional bottle of the good stuff. Now lots and lots more sales.
were coming in were buying the promotion they’re coming in for everything at a lower price, so we’ve seen a tiny drop in GP but
Continues page 16
We launched that six months ago and we’ve
THE WINE MERCHANT may 2016 15