The Wine Merchant issue 58

 

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The Wine Merchant issue 58

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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 58, May 2017 Yes, we’re back on our AWRS hobby horse © Phil Rigby THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS More AWRS woes, and a crowd funding campaign for a by-the-glass dispenser 4 comings & GOINGS New stores in Stroud, Ludlow, Rye, Brighton and Mayfair 10 tried & TESTED What happens when you add Manzanilla to white Rioja? Only a handful of UK wine merchants actually make any of the wines they sell in their shops. Sam Jary, of the recently-opened Black Hand Wine in Penrith, is one of the few, retailing his own Burgundy from a corner of an antiques yard in the Cumbrian town. More on page 3. 14 morrish & BANHAm Former Palmers wine boss reaps rewards of solo venture France plays starring role in Top 100 contest France was again the star performer at this year’s Wine Merchant Top 100 competition, contributing a quarter of the winners. The competition, which is restricted to wines exclusive to independent traders, saw a record entry this year of nearly 700 wines from suppliers of all sizes. Greece picked up three Top 100 places, including the White Wine Trophy, and there were debut appearances from Croatia and Slovenia. The competition was judged by 18 independent wine merchants who formed a panel intended to reflect the diversity, and regional spread, of the independent trade. The winning wines will be available to taste at The Wine Merchant’s stand at the forthcoming London Wine Fair. Each of the winners will also be profiled in a special supplement published in the summer, where details of this year’s 117 Highly Commended wines will also appear. Editor Graham Holter says: “Our judges this year had to be brutal, but they were extremely professional in the way they assessed the wines, not just from a quality standpoint but in terms of their value for money.” • Trophy winners and pictures from judging day appear on pages 29 to 31. 22 vindependents tasting Reporting back from the group’s first portfolio event 26 david williams Why are some wines so bloody expensive? 38 focus on greece From yucky retsina to the peak of wine trade coolness 48 MAKE A DATE The June tastings that could be worth a visit 52 supplier Bulletin Essential updates from agents and suppliers

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BACCHUS b Crashed website leads to £3.5k fine “one of those things you hadn’t got round to”, HMRC believed he wasn’t taking the scheme seriously. The business owner had also been visited by HMRC officers to point out the importance of the scheme in January 2016, three months before the registration deadline. “Three of them came and we had the most ridiculous conversation. They asked who our suppliers were and I said one of them was Moët Hennessy and they said: ‘Oh, do they have an office in England; do you know if they really exist?’ “My personal view is that it’s a ridiculously pointless thing. Obviously I firm Altion Law, warns that a crashing website isn’t enough to mount a defence against a fine for failure to register in time. “The rogue IT glitches have caused a few problems,” Chapman says. “I have a client whose address was input incorrectly and every time they tried to log on they were told they didn’t exist. They eventually sorted it out before the deadline.” (Another merchant with a similar typographical issue missed the deadline.) Chapman says a reduction in our wholesaler’s fine from a potential maximum of £10,000 to £3,500 was “not a bad place to be”. She advises retailers who are buying The Federation of Wholesale Distributors has hailed the new HMRC registration scheme for drinks wholesalers as having a “positive effect”. But for some legitimate traders it’s had a less auspicious start. Fears that the sign-up process for companies required to join the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme could land reputable operators with fines for technical breaches have been realised. One wine merchant who has been in business since 1980 has been landed with a £3,500 fine for missing last year’s April 1 registration deadline. The company owner had left it late to register and then been unable to do so on March 31 because the scheme’s own website had crashed. He admits missing the deadline but did sign up at a later date, only to be hit with the fine in March this year. “I was granted my AWRS number on December 22, 2016, and received a perfectly nice letter, but on March 20 I got this thing through about potential penalties because I didn’t do it on time,” he says. He feels that as he had told officers earlier in December that he’d missed the deadline because it was, in their words, can’t argue with their facts, but it doesn’t help by fining me £3,500. “They’ve listed all the things I’ve complied with. I did everything they wanted but obviously a bit late and they think I didn’t take it seriously enough, but if I was to write back and say the reason I didn’t take it seriously is because they’re a bunch of amateurs, they’re not going to like that.” Danielle Chapman, of commercial legal THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 2 Have you heard of this company? from registered wholesalers to continue to be vigilant in complying with the scheme. That means including making regular due diligence checks beyond just checking that suppliers are on the online register. “It’s not enough,” Chapman says. “You need to keep doing a higher level of checks. As part of continuous monitoring you should make sure you are only ever purchasing from somebody who is approved. You have to ask other questions.”

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Making wine as well as selling it A Cumbrian wine merchant has boosted the select ranks of UK retailers who make their own wine. Sam Jary opened Black Hand Wine in Penrith last year having cut his teeth as a winemaker in New Zealand before moving to Burgundy where he continues to do so. “I work with a friend in Pommard,” says Jary. “We make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Last year, because of the shortage of grapes in Burgundy, we also made some Gamay from from Beaujolais and some Gewürztraminer from Alsace.” This will be his first vintage juggling wine production with running a shop. “Hopefully my regular customers will be understanding because I’m off making wine,” he says. “They’re quite excited by it. I brought back 20 cases of the wine I made last year, which people loved. “I can show them the photos of my feet in it, which bizarrely doesn’t seem to put them off, and I can show them pictures of me picking the grapes and barrelling the wine. People love it because they can see where their wine is coming from. “They are some of my more expensive wines but people like products with good provenance.” Black Hand Wine is situated in a corner of an antiques and salvage yard. “The only downside of that is that I’ve been here four months and I’ve bought a sink, two tables, some vintage towels and an Afghan rug,” says Jary. “Any profit I make seems to get ploughed back into the yard.” Jary joins an elite band of wine merchants who make wine including Cambridge retailer Noel Young, who is coowner of Magpie Estate in Barossa Valley, and Greg Sherwood MW, of Handford Wines in London, who makes his own wine in South Africa. • Lancashire independent Fullaloves is planning to finance an eight-bottle wine dispense machine through a crowd funding campaign. Ben and Andrea Fullalove are offering future rewards for pledges, including a wine and tapas evening for six people in return for a £200 donation. As the deadline closed at the end of April, the Kickstarter campaign had attracted 76 backers, reaching the couple’s target figure of £15,000. Flying Füchs “Our Man with the Facts” • A legal drinking age of 18 was advocated by Plato. The Greek philosopher suggested drinking in moderation until the age of 40, after which he said people should be allowed to drink as much as they like to fend off the irritations of old age. • The Greeks can claim to be the first to introduce Appellations of Origin for wine. Arioussios Oinos from the island of Chios, Thasos from northern Greece, Mendeous Oinos from Mende of Chalkidiki and Maronian from Thasos were among the first styles to be legally protected. © Phil Rigby • Greece is home to around 300 indigenous grape varieties. • Although Vinsanto is widely regarded as a native style of Tuscany, many people maintain that it was actually originally a Greek wine, named for the island of Santorini. Jary shows customers photos of his feet in the wine he sells. “Bizarrely, it doesn’t put them off” THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 3 • In ancient times many Greek wines would have had a distinctly salty taste as grapes were often macerated in jars of decanted sea water.

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© Rye News www.ryenews.org.uk Could vegan wines take off in Stroud? A couple have relocated from Sussex to Gloucestershire to open their own wine shop. Richard and Laura Holloway both worked for Quaff in Brighton and have now opened Stroud Wine Company. “Laura’s family are all from Stroud,” says Richard, “and we noticed there was no independent in the town, which just seemed bizarre. Hopefully there’s no reason we’ve missed that there isn’t one, unless we’ve done something silly.” The store is in a former kitchen shop in a courtyard off the town’s high street, keeping company with a café, an interior designer and an alternative health centre. “Because it’s not on the high street it’s a little bit cheaper rent,” adds Richard, “which is good for us, but a pain for deliveries. But it’s do-able.” He says the store will have a 70-30 split of wine to beer, including draught take-out of the latter. There will be no sampling machines or drink-in offering. He adds: “We’re just going to try and source the best wines we can from a number of different suppliers. We’ve got about 15 at the moment and we’re trying to get the best examples that represent where the wine comes from. “The focus really is £7-£15. We don’t want people to find it too daunting. It really needs to be somewhere you can pick up an approachable wine or beer for every day. “It’s not going to be overtly organic but where we can we’ll do organic and biodynamic. I think Stroud’s up for it. Vegan wines were starting to take off in Brighton and I’m sure they will in Stroud too. “We’ll do tasting and get involved in whatever we can in the town. There’s a fringe festival, a jazz festival and a New Sussex store caters for a “conservative” clientele farmers’ market every Saturday which is very popular indeed, so we’ll have wines open every Saturday and do free tastings whenever we can.” Beaucatcher in the Rye marketplace Piers Plowden opened Beaucatcher Wines in Rye at the end of March. His wine importing business has taken a back seat due to the negative impact of Brexit. “It’s going to be very difficult as one goes forward to be a small niche importer with prices the way they are going to go,” he says. About 20% of the 120-130 wines that Beaucatcher lists are imported directly by Plowden, with the remaining stock sourced from suppliers such as Thorman Hunt and Winetraders. Catering for the “conservative” population of the East Sussex town, Plowden says he is keeping the range “as focused as possible,” with an offering of artisan French, Italian and Spanish wines THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 4 alongside single-estate offerings from the New World. There will be no wine by the glass but Plowden is considering a small, cheaper selection for a refill service as a counterpoint to the fine Bordeaux and Burgundy. Tastings and “hopefully a few wine dinners when various wine producers are over” are also in the offing. Dickensian theme for Ludlow project Shropshire Council is considering plans for The Angel Hotel on Broad Street, Ludlow, to have a change of use, in order for it to be converted into a restaurant, bar and shop selling fine wines and cheeses. Martyn and Jayne Emsen, who run the Smoke House Deli & Chicchetti Bar on the same street, have taken on the building, which was built in 1555. The application proposes “a Dickensian style, utilising soft furnishings, furniture and decoration synonymous with that epoch.”

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Adeline Mangevine A butcher, a baker and a new wine shop Santé Wine Imports is opening a second shop in Somerset, eight years after its original branch in Wells was established. The new site is in Wedmore, around nine miles to the west. Owner David Schroetter says: “It’s a village but we’ve got a butcher, a baker, a deli and a fishmonger and three pubs. It’s a lovely little place not far from Cheddar. There’s quite a community there.” Santé is taking part of a unit that has been split into five and will focus on offpremise sales to start with. The branch will be managed by a former Majestic employee who lives locally. David Schroetter: second branch in Somerset Mission to find a new site in Cornwall Mission Wines of Cornwall is on the hunt for a new site after vacating its original premises at Carruan Shop & Café, near Polzeath. Owner Tamsin Jones says the decision was taken following a rent review. The former Wadebridge Wines manager says she is “totally gutted as the whole thing had just found its sweet spot”, adding: “We are currently stashed in boxes hoping to find a new place.” Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing We work in an industry selling a product that, consumed in excess, can be dangerous. We don’t need to send an embarrassing drunken Tweet (blush), nor have the hangover from hell before a 12-hour shop shift (ouch), to remind us of this. Neither do we need the media to bang on endlessly about the so-called bingedrinking middle classes. Those so-called binge drinkers are MY CUSTOMERS! But now the sun has poked its head out and the barbecues are being lit, Dry January and Parched Lent are now history. Faces I’ve not seen for months bounce in looking refreshed and energised telling me how they are drinking “less but better”. I can’t complain about that. The margins are so much higher. On the downside, they have developed a whole new obsession with intolerances and cannot wait to tell me all about them. In detail. Here are my top five in the intolerance popularity charts. Sulphites are a non-mover at number 5, causing more headaches than stress, high temperatures and excess alcohol consumption put together. (Of course, the customers with a genuine sulphite allergy never drone on about their intolerances – they find asthma as boring as the next person.) Down to number 4 is red wine and headaches. But now people are not looking at me merely to provide the definitive answer as to why they suffer (tannins, enzymes, histamines, hairs from the winemaker’s dog – I can get quite fanciful). They now want me to recommend them a red that won’t give them a headache. “Try this light, biodynamic Bardolino, which goes brilliantly with fish and salads,” I chirrup, code for “stop knocking back that Chilean Cabernet fruit bomb on an empty stomach”. Climbing to number 3 is white wine sending women bonkers. Now, though, it is becoming more grape-specific. That’s wine education for you. The Riesling ravers, the Viognier vixens, the shameless Chardy-shians – there’s a white wine for every woman who has had a “bit of a night”. Drinking buckets of I think I’m developing an allergy to customers’ phoney wine intolerances cheap ice-cold wine like it’s Diet Coke has nothing to do with it … New in at number 2 is a particular grape making you feel ill. Take the young woman perusing the under-£10 shelf for a New Zealand Savvy: “I can’t drink French Sauvignon, it makes me so sick.” What do you think I asked? Yep, turns out she loves Sancerre. Finally, straight in at number 1 is a new spin on an entire country’s production – from the finest of wines to industrial bulk rubbish. “I can’t drink German wines,” a middleaged man told me recently. “I am always so ill after drinking them. It must be something in the grapes.” “Have you tried any recently, like their Pinot Noirs and …?” I begin to ask, suspecting that he has never gone beyond sugar-laden Rieslings. “ No,” he interrupts. “I’ve told you, German wines make me ill!” THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 5

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Master Sommelier opens wine shop Restaurateur and Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset has entered the retail business. Comptoir Café & Wine is a café with its own wine shop on the lower ground floor. While the café will list up to 30 wines by the glass, customers are welcome to take their shop purchases upstairs to enjoy for a £10 corkage fee. The shop will have “500 to 600 wines from all over the world and a temperature controlled room,” says Rousset. “I will call it the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay room. “The idea from the beginning was to do a shop where you can have the choice to drink on site. I think 20% of people will buy a bottle to drink at home and maybe 80% will chose to stay on site.” Majestic and Hedonism may be just around the corner but Rousset is confident that his shop offers a completely different concept. Flint, Boutinot, OW Loeb, H2Vin and J&B are among the suppliers Rousset is using. Sabrina Barreiros, formerly of Hotel du Vin, will be managing the whole operation and a former sommelier at Rousset’s Cabotte restaurant will be the managing the shop. Amathus Brighton is set for summer London drinks wholesaler Amathus is to open its first shop outside of London. The store will be in the North Laine area of central Brighton, next door to a Wagamama restaurant and just a short hop from highly-rated indie Ten Green Bottles. Amathus has four shops in central London, each carrying a wide selection of wine but specialising in top-end spirits. Its Xavier Rousset: the latest wine merchant in Mayfair Soho branch will be extended prior to the opening of the Brighton store. The company’s general manager for retail, Nick Bell, says a licensing application is in progress in Brighton and the shop is expected to open by late summer. “It’s really big, it used to be a corner shop,” he says. “It’s a massive space and there’s a giant space underneath it as well. “Brighton’s always been the first place we wanted to branch out of London with because it’s got a great clientele and there’s Plumpton College right down the road. “The site we’ve been looking at is larger than any of the sites we’ve got in London at the moment but it will be similar in style to our current ones. Hopefully as we’re getting more high-end wines and spirits it will be more of a vehicle for those in Brighton.” Is there any sensitivity about the proximity to an existing independent? “When we opened in Soho we were close to Gerrys and The Vintage House,” he says. “Sometimes we find that having multiple THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 6 players in a particular area can be a rising tide that lifts all ships. If the area becomes a place that’s more specialised in boutique and more interesting wines, various shops can benefit from it. “Our large selection of whisky and spirits and our mescal sales are driving a lot of our shops, and that’s an offering that Ten Green Bottles doesn’t have at the moment.” The expansion of the Soho branch has come about through the availability of a neighbouring Toni & Guy salon. It means the shop can “possibly expand from bottle-based things – so equipment, books, literature and coffee, like the Shoreditch branch,” says Bell. “We’ll hopefully be roasting our own coffee.” He says that the company is interested in more sites outside the capital and is monitoring its wholesale business to identify areas where a shop could potentially work. Brighton’s wine retailing scene already includes players such as Quaff, Butlers, 21 Wines and Seven Cellars, in addition to Ten Green Bottles. Vagabond is also looking at a site in the middle of the town.

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© A. Karnholz / stockadobe.com direct importing Small buying group thinks big Austrian adventure pays dividends Agroup of Hertfordshire wine merchants has turned to Austria in a big way to source wines collectively. The informal buying group was inspired by encountering producers seeking UK representation at the Austrian Wine Marketing Board’s generic tasting in London in February, according to Jeff Folkins, of Kings Langley deli and wine merchant Dalling & Co. The tasting led Folkins and buying group colleagues Peter Lilliott, of Cellar Door Wines in St Albans, and Gobind Singh Lidhar, from XO Wine Merchants in Welwyn and Knebworth, to take a tour of seven producers in March which led to an initial shipment of 22 wines. “We’ll be trying them out with our customers to see what will fly and what won’t,” says Folkins. “For the most part we visited just small family vineyards. We went through the whole room of unrepresented wines at the tasting and picked the ones we liked. We liked the wines and we liked the people and that’s who we went to see. They were incredibly welcoming. “They said ‘yes, no problem’ and they were as good as their word. I cannot stress enough how unbelievably pleasant it was, to the extent that I want to organise a trip with my customers. There was a willingness to try and work with The three merchants used the London tasting to establish contacts in Austria people like us.” Folkins thinks Austria scores on quality and consistency. “Austrian wines are getting greater recognition from the British public,” he says. “The evidence can be seen on restaurant menus. I’ve got customers coming in actively looking for them. “I find the wines generally just outstanding. When you go on wine trips, you go through so many vineyards and some are good and there are some where you go, ‘oh my god’ – but this time there wasn’t a dud among them.” Folkins says the initial batch will include an entry-level Grüner Veltliner which he’ll be retailing for £9.99, and which he hopes can overcome a price barrier that he argues has previously held Austrian wine back in the UK. “We go to [supplier] tastings and they’ve got nice Austrian wines but they would have to go on the shelf for £14-£15, and that’s not approachable in my opinion,” he adds. THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 8 Folkins co-ordinates the orders, which are consolidated into a single consignment, with the shipping company carrying accounts and issuing invoices to each business individually. “We all paid upfront,” he adds. “They didn’t ask us to – we chose to do that to establish a good relationship from the start.” The group has previously bought wines together in France and Italy. Folkins says there is scope for others to join them and offers encouragement to merchants who might be thinking of doing something similar on their patch or with like-minded trade contacts. “I would love to get another half-dozen wine shops to come on board,” says Folkins. “It works well because we remain autonomous and charge our own prices for the wine, yet we work together, get better exchange rates and we combine our shipping. “If anyone wants to talk to us, either because they want to join us or they just want some advice, I’m happy to do it.”

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tried & Tested Cellers Unió Llicorella Vi de Vila Blanc 2015 One for those who love to throw a wild card into a blind tasting here: a textural Pedro Ximénez from Priorat that has the potential to delight, intrigue and maybe even horrify. There’s a tiny bit of sweetness in there and some notes of toffee and nuts, all held together by a lovely fresh acidity. RRP: £18.99 ABV: 13.5% Buckingham Schenk (01753 521336) buckingham-schenk.co.uk Magpie Clovella Mataro/ Grenache 2015 Noel Young’s Barossa project was established in 1993 with the noble mission of bringing the region’s Rhône varieties to a wider audience. Mataro is of course a synonym for Mourvèdre, and it pairs beautifully here with Grenache. There’s a luscious dark fruit sweetness and a satisfying mineral tang on the finish. RRP: £14.99 ABV: 14% Boutinot (0161 908 1300) boutinot.com Bodega Sottano Chardonnay 2016 Fresh, pure and linear, with a stoney mineral sensation on the finish, this unfussy and unoaked Chardonnay, made 30km from the city of Mendoza against the backdrop of the Andes, is a terrific example of what the variety can achieve at this price. Certain regions of France might like to take note. RRP: £11.99 ABV: 13% Vindependents (00 33 7 85 03 81 06) vindependents.co.uk Harewood Estate Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Hailing from Western Australia’s Great Southern region, this is made with free-run juice produced in a maritime climate. Semillon dominates the blend, but feels like an equal partner to the Sauvignon in a sensual wine that successfully balances tropical fruit flavours with crisp, citrus elements. RRP: £22.99 ABV: 13% Vindependents (00 33 7 85 03 81 06) vindependents.co.uk Louis Jadot Ladoix 2014 Alarmingly pale and rather restrained on the nose, this isn’t a wine that makes a grand entrance. But some of the classiest wines (and people) don’t have to. The fruit sits delicately at the back of the palate and although restrained, is hauntingly persistent. On its own, the wine risks disappearing into thin air but absolutely shines when paired with savoury food. RRP: £26.90 ABV: 13% Hatch Mansfield (01344 871800) hatchmansfield.com El Infiernillo Pinot Noir 2015 When a vineyard calls itself “Little Hell” and someone then attempts to make Pinot Noir from it, all kinds of klaxons go off in your head. But perhaps it’s all one big in-joke. This is a lively, fruity but racy Pinot, brimming with cherry and cranberry flavours, that tastes like it comes from a hillside in one of the most favoured cool- climate locations. Hell yeah! Or, maybe: hell? No. RRP: £8.99 ABV: 13.5% Boutinot (0161 908 1300) boutinot.com CVNE Monopole Clásico 2015 This Rioja classic, a blend of white varieties, was revived last year, and if you detect a Sherry-like note it’s because there’s a small amount of Manzanilla in the mix for added structure. It might sound a bit gimmicky, but it makes perfect sense – the resulting wine is beautifully rounded and pure, with a leesy richness and hints of almonds and marzipan on the finish. RRP: £25.20 ABV: 13% Hatch Mansfield (01344 871800) hatchmansfield.com Gayda Figure Libre Freestyle Red 2015 An organic Rhône blend from the Pays d’Oc with a juicy but earthy kind of appeal. There’s plenty of bright fruit flavours and some liquorice and vanilla for good measure. Good hearty fare from a wine that could easily have dialled everything up to 11 but is pretty harmonious and balanced, especially for the price. RRP: £15-£19.50 ABV: 14% New Generation McKinley (020 7928 7300) newgenwines.com THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 10

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bits & BOBs FAVOURITE THINGS Jez Greenspan The Wine Twit Balham Favourite wine on my list At the moment, it’s the 2014 Les Amis de la Bouissiere. I love Rhône wines and this one offers such great value and is made by a great Gigondas producer. They blend their Grenache and Syrah with some Merlot they have planted, which adds another dimension to the wine. Favourite wine and food match Roasted lamb with Rioja, I know, I know, it’s a safe match, but they just work so perfectly together – and it just so happens to be my favourite dish to cook too. Favourite wine trip I had the pleasure of visiting Domaine Gayda a couple of years ago. It’s a beautiful estate down in the south of France, producing some fantastic wines. Tim and his wife were great hosts. You couldn’t have a nicer place to enjoy their wines. Favourite wine trade person James Booth, New Generation McKinley. I’ve known James for a number of years and they have a great list. Everybody we work with has been great in supporting us since we opened last year, but James has been incredibly supportive throughout this journey we are on. Favourite wine shop Wimbledon Wine Cellar. It’s like an Aladdin’s cave: the more you look around the more interesting and unique things you find that you can’t find anywhere else. Burgundians hail new storm shield Magpie The vineyards of Burgundy are about to become the first in France to be totally covered by a “hailstone shield” to thwart destructive storms that have blighted the region in recent years. By June, the entire area will be protected by a network of 125 ground generators that cause tiny particles of silver iodide to rise to the clouds above, where they stop the formation of hail stones, and thus reduce the risk of damage. The move to total “cloud seeding” cover follows several years of severe hailstorms in Burgundy. Last year, Macon and Chablis were particularly hard hit. The Telegraph, April 15 Portuguese vineyard. The Mistletoe & Wine singer, 76, was originally seeking £8 million for his awardwinning winery in Albufeira, but dropped the price to £5.5 million earlier this year – and has now lowered it again to just £4.6 million. The stunning site provides spectacular views over the vineyards and down the Algarve coastline. The property on sale is Sir Cliff’s winery business, not his Portugal home which is nearby. Daily Mail, April 25 Frost damage will affect 2017 vintage Richard: some dangerous food matching tips Vineyard price falls off a Cliff Sir Cliff Richard has almost halved the asking price for his 11-bedroom Winemakers across France and parts of Germany, Italy and Switzerland are counting the cost of frost damage in their vineyards after several nights that felt more like January than late April. Champagne vineyard managers were among the first to raise the alarm but it has emerged that many regions suffered damage. In Pouilly-sur-Loire, temperatures fell to -5°C for six hours. The first estimates suggested it would mean a 30% decrease in the size of the 2017 vintage. Decanter.com, April 25 winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 winemerchantteam@gmail.com Twitter: @WineMerchantMag The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 824 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 VAT 943 8771 82 © Graham Holter Ltd 2017 THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 12

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THE WINEMAKER FILES Paul Hobbs, Paul Hobbs Wines Tasting apples from different parts of his father’s fruit farm in New York State gave Paul an early flavour of terroir. His career in wine involved a stint at Mondavi’s Opus One and has also earned him 100 Parker points. He has interests in Argentina as well as California and is in demand internationally as a wine consultant I wanted to become a medical doctor but my father thought I should try wine and if I wanted to go back to medicine I could. I ended up in California studying for a few years and I kind of liked it. I was doing research under a professor by the name of Dr Vernon Singleton at Davis. I applied his phenolic chemistry techniques to map phenols in oak and compare various oaks, and that was really fun. It took about four years before I thought: OK, this is interesting, I can make a career out of this, not just a hobby. Oak is terroir-influenced as well – as any living thing is. It’s a source of fascination. You can never learn enough, I think if it was just oak alone I could spend my whole career just working on that. There are a lot of mysteries hidden away there. CrossBarn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon RRP £42.95 “We do a lot of work in the vineyard so we can go for long extraction. The wines are quite supple and they have a firm but sweet tannin. It gives the wine a lot of polish; a nice pull on the cheek. Texture to me is very important.” In our programme we only use oak barrels, primarily French. It’s mostly from the northern forest of France. We use American oak on our companion label CrossBarn, and then it’s pretty lightly applied because American oak is pretty aggressive, comparatively, and you don’t need to be a scientific researcher to know that! Winemaking is an interplay between man and nature. Whoever the artist or the craftsman is, the hand involved is going to have an influence and that’s the beauty of it. There’s always been a debate about what the real sense of terroir is. If you’re working in a place – say Armenia – the culture of Armenia will have an influence on how the grapes are grown. If you compare one part of France to another you will see that people think and act and behave in a different way, and that can’t help but have an influence on the terroir. CrossBarn initially came along as a feeder programme for growers to go onto the Paul Hobbs programme. Then it kind of took on its own life. I wanted to make a low oaked wine, a wine you could enjoy for a more informal occasion with a different style. I come to the UK twice a year. It feels to me more dynamic: I like the way it’s evolving. I find it more exciting than ever. We’re aligned with the independents so I’m thrilled to see that development happening. I find I can get all my exercise running up and down vineyard rows. I still do a bit of Twheeigfhirtlsitftjionbg,oaflfiettrleI gboittowf arusntnoiwngoarnkdinroawwining.eIrlyo,vaet aArnt gaonvderseiandiMngc.LMaryewniVfeailse.an artist ManydeIalrolyvedgayosinwgetroemmuosreeulmabsosroatIotraykeanthdaqtuinalwityhicleonI’tmrotlrbauvtelIlignogt.tIhleovweinheisbtourgy.aInf dyou wlikeentfotoodRaonsedwcourlttuhryeCyoolulefgien.dI acalomteobf athcoksteotAhninggosveasreinw1r9ap7p6eadnudpgoint wmhoaret Iadnod.mI loorvee the innuvmolbveedrs. side of this business too. It’s pretty stimulating. CrossBarn Sonoma Coast Chardonnay RRP £26.95 “It’s a bridge wine between the Sauvignon Blanc and a more fullblown Chardonnay. Batonnage gives it another dimension. We get a fresh, crisp and high-energy wine that reflects the soils and terroir of the Somoma Coast region.” CrossBarn Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir RRP £34.95 “Pinot Noir just shows beautifully with not much oak. The beauty of the barrel is that it naturally stabilises the wine and helps evolve it. No need to filter it, so we get that nice, fresh yet voluptuous feel to the wine.” Feature sponsored by Paul Hobbs Wines, imported in the UK by Alliance Wine www.alliancewine.com THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2016 13

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Mark Banham, April 2017

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merchant profile: morrish & BANHAM Feetontheground, headintheclouds Mark Banham established his reputation running the Palmers Brewery wine division in Bridport. In 2015 he took the plunge with his own business in the new Brewery Square development in Dorchester, and it’s fair to say he isn’t regretting his decison … Anyone who spends 12 years running a wine business for someone else – however much free rein they are given – is bound to let their imagination wander. Mark Banham ran the show in the acclaimed wine department of Palmers Brewery in Bridport for all that time but always had the idea of creating his own business lurking in his mind when the time was right. That moment arrived a couple of years ago. Morrish & Banham occupies a smart glass-fronted unit in Brewery Square, a new development in the heart of Dorchester where independents and chains rub shoulders in a six-phase project that also has a high residential quotient. It stands on a site once occupied by Eldridge Pope, whose imposing Victorian brewery juxtaposes elegantly with the modern structures. Before he moved in, Banham had a snoop around the old building and was encouraged to salvage some 100-yearold Baltic pitch pine. It was turned into the fabulous table that dominates the centre of the store. “They said just help yourself,” says Banham, originally from Essex and a Level 1 rugby coach. “It’s fantastic wood and in a way it’s the heart of the shop.” It takes on a practical application for the tasting events that take place on the premises. “A two-hour private tasting of six wines with tapas in the shop is £25 per person, based on eight people,” Banham says. “We serve Dorset charcuterie and use a local cheese supplier as well. We make up little tasting boards of cheese, charcuterie and sundried tomatoes. “For a pure tasting over at a seaside boarding house people will receive an aperitif on arrival and eight wines to taste, and that’s £20. For our tasting dinners in Dorchester, it’s an aperitif and canapés on arrival, an eight-wine tasting and a two-course supper with wine, coffee and petit fours and that’s £40.” In the shop itself, Banham is generally open until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, allowing customers to drink wines in the store for a flat £5 corkage or sample what he has open. Although coy about quoting turnover, Banham reports that ‘I’ve accrued a fair amount of knowledge, I have room for more and my confidence is high. It’s the right time’ business is going “very well” and is pleased that the decision to go it alone has paid off. “I was 41 when I left Palmers, and I feel I’m at my sweet spot at the moment,” he says. “I’ve accrued a fair amount of knowledge, I have room for more, my confidence is high and I think for us this is the right time,” he says. “My children are eight and 10 now – had they been two and four, it would have been a big ask.” Continues page 16 THE WINE MERCHANT MAY 2017 2016 15

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