The Wine Merchant issue 27

 

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The Wine Merchant issue 27

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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers Issue 27 , July 2014 Hi-tech journalism for the digital age Invite your MP to hear the truth on wine duty Independent wine merchants are being encouraged to contact their MPs and extend invitations to their shops. preparing a fresh offensive against the UK’s specialist wine shops can play a key role in the campaign. Chief executive Miles Beale is urging The Wine & Spirit Trade Association is make on alcohol is incredibly low.” of all wine duty in the EU.” He adds: “UK consumers pay almost 70% away, Beale believes MPs are more receptive than ever to invitations from businesses in they operate. With the General Election less than a year THIS MONTH 2 BACCHUS Some sort of bike race has come to Yorkshire, apparently 4 comings & GOINGS punitive wine duty regime and believes that their constituencies, giving wine merchants a chance to spell out the burdens under which The WSTA has published some headline Finally, a second store for Corks of Cotham 6 tried & TESTED independents to get in touch with local MPs so that politicians across the UK can get a merchants under pressure. “UK consumers pay almost 70% of all better understanding of how duty puts wine wine duty in the EU,” Beale told The Wine figures about the scale and impact of alcohol duty and is recommending that this data at local level. forms part of the communication with MPs pages 26-27. Wines that explode, wines that leave gaps 9 merchant profile • Read more about the WSTA campaign on There’s a reason why Rory Stapleton is the Jolly Vintner 14 david williams Merchant. “Any margin that any retailer can Penfolds is in danger of becoming a bit vulgar 16 graham holter Independents should worry less about the internet 24 wine merchant lunch Putting some excellent South African wines to the test 28 guest columnist Archie McDiarmid of Luvians: “Different is the new normal” 34 suppler bulletin Independents “need to know their Sagrantino from their Nerello Mascalese” to get the most out of Italian wines. Find out why in the Italy feature starting on page 29. Essential updates from leading agents and importers

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BACCHUS be appreciated, even greatly loved, by those who lack technical knowledge or who are without a deep interest”. and confirm our belief that the beauty of enhanced. And so will our sales.” It urges customers: “Sit back and listen Rosser. “Less formal” masterclasses for year. Salut will be open until 11pm from customers will take place throughout the Wednesday to Saturday, closing at 6pm on Sunday and 6.30pm on Monday and Tuesday. both the wine and the music will be muchly Tanners spin-off claims a first Tanners has become the first retailer in the UK to install a wine-dispensing device called WineEmotion. UK but has been available in the USA for around five years. The concept has been as the founding father of wine dispense technology as a result of his pioneering own separate venture. The system has just been launched in the Radical role for Mark Radcliffe Matching wine with music is a practice that requires a certain humour and self-awareness – get it wrong and you’ll advance directly to Pseud’s Corner. struck just the right balance with the appointment of Mark Radcliffe as its resident Master Songlier. Radcliffe, a Define Food & Wine in Cheshire has Radcliffe: shed liaison with Noddy New wine store for Manchester Famously, Manchester underperforms as a centre for wine retailing but the arrival of a new merchant in the city centre could go some way to correcting the balance. Street, on the site of a former Oddbins branch, after four years of planning. Customers will have a range of 300 Salut Wines opens next month in Cooper designed by Riccardo Gosi, widely regarded work with Enomatic. WineEmotion is his broadcaster who presents a daytime show on BBC 6Music, has identified eclectic Define website. musical matches for 12 of the retailer’s wines, and explains his choices on the Barton Merlot, Walker Bay 2010: the device in a new shop unit that has been branded A Taste of Tanners. to use the device to showcase premium wines rather than wines for everyday drinking. “distillation” of the company’s larger wines and gift items. The Wyle Cop shop is described as a It is understood that the company wants The Shrewsbury merchant has installed “Perfection” with rib of beef and Symphony of Sorrowful Songs by Polish composer Henryk Gorecki. Borsao Garnacha Seleccion 2012: Enjoyed in a shed in the company of Noddy Holder, with “the wondrous playing of Wrembel” for company. Contraste Branco, Douro 2011: the French fretboard wizard Stephane Consumed on Radcliffe’s daughter’s wines to choose from, 40 of which will be machines. available to taste by the glass. Thirty-two of the wines will be dispensed from Enomatic be consumed on the premises for a flat corkage fee of £7, which is waived for wines priced £50 and above. The business is owned by Jon Saunby – a Any bottle of wine on the shelf can Cellars Shop, offering a selection of quality birthday, watching a niece and nephew English Riviera album. overturn a rowing boat in a muddy pond to the background music of Metronomy’s The Define quotes Michael Broadbent’s British Airways pilot – and wife Sara, a on a day to day basis. former stewardess, who will run the store and running Wine & Spirit Education Salut will also be offering tapas dishes, assertion that “both music and wine appeal to the senses; both are fleeting … both can Trust courses in partnership with Stephen WineEmotion makes its UK debut THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2014 2

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is going on,” he says. places like the Languedoc and Provence, as well as Alsace and Jura and the south west. don’t normally buy, sometimes because they can’t pronounce ‘Cahors’.” “The Tour goes though some interesting Flying Füchs I’m hoping to get people into stuff that they Plenty to pour from Le Tour The Tour de France has also provided inspiration for North Yorkshire merchant Winearray. Revenge will be sweet for Chris Hill of Latitude “Our Man with the Facts” • At 22 litres per head, British people consume less wine than main wine producing countries. States and South Africa. Take your seats for Yorks v France A Yorkshire wine merchant is out for revenge as he aims to convince diners that French wines are a better match for food than local beers. going head to head with friend and beer expert Matt Gorecki in the £40-a-ticket Battle of the Booze. impromptu battle of wine versus beer “About 18 months ago we did an Chris Hill of Latitude Wine in Leeds is mixed case of wine that gives customers a region from the north of England to the south of France. the local Ryedale Rosé and 11 French wines for £70. flavour of this year’s route, taking in every The Yellow Jersey case (£175) includes Owner Nick Chadwick has put together a the citizens of most of the world’s But we drink more wine per capita wines. A Green Jersey case offers six of the hosting two dinners at the Old Deanery restaurant in Ripon, which have been include two wines for each of the five courses. The Boroughbridge merchant is also than Chile, Spain, Canada, the United • In Tudor England, it became fashionable for wine to be served so expensive that dinner guests generally had to share. marketed as Tour de France Tour des Vins. The five-course meals, at £40 a ticket, in Venetian glassware instead of silver goblets. But the glasses were and I stepped in to help them out after the original wine person had to drop out. We really enjoyed the combat of it. “We went through four wines and four had beer and wine with each course and I beers with each course and it became often enjoys a 50-mile ride in the dales before opening the store at 11.30am. Chadwick is himself a keen cyclist and • The word brandy comes from the Dutch word brandewijn, meaning burnt wine. Although he is enthusiastic about the Tour “It might reveal some of the really good cycling roads,” he says. very competitive. I lost by one point, even though I’d only had the menu for a day.” French theme to celebrate the Tour de Hill is confident of putting together a guests. For the rematch, the wine will have a de France visiting the region, he has mixed feelings about the publicity it will generate. • Alain Durotte of France holds the world record for the most corkcorkscrew, he opened 13 bottles of wine. The record for the most American Mitch Ancona. sealed bottles opened within a minute. In 2001, using a T-handled Champagne bottles sabred within France’s Grand Depart from the city, and French selection that will wow the dinner regions where the interesting winemaking “I’m keen to show off the lesser-known 60 second is 35, a feat achieved by • The first Master of Wine examinations took place in 1953. THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2014 3

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comings & GOINGS Corks of Cotham opens new store Corks of Cotham, the Bristol independent, has opened a second branch in the city. Hill store, owners Dominic Harman and Rachel Higgens have invested in a new as an “up and coming” part of the city. be true,” he says. After 13 years of trading at their Cotham shop in Bedminster, described by Harman place came up which is almost too good to it’s actually a metre narrower and a metre developed for retail use in the future. has been let out. sites. Harman and Higgens are currently “It feels bigger than our first shop but Ian Florey: Rent and rates also a factor in the closure of Liquid Pleasure “We’ve been looking and looking, and a shorter, and there’s a ridiculous amount of storage space at the back.” The area may be A three-bedroom flat above the premises a Majestic branch in the Kent town. The shop was hit hard by the opening of Ian Florey, who has been running the because there isn’t anywhere round here that has these abbey beers and unusual Belgian and German wheat beers. “We’re in a more central, convenient business for the past three and a half sharing management duties across the two reaction of customers has been amazing. It’s an area that’s got real potential – it’s seems to know each other.” real community Bristol, where everyone “It’s very exciting,” Harman says. “The years with backing from business partner Michael Moody, said: “Despite our efforts to negate the loss of sales to that other costs.” cannot continue with these high starting clients on a private basis. Florey is continuing to supply wine to store and the alarming rental and rates, we location for customers and we also have there for my regulars – to have a garden events for regulars than discounts and offers.” “I’d much rather do invitation-only the luxury of a little courtyard garden. I’m where I am in Leigh is pretty unheard of. hoping to do some interesting tastings out Reno’s first shop Reno Wines is opening its first store. The Norfolk business – which delivers refillable bottles of wine to customers’ doors – has found premises in Wymondham. specialises in organic and low-sulphite wines and offers a range of local ales. The company, owned by Chris White, Larger in Leigh An Essex independent has moved to bigger premises after four and a half years at its first shop. Robert Robinson, has relocated to a more Blossoms Wines & Ales, owned by Berkshire bonus Wokingham is getting an independent wine shop with the launch of The Grape Escape Tasting House. occupy a unit in Denmark Street, which had been occupied by the Hudson Bay fashion retailer for 22 years. as wine. The shop will offer charcuterie as well Owned by Sara Searle, the business will central part of Leigh-on-Sea, on a four-year lease. The new unit, which is twice the size of the original shop, also has a garden area and provides more convenient parking for customers. says. “The key factor was to have can expand. “It was the right move for me,” Robinson Victim of Majestic The closure of Liquid Pleasure in Tenterden has been confirmed after several months of uncertainty about the future of the business. somewhere a bit more spacious where I • Kosher wine specialist The Wine Man has closed its Edgware shop and moved its business online. The business, established offer free local delivery and is planning to relaunch its website. the range of imported continental beers, “One thing I wanted to do was to extend by Danny Saltman in 2012, is continuing to THE WINE MERCHANT july 2014 4

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tried & Tested In Situ Signature Wines Spaghetti Blend 2011 A big, soft and fruity wine from Chile’s Aconcagua of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s a 40% RRP: £10 ABV: 14% Valley, crafted from fruit grown at 1,500m altitude and cooled by the Andes breeze. Although the majority Sangiovese component that acts as the perfect foil, supplying a bracing seam of acidity. Terrific value. Delibo Wine Agencies (01993 886644) delibo.co.uk Jean Hugel Tradition Alsace Riesling 2009 This is everything you’d hope for in an Alsace Riesling: a pure, clean, spicy wine that just keeps on going. The ripe 2009 vintage has endowed it with a rich, are still five or 10 good years ahead of it. RRP: £20 ABV: 13.5% Fells (01442 870900) fells.co.uk almost port-like nose. Drinking it is a bit like watching Neymar play football: sure, it’s amazing now, but there Ad Hoc Hen & Chicken Chardonnay 2013 Larry Cherubino goes to great lengths to make simple wines that, like the best music, leave a few gaps. This smooth, easygoing, almost dilute Chardonnay from Pemberton is produced with Mendoza clone fruit, same bunch. The result is quietly remarkable. RRP: £14.99 ABV: 12.5% Hallgarten Druitt (01582 722538) hallgartendruitt.co.uk harvested with ripe and under-ripe berries on the Quinta da Cassa Reserva Tinto 2009 Rui Madeira did a bit of globe-trotting before returning home to his remote corner of Portugal. His worldliness shows in this impressive Touriga Nacional, Touriga exciting sheds, and the tannins go down fighting. RRP: £10.99 ABV: 13.5% Ehrmanns (020 3227 0700) ehrmannswines.co.uk Franca and Tinta Roriz blend. But there’s a wild streak in evidence too: the fumes are reminiscent of the most Altano Quinta do Ataíde 2011 Produced from the largest Symington family estate It’s been vinified in the past as a straight Touriga an awful lot of wine for your money here. RRP: £10-£12 fells.co.uk ABV: 14% Fells (01442 870900) in the Douro, this organic wine explodes with dark, Nacional but now Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and earthy aromas and wintry notes of port and chocolate. Tinta Barroca have muscled in on the action. You get Feudo di Santa Tresa Grillo/Viognier 2013 Wines like this can easily become local heroes in independent shops: you don’t just get value for money but something of real character. The citrus freshness of the Grillo and the warmth of the Viognier combine elegantly, creating a wine that achieves both RRP: £9.95 ABV: 13.5% Vintage Roots (0800 980 4992) vintageroots.co.uk smoothness and a crisp, savoury edge. Great finish too. Assyrtiko by Gaia Wild Ferment 2013 Assyrtiko has a habit of jolting you out of your comfort zone and so it proves with this intriguing Santorini wine, produced from low-yielding vines. The aromas are enticingly unfamiliar, just the right side of musty. edge supplied by a smidgen of acacia ageing. RRP: £16.99 ABV: 13.5% Hallgarten Druitt (01582 722538) hallgartendruitt.co.uk Calmel & Joseph Villa Blanche Chardonnay 2013 This summery white comprises a first tranche of fruit picked early for freshness and acidity; and a second edge is balanced by a honeyed, pinappley opulence. RRP: £10.99 ABV: 13.5% Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010) daniellambertwines.co.uk harvest, two weeks later, to inject some juicy ripeness. On the palate, it’s tangy and exuberant, with an exotic It all makes perfect sense in the glass: the brisk lemony Only the most truculent imbiber would find fault here. THE WINE MERCHANT july 2014 6

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BOOK REVIEW Heightened state of consciousness The Concise Guide to Wine & Blind Tasting Neel Burton and James Flewellen Acheron Press smattering of “all-you-need-to-know”-type books, which scorn the idea of treating wine as a subject for serious analysis and pad out many of their pages with images more. regions: in these sections, Burton and Flewellyn prove to be singularly diligent never lapsing into gratuitous academia. There’s even room for the occasional Jesus as a wine consultant. You sense that the section on blind deadpan aside, such as the reference to tasting is the part the writers enjoyed the most. Burton is a psychiatrist and guides. The tone is brisk and businesslike, of the T-shirted author looking blokeishly reassuring. There can’t be room for many Oxford Wine Academy, are never likely to Their 370-page opus contains no Burton and Flewellyn, founders of the W ine books are in decline for a reason. The Oxford Companion to Wine is a get a commission from Dorling Kindersley. photographs, no graphics, no “fascinating fact” box-outs. A few cursory maps philosopher; Flewellyn a biophysicist. It shows. “In refining their senses and aesthetic judgment, blind tasters become much more conscious of the richness not only of wine but also of other potentially spirits, and, by extension, the flavours in light in the world,” they explain. “For life is consciousness, and complex beverages such as tea, coffee, and food, the scents in the air, and the play of reference work that’s never likely to be bettered; those requiring detailed knowledge of a particular region can consult seminal texts like Julian Jeffs’ Sherry or Pauillac by Stephen Brook. For everything else, we have the internet. There is an annual (but declining) intersperse the text, though you sense their inclusion was the subject of some debate. and wine production with commendable efficiency, preferring to focus the bulk of subjects of global wine history, viticulture The authors deal with the slightly treacly their attention on the stories of individual consciousness is life.” Profound stuff – and in our dumbed-down world of wine book publishing, rather refreshing. Gold medal winning Le Bon Vin Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere ‘10 Concha Y Toro Mountain Range Sauvignon Blanc ‘13 Cono Sur Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ‘12, Cono Sur Los Gansos Gewürztraminer ‘13, Cono Sur Los Gansos Sauvignon Blanc ‘13, Bonterra The Butler ‘07 G 2014 T OL D LIS L ARGE PRODUCER OF THE YEAR 2014 “Its haul of winners this year provided a wonderful celebration of Chile – specifically, the ability to provide quality at a price that most countries can only dream of.” Sommelier Wine Awards 2014 ww cy w. k.com t-u Pre m mium wines fro he t Am e CONCHA Y TORO U K W W W. C Y T- U K . C O M r ic a s THE WINE MERCHANT july 2014 7

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bits & BOBs FAVOURITE Pip Gale Gales of Llangollen Favourite wine on my list Rioja wines, I couldn’t wait to try their new and drink in good company. Corimbo 1 shows even more promise as a truly great wine. become an absolute favourite to recommend Ribera del Duero project. Corimbo has Having been a long time admirer of Roda’s THINGS No going back with en primeur People who buy en primeur do not have the right to cancel orders and demand a refund, according to new EU rules. time. For most products, consumers have a right to a refund within 14 days of delivery but en primeur has been excluded as it is deemed a speculative purchase. must agree a price at the time of sale, To comply with the rules, wine sellers The issue has been a grey area for some Magpie and Fonseca, Fladgate prefers foot-treading for its vintage ports and 20 to 40-year-old tawnies. Bridge said foot-treading works the skin of the grape harder against the base of the lagare, and may also inject more heat and oxygen to the crushing process. The Drinks Business, June 26 Fine performance Majestic has reaped the rewards of refocusing its fine wine portfolio on regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy. in fine wine sales to the year to April, £278.2m. Decanter, June 16 The retailer reported a 20% increase deliver the wine at least one month later, and advise customers that the value of their purchase could change between purchase and delivery. Decanter, June 18 Favourite food and wine match Paddocks Picnic Pinot Noir from Central subtle Burgundian style is something I can’t Noir and our local Welsh lamb. combination of lively New Zealand but yet Otago on the Negociants stand. Its At the LWF I was able to try the Two to £18.7m. Total sales were up 1.4% to wait to try in my favourite food match: Pinot Coloured opinion Red lighting makes wine drinkers detect the fruitier notes in a wine, while green accentuates the freshness, according to a recent study in London commissioned Haut-Brion: 15% off at Tesco Favourite wine trip If I were to pick one for beauty alone, the trip rising out of the river are breathtaking. I was Douro Superior is a hidden gem of a vineyard. A visit to the Port lodges in Gaia, Porto rounded off the trip. added visit to the stunning Ervamoira in the lucky enough to visit Ramos Pinto and the amazing and unique. The chiseled terraces up the Douro valley by train from Porto is by Pernod Ricard. experiment, designed by neuroscientist Professor Charles Spence. Those taking Almost 3,000 people took part in the Incredible feet Foot-treading produces port that is 2% better than port produced with machine-crushed fruit, according to Fladgate boss Adrian Bridge. the company’s production of Taylor’s, Croft Although technology is “important” to part were given wine in a black glass and combination of lighting and music had a profound effect that went “far beyond” what had been expected. The Drinks Business, June 20 exposed to a series of colours and sounds. Spence said the results showed that the Favourite wine trade person Laurent-Perrier. Her passion and hospitality and love of life is something I treasure. One of my favourites is Nicole Snozzi from Favourite wine shop a wine shop. It’s easy to get lost for hours looking at all the bottles. Byrnes of Clithero is an Aladdin’s cave of The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 731 independent wine by Graham Holter. Printed by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2014 England: No 6441762 shops. Except one, and that’s deliberate. Edited Registered in VAT 943 8771 82 www.winemerchantmag.com 01323 370451 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag winemerchantmag@gmail.com THE WINE MERCHANT july 2014 8

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merchant profile: the jolly vintner R ory Stapleton started as a cheerful Oddbins employee, becoming a slightly disillusioned sales rep before reinventing himself as The Jolly Vintner. I took this on it was basically a beer and fags shop,” he says. “I couldn’t change it stupid selling fags and Special Brew. If I’d have changed it overnight I’d have market. overnight. It really took me about three to five years of all the long hours, all the alienated everybody and not had a new That was just over 21 years ago. “When Less is moor No wonder Rory Stapleton is The Jolly Vintner. His loyal ‘old money’ clients are quite happy to trust him to make selections on their behalf – and after switching to a four-day week, turnover actually went up two busts – it’s been grand.” single-bottle sales. not locals? They generally come off the moors, actually. Old money. It’s quite a traditional area. What I love is they let me choose for them. Most of my customers will come in and say, 24 bottles of red, six white, six canvas. I’ve got to 100% believe in the good reds, so there’s a completely open around £360,000, has been profitable since day one. “Ridiculously low rent, which is year were £17,000, for everything – that existence here.” here. It’s like a mini Majestic. My average spend is probably £60-£65. By the natives I’m considered expensive, so I get virtually bottles, 24 bottles, six bottles. Very few no business from around here. It’s all 12 half the battle. My total expenses for last The business, now with a turnover of Who are the customers then, if they’re and they let me choose their wine for them. You can’t ask for more than that. I’m like a I get so excited about it.” kid with a new toy when I find a nice wine. part of Tiverton, a stone’s throw from the river Exe and a short drive from Exmoor. do this, do that. Given the state of the The shop, which is not large, is in a quiet “The market I’ve built is incredibly loyal, includes hotels for travel. I have a nice little The shop is small, but you get a lot in “People have suggested, get a bigger shop, economy over the 20 years – two booms, wine, like the wines of Chile or the wines of Argentina. I’ve really got behind those because I believe in the quality. It’s just Continues page 10 THE WINE MERCHANT july 2014 9

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merchant profile: THE JOLLY VINTNER From page 9 nice that my customers trust me that much. You might assume that old money would gravitate towards more traditional wines. Yes, we sell a lot of Bordeaux. But they’re very price conscious. Many people still want to spend £10 to get their treat, not realising that in 20 years what they fantastic. ‘Last year I sold 18 bottles of NZ Sauvignon. It’s almost dead in the water for me’ for. I can do serious volumes of a couple of lines once my customers get into it. other parts of the fair? Very much so. I’ve actually got a pallet of stuff arriving this week from one of the Esoterica stands, a new supplier. Some £10 a bottle, and the quality was just something else. super Tuscan-style Sangiovese/Merlot, phenomenal. I can run with that for a fantastic Italian from Easy Export – some Did you find that at Esoterica more than Zealand Sauvignon. Some independents say New Zealand Sauvignon is waning – but you’re saying it’s already gone. I went into Majestic to borrow some glasses over Christmas and they had 22 New Zealand Sauvignons. I thought, is this why I’m not selling New Zealand Sauvignon? But I had a sample sent in were paying £10 for is now £20. They’re still wanting claret at £10 a bottle that’s new but what’s great value out there. good, and the price is right, it’ll fly. looking for these bargains? Yes. Obviously we’ve got key suppliers but the wine fair this year was brilliant – there was so much new stuff there, and whereas I’ve found in the past you’d say So it’s trying to keep up with not what’s Recently I’ve done 60 dozen of a 2005 Bordeaux at £15 a bottle, so if the quality is Are you shopping around all the time month, two months – and then I’ll look for for my own back, because they’re always looking for something different. With my customers, it’s a rod I make just recently and I thought, this is dull. So Picpoul de Pinet, Nosiola – it’s a classic quirky. They did a different Nosiola a Boutinot, they’ve found something slightly up from that. You’ve got to have the Pinot Grigios but my lady customers are just just flying out. couple of years ago and I think this is a step bored with Sauvignon. Picpoul de Pinet is Is Argentine Malbec still going strong? Yes. On the trip to Argentina in January, which was an outstanding trip, there was points you’re thinking: this is ridiculous. The Beautiful South tasting I think was year. I was comparing Chile, Argentina quality wine. one of the most interesting tastings last people were listening to what you wanted, I need it to be X, Y, Z” and they’re showing you £20-a-bottle stuff, so it’s taking time away from what you’re actually looking “this is what I want, I need it to be sub-£10, months has been a Negroamaro. If you told me three months ago that I’d sell 60, 70 It’s this sea change that I’m finding. dozen of a Negroamaro in three months … Sauvignon is almost dead in the water for me. Last year I sold 15, 18 bottles of New My biggest-selling wine of the past three just so much good Malbec. And at the price and South Africa. Chile and Argentina kept I just don’t get South Africa. So South going, bang, at £10; bang, at £15. Just great Africa, Australia, New Zealand, North America – I don’t do. Virtually no sales at all. A couple of South African whites but Italy is my thing for this year, I think Tiverton: a town divided not just by the River Exe but by a pedestrianised central road that’s about it. Chenin has got a lot better. probably on the back of discovering the Continues page 12 But Italy, Spain, France – a lot of Rhone. THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2014 10

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Mangrove is an independent agency nurturing a portfolio of specialist spirits & liqueurs. For more information please email info@mangroveuk.com or visit www.mangroveuk.com Mangrove Global Limited Registration England 8674207 VAT Registration no. 172 8866 65

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merchant profile: the jolly vintner From page 10 How often do reps come round? I don’t see that many reps nowadays. Some companies are still very good at it, other just bombard you with emails. The West three hours. companies have just got lazy and, as I say, Negroamaro. Five years ago my customers wouldn’t have gone for that. At the wine I’m going to ship for the autumn direct from Italy, which I haven’t done before. There used to be four of us – Topsham Wines, Grape & Grain in Crediton and fair I found a Negroamaro/Primitivo that Country is a big area to cover and to go on down to Cornwall is another two and a half, You find time to get to London a fair bit. I do a four-day week, and tastings on up and have a good go at it. Mondays and Tuesdays, so I can really get Why open only four days a week? “Beware what another glass of Blossom Hill White Zinfandel can do. This girl is only 22” Do you do much shipping on your own? Cornhill Wines in Ilminster, but he’s gone. life easier. We’re far enough apart not to the exchange rate going so much better Chile. tread on each other’s toes. But now with … I’ve just had a pallet in from Paul Mas, We occasionally buy together, just to make The four-day week was an accidental idea. Tuesday, and a lot of his customers are my customers. worked, people said: “Oh, Rory’s not here My last part-timer I had, whenever she another one coming; a couple shipped from at the wine fair there and there wasn’t a weak link in there. That was one of my finds last year from the wine fair. Everyone is Prosecco mad. Sparkling I went through the whole Paul Mas range The high-quality butcher two doors down, with Hallgarten I’d come out of Oddbins … and then there were almost like these Vintner”. which was buzzy and great fun at its peak When I was doing the repping side he’s closed Monday, then he started to close Picpoul [Coté Mas Piquepoul Frisant], is a is absolutely awesome: for weddings it a handful of us in the UK that have got Shipping it direct, I can do £7.99. has been absolutely perfect, and there’s it, which is just a fantastic selling point. undertakers selling wine. So when I set up I Twenty years in I’ve still got the similar style to Prosecco, the presentation made a rod for my own back with “The Jolly enthusiasm, and still smile at customers got to create a bit of a buzz. – I’ll come back when he’s in.” So when she left, it was the start of the recession, and I costs, I’m working fewer hours, and my turnover goes up. thought: I’ll close two days a week. And my turnover actually went up. I’ve got no wage It’s dropped back a little in the past three when they walk through the door. You’ve Do you care about how many suppliers you’re dealing with, or is that not material? It’s not really material. I think a lot of the companies have got very lazy with the internet. They bombard you with emails about this wonderful wine, whereas the actual physicality of tasting a wine with somebody in the shop, with the rep or I get 50 emails a week telling me how wonderful something is. years but it’s at a very constant level, and I’m happy to live with it. If I can do what I do in 30 hours of trading it also means cash and carry run. that on Mondays and Tuesdays I can get It’s a great life-work ratio. Four The fact you’ve called yourself The Jolly Vintner suggests you’ve got a certain attitude to the trade. Yes. The trade has changed dramatically in 20 years. this year. My wife pointed out how much 20 years ago. What brought it home was the wine fair to tastings, I can do deliveries, I can do the o’clock Saturday afternoon to 10 o’clock Wednesday morning is my own time. When I take holiday I only need to get cover for How did you celebrate the shop’s 21st birthday in February? I did 21 wines, with a 21% discount, for 21 hours. I bought 21 wines in some great – where I could bump the margin up that little bit extra. I normally work off 25% to four days, and I can take 10 days’ holiday. younger and more dynamic it felt. The old boy, old school network was very prevalent whatever … that’s the be-all and end-all. ‘I only need cover for four days and I can take 10 days’ holiday’ THE WINE MERCHANT july 2014 12 deals – some of my suppliers really helped

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‘I can’t stand committees. I fall or stand on my own decisions’ 30% tops, and I managed to make 40%. up to that. I then discounted back. second week of December. I did £12,500 in the last weekend of But the quality of the wines actually stood February which was equivalent to the long drive round from that side of town to this side of town. So people don’t do that. to this part of town. There’s Tesco, Morrisons, everything over that side. You have to make an effort to get Do you do much wholesale trade? I used to do quite a bit and I just got fed up chasing money. little bit of wholesaling but running round all over the county, paying somebody to in the end I just thought, I’m a busy fool on this. So I probably dropped around man the shop, and chasing the money … Going to this four-day week, I still do a my shop trying to sell me their wine. I have when I guy came in and said: “I’m making A vineyard I’ve never heard of – I don’t Ten years ago Chapel Down was my know if it’s a homemade wine. Even the biggest-selling fizz. It was £9.99 at the killed it. some wine – can I bring you in a sample?” never had one from England until last week local one, I have to go down and see them. time. I was selling 150 bottles, and happy to promote it. They doubled the price – March stayed at the same level as last year. So people were buying interesting things on through, making 40%. Some things worked, other things didn’t. Where do you store your wines? A little bit here, but what really helped the shop to develop is a haulage company five miles away, so all pallet deliveries I get taken straight out there. I go out two or three times a week to keep. Also, what I didn’t sell was carried Even though I had a fantastic weekend, Can you imagine doing anything else with the business or is this how it will stay? Do you mean like working for a living? I must admit I should be more internetsavvy. I have a website but I’m a people being saturated by boring emails. £200,000 of turnover in a couple of years but my actual take-home didn’t drop. At the end of the day, it’s about what you’ve earnt. And without the stress and the hassle and the employment. in, cases and cases, and you sell two place. I just got fed up with buying something person. I just can’t be arsed with it. I fire off three emails a year, probably. I get fed up got to be 100% committed to it: just the – you can almost have a dedicated team to be chasing carriers. If you’re going to do sales you’ve really and just chuck in what’s needed to bring back to the shop. It gives the advantage of being able to take quantities of things, a week. It’s all secure storage. There’s amount of breakages, chasing up deliveries sorting out cock-ups. I post 10 cases a year as gifts and that’s about it. Life’s too short and get better rates, and a better margin if necessary. They charge me £1.10 a pallet, normally eight or nine pallets out there. In many towns independent traders bottles a month with £500 of stock that you probably didn’t really want in the first Do you have a personal favourite wine? Rhone is probably where my soul is. I’ve had some great trips with Boutinot to the Rhone. Chateauneuf is just so bizarre – it ranges from sublime to dreadful and you Argentina is young and is going to get so and what they’re producing is so good very excited about. wine? My bugbear with England is I’ve had winemakers from all around the world in already. Give them a few more years and never know quite what you’re going to get. good – there are so many young vineyards work together – wine shops, butchers, delis and so on. Is that happening here in Tiverton? It is to a certain degree but I can’t stand committees. I fall or stand on my own circles about something time and time wrong and if it’s right, it’s right. I work a little bit with the butcher decisions. I just can’t have this talking in again. Make a decision: if it’s wrong, it’s because we have very similar clienteles cut off the road in the middle to make a they’re going to be sensational. Chile I was Do you see much potential in English but this part of Tiverton is almost like a village compared to the rest of town. They pedestrian area, so you’ve actually got a Stapleton: “I still smile at customers” THE WINE MERCHANT july 2014 13

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just williams P enfolds has been at it again. The latest release to mark the 170th birthday of this fine old Australian vinous institution is another attempt to snap the ethical elastic of the easily-twisted of moral-knicker – an imperial (six-litre) bottle of Bin 170 Kalimna Shiraz 2010 with a release price of £33,000. Penfolds, the astonishing price of what consistent quality of Penfolds’ “luxury As usual with the recent history of may well be a very fine wine (and, although I haven’t tasted this one, judging by the collection” wines I’ve come across in the In this case that means a series of past, there’s a very good chance it is) owes wooden boxes designed by British as much to the packaging as the wine itself. furniture maker David Linley using The box is “bespoke” and made with “time-honoured and modern techniques” “time-honoured and modern techniques” (a hammer and an electric screwdriver, perhaps?) that is inevitably described as “bespoke”, a word which, as far as I you’ve uncorked the bottle.” can make out, seems to be shorthand for “expensive and of limited further use once NOT THAT ANYONE is going to buy it, let the point, just as it wasn’t the point with “Ampoule”. A limited edition of 12 handblown glass vessels of Kalimna Block 42 2004 that not only came with their own Gago in a private opening ceremony at Penfolds doesn’t need gimmicks If people want to pay £33,000 for a bottle of wine in a box, that’s their business. But by producing products like this for the luxury market, Penfolds risks undoing some of its winemakers’ good work £109,000 a pop – the “most expensive wine in the world”, screamed (does it have any other tone of voice?) the Daily Mail. matter how prurient or critical it may be (indeed, in PR terms, the more outraged references to decadence there are, the selling any of the things that is the sole And it’s that kind of press coverage, no and others like them. You can see it, to a slightly less eye- alone uncork it, of course. That’s really not a couple of years back, the now notorious the even more provocative Penfolds launch bespoke boxes, but their own glass cutters to be used by Penfolds winemaker Peter a time and place of the purchaser’s own choosing, Ampoule made headlines far watering degree, with the recent spate by Taylor’s – the 1863 Single Harvest presentation box with a maple burl of very rare old wood-aged Ports put out Port, for example, which of course has a “bespoke” crystal decanter and a “wooden veneer and a certificate signed by Taylor’s managing director, Adrian Bridge” and which will retail at around £3,000. And cuvée Champagne. These tactics are, I suspect, a turn-off to serious wine lovers THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2014 14 beyond the wine press thanks to an RRP of better) rather than the prospect of actually raison d’être of these Penfolds launches this kind of thing is pretty much par for the course in the crrraaazy world of prestige As I’ve written in these pages before,

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I don’t think there’s much of a moral conundrum with the sale and buying of crazy expensive wines. If, for example, actually bought one of these Penfolds releases, I wouldn’t feel the need, as as self-evidently overpriced as an ampoule, not that they’ve actually gone and bought it, or that Penfolds have tried to get them to do so. WHERE I DO have a problem with David Williams is wine critic for The Observer the unthinkable happened and somebody many critics of the fine wine world do, to bottle for £400. condemn whoever thought £109,000 was a decent price for a wine that is available in gone wrong when there are people who have so much money they actually need vast majority of the world’s population Yes, it may be suggestive of a society Penfolds’ and other brands’ hardcore luxury message is in the rather more which, to me at least, seems deeply prosaic sphere of marketing strategy, have established themselves over years, of gimmicks and tricks. their prices rising organically with their misguided and dated. The idea, no doubt, with all of these releases is to develop an the brand that includes in its soft glow elevated by association. the products further down the tree: the reputation for quality, not through the use and fashion industry, which are, I would suspect a turn-off to most serious wine By turning to the tactics of the perfume the FT’s advice on “How to Spend It” and, yes, this is all rather grotesque when the barely makes enough to survive. But the we tolerate the existence of individuals problem, if there is one, is society’s: that ambience of moneyed refinement around Koonunga Hills or Thomas Hylands being fine wines that already do that job. Grange, of course, but also Magill Estate and RWT, The trouble is Penfolds has a series of lovers who would rather the wines were allowed to speak for themselves, it seems of the moralistic and the envious: it risks to me Penfolds risks more than the outrage tainting by association the reputations and sales of some of Australia’s greatest wines. with enough cash to splurge on something THE WINE MERCHANT JULY 2014 15

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