The Wine Merchant Top 50 Winners 2014

 

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The Wine Merchant Top 50 Winners 2014

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2014

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Contents 4 Introduction 8 Judges 12 Trophy winners 22 White wine winners 31 Red wine winners 48 Highly commended wines

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A unique competition Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Wine Merchant Top 50 Winners’ Supplement. Over the next few pages, you’ll find a shortcut practical buyer’s guide to some of the best wines specifically targeted at the UK’s independent sector, selected by a panel of 12 of your independent wine merchant peers for their quality, character and commercial potential. Olly Smith Honorary chairman The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 4 How did we come up with those wines? It was a simple, but exceptionally rigorous process. Over the course of a day in May at The Worx studios in Parson’s Green, south west London, our panel of 12 experienced wine merchants, aided and abetted by Wine Merchant Top 50 cochairmen, Olly Smith and The Observer’s David Williams, tasted and discussed more than 350 independent-only wines submitted by UK-based suppliers. Throughout the judging, tasters were asked to approach the wines in exactly the same way that they would make a

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David Williams Chairman buying decision for their own shops. Quality, of course, was the most important factor, but the potential for selling the wine, including considerations of price, was also factored in. Each wine was tasted – blind, with region, grape variety and price revealed – at least twice and by at least four people, with the final selection passing through two more stages where they were tasted by a further six judges. That means the final 50 wines were tasted by at least 10 judges over four rounds. Earning a place in the Wine Merchant Top 50 is, therefore, quite an achievement, and we’re confident that each of these wines would be a worthy addition to any independent wine merchant’s portfolio. The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 5

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What’s new for 2014 Since our inaugural year in 2013, we’ve made a few changes to reflect the impressive standard of the wines entered in the form of two new tiers of award. First are the Wine Merchant Top 50 trophies, handed to five fine wines that showed exceptional quality and value during the judging: a top red, a top white, a sparkling wine, and a value red and white – these are the crème de la crème of the competition. The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 6

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We’ve also introduced a highly commended category for those wines that made it through the first two rounds of judging, but just – and it really was a close call in many cases – missed out on a place in the final 50. There are some truly excellent wines in this category and we certainly recommend a close inspection of the list (see pages 48 to 54). Whatever the ranking – and as is always the case with the Wine Merchant Top 50 – the final selection is designed to be practical and useful. Unlike other competitions, entry is restricted only to wines that independents can actually buy in this country. So if you like the look of any of the wines on the list – and the sheer diversity and quality of the winners means we’re confident you will – you won’t need to worry about importing them yourself. Happy hunting. The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 7

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Ted Sandbach The Oxford Wine Company Dafydd Morris Cheers Swansea Julie Campbell VinVixen London Our judges Chris Connolly Connolly’s West Midlands Philip Amps Amps Fine Wines, Oundle The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 8

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Samantha Jackson Chester Beer & Wine Hal Wilson Cambridge Wine Merchants Duncan Murray Duncan Murray Wines Market Harborough Greg Andrews D Vine Cellars London The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 9

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Jane Cuthbertson Barrica Wines, Samlesbury Peter Wood St Andrew’s Wine Scotland Tom Davidson Amathus, London Colin Thorne Vagabond Wines London The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 10

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The process In the first round, teams of judges tasted flights of wines and divided them into three categories: Yes, No or Maybe. Senior judges (Philip Amps, Ted Sandbach, Hal Wilson and David Williams) retasted all the “maybe” wines and most of the rejected samples, meaning that some went through to the final stages along with the “yes” wines. In the second round, new judging teams were created and the 160 remaining wines were re-tasted, and this time given scores out of 100. Judges were also asked to agree on tasting notes. Senior judges analysed all results and also retasted the wines, to ensure all entries were marked consistently and fairly – in some cases making minor adjustments to scores in the process. The Top 50 is based on the wines that emerged with the highest scores. All wines that made the final stages were awarded Highly Commended prizes. Watch the judging by visiting The Wine Merchant magazine YouTube channel The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 11

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CHAMPAGNE CHARLES HEIDSIECK BRUT RESERVE NV It was no surprise to the judges when the identity of our highest-scoring sparklers were revealed: Charles Heidsieck is a Champagne house on a roll at the moment, and followed up its strong performance in last year’s competition by providing both the fizzes in the 2014 final 50. The Brut Réserve – a 40/40/20 Chardonnay/ Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier blend – just pipped Heidsieck’s much-loved Rosé Réserve for our inaugural Sparkling Trophy thanks to its “unbeatable price-quality ratio”. It is, judges thought, a match for any grand marque nonvintage around, but at a significantly better price than many of its nearest competitors. “Despite obvious weight and texture, this seems to be an effortlessly easy pour,” they said. “There is lots of tertiary development, becoming toasty, but it retains its gorgeous fruit.” SUPPLIER LIBERTY WINES RRP £42 ABV 12% A Champagne of exceptionally high quality at a very fair price, it’s rich but elegant SPARKLING TROPHY The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 12

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Celebrate with our award winners Call +44 (0)20 7908 0690 armitwines.co.uk

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PAZO DE SENORANS ALBARINO RIAS BAIXAS, SPAIN 2012 There’s an awful lot of ordinary Albariño around these days, which is perhaps an inevitable consequence of the Galician grape’s sudden rise to prominence in the past decade. At its best, however, it remains a must-list in any independent, and the family-run Pazo de Señorans is certainly near the top of the rankings in this corner of north west Iberia. We’re not talking entry-level here: but, as our judges noted, entry-level Albariño might be better left to the supermarkets. The variety really starts to come into its own above £10, where producers can be more severe with yields and lavish a bit more care in the winery. “One sniff and you’re hooked,” our judges said. “Purity of fruit, very clean, round yet fresh. Deliciously refreshing yet full of apple, lemon and notes of orange, zesty fresh acidity and salt!” SUPPLIER RHÔNE TO RIOJA RRP £17 ABV 13% Top-notch, special occasion seafood white that’s in a different league to supermarket Albarino WHITE WINE TROPHY The Wine Merchant Top 50 2014 14

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