The Brexit blues

The Wine Merchant issue 49Anecdotally, it would seem that most – but certainly not all – wine merchants voted to remain in the European Union. So when we asked a selection of independents to comment on what business is likely to be like post-Brexit, the response was rather less enthusiastic than the one we’re hearing from the new Cabinet.

The most immediate threats are the impact on currency, and the economy generally: the wine trade depends on discretionary income and any market nervousness could be disastrous for our more marginal businesses. And yet there could be opportunities too, some independents predict, particularly if booze cruises come to an end, and New World wines manage to circumnavigate what some critics regard as EU protectionism.

Issue 49 of The Wine Merchant, where the Brexit fallout is analysed, comes with our Top 100 Winners Supplement, containing profiles of all the successful wines in this year’s competition. The digital version is here – congratulations again to all those who made the cut in a year when the competition hit a record entry level.

The Wine Merchant Top 100 Winners 2016

A world of choice

You could probably run a pretty impressive wine shop purely specialising in wines from New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Hungary and Virginia.

The new issue of The Wine Merchant should whet the appetite of any merchant with an interest in any of those categories.

Wines of Brasil and New Zealand Winegrowers are launching two fantastic competitions to win trips to their vineyards – full details inside.

We also take a look at what Hungary is now offering, and it’s light years away from the stuff we tended to avoid 10 to 20 years ago. The Hungarians are really getting to grips with their native varieties and the wines our small group of indies tasted last month got glowing reviThe Wine Merchant issue 48ews.

Virginia, meanwhile, goes on making increasingly impressive Bordeaux blends as well as stunning Viognier, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot (to name just three of its hallmark varietals) and is expressing its terroir in a way that’s more European than North American, but without slavishly following an Old World template.

As for Australia … we all know it fell off its perch a while ago. But the best stuff is pretty damn impressive and there are independents who do great business with its wines. Just as England’s cricketers and rugby players will tell you: never underestimate the Aussies. They like nothing so much as winning.

French wine still out in front

Wine merchants are becoming ever-more experimental in their wine sourcing but some things don’t change.

France scooped a quarter of the prizes in this year’s Wine Merchant Top 100, despite competition from Spain, New Zealand, Italy and nine other nations who made the cut in this year’s contest.The Wine Merchant issue 47

We poured all 100 winners at last week’s London Wine Fair, to a great reception from the independents who stopped by to taste. We’re particularly pleased with this year’s line-up of winners – not only does it illustrate the breadth of what’s available in independent merchants, it recognises that quality and value can intersect at below £10, but also at £150.

The winners’ brochure will be published soon, with full details of all our Top 100. Meanwhile take a look at our May edition, which offers a good spring snapshot of the state of play in an independent trade that looks more vibrant, and more diverse, with each passing month.

Are you a shop? A wine bar? A café? Maybe all three …

The proportion of specialist independent wine merchants selling wine for consumption on the premises has jumped by 24% over the past year.

This year’s Wine Merchant reader survey found that 28.4% of retailers now offer wine for on-premise consumption, compared to 22.9% in the 2015 poll.
The survey found that 4.5% of respondents have started selling wine in this way in the past 12 months.

The trend towardThe Wine Merchant issue 46s a hybrid wine shop/wine bar model has been taking hold among independents in recent years, but the survey results make it clear that the concept does not work for everybody, often due to space constraints or a lack of enthusiasm for the extra work involved.

Indeed more than half of respondents insist that they have no plans for on-premise sales – though this figure has dropped markedly since last year’s survey.

Food is also playing an increasingly important role in independents’ businesses, with four in 10 now selling food of some description, up by 13% on last year’s figure.

The number of respondents saying they have no plans to offer food of any kind has fallen sharply to just under 45%.

• More survey coverage appears in the April edition.