Merchants fear a Brexit disaster

Wine merchants rely almost entirely on an imported product. They thrive when consumers have a bit of disposable income. So it’s not exactly a surprise that an overwhelming majority voted to remain in the EU.

Our poll of 88 businesses finds that 70% of independents still want to stay in the EU, and most would favour a second referendum to settle the issue.

Some are sounding dire warnings about their prospects if Brexit goes ahead. One predicts that wine merchants of all shapes and sizes will close in their droves.

Are there some potential upsides? Some respondents suggest that they may be in a position to capitalise on the collapse of the importers who aren’t able to withstand the Brexit shock. It’s not the most positive way of looking into the future, but something to cling to at a time when optimism seems to be in short supply.

Read our survey report in the October edition. Don’t worry, there’s some funny stuff in this issue too.

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Arch enemies

There’s a curious affinity between wine merchants and railways arches. It’s partly because they have a resemblance to cool, dark wine cellars. It’s also because rents have traditionally been pretty affordable.

Arches are home to all kinds of independent businesses, not just wine merchants, and as such they are a national asset. We don’t know for sure what will happen when Network Rail sells them off, but let’s not kid ourselves that rents are likely to stay the same.

Understandably, there’s a lot of nervousness among arch-based wine merchants about what will happen once their new landlord emerges. The lack of communication from Network Rail hasn’t helped matters.

We’ve spoken to a few of them in the August edition, where you’ll also find a profile of Corney & Barrow’s Newmarket branch, coverage of our Bristol Round Table Event, a look into the future of Rioja, and predictions about when, if ever, the gin bubble will burst.

The shopping street that came back from the dead

The July edition of The Wine Merchant features an interview with Dan O’Connor and Eliza Parkes of Yardarm, a beautiful, and beautifully-run, wine shop in Leyton, east London.

There wasn’t much going on in their neck of the woods when they opened in 2015. It was a secondary shopping street like so many across the country, with a takeaway, some estate agents and a lot of boarded-up shops.

Then came investment from Transport for London and the Mayor, turning Francis Road into a traffic-free, cycle-friendly thoroughfare with a relaxed, continental vibe. Normally traders hate pedestrianisation schemes. But in this case it has breathed new life into a moribund street, and Dan and Eliza are reaping the benefits.

Check out the July edition for their story. Better still, drop by for a coffee or a glass of something nice. It’s a happy and inspiring place to spend an hour or so.

Wine Merchant Top 100 winners 2018

Congratulations to the winners in this year’s Wine Merchant Top 100. It was a tough judging process, with our panel of 21 independents assessing wines not just on their taste credentials, but the value that they offer.

Some excellent wines missed out simply because judges weren’t comfortable with their pricing. The winners this year, all listed below, all impressed with their RRPs – even though many of the wines certainly aren’t cheap. But they do, in the opinion of the judges, offer good value.

The wines – and out 167 Highly Commended wines – will be discussed in more depth in our forthcoming winners’ supplement. All wines in the Top 100 are also available to taste this week at our London Wine Fair stand, upstairs and adjacent to Esoterica.

 

Trophies

Best Red

Uvas Felices El Hombre Bala Old Vine Garnacha, Madrid, Spain 2015 (£21.99, Boutinot)

Best White

Druida Reserva, Dão, Portugal 2016 (£24, The Knotted Vine)

Best Sparkling

Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, Champagne, France NV (£36.49, Hallgarten)

Best Fortified

Barros Colheita Port, Douro, Portugal 2005 (£29, Hallgarten)

Best Rosé

Bird in Hand Pinot Noir Rosé, Adelaide Hills, Australia 2017
(£14.99, Seckford Agencies)

Best-Value Red

Cantina di Montalcino Brunito, Tuscany, Italy 2015 (£9.95, Enotria & Coe)

Best-Value White

Cavit Bottega Vinai Nosiola, Trentino, Italy 2017 (£9.99, Boutinot)

Best-Value Sparkling

Durello Palladiano Spumante Brut, Veneto, Italy NV (£9.99, Boutinot)

Best-Value Fortified

Valdespino Single-Vineyard Fino, Jerez, Spain NV (£18.49, Liberty Wines)

Best-Value Rosé

Domaines Paul Mas Claude Val Rosé, IGP Pays d’Oc, France 2017
(£6.99, Domaines Paul Mas)

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