Critic’s Choice: Martinez Wines, West Yorkshire

Christine Austin finds herself spoilt for choice in her native county, but settles on an energetic and engaging indie who became a social media star during lockdown

November 2020

It’s been really difficult to choose just one,” admits Christine, “as we have so many really good wine merchants in Yorkshire – they are all so friendly.”

But, we insisted, and Martinez comes up trumps for a number of reasons. Christine explains: “What impresses me most about them is the way Jonathan [Cocker] engages with everybody – with his customers and the wider community.”

A perfect example of this would be the “slightly deranged” social media campaigns that have garnered quite a following over the last few months. “He’s been out delivering and people are hanging out of windows shouting ‘hi, we’ve seen your video,’ which is astonishing in Yorkshire because people don’t usually do that,” she says.

“He puts so much energy into everything – he is out there telling people about the wines in all sorts of ways. He was really on the ball right at the start of lockdown too. Mid-March, when we were all wondering what was going to happen, he sent out a funny email saying they had adopted a ‘knock and run’ approach to deliveries.

“I’ve been to many of his Extravaganza tastings over the years. It’s a huge annual tasting he organises every spring, held at the Winter Garden in Ilkley and it’s always sold out.”

Obviously that particular tasting couldn’t go ahead this year, but Jonathan and his team have worked hard to keep the Cellar Wine Bar in Ilkley and the Bingley Wine Bar open and Covid compliant.

“They are down to two thirds of their usual capacity, but they have kept going,” says Christine. “He’s got really serious wines on Coravin. He’s got 2010 Clerc Milon – you can buy a bottle for £107.99 or you can buy a class for £21.95. It’s not extortionate – he’s encouraging people to trade up.

“There’s easy stuff there too – you can have a glass of sparkling rosé from Torres for £7.25 – there’s stuff from South Africa … something for everyone. It’s getting people interested in wine, and they can learn about it along the way.

“Martinez Wines really is a community hub, and the dinners and Sunday lunches he runs all have a wine theme, like Rioja and paella, to encourage customers to try different wines in an informal setting.”

Christine Austin is the wine writer for The Yorkshire Post and a panel chair for the International Wine Competition.

Jonathan wins a bottle of 10X Pinot Noir, Ten Minutes By Tractor 2019, courtesy of Bancroft Wines