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Monthly Archives: October 2017

  • Battle of the ages

    The beauty of having such a diverse international wine portfolio, is the opportunity to expand our horizons and explore the wonderful world of wine from countries around the world. From industry stalwarts such as France to the movers and shakers from the New World – think America, South Africa and Australia, we’ve an abundance of wines made in different styles from which to explore. However, how do these wines fare when pitted head-to-head against one another?

    This is the question we put to our charming French Buyer, Bérenger Piras, and vivacious New World Buyer, Maggie Macpherson. The duo selected four matching wines from their portfolios, tasted them side by side, and explored the what they liked and disliked in each. Much to their own surprise, they found more than a couple of redeeming qualities in each other’s wines.

    So what exactly did they think? The banter was too good to resist, so we captured the deep and meaningful discussion on video. So what do you think – France or..?

    lineup

    White

    Riesling Reserve, Trimbach

    Eroica Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle

    Rosé

    Symphonie Organic Rosé, Château Ste Marguerite Rosé, Angels and Cowboys

    Red

    Brézème Cotes du Rhône, Charles Helfenbein

    Pinotage, FRAM

    Sweet

    Les 4 Vents Coteaux du Layon, Pithon-Paillé

    The Nostalgia Rare, d'Arenberg

  • McWilliam’s Wines Group joins the Enotria&Coe stable

    Enotria&Coe has galvanised their stable of exceptional Australian producers today, with the announcement that McWilliam's Wines Group (MWG) will be joining the portfolio in November. The partnership will see Enotria&Coe representing both the company’s flagship McWilliam’s brand and their iconic Mount Pleasant collections in both the On and Off Trade

    Enotria&Coe Buyer, Maggie MacPherson said, “We’re thrilled to be working with this iconic Australian wine family. The breadth and scope of their range, focused on premium NSW regions, is hugely exciting. Their business continues to evolve and modernise, making them the perfect choice for Enotria&Coe. Additionally, having the opportunity to distribute the wines from Mt. Pleasant is a buyer’s dream! We’re looking forward to taking these wines and their stories to the market, and working in partnership to build compelling brands with a focus on customer needs and consumer experience.”

    McWilliam's Family

    MWG brings a wealth of impressive wines to Enotria&Coe’s already award-winning portfolio, showcasing not only some of the best wines offered by the Hunter Valley, but new and innovative styles that are in high demand by contemporary wine consumers.

    Scott McWilliam, Sixth Generation Winemaker and Company Director said, “When looking to continue building the momentum of our portfolio within the UK market we needed to find a partner who would understand both the provenance of our brands, and the elegant wine styles my family has been perfecting for over 140 years. We feel that Enotria&Coe has the right strategic thinking, drive and reach to share with the market our vision for an elevated expression of Australian wines.”

    “Our McWilliam’s wines are distinctly cooler climate wines sourced from some of the most cutting edge wine regions of Australia. Our skilled viticulturists and winemakers carefully select fruit from these regions to complement the McWilliam’s elegant, food friendly wine style,” he continued.

    Enotria&Coe now represents four of the 12 members of Australia’s First Families of Wine. As they continue to build a portfolio of the very best producers, this is testament to their position as the UK’s best specialist wine company and reinforces the focus on quality and character.

    Australia’s First Families of Wine – what you need to know:

    Four of our producers, McWilliams' d’Arenberg, Burch Family Wines and Henschke are members of AFFW. This is a collective of 12 multi-generational family-owned wine producers, representing 17 wine growing regions and 48 generations of winemakers. The aim of this group is to showcase a diverse range of the very best of Australian wine – real wines, beautifully crafted, with true character. The families joined forces to challenge and change the perception of Australian wine production as a great corporate entity – this initiative is all about the unique stories and equally unique personalities.

  • Top Tips to Boost your Sales this Christmas

    With the festive season fast approaching, now’s the time to start thinking about ways you can capitalise on the bustling trading period and boost your sales. Follow these eight tips to ensure you’ve got all your bases covered.

     

    1 Premiumisation

    If you don’t have it, you can’t sell it. Christmas is the best time to stretch your premium range and increase your price points for by-the-glass listings. Look at cash margin for premium wines to get them activated. Once you’ve selected your more premium offering, you can email this out to customers for group bookings, which allows you to plan for what you’ll be selling.  

     

    2 Staff

    Staff are your most important asset. During this peak period, ensure they’re energised and motivated, as this will keep them engaging with customers. Staff incentives and spot prizes are always a good start.

    Training is also key. Roll out training sessions with your team in October to ensure they’re all aligned with what the business wants to sell during the Christmas period. Remember to educate them on the full suite of wines and other beverages, and help them perfect the single-sentence up-sell/add-on – it will drive great sales at this time of year. “‘Can I get you a G&T/cocktail/glass of fizz whilst you look at the menu?” asked when seating a table is very effective.

     

    3 Packages

    Consider whether a drinks package at a set price would fit your venue. This can be fantastic way to encourage patrons to explore the breadth of your list, and branch out into things like fizz on arrival and apéritifs. For the consumer, it’s also appealing as it means the logistics and financials are already taken care of, meaning they can relax and enjoy the experience.

     

    4 What’s hot

    Tap into what’s hot in the world of wine. Consumer trends show that Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja, Malbec, Prosecco and Provençal Rosé have big followings in the UK market, so we’d recommend you have a least one option from each of these categories on the list. A couple we’d recommend include: 

     

    bottle lineup

    Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Yealands Estate

    La Garuma Sauvignon Blanc, Viña Leyda

    Grande Réserve Organic Rosé Cru Classé, Château Ste Marguerite Rosé

    El Mago Organic Rosé, Franck Massard

    Rioja Crianza, Sierra Cantabria

    Estate Malbec, El Esteco

    Archetipi Ribolla Gialla Natural Wine, Puiatti

    Large5 formats

    If you’ve got bigger groups of customers coming through the doors, ensure you’ve got a magnum list ready to go. Voluptuous large format bottles add theatre to any occasion, especially during the festive season when customers are looking for that extra special something.

     

    6 Apéritifs

    Customers will be looking at splashing out during the season, so having a couple of apéritif serves listed at the top of a food menu is a great way to appeal to these sensibilities. Having something like an Aperol Spritz, sparkling cocktail, or even Champagne and Prosecco listed will catch their eye, and increase the chances of a sale. Remember, anything bubbly is generally associated with good cheer and celebration.

     

    7 Digestifs

    If you have dessert wines and digestifs, ensure that they are presented at the same time as the dessert menu and good pairings are actively recommended. It’s also worth considering creating a bespoke rum or whiskey list – 12 days of Christmas, with 12 spirits on the list, for example. In particular, Dark Rum is a category in growth, and winter sees people naturally moving towards darker spirits.

     

    8 Weather

    In certain areas of the UK it’s important to be prepared for the weather, and make sure you’re stocked up for any transport issues that may arise because of it. It’s best to increase your par levels in November and run the stock through in December. There’s nothing worse than missing a sale because you’ve run out of something the customer’s ordered. 

  • All that bubbles

    wordpress banner top christmas 1 - all that bubbles

    Nothing quite says Christmas like a glass of effervescent fizz. But with so many styles on offer, it’s hard to know which to pick. We take you through the key styles, and pick out a selection that should make the cut on your Christmas order list.

    Champagne

    Tunnelled beneath the handsome architectural façades of Reims and Epernay is a subterranean world of work. Kilometre after kilometre of branching cellars, lined with millions of bottles stacked by hand and layered on top of one another, like logs in a woodpile. The still wine that enters these vaults is soon to become starred with bubbles, but the transformation that gives its nutritious, yeasty, dough-like aroma only emerges after years of cellaring.

    Harvest comes to Champagne in September, just as summer begins to fade into Autumn. For three hectic weeks, Champagne’s population swells by 60,000 as legions of students, travelling workers, executives and cellar workers bear the strain of bringing in the grapes. At night, this transient workforce – full of food, wine, music and fatigue – loudly occupies the streets, creating the impression of a newly-formed, fecund, nocturnal world.

    Champagne is synonymous with luxury, but the soft warmth of the joie de vivre of these late summer nights also reminds us why it has become such a spirited monument to good French living.

    Rosés

    Rosé is the ultimate test of the blender’s art. Try and blend too much red wine into Champagne, or macerate the grapes for too long, and the elements never really combine, as with oil being dripped into water. At Jacquart, small additions of still Pinot Noir add extra dimensions of colour and flavour, without ever compromising the gentle impact of the underlying blend.

    Rosés

    NV Brut Mosaïque Rosé, Champagne Jacquart

    NV Cuvée Rosé , Laurent Perrier

     

    Les Apéritifs – Lighter Styles

    Champagne’s gentle, glimmering apéritif wines marvellously invert the region’s dour backdrop of hard rock and sullen light, like a photographic negative blazoned onto celluloid. Laurent-Perrier NV epitomises this style: delicate yet flavourful, its fine textural weave vigorously unspooling into filaments of tiny, brilliant bubbles.

    Les Apéritifs – Lighter Styles

    NV Ultra Brut, Laurent Perrier

    NV Grand Brut, Perrier-Jouët

    NV Ponsardin Yellow Label Brut, Veuve Clicquot

     

    Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay Wines

    The east-facing slopes of the Côtes des Blancs are Chardonnay’s home, and the source of the region’s prized and elegant Blanc de Blancs Champagnes. Chardonnay is the variety most sensitive to the return of light and warmth to the vineyards in spring, fattening its buds from early March. Without the easterly aspect, the new growth might perish to frost, but the gentle incline helps gather in the warmth of the morning sun and protects the emerging shoots as they tiptoe their way leaf by leaf into each new season.

    Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay Wines

    Blanc de Blancs, Jacquart Vintage

    NV Blanc de Blancs, Ruinart

     

    Fuller Styles

    Customarily, blends of grape varieties dutifully pull together, like suburban couples; but Champagne’s licit ménage à trois of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier is a much more combustible affair. Bollinger, Roederer and Taittinger are all familiar names, but each illustrates the extraordinary boost and energy of combination that blending brings to Champagne.

    Fuller Styles

    NV Special Cuvée, Bollinger

    NV Brut Réserve, Taittinger 

    NV Brut Mosaïque, Champagne Jacquart

     

    Vintage and Luxury Cuveés

    Although the majority of vintage wines are blended, it is the grandeur of Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims that persuades most producers to bottle cuveés from individual years. Wines from the mid to late 90s are now starting to peak, though a few such as Henriot’s Cuveé des Enchanteleurs and Bollinger’s Grande Année seemingly come with the gift of perpetual life.

    As for the strength of luxury brands such as Cristal and Dom Pérignon, consistency is everything, coupled with the ability to create and satisfy our appetite for luxury. For those looking for greater individuality, Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle is full of surprises and subtleties, and Henriot’s 9-year matured Cuvée des Enchanteleurs is truly exceptional.

    Vintage and Luxury Cuveés

    La Grande Année, Bollinger

    Cristal, Louis Roederer

    Dom Pérignon

    NV Grand Siècle, Laurent Perrier

    Krug

    Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Taittinger 

     

    Sparkling

    Of course, if you’re after festive fizz, Champagne is not your only option – there’s a whole wide world of sparkling alternatives beyond the borders of Champagne from which to choose. With differing emphasis on fruitiness, bubble size and methods, each country is home to a distinct version of its own. Interestingly, the UK is the largest importer of all sparkling wines in the world – two of the most popular effervescent alternatives being Prosecco and Cava. These sparkling wines have filled a gap in the market – where Champagne was seen as too luxurious or unaffordable, Prosecco is now an option for those wanting to drink bubbles without the hefty price tag.

    Prosecco is made differently to Champagne and, because of this, the bubbles are lighter and less persistent. The taste of Prosecco comes from the local Glera grape, which gives the wine perfumed aromas of white peach, meyer lemon, honeysuckle, and creamy vanilla.

    Cava is Spain’s answer to Champagne. Most Cava comes from Catalonia in Northern Spain where the local grapes of Macabeo, Paralleda and Xarello are blended together using the same winemaking method as its French counterpart. The result is a dry, elegant and fruity sparkling wine with an attractive price point.

    Sparkling

    NV Classic Reserve, Hattingley Valley 

    Rosé, Hattingley Valley 

    NV Maximum Brut, Ferrari

  • The Henschke heart

    When it comes to Australian wine, you don’t get much more history and prestige than Henschke. With some of country’s oldest vines, the Henschke family has been making wine for more than 150 years. Over the passing years, each generation has left their own mark on the business, and today it’s fifth-generation Stephen and Prue Henschke steering the ship, passionately upholding the family name and reputation.

    Since stepping into their respective roles, Stephen as winemaker and Prue as viticulturist, the estate has grown from strength to strength, with the duo keenly focused on future-proofing the winery and investing in new styles of grapes and winemaking techniques, alongside meticulous and innovative viticultural management. Importantly, although respect is paid to their forebearers, the husband and wife team has ensured that Henschke is continually modernising and moving with the times. For a winery steeped in history such as theirs, this commitment to innovation has been critical to ensuring the Henschke wines remains relevant for consumers in the 21st century.

    During a fleeting visit to London, where Prue and her sixth-generation daughter Justine were attending the Australian Women in Wine Awards, we sat down with Stephen and Prue to learn more about their family business.

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    Stephen, you have a rich family history in wine, but how did you decide wine was something you wanted to pursue?

    S: “I’d always had a real interest in it, but I didn’t know if I’d end up becoming a winemaker. I was always incredibly interested in marine biology, so I nearly went down that path. But then the opportunity came up to study at Geisenheim University in Germany, so I abandoned my plan to study at in Australia at Roseworthy and packed my bags to head north. Prue and I had met years before at university where we shared a subject in botany, so when I decided to move to Germany, we got married and made the leap together. Although I spoke some German from my schooling days, Prue didn’t speak much at all, so it was a big leap.”

     

    You were in Germany for two years, how did this time influence how you make wines today?

    P: “It definitely influenced our viticulture. At that time, Germany was really the hot bed for emerging viticulture practice – a research centre on a lot of work on trellis, clones and root stocks – you name it, they were doing it.

    “Interestingly, during the time we were in Germany they actually had a huge issue with diabetes, so they were really focusing on reducing sweetness right through their whole diet, so they had dry wines, and that’s what we got attached to. We found the dry wines were actually better than the sweet wines, which were masking unripe characters.”

    S: “Looking back, it was really beneficial in terms of the precision in their winemaking – everything from removing oxidation and using refrigeration, to using good filtrations and fining, all those sorts of things. But we also wanted to maintain the Henschke style, and didn’t suddenly want to start making sweet wines and become something we were not. In any case, your style should be driven by your climate, so there were only certain elements of what we learnt in Germany we could bring back home.”

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    Could you imagine a life if you weren’t in wine – what would you be doing?

    S: “It’d be deepest darkest Africa for you, Prue!”

    P: “I did a lot of special projects in zoology during my studies and was offered the chance to go to East Africa to study baboons. I was also fascinated by botany, and had an honours degree in algae. There’s this amazing cold current that comes up underneath the bottom of Australia and we have some of the most diverse algae in the world. There was a lot of work to pursue down that path, I decided I wasn’t a good enough swimmer for that!

    “When the opportunity to move to Germany presented itself I made the switch to wine, but having that strict botany behind me meant it was really easy to drop into viticulture because I had all the physiology and bio-chemistry.

    “It’s been a great partnership, and it meant Stephen could hand over the very challenging viticultural side of thing. I’ve been doing a lot of research in the area, so it’s a huge benefit to have that focus on our long-term future of viticulture. It’s actually the part of the wine business that takes up the most personnel. We basically have one person every five hectares (and we have 100ha) so that’s half the personnel of the whole business working in the vineyard in hands-on viticulture.”

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    Perhaps one of biggest legacies you’ll leave behind is your range of parcel wines. How did you come to start working with these alternative varieties?

    S: “My dad was on the Barossa Vine Improvement Group, so he was actually quite involved and interested in other varieties. He was making a few interesting white­s from Ugni Blanc and Sercial, but in reds we really didn’t have much other than Shiraz, Cabernet and Malbec in those days. However, that’s also what consumers wanted. They were a lot more used to just getting varieties that made a nice big red wine.

    “Because of our travels and interest in varieties, and seeing the potential for other varieties in certain places within our vineyard’s scope of Adelaide Hills and Eden Valley, we started planting some Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Grüner Veltliner which is looking spectacular. It’s really interesting to see how those varieties which back in the 80s were seen as pretty uninteresting, are now coming back out again of obscurity into popularity.”

     

    On that note, how much weight do you give to consumer trends – do you let them influence what you’re doing in the vineyard?

    S: “It’s interesting: you don’t really know whether it’s winemakers who’ve inspired people to drink different things or whether the consumer is actively looking for something new. It’s the ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario. However, I think as people become more confident and knowledgeable about wine, they’ll tend to branch out and try something different.”

    P: “I think it’s really important to watch the market. We were innovators with Pinot Gris in the mid-90s when we saw that become one of the alternative varieties that was taking off, and now it’s reached that point where it’s saturated, almost to the point of being bulk wine. You have to work out when to start pulling back from varieties because we can’t afford to produce low value, low quality bulk wine. It just doesn’t work for us.”

    S: “It’s also not part of our brand identity. Our economic model is to be better rather than bigger. To be better you have to really do everything by hand, you have to focus and push into that organic and biodynamic area and ensure you’re building the quality all the time.”

    P: “Perhaps most importantly, if you want to go down the path of alternative varieties, you really have to know your land and soil profile like the back of your hand. These new varieties are popular but you have to know what you’re doing – you can’t just plant them anywhere, so site selection is a huge part of the process.”

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    When it comes to food and wine, what is your pairing philosophy?

    S: “We recently did some cheese and wine pairing with a local South Australian producer, and when we initially matched the cheeses, we found the fresh goat’s cheese was much better suited to the Pinot Noir than the mature goat’s cheese. So we swapped the sparkling and the Pinot over to suit the flavour of the cheese better.

    J: “It’s always something we’re really careful about when we release Hill of Grace, and do media previews and launch dinners for our customers. We always start with that list of wines and give that to the chef, and then let them tailor the menu to the wines. When you say Shiraz people often think steak, so with Hill of Grace we’re trying to find other options like kangaroo and duck, which suit our more elegant style of Shiraz.”

    S: “We did some interesting dinners during our travels in Spain, and I think one of the things that’s often missing is the person who tastes the wine with it, rather than just assuming it’s going to work or retrofitting wines to a menu.”

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