- North America
- New Zealand
- How to Buy
We are a retail & mail order wine merchant devoted to seeking out the wines of high quality small, artisan-scale and family run estates, mainly but not exclusively in France, Italy & Spain. We see the task of the independent wine merchant as one of offering an alternative to the increasingly homogenised and soulless wine portfolios of the supermarkets and multiples, and our customers as those who value the kind of individuality and originality that simply cannot be found in the output of the large operations and brand-owners that supply the mass market.
We believe that the key to great wine lies in its uniqueness, a sense of a specific location and climate, the originality which we refer to above, harnessed and focussed by exceptional vineyard management and intelligent - by definition low intervention - élevage. We do not seek wines that offer the perhaps fashionable attributes of mere power and extraction, often the mark of easy, hot climates or insensitive winemaking, nor are we drawn to the trend for what might be termed 'statement' winemaking, the results of which rarely offer originality or indeed pleasure, and never value-for-money. Instead we believe that the virtues of elegance, nuance and restraint that inspire us very often lead us both to more marginal grape-growing climates, where an extended growing season brings the potential for freshness and vivacity, and to those winemakers to whom humility comes more naturally than arrogance or vanity.
None of this means that we are merely in the business of selling wines that are expensive. In fact the vast majority of the wines on this list are available at less than £20 a bottle, and a significant number are under £10. However, neither are we here to sell cheap wine, for value for money is a rapidly diminishing concept the closer one gets to the national average retail price of a bottle of wine in this country, a whisker over £5, a level at which our notoriously high taxes account for around £3, the balance having to cover land, production costs, interest and domestic taxes, bottling, shipping, retailer margin and finally some modicum of profit for the producer. It leaves very little for the actual wine. The flat rate of excise duty, the same for every bottle whether it costs £4 or £400, means that you are likely to get something around three times the value of wine in a £7 bottle than in a £5 bottle. Value for money and cheap, at least in this country, are mutually incompatible when one is speaking of wine, however much we may wish otherwise.
The catalogue in the pages of this site are set out in a manner which some may consider unconventional, for they follow in turn the country, region and denomination or appellation of production, and finally the actual producer and their wines, with detailed profiles at each stage, for we believe that great wine is inimately connected to the individuals who make it, and is very difficult to informatively categorise using some necessarily subjective notion of 'style'. If you feel that precludes you on the basis that you do not know enough about wine, we can only urge you to read on, because we have endeavoured to make this site as informative and interesting as possible - indeed, we might even be able to start you on a journey of your own. Comments and suggestions to that end are always welcome, with contact details at the foot of every page and on the contact page itself. We do not at the moment have a shopping basket, but wines can easily be ordered for delivery or collected from our retail shop - the details are here.