We hope you will find two key characteristics in our new retail list: as well as the highest quality, the much relished but also much threatened variety of wine, always such a large part of its attraction and fascination. We have tasted and travelled happily and widely over many years to bring the list to its present state, and are delighted to be able to offer many exciting new discoveries as well as previously selected wines from some of the world’s finest producers. In all cases the criteria for selection have been simple. Above all we have sought out wines which we believe it an experience – a pleasure, a privilege, at best with the added je ne sais quoi dimension of greatness – to drink and to share. For us that means wines which display a definite identity (cépage, terroir, producer and vintage) and a particular personality per se, as well as the highest levels of quality and value whatever the price range. Accordingly, although there appear here many of the most famous names in wine – old (Latour) and new (Le Pin) – they do not do so on account of past or present reputation alone, and only where we feel that this is currently warranted. Equally, the less well known wines are not merely the result of the search for eccentricity, exclusivity or novelty – though many certainly do possess these qualities.
Our general policy of collaborating closely and dealing directly with carefully chosen producers continues to prove richly rewarding for all of us. Developing personal and professional long-term relationships allows us access to helpful information and precious stocks of carefully cellared, fully mature wines from older vintages which often need many years to reveal their splendours (eg the range of superb Vouvrays from Huet). It also secures us allocations of many of the finest wines from more recent vintages, many of which are offered only en primeur and for which demand always greatly exceeds supply (eg the range of red and white Burgundies from the completely different but equally stunning 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 vintages).
While for many reasons the quality of wine has arguably never been higher, we can celebrate that this has not generally resulted in corresponding price rises. The chief exception, of course, has been Bordeaux, where demand, especially from the Far East, has fuelled price spirals to absurdly and artificially high levels. The quality of the wines from the better châteaux is, however, superb, and for these it is still well worth acting on the old French proverb that ‘only the first bottle is expensive’! The less greedy and more prudent attitude of growers in other classic regions such as Burgundy, our belief that the pleasure provided by these wines should be spread as widely as possible, and the recent strength of sterling, have all allowed us to keep most other prices reasonable and stable.
Also belatedly but increasingly recognised is the enormous enjoyment to be derived from the world class wines of Austria, Germany and Italy. Among the many additions to the list, we are especially glad to be able to offer wines of the highest quality from legendary producers such as Bründlmayer, Knoll and Pichler, Fritz Haag and Carl von Schubert, Marcariniand Sandrone, as well as the new Chianti Classico stars at Monte Bernardi.
From Ribera del Duero in Spain we are introducing the Briego Albesa wines (For which we are sole UK agents).
The Rhone valley wines have shown considerable appeal and we are pleased to recommend the wines of Chateau Beaucastel (Chateauneuf du Pape when available) and the less expensive but good value wines of La Vieille Ferme from Cotes du Ventoux and Cotes du Luberon. From the New world we would recommend Rymill Estate from Coonawarra, Maglieri Estate from Mclaren Vale,Wakefield Cellars and Robert Crabtree Riesling wines, the latter both from the Clare Valley. From New Zealand we would highly recommend Dry River wines from Neil McCallum, Martinborough region.
Finally, our own native produce. We continue to be astonished – and believe that you will be too – by the extraordinary complexity, intensity and individuality of our authentic, carefully nurtured, cask strength single malt whiskies, made and matured at some of Scotland’s finest distilleries until bottled with permission under own label – ‘The Bottlers’.
As always we offer all of the wines and spirits here in the confident hope that you will derive as much pleasure from them as we do – now and far into the future.