‘With new cellars opening, the development of mobile-friendly wine lists, a book with a new take on learning about wine, and the opening of several retail outlets, there is a constant buzz about us’. If the term independent wine merchant has a stuffy old fogey, pinstripe and Pall Mall gentleman’s club ring to it, the six-strong wine merchant group, The Bunch, made the point at this autumn’s tasting that established doesn’t necessarily have to mean establishment.
No blame should be attached to The Sunday Times’ Atticus for banging a drum back in 1974 that turned out to be so empty, nor Georges Duboeuf for milking the cash cow for all, no, more than, it was worth. Doubtless, there were juicily nubile fresh wines that slaked the thirst of the French as they tucked into their saucisson à la Lyonnaise. By the time it reached our shores though, filtered to within a micrometre of its life, Beaujolais Nouveau was mostly little better than water. Thankfully, it’s now water under the bridge.
An own-label wine is a brand aimed at inspiring confidence and loyalty in consumers looking for good value wines. As such, its guarantee is in direct proportion to the reputation of the wine merchant whose label it is. Even before Sainsbury’s Allan Cheesman developed the supermarket own label in the 1970s, established wine merchants such as Berry Bros., Avery’s, Justerini’s and Corney & Barrow were shipping Bordeaux and Burgundy and bottling with their own names.