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london wine merchants


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this one's easy.

are you looking for a good one off bottle, or someone to build a relationship with?

good one off bottles on the shelf, at some times hefty prices (but prob still less than berry bros) would be: Handford.

if you can handle delivery charges, four walls wines is fantastic as is Ancient & Modern wines for older claret.

but for a great all rounder, on day to day basis I'd recommend Lea & Sandemann. they are good for en primeur and on the shelf wines

one of my favourites, is Haynes Hanson & Clark. that's Anthony Hanson of Christies and much burgundy fame. superb merchant to build a relationship.

all of these are far better choices than the bandits at BBR.

Corney & Barrow are great for headlining labels - but you won't get any. what I mean is they do Petrus, DRC, and deVogue. but demand is stooopid, and they are allocated to long standing customers. Their policy on trying for exclusivity only means they have a lot of mediocre estates just below the headline stars.

J&B are pretty good. but no good for one offs or day to day purchases.

Lay & Wheeler are another good all rounder.

but really there are 3 categories:

the blue blood names, for those who value tradition more than their money. BBR, C&B etc. J&B are prob in this category but less avaristic.

the day to day merchants you can pop in and see.

Handford

Lea & Sandemann

Haynes Hanson

Some branches of jereboams

and those that you can build a relationship over time. good selections, primeurs and offers, and access to some well chosen stuff too.

Lay & Wheeler

+ Lea & S

+ HH & C

Howard Ripley

Bottom line, avoid those places opening offices in the far east; they're prob more commoditised than what you're looking for.

there are many other good ones, and bad ones, but my minds gone blank.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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this one's easy.

are you looking for a good one off bottle, or someone to build a relationship with?

good one off bottles on the shelf, at some times hefty prices (but prob still less than berry bros) would be:  Handford.

if you can handle delivery charges, four walls wines is fantastic as is Ancient & Modern wines for older claret.

but for a great all rounder, on day to day basis I'd recommend Lea & Sandemann.  they are good for en primeur and on the shelf wines

one of my favourites, is Haynes Hanson & Clark.  that's Anthony Hanson of Christies and much burgundy fame.  superb merchant to build a relationship.

all of these are far better choices than the bandits at BBR.

Corney & Barrow are great for headlining labels - but you won't get any.  what I mean is they do Petrus, DRC, and deVogue.  but demand is stooopid, and they are allocated to long standing customers.  Their policy on trying for exclusivity only means they have a lot of mediocre estates just below the headline stars.

J&B are pretty good.  but no good for one offs or day to day purchases. 

Lay & Wheeler are another good all rounder. 

but really there are 3 categories:

the blue blood names, for those who value tradition more than their money.  BBR, C&B etc.  J&B are prob in  this category but less avaristic.

the day to day merchants you can pop in and see.

Handford

Lea & Sandemann

Haynes Hanson

Some branches of jereboams

and those that you can build a relationship over time.  good selections, primeurs and offers, and access to some well chosen stuff too. 

Lay & Wheeler

+ Lea & S

+ HH & C

Howard Ripley

Bottom line, avoid those places opening offices in the far east; they're prob more commoditised than what you're looking for.

there are many other good ones, and bad ones, but my minds gone blank.

Thanks Scott, great post!

I'm an occasional buyer because i don't really have a lot of storage room and i wanted to buy a couple of nice bottles this weekend whilst i'm in London. I'm in London every month or so though so i'd like to find somewhere that i want to return to!

I'll definitely check out some of those on your list :)

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I think I have posted about Green and Blue Wines in East Dulwich before. I am popping in their this weekend as I will be in Dulwich and have never been to the shop.

The reason I recommend, Kate Thal used to be wine buyer for the Dakota/Idao group and they always had an interesting list. Looking at their site they seem to have good stuff;

Cullen, Selvapiana, Quinta de la Rosa, Isabel, Cigliuti, Chateau La Lagune, Franz Haas.

Piers

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I think I have posted about Green and Blue Wines in East Dulwich before. I am popping in their this weekend as I will be in Dulwich and have never been to the shop.

The reason I recommend, Kate Thal used to be wine buyer for the Dakota/Idao group and they always had an interesting list. Looking at their site they seem to have good stuff;

Cullen, Selvapiana, Quinta de la Rosa, Isabel, Cigliuti, Chateau La Lagune, Franz Haas.

Piers

sorry the green and blue isn't that interesting.

you could just contact les caves de pyrene directly :laugh:

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Vinoteca (Smithfields end of St Johns St ) has a surprisingly extensive selection of well chosen wines in the £6.00 to £12.00 range that are usually much better value for money than you'll get in Oddbins or wherever. That also have a smaller, but still interesting range of more expensive stuff.

The full list is on their website , and they opartate as wine bar too, so you can check out a lot of stuff by the glass before committing yourself.

For really central Central London, Planet of the Grapes ( 9 New Oxford St) is worth checking out. They also have a useful website and a wine bar -though the latter is miles away from the shop - in Leadenhall Market, and I rather fear it may be full of the type of people you would expect to find in a wine bar in Leadenhall Market. There's never anybody much in the shop though and they do have some intersting stuff.

gethin

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Scott,

Out of interest, how do you rate the Wine Society?

Winot

Good question, would be interested to get others' views. I am a member and have found it to be very good. However, I don't go in for the really high end stuff, so can't really comment on that.

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the Dakota/Idao group always had an interesting list . Looking at their site they seem to have good stuff ;

Cullen, Selvapiana, Quinta de la Rosa, Isabel, Cigliuti, Chateau La Lagune, Franz Haas.

Piers

sorry the green and blue isn't that interesting.

you could just contact les caves de pyrene directly :laugh:

you could and Liberty or Fields Morris & Verdun for some even more intersting wines than Cullen, Selvapiana, Cigliuti etc.............

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the Dakota/Idao group always had an interesting list . Looking at their site they seem to have good stuff ;

Cullen, Selvapiana, Quinta de la Rosa, Isabel, Cigliuti, Chateau La Lagune, Franz Haas.

Piers

sorry the green and blue isn't that interesting.

you could just contact les caves de pyrene directly :laugh:

you could and Liberty or Fields Morris & Verdun for some even more intersting wines than Cullen, Selvapiana, Cigliuti etc.............

missed my point. significant proportion of Kate's wine list appears to be from Les Caves. don't get points for letting the same supplier who built your restaurant wine list, do the same on a retail level.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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I don't disagree with anything thats been said above- particularly stress that BBR are bandits (I remember a discussion with a Millesima rep about how their three for two prices are absurdly inflated- 'their not much more than BBR' she responded- I laughed, she blushed, says it all). J& B though are not bandits, despite slight implication above, they have a good list, you have to buy a case, they are a little intimidating but worth it.

Consider auction if you are buying a case or more, it can save a packet (especially on mid-range 'drinker's' wines, the top end is too subject to speculation), and a case is often enough- example mas de Daumass 2001, less than £15 a bottle all told. Seriously. Can't beat it.

I find Haynes Hanson & Clarke do offer good value along with good assistance even on smaller orders, they are a very good recommendation, so second that. Easy to deal with, great list, well chosen, very fair prices.

If your talking popping in to buy a bottle on the way home, fair enough, we all need that, I second Lea & Sandeman, especially for grower champagne which they have a real nouse for. (Moving aside from things not already mentioned, but often mentioned elsewhere-Philglass & Swiggott- not that interesting a list, pretty pricey, but don't take my word, they have a website).

So far I've been very much in agreement with Scott- our only point of diference would seem to be that I quite like the Corney & Barrow list, I think there's value to be had in it, and writing off its exclusivities as mediocre is a little easy I'd say,-fair enough-mediocre is what most of us drink, I think CB deliver value and are the high side of mediocre. Its a small difference I think, but I say, don't write them off, ultimately, pop along grab a list, see what you fancy.

Also, there are a couple of wholesale/semi-wholesale sellers to bear in mind, these guys offer no assistance just like auction, but equally offer close to auction prices without the waiting for a sale or other unique difficulties of an auction. Farr vintners have some incredible prices with a minimum £500 spend. The best deals are often at the lower mid end but worth exploring (Coudoulet for £12 a bottle- ok £500 is a lot of bottles, but get a few mates involved[as in pm me if your tempted!])

Please note- fields morris verdin the burgundy specialists referred to in a post above are now part of BBR, they still have the second to none expertise, but use wine-searcher to asses whether they have the prices. Ultimately if you are byuing mid-top end burgundy go to auction.

London is a great place to buy wine, even places like the sampler which are high priced still offer an interesting experience.

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I would second the Sampler and Vinoteca, particularly if you want to try a selection of wines before purchasing.

more gimmick, that actually interesting merchants imo.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Huntsworth wines in Kensington Church Street is an excellent shop with surprisingly good prices on many things.

absolutely!! should def be on the recommended list.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Scott,

Out of interest, how do you rate the Wine Society?

Winot

the wine society is one of the best, smartest purchasers of wine in the country. they have great buying team, and have some fabulous wines.

prices are good too.

they just don't have the great allocations of fine wines, that you used to be able to get. which used to make them even better.

but most serious wine enthusiasts are members, and I think that says it all.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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J& B though are not bandits, despite slight implication above, they have a good list, you have to buy a case, they are a little intimidating but worth it.

A very slight, perhaps even imagined implication! :hmmm:

(Moving aside from things not already mentioned, but often mentioned elsewhere-Philglass & Swiggott- not that interesting a list, pretty pricey, but don't take my word, they have a website).

p&s are ok. they are very expensive, but they have a broad range of stuff. i wouldn't recommend, but there are worse places in a pinch.

So far I've been very much in agreement with Scott- our only point of diference would seem to be that I quite like the Corney & Barrow list, I think there's value to be had in it, and writing off its exclusivities as mediocre is a little easy I'd say,-fair enough-mediocre is what most of us drink, I think CB deliver value and are the high side of mediocre. Its a small difference I think, but I say, don't write them off, ultimately, pop along grab a list, see what you fancy.

i'm interested to know why you think it's so easy to declare that "writing off their its exclusivities is a little easy"? it is their business model, and the bane of EVERY one of their private client sales teams. it's very hard to maintain client interest when you are selling mediocre wines to a client base attracted by the A list stars.

not every one of their exclusivities is mediocre, and nothing of the sort has been said or implied. however, across the range it does, unquestionably, lead to a number of properies below the water line.

if you want to broke wines from them, they are no cheaper than anyone else. and the reason they go for exclusives, is that it obscures their margins and comparisons. that is the point, so I am not sure how they are cheap.

NB. I do buy primeur from C&B from time to time.

Also, there are a couple of wholesale/semi-wholesale sellers to bear in mind, these guys offer no assistance just like auction, but equally offer close to auction prices without the waiting for a sale or other unique difficulties of an auction. Farr vintners have some incredible prices with a minimum £500 spend. The best deals are often at the lower mid end but worth exploring (Coudoulet for £12 a bottle- ok £500 is a lot of bottles, but get a few mates involved[as in pm me if your tempted!]) 

anyone can buy from the wholesaler if you wish too, that's always a cheaper option. in many cases the retailer/wholesaler is the same thing - that's the function they occupy during the en primeur process.

wholesalers supply to the retailer, who adds 30 - 40% margin.

Please note- fields morris verdin the burgundy specialists referred to in a post above are now part of BBR, they still have the second to none expertise, but use wine-searcher to asses whether they have the prices. Ultimately if you are byuing mid-top end burgundy go to auction. 

there is very little mid to high end burgundy that goes through the auction houses. in fact there is very little mid to high end burgundy that changes hands at all, after the original point of sale. unless you're talking about the commoditised items already mentioned.

M&V used to be fantastic, but now BBR just funds jasper to live in burgundy, host client dinners, and do some buying trips for them.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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