Wine merchants to check out in 2023 for budding oenophiles
If you got a special bottle for Christmas and want to learn more, or have simply decided that this is the year you finally become a wine expert, we know some merchants who will gladly help.
The UK has some of the best fine wine merchants and specialists in the world. We asked some to give their recommendations for wines to try in 2023.
Bradford in Yorkshire is the unexpected gateway to the Alps. Swiss-born Joelle Nebbe-Mornod founded the online wine merchant Alpine Wines, the UK’s premier importer and expert in Swiss and Austrian wines, in the Bradford suburb of Idle.
“The Swiss produce 100m litres of wine and drink most of it themselves, exporting less than two per cent globally. Switzerland grows over 200 grape varieties across our six grape-growing regions.”
Nebbe-Mornod singles out the de Mestral family’s Domaine de Maison Blanche founded in 1526 and Jean-René Germanier (1886). She also recommends a Gamaret-Garanoir 2019 Cave de la Côte Uvavins, Les Freres Dutruy, and the biodynamic wines made by Marie-Therese Chappaz at Fully.
Founded in 1793, Averys of Bristol is a wine institution and one of the oldest merchants in the UK. Its rose selection includes Il Sogno di Arianna Chiaretto di Bardolino, berry-scented rosato from Lake Garda, and The Little Italian, made from Italian varieties from vineyards in Australia.
Its Loire Valley whites mixed case features La Grande Réserve du Moulin Muscadet and Le Grand Maré Touraine Sauvignon, as well as Les Sécrets d’Abbesse, a small batch, single vineyard Sauvignon from the Bougrier family.
This wine dynasty was founded in 1877 by William Tanner and his brother Edward. Tanner acquired Southam & Son in 1936 and although they initially traded as two businesses, they were amalgamated during the war and traded as Tanner & Southam until 1960, when it became simply Tanners.
They work with some of the best producers across Europe and also stock a wealth of New World and eastern European bottles. Its own-label wines are worth seeking out, made with select producers, including Maison Sichel, which has been making wines under Tanners own-label range since the 1890s.
House of Townend
Founded in 1906 in Yorkshire, this wine merchant remains under ownership of the Townend family, which tends to deal with “smaller, quality led, and often family owned, wine estates and domaines who possess like-minded philosophies”. There is also a restaurant and hotel business.
“Our emphasis is on family owned producers who share the same philosophy as ourselves, preferring organic and biodynamic producers,” says head of marketing Hannah Boyes. Select bottles include the Sangiovese Bianco 2021 and the Tempranillo Blanco 2021
WINES OF URUGUAY
Sidcup is the best place to go for Uruguayan wines thanks to Wines of Uruguay. In general the country produces a more European style of wine with less jammy fruit, less alcohol, and more acidity than its New World neighbours.
Owner Carla Bertelotti hopes more terroir-curious wine lovers will explore the “licorosas” (sweet wines) and discover new grapes like Tannat, Albarino, Gamaret and El Carmen as well as new wine-growing regions such as Durazno, Garzon, Lavalleja, and Progreso, near the capital Montevideo and next to the world’s widest river, Rio de la Plata.
Bertelotti recommends Viñedo de los Vientos (The Vineyard of the Winds), which has been in the Fallabrino family since 1947. Its Estreval 2018 (£13.99) is a blend of Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Moscato Blanco. Another top pick is San Jose’s “Sea of Stones” Marichal Reserve Collection Pinot Noir-Tannat.