Our Buying Philosophy
Our wine buyers' golden rules...
A balanced wine grows on you, so that the last glass seems better than the first. All the components of the wine should be woven together seamlessly. Balance can be achieved at 8% or 16% alcohol, or at 2 or 120 grams per litre of residual sugar, provided the fruit, oak or tannins are there to provide the balance needed.
A wine must be clean. We believe that a wine that isn't clean is dirty, which means faulty, thereby masking the characters of the grape variety and the wine’s sense of place. Some people say clean wines lack character, but we believe a clean wine enhances the varietal and regional characteristics of a good wine.
Purity of fruit and expression of a sense of place are core elements of our buying philosophy. We look for wines, and closures, that consistently display these characters. Our view of cork is that the problems of cork taint and random oxidation make it an unreliable and inconsistent closure. We feel its failure rate is far too high, and wouldn’t be accepted with any other product. The best alternative we’ve found so far is Stelvin so we try, wherever possible, to ship wines that are sealed under Stelvin.
This is one of our key requirements. Much as we love it when our wines get high scores from journalists, we would much rather have a wine that scored well but drank beautifully than a wine which scored superbly but left you feeling that one glass was more than enough.
A wine must be an expression of the grape variety or varieties from which it is made and the place in which it is grown. We specifically look for wines that express these key characteristics, as we feel a sense of place is a vital part of a wine‘s makeup.
We want the personality of the producer to come across in the wine. This is a tricky balance. Too much ego and the grape and place are subsumed. The winemaker is the conductor that brings together all the instruments in the orchestra. Too much oak and the subtle characters of the grape are drowned out. The human factor is vital, for if you give two winemakers the same grapes from the same vineyard, they will make two different wines. The best communicate their personality in the wine while exalting the character of the grape and the vineyard.
Contrary to what many people mean when they use this word, we think that value exists at all price points from £8 to £50 a bottle. A wine may be expensive, but can still offer great value if it gives everything we are looking for: grape, place, winemaker, drinkability, purity, depth, length and much else besides. "Would we pay that much for this wine ourselves?" is a question we ask about the wines of every producer we consider taking on. If the answer is yes, we’ll add them to our list.