Issue: 76 / Friday 19 July, 2019
We’re Travelling at the
Speed of Light…
‘Time flies’ as my parents warned me, but and as a young boy, it was hard for me to understand. Troublingly, and as I get older, time certainly seems to fly by at a meteoric pace. It’s such a shame that I cannot add more time to my clock but, and at the very least, I will attempt to make my life seem like it’s passing by a little slower.
One of the most revolutionary concepts we have learnt in the 20th century is that time is not a universal measurement, which and for those of us who enjoy science, is a fascinating theory. Are we ruled by the same seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks etc? Science has proven time will never be absolute. Indeed, the rate at which time passes depends entirely on our speed and acceleration at any given moment. So, my theory would be to travel at the speed of light (186,282 miles per second) which and given time stops, would allow me sufficient opportunity to pack the rest of my life in before I eventually take my foot off the throttle, slow down and pop-off to the unknown!
Until my theory is realised, I have arrived at the half-way point of 2019, which is time to reflect on the six months that have passed and those which are ahead of me. This year was always going to be ambitious, particularly with getting our new HQ build off the ground and seeing it through to our moving in date. With the assistance of our architects, we are bringing a team of super-skilled and creative minds together. I have been fundamental in deciding which quantity surveyors and structural engineers will be working on the team. Of course, I am paying their fees however, my decision(s) have predominantly been based more upon their creativity and desire to be a part of (we hope) an award-winning build. This week, and following several fascinating meetings, structural engineers, Heyne Tillett Steel are welcomed on-board alongside quantity surveyors Base Quantum.
Increasing our list of exclusivities (or agencies, as the trade prefer to call them) was our primary wine goal for this year. We have welcomed on-board some extraordinary winemakers, household names back in their native lands, but unknown to many in the UK. This makes the journey and their respective introductions much more exciting. Hoddles Creek, John’s Blend, Hughes & Hughes / Mewstone, Domaine Simha, Sailor Seeks Horse, Grey Sands, Hutton Vale Farm, JC’s Own, Domaine Naturaliste and Purple Hands Wines all join The Vinorium family. We are also close to finalising our new partnership with one of the great names in Tasmania, Pooley Wines. We have an embarrassment of samples to get through which have been received by prospecting wineries in Australia. As such, I would declare we have comfortably achieved our half-year target. The second half looks equally exciting and I wouldn’t be surprised if we add a further five or ten new wineries to our offerings.
With such an uplift of new producers comes the logistical task of getting the wine to the UK, which and given the distance and costs involved, is a ten to twelve-week operation, door to door. We chose to consolidate as much as physically possible. All Tasmanian wines were collected from Melbourne, the Barossa and surrounds were shipped from Adelaide and all wines from the Margaret River shipped from the port of Fremantle. Both of our New Zealand agencies, Valli and Devotus produce their great wines on the South Island, however, the shipping point is from the North Island adding further costs to all and extending the delivery time.
Shipping is a skilled art, with layer upon layer of complexities and endless problems which and without forensic prior preparation, will come back and bite you very hard. That said and despite our best efforts, it is an inevitable conclusion that something, somewhere will go wrong. Only this week, our direct shipment to the port of Hong Kong was delayed and severely so. High winds and tides can add several days to a journey, but the port of Malaysia forgot to add our container filled with wine onto the Hong Kong vessel, resulting in a two-week delay. As you can imagine, the email communications are harsh as we are left with some incredibly disgruntled customers.
We do our best with ‘on the water’ ETAs into the UK and update our website accordingly. Currently, we have 23,000 bottles on the water with many close to docking. The first vessel is expected to arrive from Adelaide on the 4th August which includes new wines from JC’s Own, John’s Blend and Purple Hands. New releases from existing producers, Two Hands and Standish Wine Co. also form part of this container.
Previously, I have communicated of my emotional attachment to John’s Blend, a producer which left the UK over twenty years ago. Our allocation was small and pre-arrival sales strong – We have less than 100 hundred bottles of each currently available. With respect to John’s sole European importer, these wines cannot be purchased and shipped to Switzerland. Dan Standish wines have proven an enormous hit (a wee understatement) with all physical 2016s sold-out save for a little of the 99-point Standish the Standish. In an earlier communication, I mentioned we were allocated Dan’s remaining pallet of the 2016 The Relic, which also received 99 points and is a firm favourite with the wine trade, which places additional pressure to our stocks. 96 cases left Adelaide and we are down to 28 as trade customers are now placing firm orders. A full pallet of the ’16 Standish The Standish was sold before it left Adelaide. May I offer a word of caution? The wine trade has been watching our ETAs for Dan’s wines and the closer the wines are to our shores, the more likely they are to place their orders (40 cases were sold this week alone). I have placed a trade embargo for the next two weeks on the ’16 The Relic. This leaves ample time to place your order to secure the final cases.
Standish The Relic Shiraz Viognier 2016 (Case 6x75cl)
99 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "Everything about Standish's 2016 The Relic Shiraz-Viognier is remarkable, starting with the ridiculous color. It's so dark, so purple, so vibrant. Then the nose boasts soaring florals and stone fruits, while the palate delivers fresh blueberries and dried spices. It's full-bodied but creamy-textured, with supple tannins and concentrated fruit that lingers on the plush finish. Just awesome stuff."
99 Points - Stuart McCloskey "98% Shiraz & 2% Viognier. First question; does a mere 2% Viognier add something to the overall wine? Yes, and abundantly so. The floral aromatics soar from the glass and interplay beautifully with the blueberry compote, blackberry, liquorice, grilled meat and a smidgeon of black olive tapenade. The palate offers dark chocolate, sweet, dark fruits and musky dried herbs. Again, the floral character from the Viognier is evident. With time in the glass the wine offers smokey, peppery game notes with an obvious gunflint and mineral character. Creamy textured but nonetheless, concentrated and dense. Svelte tannins which glide seamlessly across my palate. Quite surreal given the wine’s sheer saturated density. Mind blowing, hedonistic and unquestionably one of Australia’s truly great shiraz wines . A snip of warmth from the alcohol (16% of alcohol) and the only reason why I cannot, at this stage, award 100 points. Let’s see how the wine develops over time but let me be clear. This is an extraordinary wine that surpasses the majority of great Australian Shiraz (Including recent releases from Grange and Hill of Grace). Served in Zalto Bordeaux, decanted for three hours (needs much longer) and will drink beyond 2035."
£389.70 per case of 6
or £306.90 per case of 6 IB
Our Melbourne shipment arrives around the 16th-18th August and contains some of the best wines we have sampled for a very long time. From Tasmania, Sailor Seeks Horse, Domaine Simha and Hughes & Hughes will undoubtedly find much favour with many of you. We are super-excited to receive your feedback as we believe we have delivered some very special Tassie Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Mewstone is the premium label from Hughes & Hughes, with all fruit being sourced from their own vineyard in Flowerpot. We often speak of small allocations however, Mewstone take it to another level. Regrettably, these amazing wines cannot be offered for general sale and will not be available at our portfolio tasting on the 28th September.
Instead, we are offering a special four-pack case containing one bottle of each of the following; ‘18 Riesling, ’18 Sauvignon Blanc, ’18 Chardonnay and ’18 Pinot Noir. Take it from me; these wines are very special indeed…
Only 23 packs are available for a modest sum of £145.80
And, in the spirit of fairness, offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
Only one pack per order / street please
(it’s amazing how many neighbours purchase!).
The team and I are considering hosting a special Tassie dinner and tasting in London at 67 Pall Mall where we plan to unveil and lead you through many of the new arrivals. Please drop Magda an email and we will revert with full details. Our New Zealand shipment is planned to dock on or around the 12th August. We are delighted to be working directly with Valli wines who produce four, profound Pinot Noirs from Central Otago. From Martinborough, we bring you Don’s (Devotus) 2018s including the first ‘Aprentis’ Pinot Noir release, which we are looking forward to tucking into ourselves.
To accommodate buying preferences, the majority of our exclusivities are available by the bottle duty paid, and by the case under bond. Under bond is ideal for those of you wishing to store for years to come or export oversees.
The first six months have provided foundations for another successful year. It is difficult to predict end of year figures as, and historically, the second half of the year has consistently proven our strongest sales segment. But the growing problems surrounding Brexit is creating huge amounts of uncertainty. Consequently, the Sterling dropped this week to a 27-month low as investors fear that Britain is going to crash out of the EU without a deal. We have seen a significant, 5% drop against the Australian dollar in the past few weeks which makes for interesting conversations with our winemakers. Some are supportive and some, understandably, do not give two hoots. The current impact being shown as a tangible £1.00 per bottle price increase on wines retailing around the £30 mark, which is significant.
Conversely, and if we continue to drop (a crash is inevitable if we do leave without a deal) our international sales will increase dramatically, simply based on buying against the worthless Sterling. However, delivering to private customers in the EU will prove most difficult, if not impossible for a while. Perhaps we will find some protection from our customers in Asia and one would hope, from our loyal customers in the UK who feel the need to drink great wine, if only to alleviate the agony and pain of the morons who created this devastating mess.
35,847 bottles were purchased from our shelves (1st January to 30th June) with the lion’s share coming from Australia – 30,896 to be precise. For the first time, New Zealand has leapfrogged the USA into second place but both country’s sales are miniscule compared to Australia. In fact, Two Hands’ sales (6,495 bottles) are double that of NZ & USA combined! Red wine sales continue to dominate with 30,824 selling in the first half. White wine sales have pleasingly increased but the numbers are tiny in comparison. Personally, I drink more white wine than red and prefer nothing more than coming home, pouring a chilled glass of white wine whilst pondering on the day’s comings and goings.
Interestingly, we have sold more olive oil, in particular the 2018 Capezzana Extra Virgin than all our Champagne and Rosé wines combined, which is quite an achievement!
The No:1 Tassie Sparkling producer, House of Arras sales remain strong with 461 bottles selling, but and as we previously stated, we are seeking an alternative as Accolade Wines’ (owners of House of Arras) global pricing policy is, to me, senseless. The ’04 Late Disgorged will be offered at £99.00 per bottle compared to our current release price for the ’03 at £57.95, which I believe represents amazing value. Granted, this wine could retail around £69.95 which I believe is a respectful reflection of the quality and work that goes into producing the LD. But I believe £99.00 is too expensive and I would opt, any day of the week, for the Egly Ouriet’s VP Extra Brut Grand Cru NV which has little competition and is thirty quid cheaper...
Despite our best efforts to convert, Shiraz remains the dominant number one grape variety equating to 71% of our sales. Cabernet Sauvignon is a strong second with 16% but Pinot Noir sales are rather disappointing, despite our best efforts. We will continue our fight to ensure this noble, albeit fickle grape variety climbs the leader board and we believe our ‘new’ Tasmanian wines will do the job. I do understand and have been left disappointed and out of pocket more times than I care to remember when drinking Burgundies, but these wines are different. Take the leap and try one or two.
This dilemma created a cracking lunchtime debate. How do we convert the hardened Shiraz drinker or those bitten by too many disappointing Burgundies? We have lots of Pinot Noirs arriving from the richer, fuller style that is Domaine Simha to ethereal perfection from Sailor Seeks Horse. Nick Glaetzer has Shiraz heritage pumping through his veins, but his love is for Pinot Noir and Riesling. Perhaps he is the man that can change some opinions? Nick’s wines (including his Tassie Shiraz) are off the charts in terms of quality and we have not received one bad word (over 1,000 bottles sold).
We thought an attractive, can’t refuse ointment to repair old wounds or simply a price that’s worth taking a crack at, would do the trick. The discounts are substantial and are impossible to hold for more than two weeks. Give them a stab and please report back with your stories which, and with your blessing, we will share with all our readers.
“I defy anyone to present such a prodigious line-up for the same value. There are a handful of wines that unite in a chorus of admiration and Nick’s certainly do. The range is tensile with profound complexity gaining with the hierarchy of each wine. I am confident Nick's wines will become one of the leading names in Australia.” - Stuart McCloskey
Glaetzer-Dixon Avancé 2017
96+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “The Pinot Noir for the ’17 Avancé was sourced from three vineyards in Southern Tasmania’s Upper Derwent and Coal Valleys. Sweet, succulent entry with an abundance of red cherries, wild strawberry, plums and sweet spices all laced together with bright, perfectly judged acidity. Medium-bodied, with pure silky tannins. The quality of racy, plush fruit is exquisite however, it’s the wines overall balance and completeness which stands out the most. You will have to look very hard to find a better buy for the money. A wine of pure and total pleasure. Just gorgeous and not to be missed”. Served in Zalto Burgundy glass (Highly-Recommended by the way! ), drinking beautifully now but will develop over the next 3-6 years."
£22.50 per bottle
or £18.75 a bottle when you buy case of 6 or 12
Glaetzer-Dixon Reveur Pinot Noir 2015
97-98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Ethereal is a good place to begin and certainly one of the best bottles of Pinot Noir I have drunk sub fifty-pounds. You would be mistaken to believe this wine has a decade of aging behind it due to the tawny rim. The bouquet is astonishing, and again would deliver a verdict of a mature wine; dried rose petals, cherry, warm minerals and a lovely savoury undercurrent. Close your eyes and think autumn with a splash of wild strawberry. The palate is fresh, medium-bodied, precise, with acidity judged to perfection. The wine fans-out with a lovely garden savouriness with bay leaf, cedar and finishes with dried, blood orange. As with many wines, I am drawn to the wines texture and this is ultimately blessed. It’s simply effortless, harmonic and will fill you and your glass with serenity”. Served in a Zalto Burgundy glass
£37.95 per bottle
or £30.95 a bottle when you buy case of 6 or 12
Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Père Shiraz 2016
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “A Shiraz which is lighter on its feet but full of pedigree. The flavours are layered and beautifully defined with cherry, violets and sweet spices. Silky, expressive without being brash which is very much the skill of Nick. Fresh, nuanced and again, produced with a captivating sense of elegance. There is nothing missing with Nick’s Shiraz, just a different and refreshing, new perspective. Gorgeous and I am looking forward to seeing how this develops over the next five years. Just lovely."
£42.50 per bottle
or £33.95 a bottle when you buy case of 6 or 12
White wine sales are continuing to increase with Chardonnay being the dominant varietal which strides away with 79% of the total sales. We really cannot see this changing, simply on the basis that so many great Chardonnays are on the water. Sauvignon Blanc is comfortably in second position with New Zealand sales doubling that of Australia, which is an interesting measurement of, perhaps, our perception that key grape varieties are better from the leading country of production. Roussanne and Riesling sales are certainly on the increase which is fabulous to see.
We have a large HQ shop, which is home to most of our wines however, year-on-year, month-on-month, shop sales decrease whereas website orders increase. Only food for thought, but we are now considering if there is the need for a shop at our new HQ as current sales are negligible compared to the costs and effort involved. Away from London, many high-street wine merchants (both independents and chains) are struggling with several high-profile closures.
Of course, we would love nothing more than to see you all face-to-face and regularly too. However and given the geographical spread of our customer base combined with our busy lives, it’s purely not a practical option.
Website sales have increased by 39.5% and July could smash all 2018 records. Currently, we are developing our new website which will offer better functionality for you and my team, with a ‘launch’ date of September. We are also developing The Vinorium App which, and with fingers crossed, should be released at the same time. Overall sales have increased by £1 million (against the same period, 2018) which is a tremendous result and something which would not be possible without you all. I believe The Vinorium is unique and home to an amazing family of staff, winemakers and customers.
As ever, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to grow, foster, and build the idea that was a mere thought five years ago.