We are well truly in to the feeding frenzy otherwise known as the Autumn Portfolio Tastings of the major UK wine distributors and importers. Today it is the turn of Lea & Sandeman as it shines its spotlight on its own range and what it hopes will be on lists this winter. To set the scene is sales director Phil Weeks as he concludes our summer series of Q&A with leading lights of the UK wine trade.
Lea & Sandeman is well placed to assess the mood of the industry as it runs its own high street independent wine merchants as well as supplies leading restaurants and bars across the country – and hopefully lives up to its promise of being the ‘Most Original Wine Merchants’. Phil Weeks gives his take on 2017 and what we can taste at its portfolio tasting today.
We are well in truly in the second half of the year how has 2017 gone for you so far?
Good. We have continued the growth we experienced last year and have had the added bonus of a great Burgundy En Primeur campaign and a not too shabby Bordeaux Primeur too!
What have been the best moments of the year so far?
Business wise I would say the best moment has been the response we had to putting on our first Italian tasting, which we held at the Getty Images Gallery. We had great feedback from both customers and producers which is what you are alway hoping for. It really shone a light on just how good our Italian range is.
Personally it has to be the start to the Championship season that my beloved Ipswich Town have made.
Most challenging moments of the year?
It was probably be the loss of one of my big customers which seriously knocks your confidence, but I will win them back!
What are your big goals for the business for the rest of the year?
Really to continue to build on all that we have achieved so far this year and deliver a really great result again. Oh, and perhaps win some more awards!
Today you are hosting your annual portfolio tasting at London’s Trinity House. What can we expect there?
We have over 20 producers coming to showcase their wines and for the first time we are hosting a Masterclass focusing on Pinot Noir. There will be new additions and established favourites so something for everybody. There will be the chance to taste and talk to producers from all over the world. Including Albert Jané Ubeda from Acústic Celler and Autòcton Celler, Oriol and Susanna from Màquina y Tabla in Spain, Nick Mills of Rippon Vineyards from New Zealand, Rianie Strydom from Haskell & Dombeya in South Africa, Ute Bamberger and Stefan Braunewell from Germany, Andrey from Piemaggio (who are new to L&S) in Italy and many others. We are also hosting a consumer event in the evening. yet to confirm depending on their timings for harvest. Watch this space for regular updates.
What do you see as being the big trends/ influences on your part of the industry?
The big trend for us is the continued search for good value, quality alternatives to the classics which sadly get more and more expensive. Spain is going great guns for us, we are very much in love with Germany and will continue to add wines from here. And there is also, of course, the opportunity to build on all the hard work we have put in with our Italian range.
What did you get up to on your summer holiday?
We headed to Crete for 10 days for some much need sun.
What did you read?
What did you eat and drink?
Large quantities of seafood and sensible quantities of Mythos beer, Assyrtiko and Vidiano.
Where is your favourite place for a sunset drink?
Well it has to either be outside at The River Café or the Terrace at Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall (above).
What are you drinking?
Grower champagne for sure!
What is your ultimate summer movie?
Ice cold in Alex
Best summer song?
Well of course it has to be….. The Boys of Summer by Don Henley.
- The Lea & Sandeman tasting takes place on September 14 at Trinity House, Trinity Square, London EC3N 4DH until 5pm.