As one of the country’s oldest and most influential wine wholesalers, Davy’s Wine Merchants is very well placed to plot a route for the rest of the industry for the year ahead. Ahead of its annual portfolio tasting next month, operations and purchasing director, Andrew Chudley not only looks at what buyers can expect to taste from its range, including
a number of new producers, but also looks at the opportunities and challenges the on-trade faces in the year ahead and the role suppliers and wholesalers have in addressing them.
With sales the highest they have been in nearly 10 years Davy’s Wine Merchants is well placed to make the most of its annual tasting on February 6, says Andrew Chudley.
How do you look back on 2018?
2018 was a positive year for wholesale at Davy’s. We are tracking 40% growth on the previous year, our largest annual increase since before the recession.
What were the high points?
Working with some of the best chef’s in the world at Taste Residence in June. Pairing the wines to exquisite dishes and talking through the wines with an engaged audience in a great setting was a lot of fun
What were the biggest challenges?
Brexit and the strength of the pound have certainly had an impact on the on-trade sector, causing some margin erosion. With so many contrasting views from the experts, GDPR was a bit of a headache in terms of managing our database!
What sort of Christmas trading period did you have?
Very good. We were 36% up on last year’s figures for November and December combined, which was slightly behind the trend for the rest of the year, but this is not surprising giving the uncertain climate.
What are your targets and ambitions for 2019?
The key has to be to maintain growth and continue to focus on building the reputation of our merchant business, and our relationships with our exclusive producers and growers.
What plans are you making for Brexit?
We’ve increased our stockholding to give us a comfortable stock buffer and our shippers are well prepared. Ultimately we need to wait and see what happens, but we are in a very good place to react fast if need be.
What wines are particularly in demand in terms of styles, countries, regions?
We have seen good growth in the Rhône and Italy. The fine wine market is diversifying as customers look to find value outside of Burgundy and Bordeaux. Organic wines also go from strength to strength. Biodynamic and natural wines are now entering the mainstream and we’re seeing some demand for vegan wines. This year we have added three natural wines and introduced one new biodynamic winery, all of which are performing well.
When it comes to deciding what wines to buy, then our criteria is always quality, value and being able to offer a varied portfolio of excellent wines we truly believe in and enjoy. There is, of course, a growing interest in English wines, which offer superb drinking and bring with them a sense of provenance and local production.
Average wholesale price for a bottle of wine?
This is a difficult one to answer as we sell wholesale to a very wide customer base, ranging from caterers to fine-dining and Michelin-starred restaurants as well as hotels and private members clubs. Currently we sit around £8 ex VAT.”
Tell us about your tasting – what can buyers expect?
A great selection of wines from small family-owned wineries, mostly exclusive to Davy’s. In addition to ‘free-pour’ entry level wines, special features will include:
- Indie Top 20’: a selection of outstanding wines perfect for the independent off-trade.
- ‘Small is Beautiful’: exclusive wines made in tiny quantities and rare parcels selected from our cellar.
- ‘By The Glass Top 10’: our top picks for the on-trade.
Our Master of Wine, Martin Everett will co-host two masterclasses during the day:
- Tawny Port – The Art of the Blend: sample ports from three centuries with winemaker Rodrigo Martins from Douro Valley’s, Quinta da Silveira.
- Beaujolais – Breaking Boundaries, with renowned winemaker Jean-Paul Brun.
Do you have any winemakers and producers over?
We will have more than 30 producers and winemakers present who will be showcasing their wine. The focus for this year is the Old World, but we will have a preview of two New World additions too, from Mendoza and Central Otago
What types of new wines should buyers look out for?
There are highlights right across the portfolio, but if you are looking to focus in on some key areas then I would recommend:
- Amphorae Wines from Alentejo.
- Zippy freshness from Somontes in Dao.
- New producer Corte Cavedini from Verona has superb Valpollicella.
- Various additions from Jean Paul Brun in Beaujolais.
- Boutique Central Otago wines from Te Kano, Felton Road.
- Organics from Bousquet, Argentina.
If your time is limited what would you prioritise at the tasting?
I would make time to come and attend our masterclasses and hear first hand from producers and hear their own personal stories. Then there is the Small is Beautiful feature which is a chance to go into our own personal cellar with some gems that we have been able to pick out. We will also have a number of new wines to taste, so please make time for those as well.
Your biggest wish for the business in 2019?
Any corporate new year resolutions?
More fruit in the office, fewer biscuits.
- The Davy’s Old World portfolio tasting takes place on February 6 at Royal Over-Seas League, Hall of India and Pakistan Over-Seas House, Park Place, St James’s Street, SW1A 1LR between 11am to 6pm. To RSVP and to register your interest in a masterclass, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.