• French Connection: How Enotria &Coe beefed up its wine portfolio

    During 2018 Enotria&Coe introduced 150 new wines, 70 of which are from France. The strategy was aimed at filling some missing gaps in the portfolio, to add interesting boutique wines to their existing anchor producers, and to offer a range of price points to its growing customer base. Drafted in to oversee the change was Rebecca Gergely, formerly of La Marchande, who showed a selection of the wines to Peter Dean at Enotria&Coe’s swanky new tasting suite at Park Royal.

    During 2018 Enotria&Coe introduced 150 new wines, 70 of which are from France. The strategy was aimed at filling some missing gaps in the portfolio, to add interesting boutique wines to their existing anchor producers, and to offer a range of price points to its growing customer base. Drafted in to oversee the change was Rebecca Gergely, formerly of La Marchande, who showed a selection of the wines to Peter Dean at Enotria&Coe’s swanky new tasting suite at Park Royal.

    mm By November 7, 2019

    “The challenge in France in terms of buying is that the regions are really broken up and yet you need to cover all bases,” says marketing director, Val Lewis.

    Like many importer/ distributors, Enotria&Coe has moved away from over-reliance on the casual dining sector and focused instead on the premium on-trade – restaurants, bars and hotels that have a better relationship with their customers and who are driving their drinks category to offer them something genuinely new, dynamic and interesting.

    Unlike other major players, however, E&C has had a tricky two and half years trading period where it has had to integrate into its business a major spirits company, Coe Vintners, to transform it from being a largely wine-only distributor to a full wine and spirits player.

    Enotria&Coe
    Just some of the new wines displayed in Enotria&Coe’s swanky new tasting suite

    The company is reporting record growth of 23% in the first six months of this year and has brought on board 800 new independent on-trade customers. At the same time on the buying side E&C has been finding success with lighter, fresher styles of wine from Italy, been doing well with English wine, particularly by the glass and has added 150 new wines and many new producers to its portfolio.

    The fact that 70 of these new wines are from France says a lot about where the ‘missing link’ has been.

    Over the past 12 months E&C has been giving special attention to its offering of French wines – it has had a number of anchor producers such as Trimbach in its portfolio for some time but it wanted to expand these as well as focus on bringing in interesting boutique producers.

    Overall the wine portfolio is 11% up in volume and 18% up in value, indicating its success in engaging the premium end of the on-trade and a part of that has been the new French wines.

    Enotria&Coe
    E&C’s French Connection (l-r): director of buying Harriet Kininmonth, French buyer Rebecca Gergely, and director of marketing Valerie Lewis with some of the 70 new French wines

    “The challenge in France in terms of buying is that the regions are really broken up and yet you need to cover all bases,” says marketing director, Val Lewis.

    “It was also really important to find the right producers, those willing to work in a partnership. We are after an agency relationship where we support one another, we take decisions together, we have an open book and we are representing their brand – it’s not a case of hitting the price and ‘job done’.”

    Enotria&Coe
    Buyer Rebecca Gergely, E&C head office, London

    Tasked with bringing in the new range of French producers was buyer Rebecca Gergely, whose brief was also to have a range of wines – from mainstream through to boutique as well as hitting different price points.

    Gergely was previously owner of La Marchande an agency she ran for six years for ‘undiscovered boutique wines’. La Marchande’s descriptor could almost have been Gergely’s job spec at E&C: “Focusing on terroir and supporting emerging winemakers … seeking undiscovered wines that taste and look expensive at the most attractive prices.”

    In the 12 months since she has been at E&C, Gergely has brought in five new agencies:

    Apart from filling the gaps in E&C’s French portfolio these agencies have the bandwidth to allow the company to tap into larger portfolios and develop relationships with other owned and affiliated estates.

    Vignobles Jean Jean, for example, accounts for eight wine estates, Georges Vigouroux owns four estates, Domaine Cazes produces 32 different cuvées as well as owns two estates while Lucien Lurton has ten chateaux in its stable including five Grand Cru Classés – with almost every aspect of Bordeaux covered off in one fell swoop.

    Tasting through 30 of the new wines with Gergely, it is evident how the company has filled a lot of appellation gaps but also done so in a way that ticks off high end premium, mainstream and boutique. There are also the damn right quirky like John Wine (seriously!) a Cotes du Roussillon Rouge from Cazes, that you can imagine being an instant hit in the right establishments.

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    So which were the wines that stood out for me? 

    Impetus, Vintage Brut Crémant de Loire, De Chanceny, 2011

    With four years on the lees, this shows a good degree of evolution. The mousse is generous, there are patisserie notes; there is a refreshing citrus acidity, with a nice mineral texture getting stronger on the palate. (£15.22 All prices are list price)

    Collioure Blanc, Clos des Paulilles, Domaine Cazes, 2017

    Serious white from the most Southerly tip of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Gorgeous nose of slightly sweet stone fruit; the wine is dry with a decent weight in the mouth. Fresh, bright, a nice undertow of acidity, fine grained with massive length. The red is good value too. (£14.18)

    Le Grand Rochoy, Domaine Laporte, 2017

    Premium Sancerre from part of the Bourgeois family. Attractive floral nose with crushed rocks; the palate is fresh, mouth-watering, fine-grained texture, good balance of ripe flavours with lively acidity. (£24.32)

    Rully Premier Cru, Clos du Chapitre, Domaine Jaeger-Defaix 2017

    Very distinct white from the Defaix husband and wife team in Chablis – different but moreish too. Open and welcoming nose, slight herbal edge. The palate has primary fruit in abundance, but the acidity and balance makes it light in the mouth. A wine that will be great with food. (£22.18)

    Cairanne Les Travers, Domaine Brusset , 2017

    Flavourful vin de soif – a GSM that’s 70% Grenache – with bags of low yielding red fruit, a fresh spicy note; on the palate the wine is open, light, with a fine stony texture that comes from 80% vinified in concrete eggs (20% foudre). Lots of character (£13.51)

    Gigondas , Les Hauts de Montmirail, Domaine Brusset , 2016 

    Gigondas always punches above its weight and this is also the case with this rich, spicy red, which is open, has ripe tannins, mouth-filling blackberry fruit and a terrific, grainy texture (£28.44)

    Collioure Rouge, Clos des Paulilles, Domaine Cazes, 2017

    The nose to this delicious GSM from the Languedoc-Roussillon is inviting with intense, concentrated fruit. Rounded palate, with attractive ripe black fruit and an almost sweet edge. The ripe tannins have some grip and the acidity gives the wine impressive balance. Lovely dry stone finish. (£14.18)

    Côtes du Roussillon Villages Rouge, Ego, Domaine Cazes, 2017

    Organic Syrah-dominated GSM which has undergone an attractive change of label. It is along similar lines to John Wine, which is also new to the portfolio but more open and rounded, on account of the pebbly Rhône-esque soil. There is some intensity here but overall it is a fabulously drinkable, classy, textured wine, with great vivacity and lovely balance.

    Pauillac, La Fleur de Haut-Bages Libéral, Lucien Lurton & Fils, 2015

    This second wine of fifth growth Château Haut-Bages Libéral is classic Left Bank Bordeaux from a classic year. Made by Claire Villars-Lurton it has a gorgeous velvelty mouthfeel with concentrated cassis and cedar and liquorice notes. Ripe for early drinking. (£28.02)

    Terrasses du Larzac La Faille Rouge, Domaine du Causse D’Arboras, Vignobles Jean Jean, 2016

    This red has an expressive, punchy nose, with an almost ferrous quality. On the palate it is open, rounded, with the fruit going more towards blueberry and raspberry. Nice mineral zing to the wine with a hit of spice. (£17.05)

    Cahors, Château de Haute-Serre, Georges Vigouroux, 2015

    Not many wines from Cahors can be drunk from an early age but this is an exception. The limestone and blue clay soils give the wine lovely aromas of violets, red cherries, cassis and spices. The palate is complex, textured, elegant, and very dry. One of the best Cahors producers around. (£18.97)

    Enotria&Coe is a supplier partner of The Buyer. To find out more about them click here.

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