A couple of months ago I was wandering around the London wine fair, when I bumped into Rosamund Barton a director of the food and wine PR agency R&R Teamwork.
She asked had I heard of winebuyers.com, as they have just started the PR for them, and if I had a couple of minutes could she introduce me to them. I was persuaded as she said they had a sour beer made with natural English pinot noir grape skin yeast…. on their stand and I was intrigued to say the least. I’m easy to bribe!
So we arrive at their stand and I was introduced to Ciara who is head of marketing. So firstly Rosamund got me a glass of the beer. Wow its good.
To be honest I have seen many wine clubs and to be honest I have only ever been interested in a couple and they are plenty but a bit samey!.
So why is winebuyers.com different? Well I chatted with the owner Ben for more answers.
Ben & Ciara
Well for a start its free to join for ever single wine buying person in the world!
Not a thing to pay, not anything, nothing at all, nil, zero, nowt, zilch, sweet fanny Adams, zip, nada… Not a dicky bird! OK so now I’m intrigued, how are these guys going to make money…
Winebuyers.com are the intermediary website between either the vineyard or wine merchants. They don’t take any transaction fee, all they do is provide the platform. They make money by charging a subscription per month to the vineyard or merchants. They even provide free trials for the vendors so they can suck it and see! This is a sliding scale for the vendors depending on how many listings that they have. From £50 ($65,€56) to £450 ($585,€504) per month.
From me looking into this business and having run my own successful business for the last 25 years its blatantly obvious numbers of people are the key. Not only vendors which creates their income but also the members of the club who are doing the most important part = buying the wine.
So far they have grown organically with membership now exceeding 24,000, they also have 27,000 wines from 38 countries on the site.
27,000 is a huge amount to choose from and I hear you all saying so how is “x” vineyard going to sell his wine rather than someone else’s. Well Ben tells me that so far they have spent £350,000 building the initial platform so people can buy from all over the world because shipping and duty tariffs all have to be in their site too for everywhere!. They have raised a further £1 million which is being spent very fast I suspect in development and another round of funding is going to happening before the end of the year. So in answer to the question they are building sophisticated software algorithm’s which will guide each buyer to their types of wines. I think time will tell to see if 27,000 listings is too much or not enough….
Their ethos is to be a one stop shop for ALL your wine needs. So if you want “x” wine then they want it listed on their site. All wine listed is in stock too as they have built systems which all vendors adhere to so stock is always live.
So I want to buy a wine from Croatia, I click on what I want and then the system places the order with the vineyard directly, thus allowing smaller vineyards to distribute where they don’t have any distribution and also sell for retail price. The system also calculates shipping and duty that is applicable wherever you live too. All vendors will be subject to a ratings system on the site too, guessing this keeps everyone on their toes.
Their plan for the next 2 years… 100k bottles listed from 2000 vendors. A big ask but really they are building numbers of both at a really fast pace now.
They will promoting wines of the day, week & month too. There is no charge to the vendors for this and they are chosen by the staff at Winebuyers. This will also be giving exposure to vendors wines.
Time will tell but if their 1st year is anything to go by and Ben’s successful track record with luxury businesses we all need to watch this space…………… I wish them all the best of luck.
If you watch cricket you will know that England have recently had a comprehensive 4 to 1 test match victories against India….. bear with me for a second this is not a complete digression after one too many glasses of wine! Ciara suggested sending me some samples of ENGLISH & INDIAN WINES I had yet to try. In fact this blog was supposed to during the weekend of the last test match a few weeks ago but the courier managed to lose the box! and then I was swanning around Italy as many of you know following me on twitter.
So Ciara sent me an English sauvignon blanc and an Indian Sangiovese…. yes Sangiovese. I know one is white and one is red before anyone says it was hardly a fair contest however, I drink and taste enough wines to judge them on their own merits.
So the English wine first….. of course!
Blackdown Ridge Estate. England
A Little history of the vineyard before we start from their website.
Blackdown Ridge Estate sits at 440 feet above sea level in the Sussex Weald, enjoying extraordinary views over the South Downs National Park.
Here we have planted vines to create fine English wines, taking advantage of the superb location and conditions.
The wines of Blackdown Ridge Estate are the result of the vision of owner, Professor Martin Cook, who has lived on the estate for 20 years. A passionate wine-lover, Martin was inspired to create his vineyard when an Italian family friend and winemaker, Antonio, suggested that the beautiful, serene south-facing slopes of Blackdown would be perfect for growing vines.
Antonio’s words inspired Martin to realise the potential of the estate and the first vines were planted in 2010. The soil of the Sussex Weald shares much with the terroir of the Champagne region of France, and this influenced our plantings of the classic sparkling wine varietals: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. These have been used to create our first sparkling wine, released in 2015.
The grapes planted for our range of still wines include the aromatic Bacchus for our single varietal English white wine, as well as Rondo, Triomphe d’Alsace and, more recently, Sauvignon Blanc.
We have 10.5 acres currently planted to vines which are nurtured throughout the growing year with an environmentally sensitive approach to viticulture that ensures optimum ripeness, yield and fruit quality.
Blackdown Ridge 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
Made from 100% Estate grown Sauvignon Blanc
On the nose its sauvignon alright but not like a huge gooseberry blast from New Zealand, this wine is certainly more like the Torraine style from the Loire in France.
On the palate its a real delight for a wine priced at this point!
Grapefruit with a tropical feel, freshly mowed lawn with a herby note too, but not flowery its dry and has a zingy citrus feel on the finish with a lingering mineral note too. This would match perfectly to creamy seafood dishes as the wines acidity would be pairing heaven. Any shellfish would be perfect too.
Retails on winebuyers.com for only £10 ($13,€11.20)
Fratelli Wines, India
Some history about this Indian winery from their website.
And so it began, and so it continues to be with Fratelli. In the beginning there was an idea. An idea born of a general conversation between the sons of the fathers. From the soles of a thriving shoe business to the soul of Italian winemaking with a Tuscan icon in Piero Masi, is how this story began and how it has since evolved. Take three families, three sets of brothers separated by caste, country and faith, a shared dream and vision. Complete this fellowship of the grape, with the main cog in the Fratelli machine, a Tuscan with over 50 vintages of winemaking experience etched in his very soul, and the rest as they say is history.
WINE MAKING PHILOSOPHY
Piero’s winemaking ideology is born of Tuscan tradition yet unbridled in its embrace of a more vibrant and modern new world philosophy. Letting the vineyard speak is our mantra, and Piero’s minimalist approach to winemaking, ensures Fratelli wines offer a more broader diversity of wine styles.
While adopting Piero Masi’s sustainable viticultural mantra, Fratelli goes beyond just winemaking and wine production. By placing the utmost importance and unbridled commitment to nurturing the very best from our unique terroir, the end results achieved are grapes with the purest expression borne of all the Fratelli vineyards. The core focus for Piero and his team is to develop each vineyard with their own identity, personality, style and resultant grape quality, which in the end paves the way for creating high quality, artisanal wines that are true to Fratelli’s core values.
India’s largest privately owned wine estate of 240 acres, Fratelli lies just 6 hours from Mumbai and 3 hours of Pune in the Sholapur region of Maharashtra.
Blessed with unique, nutrient poor, calcareous soils with an extraordinary resemblance to those of the Bolgheri and Chianti regions of Italy, and combined with the temperate Maharashtrian climate, the resultant wines showcase varietal purity, vibrant acidity and an inherent freshness as core attributes.
Currently home to several more noted international and pioneering grape varieties, the Fratelli Vineyards offer up the idiom that anything is possible in India. Time is the key.
Fratelli, Maharashtra, Sangiovese 2015
Made from 100% Sangiovese.
Well this again was unmistakeably on the nose Sangiovese……. however as many of you know Italian wines are something I spend most of my life drinking and without blowing my own trumpet I know a good Sangiovese.
As soon as I tasted this wine it threw me a curved ball… It was just so dry and way too much tannin, by that I mean how am I going to write about this wine in a positive way. I am not a critic and my intention is never to rubbish any wines but I had the ENG Vs IND piece to write….. DONT PANIC!!!
I gave this some time which I wouldn’t normally have to do with a wine at this price point and ……..
Thank god!! It came to life after I decanted for actually only 20 to 30 minutes and was unrecognisable from when it was first opened.
On the palate this wine is medium bodied with cherry fruit at the forefront, although with a odd sweetness I’m not used to with Italian Sangiovese even though this is a very dry wine. The finish is smoky, spicey with more red fruits and dry. Would work perfectly with Pizza with a spicey topping or pasta with a rich tomato based sauce.
Retails on winebuyers.com for only £11.60 ($15,€13)
Well if you have read any of my recent blogs you would have been finding out a lot more about wines from England and the UK, however I am sure that most people out there have not tried wine from India.
What I can say with complete confidence is that you will be hearing lots more and not just from little old me.
The UK wine industry is in boom time and the next 20 years will be so exciting, and although I don’t have any specific data for India, you can be assured with its diverse climate huge labour work force and huge land mass they will one day become one of the worlds large producers.
Which wine won………
BLACKDOWN RIDGE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 is the WINNER!!!
Before I go, I have not been paid or have any affiliation to any of the companies or vineyards mentioned in the above blog.
I did receive the wines as samples from winebuyers.com