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Archive for June, 2010

Naked Wine

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

A lot of people ask me where the idea for Find Wine came from. The answer, rather boringly, is that I don’t really know. It came out a lot of conversation between me, John and plenty of other people, the most influential of which was Mike Awin from ABS Wine Agencies, who has always been a great believer in what we are trying to do with Find Wine.

However throughout all of our planning there was one case study that we kept coming back to as the best online wine merchant and that was Naked Wines.

For those of you that don’t know about Naked Wines it is another purely online merchant, however the idea behind Naked is to take a lot of dead weight out of the supply chain in the wine trade. So instead of buying their wine traditionally through importers and agencies, they go straight to the vineyard and offer them cash upfront in order to produce wines that Naked can market, this saves wine makers spending lots of money travelling the world promoting their wine…money which eventually finds it’s way into the price of the bottle. This innovative form of buying twinned with a very strong website based around a social network of customers recommending wine to other customers has produced a seriously successful wine company in a very short period of time.

Recently Naked have even gone one step further and begun asking their customers to stump up the cash to pay for the wines before it is even produced. Despite much muttering and doubting they have pulled it off and have ,apparently, queues of people clammering to buy wine that hasn’t even been made…now that is customer loyalty that I wish I had!

Therefore I was fascinated to read a recent article in the Telegraph about some of figures involved in the world of Naked Wines. 78,000 active users, sales double from £4m to £9m in a year, 1,000 new customers a week.

The man behind this fast growing force is Rowan Gormley, one time employee of Richard Branson. Origionally a consultant with Bain and Co, Rowan was asked to look into the idea of Virgin Trains, soon after he was running Virgin Money. Then apparently after much persuasion Richard Branson agreed to let him set up Virgin Wines. It was the Virgin philosophy of “disrupting” an industry that has clearly inspired Rowan to come up with a novel and successful new model to buy and sell wine or “wine venture capital” as he calls it.

Naked are most certainly doing a fantastic job of shaking up the wine trade and I will certainly be keeping an eye their success as it grows and grows. And trying to work out how I can even begin to compete!


A very varied week of wine. Part 2

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

So to Part 2 of my very varied week of wine and this time a trip out of London, well slightly anyway, to the Holland and Holland shooting school. What could be a more suitable match than a lot of shotguns and a lot of wine?

For those who are not that familiar with shotguns, Holland and Holland make some of the best in the world, a new one will set you back around £100,000 and that is for the entry level, so you can imagine their shooting school is quite smart.

It was the annual Wine and Spirit Benevolent FundCharity clay pigeon shoot. An event somewhat different to the Bloggers world cup the previous night. Replace twitter names for double barrelled ones, iphones for signet rings (well that was the Berry Bros team anyway!) and fois gras for spit roast lamb…It seems no matter what the wine event, the food is great.

I had kindly been invited to join the Left field Wines Team by Nick Dymoke- Marr. We were also joined by Chris Mitchell (Wine PR extraordinaire) and Joe Wadesack (general wine celebrity). The pressure was on as this team had won the event twice before and so I arrived at the day like a small child at a urinal…on my toes.

My apprehension was unnecessary as it soon become clear that the whole event had a laid back air with only the slightest undertone of competitiveness and a healthy smattering of wine world chat.

After a bacon sandwich and a safety briefing we were off and for me it was a bad start. It is quite depressing when straight after the first shot you take (a target I hit by the way) the instructor looks at you and says, “yes, there is a lot we can do here”. He then proceeded to explain to me that everything I was doing was wrong…I didn’t point out that I had hit the first two targets perfectly, something which I think displays superior ability and had nothing to do with luck!

We proceeded throughout the first session in what can only be described as consistent manner punctuated by brilliance. However all our efforts were rendered useless by a discovery at the half time break. Off Piste Wine had kept to their name and employed a slightly off piste method in their team selection, in that they had completely ignored the wine trade connotations and instead recruited a chap who shoots for Great Britain. Their argument being that he qualifies because “he drinks a lot of wine!”

It was either the special Holland and Holland lemon squash or that we had resigned ourselves to the fact we wouldn’t win but our team relaxed into the second sessions, enjoyed the blazing sun and shot our socks off. However despite our increase in tempo, come the end of the second session and we were still nowhere near the leaders (the pro had missed only 2!).

But there was one last hope! The flurry, where all guns in the team line up together and shoot at 60 targets that come in a continuous stream. Perhaps, no, definately the truest test of a teams shooting ability. With the sun beating on our brows and with the entire party watching over us, like Leonidas lining up at Thermopylae the Left Field Wines team took to the stage and showed everyone how it was done. To say there was rapturous applause would be a lie but there was definitely a ripple of respect as we scored highest in what was certainly the most difficult element of the day.

Alas, our Spartan efforts were not enough to catch the Off Piste boys! So instead we drowned our sorrows with some Laurent Perrier and headed for the roast lamb.

The whole day was a fantastic success and I am sure raised a great deal of money for the Benevolent.

At this point I must stress that unfortunately this was not a typical week for me, I do normally do a lot more work! But what I hope this couple of blogs demostrates is the varied and wonderful world that is the wine trade. It must be rare to find an industry where every person you meet is enthusiastic and excited about their product, where everyone is lucky enough to indulge their passion and call it work.

It is quickly becoming clear to me, as a newcomer to the industry, that whether you are discussing the best Twitter applications at a bloggers tasting or hearing about the demand for ’09 En Primeur wines at a clay pigeon shoot, there is a unique atmosphere in this trade that is surely born out of a shared passion. And of course there is always great food too!

Next time I promise to remember my camera!


A Find Wine super special offer!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

If you order a case of wine from during the remainder of June you will not only get a 10% discount off your first order but you will get a 10% discount for the rest of the year!

If I were you I would rush to our buying page now and order one of everything!

Enter June101 into promo code box to recieve initial discount.

A very vaired week of wine! Part 1, The Bloggers

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Being fairly new to the Wine trade I still get slightly giddy at the prospect of all the wonderful, eclectic and most importantly free tasting that I get invited to. Nine times out of ten you will be fed incredible food (the smaller the event, the better the food!), there are always like minded people to talk to and best of all you can tell your friends you have gone to work!

Unfortunately there is a touch of tragedy in this tale…the reality is that I very rarely find time to attend any of these fantastic occasions and the few that I do get to go to, I do actually have to work, either behind a table promoting our wine or finding new and exciting wine to put on the website, admittedly the later isn’t always that taxing.

However last week for various reasons of geography I managed to make it along to two very different wine world events.

The week started rather unusually in that it was Tuesday (bank holiday) and I was trying to master the art of presenting to camera for our up and coming Find Wine videos. I do not want to give too much away before the grand unveiling, all I will say is that you most certainly cannot learn anything about terroir from tasting soil samples!

So to Wednesday and after a very dull day of sitting at a desk beavering away I was invited along to the help judge the Bibendum “Bloggers Wine World Cup”…this is where the glorious food comes in! In baking sunshine I meandered my way through Regents Park to the lovely Bibendum head offices. The whole street alive with chatter and laughter, life that only seems to be born out of London in true sunshine. Life that is tempting. Life that makes you want to detour and have a cold beer. However, for the sake of this story, I resisted and continued past the sun-kissed revellers to help make the crucial choice as to who should win the Wine World Cup between South Africa and Italy.

This was a bloggers tasting and I was therefore a slight impostor, in fact a total impostor. I would hardly count this blog eligible to appear alongside some of the wordpress mastery that is produced by the majority of the people in the room I was about to enter. Plus it is not really about wine in the same way that, are. In fact as it stands, this blog seems really to be about very little at all!!

Was I wearing the right clothes? Was my 8GB iphone powerful enough? Should I be carrying a camera? Should I invent a fake blogging alias, a fake twitter account and put on a fake accent? Maybe I should have thought this through in a bit more detail before ambling so merrily towards the event. What if they sussed me and I was banned from all future wine events…no more delicious canapes, no more sushi in the Saatchi gallery on Australia Day!

Then I remembered it was a wine blogging event and I was not Jack Bauer.

The room was full of faces I have only ever seen in very small scale as a twitter profile, and names that I didn’t recognise without underscores or alias’. I very much stood out as the only none real blogger there, in that my iphone was completely flat in battery and I didn’t have some fancy gadget to boost it’s life. I wasn’t taking photos of the food, the wine and the other people present. Hence why this blog somewhat lacks imagery…I will get better at capturing everything I do on camera I promise!

The other thing I promise to improve is my ability to actually write things down and then keep the notes so I can refer back to what I actually had to drink and what it tasted like!

What I can tell you is that half the wines were Italian, the other half South Africa with varying degrees of quality and at various prices.

There was a surprisingly good Graham Beck Rose, an unusual and unlikely red from near Port Elizabeth in SA (Probably should have made a note of what it was exactly!) and a show stopping Straw wine from SA to finish. All in all a fantastic, entertaining selection of wines and a competition eventually won by the South Africans despite my votes going the other way.

If you would like the details of the wines or what they tasted like then I suggest you read one of the blogs I mentioned above who probably made thorough notes and took wonderful photos, if you squint you will probably spot me in the background looking slightly out of my blogging depth.

I am just not sure I have what it takes to become a hardcore wine blogger. Many these people produce dazzling work for little or no reward, often providing insight and imagery to rival some professionals. I am very happy to attend some events and indulge in Fois Gras lollipops but I think I will stick to selling the wine…well and writing the odd blog about that instead!

What I need to become a proper wine blogger-

  • A charged iphone or at least a fancy back up battery pack from which to twitter.
  • A massive camera with which to take photos of everything so that my blog looks like a cookbook/professional wine mag. NB. Some people can create this effect with an iphone, I would struggle with a massive camera.
  • The ability to plan ahead so that when I attend something, I think, “I might write about this, I better take proper notes.”
  • A Mac Book, somehow I feel if I had top notch kit it might make my currently inartistic brain more inspired (potentially expensive experiment).
  • And many many editing skills that I will never possess.