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Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Customers to Invest in North African Wineries

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Innovative online wine retailer FindWine (www.findwine.co.uk <http://www.findwine.co.uk/> ) has announced the launch of its latest consumer led initiative – The FindWine ‘Demons’.

Existing and new customers will have the opportunity, for a monthly subscription fee, to be part of the FindWine ‘Demons’ – a community of wine lovers who will be entitled to exclusive wines, preferential pricing and a pre-order system. The monthly subscription fee will be invested directly in independent winemakers who have previously been unable to gain a foothold in the UK market, bringing new and exclusive wines to the FindWine stable. ‘Demons’ will be able sip on their favourite new discovery, safe in the knowledge that they are supporting burgeoning winemakers from some of the world’s most exciting new wine regions.

Loosely modelled on the Naked Wines ‘Angels’ scheme, the initiative, which will launch later this year, will initially focus on bringing the emerging wineries of North Africa – Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria – to UK consumers. Historically unable to find a route to market, the scheme will allow winemakers in these regions to concentrate on what they do best – make wine, rather than having to fret over marketing, distribution and logistics.
All subscription fees generated will be transferred directly to the selected winemakers via FindWine’s Western Union account, with the retailer also looking to plough a proportion of its sales revenue into the scheme.

Commenting on the development, FindWine founder Mike Howes said: “I have the utmost respect for the Naked model – it obviously strikes a cord with consumers who act as quasi benefactors to their winemakers. Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, and we just hope we can carve out our own niche in North Africa and benefit our customers as much as Naked have benefitted theirs.”

Howes continues: “We look forward to driving this initiative forward and letting our customers put the wines of North Africa firmly on the map. With all the current political unrest in North Africa we thought it was about time we gave something back to some the oldest wine making nations on earth. Jesus drank their wine, so why shouldn’t our customers!”



The Curmudgeon

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
We have this new wine, The Curmudgeon, however we have been sworn to absolute secrecy as to what is actually in the bottle. I have asked Martin to provide us with some very subtle clues as to what it is…. If what is written  below is meaningless, just trust us on this one, this bottle of wine is the bargain of the century and you would be mad to miss out!!

This is the wine lurking in our warehouse!

This is the must have bottle of the year – no, we’re not overstating it!
It’s made by one of the four superstar winemakers in Australia at present, and it’s not Ben Riggs, Ben Glaetzer or Roman Bratasiuk!
He may be responsible for the wines of Greenock Creek and also may consults at Rockford as well as making Australia’s number 1 cult wine – let’s just say “a few streams” – his name? We’re not allowed to say, but maybe “Jesus H. blank” from a “country of circles” might tune you in if you still need help?
Anyway, it’s sourced from mainly the Ebeneezer sub-region of the Barossa Valley, and is bursting with spicy black fruit, great concentration and fresh acidity with plenty of backbone to balance the gobfuls of fruit.

Fruit was harvested when determined ripe by taste and fermented on skins for a period of 5-6 days with pump-overs 4 times daily. At pressing the more astringent pressings fractions were separated off to maintain a soft well rounded palate. Matured for a period of 18 months some components being aged in French and American hogsheads, whilst striving to maintain fruit freshness and allow the vineyard expression to show through.

Initially burly and formidable, with just a little time this wine simply explodes with weighty, concentrated jet black fruit swathed in firm, oaky tannins and a long powerful finish.

Suck on that!


We Have Our Very Own Critic!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Over the past few months we have been on the hunt for our very own wine critic. We wanted someone who wasn’t going to confuse our customers with ridiculous simile and metaphor. Someone who was going to say it straight, keep it simple and keep it fun!

Unfortunately Alan Sugar was not available to work as our wine critic so instead we decided to launch a competition amongst our customers to find one. With the promise that they would receive all our new wines for free for review. It is truly remarkable how many more people read my my emails when it involves giving out free wine!

As mentioned in the previous blog, they were each to receive bottle of The Opportunist Shiraz, share it with some friends and review it as if their life depended on it! Some of the results are posted on our Facebook Fan Page wall ( did I mention, if you  “like” us you get chance to win a free case a month!). Click here to read some of the reviews and see how attractive our customers are! It is also remarkable how many of our customers seem have their own wine blogs!

After some painful deliberations we have finally chosen our winner…. Richard Saxton from Birmingham, a lawyer by day and demon wine reviewer by night!

You will have plenty of chance to read his work over the next 3 months as he sets about reviewing our latest offerings on this blog. In the mean time you can check out his stuff on his own blog here

So there it is, our experiment is underway, is a wine consumer far capable of successfully recommending wine than a professional critic. The proof will be in the pudding or the writing! You will be his judges!!!

Watch this space to see him at work.


Mike’s perfect sloegasm

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

I have noticed the past couple of days that people have been complaining about the fact that summer is over and all that lies ahead is cold and miserable. For many September seems to be a miserable month as holidays are over and everyone must return to school. However September is by far and away my favourite month, closely followed by October. The weather is still warm (ish) but you can wander about outside for a few hours and come back looking windswept and interesting, the colours and countryside are at their most beautiful, you can forage, you can eat the best mushrooms around, in fact food generally is great at this time of year, plus the brunt of the shooting season gets into full swing!

There is so much going on in Autumn there is no excuse to be bored!

So get out of the house and get involved in something. Here is my suggestions for an otherwise dull autumnal Sunday. There is a very important harvest coming up…no it is not in Champagne…it is almost the time to start harvesting Sloe’s for this years vintage of Sloe Gin and it looks like it is going to a great one!

There is vast amount of debate about how to make the best Sloe Gin, I have never tried goggling it but I am sure there are many people out there with bits of hedge in their hair offering fantastic advice. To save you the hassle of reading through a blog that will also give you recipes to cure cancer with nettles I will provide you with my personal recipe, that always seems pretty shit hot.

If you make the mistake of asking someone with a beard about Sloe Gin they will insist that you never ever pick them before the first frost. Don’t listen, if you wait to the first frost you will no doubt find that the man with the beard has already picked all remaining fruit. However there is a tendency to pick them too early so wait until at least October then freeze them for a night.

Now here comes the technical bit!

Get a bit bottle, fill it half with sloes, work out the weight of sloes, then add that same weight of sugar. fill the bottle to the top with the cheapest gin you can find and put in a cupboard until Christmas.

At Christmas time remove the fruit from the liquid and you have Sloe Gin!

Now, by itself it is delicious, however I like to use it to make Sloegasms! This again is a pretty technical recipe…

Add a shot of Sloe Gin to Champagne! It is great and will definitely wake your guests up.

If you live in central London and don’t have access to a sloe’s then head to the country for a day and go on an adventure to find them!

I should really have my own channel 4 series!!


The Best Cure!

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

This the French solution to NHS Direct, who needs Penicillin?


What do you want from me?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Following yesterdays blog about how I can retain and entertain my customers I have been thinking a lot about the parcel our customers receive. This is the one time there is any physical contact between Find Wine and the customer and therefore a crucial time to make and leave a lasting impression. If you have ordered from us you will know that although our boxes look perfectly nice there is nothing extra that get’s your heart racing with excitement (other than the wine of course!).

So what should we include to cement our relationship forever? A spray of my aftershave? A corkscrew with our logo on? Perhaps a grape outfit you can wear to impress your friends? Whatever it is, it needs to make you feel special, it needs to be a constant reminder of Find Wine and it can’t cost very much money!

As it happens I have had an e-commerce frenzy this week and have ordered various things from 4 very different websites. Although this may strike you as a most unusual shopping list I have good reason for buying them all… A jumper from Boden (Yorkshire is cold), Stephen Fry’s new book (for the cold dark northern nights) and The English Patient on DVD (a gift) from Amazon, A large black pudding from the best black pudding producer in the world Charles Macleod in Stornaway (Breakfast) and 3 small glasses with pheasants on them for 99p from Ebay (a long story!).

Rather sadly, this week I have been most excited, not by my new things but by the way in which they arrive on my doorstep. Plus for the purposes of this experiment I am counting myself as being typical, in that I pay very little attention to anything in the box other than what I have ordered.

In every case there was some additional flimflam in the parcel (other than the ebay purchase but that is different!) and I didn’t really bother to read any of it never mind keep it as a memento of my purchase. Boden even inserted something offering me money off my next order. This is great but why do I need to keep a piece of paper when I can do exactly what I did this time and go to some voucher codes website to download a 15% discount. The black pudding butcher inserted a brochure of his products which consisted of black pudding, white pudding or both of the above gift wrapped. Other than providing me with an amusing thing to send someone this Christmas it was of no use and therefore entered the bin at some speed. And I can’t even remember what Amazon provided but I didn’t look at it.

Maybe I am not typical of an online shopper and therefore no use to this discussion. However I know I would be so impressed and excited if I received a genuinely original and useful freebie that I would remember the company forever. But what is the perfect freebie, should it be fun? Functional? An incentive? Or just thought provoking? (well the Chinese have already done this with their cookies!)

Packaging is very important, I have seen things arrive (not for me) from Net- a- porter and they are fantastic, I totally get if you’re are spending a lot of money you want the parcel to make you feel important when it arrives.

But I feel wine boxes should be functional. I would love to send everything in wooden flat boxes but there is a slight cost implication there. And a cardboard box can only be so exciting, even with cool graphics on the side. Therefore it should the the inside that you remember.

My aim is to create the same child like excitement that Charlie (of chocolate factory fame) felt when opening his Wonker bar with the golden ticket inside. I want receiving the insert to be as exciting as receiving the wine itself and different every time!

Unfortunately on this rather rainy Tuesday evening I have not yet thought of the answer…but I will and the next time you take delivery of some of wine you will most likely pour the wine down the drain and keep whatever gift we have given you.

If anyone makes a brilliant suggestion that I simply cannot ignore, I will give you a case of wine.


What can we give you?

Monday, September 13th, 2010

I was having a chat with a friend over lunch today about the relationship companies have with their customers, especially online companies.

It is very difficult to go anywhere or do anything within having some request for money put on you. Whether it is a simple as getting on the bus or reading a magazine there is always someone demanding money for something, the fare, the flashy adverts tempting you to buy a suit that makes everyone want to sleep with you. Everybody wants money from you but how often do you really get something back from them, well beyond whatever it is you have paid for?!

The internet is funny in the vast majority of things you probably use online never ask you for money. It has got to the point where, apart from shopping online the vast majority of people feel upset if they are ask to pay for a service, even if it is as simple as being forced to see an advert where before there were none. You just have to read about the storm that was created by users when Twitter unveiled plans to include advert tweets in their feeds. The internet is the fastest commercial advancement to have ever happened to mankind, yet so much of it remains uncommercial.

This is where I find online wine sales very interesting. Selling wine online is difficult to say the least. This is purely speculation but I suspect the majority of people buying wine online do it for convenience and price comparison( Majestic, Virgin etc). Then there are a lot of people looking for specific wines they cannot find in their local merchants (Berry Bros, Great Western Wine and any other high end merchant). Then, there are the much smaller group who are purely looking for a new experience either in where they shop or what they drink (this is my category). These people may have heard about our website or stumbled across it, either way something about the way it works has appealed to them and the have chosen to part with not insignificant amounts of money in order to experience the full journey on it.

When they receive the wine they enjoy it but don’t drink anything they simply must drink everyday. Therefore why on earth would they decide to try again? They may receive an email from me once a week suggesting they buy something else but then they receive an email from 5 wines websites asking to use them!

In order to make sure that customer will use you every time they get thirsty they must feel part of the company, part of every decision made, they need to know that I care about them more than I care about my own dog and yet I must convey all of this digitally…wrap them in a cosy blanket of text, pictures and videos, engage them in flirty pillow talk every night so they dream about nothing other than their next order and who else they can tell about this great new website they have found!

I can’t afford just to take peoples money, it is too easy for them to leave me forever. I have to make sure I always give something back, I think that is the key to the internet. Whatever activity you engage with from retailing to blogging your audience can so easily go elsewhere so ensure they couldn’t be happier than in your company.

The tough bit is, how to do this! I am working on that bit!


Tuscan Wine….Tipicita anyone?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

This blog was very kindly written for us by Chris from Sant Alberto. Check them out here

For me some of the most rewarding wines in Tuscany cost between €10 and €20 and have Sangiovese at their heart. However since our own oenological journey began in 2006 we have discovered Gamay, Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay are all weapons in the Tuscan armoury. Almost a new world flavour but with an old world rule book?!

However it appears that the Tuscans have always been struggling to retain their tipicita (typicality), Nicolas Belfrage MW writes that even in the 19th century the province of Florence had an estimated 150 varieties in the vineyards. We understand why they all felt the need to plant international varieties as the French marched on through the 1960s and 1970s. Meanwhile the Italians were still in the grips of the mezzadria (sharecropping) and the preferred sale into a cooperative.

Merlot is a grape with which we are particularly familiar and it is more widely used across Tuscany than anywhere else in Italy. As an illustrative example one of our favourite nearby estates in Tuscany makes a smooth, 100% Merlot IGT at €40 a bottle ex cellar. Whilst it is unquestionably quality fruit and very well made, my question would be does it warrant a place in your cellar? The same estate’s Chianti Classico Reserva is stunning and is half the price. We of course understand the role that Merlot can play in softening Sangiovese and can make it more approachable in its youth. We often blend a touch of Merlot in our fruity Sangiovese whilst others blend the native Canaiolo for the same desired effect.

Without question our Cabernet and Merlot are very content gorging on the Tuscan galestro soil and climate, and have clearly benefited from a more recent “site selection”, modern vineyard training methods and the judicious use of French barriques. The resulting IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) wines are a fruity, powerful blend and provide the perfect complement to barbeques, red meats and pecorino cheese.

I am certainly not attempting to make sense of the IGT vs. DOCG status as I will leave that to those more qualified than me. But even if consumers are aware of the IGT marque, what style of wine do they expect to receive in their bottle? Are they presuming it will be made with more care? A Bordeaux grape variety? Aged with new oak or just more expensive than the traditional wines? There is no consistency and one has to rely on firsthand knowledge of the vineyard and an understanding of which wine style you prefer as the sommelier hovers over you on that first date. The blended wines absolutely have their place and can bring a touch of Tuscany to a wider drinking audience but does it make understanding Tuscan wines easier?


The Quest for Our Ultimate Dinner Guest Part 1.

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Find Wine will very shortly be launching the chance to win Our Ultimate Dinner Guest!

It was a few months ago now that we sat down and came up with the idea for The Ultimate Dinner Guest. We thought it would be a great way to get a bunch of people, some of which may never have tried our wine round a table, trying our wine with suitable food. We thought, this would be even better if we could supply someone fun and engaging to teach the assembled party a little about what they were drinking and be entertaining too.

The big question was, who on earth would be a suitable Ultimate Dinner Guest?! They must be, entertaining, erudite, interested in food and wine, someone our customers would want in their houses and of course they would have to have the X- factor!

Therefore this summer I was given the difficult task of finding the Ultimate Dinner Guest. It was a journey that took me from New York to Cape Town, from Hong Kong to Cuba and from Fulham to Chelsea, via some/many pubs!

I was sure that at some point in my life I have been asked, “which 5 people would you most like to have supper with?” So that was the list I started with. P.G. Wodehouse, Harry Flashman, Billy Connelly, Scarlett Johanssen and Stephen Fry. Now considering that Mr. Wodehouse is sadly no longer with us, that ruled him out. Plus, as much as I would love Flashy to be there, he is regrettably fictional (although I do know people who would think they are him!) so that left me with only 3 people. I needed more so I emailed a bunch of friends and asked who they would put on their list, the most popular people were, Nelson Mandela, Jeremy Clarkson, David Gandy (apparently a male model), Jessica Alba (plus a long list of very attractive women) and bizarrely Bill Gates.

There was nothing else to do but to go and meet everyone on my list and have dinner with them to see whether they would be suitable for the job.

First up was Nelson. I could very easily dedicate an entire post to this dinner, it was fascinating and hugely enjoyable. He even offered to fly the winners out to South Africa to dine with him. However there was one downside…Nelson doesn’t know anything about wine, I mean it was embarrassing. He said to the sommelier, he didn’t like Chardonnay then proceeded to order Chablis. He thought Shiraz was a character in Star Wars and Falanghina was something unrepeatable! So that was him out of the question entirely.

So onto my next candidate or should i say candidates, Scarlett Johanssen and Jessica Alba. I only had limited time free this summer and so thought I would kill two birds with one stone because I only had chance for 1 LA trip. The two girls were fantastic company, everything you would hope two young Hollywood starlets to be. Plus the food we ate in a small place called Cube was sensational but the highlight was the pudding!! It was Chocolate sauce with what can only be described as a threesome ( if my business ever goes under the photos and video will certainly pay off any debts!). We eventually got round to talking about the competition prize over breakfast the next morning and they were both ever so keen.

However on my second day in LA, whilst shopping I bumped into a very sweet young Brazilian girl, I think her name Giesele or something like that…what can I say, it was love at first sight. What I didn’t realise however was that Jessica and Scarlett were following me and saw me kissing the Brazilian. Despite my pleas that it I was in love, it was too late, they went completely off the idea of being the main prize in my competition!

I was beginning to panic that we would have no Ultimate Dinner Guest and we might have to resort to ringing Jilly Goolden.

Then my luck picked up… To be continued….


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!

MH