Talking Wine – June 2019

There seems to be some muddled thinking regarding the future of Majestic wine. Recently Rowan Gormley, the CEO, announced that the group was likely to split with some stores adopting the Naked Wines brand or closing completely and others trading as Majestic. Naked Wines, set up by Gormley before he was absorbed by Majestic, is a different model and there seems to be some uncertainty as to how an online brand and a physical brand can work successfully together. However it now seems that the two businesses will be split and there is interest is someone taking on the bulk of the Majestic stores, 40 of which are freehold. I cannot see the Majestic name disappearing from the high street. It takes years to build a brand and whilst many may agree that the quality and interest has fallen over recent months it would seem foolish to throw out the baby with the bath water. Investment groups are certainly interested in getting involved and ideally I think that a sale of a portion of the Majestic properties would lead to huge investment in Naked Wines which would suit Rowan Gormley well as he seems to see the future of wine sales in an online or pop up form.

At the same time Oddbins went in receivership recently – for the second time – and their reduced empire, which is mostly in London and Scotland, now looks set to be picked up by a yet unknown company. The once great Oddbins is no more although there is still a shop operating in Oxford. I have been assured it is not available which is a shame but here is another business struggling to find an identity in a troubled trading environment.

I am fascinated to see what emerges from these troubled groups but meanwhile try to support your local independent wine merchant – just crowned “Retail Wine Merchant of the Year “!!

After some small harvests the price of Provence wines are on the rise. The main grapes used here are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre – the vast majority going into the iconic Rosé. There is talk of a shortage and some form of Provence rationing but this is unlikely to be the case over the summer although as a popular year round drink we could see supply drying up by Christmas. But don’t panic – everyone is making rosé these days and whilst I love the salty minerality of a decent Provence version there are many hugely drinkable and cheaper styles from the Languedoc!