Manchester-based agency Boutinot was out in full force at its annual London tasting recently and showed off a broad range of wines from across the world.
Deborah Brook, who heads up its team servicing the independent channel, told OLN: “On the back of Picpoul de Pinet, wines like Godello, Vinho Verde and Pecorino are all coming up, crisp, clear white wines. Interesting grape varietals are doing well and it’s the same with reds.
“Bottle fermented fizz is doing well at the moment. Franciacorta is having a really good time for us. Wines like Blanquette de Limoux and Cremant de Limoux are too.”
Boutinot is a highly-rated agency among several indies, but it spreads its business across multiples, on-trade and export.
Commercial director Michael Moriarty said: “We sell twice as much to the independents as we do to the on-trade, but a lot of that makes its way into the on-trade via the independents. Supermarkets account for more than double the independents. That takes a lot of volume. We also have an international division.
“Different markets have different challenges and different opportunities. You can be resilient because when one of those four markets is having a difficult time, the others hopefully aren’t.
“None of them are [currently] having a really difficult time as such. The wine market is reasonably stable generally. We are all aware of the challenges in the national retail sector, where you have Aldi and Lidl fighting very hard and gaining a lot of share in the wine sector, so a lot of what the supermarkets are doing is based around their reaction to the Aldis and Lidls of this world.
“There are opportunities for people in all the sectors. It’s how you react to the challenges. We are still confident about that part of the market.”
Moriarty was part of the management team that bought out founder Paul Boutinot three years ago, and said it has continued to grow since then and is now in 6-7% volume growth overall.
He said: “We have grown since 2013. We were growing anyway. We hope our culture hasn’t changed as we had a great culture before. Most of the management team have been here for 10 years or more, and the ones that haven’t joined as we expanded.
“We don’t plan to change the world. We have small plans to keep us on our toes and keep us delivering the right service and the right wines.
“We see opportunities in all channels. You have to be careful when you take opportunities because you have to be sensitive to how different areas of the market cross over with each other. We can’t grow one part of the business at the expense of others.”
He added: “The independents add great colour and character to the UK wine trade and it would be a far boring place to work if we didn’t have those people so it’s in all of our interests to make sure that there’s a future for them.”