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Fine Wine Team
Having first worked in our cellars aged 15, the path towards the wine trade was a natural one for Ben - or at least it would have been, had he not wanted to be a chef.
Thankfully for us, a bad work experience placement (“I hated it!”), and some tough-talking from his grandmother, brought Ben back to wine, where he found the recipe for his perfect job. “Now I love everything about it: the people I work with, my clients (some I have looked after since starting in 2001), the friendships I’ve built – it’s impossible to get bored,” he says.
In terms of regions, Ben is a traditionalist, “My love lies with Burgundy, though I do enjoy wines from Spain and New Zealand too.” At home, he confesses to a soft spot for sunny Sunday lunches washed down with rosé, alongside a more serious cellar which will require some patience: “I’m most looking forward to opening a 2002 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises; I had the 2000 which was incredible but too young, so this will have to wait for another 10 years…”
“The myriad of intriguing flavours and variety found in the world’s finest wines never fail to inspire me,” says Chris, who joined us in 1997. “It’s what got me into wine in the first place, and it’s what keeps me here.”
Although he professes to a soft-spot for the great wines of Burgundy, Chris has a long-standing love with all wines Italian. What began as a liaison with Tuscan Sangiovese and the Veneto’s Amarone della Valpolicella developed into a passion for regions as far afield as Piedmont, Friuli, Campania, Puglia and Sicily.
Afflicted by a birth year considered to be “one of the world’s worst ever vintages”, Chris’s admiration for Italy was no doubt cemented by a bottle of 1968 Taurasi Riserva by Mastroberadino in Campania, one of Italy’s great legends, enjoyed on his 40th birthday. “It was stunning stuff and holding-up much better than I am,” he says.
Having had his head turned by the ski-industry, it looked as though Fergus’s career would be all downhill. Thankfully for Berry Bros. & Rudd he decided to join the wine trade in 2010.
“Wine’s diversity is incredible; that it happens to be made in beautiful places by interesting people makes it even more appealing,” Fergus says. From an investment point of view, his interests lie in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, while for drinking the Rhone fascinates and he thinks South Africa has “huge potential”.
Away from the workplace, Sherry, Burgundy of both colours and Riesling always feature in the Stewart house, as do Californian wines - primarily interesting Zinfandels. Fergus is also a gin aficionado, with a well-supplied and growing collection.
Gary’s formative years in the wine trade were spent at Oddbins, where he encountered one of those life-changing bottles of wine: “It was a 2002 d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz, and it showed me just how much wine you can fit in a glass,” he says. “It was (and still is) an extraordinary wine – not necessarily the most elegant but if you subscribe to the “more is better” philosophy then it will make you think differently about wine. To this day, I still have a soft spot for Shiraz and Syrah.”
Gary joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2007, bringing a dash of youthful enthusiasm to the team: “I love exploring virtually any wine region, most recently this has been great and small estates of Northern Italy, the Rhône Valley and Ribera del Duero. Drilling down into what makes the great Bordeaux Chateaux tick is always great fun too.”
Gary recently tried his hand at becoming a Bordeaux winemaker with the team at VINIV: “Building your own wine is a hoot; I would go so far as to say it’s one of the most enjoyable experiences a fine wine drinker can have,” he says.
A former County Cricketer for Sussex, Jake – who joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2000 – is now captain of our Fine Wine team, where he takes “pleasure in other people’s pleasure, whether that’s finding wines customers love to drink now or securing great wines for the future”.
With wine interests that span the globe, Jake has an appreciation for how the wine market is shifting – from the burgeoning demand for Growers’ Champagne (“These have broadened the horizons of consumers and combine quality, variety and value,” he says) to developments such as VINV – a service whereby you can make and blend your own Bordeaux wine. “I went to try it with the team, and would have loved to spend more time doing it,” he says. “Where else can you get the opportunity to make a wine without buying a vineyard?”
Despite England’s recent cricketing performances, he still maintains a keen interest in the sport, and his prescription for a good match is as follows: “the morning session should always be accompanied by Champagne, the afternoon by a crisp, fruity white and the evening session by the best Pinot Noir…”
Life doesn’t always go to plan, and when Laura set out to learn the basics of wine in order to further her dream of opening a “food empire” she wasn’t expecting to fall head-over-heels in love. A dizzying new enthusiasm for wine took her to some of the country’s finest Michelin-star restaurants: she became Head Sommelier at Rockliffe Hall, County Durham. Her attuned palate was evident from the first, and Laura gained her WSET Diploma after joining us in 2010.
Though not by nature a forward-planner, as a wine lover Laura thinks it’s essential: “finding the right bottles to lay down for the future is how I would spend most of my time and all of my money.” Her vinous interests span the world – from South Africa (where a sabbatical at a winery cultivated her knowledge) through to classic French, Spanish, Alsation, German and Austrian wines.
A nose for a good story and a way with words are essential tools of the trade not only in journalism, the profession for which Martyn trained, but also in the wine trade (his true vocation). “From visiting regions to discovering new wines and learning to articulate their flavours, there so much to enjoy,” he says.
Martyn joined us in 2011 with almost a decade’s wine experience under his belt and a committed enthusiasm for the classic French regions and Spain. “I find Spanish reds hugely engaging: there is such diversity available from established regions such as Rioja and Ribero del Duero, not to mention the emerging regions, such as Ribera Sacra and Bierzo in the north-west,” he says.
At home, Martyn selects wines that can stand up to his penchant for outdoor cooking – ie “those that suit big, meaty flavours, but with purity and definition to the fruit.”
With a WSET Diploma under his belt and having worked in the industry since 2000, Matt has developed a far-reaching interest in wine. “For me, the pleasure of wine is in its diversity,” he says.
When it comes to remarkable bottles, he cites a 2001 Ch. d’Yquem (“simply perfection”) and a 2002 Chambolle Musigny, Mugnier (“a down-to-earth but superb example of aged Burgundy”) as amongst the most exceptional he’s tasted.
Matt is a paid-up foodie and, away from work can be found presiding over his US-style hot smoker or foraging wild food: “Mushrooms and wine are a match made in heaven,” he says. “Many wines develop mushroom/truffle notes as they age and red Burgundy, fully mature claret, Barolo and Brunello would all be a classic matches.”
Our Fine Wine Buying Director Max was born in the south west of France where his parents made Armagnac. He first arrived in England in 1993 and joined Berrys in 2000 and the Fine Wine team in 2002.
Max's first wine love is of course Bordeaux but the wines of Burgundy, Rhône and Alsace are a close joint second.
Recent years saw Max more involved in the sourcing of fine wine and he became the Berry Bros. & Rudd Bordeaux Buyer in 2007 and is responsible for all Bordeaux buying requirements - from Good Ordinary Claret to Ch. d'Yquem - but continues to look after his private customers.
After his formative years at Majestic Wines, Philip joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in 1997 as Assistant Manager in the Warehouse shop. He joined the old "broking department" in 2000 and for five years was responsible for sourcing and broking rare wines for our subsidiary company in Japan.
Following a stint advising customers on building up their Cellar Plans, he now works in the Fine Wine Buying Department, once again sourcing secondary market stock for our outlets in the Far East.
Having earned his stripes at wine merchants around London, Stuart came to Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2006.
As a member of the Fine Wine team, he brings with him an enthusiasm and knowledge of wines from all around the globe, although he tends to gravitate back to the classics, with Bordeaux as a firm favourite alongside a healthy love of Burgundy and Alsace.
Outside the office, Stuart’s pastimes are intimidatingly opposite to the leisurely long lunches one might imagine, and include multi-day ultra-events like the Marathon des Sables and the occasional 50 miler keep him fit.
With more than a quarter of a century’s experience at Berry Bros. & Rudd, Tom has nurtured our Cellar Plan since its infancy. There could be no better man for the job, as he has a true appreciation of aged and fortified wines: “It is their texture, longevity, sheer intensity, and yet - in old age - their capacity to be so beguiling and sensual which is the real appeal,” he says. Tom also has an acute sense of when a wine – be it great or humble – might be approaching its perfect drinking window.
Aside from Cellar Plan, Tom is charged with the weighty responsibility of maintaining our House Reserves: “I try to anticipate what a generation ahead, if not two generations, will enjoy drinking and showing customers – wines that were affordable at release but have flourished into something exceptional,” he says.
Peter’s earliest wine memory is a bottle of Ch. d’Yquem savoured on a warm evening in the south of France at the age of 15, but it was not until he graduated from the University of Exeter that he set his heart on a career in wine. After working in fine wine for 15 years – most recently in London selling to the trade – he joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in July 2014.
Among Peter’s most memorable, and daunting, wine experiences to date is being made to sing the British National Anthem in front of 60 French vineyard workers at Ch. Canon following the 2002 harvest.
While a fan of the classic regions of France, Peter has a growing interest in Barolo too – not to mention a penchant for good Sherry. He also has a passion for artisan chocolate which he tries, often unsuccessfully he claims, to match with a broad range of wines.
There may not be many Fine Wine Buyers who would admit to being inspired to join the wine trade by Muscadet, but Adrian is one of them. Aside from scouring the shelves of Intermarché for incorrectly-priced bottles of 1989 Bordeaux, he spent much of his time as a language student in Nantes building up a rapport with local producers. “These may not have been world class wines,” he says, “but we really did spend hours talking about what they did and why.” He has been hooked ever since.
After studying winemaking and wine business in Dijon, Adrian spent five years selling it to hotels and restaurants before making the transition to buying, first as Group Wine Buyer for a top London restaurant group and later as French Buyer for a Capital merchant.
He joined us at Berry Bros in April 2013. Whilst claiming to be open-minded, he admits it would be hard to look beyond Burgundy for his Desert Island bottle. Away from all things vinous Adrian is most likely to be found in a forest somewhere astride a mountain bike.
Gareth’s aptitude for all things vinous can be traced back to his undergraduate days, during which he ran the student wine society at the University of Bath. Upon completing his degree in 2006 he joined Bordeaux Index, where he oversaw its Champagne, Burgundy and German portfolios.
At a mere 25 years of age Gareth not only became the one of the youngest ever tasters at the Decanter World Wine Awards but was also named by Jancis Robinson MW as one of her ‘stars of the future’.
Gareth came on board our Fine Wine Team in September 2014 where he is now responsible for our burgeoning Asian market. A keen gastronome, he spends much of his spare time “researching” food in great restaurants – all in the name of education, of course.
Dividing his childhood between the tropical French island of La Réunion and the coastal province of Brittany (known more for its cider rather than its wine), Jean-Louis permanently relocated to France to sit his higher education and, after graduating from business school, he started working for a wine merchant in the Bordeaux area. A year later, in 2013, Jean-Louis joined Berry Bros. & Rudd as Fine Wine Buying Administrator, where he continues to provide expert support to our Fine Wine Buying Team. His vinous preferences include bold reds from Italy, Bordeaux and the Rhône, while his extra-curricular interests range from acting to racquet sports.
Through 6 years of working in the Hospitality Industry in his home county of Herefordshire, Chris discovered a passion for wine and followed his nose to explore this new world. Chris undertook a two year Foundation Degree in Wine Business at Plumpton College, and re-joined Berry Bros. & Rudd after a month’s work experience in 2011, and a 6 month period at The Whisky Shop in Brighton.
Chris enjoys wines from all over the world, but finds the regions of Alsace, the Rhône Valley, and Tuscany particularly fascinating, and is quite partial to Scottish Whiskies! Outside of wine; Chris enjoys watching sport, cooking, and running the odd marathon.
Lisa was born in Basingstoke and started full time in the Customer Services department in November 2003 and progressed on to the Fine Wine Dept nearly a year later. Lisa's main role within the Fine Wine Team is to process new applications, maintain our records and monitor direct debits. Lisa also completes other administrative roles within the Fine Wine Department.