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Fine Wine Team
Our Fine Wine experts specialise in the buying and selling of the world's finest and rarest wines offering you expert advice, up-to-date wine investment news and the opportunity to start your own Cellar Plan. To speak to a member of the team please call +44(0)1256 247 900.
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…”
“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.
Having completed a Masters in Finance and Business and three years working in financial services, Steph decided her passion for wine was far more than just a hobby. She left the City in March 2014 to work for the International Wine Challenge. In May 2014, she joined Berry Bros. & Rudd as a Wine Advisor in the Warehouse Shop where, after 10 months, she took over as shop Manager.
Keen to broaden her knowledge further, in May 2016, she took the opportunity to join the Fine Wine team as a Private Account Manager. Having started her career in wine at the International Wine Challenge as a crew member, Steph now returns to the competition each year as a judge. She enjoys trying wines from all over the world, but has a particular interest in Champagne.
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 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.
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.
Ben started working in the wine trade in 2003. Like many that learnt the joys of the vinous world with Oddbins, it was an eye-opening moment tasting a Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage that led him to the realisation that only a career in the wine industry could sate his desire to learn more.
Ben joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in the spring of 2016, after six years with smaller London merchants. He has a particular interest in the wines of Burgundy, as well as the fascinating world of fortified wines: “Sherry, the Douro, Madeira and Rutherglen, amongst others, can deliver such wonderful complexity at relatively bargainous price points – and they make for great discussion.”
In his spare time, and where funds have not been squandered on enjoying the aforementioned, he enjoys travelling, often to wine producing regions, and while at it, learning about the local cuisine on offer, and how to cook it. He is also one of a few long suffering Wolves’ fans.
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.
It is no mean feat to keep the wheels of the Fine Wine department running smoothly, as Fine Wine Operations Manager Simon Lubawy knows only too well. Simon’s responsibilities are wide-ranging, including everything from meticulously checking the team’s purchasing and pricing to navigating the administration surrounding En Primeur campaigns and supporting our Fine Wine Buying Director on a day-to-day basis. Simon, who has been with Berry Bros. & Rudd since 2005, enjoys the good things in life, and cites a love of food, travel and even mushroom hunting amongst his favourite interests. When it comes to wine, his heart lies with Bordeaux but he confesses to an increasing passion for Burgundy and German Riesling, too.
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.
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.