Home

Messages of support from our growers

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of our Stevenage Showroom in November 2014 some of our longest-standing growers showed their support by supplying wines for a special tasting. The good wishes and respect for the firm links between our organisations were heart-warming and we share these for all to see below.

Alfred Gratien – Olivier Dupré

Olivier Duprée at a members' tasting in London
Olivier Duprée at a members' tasting in London

When I joined the company in 2002, Alain Seydoux, the previous owner, taught me one thing about the relationship between the two companies. He said: 'we do not treat The Wine Society like a customer but as a friend'. This was so true and has naturally become the way our relationship has developed. I met with Marcel Orford-Williams a few days after I joined the company and said to myself how am I going to handle this? The way Marcel takes his notes makes it impossible to learn anything about what he is thinking and he doesn't comment during tastings either so I had no other choice other than starting to learn to read in his mind.

How to do it became very clear quickly and is very easy. You just need to give him the best wines you have!!

I have really enjoyed blending, tasting, arguing with him about the wines together with Nicolas Jaeger or Armelle Fauglas because it has helped a lot to increase our quality level and I already know that Jo, Pierre and myself will have the same relationship.

I wish the whole Wine Society staff a wonderful 25th anniversary for its showroom.


The Society's Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur Lie – Bernard Chéreau

Bernard Chéreau in his vineyard
Bernard Chéreau in his vineyard

We have been working with The Wine Society since 1985, almost 30 years since I met Sebastian Payne and Sir Edmund Penning–Rowsell who explained to me the concept of The Wine Society.

We provide The Society's Muscadet since this time and we got the opportunity to increase the range with some other wines like Le Château l'Oiselinière, Le Clos de l'Oiselinière and Le Comte Leloup de Chasseloir. We always wanted to propose the best quality of wine to the members; this is why we changed The Wine Society's Muscadet into a wine made by the 'Sur Lie' method, to obtain always a fruity and high quality Muscadet. This policy was worthwhile as we increased the sales through the years and the product is now well known by a great majority of members.

We are very thankful for the beautiful promotion of our wines you make since the beginning.


Domaine du Bosc – Pierre Bésinet

Pierre Bésinet extending the hand of friendship
Pierre Bésinet extending the hand of friendship

The Bésinet family have always been pioneers. Pierre Bésinet, my grandfather, planted aromatic grapes in the 1950s. My father, Pierre Bésinet, made wines from these grapes in the 1980s. It was at that time that The Wine Society remarked on these wines from the volanic terroir of Domaine du Bosc. By 1984, the grenache blanc was already popular with members! We have worked harmoniously with The Wine Society to produce our numerous cuvées together from the harvest to vinification all year round. Our relationship with The Wine Society is an honour and a privilege and we would like to continue the quality and the originality of the wines from Domaine du Bosc. In 2014 we celebrate 30 years of working with you. Thank you very much!


Château du Tariquet – The Grassa Family

La famille Grassa
La famille Grassa

The Grassa Family, owner of Château du Tariquet, has been working closely with The Wine Society for almost 30 years. This partnership has always been based on loyalty and total transparency.

The Wine Society has believed since the beginning in the potential of the wines produced by the Grassa Family in Gascony. Since the early 1980s Château du Tariquet has been producing every year The Society's Gascon White. Over the years, the Grassa family has developed the elegance and the finesse of the cuvée thanks to the comments and advice of The Wine Society whose expertise and knowledge is extremely impressive. It is always a great time meeting Marcel Orford-Williams at the estate after the harvest to taste the new vintage as we learn a lot from his experience and frankness.

It is a real honour for the Château du Tariquet team to supply The Wine Society with white wines and Bas-Armagnacs and we will always do our best to offer The Wine Society members the best quality from our vineyards.


Domaine de l'Arjolle – Louis-Marie Teisserenc

Loius-Marie Teisserenc
Loius-Marie Teisserenc whose Arjolle wines have brought pleasure to members for 25 years

Louis-Marie Teisserenc, co-founder of Domaine de l'Arjolle, and his wife have always kept in mind their first visit at Stevenage in 1990 where they were accompanied by three of their six children. When they arrived at your office, you were surprised to see the whole family! To take care of their children you decided to call some colleagues in order to bring them to the nearest bowling club. François, Matthieu and Thibault (their three children present) have always had a nice memory of their first visit in the UK!

Domaine de l'Arjolle got in touch with The Wine Society thanks to Charles Blagden who was a pioneer of the Languedoc wines. Since the beginning of our partnership we have enjoyed the human relationships with Tim Sykes, Marcel Orford-Williams and previously Sebastian Payne. Before everybody, The Wine Society has offered to its members terrific wines and the chance to taste them in some of the nicest places in the UK.

The sauvignon blanc of Arjolle, which was the first sauvignon blanc planted in Languedoc, was also the first wine ordered in 1989 by The Wine Society. We are proud to offer a tasting of the 2013 Sauvignon de l'Arjolle Blanc 2013 to The Wine Society's members for the 25th anniversary of our partnership.

Moreover the 2013 vintage has the new label of Domaine de l'Arjolle showing a sketch of an 'Arjolle'. An 'Arjolle' is a small amphora produced by a factory nearby to the family home and was made of clay. The word 'clay' is translated by the word 'argile' in French and 'argile' became 'Arjolle' in Languedoc language.


The Society's White Burgundy– Jean-Marc Darbon

Jean-Marc Darbon blending The Society's White Burgundy
Jean-Marc Darbon blending The Society's White Burgundy

Les Vins Jacques Dépagneux, created in 1845, have worked with The Wine Society for more than 50 years. Jean Dépagneux, founder of the company, has developed a special relationship with The Society. After working two years with M Dépagneux, Jean-Marc Darbon took over the selections in the year 2000 in connection with Marcel Orford-Williams. Our mutual business is based mainly on Mâconnais and Beaujolais wines. Jean-Marc Darbon says that the success of our collaboration depends on several key factors:

  • thorough knowledge of the region and the products
  • professionalism
  • complete confidence
  • long experience of the members' taste
  • demanding high standards

A native of Mâconnais (Viré), Jean-Marc knows the region well and has developed a partnership with some 30 trusted vine growers to put together The Society's White Burgundy cuvée. The diversity of our suppliers enables us, according to the years, to obtain a white Burgundy style marked by the purity and the freshness of the chardonnay grape. Two to three tastings are necessary to reach the required quality.

For us, it's a great honour and a big pleasure to work with The Wine Society and we can ensure you of all our support so that the excellent and successful relations which we have maintained for all these years continue still a long time in our mutual interest.

I wish you bon courage and hope your event will be a great success!


Maison Léon Beyer – Marc Beyer

Marc Beyer
Marc Beyer

We have had a relationship with The Wine Society, as far as I can remember, since the middle of 1990 and that my first contact was probably with Sebastian Payne, when he assisted, if I'm not wrong, one of our first 'ECOLE D'ALSACE' sessions. At that time, he visited Alsace and Léon Beyer and, since then, we have always noticed a very strong interest for Alsace at The Wine Society.

Nowadays, Marcel Orford-Williams and The Wine Society are probably the best Alsace ambassadors in the English speaking world.

I have also to insist on the quality of our relationship, which is much more than just business, it includes comprehension, respect, loyalty and much pleasure.


The Society's Exhibition Alsace Gewurztraminer 2010 – Etienne Hugel

Several generations of the Hugel family
Post card from the past: several generations of the Hugel family with a young Etienne, far left and the late Jean Hugel, centre

As we have the privilege of being one of The Wine Society's oldest suppliers, since before World War Two, it is very difficult to summarise our experience in one short paragraph, so it will have to be a long one! First the sheer pleasure of dealing with a team of total professionals. We know exactly where we stand at every level. Naturally, pride of place must go to the buying team down the years, so ably led by Edmund Penning-Rowsell (EP-R), Albert Cable, John McLusky, Sebastian Payne and now Tim Sykes. Not to mention Marcel Orford-Williams, who seems to know the Hugel cellars even better than we do ourselves, and who was so instrumental in upgrading and modernising the blend of The Society's Vin d'Alsace.

We are so proud to have been selected to produce this wine, and The Society's Exhibition Gewurztraminer. The Hugel family has been particularly touched by The Wine Society's friendship at some great moments in our history: the presence of your Chairman, Christopher Bradshaw, and Eddie Penning-Rowsell at our 350th anniversary in 1989, your dinner in honour of Uncle Johnny's 80th birthday, my invitation to Ray Bowden's retirement party… so many warm memories… which the 13th generation of the Hugel family looks forward to continuing!


Tahbilk – Alister Purbrick

Three generations of the Purbrick family, Eric, his granddaughter Hayley and Alister
Three generations of the Purbrick family, Eric, his granddaughter Hayley and Alister

Eric Purbrick met with The Wine Society in 1957 when visiting London and that meeting led to a first order being placed for Tahbilk wine which was shipped in 1958. So began a relationship which has endured and prospered for over 50 years and The Wine Society is now Tahbilk's oldest and longest standing global customer.

Three generations of the Purbrick family have been involved in nurturing this relationship with The Wine Society's management team and staff and, in these modern times when it seems that few companies have a desire to build strong strategic business relationships, it's refreshing that The Wine Society shares this cultural value with Tahbilk and also appreciates, nurtures and values long-term mutually beneficial relationships.


Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt – Annegret reh Gartner

Anne & Gerhard Gartner
Anne & Gerhard Gartner

I love to work with The Wine Society – a very honourable company with wonderful people sharing the passion for wine.

For me they are great partners, always frank, direct, fast and cooperative – partners who aim to cooperate with eyes on the same level (I hope you understand my English and know what I mean!) In all the years that I have been working with them, in the beginning via agents O.W.Loeb, I enjoyed getting together and no other suppliers treated us so kindly, including great lunches with the most exquisite wines in your offices.

This is a very unusual kind hospitality in this day and age and as such it will stay always in my memory.

All the best and have a great event.


Domaine Maby – Richard Maby

Richard Maby in his cellar
Richard Maby in his cellar

I took over my family's winery ten years ago, but we were already working with The Wine Society from the time of my grand-father. I immediately realised that our relationship with The Wine Society was very strong. We meet and taste with their Rhône specialist several times a year, we receive visits from many members at the winery, and we participate in your Rhône tastings every year. All these meetings help us to get to know each other better and to develop our relationship. I am very proud that members buy our wines every year and hold several vintages in their cellars. I hope it will continue for some generations!


J Hofstätter – Martin Foradori

Martin Foradori
Martin Foradori

Good relationships last long. It was a lucky strike when we at J. Hofstätter committed the sales of our wines to The Wine Society. Long-term relationships require constant attention, nurturing and work, all of this we found in collaborating with The Wine Society.

Auguri!


Fontodi – Giovanni Manetti

Giovanni Manetti
Giovanni Manetti

I started to work with The Wine Society more than 30 years ago. I remember the day the chairman, Edmund Penning-Rowsell, and Sebastian Payne came to visit Fontodi and to taste my wines, it was at the beginning of the 1980s and I was a teenager; they were my first clients. Since that time every single year Sebastian and I taste the new vintage together, we discuss it and it is always exciting, a great pleasure and one of the highlights of the year. During this time I was also pleased to meet many members at the annual tastings or when they came to visit Fontodi vineyards. I really hope to continue to be a Wine Society supplier for the next 30 years and that the members continue to enjoy drinking my wines. Many greetings for the 25th anniversary of the shop in Stevenage!


The Society's Claret – Charles Sichel

Charles Sichel with his brothers, James, Ben, Allan & David
Charles Sichel with his brothers, James, Ben, Allan & David

There are few companies I would describe as a jewel in the crown of distribution. The Wine Society is certainly one that stands out. The professionalism and knowledge of the teams at all levels is second to none. I have had the pleasure of uninterrupted dealings with The Society for the past 25 years and my company for longer than that. I advise producers that a qualitative distribution in the UK is something they can't do without, but Society buyers and members are discerning and short of being able to offer every great wine those that are endorsed are the very best value money can buy.

© Claude Lada/agence Class Bordeaux


J P Moueix – Edouard Moueix

Edouard Moueix at Château Bélair-Monange
Edouard Moueix at Château Bélair-Monange

For three generations, we have been pursuing a single goal: the production of the best possible wines for the enjoyment of the consumers. The Wine Society and its unique set-up has always been in our mind the ideal model. In a world led by investments, to promote solely pleasure and lifestyle is both refreshing and exciting for the future. Thank you for maintaining the tradition alive.


Château Léoville Barton – Anthony Barton

Langoa Barton – home of the Barton family
Langoa Barton – home of the Barton family

My relations with The Wine Society have been among the most enjoyable of all my wine trade experiences. I followed my uncle Ronald Barton who had supplied Châteaux Langoa and Léoville Barton to the IECWS for many years. My first dealings were with Christopher Tatham who was succeeded by John Mc Lusky who was in turn replaced by Sebastian Payne who has only recently also retired. All three became more than customers but true friends with whom I spent many happy times. As I am now more or less retired I have not yet had the opportunity of spending times with the current man in charge, Tim Sykes, but I am confident that the younger generation will enjoy the same relations as in the past.

The Wine Society have supported me and my wines with faithful regularity and I can honestly say that I have been a grateful and convinced promoter of The Society. I am frequently asked by friends and even chance acquaintances 'where can we buy your wines?' and I have no hesitation in suggesting the The Wine Society as I know they stock our wines in a variety of vintages and sell them at sensible prices, neither greedy nor dubious. There are no complications and no problems of 'provenance.'

If only business was always so easy and pleasurable, how happy we would all be and the wine trade would be even more enjoyable than it already is.


Domaine La Condamine L'Evêque – Marie-Claude & Guy Bascou

Guy Bascou
Guy Bascou who first met with a young Marcel Orford-Williams in the 1980s

La Condamine L'Evêque is a family owned estate established 25 years ago by Marie-Claude and Guy Bascou and for the last 15 years by has been run by their son Guilhem Bascou.

Our first contact with The Wine Society dates back to the 1980s, a period of development in the quality of wines from the Languedoc. A young English agent called Charles Blagden discovered the wines and winegrowers of the Languedoc, we met a young team from The Society – Marcel Orford-Williams and Sebastian Payne.

Since 1985 Marcel has tasted the wines of the vintage and assists with the cuvée for The Society and buys bottles of La Condamine L'Evêque syrah-mourvèdre, rosé and viognier. Our son Guilheim played rugby as a junior for ASB Béziers, now he is 43 and manages the company.

Condamine L'Evêque covers 65 hectares of vines with different terroirs producing wines from four different appellations. Our domaine pioneered the adaption of grape selection with terroir. The Wine Society has bought the syrah-mourvèdre from our domaine for around 30 years. Our vines are very old and we have always practised sustainable viticulture.

We are a small family business. We harvest, vinify, raise, bottle and despatch only wines sourced from our own vines.

Long live the business relationship between The Wine Society and Condamine L'Evêque.


Domaine Jaume – Pascal and Richard Jaume

Pascal Jaume
Pascal Jaume enjoys blending The Society's Côtes-du-Rhône with Marcel

Our relationship with The Wine Society all started when Mr John Livingstone came to our parents' cellar for a tasting and he loved the wines. That's why in 1981 Mr John McClusky visited our parents in Vinsobres for a tasting and, just like Mr Livingstone, he was seduced by the wines and their typicity. At that time our parents did not export their production and they did not have enough volume to satisfy their own customer, so they had a long reflection when John McClusky placed them an order of 600 bottles! And so began the adventure, they decided to honour the order of 600 bottles of Côtes-du-Rhône 1979.

It turned out that the wines met the members' requirements and through the years sales have grown steadily with different buyers: first Sebastian Payne and today Marcel Orford-Williams. Today we supply about 200,000 bottles to The Wine Society with our Côtes-du-Rhône and Vinsobres…and for two years we have been supplying 'The Society's Côtes-du-Rhône' which is a great honour and also a pleasure to do the blending with Marcel Orofrd-Williams for this cuvée.

Indeed, through the years buyers have always trusted in us and they have bought each vintage since the 1979. Oh, I forgot….as an exception that proves the rule, Marcel did not buy the 1987 vintage…but looking back, he recognised that it was a 'beginner's mistake'.

We have no more to say except that we hope that these close commercial, almost friendship relations will go on for years to come.

We wish good sales to the "Altitude 420" and hope it will seduce your palate!


La Rioja Alta – Guillermo de Aranzabal

Chairman of La Rioja Alta, Guilermo de Aranzabal
Chairman of La Rioja Alta, Guilermo de Aranzabal

Since our foundation 125 vintages ago, we have tried to make the best possible Riojas and to find the best possible customers. More than 25 years ago we met The Wine Society, one of our best ambassadors since then. We share the three most important qualities in a human and commercial relationship: Honesty, Professionalism and Faithfulness. We admire the way they deal with us, we love our relationship, we trust each other and we know we'll be working and enjoying life together for many more years. We respect so much Pierre Mansour's knowledge, that his comments in our private tastings at the winery always have a positive influence in the evolution of the style of our wines.

When I joined La Rioja Alta, SA as the fifth generation in charge, my father advised me about our commitment to quality wines, the UK market and The Wine Society. The Wine Society has always helped us a great deal to introduce our wines to a very loyal and knowledgeable clientele and to increase our image in the UK. It's a real pleasure and motive of pride to have such a long and friendly relationship.


Meerlust – Chris Williams

Chris Williams, Meerlust's head winemaker
Chris Williams, Meerlust's head winemaker

Meerlust has had the honour of working with The Wine Society for many years and The Society is a real pleasure to deal with. The members are great wine lovers with an interest and enthusiasm which is inspiring and humbling. Meeting the members at The Society's well organised events in the UK, or when they visit our Estate in South Africa I am always impressed by their genuine love of wine and depth of knowledge they demonstrate about all aspects of the wine world.

The Society itself is incredibly well managed, from the buying team to the logistics of getting wine into the UK, it is evident that The Society is genuinely passionate about sourcing interesting and authentic wines from all over the world. My only wish is that The Society would expand beyond the borders of the UK so I could become their first Stellenbosch based member!


Wirra Wirra – Paul Smith

Senior winemaker, Paul Smith centre, with James Rouse & Paul Carpenter
Senior winemaker, Paul Smith centre, with James Rouse & Paul Carpenter

I have always enjoyed working with the hugely knowledgeable buyers from The Wine Society. Unlike other buyer organisations, The Wine Society likes to visit and taste every tank before making decisions for bespoke blends. And Church Block has been on the List for as long as anyone can remember and we know that members enjoy cellaring different vintages of our most famous drop. We have enormous respect for both The Wine Society and its well-informed community.


Ridge Vineyards – Paul Draper

Paul Draper looking out over the Monte Bello vineyard
Paul Draper looking out over the Monte Bello vineyard

Years ago I had gotten to known Meg and Edmund Penning-Rowsell and had a chance to tour Edmund on his first trip to California and through him became acquainted with The Wine Society. The interest The Society has shown in our wines and our approach to pre-industrial winegrowing has been most gratifying. We feel that the appreciation of its buyers and its members for the quality of fine zinfandel over the years has been a real factor in the significant amount of that varietal we are asked to provide to the UK market as a whole.

Likewise, the willingness of The Society to offer en premier our flagship Monte Bello confirms the importance of our relationship with The Wine Society.


The Society's LBV Port 2009 – Paul Symington

Paul Symington
Paul Symington, managing director of Symington Family Estates was Decanter Man of the Year 2012

My family have been working with The Wine Society for well over 100 years since my great-grandfather first became a partner in Warre's Port in 1905 and shortly after he became a partner in Dow's Port in 1912. In 1970 we bought Graham's Port. All three of these famous Ports, that now belong entirely to my family, have been on The Society's lists since its very foundation. My family have also made Port for the Society under its own label for generations. I can therefore say that from my great-grandfather, to my grandfather, my own father (and his cousins), myself (and my cousins) and now my daughter, and for five generations we have worked closely with The Wine Society. It is from the same vineyards that my ancestors planted and worked that we still draw our finest wines for you.

We are immensely proud of our century-long association with The Wine Society. We have always found kindred spirits in the people who work at The Society; people who love wine and the regions from where they come from and who really understand what goes into making great wines, and we appreciate their profound knowledge of what we do.