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Another MW has appeared on my interview bandwagon.
David Gleave MW.
Liberty Wines, Italian wine consultant all round wine busy body.
Here’s what he had to say…..
2- Occupation? Wine merchant
3- How did you get into wine?
I stumbled into it. I was working in bars after dropping out of univeristy to go travelling. One of the bars had a great collection of wine in its cellar, so I started sorting that out and was curious to learn more about the labels. So I bought Hugh Johnson’s ‘Wine’ and that filled me with a huge enthusiasm for the subject which I retain to this day, over 30 years later.
4- What is your favourite grape?
Nebbiolo. It is, at its best, capability of a combination of power and delicacy that delivers pleasure and complexity in equal measure.
5- What is your favourite wine?
I’m too promiscuous to have a favourite wine – it is usually the most recent delicious bottle I’ve drunk.
6- Do you have a country of preference?
7- What inspired you to become an MW?
I wanted to learn more about wine and doing the course seemed a good way of doing that. I was lucky enough to pass the exam, which has been a springboard for further education.
8- You seem a very energetic man. Successful supplier, overseeing production with your own label wines. How do you keep tabs on where you are and what you are doing?
I’m very lucky to be surrounded by such a great team. They pick up all the pieces I leave lying around! And I’ve a very forgiving family, who understand that travel is part of the job.
9- Your current portfolio is pretty impressive. How many wines do you now list?
About 950. The easiest thing is to add new wines to the list, while the hardest is to ensure they are all performing, both to our expectations and our producers’.
10. Out of the wines you produce, which one best reflects you?
I’d like to think it is the Greenstone Shiraz. A bit austere but displaying a strong sense of place!
11- How do you enjoy wine? With food, on it’s own, social etc.
I enjoy wine on most occasions – as long as it is the right wine. I love it with food, simply because I love food! But a glass with friends is a great way of winding down and stimulating conversation.
12- What influences your wine choices? Price, occasion, season etc.
Occasion, food, season or whatever I fancy drinking. I was in a restaurant recently, and we havd several Baroli to taste yet we all ordered fish. The combination was perfect.
13- Champagne. Overpriced in the current climate?
While sales continue to climb you can’t really say that Champagne is overpriced. However, I don’t spend that much of my own money on Champagne.
14- How do you think sparkling wines now fare against them?
It depends so much on the wine that you can’t really generalise. The best sparkler I’ve drunk all year was Dom Ruinart, but I’ve also had some superb bottles of Bellavista Brut and of Coates and Seely Rose.
15- Are boutique wineries the way forward?
I think good wineries – whether large or small – are the way forward.
16- Do you think the smaller, emerging wine producing countries do enough to promote their wines, and make them more accessible to the public?
Probably not, but how can they justify the cost involved if they are selling so little wine. I think it is up to the importers and the rest of the Trade to promote lesser known wines or we will bequeath to the next generation a greatly diminished range of wines on sale in the UK.
17- Are retailers doing enough to educate the public on wine? I don’t mean health wise.
Once again, probably not, but I’m not sure that is their role. They are meant to sell wine. In an ideal world, this would be done through education. But I think producers need to do more to educate the wine drinking public. With the advent of QR codes, they have a great opportunity to do so.
18- Also do you think the large supermarket chains help or devalue the concept of wine? ie over discounting, loss leading cheap brands etc.
The Trade as a whole has turned wine into a commodity over the past 15 years. I don’t think it is up to the supermarkets to do the job of the Trade, which is to augment the value of wine. It is up to the Trade to push these values, and I really think we’ve seen them erode in the past 15 years.
19- What do you think the wine industry needs to improve on?
Wine values, education, communication and fighting its corner. In the UK, we also need to learn more about the technical aspects of wine. Generally, we have a very low level of technical knowledge in the UK trade, and the WSET and employers are not doing enough to remedy this.
20– Which wines, countries or regions do you think are worth keeping an eye on for the future?
Italy continues to excite, Spain has huge potential, as does Argentina. I tasted an Armenian wine recently that was very exciting. And a resurgent France should not be overlooked.
21- What tips do you have to anyone looking at getting into the wine trade?
Work in retail or a wine savvy restaurant or wine bar like Vinoteca. You need to learn to listen to what customers want, and that is the best way of doing it.
22- What is the best thing, for you, about wine?
Its dazzling variety. And the more time you spend in the Trade, the more complex it becomes, which ensures it is endlessly fascinating.
23- In wine terminology, how would you describe yourself?
Still tannic, a bit closed and yet to show of its best.
Thank you David for your thoughts.
Liberty Wines are widely available throughout the UK, including a funky wine store in Battersea.
North & South Wines LTD
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