See which UK supermarkets, wine merchants and independent retailers won prizes in the 2016 Decanter Retailer of the Year Awards...
Decanter Retailer of the Year Awards 2016: The winners
Winning retailers were announced during a special ceremony held at London’s Connaught hotel on Wednesday 14 September. See them below, and see also a list of runners-up.
Thanks to Champagne sponsor Charles Heidsieck
Supermarket of the Year: Marks & Spencer
All-round shopping experience, evidence of recent progress and pure wine quality were key factors. Marks & Spencer was a unanimous winner: judges commended its ‘exciting’ and ‘dynamic’ wine range, the result of forward-thinking, fair sourcing by experienced buyers and a clear commitment to communicating and engaging with its customers.
Online Retailer of the Year: Roberson
Roberson’s move from physical shop to online retailer has been seamless. Their elegant website is a joy to use on any device, with algorithms supporting customised recommendations, powerful search/filtering options and effortless functionality.
Runner up: The Wine Society’s site impressed judges with its depth of information, thoughtful architecture and engaging use of social media.
Outstanding Retailer of the Year: Tanners
‘A perfect country merchant’ was how one judge described Tanners. A very strong year for a west country stalwart that continues to innovate and serve its customers in engaging and delicious fashion.
Judges’ Choice: Roberson
Having made the bold commitment to close its iconic Kensington shop and move wholly online, it’s been a time of transition for Roberson. But from its online experience to events at its urban winery London Cru, Roberson maintains a commitment to excellence, innovation and enjoyment in wine retail that the judges found commendable.
Large Retailer of the Year: Tanners
Tanners won through for delivering on wine quality and value, improving its own-label range, and also its commitment to ongoing growth and innovation: opening a new site in Chester, developing a transactional website, expanding its events programme and investing in wine dispensers.
Runner Up: Cambridge Wine Merchants was praised for its wide-ranging list and varied events.
Intermediate Retailer of the Year: Stone, Vine & Sun
Hotly contested. Stone Vine & Sun won for its dogged commitment to, ‘treasure hunting’ – grafting round vineyards to unearth brilliant producers. ‘We like wines that taste of somewhere – and we get on our bikes.’
Runner Up: The Sampler remains an outstanding operation helping people enjoy fine wine in an unstuffy way
Small Retailer of the Year: Salut
Manchester-based Salut won judges over with its ‘incredible buzz’ and ‘brilliant wine selection’. The company’s mission to ‘break down barriers to wine engagement’ saw an impressive range of events and promotions: Fine Wine Fridays saw Mouton and Lafite 1990 in Enomatics.
Runner Up: Highbury Vintners won praise for its consumer service, direct sourcing and excellent list.
Bordeaux Specialist of the Year: Nickolls and Perks
A brilliant, wide-ranging Bordeaux list did it for this Stourbridge stalwart. Bordeaux remains Nickolls & Perks’ strongest suit: a fairly priced, well selected list sold in a personal way, with a sensible attitude to en primeur wines.
Runner Up: Avery’s was commended for its re-energised approach to Bordeaux, a historic heartland for the company.
Burgundy Specialist of the Year: Goedhuis
Many wine merchants have good Burgundy lists but Goedhuis has an infectious enthusiasm for the region and impeccable customer service. The company runs regular working visits to the region plus great events, and offers wines from over 50 top domaines.
Runner Up: Justerini & Brooks pioneered Burgundy en primeur and has a magisterial list of 1,200+ Burgundies.
Italy Specialist of the Year: Justerini & Brooks
J&B elicited superlatives on its remarkable range, including mature vintages, top producers and all-round championing of the country’s fine wines, especially Barolo. Tuscany, Sicily, Campania, Veneto and Umbria are also important parts of a growing list.
Runner Up: Vini Italiani continues its impressive run, expanding into new premises in Covent Garden.
Germany & Austria Specialist of the Year: Howard Ripley
‘They do so much for German wine, selling it with a genuine passion that’s rare to see,’ said one judge of the winner. The category needs it – but Riesling-fuelled hog roasts, ambitious tastings and a hugely impressive portfolio do the trick for Howard Ripley.
Runner Up: Justerini & Brooks has also built up a wonderful list of German wines that continues to grow.
Spain & Portugal Specialist of the Year: Highbury Vintners
Highbury continues to expand its carefully chosen Iberian list in impressive fashion, with over 300 wines from Spain alone and representation from the likes of Tenerife, Mallorca and sherry all being bolstered.
Runner Up: Prohibition does a top-notch job, increasing Rioja and Sherry with a cleverly selected list and running a laudable range of events.
Other New World Specialist of the Year: Roberson (USA)
South Africa, New Zealand and the USA all deserve high quality specialists. Winner Roberson now represents 31 different US producers, showcasing 270 wines: a ‘who’s who of quality’, as one judge put it.
Runner Up: The New Zealand Cellar (NZ) continues to innovate and expand, via a direct importing arm, the UK’s first Kiwi wine club and publishing Cellar Press.
Other Old World Specialist of the Year: Uncorked (Rhône)
It was the quality of Uncorked’s Rhône collection that really wowed the judges. Their range displays an in-depth understanding of the region with particular strength in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the northern Rhône.
Runner Up: Nickolls & Perks are worthy runners-up with a fine range of Champagnes across price levels and producers.