Which grape varieties would be in your perfect blend? Do-it-yourself wine is emerging as a logical next step for discerning drinkers with cash to spare.
A selection of Viniv clients’ own wines
UK merchant Berry Bros & Rudd is set to offer customers the chance to blend their own Bordeaux wines in the cellar beneath its London shop.
It has teamed up with Bordeaux-based Viniv, a do-it-yourself wine group that is co-owned by Steve Bolger and the Cazes family of Chateau Lynch-Bages – and is formed from what used to be the French arm of California‘s ill-fated Crushpad.
At Viniv, customers can choose parcels from 14 vineyards, blend the wines themselves under the supervision of the Lynch–Bages winemaking team and design their own label. Eric Boissenot, consultant to no fewer than four of the five 1855 Medoc first growths, is also on-hand to offer tips to amateur blenders.
The only real proviso is the size of your wallet. One barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon from L’Enclos vineyard in upmarket Pauillac would cost £12,250, equivalent to £42.53 per bottle in bond, while a barrel of Merlotfrom Le Ruisseau in Cotes de Castillon costs £6,900. In reality, most final wines are a blend and cost somewhere in between.
‘Since 2009, more than 400 clients have come to make wine,’ said Viniv’s chief executive, Stephen Bolger. Its client list is eclectic, from the Berry Bros management team to the Russian oligarch who made a wine for his mistress and adorned the bottle with her face.
Around 60% of Viniv’s clients choose their vineyard plots before harvest. ‘It’s like they’re placing a bet’, said Bolger, whose team is used to fielding urgent phone calls about the weather.
Californian wineries have led the way in allowing drinkers to get hands-on – several producers such as Ravenswood and Conn Creek offer custom blending classes for tourists – and Viniv’s deal with Berry Bros is a sign of a similar trend developing across the Atlantic.
Urban winery London Cru has said it may offer wine lovers the chance to blend their own styles, after opening for business late last year.
A new company named Champagne by You is also being launched in the UK by Tony Stones, the founder of Champagne Warehouse, which imports and sells grower Champagnes.
While the emphasis is more on design than blending, for up to £2,574 per case of 24 bottles buyers will be able to pick their favourite style from six different Champagnes and then create their own aluminium label.
Beyond wine, the UK’s Plymouth gin distillery and London-based Ginstitute already allow visitors to blend their own ‘mother’s ruin’ by infusing an array of different botanicals.
Would you like to see more wineries offering this kind of service? What wine blend would top your list if you had the choice?
Written by Chris Mercer