On the range
Author: Mark Pardoe MW
After a gestation even longer than an elephant’s, our new Own Selection range finally emerged on Wednesday 2nd September, blinking in the lights of our new Sussex Cellar, and under the admiring gaze of the UK’s wine journalists.
To finally see the whole range, resplendent in its new liveries and with many new arrivals or enhancements, was the end of a long road and a proud moment. It was also an opportunity to step back and appreciate the logic inherent in the new range.
First up is the Highly Dependable range: the labels reference the heritage of No.3 St James’s Street, or ‘at the Sign of the Coffee Mill’, the exception being the retention of the familiar St James’s Street scene for the Good Ordinary and Extra Ordinary selections. Chosen to be affordable and authentic, mostly varietally rather than regionally focused, these are everyday wines but with an extra dimension. New wines include a hearty Sicilian Nero d’Avola and completely revised and upgraded blends under the Reserve Red, White and Rosé labels.
In the middle sit the Regional Reserves. The labels echo familiar typographies from each region, all individually presented yet projecting a familial consistency. Here we concentrate on a vivid expression of the innate character of famous (and emerging) regions. Great emphasis is placed on the producers, who are name-checked on the label, as well as our buyers, to underline the close connections between the two. These wines are not bound by price-pointing; they are just really good examples of what the wines should represent, from the more humble to the esteemed. Here Grüner Veltiner and Brunello di Montalcino appear for the first time, and Chianti evolves into its superior Classico guise. Look here also for our smaller but perfectly formed selection of fortified wines.
Champagne and sparkling wines could arguably be part of our Regional range, but we think of them as independent. All have had impressive make-over in presentation and stand apart as quintessential Own Selection wines. New to this team is our first own-label English Sparkling Wine, demonstrating not only our patriotism but also, and more importantly, our belief in this rapidly improving category.
Lastly we have our Producer Partnerships. This is a longer-term project, whose fruits are only just arriving. Buying visits will occasionally unearth small quantities of wines, sometimes uncommercial in their volume or style. A Producer Partnership, with labels hand-written by the producer, provides us with the vehicle to bring these wines to wider attention but under the umbrella of the Berry Bros. & Rudd name. All are produced in limited volumes, and the range will be constantly evolving and changing. Our new Vintage Port and rare Vergine Marsala have already arrived: look out for future débuts from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, the Languedoc and Italy.
But now we must not rest on our laurels; our buying team continues to challenge our suppliers and look for only the very best in class. Like all restaurants or merchants, we have always been judged on our ‘house’ wines: in this regard, the new incarnation of our Own Selection can stand with its head held high, but I’m sure we can make it better still.