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Getting ready for SITT : Spring clean your wine list

Published:  07 February, 2014

Ahead of this month's SITT tastings, Erin Smith talks to key suppliers about how they hope to help independents give their range a boost

In response to the demand from the trade for more focused tastings for the independent sector of the UK market, the increasingly popular annual Specialist Importers Trade Tasting - SITT to those in the know - is yet again on the horizon.

This year, SITT, to held in Manchester and London, will feature over 65 exhibitors, consisting of specialist importers, boutique wineries and agencies all focused on the independent and the on and off - trade sectors. The tasting offers hand-selected suppliers the opportunity to showcase individual wines that are different, not mainstream and often come from smaller producers and lesser-known regions. It is an opportunity for buyers to discover rare, unique and often new wines.

SITT Spring and Summer WinesSITT Spring and Summer WinesSITT Spring and Summer Wines

We caught up with a few of the exhibitors to get a sense of how signifi cant the independent sector isand why SITT is important to their businesses'  bottom line.
Alex Down, wine brand ambassador, Amathus Drinks (Table 19)
Chris Bailey, co-owner, Department 33 (Table 9)
Craig Duggan, business development manager, Signature Wines/Stobi Winery (Table 41)
Jean-Remi Barris, on-trade sales manager, Indigo Wine (Table 47)
Miriam Spears, sales director, Alliance Wine (Table 7)
Richard Hitchcock, marketing and operations director, and Antony McIndoe, director of on-trade sales, Bottle Green Wines (Table 53)
Tony Wellings and James Leary, co-directors,
The Antipodean Sommelier (Table 30)
World Wine Agencies team (Table 62)

What is it about the independent sector that appeals to your business?

Alliance Wine: Everything! This is what we are geared up for and the main focus of our business
drive this year. We are not selling direct to the on-trade outside of London and Scotland, so this is
clearly a strategic focus for us.
The Antipodean Sommelier: The independents we already deal with are friendly, innovative, approachable, loyal and flexible. What more could you want as a supplier?
Indigo Wine: We like quirky, unusual wines and they are the best people to push them. They are usually very passionate about wine and always keen to try out new things.
Department 33: We are a small independent importer working with small-to-medium-sized producers, so our ethos and volumes are well suited to the independent sector.
World Wine Agencies: The people. The independent sector is loaded with great business people who happen to be nuts about wine and are really enjoyable to work with!
Bottle Green Wines: The independent sector is important to our business - and to our wineries - because it offers so much more diversity. We are able to bring more interesting and less mainstream wines to what is a growing, dynamic and more loyal sector.

Why did you choose SITT Spring?

SITT Spring and Summer Wines

Bottle Green Wines: We have showcased our wines at SITT for a number of years now and find the quality and quantity of customers attending to be the best of all the tastings we participate in throughout the year.
Alliance Wine: We believe that SITT is the best and most relevant trade tasting to show our wines in at the moment. It attracts the right type of customer and, after our debut at SITT Autumn where our table was always really busy, it was a no-brainer.
World Wine Agencies: SITT is the most appropriate tasting for our market because of its focus on the independent sector. We have participated in SITT for the past two years and we have always been delighted with the quality and relevance of the attendees. We have always generated some great business from our stand, striking a good balance between both expanding our range with existing customers and attracting new ones.
Signature Wines: We attended SITT last year and had a great reaction from the visitors so we did not hesitate to book again. We represent Stobi Wines from the Republic of Macedonia, and as a new and emerging region to the UK it is important for us to get the name and wine in front of key industry buyers. There is a real buzz for wines from the Balkans at the moment and we want to maximise that excitement.
Department 33: Personal experience of visiting and recommendations from others in the industry.
Indigo Wine: Because we like the format, the venues are well chosen, there is plenty of natural light and there's enough space so that we don't walk on each other but it's not so big that people get lost. It's also a good time to catch up with all our customers after January/February which is
generally very quiet.
The Antipodean Sommelier: We are a specialist New Zealand importer/distributor which owns vineyards and is close friends with our winemakers. We have been around for about two and a half years, have an award-winning portfolio, and only sell to independent wine merchants and
regional on-trade wholesalers. SITT is the perfect match for us. We booked in as soon as we were
given the opportunity!

Who are you hoping to talk shop with at your stand?

Signature Wines: Buyers looking for the next undiscovered and exciting region to hit the UK.
The Antipodean Sommelier: Anyone who likes their suppliers to be truly independent, passionate
and completely transparent.
Indigo Wine: Any buyer interested in artisanal, terroir-driven wines, a lot of them organic biodynamic, from Spain, South Africa and Australia especially.
Department 33: Independent French and European restaurants who would like to introduce their customers to new great wines.
Alliance Wine: Any on and off-trade buyers will find something interesting to try on our table. We
offer independent producers, interesting wines, exciting styles and great packaging.
World Wine Agencies: Any independent who is looking for different and great value wines. We were voted Best Agent (Small) in the Harpers Awards 2013 and shortlisted as best supplier to independents in 2012 and 2013, and we have references from a whole host of great independents. So if you only visit a few tables at the tasting, you should make sure we are one of them!

Any special promotions or offers for visitors?

Signature Wines: Absolutely! Free delivery on all orders of 10 dozen cases or more to anywhere in the UK.
Indigo Wine: Yes, but you need to visit our table!
Department 33: Yes, six bottles for the price of five on first orders of all new lines.
Alliance Wine: We will be offering a case of wine to anyone who opens an account with us as a result of visiting the stand.
World Wine Agencies: We will have a launch offer for our new Chilean range.

?Who: Specialist importers, on-trade buyers and independent merchants
?What: 62 exhibitors, including Wines of Brasil and CN Kopke masterclasses
Manchester: Monday, February 24,10.30am-5pm
London: Wednesday, February 26,10.30am-6pm
Manchester: The Point, Lancashire County Cricket Club
London: Lindley Hall, The Royal Horticultural Halls