Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Bibendum’s tasting with a twist is the "confidence boost" the company needed

Published:  11 September, 2019

Bibendum’s latest event lived up to its promise of being “Not another bl**dy tasting” on Monday evening, with a music, food and wine-loving crowd that packed out The Steel Yard to the top of its brick arches.

Aiming to shake things up and draw producers “out from behind tables”, the after-hours event was a departure from the company's usual autumn outing.

Guests were eased in via an apertivo bar, featuring fizz, sherry, sake and spirits like Discarded Vermouth, made with the discarded fruit of coffee beans, before moving on to the ‘vineyard’ to meet with producers.

An expanded by-the-glass selection was also part of what CEO Michael Saunders called “thought-leadership” on helping wine break down barriers.

“Wine tastings can be quite intimidating. We really wanted to do something different, something that can bring the trade together while also giving producers greater freedom of expression.

“We’re not underplaying the quality of what we do, and we will still have our formal cellar tasting in a couple of weeks. But ultimately, the wines have got to be approachable and be priced correctly. It’s about reaching out to customers, presenting what’s possible and bringing them along with us.”

Part of this focus on approachability includes smaller serving sizes, said Saunders, with a large by the glass section being poured to encourage broader access to the wine category.

A number of cocktail pop-ups – including Seedlip challenger, Ceders – were also in situ to highlight the latest trends.

The tasting comes 18 months into Saunders’ latest tenure at Bibendum in the role of CEO.

Now back at the helm after the collapse of Conviviality, he said the tasting was a reflection of optimism in the business and in the causal dining market in general.

“I’ve spent 37 years at Bibendum and I can honestly say this is the most rewarding time of my career. A year and a half ago, the business wasn’t in great shape. Everyone was exhausted, heads had dropped – what was needed was a boost in confidence.

“Bibendum has got a fantastic backer in C&C. They’ve given us the foundation to be what we should be, which is thought-leaders in the drinks category as well as a company that pays its debts. We want to be known as company that does exactly what it says it’s going to do.”