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Five minutes with Nicolas Clerc MS, Armit Wines

Published:  02 March, 2021

After a tumultuous 12 months, Nicolas Clerc, brand manager at Armit Wines reflects on buying and the impact of Brexit on running a ‘virtual’ Burgundy EP campaign

It looks like 2020 is carrying on for a few months… it’s actually worse. There’s the impact of Brexit on importing and shipping – it’s very complicated as we’ve been running our Burgundy 2019 En Primeur campaign. Obviously we don’t have any [physical] Burgundy tastings for clients, but I at least want to show wines to a select top 50, to send them a mixed bag of growers we work with in order to give them a variety from the vintage.

To fulfil that right now is a nightmare. The Brexit details came when everything was shut, so we realised the impact only early in January. The administration, and cost of that – the EX1 form, for example – is costing us a lot of money.

I’m shipping 12 cases of six for 50 clients, 12 cases of six per estate, all mixed on one pallet, and the fee for that by the transporter, from the EX1 form, is €75 each, so 60 bottles of samples are costing me around £750. I put those 12 cases on one pallet, thinking £75, but it’s 10 times more. But that’s a complicated case, it won’t quite be like that for normal shipments.

What’s difficult is getting familiar with the administration. It’s early stages, but it’s stressful.

Some growers have been very cautious, particularly with prices of entry level, regional and village appellation wines. But there is some increase in Premier and Grand Cru, and some of them are quite significant – for the reds mostly.

Because of the profile and shortfall (up to 30-40%) of that vintage, our customers have high anticipation for the ‘19s, and there is clearly high quality so far, for the reds especially.

An issue with Burgundy, and Bordeaux, is that customers always look for top cru, because of the reputation behind them, so they raise their prices, but we also work with some of the less famous growers, and they have been more cautious about raising prices. But with less allocation this year we certainly won’t have any issued in selling the wines.