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Liberty celebrates 25 years with greatest hits tasting

Published:  21 June, 2022

Liberty Wines celebrated its 25th anniversary yesterday at its usual spot at the Oval Cricket Ground, where the event took a greatest hits approach to celebrate a quarter of a century in business.

Producers were arranged by the year they joined the company, from 1997 through to present day, with two wines each on show.

These formed a mix of new vintages and old, with producers asked to select two wines which best illustrate who they are today and where they’re heading.

“We wanted to create a bit of interest by looking back, but looking forward, too,” said Tom Platt, Liberty’s new MD.

Liberty has come a long way since it was founded by David Gleave MW as a predominantly Italian specialist. Today, it is one of the top drinks wholesalers in the UK, spanning New and Old World, with Gleave now in the role of chairman and Platt stepping up from previous roles, including national account manager and sales director.

“Since day one, the focus was on fostering long-term relationships with the best producers from each region and match the quality of the wine with the quality of service. That hasn’t changed...[and as a result], the business emerged very strongly from the pandemic. Our portfolio is better than ever, our team is outstanding, and our customer base has grown significantly,” Platt said.

Today, Liberty is focusing on its bedrock of on-trade accounts while also stepping up its focus on the independent retail trade. During the height of Covid, Liberty chose to double down on its independent off trade customers, with approximately 600 accounts in situ.

“I think we raised our level of service,” said Platt. “[The pandemic] made us realise we had a good level of service, but that improved over lockdown, and we’ve looked to keep that going.”

And the future? While the rising cost of freight and dry goods continues to cause headaches, Platt says he feels confident about where the business is heading, with a buying team in both Italy and France helping the company to keep ahead of challenges.

In terms of portfolio, he says, “Our Tuscan portfolio has never been stronger. We have a trio of great vintages – 2019, 2020 and 2021 – in the market or on the horizon, so that is very exciting.

The 2022 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Blank Canvas is superb, despite only being bottled 10 days ago.

“We’ve also had our South African producers in town this week, doing a mini roadshow, and their wines just seem to get better and better. The standout for me is the Gabrielskloof Chenin Blanc 2021 made by Peter-Allan Finlayson.”