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Justerini & Brooks plug Verdicchio hole at Spring/Summer tasting

Published:  22 February, 2023

This week, the fine wine and whisky merchants Justerini & Brooks welcomed the trade to its Spring/Summer portfolio tasting at Quo Vadis on Dean Street, Soho. 

Formerly a brothel and a home to Karl Marx, Quo Vadis continues to draw an eclectic and epicurean crowd, to discuss informal business and serious pleasures.

A fitting venue for a Justerini & Brooks event, a merchant with a history almost as bounteous as the streets of Soho, the company has been a pivotal supplier of English royalty and gentry for over 200 years. 

Among the wines on display were familiar favourites from producers and regions: Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Loire, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Spain and J&B’s most recent addition, Portugal.

Distilling Justerini’s 4,000-strong portfolio into one tasting is surely no easy task, thus the wines that did make the cut were firmly under the microscope.

The first of two portfolio tasting events in 2023 for Justerinis, the Spring/Summer lineup had a clear focus on crisp, fresh and aromatic white wines. 

Charlie Miller, account manager for Justerini & Brooks said: “We’ve got Barolos, we’ve got some other reds as well and we’ve got a big rosé table so we’re trying to really focus there, but the main focus is on spring and summer white wines. 

“We will have another tasting in the autumn when we’ll reintroduce some more reds, but for now, we are really excited about some of our new producers, such as Verdicchio, Paglianetto and Pacher Hof, who exclusively make white wines.”

Verdicchio is a grape Justerinis has been looking to add to its portfolio for a while now, and, in spring last year, Justerini finally found what it was looking for in Borgo Paglianetto, a producer based in the Matelica sub-zone specialising in crisp and mineral whites.

Miller added: “Verdicchio, in particular, is a real find for us, I’ve been working here for 10 years and we've never had Verdicchio before.”

Further north, in the Alto Adige region, Justerinis unveiled another Italian gem – the traditional Pacher Hof estate. Located on the sunny slopes of Neustift just above Brixen, the historic Pacher Hof vineyard has been a family property since 1142.

Winemaker Andreas Huber cultivates the South Tyrolean white wine on the slopes of Neustift. After the harvest, he presses the grapes in his own cellar, matures them into Eisack Valley white wines and markets them under the farm label of “Pacherhof”. Justerinis showcased the Muller Thurgau, Kerner and Gewurztraminer iterations, all of which showed a classical, dry but invitingly aromatic style.

The most recent Justerini new addition to be displayed was the range of Deovlet wines, hailing from Santa Barbara and Santa Rita; a producer of top-notch, French-leaning Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that don’t break the bank (between £25-£42).

In terms of what Justerinis looks for in a producer more generally, Miller said: “We look for interest and authenticity, we know our market, we sell to private individuals and they trust us to find the right wines. Similarly, with the restaurants we supply to, we tend to go for more poised and finessed type wines as a business.

“The only barrier from a buying perspective is when something of interest crops up that might be in competition with something you already have, we are looking for points of difference in our lists.”

He concluded: “Every year we’ll start with approximately four producers we haven’t worked with before, but that doesn’t mean cutting the portfolio elsewhere. With South Africa, with the Montagu wines, we’ve gone from really having nothing in South Africa four or five years ago to quite a spread of the top producers. And actually, what happens there is word spreads in South Africa that Justerini is working with Donovan Rall, David & Nadia and Lukas Van Loggerenberg, and they all speak to each other and introductions naturally happen.”