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Mentzendorff adds two new shareholder producers under new MD

Published:  04 March, 2024

Mentzendorff has swelled the ranks of its shareholder brands since new MD Justin Liddle took the top job in November, with two new additions which include the Fladgate Partnership’s first foray into light wine.

The new additions were introduced to the UK trade at last week’s annual portfolio tasting, where Liddle revealed he is “very keen to grow” the business.

Ponzi Vineyards is the first of the two. A pioneer of the Willamette Valley thanks to its commitment to high end Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Ponzi joins Champagne Bollinger and The Fladgate Partnership (Taylor’s Port, Fonseca) in Mentzendorff’s list of shareholder brands. Mentzendorff has also added Fladgate’s Still & Sparkling Wines from Portugal to its roster, focused on wines intended to rival the world’s classic wine regions.

“We have been expanding our offering of Portuguese still wines since the wines of Cartuxa from Alentejo joined our Portfolio in 2021 and we are delighted to be increasing that further this year to include the exceptional wines from the north of Portugal with Fladgate Still & Sparkling Wines. They are producing wines from some of the best terroirs in Portugal and we are excited to introduce these excellent wines to our customers,” Liddle said.

Fladgate decided to make the move into light wine in September last year after the opportunity arose to buy IdealDrinks – a small group of wineries all based outside the Douro.

Having mulled over the possibility of moving into lighter styles in recent years, the purchase enabled the group to maintain a clear distinction between its fortified wines, which are made from grapes grown in the Douro, and others made elsewhere. The new Still & Sparkling portfolio is spread across Portugal in the Vinho Verde, Dão and Bairrada DOCs.

The wines include the top of the range Principal label from Bairrada. This is “Portugal’s Vega Sicilia”, Liddle said, thanks to its focus on Bordeaux varieties.

Last week’s masterclass offered visitors the first chance to try the wine in the UK via a vertical tasting of this top wine, which “has huge potential in the UK” Liddle added.

Mentzendorff has a long history dating back over 160 years. Part of its core DNA remains its status as the UK agent for Bollinger in one of the longest unbroken trading agreements for wine in Britain. Mentzendorff was wholly owned by Bollinger until the 1980s when Taylor’s Port joined as a second shareholder brand. Since then, the Mentzendorff portfolio has grown to incorporate many of the world’s leading family-owned wine estates, including Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Klein Constantia, Anwilka, Bodegas Roda, Domaine Chanson, Maison Saint-Aix, FEA (Cartuxa), Henriques & Henriques, Hambledon Vineyards, Tapanappa, Kilikanoon, Turkey Flat Vineyards, Akitu, The Crossings, Delamain Cognac, Mentzendorff Kummel and Anae Gin.

Ponzi Vineyards now joins Bollinger and Fladgate as a shareholder brand, having been established back in 1970. Ponzi was acquired in 2021 by the Bollinger Family Group and is now being distributed in the UK for the first time.

On the business side, 2023 was a year of change for the company. Liddle replaced former long-standing MD Andrew Hawes, who moved into the role as Bollinger’s advisor for the UK market.

Liddle took on the role of interim MD for seven months before officially taking the job in November, having previously worked in an array of sales and marketing roles over a span of 20 years.

“On the one hand, we have a rich history, but on the other hand, we’re quite a young, forward-looking business. We’ve come out of a lengthy period where the business was run by a single MD for 18 years. We have an opportunity to have a fresh look at how we’re perceived by our customers and how we’re performing,” Liddle concluded.