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‘Rare gems’ on show at Keeling Andrew tasting

Published:  17 April, 2024

Keeling Andrew’s trendy portfolio attracted a suitably young and vibrant crowd at its tasting in Holborn yesterday (16 April), where the business took the opportunity to highlight some of its under-the-radar producers while honing in on specialisms in Burgundy and Champagne.

Keeling Andrew is the supplier arm of the business set up by Noble Rot founders Dan Keeling – who made his mark in the music business, signing Coldplay prior to entering the wine world – and Mark Andrew MW.

In recent times, the business has grown from its roots as a magazine (now in its tenth year) to three restaurants in central London, while also taking that expertise in the on-trade into a fully-fledged supplier operation.

It also has two Shrine to the Vine retail shops on Lamb’s Conduit Street and Broadway Market.

Harpers caught up with head buyer Joshua Castle at the tasting, which aimed to show off some of its ‘rare gems’.

“We try not to be too serious about the wines in terms of the way in which we talk about them. We try to be as open and inviting as we can, in order to get people to explore new styles while also accessing fine wines,” Castle said.

This was reflected at the tasting, where the business took the decision to showcase the producers which, for various reasons including allocations, the trade might not have had access to.

Eurocentric by design, the supplier business has gone after some of the most sought-after names in Burgundy and Champagne since its inception. But it is also now showing signs of looking outwards, having just signed a new producer from Australia – the company’s first.

Castle described how affordability is also a priority at the moment, but with a focus remaining on wines “made with indigenous grape varieties, grown with reference to the places they’re grown in”.

This includes the ongoing collaboration with Quinta do Ermizio, aka ‘Chin Chin’, the brightly labelled Portuguese white wine which was a hit with Millennials and Gen Z over lockdown.

“A big focus of ours is to put really great entry-level wines onto tables in restaurants. Chin Chin has been a runaway success for us, which was an entry-level Vinho Verde. We work directly with the grower to make that label; and we’ve also been quite central to the development of a new wine called Don Tinto, which is organic and vegan-certified from Castilla-La Mancha. That comes in at just under £7, so very much a trade-friendly wine with a bright, catchy label that can be served by the glass, as well as working really well in a retail space,” Castle said.

Elsewhere, standout wines include the likes of underground swiss label Christophe Abbet based in the villages of Martigny and Fully in Valais, close to the French border. In winemaker Hugo Pozzo di Borgo’s words, these are “sensitive wines” made with little to no intervention.

The wines include local varieties, including a lively single varietal Petit Arvine and full-bodied Ermitage (both white). The estate also dabbles in international varieties. The Syrah made from vines planted with northern exposure further showed an interesting take on a well-known grape, with freshness combined with deep, gamey and earthy flavours reminiscent of black forest gateau.