Independents worth exploring – wine by James Ratcliffe

Independents worth exploring - wine by James Ratcliffe

The majority of our restaurants customers have a fair amount of wines sourced from independent winemakers. In fact, it’s the job of the sommelier to find what the French called “the pepites” in the vineyards and to add them to their wine list. Those “pepites” are usually selected on the basis of their tasting particularities but also on their story.

After all, what customers in restaurants look like is experiencing something new, valuable and memorable.

Small winemakers live in the shadow of big brands

In France, small independent winemakers have usually a hard time to get recognition for their products, as they live in the shadow of the big brands that everyone knows: the Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Champagne. The article below highlights some independents worth exploring by James Ratcliffe, focused on the region of Loire. We could easily write a similar article about the wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon (and maybe we will ultimately).

When I first started to develop an interest in wine, French wines never really caught my eye, what I did try was expensive and never seemed that great, writes James Ratcliffe, of the Black Bull, at Sedbergh.

Little did I know that once you get past the big French wine makers there’s a whole other world of independent winemakers to explore.

Let’s take a look at the Loire Valley, which provides some incredible examples of these small, often tiny production vineyards. We are all probably aware of wines like Sancerre and Pouilly- Fumé, but the Loire offers up much more and is possibly France’s most varied and yet most neglected wine region, outside of these areas. But despite that the Loire Valley is at the heart of France’s biodynamic, organic and natural wine movement.

Go to Vine Trail:


Promoting wines through a visual story

At COENA, our job is to promote each wine on the wine list through a story. Our customers restaurants usually like the fact that we are able to add photos and images describing the tasting notes, the domain and the methods of production of local wines. It does enable them to tell the story of each wine easily and that’s something small independant winemakers appreciate:


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