In the UK and French markets the term “négociant” is extremely common and is loosely defined as “a wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers, and sells the results under his own name”
Here in South Africa the concept has taken somewhat longer to evolve for various reasons, not least the fiercely independent mindset of most wine farmers. But now the market is changing, and producers and consumers are realising more and more that you might not always have the best in your backyard and therefore, to get the best, you have to shop around.
Darling is my home town with a host of really good wine growers. Indeed, within a 80 km radius are some of the best vineyards in the Cape so it makes only common sense to maximise quality with the benefit of a versatility of choice. One extremely prominent landowner and brand owner wryly remarked to me the other day “why on earth would I want to grow Sauvignon Blanc in my Paarl vineyard, when I can get so much better in Darling?”.
And so to bring this all back home, I have been very fortunate in my last 30 or so years in the wine industry to work with some very good properties and very knowledgeable people. This has put me in a situation where I am able to source, on an ongoing basis, the style of wine I want, from the type of winery and winemaker with whom I would like to work, and where we can genuinely add value to each other.
Simply put -while winemaking is undoubtedly an art, finding good wines is a skill! My family’s challenge has been to find good wines and bring them to you!
“ Flashy producers, erudite wine writers and pushy retailers can sell you the first bottle of a wine, but only the wine itself will sell the second.”