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Decanter Retailer Awards 2023: First set of results revealed

Our go-to guide for the finest wine shops, online retailers, wine specialists, subscriptions, cellar doors and wine services across the UK.

Wine is about people, and this year we wanted to bring increased recognition of this into these awards, hence introducing gongs for wine buyers and buying teams.

We’ve also added new categories for UK Cellar Doors and Winery Wine Clubs to recognise the exciting developments on those fronts.

Browse through these names, glass of wine in hand, and it’s hard not to feel a genuine sense of excitement, pride and awe at what these outstanding people are doing for wine in the UK. We should all raise a glass to them.

Scroll down to see the 2023 winners

More results to be announced tomorrow: Best National, Supermarket, Online, Regional and Hybrid Retailers, plus Cellar Door, Winery Wine Club, Wine Buyer, Buying Team, Judges’ Choice & Outstanding Wine Retailer of Year

Decanter Retailer Awards: The 2023 winners

Green Champion of the Year

Winner: Direct Wines
Runner-up: The Wine Society
This is always one of the closest-fought, most intriguing categories to judge.Strong opinions flew – Direct Wines (owner of UK retail arms Laithwaites Wine and Averys) won thanks to its ‘comprehensive’ action plan across many aspects of the business, from packaging to transport, training and biodiversity. The Wine Society has similarly impressed this year for its leadership and outstanding work on sustainability.

Newcomer of the Year

Winner: Amphora Cambridge Ltd
Runner-up: Jesmond Wine Company
Cambridge merchant Amphora opened in 2022 but has hit the ground running to such an extent that you hardly believe it’s so young. ‘Seriously impressive for such a new player on the scene,’ said one judge. ‘Great range, brave choices, lots of wines by the glass,’ added another. Jesmond is an excellent new wine shop in Newcastle.

Own Brand Wine Range of the Year

Winner: The Wine Society
Runner-up: Marks & Spencer
The Wine Society won among many strong entries for not only the impressive breadth and depth of its 83-strong The Society range but also its willingness to innovate, as seen in its revamped packaging including right-weighting of bottles and the introduction of ‘bag in box’ for key lines. M&S earned praise for its ambitious Collection line, encouraging customers to trade up.

Virtual Wine Experience of the Year

Winner: The Wine Society
Runner-up: The Online Tasting Company
While it’s been a joy to resume normal life and wine events in person, there remains a demand for virtual wine experiences. The Wine Society delivers an impressive range and quantity of virtual wine events that is ‘in a league of its own’, according to one judge. The Online Tasting Co also continues to do good work in this sphere.

Specialist Categories

Australia Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: The Vinorium 
‘You feel secure buying from them, they know what they’re doing – the range is fantastic and it was a pleasure using the website,’ said one judge of The Vinorium. ‘Great range and depth,’ said another.

Bordeaux Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Bordeaux Index
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
In the words of one judge, Bordeaux Index is a retailer ‘revitalised – now the full package’, offering not only a huge range of fine wine but also a wealth of information on Bordeaux and beyond. Justerini has done a good job not just offering top châteaux but also championing lesser names.

Burgundy Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Justerini & Brooks
Runner-up: House of Townend
Specialising in Burgundy can prove a double-edged sword, but Justerini & Brooks continues to demonstrate great intent, visiting regularly to maintain relationships with high-profile names and discover new up-and-coming estates. It remains a benchmark for Burgundy in the UK. House of Townend sources 90% of its Burgundy directly, to great effect.

Central & Eastern Europe Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Novel Wines
Runner-up: Amphora Cambridge Ltd
Novel Wines continues to impress, having expanded its range (again), redeveloped its website, grown the team, upped direct shipping and laid on an impressive number of events. Amphora has done impressive work in this category for such a new operation.

Champagne & Sparkling Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: The Whisky Exchange
Runner-up: Lea & Sandeman
In what’s always a highly competitive category, The Whisky Exchange won for its extensive range, impressive growth, ‘clear passion’ for fizz, and commitment to events including the annual Champagne Show. Lea & Sandeman has been doing ‘outstanding, brilliant, ongoing’ work on its Champagne offering, having revamped the range and focused on smaller growers.

England & Wales Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Corkk Ltd
Runner-up: Waitrose & Partners Ltd 
Corkk was praised for being ‘really dynamic, and doing a lot to promote English wines’, including hosting events and offering tastings via Enomatic machine, ‘which is important when wines can not only be new to people but also expensive and hit-and-miss’. Waitrose continues to do great work for English and Welsh wine.

Germany Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Howard Ripley Wines
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
Great to see three outstanding German retailers in this category. Hard to separate them, but Howard Ripley continues to innovate, grow and engage its customers, with a terrific range. Justerini also offers a brilliant German line-up from Riesling to Pinot Noir and beyond.

Italy Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Bat & Bottle Wine Merchants
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
‘With Bat and Bottle you just feel the love for what they do, the passion for the wines,’ enthused one judge. ‘It’s a very broad range from the head to heel of Italy,’ commented another, noting the extensive events, courses, updated website, vintage reports, and adding: ‘You wonder where the hell they get the time to do all that and offer such a personable service.’ Justerini continues to excel in Italy.

Loire Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Majestic Wine
Making admirable progress across a number of regions, Majestic offers surprising value and breadth of range across the Loire Valley, from Muscadet to Montlouis and more.

New Zealand Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Field and Fawcett 
York merchant Field & Fawcett offers an impressive breadth of styles and price points in the New Zealand category, perhaps a result of the ‘deep connection’ this merchant has with the country given owner and director Peter Fawcett has dual citizenship. It even sells a ‘Vandal’ Sauvignon Blanc co-fermented with New Zealand Bluff oysters…

Portugal Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Festa Wine
Runner-up: Vintage Wine and Port Ltd
Very exciting to see a new specialist Portuguese player on the scene like Festa, offering not just an adventurous, approachable range but also a successful consumer festival to boot, at a time when Portuguese wine seems to be, in the words of one judge, ‘having a moment’ in the UK. Vintage Wine & Port does a great job with a huge range.

Rhône Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Carringtons
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
Carringtons isn’t the biggest merchant but it does a cracking job on Rhône, with great expertise, 97% shipped direct, and the range bolstered by the owner’s personal cellar when needed. Justerini has a lipsmacking Rhône range and continues to do a good job.

South & Regional France Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Wickhams 
Wickhams has done excellent work this past year on Beaujolais and also beyond, with two-thirds direct sourcing and the category accounting for a fifth of sales.

South Africa Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Swig Wines Ltd
Runner-up: Museum Wines
Excitement comes as standard in the South Africa category, and Swig is doing a brilliant job of not just securing seriously exciting wines but also then promoting and selling them to receptive customers. Museum Wines remains a shining beacon for South African wines in the UK.

Spain Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Justerini & Brooks
Runner-up: Highbury Vintners
Justerini has revamped many of its supposedly lesser-speciality ranges lately, but few to such stellar effect as Spain – wine lovers should take note, especially given the diversity and value of the wines now on offer. Highbury offers an excellent and diverse Spanish range.

Sweet & Fortified Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Cambridge Wine Merchants  
Runner-up: Vintage Wine & Port Ltd
Cambridge Wine offers a treasure trove of wines across the sweet as well as fortified ranges – the category accounting for nearly a fifth of sales and a traditional strong point for this retailer. Vintage Wine & Port is a true specialist and outstanding in its field.

USA Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Four Corners Wine Company Ltd
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks 
Four Corners is a true specialist with a 500-strong California list and doing an excellent job for a smaller player. Justerini has revamped its US portfolio to brilliant effect.

Wine Support Services

En Primeur Campaign of the Year

Winner: Jeroboams (Bordeaux Campaign)
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks (Burgundy Campaign)
Two strong entries in this category, and Jeroboams impressed with the range of its Bordeaux campaign, not just in terms of châteaux but also formats and second wines, plus an engaging approach to marketing including targeting a younger clientele. Justerini ran a strong Burgundy campaign featuring not just the grand names but also ‘unsung heroes’.

Subscription Wine Club of the Year

Winner: Ourglass & Partners Ltd
Runner-up: Bat & Bottle Wine Merchants
The self-stated aim of Ourglass is, ‘to turn wine drinkers into wine lovers’. Judges were impressed by the userfriendly and comprehensive nature of the subscription offering, complete with assigned wine professional, videos and various thematic levels. Bat and Bottle offers a highly personal, accessible and affordable service.

The 2023 judging panel

Peter Richards MW is an awarded writer and broadcaster, including as co-host of the chart-topping Wine Blast podcast. He is the DWWA Regional Chair for Chile, and Chair of our Retailer Awards since 2013
Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW is a widely published wine writer, consultant and WSET educator. She is a regular contributor to Decanter, and is the DWWA Regional Chair for Tuscany
Laura Clay is a council member of the Association of Wine Educators, an experienced wine presenter and accredited Bordeaux and Rioja tutor, and was UK Champagne Ambassador in 2010
Leona De Pasquale is a wine educator, writer and translator. Founder of London-based tea and wine training and events company Camellia & Vine, she also teaches at various wine schools including the WSET London
Andy Howard MW is a Decanter contributing editor and a DWWA Regional Chair. A former wine buyer in major retail for more than 30 years, he now runs his own wine consultancy Vinetrades
Simon Field MW was formerly a buyer for merchant Berry Bros & Rudd and now consults on areas that particularly interest him, including Champagne, Rhône, Spain, fortified and English wines
Mags Janjois director of his own company MJ Wine Cellars, importing niche, smallbatch wines, creating brands for UK retailers, and offering wine education and consultancy services

In support of the drinks community, for a fourth year proceeds from the 2023 awards will again be donated to nominated charities including charities The Drinks Trust, The Ben and The Regenerative Viticulture Foundation.

More results announced tomorrow: Best National, Supermarket, Online, Regional and Hybrid Retailers, plus Cellar Door, Winery Wine Club, Wine Buyer, Buying Team, Judges’ Choice & Outstanding Wine Retailer of Year

How to buy wine online

How to buy wine at a supermarket

How to buy wine at a specialist retailer

See the Decanter Retailer Awards 2023 Shortlist

The post Decanter Retailer Awards 2023: First set of results revealed appeared first on Decanter.

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