• Tim Atkin is an award-winning wine writer and Master of Wine with 35 years’ experience. He writes for a number of publications, including HarpersDecanterThe World of Fine WineGourmet Traveller Wine and The Drinks Business and is one of the Three Wine Men. Tim is a co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, the world’s most rigorously judged blind tasting competition, and has won over 30 awards for his journalism and photography. So far, he don’t have a red nose to show for it……

     

    The wine market is dominated by the supermarkets in the UK, but the so-called multiple grocers don’t specialise in wines to keep. That said, they are making increasingly bold forays into the fine wine market; the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Booths and Marks & Spencer all sell wines that wouldn’t look out of place in the smartest cellar. It’s especially worth looking at their on-line selections, where they tend to list small parcels.

    The high street sector is having a tougher time of it at the moment because of high rents, the growing power of the supermarkets and a dwindling consumer base. Majestic (many of whose stores have parking) is the leading name in the high street, although Nicolas has some good wines too.

    If you’re serious about developing a wine collection, don’t overlook the UK’s splendid array of independent wine merchants. These companies aren’t the cheapest places to buy a bottle of £3.99 Aussie Semillon/Chardonnay, but they often specialise in a particular region or country and can provide bespoke advice. Their wine lists, too, are a very good (and usually free) source of information.

    Most independents sell by the case, rather than the bottle, though the majority allow you to mix and match. Make sure you enquire about delivery charges and, if you’re buying en primeur, about duty, VAT and insurance.

    What follows is a personal selection of the best independents. Wherever you are buying it, remember www.winesearcher.com is a very good price comparison website.

    Buy your wine and store it in a wine room from Spiral Cellars.

     

     

    Good general merchants

    Adnams

    www.adnams.co.uk

    Avery’s

    www.averys.com

    Berry Brothers & Rudd

    www.bbr.com

    Corney & Barrow

    www.corneyandbarrow.com

    D Byrne & Co

    www.dbyrne-finewines.co.uk

    Handford Fine Wine

    www.handford.net

    H&H Bancroft

    www.bancroftwines.com

    Hedonism Wines

    www.hedonism.co.uk

    John Armit Wines

    www.armit.co.uk

    Justerini & Brook

    www.justerinis.com

    Jeroboams

    www.jeroboams.co.uk

    Lay & Wheeler

    www.laywheeler.com

    Lea & Sandeman

    www.londonfinewine.co.uk

    Philglas & Swiggot

    www.philglas-swiggot.com

    Private Cellar

    www.privatecellar.co.uk

    Quintessentially Wine

    www.quintessentiallywine.com

    Raeburn Fine Wine

    www.raeburnfinewines.com

    Tanners

    www.tanners-wines.co.uk

    Taurus Wine

    www.tauruswines.co.uk

    The Wine Society

    www.thewinesociety.com

     

    Specialist merchants

    Bordeaux Index (fine and rare wines)

    www.bordeauxindex.com

    Enotria (Italy)

    www.enotria.co.uk

    Farr Vintners (fine and rare wines)

    www.farrvintners.co.uk

    Fine & Rare

    www.frw.co.uk

    Gauntleys of Nottingham (Rhône, Alsace)

    www.gauntley-wine.co.uk

    Les Caves de Pyrène (France)

    www.lescaves.co.uk

    Haynes Hanson & Clark (Burgundy)

    www.hhandc.co.uk

    Howard Ripley (Burgundy and Germany)

    www.howardripley.com

    John E Fells (Port and Madeira)

    www.fells.co.uk

    Montrachet Fine Wines (Bordeaux and Burgundy)

    www.montrachetwine.com

    Moreno Wines (Spain)

    www.morenowinedirect.com

    The New Zealand House of Wine

    www.nzhouseofwine.com

    Noel Young Wines (Austria and Australia)

    www.nywines.co.uk

    OW Loeb (Rhône, Germany and Burgundy)

    www.owloeb.com

    Oz Wines

    www.ozwines.co.uk

    SA Wines Online (South Africa)

    www.sawinesonline.co.uk

    Stone, Vine and Sun (Rhône, Languedoc, South Africa)

    www.stonevine.co.uk

    Swig (South Africa)

    www.swig.co.uk

    Valvona & Crolla (Italy) 0131 556 6066

    www.valvonacrolla.co.uk

    Vine Trail (Small French domains)

    www.vinetrail.co.uk

    Yapp (Rhône and Loire)

    www.yapp.co.uk