Shipping Wine In Bulk - Jon Un-Corked

Shipping Wine In Bulk - Jon Un-Corked


Shipping Wine in Bulk - Jon Un-Corked


Who's Jon...

Welcome to the first instalment of Jon Un-Corked - a monthly portion of wine knowledge and thoughts from Jon Atkinson, the manager of the retail arm of the company at WineTime. Jon is a self-declared oenophile with nearly four decades of experience in the wine trade. He worked as a wine consultant and has run the WineTime Liverpool shop for over ten years. Thousands of wines tasted over the years, hundreds of wine tastings hosted and dozens of wine countries visited - Jon's take on the world of wine is always an interesting read. This month, he looks at the concept of importing wine in bulk...


I'm pretty 'old school'...

I’ll put my cards on the table – I’m pretty ‘old school’ when it comes to wine, probably because I’ve been in the trade since I left school… a very long time ago! I love the idea that an individual or family can tend their vines, harvest them, make and bottle their wine and then sell it. For sure, a lot of terrific wine is still made this way, but such a small-scale approach alone cannot possibly satisfy the ever-increasing global demand for drinkable wine at everyday prices. Conglomerates, Co-operatives, P.L.C.s and the like all have their part to play in slaking the global thirst for wine.


Not a fan of supermarket wines...

That I’m not a fan of supermarkets is no secret! However, although theoretically, they are competition for the likes of us (they do sell a lot of wine after all!), they also deserve credit; thanks to them, wine is no longer the preserve of the upper classes, it is an everyday beverage to be enjoyed by absolutely anyone. They have also been innovative in re-introducing concepts such as shipping in bulk; I say ‘re-introducing’ because this is not a new concept – less than a hundred years ago, wines were routinely shipped to the UK, and elsewhere, in cask. This was necessarily prevalent prior to the revolutionising of glass bottles in the second half of the 17th century.


The changing opinions...

It never fails to amaze me how opinions can change over time; once upon a time, screwcaps on wine were exclusively for the cheap and nasty – now a misconception that is still held in some quarters! Similarly, some people have misgivings about wine that having been made in its country of origin, is then shipped in a large plastic flexitank and then bottled here in the UK, or elsewhere in Europe. Initially, this was very much a cost-saving exercise as you can ship at least twice as much wine for the same cost as if it were shipped already bottled.

Today, the rather more pressing matter of carbon emissions makes bulk wine shipment a far more environmentally friendly means of importing, given that the glass typically accounts for 40% of the weight of a bottle of wine, it’s far better to source that element locally as opposed to shipping it from the other side of the World. Shipping ready bottled also entails a considerable amount of container space being given to ‘fresh’ air!


Our bulk wine imports...

Here at EWGA and Wine Time, we are already shipping quite a few wines this way, and this year have dipped our toe in the ‘premium’ sector as well. The following are tried and trusted favourites from our range that are bottled for us at Greencroft bottling in Northumbria – undoubtedly one of the most modern, efficient and environmentally responsible bottling plants in Europe.


La Bonita Malbec - Mendoza, Argentina

Although it is originally a French Variety, Malbec is now synonymous with Argentina, whose wines have been hugely popular in the States for a good while but its popularity here in the UK has only been established comparatively recently. La Bonita is our own-label Argentinean range, which is made for us by Viña Las Perdices, one of Argentina’s best, family-owned wineries. This is an attractive, fruit-forward example with soft, ripe tannins & a rich but juicy palate with bramble & redcurrant aromas and flavours with a gentle hint of liquorice and subtle graphite notes on the finish.


Afrikan Ridge Chenin Blanc - Western Cape, South Africa

One of my favourite white grape varieties and one that is unfortunately all too often overshadowed by Sauvignon. Chenin is one of the Loire Valley’s crown jewels, but it is also the most widely planted variety on the Cape where historically it was known as ‘Steen’. Afrikan Ridge is our own label South African range with 4 different varieties to choose from. This is typically fresh and zesty with aromas of conference pears & honey on the nose with a softly rounded yet crisp palate, rich in citrus and stonefruit character with a gently honeyed finish.


Explorers Shiraz - Limestone Coast, Australia

As I mentioned earlier, shipping in flexi tanks has been pretty much exclusively the preserve of the budget end of the market, but our Explorers range will be looking to take things up-market. Our first foray is this splendid Aussie Shiraz which is blended from parcels in Padthaway and Coonawarra, both on the Limestone Coast to the south of Adelaide. This is a wine of wonderful depth of flavour with plentiful spicy dark fruit aromas enhanced by Eucalypt & spearmint notes with a richly fruity, well-balanced palate that is deceptively fresh with excellent length.


South Island Kiwi Style Sauvignon Blanc - Western Cape, South Africa

South Island, as the name implies, started life as a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and all was going swimmingly until the well-chronicled 2021 harvest which was down by almost a third on normal levels. Our usual source just didn’t have the juice to supply us in bulk and seemingly nor did any number of other would-be growers that we tried. With supplies of Marlborough Sauvignon not available, we set about finding an alternative source for our South Island label… & opted for South Africa. We are very pleased with the results and a lot of customers swear that they couldn’t tell the difference! It is, after all, a textbook Sauvignon; fresh, fruity and vibrant with tropical & citrus fruits balanced with refreshing, zesty acidity.


If you are interested in any of the aforementioned wines or would like to discuss your wine requirements with our wonderful team, simply email or give us a call on 01524 737 100.



want to discuss your wine requirements get in touch


This article was originally published in the July issue of wine magazine.