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Top 10 Berry Bros bestsellers in Japan

Simon Staples, Berry Bros sales director for Asia reveals the firm’s bestsellers in Japan, discovering a wine market surprisingly close in sentiment to the UK.

Simon Staples

Simon Staples, Berry Bros. & Rudd’s man on the ground in Tokyo, moved to Japan four months ago. In terms of a wine market, he said: “It’s so much closer to the UK than the rest of Asia. There is real interest in value, although Japan is still very strong in the most expensive wines that other markets have abandoned. We’ve built up a great bunch of loyal customers and if you recommend Château X as a good buy, they’ll go for it. So, for me it’s about getting back to being a merchant rather than a trader which is great.”

Among Japanese private clients, about 30% buy wine through Berry’s for cellaring in Britain. Staples admitted that many still found it “a bit of an alien concept, so it’s about educating them that it is better, cheaper and safer to store wines in the UK.” There is no risk of earthquake tremors at Berry’s bonded warehouse in Basingstoke, and shipping to Japan costs £36 a case, plus 8% sales tax on the price originally paid which “works out at less than duty and VAT in the UK” said Staples.

Since the start of the year Japanese customers have shown keen interest in Berry’s 2013 Burgundy offer, especially the wines of Olivier Bernstein and Pierre Vincent. In a top 10 list, Bernstein’s 2013 Grand Cru Assorted case and the 2013 Mazi Chambertin came first and second, and there were just two from Bordeaux – Château Pichon Baron 2008 and Château Giscours 2005.

The following top ten refers to the firm’s best-sellers by volume and value actually retailed in Japan since the start of the year.

Click through to see Berry’s top-ten wines sold in Japan

10. Pulenta Malbec 2012 £15

The Pulenta family have been involved in Argentine wine for three generations, though it was not until 2002 that Eduardo and Hugo Pulenta founded the eponymous estate in the Agrelo area of Medoza’s Lujan de Cuyo. Berry’s own-label Argentine Malbec is now made by Eduardo Pulenta.

9. Gaston Chiquet Brut Tradition NV £27.50

This grower’s Champagne is produced by Antoine and Nicolas Chiquet who hail from the wonderfully-named village of Dizy. Like many they used to supply grapes to the big houses before striking out on their own. Their NV was recently described as ‘super soft fizz’ with ‘bright taught apple fruit’ by the Observer’s David Williams.

8. Meursault Loichet 2010 £30


The Loichets come from southern end of Côte de Nuits, and were previously stone masons rather than vignerons. The family vineyards in Côte de Nuits Villages, Clos de Vougeot and Ladoix blanc, have been taken back in hand by the talented, young Sylvian Loichet

7. Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2013 New Zealand £15.50

According to Berry’s New World buyer, Catriona Felstead MW: “Churton produce a much more restrained and mineral style of Sauvignon than many of their New Zealand counterparts. The 2012 is fresh and crisp with notes of tinned asparagus and gooseberries. Bone dry, this has an intriguing earthy note and evident mineral complexity, making it ideal with food, such as sea bass or goat’s cheese.”

6. 2013 Berry Bros. & Rudd Chablis, Domaine du Colombier £16.50

This own-label Chablis was blended from four plots located in the village of Chichée, according to Berry Bros. the 2013 had a bouquet showing “fresh apple notes, with a concentration of white fruit on the palate, enhanced by the tingling, flinty qualities of fine Chablis”

5. Champagne R&L Legras Blanc de Blanc NV £35

René and Lucien Legras founded their Champagne house in the 1930s, and the family business still sources its grapes from the important Côtes des Blancs Grand Cru village of Chouilly.

4. Berry’s Cremant de Limoux £13.35

Produced by Antech, this family-owned estate has been producing Cremant de Limous for six generations. It is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 15% each of Chenin Blanc and Mauzac

3. 2013 Berry’s Extra Ordinary White £12.50

Produced for Berry Bros. & Rudd by JM Cazes, the 2013 was described as a typical blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon. According to Simon Staples: “it’s a brilliant little Bordeaux Blance from the Graves.”

2. 2012 Berry’s Extra Ordinary Claret £15.50

Also from the Graves, and produced by JM Cazes, is the red ‘posh own-label’ equivalent to the white. Described as ‘Deeply coloured and with an inviting nose of warm, bramble fruit’ the blend is 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. For Staples it’s “the business class upgrade to our ‘Good Ordinary Claret’”

1. Berry’s United Kingdom Cuvée, Grand Cru, Mailly £28.50


Sourced from the Grand Cru village of Mailly, located at the heart of the Montagne de Reims, the UK Cuvée is a classic blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay and is aged on its lees for three years.

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