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db meets: The Wine Butler

The Wine Butler was launched in February by political campaigner Henry Sands and former cricketer Kevin Latouf, who runs a wine bar in Winchester with England rugby captain Chris Robshaw. The pair work with organic, biodynamic and natural wine producers that take a less is more approach to winemaking, offering customers six bottles of cherry picked wines a month for a fixed cost. We caught up with Kevin Latouf to find out more…

What gave you the idea for The Wine Butler?

The idea came about through wanting to showcase wines made with minimal intervention to a wider audience through a membership based service.

Why the name?

A butler is at your service and is there to make life easier for you. That’s what we do by travelling around the world to find wines we think our customers will love. Like any butler, we do the hard work so you dont have to.

What makes The Wine Butler different to other wine retailers?

Our focus on organic, biodynamic and natural wines. We believe in wines that express where they come from, and the use of chemicals during the winemaking process tends to mask those characteristics, making the wine generic and dull. We want to showcase exciting and innovative producers who are pushing the boundaries in the wine world without all the pretentiousness that can be associated with it.

Natural wines – don’t they all smell of cider and barnyards? 

Natural wines divide and even anger people. I don’t think that’s a bad thing as our thinking sometimes need to be challenged or we’ll be stuck in our ways forever. Natural wines have character, flavour and like any so-called “normal” wine, there are great ones and bad ones. I love them because they’re seldom boring and pair well with food. Noma in Copenhagen has been using natural wines as part of their tasting menus for the last five years.

A lot of your wines have funky labels, is that to appeal to younger wine lovers?

There’s no doubt that a funky label sells, we’ve all sent that. In terms of introducing a younger audience to wine, natural wine has done this through being more approachable and accessible than its classic counterparts. Natural winemakers don’t wear suits and ties or talk to consumers in Old World wine jargon.

How do you go about choosing your wines? 

I choose wines that taste good first and foremost. I also make sure that the wines we use are made by people who have a love for their land and the surrounding environment. I love wines that come with a story.

Which grape or region is exciting you most at the moment and why?

Muscadet and Melon de Bourgogne. It’s no longer wishy washy, light and uninteresting. There’s a group of growers farming biodynamically and making incredible stuff. I even tried a Melon de Bourgogne fermented and aged in amphorae. These guys and girls are creating amazing wines and are putting Muscadet back on the map.

And finally… what’s next for The Wine Butler?

I’ve got trips to Catalunya and California booked in over the next few months and plan to visit upcoming biodynamic growers in both regions, so hopefully I’ll bring some great stuff back.

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