A wine consultant and importer have teamed up to found a new online wine shop specialising in English, Hungarian and Eastern European wines.
Gyorgy Zsiga of Danube Wines and wine consultant Ben Franks will launch their new online wine shop, Novel Wines, at the end of September
Novel Wines has been set up by wine consultant and journalist Ben Franks, who runs an wine events company in Bath, and UK-based Hungarian wine importer Gyorgy Zsiga of Danube Wines, to tap into undiscovered and less familiar wine regions.
The site, which goes live on 24 September, is launching with 102 wines, including 17 English and 15 Hungarian wines, as well as wines from Greece, Croatia, Uruguay, Thailand, Simonsberg Mountain in South Africa and koshu wines from Japan. The team is planning to expand the range to 150 after Christmas, and is already looking at adding wines from Turkey, Cyprus and China, they told db, and wants to up the proportion of wines imported directly from the supplier from a third to around 75%.
The team wants to establish itself purely as a retailer at the outset and has plans to open a bricks and mortar wineshop in Bath in the next 18 months – but Franks told db adding a wholesale arm in the future was “appealing”, as it would allows the team to order larger pallets of wines, for example.
“We saw the scope for the idea and founded the company in April, trying and testing wines,” Franks said. “Although [some of] the wines are available in the wholesale and on-trade, we saw a gap in the retail market for people who want to step up the wines they drink everyday.”
Franks said that although this had happened with New World wines – where consumers are delving beyond generics for more particular regions – this had not yet happened with Eastern European.
“It is a bit of a step in the dark, but we wanted to step into that gap,” he admitted. “We are keen to show genuine wines of very good quality, and want to be the leaders of the weird and wonderful. We want the range to be special wines, but not so special that you only buy it at Christmas.”
The team was inspired by a successful crowdfunding exercise in May, which they undertook to raise publicity as much as the £5,000 start-up target, and helped it raise its profile on social media platforms.