FMV brings fresh wave of US wines to UK

UK wholesaler Fields, Morris & Verdin held its first dedicated tasting featuring its North American portfolio recently, highlighting the quality and value of the wines as well as a host of new arrivals as the market for US wines continues to grow.

Dubbed the ‘West Coast Road Trip’, the tasting covered the company’s portfolio of some 18 producers ‘from Santa Barbara to Seattle’ including classic producers such as Qupé, Ridge and Frog’s Leap and newer additions including Bedrock Wine Co., Fog Monster, DeSante and El Molino.

Speaking to the drinks business, North American buyer Fiona Hayes explained that while FMV has traditionally carried a good number of North American wines, “[we’ve] never shouted about it”.

With the popularity of American wines growing in the UK, however, helped along by a new wave of producers and both a return to but also growing awareness of the less bombastic side of American winemaking, “we felt it was time to showcase the talents of these winemakers.

“Over the past three years there’s definitely been growth in the category, both in the on-trade and retail, and I feel there’s much more potential.”

Somewhat stigmatised (however rightly or wrongly) for being dominated by jammy, oaky, highly alcoholic, ‘cult’ and hugely expensive wines, the sort of wines now emanating from the US chime much better with UK palates, helped along by a growing number of customers happy to include more New World fine wines in their cellars.

“The younger generation is not chasing points, they’re producing great glasses of wine where all is in balance,” said Hayes.

Some of the newer wines presented at the tasting involved some of the growing number of Burgundian collaborations with US partners such as Lingua Franca (co-founded by Larry Stone, David Honig and Dominique Lafon) and Nicolas Jay (Jean-Nicolas Méo and Jay Boberg) which are predominantly Pinot and Chardonnay affairs.

There were also more ‘home grown’ efforts too such as Bedrock, which is run by Ravenswood creator Joel Peterson’s son, Morgan Twain-Peterson MW, and which uses old Sonoman bush vines planted in the late 19th century to create predominantly Zinfandel-based, single vineyard field blends that sometimes include over 20 varieties.

Hayes noted that many of the wines still fall in the ‘premium’ price bracket but added: ‘In the context of other categories they’re still good value an they will age.”

Furthermore, as the US category grows in strength in the UK so it has become easier to find more accessibly priced wines and Hayes said she was, “excited to find wines that represent good value at the £20 mark. It’s a change from before when there wasn’t much below £30 in retail.”

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