Leon Stolarski Fine
Wines feature some of the best wines that Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence
and South-West France have to offer. Latterly, our list has expanded to include
top growers from Alsace, Loire Valley, Burgundy and Rhone. From further afield,
we also now stock a small but perfectly formed selection of wines from Germany's
Mosel Valley and California.
We are registered as a Limited Company in the U.K. We are registered for
V.A.T and all of our wines are imported directly from the growers in France,
using the same transport companies as the major supermarkets and wine merchants.
All wines are duty-paid on entry into the U.K and are kept in a secure storage
facility, in an environment and temperature ideal for keeping fine wines.
Who we are
Fine Wines was founded in 2003. It came about as a result of a long held
passion for wines, particularly those from the south of France, an area which
is now gaining a much-deserved reputation for exciting and innovative wine
making. We are Leon and Diane Stolarski and we have been happily married
since 1985. We have two sons, Alex and Daniel, and our family home is near
Nottingham. Leon is chief taster, buyer, importer, website designer, picker
and packer, whilst Diane looks after the books and helps taste the wines
- it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!
Part of the thrill of
our annual family pilgrimage to France had always been the opportunity to
visit the cellars of the wine producers and to taste the wines, before buying,
in the very place they are made. Although my "mastery" of the French language
is limited, to say the least, it is always a treat to meet with the winemakers
in their cellars or "caves" and talk about their wines, their methods of
making them, the flavours, the "terroir" of their particular region…… they
are invariably proud of these things and are happy for you to taste the wines
before buying. Some of
our wine discoveries have come from articles in books, newspapers and magazines,
others from recommendations by the owners of the properties we rent, or local
people. The information you need to find the place of production of a wine
is almost invariably there on the label - all you need to do is look it up
in the atlas! Of course, some of the more remote vineyards are not always
that easy to find. But there's a certain eager anticipation in driving around
deserted country roads, down bumpy tracks, or through narrow village streets,
in search of your chosen producer. And it's possible to find superb wines
that seldom see the light of day outside of their own region of production,
let alone on the shelves of U.K shops.
In August 2003, we made a last-minute visit to a producer I had
read about in a book by Rosemary George M.W, entitled "From Banyuls to Bellet
- The Wines Of The South Of France". We sampled a variety of wines, ranging
from excellent to sensational, in a cramped little "cave" next door to the
producer's house in the middle of the village of La Liviniere. This village
is situated in the best part of the Minervois, one of the up and coming regions
of the Languedoc.
The owner of Domaine la Combe Blanche is Guy Vanlancker, a Belgian schoolteacher,
who gave up his job and moved his family to La Liviniere. He bought some
vines and, initially, sent his grapes each year to the local cooperative.
Eventually, he bought some equipment and began to make some wine himself.
He currently has 20 hectares of vines in production, from which he makes
about half a dozen reds, two whites and a pink wine. He keeps the yields
low, to retain concentration of flavour. M.Vanlancker took us to see his
cellar, where (glasses in hand) we tasted many samples of his various wines
- a normal occurrence for a wine trader or writer, maybe, but a rare treat
for an "amateur du vin" such as myself! I was amazed when he informed me
that he had no outlet for his wines in the U.K - a travesty, considering
the quality of the wines he makes. These wines are very special indeed (and
you can find out more about them in the Languedoc section of this site).
As we left after our visit,
I felt a real sense of excitement and decided there and then that it was
time to do what I have always wanted to do - start my own wine business.
M.Vanlancker's wines are extremely fairly priced, considering their quality.
And I knew, as soon as I left, that we had stumbled across the opportunity
to feature a range of wines that would be worthy of building a business around.
These days, M. Vanlancker is known to us simply as Guy, since we have become
good friends with he and his lovely wife, Isabelle.
And now, eight years after that fateful visit, our list continues to include
a full range of wines from Domaine La Combe Blanche, together with a hand-picked
selection of wines from many other growers in which we have just as much
faith. As our list continues to grow, it's content is governed by one simple
philosophy - we only offer wines that we ourselves are happy to drink, from
small, independent growers whose emphasis is on quality wine production -
and whose wines you will rarely (if ever) find on the shelves of supermarkets
or High Street chains. Indeed, the majority of our wines are unavailable
elsewhere in the U.K.
We hope, eventually, to expand the list to include wines from most French
wine regions. We may one day go on to feature wines from other European regions.
For the moment, though, we are content to continue building a list of wines
from the French regions that is unrivalled for sheer quality, diversity and
value for money. So our challenge is this; if you like French wines, we know
you'll love these. If you think you DON'T like French wines, then taste some
of our selection……… and think again!
Our list continues to grow, with wines from some of the best producers
we have discovered over more than 15 years of extensive travelling in these
regions. Our particular strength lies in the classic red blends of Languedoc
and Roussillon, from grape varieties such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre,
Cinsault, Carignan etc, together with some exciting and unusual varietal
wines that are a far cry from the ordinary fare to be found in most U.K supermarkets
and wine shops. We now also have excellent selections of wines from Provence,
Southern Rhone, South-West France, Burgundy and the Loire Valley. We continue
to regularly add new wines, all of which must meet the strict criteria that
we set. Put simply, we only sell wines that we are happy to drink ourselves,
and at prices that we believe are a fair indication of the quality of the
wine in the bottle.
We stock very few "agency" wines - that is to say,
we import 90% our wines directly from the growers. We have visited all of
these growers and tasted the wines, both in their cellars and again at home,
in Nottingham. This way, we can identify the wines that stand the test of
being drunk in our own environment - namely, the changeable British climate!
The majority of the wines are exclusive to us in the U.K, and the ones that
aren't are difficult to find elsewhere. Our aim is to become one of the U.K's
foremost suppliers of these products - wines that have been hand-crafted
by skilled and dedicated winemakers and provide a true expression of the
region in which they are made. We also feature some wines from the more dynamic
co-operatives, who are dedicated to improving and promoting the wines of
their particular regions, and are now making wines that are as good as, and
sometimes superior to, those of the specialist growers from the same area.
For more information on all of our producers, why not take a look at the
by grower section of our online shop.
promise to our customers
Wine is a living, breathing thing and can sometimes
therefore be unpredictable. We will of course, offer a guarantee of quality;
if any wine proves to be faulty in any way, as a direct result of the winemaking
or bottling process, we will always replace/refund/credit it without question.
free to contact us, to talk about our wines, or ask for advic
If you would like to talk to us, whether it be to discuss our
products, make an offline purchase, ask for advice, comment on our website,
offer praise or even criticism(!) - in fact, anything at all - please feel
free to telephone us on 0115 9529387, or send us an e-mail.
Credit card security - your peace of mind
All credit card numbers are encrypted in the software when your
order is placed, using 128 bit encryption and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology
and the secure servers of our website host. They are only decrypted after
they reach our computer, which itself is protected from the internet using
firewall technology. They are not held in clear text on any web site.
We are a family-run
company, set up with the aim of promoting (and, of course, selling!) wines
that we truly believe represent some of the best that France has to offer.
Web design can be an expensive business - and we also wanted complete control
over the content, since it is important for us to have a site that has a
"personal" touch. Therefore, we have created this site ourselves. That way,
it can be be updated daily by us, with the aim of producing something we
hope will be of interest to all lovers of good wine. Yes, it's fairly simple
and unelaborate, but, after all, we believe a good website should be quick
to load, easy to browse and be a showcase for our products and our wine philosophy
- not for a web designer's talents.
join our Mailing List
If you would like to receive occasional
information about new wines being added to our list, and hear about special
offers, please click the logo below to join our e-mailing list. All
it takes is 2 clicks (and no typing)!