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 wines
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. Full terms and
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.
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