Graham Holter: wine and the UK

Graham Holter told us more about wine and the UK, specifically about British winelovers and the opportunities that the UK market can disclose to Italian wineries. He is the director and editor of “The Wine Merchant“, an English magazine for the independent retailers.  He has been dealing with wines from all over the world and he has the knowledge on trends of the UK wine market. The low presence of wines from Lazio region has to be interpreted as an opportunity. For this reason Holter talks about the connection between wine and places of origin, something that for our region is the easiest thing to tell our potential future customers.

How important is nowadaysto have a “story” to tell to have an impact in the UK wine market? Can wineries focus just on quality?

The UK market is incredibly crowded. In the specialist independent trade, stories are important, but retailers want to be confident that their customers are getting excellent value for money, whatever their budget. If a wine tastes great,but is more expensive than something else with a similar flavor profile, the story would have to be really compelling! Either that or the wine would already have a strong following.


What is the approach of UK winelovers towards Italian wine? Is it more important the grape variety, the territory, the region, the DOC or DOCG?

In the UK, we buy lots of wines according to variety, but that applies less to European wines than New World wines. I think for many British wine lovers, regions like Chianti or Rioja or Bordeaux are like brands in their own right. Aficionados will understand a little about the grapes these regions work with, but I suspect casual wine drinkers do not.


Which and how many wines (or grape varieties) of Lazio are known in the UK at the moment?

To be brutally honest: very few of them. Some wine drinkers will perhaps have heard of Trebbiano and Malvasia but I’m not sure that even these people would identify the grapes with Lazio.


What are the trends of the future that Italian wines and, perhaps, those of Lazio could be the protagonists?

The trends are perhaps global ones: fresh, clean wines that aren’t too heavy on the alcohol or oak, and which are made in a low-intervention way, as sustainably as possible. Wines that express the character of a particular plot. Wines with balance and finesse. But with everyone aiming for the same objective, it’s probably more important than ever that wines have a genuine sense of place. British people love Italy, and they love Rome. So, if the wine they are drinking takes them there, however briefly, they’ll be happy!