In 2017, specialist fine wine merchant Wilkinson Vintners celebrated 25 years in business as a market leader, supplying first-class wines at competitive prices and providing world-class advice to knowledgeable, discerning clients around the globe.
Patrick and Fiona Wilkinson founded Wilkinson Vintners in 1992 and in 1998 they were joined by Paul Bowker as partner and co-director, who brought with him many years’ experience gleaned while serving as the head of the wine department at Christie’s.
In those 25 years, the company has never changed the manner of its operation. All of its wines are inspected and photographed prior to sale and kept in a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled warehouse in east London, until they are ready for delivery in climate-controlled vehicles. All wines that are listed are owned by the company, and
at any time stock can typically include in excess of 500 cases of first growth claret and a total holding of fine wine worth over £8m.
The focus has always been on the careful sourcing and purchase of well-cellared, mature wines from private British cellars. This could range from buying from a traditional country house cellar, where the owner has stored his routine purchases of wine over many years, to buying from someone who has bought wine over a period of time purely as an investment. Such purchases from private owners vary from a single case to entire collections worth millions, and during 2017 the company purchased a single private cellar worth nearly £1.5m.
Wilkinson Vintners focuses very heavily on the classic wines of Bordeaux (including Lafite, Latour, Margaux,
Mouton Rothschild, Petrus and Le Pin), but also sells vintage port, Burgundy from the top producers (DRC, Rousseau, Roumier, de Vogue), as well a wide range of great wines from the four corners of the world. The company’s current stock ranges from a case of claret at just £120 to 12 bottles of the legendary Petrus 1982 at £50,000 per case. They also have an exceptionally rare case of Romanée-Conti 1988 available at £185,000
Last year saw the sale of a super-rare six-litre ‘imperiale’ of Château Latour 1961 at £55,000, one of the most expensive single bottles ever sold by the company. Sales rose to £30m in 2016/17 and are to a broad customer base, from British private clients to top restaurants, hotels and superyachts. Recently the vast majority of wines sold are heading East, particularly to Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, accounting for 75 per cent of sales.
Such is the buoyant nature of the fine wine market that the main constraint on the business is supply. ‘We spend 90 per cent of our time sourcing wine, and find that when listing the right wine at the right price, sales look after themselves with no need for a “sales” team,’ says Paul Bowker.
‘We are always happy to help and advise, but there is never a hard sell – just genuine, professional and expert advice.’
All wines are held in their warehouse but Wilkinson Vintners sees clients by appointment at its Marylebone mews headquarters in a building it designed and built in 2002. With 25 years already under its belt, Wilkinson Vintners looks forward to many more years of carefully purchasing and discreetly selling the world’s greatest wines.
WILKINSON VINTERS 38 CHAGFORD STREET, LONDON NW1 6EB +44 (0)20 7616 0404