Jonathan Ray

About Wine Club and our partners

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The Spectator Wine Club is a club without sub. In fact it isn’t really a club at all, since no membership is required; no proposing, no seconding and no minimum order.

Our six merchant partners – Corney & Barrow, FromVineyardsDirect, Honest Grapes, Mr Wheeler, Private Cellar and Yapp Bros – represent the cream of the UK’s independents and boast centuries of experience between them. They all have particular areas of expertise and stock wines that you would never be able to find on the supermarket shelves or local off-licence.

It works like this: I taste a range of 20 or so wines from each merchant, whittle them down to six and then we offer them to our readers every fortnight. Each merchant does three or four offers a year and are usually extremely generous in discounting their prices.

We also hold regular Spectator Winemaker Lunches in our boardroom at 22 Old Queen Street where celebrated producers come along and chat about their wines over a four-course cold lunch supplied by Forman & Field. We never have more than 16 people around the table and we never drink less than a bottle a head. They are famously convivial occasions and previous producers at our lunches have included the likes of Pol Roger Champagne, Penfolds, M. Chapoutier, Domaine Chanson, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Chapel Down, Domaine Drouhin, Vega Sicilia, Cakebread Cellars, Hamilton-Russell and Seresin Estate to name a few.

We like to think that there is no better place to buy, taste or chat about wine than the Spectator Wine Club. Why not join us and see for yourself?

About our Wine Partners

Corney & Barrow, founded in 1780, is a titan of the wine trade and has some of the finest, best value own-label wines in the UK. At the other end of the scale, they have an agency list to die for, with exclusives which include such mighty names as Champagne Salon, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Bonneau du Martray, Domaine Leflaive, Clos de Tart and Petrus. 

FromVineyardsDirect, founded by David Campbell of the Everyman Library and Esme Johnstone, founder of Majestic, is internet-based and, as such, manages to keep costs low. Famous for its canny purchases, such as small one-off parcels of mature wines and its declassified or ‘defrocked’ clarets, FromVineyardsDirect always has something tasty for us up its sleeve. 

Honest Grapes, the brainchild of Tom Harrow and Nathan Hill, is especially strong on Italian wines, cru classé claret, top-class burgundy and vintage champagne, with fascinating examples made by small, artisanal producers whose production is far too modest for the supermarkets to bother with. The Honest Grapes wine club has also picked up many an award. 

Mr Wheeler of Colchester remains in the hands of the Wheeler family, with Johnny the sixth generation to lead the business. With an emphasis on ‘better wine’ for everyday drinking and close, long-standing relationships with top estates such as Ch. Musar in the Lebanon and Clayvin in New Zealand, Mr Wheeler’s offers are always hugely popular. 

Private Cellar, near Cambridge, was founded in 2005 by a small group of friends who cut their teeth in some of the best-known firms in the wine trade. The team were voted the UK’s Best Independent Wine Merchant a couple of years ago and the carefully chosen list – sourced by Nicola Arcedeckne-Butler, one of fewer than 400 Masters of Wine in the world – is of enviable quality. 

Yapp Bros is famously strong on the Loire, Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon and the quirkier corners of France thanks to the efforts of the veritable wine hounds that are Jason Yapp and stepbrother Tom Ashworth. There are wines on Yapps’ list that just cannot be found anywhere else. If Jason and Tom haven’t sourced and tasted it, then it simply doesn’t exist.