On Friday I went to the press tasting of high-end London retailer Berry Bros & Rudd, and it proved to be a great chance to check out their new retail outlet at 63 Pall Mall.
Previously, Berry Bros had a small retail space at 3 St James’ Street, which has been in operation since 1698. This historic space was a little intimidating. Dudes in sharp suits were waiting to speak with private clients about their reserves – usually Claret with a bit of Burgundy, Champagne and Port. Ask them about new regional France or new world wines and you’d get a panicked look. Rather off piste. Now, No 3 is closed for renovation, and there’s a magnificent new retail space round the corner, which connects with the various cellars of BBR by a labyrinthine mix of stairs and corridors.
The suits have gone to be replaced by aprons. I was really impressed by the new space, which gives this superb, well chosen range of wines the sort of retail presence they deserve.
The range is strong. I particularly like the Champagne selection. Classics, plus lots of growers.
Then there’s a good selection of wine on tasting on the enomatic machines, which I love.
And there’s really good point-of-sale information on shelf, giving you plenty of detail about prospective purchases.
Negatives? Can’t think of many. Maybe the lack of some of the more quirky natural wines. Slightly high margins, but I totally forgive this because I’d rather pay more for a well chosen selection, from a nice retail space with good customer service, than save a few pounds here and there for a warehouse environment where it’s quite possible to blow cash on bad bottles. Ultimately, the reason people come to a place like this is because of the fundamental integrity of the operation: this is a high quality selection, chosen on merit. It’s the art of shopkeeping: a relationship of trust between retailer and customer. This is a great addition to the London wine scene.
It’s also over the road from 67 Pall Mall. Another London wine hub. Stroke of genius.