Small is Beautiful - Bristol Tasting Circle

“Small is beautiful” is the philosophy of Bristol wine merchants Vine Trail and it’s one that I wholly agree with. It is the complete opposite of that of the major supermarkets whose shelves are littered with the products of companies who deal in millions of bottles. In my view, it simply isn’t possible to produce interesting and distinctive wines in this sort of volume, which is why Vine Trail’s quest for small, quality-minded producers so appeals to me. Most of the wines they import are made from grapes grown organically – in many cases, the producers employ the even more extreme biodynamic model – but all, it seems, are distinctive, flavoursome and (most important of all) highly enjoyable.

I tasted some at a recent Bristol Tasting Circle event, hosted by Lionel Lamadon of Vine Trail – a charming and extremely knowledgeable French former sommelier. We were treated to a delightful selection of wines from all around France; full of vibrant flavours, each was accompanied by some of the most detailed and helpful notes showing how the wine was made, enhanced by Lionel’s personal knowledge of the vineyards.

I would have expected these wines to be prohibitively expensive. They are made in tiny quantities – 6000 to 10000 bottles a year typically – and are much in demand by high end restaurants, but I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that most of those we tasted were between £10 and £15 – remarkably good value considering the quality.

If this has whetted your appetite (and so it should!), you can find Vine Trail at; they sell by the case only, but will do a mixed case.