CARTE BLANCHE WINES – TENSION SEEKING
Carte Blanche Wines was founded in 2009. We represent producers who make wines we enjoy drinking, mainly as a result of the care and attention that has been lavished upon them by diligent, skilled producers who share a common ethos. We supply many of the UK’s finest restaurants and work with a growing group of like-minded, albeit strictly independent, wine merchants across the British Isles.
In the beginning we felt it necessary to expound the virtues of biodynamic production and ecologically sound wine making. Although in the main the wines on our list are produced in this way, there is now so much noise surrounding this movement that it’s all too easy to become distracted from the real reason we choose our wines.
I have always been a great believer in origin and how it is expressed though a medium. In our case this is wine, and origin is referred to as ’terroir’, another term that generates a lot of noise. I feel that place, tradition and human intervention combines to create a sense of origin and as such look for wines I think embody this in an attractive and focussed way. Much of our time is spent with producers in vineyards and in the region of production to try and gain a sense of what this ‘origin’ should bring to the wine. This is a constant learning process and an enjoyable one too.
Drinkability is often an underrated quality in wine, but it is one we seek relentlessly. Great wine is usually as delicious in its semi-formed state as it is when it is fully mature. I remember tasting at Tertre Rôteboeuf when this light-bulb moment hit and both retrospectively and since I have always thought this to be the case. But whether it be the rarefied or the everyday, I like tension*, freshness and vitality in our wines. Of course there is a place for oak and extraction and so on, but all things in moderation. It’s drinkability over ‘showiness’ every time.
We have been blessed to forge friendships and business relationships with many producers who have since become stars in their own right, and list one or two agencies who were stars before we met. As importantly we have many producers who may come from less popular regions, and their relevance and ‘star’ quality is no less bright for that. We give everyone the same skyscape in which to shine.
SALES and WINE SOURCING
Ben Llewelyn, Managing Director
Gilberto Garrudo, London
Tamsin Jones, Cornwall and Devon
James Grey, England and Wales (merchants and groups)
Simon Lloyd, Scotland (Under Henri’s of Edinburgh)
Ian Barker, Operations Director
Paul Cooper, Warehouse Manager
Tania Bridge, Accounts
*a note on Tension: A friend, who owns a Galician restaurant, and I were drinking some wines recently and he remarked that although he liked a particular wine, he favoured another as he felt it had more ‘Tension’. Perfectly framed, I thought, and it is a character that sums up the wines I enjoy- more tension, less flap. A few weeks later another friend, a journalist, was discussing something similar and I mentioned ‘Tension’ and she agreed this was it, but took another tack. Whereas I felt tension was part of the taut nature of a wine’s physical being, she pointed out that the best people she knew in her life were those that had faced struggle and difficulty in their lives; they seemed to have an extra dimension, an undercurrent of edge. Tension. Not dissimilar, we agreed, to how vines that really struggle seem to produce the best wines. It was an interesting thought and one I will continue to develop and prove.