The world’s best wines for you, in Kumeu
Chris Carrad’s previous roles in the industry – running large wine shops in London and as tastings co-ordinator for Wine magazine – gave him the opportunity to travel the world’s top wine regions, meet the greatest winemakers and try the best wines. At Wine Circle in Auckland’s West, he’s put that experience and those connections to good use, with one of the country’s widest selections of international wines (and beers and spirits), and some of the most informed staff in the business. We chatted to him about his motivation.
How did you get involved in the wine industry, and was it always a passion?
I kind of fell into it by getting a job at Oddbins aged 20, but it soon became a passion after that.
Tell us a little bit about your business, what makes it different to other wine stores?
Our range and knowledge. With the many classic wines we import ourselves, and with all staff members holding the WSET Diploma, we really are ‘different’ to all other wine shops.
Running a thriving wine business must be a challenging job. What makes it all worthwhile?
People coming back and saying “… was the best wine I have ever tasted.”
What constitutes a successful wine store to you?
Many regular customers, who are willing to try different things because they trust your advice, and the ability of the shop to provide many options at many different price points as well.
What questions do you ask a customer who isn’t quite sure what they are after, to help direct their choice?
I try to find out what colour, weight and style of wine they are after. Then I will ask if it is going with or without food, and what sort of food. Finally I ask for a price indication.
Do you have a personal favourite wine/varietal?
No real favourite, though my desert island would have a few cases of Müller Catoir Scheurebe Spätlese on it.
What would you suggest to a customer who comes in looking for a knockout wine to impress their dinner guests?
Au Bon Climat Nuits Blanch Au Bouge Chardonnay.
What is your personal favourite food and wine match?
Thai green chicken curry and a German Riesling Spätlese.
Which are currently the most popular wines you are selling?
North Amercian wines and Southern French reds.
How did your relationship with Martin and Planet Wine begin?
When we opened 10 years ago and we needed some decent South African wines.
What is it that you appreciate about Planet Wine as a supplier?
Martin actually knows how it works out there and has not lost sight of small customer needs like the big corporate suppliers have. If the supermarkets make the same move on wine as they have in the UK, the big suppliers will regret that their only ‘rep contact’ with small customers was a bulk e-mail and that they charged you for an order under $500 for delivery, as they desperately scrabble to find someone to buy their wine. Planet Wine already treats small and big equally.
Which wines/regions are currently under-represented in NZ (and could be an opportunity for Planet Wine)?
English sparkling wines. Very good and about to become much cheaper with the exchange rate.
Wine Circle, Shop 2, 329A SH16, Huapai, Auckland.