About Wine Sensations
'These guys only bring in wines from men and women who are totally devoted to what they do. The Amistat wines from the Pyrenees are a great example.' - Oz Clarke
'Online retailer Wine Sensations has quickly become one of our very favourite wine merchants. Specialising in small family producers of an organic, biodynamic and terroiriste bent, its geographical focus is firmly European, with wonderful finds from France, Germany and Austria as well as likeminded souls in Oregon, Canada and Portugal.' - The Wine Gang
'UK wine importer and retailer Wine Sensations carries some of the most fascinating artisan wines available in the UK, with a bias towards organic and biodynamic wines. With their own warehouse, they cut out the usual chain of importers and wholesalers, which gives them the ability to import very small-production wines, and offer them direct to the public. I’ve been hugely impressed by a number of their wines.' - Tom Cannavan, wine-pages.com
Wine Sensations was founded to bring extraordinary wine to adventurous wine lovers. We are on a mission: to introduce our customers to an outstanding selection of delicious, handmade (and often organic and biodynamic) wines. We find and import these wines ourselves, holding them in our own warehouse in the UK - cutting out the usual importers and wholesalers. This allows us to pass on significant cost-savings to our customers and to deliver exceptional quality at excellent prices.
Our wines are often made in astonishingly small quantities by independent winemakers who are passionate about their vines, their terroirs and, most importantly, their products. Frequently overlooked by mainstream wine retailers, because of the commercial difficulties of very small lot production and our winemakers' single-minded dedication to quality, this is where our advantage comes into play: we can bring you the wines that other retailers simply can not.
Our policy is that we will not buy wines that we would not want to drink ourselves. We genuinely love every one of these selections and hope to excite and surprise a growing band of enthusiasts who like to ‘drink outside the box’ – people who like to try something delicious and different. As independent merchants, our aim is to provide our customers with what we want for ourselves - unusual and hard-to-find wines of character, charm and IMMENSE drinkability.
Wine Sensations' mantra is quality: we seek out the very finest wines from small family producers and passionate independent winemakers. We have a particular love of the wines of the South of France, but we are not blind to the charms of other regions and, indeed, other countries.
While we are not dogmatic about certification or adherence to formulas of wine production, it is significant that the majority of our producers have organic and/or biodynamic accreditation and – if they don’t – still produce their wines organically and with minimal intervention. Organic and biodynamic status is, however, not enough for us: the wines we select have to be delicious, true to the grape and region and consistent in the glass and bottle – something which can’t be said of all wines in this category.
We are very proud to think of the winemakers that we represent as friends as well as commercial partners. They have a deep understanding of their vines, terroirs and histories, and we spend as much time as we can talking (and drinking!) with them so that we can properly represent their remarkable wines.
A FEW TECHNICALITIES
This word puzzles many and is often dismissed by more industrial winemakers as pretentious nonsense. Nevertheless, no one who has spent time travelling through the old vineyards of Europe can remain inured to its significance. The soil, the underlying geology, the microclimate, the surrounding vegetation and wildlife, the generations of family connections; all of these things and more go into the definition of terroir.
The hard proof regarding the significance of terroir can only be truly appreciated when you've tasted wines of the same vintage and grape variety, from the same vineyard and winemaker, grown on different soils and climatic conditions in different areas of the estate; the difference between the wines can be startling - and that can only be down to the mysteries of terroir.
It is a term that we have come to respect and which underlies the thinking of all of the winemakers that we represent. We will try not to overuse it.
Organics and Biodynamics
'A root day won't make a good wine taste bad, but on a fruit day the wine is almost leaping out of the bottle and singing "ta-dah!"'- David Motion, Daily Telegraph
Most of us understand the principles of organic production through our fruit and vegetables and there is little to expand on this in relation to wine. The ‘biodynamic’ label, however, is sometimes mystifying.
Fundamentally, we like to think of biodynamics as a return to the traditional understanding of the symbiotic relationship between all elements in the natural environment. The modern movement owes much of its momentum to the teachings of Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s (yes, he of the schools too) and has been carried forward by Maria and Matthias Thun.
The biodynamic movement has grown tremendously in recent years. It has a very attractive ambition which is to produce wine in a manner that understands and respects the vineyard as part of its terroir. However the biodynamic label is not lightly accorded and is governed by a strict set of principles initially set down by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 including the adoption of nine naturally produced 'preparations'.
While some biodynamic prescriptions may seem to take winemaking into an almost spiritual realm with, amongst others, 'fruit', 'flower' and 'root' days and alignment with zodiacal movements and the phases of the moon, it seems harder and harder to deny the superiority of the final products. One might argue that any winemaker prepared to fill cow horns with dung, bury them for six months and then ‘dynamise’ water with the resulting super-concentrated manure to use as a spray for the vines (known as preparation 500) might appear to have lost his or her marbles. Even if you don’t subscribe to the metaphysics, we believe that anyone this committed to their craft is going to take extraordinary care over the more day-to-day aspects of viticulture.
It must also be noted that the general health of biodynamically-tended vineyards is significantly superior than those maintained in a more industrial manner. Without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, the vines remain free from fungal and bacterial infection and the soil supports an astonishing diversity of friendly flora and fauna. The grapes are happy, the winemakers are happy - and this is reflected in the production of some of the loveliest wines we have ever had the pleasure to taste.
The principles of biodynamism are also catching on commercially, with some major retailers scheduling their tastings to fall on biodynamically favourable days. We have found a clever app which will help tell you when your wines are likely to taste their best. You can find it here.
At Wine Sensations, our primary aim is to bring you delicious wine, whatever its accreditation; if it happens to be made in accordance with organic and biodynamic principles, that's a truly massive bonus. Our biodynamic category is reserved for those wines that achieve accreditation by the Demeter Association. That said, some of our smaller winemakers (such as Amistat) are producing biodynamic wines without certification from Demeter; their production is minuscule and membership of the association would, at this stage, be prohibitively expensive for them - but it would be wrong of us not to include them in this category.
If you are unfamiliar with the brave new world of biodynamic wines, our selection is a very good place to start.
The greater one’s love of individualistic, interesting wines, the harder it becomes to ignore the growing natural wine movement.
While ‘organics’ and ‘biodynamics’ focus on the vines, ‘natural' wine takes this idea further into the winery. In essence, it’s an ‘anti-intervention’; rather than doing and adding stuff to the natural grape juice that emerges from organic grapes - just leave it alone! It’s not quite as simple as that but - fundamentally - stop messing around with the wine! No commercial yeasts, just those that settle naturally on the grapes in the vineyard, minimal or no fining and filtration, no enzymes, pretty much no sulphur. None of the stuff that the industrial winemakers would prefer that you should not know about.