Invitation to AMA: English wine & beers with buyer Freddy Bulmer [19th Sept]

Our next AMA (Ask Me Anything) is on the way, and we’d love your questions - especially about English wine and beer! :beers:

Wednesday 19th September, 1-2pm: AMA with buyer Freddy Bulmer

Freddy’s our youngest and newest recruit to the buying team - he started as a trainee buyer in September 2015 and has gone on to take responsibility for: deep breath English wine, beer, accessories, Austria AAAND Eastern Europe!

You can read more about Freddy here.

We want your questions for Freddy!

Especially relating to beer and English wine, but you can ask him anything you like.

Send your questions by replying to this topic. Freddy will then join us live for an hour’s chat at 1pm on Wednesday 19th September, where he’ll answer your advance questions and as many followup questions as we have time for!

Click here to see what happened during the last two AMAs with The Showroom’s Marjorie Cropp and our USA, New Zealand and Australia buyer Sarah Knowles MW.

:point_down::point_down: Looking forward to seeing your questions appear below…! :point_down::point_down:


Looking forward to reading this one!

With all we hear about climate change making SE England a perfect Champagne climate, have you seen any shift away from traditional ESW grapes towards Champagne varieties? Do you envisage one? I know we can buy quality sparkling wine from all these varieties but I’m interested where the market is heading


Hi Freddy,
I’ve grown to love English wine very much - especially sparkling and white, but I haven’t yet come across a convincing English red.
Do you have any examples you can recommend? And what is your take on the future of English red wines?
Thanks! :wine_glass::grin:


Haha, that would have been my other question! Would love to see what Freddy recommends. I had a good red from Chapel Down (possibly Union Red but not sure) - but very vintage variable and another one I tried was not great

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Hi! Once again, a big thank you for your time at the press tasting and selecting so many dreamy wines!

My question is beer related - I think we’re currently seeing a shift away from big breweries supplying the low rent-pilsner type lagers of the 90s through to the craft ale boom, especially in IPAs which now seem to be everywhere, in fact you can’t move for IPAs! There’ll always be the bog-standard carling type beer I think, but the market has certainly diversified, in particularly with the ‘casual dining’ type bars and cafes serving a better class of drink.

What do you think will be the next style to come along or grow to have its time in the sun? (Praying it’s a crazy belgian dark quad monster :crossed_fingers::crossed_fingers:)


With respect to Accessories!?!
I had a protracted but eventually fruitful conversation on the provision of Riedel Vinum Glasses in packs of 2 with the Society. We all buy (I imagine?) glasses in sets of maybe 4, 6, or 8 but eventually get breakages.
My idea was the Society might do packs of 2, you don’t need another 6 when one has been broken, and when ordered with wine would save the member carriage and generate hopefully good business for the Society.
Mark Buckingham thought that the idea might “fly” and most of the work was done prior to his retirement. Then the problems started as procrastination and obfuscation then became the order of the day with his temporary successor, after 6 months I lost the “will to live” and I was sad to see that the idea seemed to be discarded.
Not looking for a huge range of Riedel glasses, just the red and white Vinum in packs of 2, and lets see how it goes.
In the mean time, I resorted to eBay which has been fine, but I was saddened as to what might have been. I strikes me that as members we spend a lot on wine collectively, but seem to miss the opportunity to provide full service to the membership with respect to ancillary products.
And might I say, that the workload for this niche part of the Societies activities would probably be quite small, might it be “outsourced” or given to a recent retiree rather than a busy buyer?
There again I am more than happy to crash and burn on this subject, but given that you have made yourself available for this Q & A session, I might at last get a definitive reply on this subject.
The lengthy correspondence should be on file for you to examine, if not I can supply it.

What is the rationale for the WS beer selection?

How do you select the breweries from the very large number now brewing in the UK?

Some breweries supply several beer types, other breweries (like Thornbridge) supply only one beer. Why is this?

Why is there, usually, no reduction in unit cost when buying a case?


Are we going to see more of the Mori Ezerjo that was such a hit or is the new vintage not up to scratch?

Is there something exciting (and new) from Hungary on the horizon? :hungary:


Any recommendations for where to get good glassware for craft beers?


I would be interested to know this too having recently bought a case of the Heather IPA. It wasn’t cheap :tired_face:

I would also like to know WHY if Freddie knows the answer, is it sooooo difficult to get hold of English wine. Aside from TWS which has a fair selection, I don’t see anything other than the bigger brands such as ridgeview, chapel down, Nyetimber, Hambleton etc… on the shelves of wine shops etc… It seems even through trade suppliers its difficult to pick up a decent selection and if there is something I particularly want to get hold of I have to buy direct from the producer, ie: Breaky Bottom, Davenport winery.
I’m going to make a broad assumption too that English wine is FAR more readily available in the counties where it is produced with stores and merchants actively promoting their “own” as such, but living where I do, I am disappointed with the lack of choice and how difficult It is to A) see what is available and B) get hold of it.
Would welcome your thoughts of the above.

  1. Would TWS ever consider an “English wine case”? Or something along those lines with still and/or sparkling?
  2. Why is English sparkling wine so much more expensive than their European counterparts??
    Thanks Freddie.

Leah, Waitrose Online has a decent selection and it’s sometimes 25% off.

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From a research of one (myself, that is) - I think you’re right. It’s relatively easy to get hold of English wine from Sussex in quite a few of the local shops I use. But as you say, there’s probably promotions/deal struck between the shops and local producers, which I totally get- but perhaps misses opportunities for promotion in other parts of the country, which is a shame.


Perhaps English wine is not produced is large enough quantities to sustain a mass market. Similarly with ‘local’ beers. However, I am confused by what is sometimes called ‘craft beer’. To me this is just a marketing ploy, and an opportunity to sell at a higher price in smaller bottles.
I try to buy locally in 500ml bottles…Ludlow Brewery, Swan Brewery, Slaters, Wye Valley, Woods etc. None of which market themselves as ‘craft beer’.
My question to Freddy would be about the accuracy of my views and what actually is a craft beer as distinct from a filtered real ale in a bottle?


Were you happy with the result of the collaboration with Northern Monk on the delicious Patrimoine beer?

Any news on future collabs? Maybe a Brut IPA? :slight_smile:


Freddy - what do you think is the best bitter in the market? Proper bitter, none of your coffee bean with chocolate notes and guava halves.



They seem do do a good range

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@Freddy most probably has better insight but Beerhawk has a selection you could check out.

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I’ve really enjoyed the beers I have ordered from the Wine Society. There have been some exceptionally well made beers, with great flavours and at entirely reasonable prices. Have you given any thought to offering a regular beer selection on subscription, along the lines of Wine Without Fuss? It would be lovely to see you do something to compete with the likes of Beer52, Flavourly, etc.


Any plans to re-stock the Heathen Northern Monk IPA ?

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