Lunch with a Buyer: Pierre Mansour, Tuesday 26th May, 1-2pm

Have been wondering for a while how buyers write the wine descriptions? Sometimes there is a pretty detailed account of a wine and further info on the grower. Others descriptions are a slighter. Obviously there aren’t enough hours in the day to give lengthy account of everything on the list.
Follow-up question, any tips on “interpreting” the shorter descriptions?


Hi Pierre,

I have placed a request for the Vina Zorzal 2018 EP.
I then looked for information on the wines from this Domaine.
I have found ten 2018 red wines from this property, which one would our offer come from?
Thank you. :grinning:


Thank you all for your questions! This event will start at 1pm today and @PierreM will be online to answer your questions! See you all at 1pm.

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We work with a number of smaller producers, interestingly many of the smaller/grower wine producers tend to bottle their wines with no ageing classification so it is rare to come across ones labelled as reserva or gran reserva. Some of the smaller bodegas we work with include Abel Mendoza, El Sacramento, Amezola, Tobelos and Urbina.

Yes, the next releases of La Rioja Alta 874 and Contino 937 will be made late summer/Autumn.

The whites from Rioja have improved and there are plans to extend the range. We started with a Society White Rioja last year which is step 1 of the plan!

Occasionally I list a wonderful sweet muscat from Malaga which can be delicious.


Hi there, our ambition with tasting notes is to fulfil four requirements, what we call internally the “modular” tasting note. Made up of:

  1. The buyer’s note- this should be brief, two to three sentences max, describing as succinctly as possible why you should buy the wine.
  2. Producer profile- a longer note on the producer, the range of wines, vineyard and winemaking philosophy
  3. Regional note- a longer note on the region of origin
  4. Vintage note describing the characteristics of the vintage

1 is mandatory for every wine we list, 2 will almost always be populated (our database has over 1000), all major wine regions are covered (around 50 in total), vintage notes tend to appear for classic areas more frequently. All the notes have input from the buyers. It’s true though that not all our wines have all of this information available but broadly we feel it covers the needs of the majority of our membership.

In terms of interpretation- my suggestion is to look for the adjectives that describe the texture, weight, winemaking (oak or not) and balance. We do refer to flavour characteristics but do this with restraint because flavour is subjective. I hope you find them useful.


Hi @PierreM

I don’t know if you can answer/explain this, but anyway, here goes…!

Something I noticed in Lebanon was that all the local wines were, understandably, significantly cheaper than they are here, with the curious exception of Musar. For example, in my local supermarket in Furn el-Chebbak, Musar was LL45-50,000, which wasn’t that far off what I’d pay in the UK, whereas, say, the latest Ksara was under LL20,000, and the Reserve du Couvent was LL11,000.

Do you have any idea why this might have been the case…? It only seemed to be Musar that had UK-level prices over there.

Edit: apologies Pierre, I appreciate this is nothing to do with your job - I just thought you’re my best bet, as I’ve been wondering about this ever since I was there…!



The Zorzal en primeur is a garnacha from a single vineyard (Cueva La Mora) in the district of Fitero in Navarra. The most similar style and quality level in the existing range from Zorzal is Malayeto.


Lebanese wine - does Musar influence or dominate all else.

Given it has (IMO, anyway) single-handedly put Lebanese wine on the international stage, do other wine-makers find themselves trying to copy the style or influenced in any other way or are there pioneers doing it in their own style?


Our range of Rioja is quite extensive if you look at it across the year. I tend to follow producers, more than individual wines, because the ageing process and the regulations (reserva/GR etc) don’t necessarily relate to the quality of grapes that are used (it’s why you can find gran reservas in the supermarkets for under £10). The stylistic evolution of Rioja is fascinating and it’s fair to say that most members prefer the traditional styles (eg La Rioja Alta) so the focus of the range tends to be on these. But we do cover modern (El Pacto; Roda; Torre Muga; El Sacramento; Cerro Las Cuevas).

I adore good white Rioja but sadly so much of it is pretty poor. It’s either oxidised and tired or modern and neutral. Having said that things are changing and getting better. I’ve found a terrific supply of inexpensive white Rioja which now goes under The Society label. I’m also investigating a potential Exhibition white which would be very much in the traditional style. Contino’s white has improved massively under the new winemaker Jorge Nevascues- the 2017 is amazing and so too is the new 2018 which will be released later this year. Without doubt though the benchmark for classic white Rioja remains Lopez de Heredia- we buy it every year but quantities are minute so I tend to put it aside for our events (where more members get the benefit of enjoying it).


I’m afraid I’m sworn to secrecy! All I can say is that we are planning on something that I think members are going to really appreciate, something that is consistent with the significance of a 150 year milestone. In terms of an event(s) we have yet to decide how to celebrate The Society’s birthday in 2024. Perhaps this could become a new thread in the Community? I’d love to hear your suggestions.


The Director of Wine role has three facets. The first is strategic where I sit on the Executive Team (with CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Finance Officer and Director of Sales and Experience) overseeing the operational elements of the business and working with our Committee on The Wine Society’s long-term direction. The Wine Team is made up of Buying, Merchandising and Marketing with the Buyers, Head of Merchandising and Head of Marketing as my direct reports. The third element is really important as it keeps me at the coal face and keeps my buying pencil sharp in that I have direct responsibility for buying our range from Spain.


I don’t know for sure but my guess is that it is because Musar focus on export markets, I know that their sales domestically are relatively modest compared to Ksara.


Hi Pierre , Are there any plans to review and increase the range of wines from the Jerez region on the list ?

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There is probably room for a top-end Mencia and occasionally I do feature one in our annual Spain feature (November). However I do question the value for money (some are near Burgundy levels). I love mencia’s freshness and vitality so I prefer ones that are made simply without too much winemaking (eg oak)- look out for a new one that’s just been shipped from Ribeira Sacra called Silice Mencia 2018 (SP15571) which will be available on our website very soon.

The garnachas made in Cebreros (the area near Madrid) are amazing wines. A completely distinctive style of Spanish garnacha, which in some ways remind me of nebbiola. There’s a new one just released on our website


On my radar……thanks!


@PierreM Thanks very much for your reply. Since asking I’ve noticed there are indeed a range of wines from Rioja on the list. It was in fairness the Tondonia which was the point of my white question, will i need to buy elsewhere if i want to acquire it?

Yes in fact we did a vertical case in our Christmas Fine Wine List last year- it sold really well. So well that it’s left us with no stock of any back vintages.


Thanks you that Garnacha is on my wish list. :grinning:

Thanks that’s a really helpful answer.
And yes the descriptions are useful, I’m especially keen on the grower descriptions.

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Hi Pierre,

Thank you for your reply, which was an unexpected but very welcome response.
Adding one more 6 X bottle case to my EP request as a result!! :+1: :wink: :dragon:

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