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Interview: Morrell & Co.’s Jeremy Noye On The State Of The Wine Market

August 7, 2017

Located in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza, fine wine and spirits retailer Morrell & Co. has been operating for almost 70 years. With annual revenues in excess of $24 million, Morrell touches multiple aspects of the wine market—it has a retail space, wine bar, auction permit and storage facilities—giving it a unique insight to industry trends. SND’s Julia Higgins recently met with Morrell president and CEO Jeremy Noye to discuss where the world of fine wine is today, and what’s in store for Morrell.

SND: How is Morrell’s wine bar faring in comparison with the retail operation?

Noye: We’ve seen steady growth since 2014 across our wine bar, retail and storage businesses. The greatest comparison between the wine bar and retail is that we’re seeing people experiment more and taste wines outside their normal buying patterns and comfort zones at the wine bar, spanning all price points. At retail, people are sticking to their comfort zones and categories they follow. Both the wine bar and retail have a strong, dedicated customer base that extends beyond New York City. The wine bar clearly has a following of people who come visit us whenever they’re in New York.

SND: What key trends have you been seeing in fine wine?

Noye: People are returning to the classics. There’s been a lot of branching out and experimenting with emerging regions, or regions that have been rediscovered. But this year more people coming back to the classics, returning to their buying patterns of the past. Whether it’s the Rhône, Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, Brunello or Barolo, we’re seeing a return to these regions.

SND: Which of those are driving the most growth?

Noye: Italy is growing for us, with a lot of quick turnover. It’s mostly Brunello, Barolo, some Chianti and then the more classic, historical Super Tuscans, but we also sell a decent amount from the Veneto and other parts of Italy and Sicily. California is our other large player. We have a lot of Napa selections, and very good turnover and demand for Chardonnay, both from Sonoma and south of San Francisco and Santa Barbara. There’s strong demand for Pinot Noir from the Santa Barbara area, as well as from Sonoma.

SND: Which other wine regions are on your radar?

Noye: We’re focusing in on our offerings from Chile and Argentina—what we’ve dubbed as the classics from down there—that retail above $40. That’s where we excel. Wines like Clos Apalta, Almaviva, Cheval des Andes and single vineyard expressions of Terrazas de los Andes for instance. We’re starting to offer more wines from Australia. There’s not a wide breadth of selection, but again we keep it in the over-$40 price point. We support brands like Two Hands with at least one or two representations, and Penfolds—wines with track records.

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