Justerini & Brooks, Diageo's fine-wine merchant, reports that it 'has entered into a joint venture with the Quintessentially Group for the future development of Quintessentially Wine.' Quintessentially, a members' club offering a 24-hour 'concierge service', styles itself 'the world's leading luxury lifestyle group'. The financial details of this new joint venture are not disclosed but Quintessentially Wine will continue to be run as a separate business with its own board.
The management remains unchanged, which means, inter alia, that wine writer Matthew Jukes (right), described on www.quintessentiallywine.com as 'the UK's foremost wine expert', continues to select wines for the business. On the company's website, where there is as yet no mention of the joint venture with J&B, he explains, 'My job for you is to romance the finest winemakers in the world, accessing hitherto unseen wines and deftly deliver them to your door.'
J&B is a bastion of the traditional UK wine trade based in St James's Street, London, just across the street from its old arch-rivals Berry Bros. It has long been particularly strong in Scotland, and its business is based on what was quaintly called 'the carriage trade', ie supplying wine to gentlemen and their clubs.
Presumably what appeals to J&B about Quintessentially Wine is access to a very different market (and mailing list) to that currently served by J&B - generally younger and more cosmopolitan. Quintessentially, for example, has been working hard building up business in various Asian markets while J&B is yet to establish a permanent presence in Asia, even though their managing director and head buyer Hew Blair (above left) makes regular forays there.
His official comment is, 'the market that Quintessentially Wine serves, particularly the integral role it has in providing services to Quintessentially Group members, and the way that it does business, makes it complementary and very different to J&B. We see, in the long term, that this combination can provide higher growth in the premium and fine wine market, both in the UK and overseas. '