About Rive Gauche Wines
Who are we?
Rive Gauche Wines is a supplier of wine to the international trade. We are an independent négociant company, based in Bordeaux and founded in 2011 by Ben Kennedy, who has over 20 years’ experience in the wine business. After 15 years with top firms in London, supplying Fine Wine to all levels of the UK trade (from Tesco right up to the Royal cellars), and trading to wine professionals across Europe, Ben moved to Bordeaux in 2008 to be nearer the production end. He ran a négociant house belonging to a well-known Belgian winemaking family for two years and then created his own business.
Rive Gauche Wines specialises in sourcing top-quality wines from little-known producers, actively searching for talented, serious winemakers and supporting them in their export development. While we are based in Bordeaux, capital of the wine world, our interest and experience takes us further afield to other French regions and into Spain, where we are equally keen to share our exciting new discoveries with you. Most of the wines we offer are very low production and are not available through other channels, which allows correct margins for our customers and ensures you can offer excellent value-for-money to yours, without the threat of local competition.
Each of our wines has a story to tell, and we’ve loaded as many of our vineyard tales as we can into the pages of this website. But wine is a complex matter and this can only be a start, so we’ll be very happy to meet you and share them with you in person.
You may have heard of one or two of our producers, but most you won’t. That’s because it’s our job to bring you new ideas and experiences, not to churn the same old labels. We spend an insane amount of time on the road, going the extra mile to unearth producers that importers would almost certainly not come across themselves, and selecting exciting new wines, so you can focus on your own customers (that’s where the money comes from after all).
The world of wine is bursting with opportunity but any professional buyer will agree that sourcing excellent wine is like finding a needle in a haystack. We could easily overstretch our resources, exploring further and further but that would dilute our core value, and that is why we only work close to our home base in Bordeaux. We cover this region itself and in addition the southern part of France and northern Spain. If we can’t be there in person to discover, investigate and manage the relationship with a producer on a regular basis, basically if it’s more than a day’s drive, then we won’t deal.
Generally we are looking for a balance of power and elegance. With a long background dealing in Crus Classés and other Fine Wines, we have a deep knowledge of how the best of the best should taste. Everything we offer is measured against that very demanding yardstick, which will mean pure fruit, convincing structure, fresh acidity, well-worked tannins, length, depth and balance. All at a fantastic price. In short we’re looking for what the French call “le mouton à cinq pattes”. (A five-legged sheep might not sound very appealing but it means asking the impossible, which is what we do of our producers.)
The way in which wines are made, and their impact on the environment, is of great importance to us. Many of our wines are certified organic, some are even biodynamic, and we do favour producers that strive to protect nature, reduce their carbon footprint and promote ecological responsibility, but we are not totally stuck on those points. Partly because the climate in Bordeaux is so damp, and organic farming is so risky, we’ve always believed that certificates that hang on the wall are not as important as efforts made every day in the vineyard. The “lutte raisonnée” principle of treating the soil and the plants with a maximum of respect while accepting that sometimes it can be necessary to spray a product in order to save an entire vintage – and perhaps a family’s livelihood – are adhered to by many of our producers. They are not organic, but neither are they enemies of Mother Earth!
Finally, we are so excited to have discovered a growing movement in France called Club Vertuvin, and to be their exclusive export partners. This group of producers value humanity as much as Nature and, more specifically, give training and jobs to people with learning disabilities. You can read all about them on their own dedicated producer page.
How do we work?
Historically the roles of wine producer and wine trader in Bordeaux were totally separate, two different functions each relying on the other. The region is still full of middle-men and today there are over 300 négociant businesses in the Gironde department, distributing and exporting wines they haven’t made themselves. Many bordelais producers still don’t have the resources to market and distribute their wine so we provide a genuine service and they are keen to let us do that for them.
Beyond Bordeaux, though, where the majority of winemakers have sprung up in a world of mobiles, computers and low-cost flights, the tendency is for producers to want to handle all aspects of the business themselves, both production and sales. For us to become involved, to justify our role, it means bringing something extra to both sides. We do this by introducing serious producers and serious customers, seasoned professionals and enthusiastic newbies, filtering constantly to ensure we establish quality, productive relationships. Our work involves accompanying the producer and the importer/retailer, constantly moving back and forth, representing the interests of both, strengthening ties and helping our customers to promote sales of our wines to their own customers.
Rive Gauche Wines operates like a normal Bordeaux négociant business, our customers select wines from our list following tastings and vineyard visits, and the wines are collected ex-cellars by their logistics partner. However, we do not hold our stocks in one centralised warehouse and customers placing orders from more than one producer normally arrange collection individually from each producer. As a wholesale exporter, our minimum quantity is one pallet per producer. (If you prefer, we can provide a consolidation service for a single collection from our Bordeaux warehouse, for a small charge. Please ask us for details.)
Why work with Rive Gauche Wines?
Bordeaux is often regarded as a wine for the rich and is rightly famous for the luxury image of the Grands Crus Classés, but fewer consumers can afford these prices nowadays. For those who do want to buy parcels of top claret we have good access and are happy to oblige, but this is not our primary focus.
The region also produces a wealth of undiscovered, excellent value-for-money wines that have trouble making it on the international market. Even for professionals, for every famous château name you know, there are ten that you don’t. This is our core market and there is so much to discover.
The image of Bordeaux around the world can be greatly enhanced by introducing new, quality products and offering greater variety, and the same is true of our other regions. Our wines are carefully selected for a discerning consumer keen to explore and learn, but with a more realistic budget. This mid-market sector is growing in strength in many countries. We are a small company keen to over-perform on quality and service, and as our wines are not widely available this allows you to develop loyalty through your sales network and build reliable ongoing business, without the inconvenience of direct local competition, while earning correct margins.
The press is full of articles telling us that consumers around the world are drinking less wine, but that they are paying more for it. This isn’t because producers are putting their prices up or retailers are getting greedy, it’s because the consumer is learning and developing and becoming more engaged with the product. They are looking for better quality and a depth of interest that commercial brands cannot offer.
Consumers also want a more honest product, something authentic with a story that does not leave a mark on the planet. European wines for European consumers, genuine interesting products for genuine interesting people. This is what your customers are looking for and this is what we offer.
Direct importing for retailers – we can help
According to the UK magazine The Wine Merchant more independent merchants are importing direct, or planning to do so, than ever before. What is more, they will be doing this mainly with French and Spanish wines, as the Top 100 wines in the same magazine goes to show.
One of the reasons some still don’t want to do this is fear of the extra admin. We’ve seen both sides of this equation, first as a UK importer and now as a European exporter, and we can help you through the process to begin or grow your direct imports.
Our experience over the last 20+ years gives us not only the knowledge of how to run direct imports smoothly to the UK or the USA, but also a variety of contacts with reliable shippers and warehouses on both sides of the water. In addition, we have made special arrangements with our own logistics partner to enable mixed pallets of Bordeaux wines from a single collection point, at very reasonable rates, so you can import more realistic quantities that work better for your business.
You can download our most recent price list here.
For guidance with prices on the website, please follow these approximate price brackets (EXW per 75cl bottle):
|Below 5.00 €|
|From 5.00 € to 7.99 €|
|From 8.00 € to 11.99 €|
|From 12.00 € to 14.99 €|
|Above 15.00 €|
Terms and conditions
You can download a copy of our terms and conditions here.