What a vintage innings. Kate Goodman opened Reserve Wines just months before her brother Mark was appointed Lancashire Cricket Club captain (and there have been seven since). That was 20 years ago this autumn and the one-time BBC Food and Drink Programme grape guru has never looked back. Think of her as the presiding angel over the progress of Manchester (suburbs and all) towards its current status as a serious wine-celebrating destination.
Reserve’s personal 20th celebrations are only just beginning and they will stretch out across Kate’s innovative empire – the Burton Road mothership, outlets at the NQ’s Mackie Mayor, Altrincham Market and Picturedrome Macclesfield food halls plus Bents Garden & Home, Daresbury. Kate is second left in this Alty celebration.
There are two more projects on the way. When we catch up – alas not over a bottle of our beloved Côte-Rôtie – she is coy about these. Just as she won’t spill the beans on which stuffy, old school Manchester merchants intimidated her enough to go away and start up her own business in 2003. The route forward was not scowling your way through a phalanx of dusty racks but sharing your enthusiasm via fun YouTube takes. These days she popu;ates Twitter too with her pithy bottle tips.
Those obvious presentation skills earned her a slot on Food and Drink alongside the likes of Michel Roux nearly a decade ago. But it has been the day job that has consolidated the passion for wine seeded by impressionable years spent in France after a European Studies degree at Hull.
“But surely these days you don’t sell the same amount of French wine as when you opened Reserve… the world has moved on?” I ask her. It’s a meant as a tease for her Reserve buyer, Frenchman Nic Rezzouk. Kate is diplomatic.
“Ah, French wine. It is sometimes about identity. Recently we were chatting with a colleague working his way to a Master of Wine qualification. He told us how difficult it was to blind taste between Old and New World wines. The styles were so similar it was often hard to differentiate.”
But then with the New World there has been a backlash since those heady 2003 days. “When we started the shelves were full of big fruit explosive wines from Australia, Barossa Valley Shiraz and the like. Tastes have evolved; nowadays there’s a trend to lower alcohol, more elegant styles. South African, Australia wines are often fresher in style.”
One constant across he two decades of Reserve has been punters’ perennial devotion to Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, followed more recently by the easily pronounceable (and let’s admit it, consistently fruity) Argentine Malbec. What of the third in the wine shelf ‘holy trinity’? “We were discussing it the other day. When we opened we didn’t stock one bottle of Prosecco. Amazing to think back now.”
So what else do we have now we didn’t have back then? “Well, natural wine has only become a big thing over the last decade. And orange wine. Reserve has always attracted curious customers, looking for something different, seeking different layers of story about the folk who make the wine. Sustainability and methods of making wine are important to our customers too.”
English wine? “Making big strides all the time. Sparklers and now still wines. I can recall one of our suppliers in the early days, he brought in a bottle from a new client, Nyetimber. It was the first English wine I’d tasted. It was really good then and it’s gone from strength to strength, as has the rest of our native industry. Reds were a challenge, but they are starting to blossom. I recently tasted a Bacchus (our aromatic white rival to Sauvignon) and it was so lovely. English wine is still quite niche but it has a bright future and I‘m proud to promote it at Reserve. At Mackie and Alty our basic sparkler by the glass is an Italian, but the next bubbly up is Gusborne from Kent. Gorgeous.”
In the press releasee founder Kate calls Reserve’s 20th anniversary “a monumental milestone – it has always been more than just a shop; it’s a community of wine enthusiasts where everyone is welcome.”
That local wine community extends beyond the one business, mind. “We are not alone in being passionate about giving people options that can guide them on their wine journey,” she tells me. “The evolution of the Manchester scene is remarkable – great people, a vibrant market, more and more tastings coming to us, impressive restaurant wine lists everywhere. 20 years has seen a huge step up.”
Reserve’s 20th anniversary celebrations
There’s so much going on, kicking off with a private birthday celebration for loyal customers at Reserve Wines, Didsbury on Thursday, February 9, the Winter Wine Fair at Didsbury Sports Ground, with over 100 wines and spirits to taste, the following Thursday, and on Friday, November 17 a 20th anniversary tasting event, exploring Reserve Didsbury’s best-sellers. Check availability via this link.
Plus there are vinous prizes to be won via their social media channels. And with Christmas in mind there’s a variety of drop-in tastings across all the venues.
Time for turkey – Kate’s Christmas tried and tested wine tips
Don’t miss Reserve’s ‘Premium Red Wine Duo’, showcasing the Bodegas Palacio Glorioso Reserva Rioja (£17.50 from Spain – smooth and rich with aromas of ripe red fruits, vanilla and spices alongside the Amie Rouge Carignan (£15) from Southern France, a juicy and fruity wine with pure notes of blackberry, plum and pepper.