LEA & SANDEMAN IN THE PRESS
Oozing quality and long established as one of London finest wine merchants, Lea & Sandeman is a hugely respected company, with west London shops in Chelsea, Kensington, Barnes and Chiswick all offering a fantastic array of wines, with numerous strengths, running from Italy and Champagne to Burgundy by way of much else besides. Charles Lea, who heads up the company, runs a very fine operation, which also has healthy trade and private customer accounts in London and well beyond.
The Wine Gang
"To get straight to the point: Lea & Sandeman is one of the best wine merchants in the UK. It's wholly independent, has four shops in London and everything is also available from its informative and user-friendly website. It's strong on the classics as well as on the recherché and is never afraid to go off piste. Don't miss the Stapleton & Springer Czech Republic Pinot Noirs and a raft of exciting new Spanish wines, including from Màquina & Tabla, don't miss the Italians or the Burgundies, don't miss...you get the idea. Prices are fair and even better when you factor in the significant discount on every bottle when you buy any mix of 12 bottles."
Anthony Rose in the Independent
"The Bunch includes two of the country's most pukka wine merchants, Berry Bros & Rudd, and Lea & Sandeman... Although a generalist, Lea & Sandeman is strongest in France and Italy. Its Egly-Ouriet champagnes are outstanding, but for sheer value, the expansive, silky mousse of the Barnaut Champagne, Grande Réserve Brut Grand Cru Bouzy, £23.95, £22.95/case, is a winner. Despite traditional appearances, owners Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman have embraced the New World, too, with wines like the 2007 Rippon Central Otago Pinot Noir, £27.95, £25.50/case, a fragrantly loganberry-like, spicy pinot noir that gives red Burgundy a run for its money.
"With four shops in southwest London and a mail-order arm, Lea & Sandeman stood out for the excellent range and the passion of the people behind the company. They clearly love what they are doing, said our judges, and the wines on their list are all wines that the owners would like to drink themselves. Unashamedly Old World in focus, the business has recently expanded into the New World, with a well-chosen selection including such quirky choices as a range of Pinot Noirs from Patagonia. The list also includes an excellent Champagne section - including many grower champagnes and sparkling wines - as well as a good line-up of half-bottles. At the beginning of the year the company concentrated its efforts on finding wines which offer better value, and the sub-£30 range is stronger than ever. For those going online, the website is clearly designed and user-friendly, with a range of search options, and many tasting notes from different wine critics, as well as Lea & Sandeman's own. Fiercely independent and largely brand-free, Lea & Sandeman celebrates wines that have a sense of place - wines that any of us would genuinely want to drink."
"Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman run the best wines shops in London. They are committed terroirists."
Joanna Simon of the Wine Gang
"...one of Britain's best and most original wine merchants, Lea & Sandeman."
Tim Atkin, The Observer
Awarded Independent Wine Merchant of the year
"A company that specialises in France and Italy, but buys well from just about everywhere. The emphasis here is on high quality wines at fair prices."
Steven Spurrier, Decanter
"Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman's specialist shops in three of London's smartest residential areas are in my view the best wine merchants in the capital. They combine ease of access with a rigourously hand-picked selection whose quality always offers value for money."
The Independent on Sunday Review
"Don't come to Lea & Sandeman for £3.99 party plonk. For everything else, from interesting everyday drinking to second-mortgage claret, it is the best in town. It buys what is exceptional rather than something of everything, and you won't spot a bland brand on the shelves."
WHICH? Wine Guide
"Lea & Sandeman is a young, confident operation which deserves to succeed... Lea & Sandeman is all about strong opinions, good wine and staying one step ahead of the competition. The regional French wines are excellent... as are the Alsace offerings from Marcel Deiss. Rhï¿½nes include fine wines from Domaine de la Mordorï¿½e, and the stunning Clusel-Roch Cï¿½te Rï¿½tie. Burgundies start with humble wines from top growers (e.g. Charles Jobard, Georges Mugneret) before climbing right up to Grand Cru level from the same producers. The Claret range changes from day to day, but there are usually around 100 in stock, so it's worth popping in or phoning up if you are after a particular wine..."
"Lea & Sandeman is a start-up retail business with an astonishingly sophisticated and interesting range of wines, mostly from the Old World and full of curiosities and rarities. Lea & Sandeman offers a step-ahead experience for the comfortably-off wine lover. Its list is the most fastidiously and intelligently presented in London; getting a copy is worth the journey itself. This is a better wine shop than you will find anywhere else in Europe."
Jancis Robinson in the Financial Times
"Lea & Sandeman - a firm of which I am a great admirer. A good measure of an independent merchant is how it buys. Deduct 10 points for those who simply ring round the wholesale importers; add 15 for those who, like Charles Lea, take the trouble to scout around the byways of the world's wine regions in search of exclusive little trouvailles.... Their strength is in the wine world's classics (of which they have a constantly changing stock), characterful bargains from southern France, Valdespino connoisseur Sherries, and evidence of the Italian wine revolution that is shamefully rare in Britain."
"Lea & Sandeman is about wines made for enjoyable drinking, about quality, originality; these are characterful wines with distinctive flavours made by real people, for real people."
"Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman are as close to natural wine merchants as you will find: customer-committed, skilful at nosing out producers nobody else has found - and just posh enough to inspire confidence. Their clean, pastel-hued shops make exceptionally pleasant browsing grounds."
Charles Metcalfe, Wine Magazine
"Lea & Sandeman specialises in hunting down small growers whose wines are unlikely to appear on the shelves of large chains as they have only small quantities to sell. Given Charles's Burgundian experience, they are strong on Burgundy (and their prices are comparable with other Burgundian Merchants). Other notable spots on the Lea & Sandeman list include Alsace (for the sensational Marcel Deiss wines), New Zealand, California, sherry and Malt Whisky. Lea & Sandeman wines are extremely well-chosen. And if a wine is well above average quality for the appellation, it's worth paying more."
"Probably the best wine shop in the country for selection, layout and quality of advice and service, offering interesting, individual wines from all over the world. Patrick Sandeman and Charles Lea concentrate on fine wines, but there is plenty to be had here at reasonable prices."
"A succesful young company thriving on a formula of helpful, personal service and an impressive range of wines from Burgundy, the Rhï¿½ne, Italy and the south of France. Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman employ enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff who do their best to answer any queries, however simple. Port and Champagne are always worth browsing through too. Recommended"
"probably the best wine shop in the country"
Oz Clarke in the Sunday Telegraph
"Lea & Sandeman has one of the most imaginative selections of modern Italian wines in the country."
Joanna Simon, The Sunday Times
"I always leave L&S's tastings with an acute attack of optional paralysis, unable to choose between RhÃ´ne, Burgundy, Tuscany, and many others - such is the quality and individuality of the range - so I urge you to get on L&S's mailing list or visit one of the three London shops."
WHICH? Wine Guide
"This confident London merchant remains one of the best places in the capital, no the country, to buy great wine. We voted them our Burgundy merchant of the year last year, and the range from throughout the region is still superb. However, we also admire what they are doing in several other areas, and especially for the way in which they actively seek new producers wherever they travel. So far these sojourns have borne fruit mainly in France, notably in Languedoc-Roussillon and the Rhï¿½ne, and Italy, where the selections from Tuscany and Piedmont are refreshingly devoid of wines bought from the same old UK wholesalers... the emphasis in the choice of wines which they have put together is firmly on quality.... Don't be surprised if staff steer you away from your first choice to something else, and not always something more expensive. Follow their advice. We have never been disappointed by any of the recommendations and have come across some fascinating new wines in the process."
La Revue du Vin de France
"Cette boutique-bijou de Fulham Road regorge de trÃ©sors en tout genre, avec focus sur la France et l'Italie. Ce n'est l'autre que la caverne d'Ali Baba de Charles Lea et Patrick Sandeman, deux Anglais ratissant les vignobles..."
Jancis Robinson, Financial Times
"One London retailer which takes the trouble to search out the superstars of tomorrow is Lea & Sandeman"
Richard Ehrlich, The Independent on Sunday Review
"One of my faves in the field is Lea & Sandeman, which also excels in Burgundy. It has some basic Bourgogne from top producers which pounds the living daylights out of 90% of supermarket Burgundy - some selling for higher prices. For an occasional treat, or a regular treat if you can afford it, they're worth every penny."
Oz Clarke in the BBC's Olive Magazine Nov 2006
"I recommend Lea & Sandeman's online wine shop for interesting French and Italian wines."
"a better wine shop than you will find anywhere else in Europe"
"a firm of which I am a great admirer"
"one of the most imaginative selections of modern Italian wines in the country"
Time Out London - Shops and Services: The Essential London Sourcebook
"Lea & Sandeman is so good you may not know where to start. Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman only buy wines they are really excited about, whether it's a Vin de Pays d'Oc or a £60 red Burgundy. Here, Europe is king, but the coverage is global, and there's always the same attention paid to good buying. What's more, the prices here are far lower than you would expect for this part of town. It's no wonder that so many critics regard L&S as the finest wine shop in London."
Which? Wine Guide
"one of the best places in the country to buy great wine"
"I urge you to get on L&S's mailing list or visit on of the three London shops"
"Their wine list emphasises value for money, whether you are spending £5 or £50. Particularly good for the demon Pinot Noir grape in all its infinite forms"
"An excellent wine merchant with one of the largest and best selections of Champagne in the country"
"all about strong opinions, good wine and staying one step ahead of the competition."
"as close to natural wine merchants as you will find: customer-committed, skilful at nosing out producers nobody else has found"
Michael Edwards, www.italiauk.net
"Lea & Sandeman, the most resourceful of independent English wine shippers, who search out Italian ace buys that other merchants miss."
Matthew Jukes, Money Week
"Patrick (Sandeman) and Charles (Lea) are top-class wine professionals and their range of serious bottles seems to grow and grow."
Tamlyn Currin, www.JancisRobinson.com
"Julia Harding and Jancis Robinson have both commented on the remarkable quality and interesting selection that Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman seem to come up with year after year, and it seems that 2010 is no exception."