Thirty-three years at Five Way Cellars has given proprietor Ian Cook a comprehensive perspective on wine that few other retailers have, writes Toni Paterson.
Tell me about your store.
When we opened in a Paddington terrace in 1987, no one was selling quality Italian wine to any extent; I loved it and worked harder at Italy than any other country. Today, while Italy and Germany remain a focus, we also have a good spread from Rhône and are strong on Burgundy.
How did you get into the industry?
I did a wine course run by Warren Tildsley at Peter Bourne’s Moore Park Cellars. He was a fantastic teacher – half the people in the group went into the industry!
What makes your store different from others?
Apart from the rarest wines, we try to taste and write up most of the wines we stock. We have an active mailing list, and have always done plenty of educational courses and events. We also host new-release tastings and dinners for wines like Barolo and Super Tuscans, plus exciting areas like Etna and Vittoria in Sicily.
Tell us about your customers?
While they’re always on the lookout for something new, classic areas such as Piedmont have a strong following. I’m keen on riesling and have always been prepared to open a riesling to show its virtues, which has helped build up loyal riesling customers.
Your favourite riesling producers?
Crawford River, Wines by KT, Henschke and Grosset; also, Mac Forbes and recently Duke’s from Porongurup. Trimbach and Weinbach from Alsace. As for Germany, JJ Prüm, Egon Müller, Von Buhl, Robert Weil, Georg Breuer, Dönnhoff, Wittmann … how long have you got?
What does the future hold?
My son, Ches, works in the business; he is more qualified than me and likes more of the alternate styles than I do.
Trust your own palate. If you think something is good, then it is. It does not matter what other people think.