(The IWSC Report 2013, published in Drinks Business)
It takes a real specialist to win the independent retail trophy and the McAlindon’s didn’t disappoint
Founded in 1954, Direct Wine Shipments is Belfast’s oldest independent wine merchant. Still family run, the business today is overseen by the McAlindon brothers, Neal and Peter, whose family has history in the wine trade going back 80 years.
Award sponsor PLB praised the retailer as “genuine specialists” with “incredibly good value pricing on a wonderful selection, as well as wine tastings and excellent customer engagement.” Judges supported this view with special reference to the retailer’s “unique efforts despite the economic austerity that has been linked to Belfast in recent history.”
As well as its focus on retail, Direct Wine Shipments is well known in Belfast for wine education, conducting tastings, dinners, food matching and wine courses, which involve winemakers and well-known wine personalities. The staff are all well versed in wine training: out of eight, four have WSET Diplomas and three hold advanced certificates.
The range itself focuses on independent and family-owned estates from around the world. However, uniquely for a merchant, the McAlindons also own their own winery – a long-standing dream that became a reality in 2003. Located in Salanques, Priorat, the wine is made by ex-Vega Sicilia winemaker Silvia Puig. Named “Creu Celta” (Celtic Cross in Catalan), the vineyards are near the Scala Dei Monastery.
Finally, the trade-focussed side of the company, McAlindon Wines, is a supplier to a number of the best restaurants in Northern Ireland.