The Role of Wine Competitions and Consumer Sentiment in the Wine Industry With Bartholomew Broadbent of Broadbent Selections

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated May 17, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

The Role of Wine Competitions and Consumer Sentiment in the Wine Industry With Bartholomew Broadbent of Broadbent Selections

Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by mark

Bartholomew Broadbent
The Role of Wine Competitions and Consumer Sentiment in the Wine Industry With Bartholomew Broadbent of Broadbent Selections 11

Bartholomew Broadbent is the CEO of Broadbent Selections, Bartholomew has been widely recognized for his influence on the US wine market. Decanter Magazine named him one of the fifty most influential people in the wine world in 1997 and ranked him 48th in the Top 100 Most Influential People in the US Wine Industry in 2013. He is a frequent speaker at major wine festivals, such as the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen where he was the Reserve Tasting Director for 25 years. Bartholomew’s lectures have taken him around the globe with Viking, Cunard, Crystal, Silversea, and Regent Seven Seas. He was the Wine Guy for KFOG radio in San Francisco, and he currently hosts Wine Wednesdays on Viking TV. Bartholomew resides in Virginia with his wife and two children.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Bartholomew Broadbent is the Founder and CEO of Broadbent Selections
  • In 1996, Bartholomew started his own company, Broadbent Selections
  • The wine business has evolved culturally over the last 25-30 years
  • Natural winemaking a comeback with lower alcohol and natural fermentation
  • Canned wines are perfect for concerts, camping trips, and other outdoor activities
  • His experiences with his role of judging wine
  • Social media has changed the way wines are discovered and shared
  • Consumers’ opinion is now equally important as that of wine writers
  • Madeira was the biggest-selling wine until prohibition when it was relaunched in 1989

In this episode with Bartholomew Broadbent

In this episode with Bartholomew Broadbent, Bartholomew talks about his journey in the industry over the past 30 years, including corporate changes and shifts toward natural wines. How has the wine industry changed over the years?

Bartholomew Broadbent is the Founder and CEO of Broadbent Selections. Bartholomew talks about his time as a judge for wine competitions around the world and how the criteria for judging have changed over time.

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind The Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks is joined by Bartholomew Broadbent, Bartholomew Broadbent is the Founder and CEO of Broadbent Selections. Bartholomew delves into Madeira, a Portuguese fortified wine that has been made for centuries, it’s unique process includes heating barrels of wine, four types of Madeira from dry to sweet, labels often hand-painted with a retro feel that resonates with younger generations, and its high acidity which makes it refreshing and versatile.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. On the show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. I have a truly special guest on the show today, Bartholomew Broadbent.

But before I introduce him, gotta have the sponsored message. Today’s episode, it’s sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy when the highlights your authenticity, tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story to unleash their revenue.

Go to today to learn more. So today I’m super excited to talk with Bartholomew Broadbent. Bartholomew needs little introduction, for those that don’t know, he’s the CEO and founder of Broadbent Selections. He’s been named most influential wine person in the world by Decanter Magazine.

 He runs multiple companies. Bartholomew, welcome to the show.

[00:01:14] Bartholomew Broadbent: Thank you.

[00:01:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Good to see you. Oh, thank you for being on. So delving in here. You are the, you were the son of the legendary Michael Broadbent and you were. What I actually wanna talk about, cuz what, when we start this thing, I always ask how did you get your start in the industry?

You always had your start in the industry by where you started. What was it like to just come into the industry and why did you choose to stay in it?

[00:01:36] Bartholomew Broadbent: Really good question. If I’d known, I could have been someone like Hugh Grant and done that sort of thing. But, yeah, no, I was never encouraged to, go into the wine business and neither was my sister who ended up being, well she’s currently a knighted high court judge in England.

Oh, wow. And I didn’t really, basically didn’t really know what else to do. For those who dunno, cause I’m sure not everyone knows who my dad is. Michael Broadbent, started the wine auction Christie’s in 1966 and wrote for the Canton Magazine for 433 consecutive months and then wrote books on wine, about 50 or so books on wine, the most important ones being wine tasting and, which is the first book about how to taste wine in 68 and still in print.

And then, vintage wine, which is basically the tasting notes he wrote on all the great wines he tasted whilst at Christie’s and doing other wine oceans for, things like Napa Valley wine auction and hub lime wine auctions. Anyway, that, so I grew up drinking wine. I left England. I went to my first job was in cognac in Hennessy in cognac.

Then I went to Hardy’s wine department then I worked in Australia, a couple wineries there and there I met Marc Hugel who. Inspired me. And so I called my dad and said, Hey, I think I wanna go into the wine business and at that point he said, well, come back now, there’s an opening for you and Hard y’s fine wine match, it’s in Palm was a job opening that you could apply for.

So that’s it. And then I, worked my way. I did a year or two there, got a job offer in Canada, did four years in Canada, where I met my, first people who moved me into America, a port company who moved me to America in 1986 to teach Americans by port, and then Madeira, relaunched Madeira in America. And then after 10 years of that, in 1996, I started my own company, Broadbent Selections to make wines and ports, but also to import and represent other people’s wines.

I think in 96, right around then was when we met. I was a wine buyer at the time, right? And I think we were, I was purchasing ports from you

Maybe. So if it was before 96, it was just ports and Madeiras. after 96, well, setting up the business, it really wasn’t until 97 that I got going. But I suspect that was, I’ve known you so long. I think it was in my previous entity.

[00:04:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Yeah. So I still wanna go back to this. So, you stuck the track with wine. What was it about wine that kept you, in that industry and did you ever think of going outside of it?

[00:04:16] Bartholomew Broadbent: As I get older, you know, hindsight, there are things I would’ve done. But no, you know, I came to America for two years and that’s turned into 35 years. or Canada of America and maybe I’ve got a certain amount of OCD where I’ve, I just stick to what I’m doing and do it definitively. but yeah, I mean there are some nice things about wine business, so it’s some terrible things too, but it’s a lifestyle I grew up in and I think what really convinced me about the wine business, looking back on it, was that my parents, had really great diverse friends, whether it was a Duke or a Dustman.

they were all connected and bonded together by this one product that united and transgressed all barriers and all of their friends were either funny, interesting, intellectual, and, you know, philosophical, whatever. They were interesting people and I thought that’s sure gonna be more interesting dealing with people like that than selling nuts and bolts to a factory.

absolutely. So I stuck to it. There’s a certain amount of lifestyle that goes with it, you know, I like travel, I like meeting people. I’m social. M aybe less so these days, but I’m pretty social. I like, I enjoy it. I enjoy it. But I think there are certainly easier ways to make money but it’s a lifestyle. I just like the lifestyle.

[00:05:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, that’s an excellent answer and that’s really one of the reasons that keeps drawing me back to the industry. I’ve been in and out of it since the mid nineties, and it’s really the, it’s the camaraderie, it’s the level of conversation, and as you say, the lifestyle.

Talking about the lifestyle over the last, you know, 25, 30 years, how have you seen this, wine business evolve culturally?

[00:06:10] Bartholomew Broadbent: Sadly, really sadly, I’ve been in it long enough that I’m now seeing people die. Hundreds of people are dying. All my parents’ friends are dying.

And, you know, the legends that I knew, and took pride in knowing are disappearing. And I suddenly realized, you know, it was a great advantage knowing those people when you’re young. But, you get older, the younger people coming up the ranks don’t know you and aren’t as influential as the ones who are dying off. So that’s Interesting. but I’ve pretty much, kept myself immune to some of the changes, like some of the changes, the corporate changes, some of it, the big box companies that have evolved, I’ve sort of stayed away from that, I’m still very much in the wine business, not the box moving business.

And, I think the changes that I’m sort of aware of are what people are doing to global mitigate warming. The changes and shifts towards more natural wines, or alcohol wines, you know, I’ve seen those cycle go the popularization of wines. Yeah. High alcohol, high intensity, high concentration wines going straight back now to, low alcohol. I’m loving that trend. Yeah. I’m loving it too. Yeah.

[00:07:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I mean, getting a nice 10-hole percent wine is really, really Well, it’s doing my mornings a lot better.

[00:07:36] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I was one of the wineries we represent is called DeMartino. It’s in Chile. Mm-hmm. Back in 2011, they’d become a sort of park rice wine.

They had grown in, to that style of wine. And one day they got the highest port score they got, not from Parker, but from a Chilean wine maker who had a similar palette and they got this a hundred-point score or whatever it was, and they decided to. honor it with a family dinner. So they all gathered this wine tasting at the dinner and they opened it and they tasted it and was silence.

And eventually the, father of the company said, does anyone want to drink this? And they all said, no, it’s horrible. And they overnight, they decided they’re gonna go back to natural wine. Go back to natural yeast, natural fermentation, lower alcohol. And they went looking for all the vines and found these fantastic abandoned vineyards and the tar revived that.

And so now they’re making great wines with structure and elegance and, you know what we like in wine?

[00:08:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Mm-hmm. Well that’s amazing. So they the party that no one will like the a hundred point wine, pretty funny.

[00:08:44] Bartholomew Broadbent: To me it’s always been like a movie reviewer, find a movie reviewer who you find that every movie that they like, you don’t like and every like movie that they don’t like you, like, and it’s similar with some palettes, you know, some wine reviewers. You can rely on the fact you’re not gonna like that wine if that reviewer liked it.

[00:09:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. And a lot of times it’s in context too. Some of those big powerful wines are really nice if you’re taking one sip at a tasting Yeah. In contrast. But then once you’re like slugging through it, through the whole dinner, it becomes a little, a little heavy.

[00:09:20] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah, exactly. You get drunk

[00:09:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: One of the other trends, which I mean really, this is excited to talk about is it’s been a theme on this show, is this like trend towards canned wines. And I know you’re bringing in a line from Madera.

[00:09:32] Bartholomew Broadbent: Well, no, we’re making canned wines in Portugal, but not Madeira.

[00:09:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, okay.

[00:09:37] Bartholomew Broadbent: It’s basically beautiful Vinho Verde. I dunno if you have seen our label for our Vinho Verdes, which basically looks like that.

[00:09:46] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah.

[00:09:46] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah, that’s our Vinho Verde our label.

[00:09:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yes.

[00:09:50] Bartholomew Broadbent: And this has been nine years in the making these cans because I had the idea I wanted to do it, but they don’t do cans in Portugal. They had to source some metal, they had to source the cans, they had to experiment and blah, blah, blah. And finally after nine years, we launched it and we actually call it Spritzy White and Spritz Spritzy Rose.

I dunno if you can see that, it’s Spritzy Rose. Oh yeah. we don’t call it Vinho Verde because the Veno Verde Appalachian didn’t allow this method of, container. They allow bottles, you know, each Appalachian has regulation. Oh yeah. So we just said, okay, we’ll just call it Spritzy White and Spritzy Rose and ship it like that.

And then a week after receiving these, they changed laws so you can actually do a Vinho Verde. I was wondering, okay. But we’ve decided we’re gonna stick to this because, everyone who knows our Vinho Verde will recognize the label. and those who don’t, those people might not want to be avere, but they might go for this, we might attract a new audience, but this is the perfect wine for a can.

And the reason for that is most wines are flat. This has a little bit of spritz, kind of like a Coca-Cola bottle. But when you open it, it has that Ah, yeah. And so it, You wouldn’t think how important sound is to wine tasting, but it is important because you know, you see obviously knows palette and the color, very important sound of a cork popping out has a, is a very, very much part of wine drinking. Exactly. And the sound of an opening can really just gets your mouthwatering and makes you want to drink it. So, so that’s, been really exciting. We launched it just recently and this is the perfect thing for going to concerts, sitting on a boat and a beach by a swimming pool, just having in your bag, whatever.

[00:11:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I just got back from a camping trip and we had, we had a few canned wines on that trip.

[00:11:42] Bartholomew Broadbent: That’s the perfect thing for that. No glass, no broken glasses. Yeah.

[00:11:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now, nine years ago cans, you didn’t really even see any canned wines in the store I mean, the perception really caught up with it. You had to have a lot of forward thinking nine years ago to envision a canned wine coming in.

[00:11:59] Bartholomew Broadbent: I don’t know why I thought of cans, but I guess they must have. maybe, I think Coppola were one of the first cans I saw. What’s her name? Coppola’s daughter was called Sofia, I think.

Sofia, they produced that Sofia thing and I think that’s what probably made me think, oh, this is wrong. I can,

[00:12:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now is this purely for the US American market or is canned wines something that’s happening in Portugal as well?

[00:12:24] Bartholomew Broadbent: No, it is happening in Portugal. And that’s another reason we didn’t want Vinho Verde on it because in Portugal you can buy really cheap for $1 a can or something. And this is a different quality, it’s a higher quality, but we felt that if it doesn’t say Vinho Verde, we might actually get a, some bias from Portugal to take it as well.

[00:12:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay, h now’s it doing in Portugal? Well, we haven’t, we haven’t. Oh, we haven’t started yet. We haven’t started yet.

[00:12:49] Bartholomew Broadbent: Not yet. Yeah. yeah, the trouble is you have to produce so many to print the cans. You have to Sure, sure. Hundreds of thousands and, we don’t have the market yet in Europe.

[00:12:59] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, that makes sense. and it’s also a lot easier to transport than glass. Yeah, lighter, more sustainable as far as it’s, really across the board. Now, you could talk to me about, and really educate me on the canned wine perception in Europe across the board versus the US. We’re seeing it going gang busters here.

[00:13:18] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. I don’t know what it is in Europe cause, you know, I live here, so. Yeah, you do. Yeah. really see that. But I think, the quality, the freshness that you get in the cans. I hate to say this, but when I tasted this the first time in the can, I felt it was even more enjoyable than our very successful vina butter in the bottle.

because it was just so incredibly fresh. There’s, you know, there’s no air getting in there at all to, lose its freshness.

[00:13:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure, sure. And I, as we continue our conversation on cans, it’s like I’ve made the switch a long time ago to just drinking canned beer versus bottled beer. There you can definitely taste the difference in the freshness between the two.

[00:14:01] Bartholomew Broadbent: Interesting. Yeah. Although if it was from a can, I’d prefer to drink from bottle when I came. Yeah. But actually I’ve, drunk this out of the can and it’s fine.

[00:14:09] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. it’s just kind of when you’re in the environment, if you’re camping, You’re just gonna can of mouth. Now kind of shifting a little bit here.

I want to talk to you about wine judging. you’ve been a judge for a while. I mean, forever. Oh, forever. but over the years, if you can go back, like I’m really curious about how the judging has evolved like, has the criteria changed? Is the judge’s perception changed over the years just with general?

[00:14:35] Bartholomew Broadbent: I can only really tell you my experience, to be honest. I find judging one of the most tedious, boring things in the world to. you’re tasting wines blind, having to really concentrate hard on them, write notes, and then you don’t even know what you’re tasting cause they don’t tell you what you’re tasting cause it’s blind. And I just find it such a, laborious waste of time. But I do it because, important. I’ve given up most of them. I’ve judged most of the competitions in the world, even to counter wine awards in England. I’ve judged in San Francisco. I’ve dodged all over the country, but now I try to, I live in Virginia, so I do still judge that one, it’s because I’m keen on Virginia wines and I think it’s. good bonding with the other judges, and that’s really the thing I like about it is meeting the other judges and spending time with them, but the actual process of judging wine has saved double.

[00:15:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. I mean, has it changed over the years or has it just basically been the same as far as that?

[00:15:35] Bartholomew Broadbent: No, no, I think it’s been the same. I think there are some different methods of assessing them. where it’s more, accurate, but yeah, I think it’s pretty much the same everywhere. You just get in a room, you taste six wines and bring in another six wines, you know?

[00:15:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And the role of the judging is it, I mean, consumers, they see it on the shelf talkers, and they see it in the publications. But as far as the role of judging and the role of these competitions over the years. To me, from an outsider looking in and how we’re using it in marketing, we’ve seen it kind of pull back over the last, you know, 10, 15 years more towards like a consumer social opinion of how the wines are?

[00:16:18] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah, I mean, I think social media has changed a lot. And in fact, for a while, I was saying that, that sommeliers had replaced wine writers in terms of importance because when Twitter and Facebook and stuff like that came out, you know, a great wine like Chateau Musar from Lebanon, and it was becoming popular or well-known was right along the times that social media were coming together and you could have a some in a restaurant in California tweet that he’s discovered this amazing wine. And then it goes out to all the sommelier in the world and the sommelier all talking to each other, and the sommelier are talking to customers directly and influencing them.

It’s I think the sommelier thing is, sort of peaked and, or plateaued maybe. I think wine writers are now equally important whereas they were much more important before. I think they’re now, you know, everyone, but then you’ve got, things like Venice where consumers can actually give their own opinions and mm-hmm.

So it’s, I think that’s incredibly important these days. So the judging, the competitions results of competitions are less important than they used to be. And yeah, I think wineries still want to be judged, but I mean, I don’t think the best wines in the world would enter their wines into competitions.

[00:17:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, there’s still definitely a very valuable rule on that. I like talking about sommeliers is almost replacing the wine critics for a while, and I do like to see that it’s kind of turning back a little bit more where the consumer sentiment and consumers the almost a democratization of, wine loving and consumers being able to join like-minded groups.

Yeah, it’s a trend that we’ve liked a lot.

[00:18:17] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. I mean, I, I like that. I think it helps grow wine awareness and wine interests, et cetera. But I still think that, you know, kinda like the academics and in who teach professors in universities or masters of wine, the people who are really, truly educated.

I think their voices are the ones which should be respected most. But the consumer palette is incredibly important too. absolutely, they did that test once where they, put a bunch of wines going up in 10 or $20 increments. And they had them judge, you know, from to buck chop all the way up to shuttler feet and they had a panel of, they had consumers who knew nothing about wine. And they had great experts and the people who were the great experts, they judged the wines of world to be the top wines, but the consumers who knew absolutely nothing preferred the lower end sweet, sort of simple, obvious wines. So who’s to say? Someone is right or wrong, it’s your pallet that counts. Everything is good if you like it. but there is the role of the, master of wine, who will master so many or whatever high quality people, who can explain and nurture a pallet so that it evolves from basic sort of sweet liking, sweet, sort of mass produced wines and can bring that pallet up to find quality wines and eventually, you know, educate the pallet. But it’s not to say that an uneducated palette is a bad pallet. it’s what you like. It’s just a drink. And if you like it, it’s great.

[00:20:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. You mentioned something about Virginia and how you, like, we’ve had a few Virginia wineries on this show and the region fascinates me.

I have to say I’m a little West coast centric in my, knowledge right now as far as in the us but I’m loving to see all these different areas, uncovered. What is it about Virginia Wine that appeals to you?

[00:20:23] Bartholomew Broadbent: So, I first really got to know Virginia Wine when my father was launching this latest book.

I think it was, maybe, I dunno, 20 years ago or so. And, I was helping the publisher with the book tours cause I was doing, setting up the book signings, but doing it with wine tastings at the same time. And, Luca Pastina from Barboursville heard that I was coming to Virginia and I did something in Charlottesville and he called me and said, would you like to do a dinner at Palladio, his restaurant at Barboursville Winery for your book signing? And I said, with your wines. And I said, I would absolutely love to do that. And he said, there’s just one thing I would request is if I could put some of my own wine in there too.

And he said, and I said, of course it’s your winery. Of course you can put your wines in there. And it turned out his wines were all better than the wines, which I was pouring. Oh, wow. So my parents and I were really impressed by that. And then for years, you know, we didn’t represent any wineries from the US and now we actually own a brand called Auctioneer, which Yeah, I was gonna talk about that. Napa Valley car. but before that, we didn’t represent wines from the US. But this, so when I moved to Virginia, I lived in San Francisco for 21 years, and I moved to Virginia 15 years ago, and I asked Luca if I could represent his wines and so he gave ’em to me for everywhere except Virginia sell, sell, I’m Correct in Virginia. But I just fell in love with the wine because, the quality, it was back then, 15 years ago was at the peak of. the big blockbuster Cabernets from Napa. They’re changing now, but they were just obvious big. And the wines in Virginia are much more European and Sal European power, more elegance, more refined, less obvious, lower alcohol. And in fact, they really, really well respected in England, and they’ve been sold in China too. But in the English market really likes Virginia wines. And I think there are 300 plus wineries in Virginia and they’re making a huge variety of wines, whereas, you know, New York may have one or two grapes that they’re specialized in and really great. Whereas Virginia has maybe 20 varieties, which I say are fantastic in world class. And we’ve done sort of judgment of Paris type tastings where we’ve compared Yeah. Virginia wines to great wines benchmarks around the world and where the Virginia wines actually come out top, so Wow.

[00:22:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s amazing. I wish more would come out West Coast. We seem to.

[00:22:58] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah, well look for Barbourrsville. It’s there. It’s,

[00:23:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I need to, I need, yeah, so I believe the growing conditions, really are a lot of humidity, which,

[00:23:08] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. So, so one of the things about the wines we represent is I want them to be as natural as possible met naturally made as possible, and most of our wineries do that. and Barboursville does that in Virginia, but it is it impossible to make a totally natural wine in Virginia cause of the humidity. That’s why Thomas Jackson failed as a winemaker. He didn’t, he, he had two problems. He didn’t know how to adjust for humidity and he didn’t know how to beat the pH allows, which was biting all the roots from Europe. So, now that we graft onto American root stock and, we, can adjust for humility. We can still make wines as naturally as possible after that, beyond that adjustment.

[00:23:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure, sure. You mentioned, and I’m gonna shift completely over to another continent cause there’s so much I wanna talk to you about talk to me about wines in China and Dragons Hollow. I mean, what is it like, being part of that sort of a culture and making wine in China?

[00:24:05] Bartholomew Broadbent: It’s something I’m not involved with anymore. I was, I about, 12 years ago I was brought in, or 13 years ago, I was brought in as a 50% partner in a winery called Dragons Hollow, by an American who has started this winery in China.

And, it was fascinating. We brought our winemaker from Spy Valley Winery in New Zealand. We brought him out to be the consulting winemaker at Mackenzie. And He and I remember we went for lunch one day and we asked the five women winemakers, To, do this when we were out. They said, you have to do this at this exact time.

And then this exact time we went to lunch and we came back and they ‘d said, yes, yes, yes, but it’s only because their culture, they don’t say no. So, we didn’t know that they didn’t know what we were asking them to do, and they didn’t. So, they just said, yes, we’ll do it. And, but they should have said no, we don’t know how. So, culturally it was difficult. It was, the wines were good, but variable. Some years they were really good. Some years they were terrible, but I think we were just before our time I sold my share back to the, founder but today I think, we were in Ningxia province, which is where a lot of, big wineries are based. And I think we were just, Before our time. If we went now, it would be different. It would be totally different.

[00:25:23] Drew Thomas Hendricks: A little easier. Were the wines sold within China or were they exported?

[00:25:27] Bartholomew Broadbent: No, we only, we exported them. We were first nationally available wine in the US from China. Oh wow. but then it sort of all, I guess it crumbled and they just sell it in China now.

[00:25:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: They just, okay. Yeah, fascinating with the Chinese consumption and also the different regions there, you know, you’ve watched a lot of videos and stuff about wine in China where they built an entire representation of Bordeaux and Yes. it’s curious.

I mean, is it, Did you find that working within the Chinese government easy?

[00:25:55] Bartholomew Broadbent: or of course they own all the land. So we didn’t own the vineyards, we just rented it. and it did sort of seem odd. The whole culture though was odd because 15 years ago in this thing, shark Province, I think, the winemaker and I were maybe four or five white people, they saw all the area. Oh yeah. So we had people just staring at us and we went into a restaurant. We’d go completely dead silent. And they’d watch us eat and then we’d leave and you’d hear the noise go. it was just really weird, being, but I loved, being a complete stranger and it was a time when I was completely lost and, In Beijing absolutely lost.

I had no idea I got a taxi to take me somewhere. They had no idea. No one in the hotel spoke English and the feeling of being completely out of your element was just fantastic.

[00:26:46] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s gotta be fantastic, but I can only think of a couple times when I’ve actually even been close to that, completely lost and outta my environment, and I think I need to throw myself into it again soon just to get that perspective

[00:26:59] Bartholomew Broadbent: After my two hours of walking. I eventually, like a mirage, came across an Irish club where they gave me lots of Guinness and then the, Irishman wrote down in Chinese, the name of my hotel, and said he’d just give that to the driver. and I jumped in it and thought, well, finally I’m gonna get back to my hotel.

And this Irishman obviously had a sense of humor cause it took me straight to some disruptable house. Oh no. Eventually I got back. it was really fun.

[00:27:34] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s the perfect cap off to a surreal evening. Yeah, man. Let’s shift to something you’ve got a little more sure fitting on. Talk to me about auctioneer.

[00:27:43] Bartholomew Broadbent: So auctioneer is a wine we’re making in, Napa Valley, and it’s really a tribute to my dad because it’s called Auctioneer. My father was an auctioneer. Mm-hmm. And, we were making, and thankfully my father died in 2020. So, We were lucky that he actually got to see it before.

Oh, nice. It was the first vintage was 2019, so he got to see it. but it’s, we decided to make this wine in a style. Trevor’s the wine maker for us and we made it in a style that he would appreciate more elegant, mortifying, lower alcohol. In fact, we were trying to get it under 14% alcohol on the 29.

Ended up 14.1, but the 2020, the next vintage is under 14%, which is what we wanted. He was very anti-white, but over 14%.

[00:28:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I like to see that. It’s in my pantry and that’s the way most of the wines in Napa were up until. Yeah, 2000s. I’ve got a lot of wine boxes in my pan actually.

I hang, my walls are old wine boxes dating back into the 70s, and I hang pots and pans and I look at all these old wines, and all the boxes have the alcohol content stamped 12 8, 13 2, 13 5. And absolutely across the board you wouldn’t see one higher.

[00:29:05] Bartholomew Broadbent: No, you are right. And when I moved from San Francisco to Virginia, I packed up my, cellar and all the California bottles, which again were from the 60s, 70s, 80s. I looked at them, and from the 70s and 80s were all 12, 12.5. There were a couple of 13, I think the highest was a chemist at 13.5. Mm-hmm. And that was just out outrageously high back then. Now, you know those wines which are 12.5, you can same find the same bottles of on the shelf today at 14.8 and 15.6. And it’s just crazy. But I like to drink wine and, share a bottle of wine with dinner. But if you share a bottle of wine that’s 15% alcohol, you’re gonna be sloshed two thirds way down so you don’t have glass support afterwards, where, whereas view, share a bottle at 12.5.

You still have room for glass of port after finishing the bottle.

[00:30:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure. I do like having a nice after dinner drink. I’ve talked to a lot of winemakers about this and I know it’s a lot of it has to do with new yeast for invented, so they were allowed to do it.

A lot of it’s about the consumer sentiment and the critics driving and rewarding wines for being bolder and bigger the partnerization. When you went to the auctioneer, how was it you almost had to do a reset with, the winemaking style. How did you go about that?

[00:30:24] Bartholomew Broadbent: Well, luckily Trevor, who’s our winemaker got it, understood. it is possible to make their alcohol wines in California. They’re all wineries, which can still do it and who still do it, when people blame this and that. The other for the higher alcohols. But really no, it’s, the things they’re doing in the vineyards or not. And

[00:30:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s very true. I just got back, not Napa, I just got back from Paso Robles on the way to my camping trip. And there’s two wineries always like, but one of them is Tablas Creek and they’re surrounded by a ton of high alcohol, vineyards, but yet they’re still able to consistently put out a 12 to 14% product that’s very European in style. Well, yeah. Given our ownership.

[00:31:04] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. And then we have Madeira.

[00:31:06] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes. So let’s talk about Madeira.

[00:31:08] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. Madeira is fantastic. so in 1989, Madeira, which had been the biggest selling wine until prohibition biggest selling wine in America, the founding Fathers Constitution declaration of Independence were both toasted with it.

It was the biggest selling wine by far, and then Prohibition wiped it out and it was sort of forgotten about because it was, an island in the tradewinds between Europe and America off the coast in Naco, long as Portugal. But, after Prohibition and then second World War shipping had improved. So just bypassed the island so it got forgotten.

Until we relaunched it in 1989. but it’s a wine which was developed through shipping here. Cause they used to use the barrels as ballas in the bottom of the boats. And those barrels used to get heated up and changed the wine. So we still simulate that voyage to America by cooking the wine for to 115 Fahrenheit for a minimum of three months.

but it’s a fantastic wine that people are discovering now and enjoying.

[00:32:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, it’s got a rich nuttiness to it now is so you, but this is something I didn’t know. So you heat the wine up for three, three months at 115 degrees?

[00:32:19] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, it depends on the wine. every wine has to go through that.

the only way you can avoid that is by aging it for 10 years instead or something. But you know, any three year old Madeira or five year old Madeira has gone through that system of heating it where you have either coils of warm water going through the wine or thermal blankets where California wineries, they put cold water in them and Madeira put warm water in to warm it up. But yeah, that’s, how all Madeira’s made. But, like an old one, like in 1996, which we have here, That one would be just aged for a very, very long time in barrels and Sure. Bottle that way for 20 years or so.

[00:33:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Where do you see the current state of Madeira in the US as far as consumption?

[00:33:08] Bartholomew Broadbent: Well, I find it’s more vibrant than say Port. Yeah. For 10 years I was promoting Port Madeira. Port was a big thing. It became a really big thing in the 80 s, 90s, and really until the sort of mid nineties, and then the interest started fizzling out.

But Madeira is just going, people love the story of Madeira, and also it just resonates with Americans because of a history of wine with this, with Madeira, with this country. but it’s also a really delicious drink. it’s got a very high acidity, so it’s very refreshing. And unlike some dessert wines, which are sort ploying and soft horrific, this wine is invigorating, wakes you up.

And, And also it is versatile cause you have different types. You have from dry. It’s medium dried, it’s medium sweets sweet. And you can also keep a bottle open. It doesn’t ever go off. You can keep it in a trunk of your car all summer long, even in the Los Angeles. And it’s gonna literally, it’s gonna be fine.

And, it’s just a really fun drink and because of that high acidity bec ause even the sweet ones have a dry finish. Which means you can put it with anything. You put it with high citrus dishes, you can put it with sweet dishes. The sweetness of a dessert’s not gonna kill a Madeira because it already has that dry finish.

Whereas dessert, sweetness kills most sweet wines because the sweetness inerts usually sweeter than the wine.

[00:34:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. That’s a really good point that I, too forget sometimes when you look at a bottle of Madeira, you just assume it’s gonna be sweet. You equate it with port I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions that it can be from dry to, off dry to sweet. And it’s got just a great color to it. A little amber. Yeah. Or in some, right there.

[00:34:58] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. I think, one of the things that you’re tasting, they look a little bit like, toney ports in color.

Mm-hmm. but you can’t really see, I don’t think in this, but there’s a, a yellow amber rim to it. And to me that’s the difference. If you are giving this in a blind tasting, you Oh, you look at it and you think, is that, 20 port, is that, what is it? Is it Sherry? Was, is it Madeira? it’s got this green amber rim, which to me is giveaway because the only other drink that gets that is a very ancient Riesling from a, you know, 60, 70 year old Riesling gets that same color. So this is Madeira because of that green,

[00:35:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s the secret point tasting tip. Yes. I can see the glimmer of that. Whereas a Tani would have more of a kind of a rusty reddish. Yeah. The edge of it.

[00:35:48] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. And then it’s got this lovely, caramel raisiny, sort of rummy. if you cook bananas, probably the best pairing of, Madeira in the world is with, bananas.

Oh, yeah. You bake bananas with brown sugar and rum. Well, bananas foster. Yeah, that sort of thing, this is a perfect wine. Oh, I can imagine that. But it’s got this facility that makes your mouth water and it makes you want to drink it.

[00:36:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I wish actually more stores would have it more front and center and then I also wish that, I mean, in the highest end restaurants, you’re gonna see it as part of the sommeliers are gonna be promoting it, but for like I would say even just a upper end restaurant, it’s a something that could really help distinguish them on the, tasting list and on the menu.

[00:36:33] Bartholomew Broadbent: Absolutely. And you can do a little flight of the four styles and, educate the consumers, you know, if they don’t know what Madeira is, it’s a really good little entry. You give them half an ounce of each, or four, one ounce of, the four different styles and on a little sheet, and they, can explore it and discover Madeira. It’s really fun, I think.

[00:36:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Because it’s actually a really great time in the wine industry. There’s so much experimentation going on, and there’s the newer consumers are really just really open to all these different styles. Yeah. To them it can, even though Pitera is one of the oldest, it’s really could be like one of the new, new discoveries and really lean into this kind of experimentation phase that we’re seeing right now in the industry.

[00:37:13] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. No, it’s really interesting because as the generations go by, you know, Say your grandparents’ generation, they were drinking Luna Black tar and that sort of thing, lancers. And so their kids didn’t want to do that, so they discovered table wines that, and then that morphed into the big, obvious big wines and then the generations below us don’t want to be drinking. What, their father’s rank, which big cabs and chardonnays and big melos. So they’re experimenting with these other more interesting, wines.

[00:37:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. yeah, there’s that experimentation. There is like the bottle’s very, very classic.

I don’t wanna really know how to say this, but is there a fresher brand to Made Like a bond. Just the hand painted labels.

[00:38:03] Bartholomew Broadbent: Well, yeah, you get the, paper labels. But so when I was developing our brand of Madeira, we had this, label designer and, he was taking so long and the Madeira’s red ship and our, producer winemaker said, why don’t I just put a label on it? We’ll use one of our labels and we’ll ship it. And basically that’s what it’s sense label but the Sens label is very traditional because they painted the bottles for a couple of reasons. One is the, glue wasn’t very strong those days, and you keep Madeiras for so long that the glues didn’t last.

But also because they store Madeira in the heat Madeira, they don’t put it in cold cells, they put them in war and so the humidity, the paper would get destroyed by the humidity, so it made total sense to Oh, yeah. And, actually to be honest, most of the Madera producers now use paper labels, so as, actually seeming rather modern compared to theirs, but it’s retro, but it’s also modern and people,

[00:39:06] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, it’s fantastic looking label. Just kind of wondering for the, 20, 20, 30 year olds is they’re looking at the shelf, what might resonate with them?

[00:39:15] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. Maybe that doesn’t, but.

If they want a fun label, they can drink be a better,

[00:39:21] Drew Thomas Hendricks: yeah, just, you’re right.

[00:39:25] Bartholomew Broadbent: Which was, by the way, that flower was painted by my niece when she was four years old and it was a Christmas card and we just, beautiful. Is that a poppy? We don’t know what it is. Oh. it was a Christmas card and at four, who knows what she was thinking, but it turned out well.

[00:39:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It looks fantastic. Yeah. When I first saw it, it looked like, to me it looked like a California poppy. But yeah, maybe. Yeah, I’m kind of California centric and my flowers, I guess. Yeah. So Michael, as we’re Okay, Michael, I’m so sorry. Bartholomew

[00:39:56] Bartholomew Broadbent: him. I had a flashback there. I’m so sorry.

[00:40:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Bartholomew, so we’re kind of wrapping down over the years, you such a long-storied history, how, what keeps you motivated in what’s next?

[00:40:09] Bartholomew Broadbent: So, I haven’t conquered the world yet. we sell our Madeiras Vinha Verde China, and a little bit in England and a little bit in, other places, cruise lines, Caribbean. but I really want to build the brand further, make it a bigger brand worldwide. Unfortunately, it’s just me and a good team in America, but we’re not a multinational company. So, it’s challenging to build a brand when you don’t have huge finances and you’re just trying to do it yourself. But that’s motivating for me.

[00:40:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Conquer the world, that’s a lot of motivation and that’s my feelings there.

[00:40:48] Bartholomew Broadbent: Yeah. If someone offered me a part in a movie, I’d do that instead in a heartbeat. But this is my little wine business

[00:40:56] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Secret, second career, the movie star. Yeah. Yeah. Next James Bond.

[00:41:02] Bartholomew Broadbent: Well, yeah. I think Bartholomew Broadbent’s a cooler name.

[00:41:06] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Bartholomew as we’re wrapping up. Where can people find out more about you and Broadbent selections?

[00:41:14] Bartholomew Broadbent: So, brilliant. We’ve got a website,, and on the website, you can discover all of wines we represent. We represent 40 different wineries.

[00:41:24] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, wow.

[00:41:25] Bartholomew Broadbent: I’m very active on my, Facebook Page Bartholomew Broadbent, and we also have a Broadbent Selections Company Facebook page.

We have Instagram, both Bartholomew Broadbent or Bartholomew Broadbent company one. So, we’re in social media a lot. I think I’m on LinkedIn too, but really Facebook is where I’m most active in men than Instagram. but yeah, our website is very, informative too.

[00:41:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely, we’ll just Well, Bartholomew, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been a real treat.

[00:41:58] Bartholomew Broadbent: No, my pleasure. And yeah, anytime. Look forward to it. Hope, see you next in California.

[00:42:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you.

[00:42:07] Bartholomew Broadbent: Pleasure.