L’Art du Vin's Philippe Larue on ten years in Scotland's wine scene

The managing director of l'Art Du Vin, Philippe Larue, talks to us about celebrating their tenth year in business, Scotland's wine scene and why wine remains as popular as ever with Scots.

Published 20th Mar 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Respected and highly regarded wine merchants and wholesalers l’Art du Vin were set up with the sole intention to work with small artisans from around the world with an ethos built around distributing crafted products with provenance, sustainability and traceability.

Now celebrating their tenth year in business, it’s been an interesting journey, we caught up with with managing director, Philippe Larue who gave us an insight into the curious world of wine, Scotland's wine scene and his fruitful business model.

How was the scene changed in Edinburgh over the past five years?

It’s forever changing but I think people are becoming more in tune with their tastes and their likes and dislikes.

People in Scotland are interested in the journey of their wine, the region it’s from and why it tastes the way it does. They would rather great quality wine, with
a great backstory rather than cheap, tasteless wine.

I suppose it’s become part of the foodie revolution where provenance and sustainability is at the heart – people like to be educated on what they put in their bodies and that’s no exception with good wine.

It’s amazing to see the desire and need for education when it comes to the wine world.

We are passionate about provenance and telling the story of our suppliers.

Do you find people are becoming less daunted by wine and more keen to try it?

I think people are becoming more open minded and willing to try, which makes wine more accessible to all.

People feel less daunted by the prospect of wine. People are exposed to wine every day through the media and they like to try and experiment. That’s what, for me,
is so exciting about being here in the UK!

Telling the story of wine is so important. We need to tell the story of the producer and try not to complicate it too much.

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Telling stories is what we love to do to ensure that our customers are educated – we are simple in our approach which tends to work best.

We just focus on the difference between certain wines and what makes it special.

How are you making it more approachable for both newcomers and those who consider themselves to have at least some knowledge on the subject?

Wine is truly all about personal choice and taste. There should be no snobbery when it comes to great wine – if everyone liked the same thing, life would be boring!

I think tasting sessions really help and you see more and more of these cropping up now – we are trying to do more ourselves.

Regardless of your knowledge of wine, everyone should try out a tasting, see what suits your palate and take it from there.

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Once you discover a variety, region or grape that you like the best, you can begin experimenting with flavours and really establish your taste.

Is the rise and accessibility of spirits posing a threat to wine?

I think the spirits market is crowed but wine will always have its place. Wine is to be enjoyed with food and that’s something that the spirits industry finds hard to match – we’ve seen companies dip their toe in the water with food-matching but it’s a tricky space.

In terms of flavour complementing, wine is always the best fit. In the summer, a light refreshing gin and tonic may be the choice for a before-dinner drink rather than a champagne but I think for throughout dinner, the choice is mostly always wine.

What is the focus from l'Art du Vin this year?

We’ve been searching all over Europe for the great artisans of the wine world and we have found some fantastic suppliers.

We are focusing more on Italy and Spain and have trialed some great, indigenous grapes from Italy and Spain.

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Passerina is a great grape in the Terre Di Chieti region and we are working with a producer called Fabulas.

We are also looking into Pansa Blanca in North East Spain. We are just trying to bring more colours to our rainbow as they say!

So this year marks your tenth year in business. Give us a brief overview of the last ten years?

Well, it’s gone too fast! When we first started the business, we wanted to be the leading distributor of artisan wines in Scotland. We have excelled and really surprised ourselves with our steady progress.

We’ve been on an incredible journey and every credit to our great customers around the UK and our fantastic suppliers.

We would be nothing without them by our side. We need to focus on expanding our distribution in the Scottish market and getting in touch with the right customers. We need to continue to build the business and do what we do best – pass on the passion and share our love of wine with those who love wine too!

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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