Around the world in a thousand wines
TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTO: WIJNEN DE CLERCK / ENTRE-DEUX-MONTS
Wijnen De Clerck is much more than just a wine shop. Located in a one-hectare warehouse near Kortrijk, Belgium, the store is like a discovery trail for wine enthusiasts. Reminiscent of a stylish, minimalistic library, its wooden cabinets allow customers to browse at ease through nearly a thousand different wines.
Selling both to individuals, businesses and restaurants, the shop has knowledgeable sommeliers who help its customers select the best wines. Specialising in lesser-known domains, Wijnen De Clerck has many labels in its collection that are hard to get outside of their home region.
Manager Bert De Clerck says: “Our main priority is selecting good quality wines for a fair price. We have an important selection of renowned brands but the focus lays on family-run businesses. A few of our wines are available in Belgium or even Europe exclusively through us.”
Belgium’s best sparkling.
One of these unique brands is Sula from India. Set up in 1999, the vineyard is located near Nashik, about a hundred miles north-east of Mumbai. “We are always open for wines with a different story from outside the classic wine regions, such as this one” he adds.
Another label that embodies the approach ‘think globally, act locally’ is Belgian brand Entre-Deux-Monts (Between Two Mountains). Located in the panoramic hillsides of West-Flanders, the wine estate straddles the Red Mountain and the Black Mountain, which inspired the name. They specialise in sparkling wine made according to the ‘méthode traditionnelle’.
“It was set up by a young entrepreneur whose father was a wine merchant. He planted the seeds of his passion by growing the first vines in 2005 on a sundrenched piece of land belonging to his grandfather. Among their successful wines, they won the title ‘Best Belgian Sparkling’ three times with their Wiscoutre Brut and Bacquaert Brut.”
Manager Bert De Clerck has one message for yet-to-be-convinced consumers, “Visit the wine estate and try the wines, meet the grower and see how he works. Discover the history of the place and the wine, and you’ll see, you’ll be surprised!
One bottle, 18 litres
Wijnen De Clerck’s perfectly climatised ‘library of wines’ includes bottles from all the traditional regions in Europe, as well as Latin America, South Africa, India and New Zealand. They especially pride themselves on their selection of castle wines from 130 domains in Bordeaux.
Bert: “We also offer different bottle sizes, such as six, 12 and 15 litres. We even have a 18-litre Bordeaux, also known as a ‘melchior’, which is great for clubs, big family events and weddings. These sizes are quite rare and hard to come by.
Furthermore, Wijnen De Clerck has a huge selection of Madeira wines, which covers many years. Their oldest one is from 1834 which was on cask for 200 years and was only bottled in 2000.
“A typical present is a Madeira wine from someone’s birth year. Because it is a for – tified wine, an opened bottle will keep for at least one or two years. I have one that I opened nearly four years ago, and it’s still fine and I bring it out on special occasions,” he says.
The case that started it all
Wijnen De Clerck was founded in 1972, when Bert’s father, Paul, came home from a trip abroad with several bottles of wine. From this first case, he slowly started to build his wine business. By now, the second generation has taken charge, as Bert runs it with his sister Emanuelle.
Their father’s passion for wine certainly passed down to them, and they have both completed various wine courses in Belgium and abroad to keep at the top of their game. “We are a young and motivated company. We don’t want to be the biggest, but we strive to be the best,” Bert adds.
Constantly expanding their list of wines, the company follows a strict selection process for new labels. Before one is accepted, they will visit the vineyard per – sonally to see the production process and, of course, taste the wines. He says: “We make sure we do the tasting at a neutral location, like here in the store, so we can judge the wines objectively.
Personalising your wine
While a bottle itself already makes for a wonderful gift, Wijnen De Clerck offers custom-made packaging. Specially aimed at relationship gifts for businesses, they can print personal messages and logos on the packaging. Made-to-order, the bottles can be sent to any postcode in Belgium.
Their professional sommeliers will guide you through their Kortrijk store and Wijnen De Clerck is happy to host wine tastings for small groups at request. The wines are also available by the bottle via their webshop and they ship to various locations around the world.