Direct by Tony Laithwaite: My story … ongoing

Dear All,

FINALLY PUBLISHED TODAY! April 4th my book is in shops and on Amazon. Phew! There were times I felt we’d never get there!

Called Direct, it’s the story of the first 50 years of our direct wine business and starts with the first fateful meeting of the two grannies, then goes on to life in M. and Mme. Cassin’s barn, the Bordeaux bottling line, the van drives to Bordeaux … Direct and back, the ‘Dear Editor’ letter to The Sunday Times, their Direct Wine club, my Wine Trekking, the Flying Winemakers, dear old La Clarière and new RedHeads in Oz, The ST Vintage Festival, Connecticut etc, etc, etc. It’s all in there. 

Direct by Tony Laitwaite
Tony begins his story with Nana Rudd’s chance encounter … which paved his way into the world of wine

Hugh and Judy (Johnson) have told me they loved reading it, as well as old Oz (Clarke) and young Will (Lyons). So I’m hopeful.

I did actually write it by the way. No ghost involved. But my writing abilities have been questioned many times. Even my very existence has been questioned. I’ve met people who said they thought I was just dreamt up by an ad agency. Huh! No one could invent me. Read the book. You’ll see. I do live (still), and just work at wine. Which leads me back to my job …

Selección Especial Numerada 40 Reserva 2015

Hottest deal here at the moment … a top BTDO (blowing the doors off) category number, is this week’s Rioja secret deal. Secret deals are something we Laithwaites are well known for in the trade.

Wine producers always – thanks to unpredictable Mother Nature – have a surplus, but hate dropping their prices in public. It’s the same with trousers; there’s a certain loss of respect. So they sell their surplus anonymously.

However some buyers don’t respect that anonymity and blab. We don’t.  So more and more they come to us and we do our famous anonymous labels like this week’s HALF PRICE Reserva from the only “Grand Cru” estate in Rioja – £30 to reserve a case.

You can get your hands on a case of Reserva Rioja at a fraction of the normal price

This Reserva red can quite legitimately be called the only “Grand Cru” vineyard in Rioja, because it’s the only Rioja in the elite group of Spain’s official ‘Pagos de España’ group, which we might roughly translate as “The Grand Cru Association of Spain”.

All members of which must “demonstrate and maintain the highest levels of quality year after year”. There are just 25 of them out of all Spain’s many wine estates. I realise this information could reveal its identity if anyone wants to do research but this particular producer is okay with that. I’ve known him and his wife for decades. And there’s a good chance you know him too because he’s always at our wine shows. I’ve also taken busloads to visit his stunning estate. If I say ‘lamb cutlets grilling over vine embers, black kites circling overhead, the Ebro gleaming far below the vineyards of boulders’ … they’ll know.

So to get their 2015 at HALF its normal price. Worth having, what? The catch is it’s just ONE WEEK before that price has to disappear. That’s the deal we struck … so quick. JUST £12.49 a bottle, instead of the normal £25 … equivalent to saving £150 on a case. Is it any wonder the phones are melting? Send  £30.00 today to reserve your case, then pay the balance when your wine is ready for delivery.  Final case price £300.00 £149.88.

I’m back in my old Ford Transit

Tony has got his old van back!
Tony has got his old van back!

I write this on my travels … this time in Middlesbrough!

Okay, not a place you think of for wine, but for vintage Ford Transits and other old vans it’s the world capital. 

I have just driven our box bodied 35 cwt Mark 1 Transit for the first time in 40 something years. Is it my original Transit? Let’s just say I feel that it is in the sense that Trigger’s broom with its twenty new heads and twelve new handles was his original. Brought tears to my eyes driving that van did. And not just because of the lack of power steering.

Tony Laithwaite Bordeaux Direct
Tony’s original Ford Transit which delivered wine from the vineyards to customers’ doors

I love Transits like others love old Morris Minors. Long ago I gave my old van to my mate Merv who turned it into a tow truck. Then what? Merv sadly isn’t around to tell me. But most of this van, which will soon be appearing in gleaming new paintwork at Laithwaite’s and Sunday Times Wine Club shows with a big ‘50 years’ and my old Coq au Van logo on the side, was found in a field. In with a new battery and it started first go. That’s Transits for you!

The Car Warehouse in Middlesbrough, along with some finishing touches by Malcolm, have restored it so beautifully.  They are true artists. They can rebuild you any van or car you want. To perfection. I’d love to show you a picture, but they made me promise not to until the paint job is finished.

Next week, then? 

You can buy yourself a copy of Direct: Tony Laithwaite My Story online now at

About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!

2 thoughts on “Direct by Tony Laithwaite: My story … ongoing

  1. Pingback: See Tony Laithwaite at Henley Literary Festival - Som2ny Network

  2. Pingback: Tony and Barbara on 50 years of Laithwaite's Wine - Som2ny Network

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