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Interview with Excel Wines

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A few months ago, Ryan received the first of many email correspondences from Excel Wines, asking for more information about Catavino. Who is Excel Wines, you ask?! Anna Axén from Sweden, Sandy Tay from Malaysia and Ane Miren Lambe from Ireland manage and run this Internet Spanish wine retail shop in the incredibly windy region of Bilbao, Spain. I’d say the windy and rainy northern region, but sadly, rain seems to be a distant memory of Spain’s past. Having spent several years lovingly devoted to the growth and development of their children, in 2006, both Anna and Sandy decided it was high time to get off their haunches and start on the road to their true passion: wine (smart women!). Having no experience in the wine trade, little understanding of the Internet and few connections (or enchufes) in Spain, they decided to take from the guidance of Sandy’s husband, a Spanish national, along with the trusted support and friendship of Miguel Merino to create Excel Wines in 2006. It wasn’t until many months later that Ane came on board with her intense and professional style to both support and bolster the team. Together, these three have created a perfectly interwoven team that is bound by the inescapable desire to both explore and educate Europeans about Spanish wine.

What makes this company different from your average online wine retail shop? As I see it, two very important factors: unique Spanish wines and exceptional customer service. Let’s start with the obvious, Spanish wines. As a result of their rather convenient location in the heart of Spain, Excel Wines has worked hard to compile a portfolio of wines that not only represent a vast diversity of Spanish wines including Cava, a barrel fermented Godello from Galicia and a 100% Picapoll from D.O. Pla de Bages in Catalunya – not to mention their 237 different Spanish red wines as well, but also which come from producers for whom they both respect and trust. The only issue, from their point of view, is that with so many highly recommended and unique wines, it is difficult to persuade their customers to break out of their familiar rut to try wines that may expand their palate and ignite their taste buds, such as:

2001 Baron de Magana by Viñas Magañas
2006 Ceps Nou by Pasanou
2002 Unnum by Miguel Merino

The second way in which Excel is unique is their approach to customer service. As we’ve voiced on several occasions, Ryan and I are sticklers about good customer service. Having had some rather poor experiences here in Spain, we are happy to support any company that places their customers before the bottom dollar. What this means, at least to us, is that the company is attentive to our needs, open to feedback and continually assessing both their own service and the services of their suppliers. Therefore, when I asked Excel Wines what they ranked as the number one service they offer that differs from their competitors, it thoroughly pleased me to hear that customer service were the first words uttered from their lips.

We want our customers to be happy with our service. This is why we only sell wines that we believe in, offer competitive pricing, follow-up every request with a personalized email, and track every delivery so that our customer is always informed where their wines are in route. ~Anna Aixen

This said, we do have a few minor suggestions we hope they’ll embrace and change in the near future. One, is a blog, to keep us up to date as to where they’ve been, where their going and what their carrying. We’ve had several conversations about this subject, and trust they’ll be launching one in the very near future (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)!! The second suggestion is a small makeover of their website, as it is a little Web 1.0 at the present moment. Although the information is there, it’s not very user-friendly when searching for a specific wine, exemplified by my frequent use of their search field.

However, we do suggest that if you’re located within Europe to take a moment give Excel Wines a look! Or, if you’ve used their services before, we’d love to hear what your experience was like!

Thanks to both Ane and Anna for taking the time to chat with us, and wish you the best of luck!

Cheers,

Gabriella

  • Ane Miren

    Hi Gabriella, Thanks for the write-up and the constructive suggestions. The Excel Wines blog will be up and running by the weekend – we'll keep you posted. But, I'm not clear what sort of makeover you're suggesting for finding a particular wine. Can you please expand a little? Cheers, Ane Miren

  • http://www.excelwines.com Ane Miren

    Hi Gabriella,

    Thanks for the write-up and the constructive suggestions. The Excel Wines blog will be up and running by the weekend – we’ll keep you posted.

    But, I’m not clear what sort of makeover you’re suggesting for finding a particular wine. Can you please expand a little?

    Cheers,
    Ane Miren

  • Gabriella

    Ane, we're elated to hear that you guys are launching a blog. Congratulations! In regards to your site being a bit Wine 1.0, as much as we can give you list of reasons why we feel it needs a little tweaking, I think what would be more constructive is a site review on the Open Wine Consortium. I've chatted with Robert McIntosh, the great administer of the forum page dedicated to site reviews, and he's put you on the list. So, let's see what suggestions the wider community can give you. Cheers!

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Ane, we’re elated to hear that you guys are launching a blog. Congratulations!

    In regards to your site being a bit Wine 1.0, as much as we can give you list of reasons why we feel it needs a little tweaking, I think what would be more constructive is a site review on the Open Wine Consortium. I’ve chatted with Robert McIntosh, the great administer of the forum page dedicated to site reviews, and he’s put you on the list. So, let’s see what suggestions the wider community can give you.

    Cheers!

  • Ron Brusky

    I've been ordering wines from Excel Wines for about a year, and I have to say I'm absolutely delighted with them. As someone transplanted from the States to the UK, I've spent many years putting up with abysmal customer service, so finding a company that not only leaves most companies in the UK in the dust, but most suppliers I've dealt with in the states in dust, has been wonderful. They let me know exactly what's happening every step of the way – if there's a delay sourcing wine, when the package is assembled and shipped, and when it's expected to arrive. When there are problems (as of late one of the delivery services in the UK has occasionally taken to pinching my wine), they are right on top of things, and keep me totally informed as they resolve the situation (there is a new delivery service now!) The other reason I like them is that they source interesting wine from all over Spain, including many from new and up and coming bodegas. They also package many of these into sampler packs, giving you a chance to try a variety of wines, not having always to do it a case at a time. Although I have my favorites, I am constantly on the lookout for new favorites, and they make it very, very easy to do this. The age of undiscovered gems, which I think in France is behind us, in Spain is now upon us. Finding them, with the help of Excel Wines, has for me been a lot of fun. Thanks to Miguel Merino for spurring these three to action, and thanks to the three of them for creating a wine store with a real difference. Ron Brusky

  • Ron Brusky

    I’ve been ordering wines from Excel Wines for about a year, and I have to say I’m absolutely delighted with them. As someone transplanted from the States to the UK, I’ve spent many years putting up with abysmal customer service, so finding a company that not only leaves most companies in the UK in the dust, but most suppliers I’ve dealt with in the states in dust, has been wonderful. They let me know exactly what’s happening every step of the way – if there’s a delay sourcing wine, when the package is assembled and shipped, and when it’s expected to arrive. When there are problems (as of late one of the delivery services in the UK has occasionally taken to pinching my wine), they are right on top of things, and keep me totally informed as they resolve the situation (there is a new delivery service now!)

    The other reason I like them is that they source interesting wine from all over Spain, including many from new and up and coming bodegas. They also package many of these into sampler packs, giving you a chance to try a variety of wines, not having always to do it a case at a time. Although I have my favorites, I am constantly on the lookout for new favorites, and they make it very, very easy to do this. The age of undiscovered gems, which I think in France is behind us, in Spain is now upon us. Finding them, with the help of Excel Wines, has for me been a lot of fun.

    Thanks to Miguel Merino for spurring these three to action, and thanks to the three of them for creating a wine store with a real difference.

    Ron Brusky

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