Simon Berry, chairman of wine and spirits merchants, Berry Bros & Rudd, chooses his favourite sites.

Simon Berry is the chairman of the St James’s Street wine and spirits merchants, Berry Bros & Rudd. In recent years this 300 year old family company has proved that tradition is no barrier to innovation. In 1994 it launched one of the first online wine shops, www.bbr.com, which is now regarded as Britain's leading wine website and has been awarded Website of the Year seven times in the last eight years at the prestigious International Wine Challenge. Latest developments include an i-phone app which includes its constantly up-dated wine list, BBX – an on-line wine exchange platform, and the award winning publication ‘Inside Burgundy’ by Jasper Morris, which is shortly to be released as an e-book.

BB&R has also concentrated on developing a range of niche premium sprits, including the Glenrothes Single Malt Whisky, Kings Ginger, and No. 3 Gin, which are all available in select branches of Waitrose.

SIMON'S FAVOURITE SITES

Wine forums - Wine drinkers seem to love chat forums, which are, as a result, great places to find out what our customers (and prospective customers) are really thinking. Two of the best, and most enjoyable, are Tom Cannavan’s UK Wine Forum, www.wine-pages.com and from across the Atlantic, Wine Berserkers, www.wineberserkers.com. We now have offices and shops in Asia, particularly Hong Kong and Japan, but for some reason the chat forums haven’t caught on there – at least, not in English!

JancisRobinson.com - Jancis Robinson’s website is a treat: a very civilised forum, but also mine of good information, principally from the pen of Jancis but also her excellent team. You have to subscribe for most of it, but enough is free to whet your appetite and make you realise that the subscription is worth every penny.

Cellar Tracker - Eric Levine is certainly one of the most innovative minds in the wine business today, even if he has never sold a bottle of wine in his life. His website cellartracker.com allows wine lovers to download a virtual cellar book, keep track of the bottles they own, and share with a community of 2 million others users their tasting notes and opinions. Genius – especially if you have a particular wine in your collection and want to know what the world in general thinks of its current drinkability.

Mr Porter - Although I work within 100 yards of Jermyn Street, I still like to shop for my clothes on Mr Porter: Natalie Massenet’s relatively new male version of her phenomenally successful Net-A-Porter site. I love its style, and its ability to combine a magazine/editorial feel to an online shop.

RADA - I have the great honour and pleasure of being on the Council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art - RADA as it’s universally known. You don’t have to be an actor manqué like me to get a buzz out of this extraordinary place, brimful of talent as it is, and its website is a great place to start. You can find details of at least five or six productions a term, which are open to the general public, and amazing chances to spot the stars of tomorrow.
 
Desert Island Discs - Every Sunday morning for the past few years I drive to see my mother in Bath, and as a result have become seriously addicted to Desert Island Discs. I know that I’m years behind the rest of the population, but the BBC’s new special website which allows me to catch up with the actual broadcasts of the last 20 years has turned me into a complete fanatic.  Soon I’ll be ready for the phone call from Kirsty, although I’ll have to reduce my list of 800 tracks to a measly 8, I suppose …

27 July 2011