Aimed at the classic wine fan, a new initiative finds itself launched as a sign of the times.
By Alex Webber | Photographs by Kevin Demaria
An exclusive off-shoot of the popular dobrewina.pl chain, an ambitious new project that aims to showcase the world of fine wine to the Poland-based drinker and make it more accessible than ever before — co-founded by Peter Pulawski, a Danish citizen of Swedish-Polish background, and his brother, Jan — Classic Wines was seen as a logical step forward given the health of the market.
Having left the Danish wine business in 1990, Peter Pulawski founded his first Warsaw store in 2001 – over two decades on, six stores now operate under the dobrewina.pl banner, as well as an online shop delivering around the country (and beyond). “The original idea was based on my experiences selling in Denmark,” says Pulawski, “so it was a less exclusive approach to wine consumption – you could definitely describe it as a Scandinavian approach that was more down-to-earth and practical, one that would avoid complex wine talk if required.”
Though thriving, the brothers were encouraged by trends that emerged as a result of the pandemic. “The average price of wine went up, so too did salaries,” says Pulawski. “People became more assertive in their consumption habits.”
Buoyed by this, the brothers saw a niche that demanded further exploration. “Generally speaking, in Poland we understand fine wines as wines costing above PLN 100 and as having better-known origins such as hailing from Chablis, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Piedmont and so on. With the pandemic in its full thrust, we noticed more Poles were asking for classic wines. We’ve seen more money on the market and, likewise, more willingness to pay more for wine. Be they Poles or expats, my brother and I decided to cater to that segment.”
“Until Brexit, many people were ordering from England. Now they’ve switched to German, French and Swiss e-commerce platforms,” says Pulawski. “What we’ve done is to give them another option, one that sources wines as directly as possible from wine districts in France, and some in Italy, and then create a place where we could present them in an optimal way and combine that with sommelier workshops and wine evenings.”
Inherently sharing the same DNA, classicwines.pl and dobrewina.pl bear many similarities – and also differences. Though different in their choices and options, both share the same basket for online purchases and, via their system of different price bands and configurations, allow for considerable savings to be made. “We’ve got a four-tier pricing structure with different prices applying for purchases of one bottle, six, 30 and 60,” says Pulawski. “But the way we’ve structured that enables people buying more moderate bottles from dobrewina.pl to top up with an expensive bottle from classicwines.pl and make a saving.”
With classicwines.pl, the target is two-fold, continues Pulawski: those who are already buying fine wine but doing so using options based outside of Poland, as well as the growing number of passionate wine enthusiasts who are looking for the occasional treat. “Quite often they’ve enjoyed a great wine in Italy or France, and they’re looking to enjoy this superior taste experience a few times a year when they’ve returned back to Poland.”
Sure, you can order the wines to pick up or to be delivered, but doing so should not be at the cost of overlooking Pulawski’s other angle. To be enjoyed at the HQ of classicwines.pl, wine tasting evenings have been designed to feature a personal touch, expert guidance and, of course, no shortage of wine. “Such tastings or sommelier workshops are ideal for special occasions, birthday gifts or for company events such as management integrations or to host key clients,” says Pulawski, “and though right now this is a private offer, we do plan on introducing group tastings that individuals can sign up for.”
Customized to suit client preferences, these evenings take place inside a comfortable room seating 11 (or around 20 standing) and are conducted using hand-blown Zalto glasses in prime conditions: “Lighting conditions are important when tasting wine, so here we’ve installed LED panels with a high degree of lumen – with a temperature of 4,000 Kelvin (with an impressive color rendering index of 95), you’ve basically got conditions that resemble the afternoon sun in the Mediterranean,” says Pulawski. “There’s also a special lamp with three different temperatures of light so you can assess the colors.”
Moreover, with Coravin wine preservation gadgets on hand, drinkers have the chance to experience the best wines around without shelling out for the entire bottle. Complete with nibbles, it’s an evening that’s educational and illuminating whilst never losing its engaging sense of fun.
2019 Chablis Grand cru, Les Preuses, Domaine Ventoura
A ripe and creamy wine that perfectly reflects the richness of the vintage. Full notes of sweet, yellow fruit complemented with delicate floral accents, slowly give way to the flavors of almond and grapefruit before stepping into a long mineral finish that builds the appetite for more.
2017 Meursault-Charmes 1er cru, Bouzereau-Gruere
Rich, elegant and well-balanced on the palate, the ending is long and very pleasant. It was created from clusters of the Chardonnay grape growing on two plots with a total area of 6,000 sqm on clay-calcareous soil.
2014 Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Saint Julien
Delighting with its ruby color, in the nose, apart from ripe fruit such as plums, blackberries or blueberries, you can also feel violets, licorice and wood notes. In the mouth, it is well-built, fleshy, but also elegant and subtly fruity. Characterized by spicy tannins and pleasant acidity, the finish does not disappear quickly. “I’d call this among the best 20-25 Medoc wines,” says Pulawski.
ul. Wyczółki 46, dobrewina.pl /