Talking Wine – August 2010

Our new shop in the Botley Road is open and judging by the first few days trading is going to be a huge success. All stock currently in our main warehouse in Standlake (with the exception of vintage Armagnac) is on display and we have added a further range of Claret. The shop is managed by ex Oddbins High Street manager Sam Hellyer whose experience will be invaluable. The rest of the team are being put together and the shop is open 7 days a week from 10.00am – 8.00pm. There is no minimum purchase and as well as wine we have a fabulous range of spirits. We can now concentrate on opening in Tetbury in late August.

The emergency budget was kind to the wine trade. It’s not often I can be so generous to politicians as readers of this column will be well aware, but the delay in VAT is especially helpful and the fact that the government recognised the fact that their predecessors had put duty up three time in a calendar year was also a bonus. However they have made it clear that they will stick by the duty escalator which means a 2% above inflation rise next April. So no price changes yet and we may well delay the VAT rise as well so it ties in with producer increases and the duty rise, so a new list will probably not come into effect until May 2011.

As I reported last month English wine producers enjoyed an excellent vintage in 2009 and production is at an all time high. Sparkling wine has been a particular success story but now Camel Valley has won the ultimate award – the Sparkling trophy in the International Wine Challenge. This wine was pitted against all the best sparkling wine and Champagne in the world and tasted blind so there can be no argument as to its quality! Camel Valley have been producing award winning wines in a beautiful corner of Cornwall since 1989 when Bob Lindo first planted vines there. This ideal setting on the sun drenched slopes near the Camel River seems to produce excellent quality grapes that perfectly suit the soil and micro climate. He has a healthy respect for traditional vineyard practices as well as a modern approach to wine making.

It is easy to get stuck into old habits but those Gin drinkers among you must now move away from the traditional branded products and try Fever Tree tonic which comes in both the full fat and low fat format. Gins can be different but they say it is the tonic that makes the difference! It may not be as cheap as that well known brand but these guys blend soft spring water with natural quinine from the original Peruvian strain, hand cold pressed orange oil from Tanzania and Marigold from Africa – you get the idea!! They also do ginger ale and bitter lemon and win awards galore as well as supplying such restaurants as The Fat Duck in Bray, The Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and El Bulli in Spain. I hear there’s a new wine shop on the Botley road which stocks it!!!