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    Mark Shannon and his partner Elvezia Sbalchiero have lived in this region for 15 years and now create some of the area’s best red wines but it this white that I fell in love with. It is a blend of Fiano 60%, Falanghina 30% and Verdeco 10%. The Fiano clone used is closely related to Viognier and helps to explain the lovely textural feel of this wine. Pasta creamy sauces and white fish would all work well here.

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    Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin

    The history of Bathtub Gins dates back to prohibition times when bathtubs were used as vessels for storage of illicit spirits. This Bathtub gin is one of very few modern gins to be produced by cold compression that is infusing the botanicals into the gin before filtering them out before distillation. It features 6 botanicals including cardamom, cinnamon, orange peel, cloves , coriander and of course juniper. Best served with a slice of lime.

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    Made by flying winemaker Matt Thomson, this is an elegant fruit driven wine with lovely citrus notes. Alpha Zeta was set up by Matt Thomson & specialist Italian Wine Importer Liberty Wines in 1999 with the aim of producing modern fruit driven wines from the hills outside Verona.

    For those who think that Soave is just another rather dull dry white wine then I heartily recommend this wine to them as it will prove that the region has seen real change. It is a lovely drink on its own or will pair well with simple fish or chicken dishes.

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    Made by flying winemaker Matt Thomson, this is a lively fruit driven wine full of red cherry flavours with a hint of vanilla all wrapped up with some crisp acidity that makes it such a good companion to a tasty tomato sauce.

    Alpha Zeta was set up by Matt Thomson & specialist Italian Wine Importer Liberty Wines in 1999 with the aim of producing modern fruit driven wines from the hills outside Verona.

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    Incredibly attractive easy drinking red wine at a very affordable price is not easy to find. But this is all of those things and more. Lovely soft red fruit, simple easy tannins and a hint of spice combine to make this one of our customer’s favourites. Planning a party or a BBQ then you can’t go far wrong with this. If it’s a hot day then serve it lightly chilled and it will be even more refreshing.

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    From a relatively new co-operative set up in 2001 comes this attractive wine. Campo de Borja is a region to the South West of Rioja that produces some great value wines and also is starting to produce some great fine wines. Previous vintages have won lots of awards and this latest vintage should do so too.

    This is simply very drinkable it has ripe red fruit aromas with a distinct hint of sunshine. In the mouth it has sufficient grip to make it work with food but is also very enjoyable on its own. Charming drinkable and good company what more can you ask?

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    Bollinger Special Cuvee is undoubtedly one of the finest non vintage champagnes available. The house of Bollinger is family owned with the current owners being direct descendents of the original Jacques Bollinger.

    It is Bollingers unique practises in the making of their champagne that make all the difference, they still use treasured old oak casks to ferment their reserve wines as well as a proportion of the cuvees that make it into Special Cuvee. Two thirds of the grapes come from Bollingers own vineyards. This allows them to keep close control over the quality of the fruit that makes the wine.

    The reserve wines that are added to the non vintage blend are aged in magnums under cork and have to be disgorged by hand. It is practices such as this that ensure the quality but also restrict production so that whilst rightly famous Bollinger remains a relatively small producer.

    Now there are many fine times to enjoy champagne and many fine foods that it will accompany but for me the best match for Bollinger Special Cuvee is good Fish & Chips! Its the ying and yang of an expensive wine with a relatively inexpensive dish or maybe it’s simply that both are real treats. But I do know that if you can find a good spot on a sea wall to eat your fish and chips whilst drinking your ‘Bolly’ you will not be able to wipe the smile from your face.

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    From a modern winery in Sicily this is a brooding dark little number with charming ripe fruit and a bite of acidity that makes it perfect with a good pizza.On the nose it is bright red fruit but in the mouth it is medium weight with hints of chocolate and a nip of tanin.

    Set up in 2003, Adria Vini is a winemaking venture jointly owned by Boutinot and Araldica Vini Piemontesi, the leading co-operative in Piemonte. All areas of production, from grape selection through to vinification, maturation, blending and bottling are meticulously overseen by Araldica’s Claudio Manera and Lella Burdese. Working closely with growers and cooperatives, our aim is to produce a range of authentic, well-priced wines from local grape varieties. The mainstay of white wine production is Pinot Grigio, sourced from the Pavia region south of Milan, Friuli and the Veneto, with the addition of Prosecco, and Grillo and Catarratto wines from Sicily. The reds come from mature, low yielding vineyards in Sicily, Puglia and Abruzzo, the source of some of Europe’s most undervalued and characterful wines. Our most recent project has brought Cannonau and Vermentino from Sardinia to the portfolio.

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    If you are in any doubt about this Champagne then be reassured that it is owned by the Bollinger group and in wine maker Caroline Latrive has one of the rising stars of the industry. Chef Gordon Ramsey likes it so much that for many years it has been his House Champagne in his Michelin star restaurants.  Ayala was one of the first houses to get behind the current vogue for low dosage champagnes with this wine only having a dosage of 7 grams per litre about half the dosage used by the big commercial brands. This low dosage means you must have immaculate fruit and good wine making skills because sugar is the make up used to cover minor flaws in bigger blends.

    Ayala are based in the village of Ay near Epernay as are Bollinger they source much of their fruit from Grand Cru vineyards, they also age their wines for a minimum of three years before release meaning that the flavours are well balanced and the acidity integrated into the wine.

    So if you are looking for an excellent Champagne that won’t break the bank but will deliver real pleasure then this wine is perfect.

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    Champagne Gremillet Brut Selection NV

    Gremillet are family owned wine growers based in a small village to the South of the Champagne region not far from the Troyes, the historical capital of Champagne. They benefit from slightly warmer summers here so have riper grapes leading to bigger more rounded flavours. Now I am lucky enough to have tasted many Champagnes and I was very impressed when I discovered this wine recently by its sheer vivacity. To quote the wine maker ‘The nose evokes happiness’ what more could you ask for?

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    A small family producer from the village of Ay.  They are neighbours to Bollinger and like Bollinger produce Champagnes with Pinot Noir dominated blends. The grapes for this wine come only from Grand Cru vineyards which are the very best vineyards in the region. It has a lovely full vinous style thanks to the Pinot Noir and a long complex finish. It has become our ‘House Champagne’ and I cant recommend it enough as a great value, consistent wine.

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    Charles Heidsieck have proven themselves one of the most consisitent of houses over the last few years winning award after award.  Having spent 10 years working for Bollinger I have a certain allegiance to them but even I have to admit to a growing love of this house and its excellent wines.

    Tasting Notes

    Radiant pale gold with fine, persistent bubbles. Complex pastry aromas, with an opulent combination of ripe apricot, mango and greengages, dried fruits, pistachio and almond. The palate begins with a silky smooth sensation, developing into ripe fleshy apricot, melon and enticing plum pastry notes and delicate spice. A perfect balance of freshness and generosity.

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    Tilting at windmills should come easily to the four leads in this wine making odyssey as this superb bottle comes from Don Quixote’s La Mancha. There are many romantic stories in the wine world of why people choose to become involved in a project but here you have an Australian his Bulgarian wife, a Spaniard and an Italian who stepped in to save some ancient bush vines that were in danger of being grubbed up due to generous EU subsidies.

    The reason they chose to is the quality of the fruit produced by these gnarled old veterans. It produces a wine of wonderful depth and harmony. You can almost smell the sunshine. Chocolate, cinnamon and lush berry aromas wrapped up with saffron and spice. In the mouth deep blueberry fruit, textured velvet like tannins and a long complex finish mean that you will be hoping not to share this with anyone but a close and appreciative friend.


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    Four aspiring wine Knights and some bloody old vineyards,” is how Zar Brooks describes Cien y Pico…

    Tilting at windmills should come easily to the four leads in this wine making odyssey as this superb bottle comes from Don Quixote’s La Mancha. There are many romantic stories in the wine world of why people choose to become involved in a project but here you have an Australian Zar Brooks his Bulgarian wife Elena, a Spaniard Luis Juminez García and Italian Nicola Tucci who stepped in to save some ancient bush vines that were in danger of being grubbed up due to generous EU subsidies.

    The wine itself is full of intense aromas and succulent fruit. The wine is made using the ‘doble pasta’ method, whereby the crushed grapes are fermented over additional grape skins and pulp, to obtain a high extract, colour and tannin.

    Tannin may be present but it is no need for concern as it is beautifully integrated with the rich dark fruit flavours lending a necessary grip. There are hints of cocoa amongst the blueberries and bilberries and even a touch of lavender. This really is quite special and you may notice that our best selling wine on the website is also made by Zar and Elena but back in Australia at Dandelion Vineyards.

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    Take one very successful Wine Shipper with a passion for wine and a record for creating some very good wines. Allow him the funds, the time and the contacts to scour the world for a very good but as yet under recognised vineyard and you have the starting point to what I believe will become a very good range of wines.

    Paul Boutinot is the shipper he has in his lifetime built one of the UK’s leading wine shippers partially by working closely with the growers to develop wines that will sell. He is passionate about wine and Waterkloof Estate in Stellenbosch is his chance to put his accumulated knowledge into play.

    Circle of Life is the vineyards top cuvee and is blend of a wide variety of grapes the exact blend they keep to themselves. Waterkloof follow Bio-Dynamic practises working very closely with the land in order to get the best possible results. This wine has great charm. It’s a very modern international style of wine with well integrated ripe tannins, complex aromas and lovely dark fruit. I highly recommend it.

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    Now when you buy a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc you know what you want is a punch of screaming gooseberry backed by a citrus gang and thirst quenching acidity that is more refreshing than any power shower. This wine more than delivers that and at great value despite the strengthening New Zealand dollar.

    This is the sort of wine to have waiting for you in the fridge when you come in from a bad day in the office or having survived dragging the kids round the supermarket. Serve it ice cold and relax.

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    The word dandelion comes from Dente de Lion meaning Lions Tooth.  This is a relatively new venture and what they have set out to do is showcase some of the best of Australia’s regions offering wines from the Barossa, Eden Vale and in this case Mclaren Vale.  The blend is a slightly unusual combination with the Shiraz being fermented over the 5% of Eden Vale Riesling. The Riesling lightens and perfumes the finished wine. So that on the nose there is a noticeable hint of tangy marmalade but in the mouth it is a glorious symphony of blueberries, mulberries and cake spice, wrapped up in sweet vanilla from the careful use of oak barrels.

    It has a lot of power but the tannins are smooth and it is a sheer delight to drink.  The bottle has a very informative back label which names the winemaker as Elena Brooks, the vignerons as Carl Lindnaur & Brad Rey but relegates Elena’s husband a famous winemaker in his own right to Typist!

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    Death’s Door Gin, Washington Island, Wisconsin, USA

    This is a real American hero of a product, which has helped save a farming community who saw their market for their main crop potatoes, collapse in the 1970’s. A project to grow grain was started in 2005 originally to supply flour to the Islands hotel but developed into a craft brewery. This was so successful that the brewery expanded into spirits. The spirits sold so well they now have their own state of the art distillery and the farmers are growing a lot more wheat.

    Deaths Door refers to the dangerous sea passage between the Island and the mainland where over 350 wrecks lie.

    A surprisingly simple botanical mix of organic juniper berries, coriander and fennel. The juniper berries grow wild on the Island and the coriander and fennel are sourced within the State.

    This makes a good basis for many cocktails including a proper dry Martini.