In our continual West Country quest for excellent independent wine merchants, we finally paid a visit to the Dorset Wine Company. By ‘finally’ we mean we had passed it several times which always seemed to be on a Sunday – the day they are closed. So much promise and potential could be seen through the front window, but no touch, no buy.
Our persistence paid off this time round and we were warmly greeted on a wet & windy day (what’s new?) by Jonathan Charles, the director & owner. He encouraged us to have a good wander and look around, so we did. Processing all of the information in a shop such as this can take numerous iterations. You start out modestly optimistic but also with a tinge of skepticism as we have had our wine bubble deflated before – all mouth and no trousers. But with each successive scan of the bottled shelves, it was our skepticism that got the boot and a mild wino delirium set in.
The Dorset Wine Company has several attributes that lift it a number of rungs up the independent wine merchant ladder:
* For such a relatively small store it has an amazingly varied & diverse selection of quality wines from around the world as well as spirits (single malt headquarters) and ales. Each one seemed to be personally picked as Jonathan deftly answered just about every query fired his way.
* Along with the diversity of wine types & styles, there was also a very carefully designed and well thought out pricing structure. A plethora of good juice to choose from in the under tenner range and pretty much at every price point up from there. It rubs us the wrong way when a wine shop thinks any wine worth quaffing cannot be had for less than £25 (and you will find those at the Dorset Wine Company too BTW).
* And finally, the icing on the cake, a very knowledgeable wine merchant who is generous with his advice & guidance. That is the huge informational vacuum to be found in the supermarket wine section – if you can find anyone at all they are most likely there to just stack shelves and it might as well be baked beans as wine. But that’s been High Street’s problem for yonks where retail has been systematically reduced by the Big Boy Stores to pretty much a single factor – price.
Our wallet was under some fiscal restraint post the holiday season so it was these 3 gems we picked up on Jonathan’s advice (he gave us lots more choices). The Gran Cerdo 2011 (Big Pig) is a ripe Rioja that pokes a bit of fun at the banks. As the label states it is “a great wine dedicated to the bank executives that denied loans to us on the basis that our wine is not seizable asset. One day, these greasy and sweaty corporate suits will find that the best things in life cannot be impounded.” Well said! The winemaker is Gonzalo Gonzalo – awesome name if not completely made up – and he’s firmly in the biodynamic crowd of winemakers seeking the purest or natural expression of his fruit using whole bunch fermentation, no filtration, no stabilization and minimal sulphur (great for you sensitive types).
The Planeta 2010 is a wine after my own heart as it is a blend of 2 hearty red grape varietals – Nero d’Avola (60%) and Frappato (40%) – that are grown in the Vittoria region of Sicily . A few words for this wine would be plush & lush & fresh with a generous splashing of all things fruit – strawberries, cherries & raspberries.
And last but not least, the Guimaro Joven 2010 is the wine for you if you like them young, fresh & clean. “Joven” is Spanish for “young” and what that means is that the wine has seen little if any oak, or sin crianza in Spanish. Guimaro is one of the most respected winemakers in this region and this wine delivers with vibrant, pure fruit flavours with a decent dash of fragrant spices thrown in.