Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Wine Lists

It's an exciting week at The Wingerworth - we're launching our new Wine List! It's hard to imagine that we began trading over a year ago now, but that we have. Before opening we went through no less than nine revisions of a list with our wine supplier Peter Bamford of Modern French Wine, with the process including a mega tasting evening to sample the key lines. Erring on the side of caution, our list was initially focused on the mid-range, ticking all of the "expected" boxes - we are a pub after all! Very soon, much to our delight we realised that we had the potential to not only sell premium wines, but also "quirky" or interesting wines too. Through the year we have added, amongst others; a Marlborough Riesling (£24.95), an Alsace Pinot Gris (£26.50), a 2009 St Estephe (£44.95) and a 2002 Cote Rotie (£60.00), as well as taking a bit of a gamble on an English Wine section in the Spring. The thinking behind adding English wine was simply that we focus on British products on a British food menu in a British pub, so why not try the same with wine. The results have been as remarkable as the wines themselves - people seem to love trying something they haven't tried before and of course, something that is locally produced. Recently we popped over to an Italian wine tasting at The Market Pub, whose owners are also very into wine and boast a list that includes a "private collection" with some serious, serious names on it. We were sat with a lovely couple and made a point not to initially disclose we were from The Wingerworth, just to see what peoples' opinion of us was on the wine scene. Much to my delight they said that we had one of the most interesting and approachable wine lists they had ever seen! I have to say that the quality of the product helps, but our most valuable of resource is our staff. They work exceptionally hard to learn the products that we sell and genuinely seem to enjoy relaying that knowledge and passion to our customers. It was also this visit to The Market tasting that spurred us on to adding higher-end wines to the list. Admittedly we don't have a private collection that makes the eyes pop out of the sockets and we are nowhere near to listing a 1996 Penfolds Grange for £175, a 1998 Latour for £275 or a 1996 Petrus for £1000. A quick online search will tell you that you will be pushed to find these sorts of prices at cost. It's just staggering, mind-boggling value. In a "cash only" pub one has to assume that these additions are simply for show? In fact, we joked about buying them from The Market and selling them for a small cash margin at The Wingerworth... Nevertheless, with our latest revision of the list I believe that we are taking the right steps to build a reputation that balances exceptional quality at every level - with big names and unknown gems alike.

Indeed, a year on our wine sales are way ahead of target and I think that is simply down to the passion at every level of our business; from Peter the supplier, to myself and of course most importantly all of our lovely staff headed up by our "wine guy" Simon. Simon does prefer the the name "wine guy" to sommelier, or anything else that is too formal and I believe that it's that laid back, approachable attitude that puts our customers and the rest of our staff in such a comfortable place when approaching our list. Too many restaurants have a really scary-looking list, with an even more austere and unapproachable wine expert to recommend and serve. Simon is the antithesis to our stereotypical sommelier - sleeves rolled up, pen behind ear and under no circumstance will he wear a tie... He doesn't need to hide behind false flamboyancy because he simply has great knowledge and a deep passion and love for what he does. That's not to say in any way that we don't sell a serious product, because we really do.

Apologies to the traditionalists out there, but Simon and I are both big fans of the New World, particularly California, Australia and New Zealand. In fact so much so, that Simon will take any excuse to regale the story of The Judgement of Paris to anyone who will listen. In short, this was a 1976 wine competition where Californian producers wiped the floor with established producers from Burgundy and Bordeaux such as Mouton-Rothschild, Montrose and Haut-Brion. Although we are now adding a Fine Wines section to the list in our revamp, we are actually a little more excited about the New World additions! We thought that after a year, the list should begin to reflect our own personalities and tastes a little more. I just hope that everyone enjoys them as much as we do!

old vine zinfandel
ravenswood, lodi, california, 2011+      
zinfandel, the heritage grape of california, is the big success story of ravenswood winery. theirs is a big, powerful, luscious wine, with ripe red fruits and a lovely richness.
4.30 / 5.80 / 21.50 pounds

chateau ste michelle, washington state, usa, 2011+
the columbia valley sits east of seattle, and produces some fantastic wine, which are slowly but surely gaining great respect and a cult following. this riesling is packed with fresh green apples, ripe lemons and a trace of honey.
24.95 pounds

“naked on rollerskates”, some young punks, Australia, 2011+
some young punks are fronted by winemaker col mcbride, and are really paving the way at the moment in unique, quality driven australian wines that are gaining recognition the world over. this french-style blend is smooth, rich and powerful.
27.95 pounds

byron, santa barbara, california, usa, 2011+
santa barbara produces some of the best californian chardonnay, and byron produces some of the best chardonnay in santa barbara. this is a wine with great richness; packed with apples, smoke, vanilla and honey, followed by a silky smooth finish.
31.50 pounds

east bench, ridge vineyards, california, 2012
ridge vineyards are one of the best producers in california, known worldwide for making fantastic wines. head winemaker paul draper has won numerous awards for his wines. this single vineyard zinfandel is full of classic zin qualities; dark spicy fruit, brambles, blackberries, vanilla and smoke.
52.00 pounds

adelina, adelaide hills, south australia, 2011
adelina are the side project of some young punks founder – col mcbride, who has begun sourcing interesting, high quality parcels from regions beyond his native barossa valley, in this case from the talc hill vineyard, near adelaide. nebbiolo is the classic northern italian grape, and currently is thriving in the cooler, southern regions of australia. aromas of redcurrant, red cherry, dried rose petals and spices, with a tart raspberry finish make a great wine to rival those of europe.
55.00 pounds

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