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Daffs, DotW, Halves, New Ins (lots), Car’s the Star

First up tonight an apology and a welcome. The apology is for those lovely folk who have tried to sign up to Sheldon’s Times via our smashing new website (he says, with tongue firmly in cheek). I found all of the requests in a file on Wednesday. I have now subscribed you. The welcome is therefore to YOU – newcomers into the fold. So here’s to Hilary, Stewart, Steve, Debbie, Adam, William, Simon, Tony, Fred, Nina, Ben and Nicola, sorry we have been ignoring you. Hopefully you will forgive us. My incompetence with technology, I am (apparently) much better with wine.

A mixture in tonight’s Sheldon’s Times – the usual suspects make an appearance – DotW and Car’s the Star (the best estate ever made?). We have also been adding to Amanda’s selection of half bottles and we have rather too many New Ins including some new additions to the fine wine category, this time from Chile. Really? Seriously?! Read on…

My favourite Daffs

Every year I wait patiently for the last daffodils in the garden, and they happen to be my favourite type. Almost looking like a cross with a different flower type, the Daffodil bulbocodium is a mini variety that only reaches half a dozen inches in height, is delicate, different and ever so pretty. The leaves look more like those from a chive plant and because the flowers come so late I suffer pre-arrival anxiety thinking they may never bloom.
So far these bulbs haven’t let me down and they have been going in the same pot for at least 10 years. A real spring treat and something I look forward to every year. Sorry for the picture looking a little damp – unavaiodable at the moment.

Dog of the Week

Now then, this is Badger (yes, I’m afraid I have moved on from the anonymous dog article). Quite why he’s called Badger is beyond me (can anyone guess?), but I like the fact that he shares the same name with our founder, a Mr Richard Badger. One thing I do know is that he was very capable of giving me a “High Five” in readiness for the inbound biscuit.
A big thanks to Caroline for bringing Badger in to see us. Our pleasure entirely.

Half Bottle Pleasures

For those times when a full bottle is too much, or you fancy mixing things up a little by trying a number of different wines in one go without the issue of half-drunk bottles left over (Ed: when would that ever happen?). We have gradually been building up our selection of half bottles, many of which you seem to enjoy. To make shopping easy for these miniatures, Amanda has arranged them in the glass cabinet by the fridge for simple viewing and selection. We of course have a few more halves dotted around the shop – including specialist wines like the sweet wines from Sauternes, Hungary and Germany which are in our comprehensive sweet section downstairs.

Small but perfectly formed – Amanda’s half bottle display

This week’s addition to this little bottle range is Sottano’s Malbec in half bottle. A very popular wine with many of you in normal bottle size, it is great to be able to offer the wine in smaller format. And at only £6.95 for the half, it is the perfect accompaniment for picnics and long walks when something a little more warming than a rose is required.

New Ins

Unusually our first New In this week is a gin. Following a scientifically engineered tasting, and Amanda catching me with a hangover, I conceded and agreed to allow the acquisition of some bottles of Sing Gin. Here’s Amanda’s report…
This week we have extended our gin range even further with the addition of Sing Gin. Made in Harrogate using grape spirit instead of grain, it has a smooth, silky texture. There are seven hand-crushed botanicals used to flavour the gin, including mint, orange peel and flax. Our chief gin taster (Esther) approved the flavour, commenting on its light juniper and gentle citrus notes. A gin for those who enjoy subtlety – best mixed with the Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic.
I like it because it’s from Yorkshire (where I used to live) and is beautifully presented at a reasonable price – great for a present. The 70cl bottle is £38.50 and a 20cl is £14.50.
Amanda x

A couple of Greats from Chile

I have been toying with the idea of bringing in some of the best wines from the New World for some time. There is of course some risk with this. We are known, if not renowned for stocking traditional wines – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne. We have had a great response from you with top end Spanish (still Old World) and Italy (also Old World). The time has come to bite the bullet and dip into the best the New World has to offer. The addition of Hill of Grace by Henschke (Australia) is a step in the right direction. Today we are announcing the arrival of two top wines from Chile – Clos Apalta, the vision of Alexandra Marnier Lapostelle and Errazuriz Las Pizarras Pinot Noir, one of the best Pinot Noirs in the world as rated by James Suckling.
First Clos Apalta 2015. Casa Lapostolle was established by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle in 1994.  Alexandra set out to find the best vineyard areas in Chile and embark on a project to make Chile’s best wine. Employing the legendary Michel Rolland as consultant oenologist, and having the advantage of plots of old French varietal vines, it was only a matter of time before experimentation resulted in a wine of exceptional quality. This 2015 Clos Apalta is a blend of 46% Carmenere, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, a super Bordeaux blend. The wine received 100 points from James Suckling in May 2018 and he describes it as “Unbelievable. More powerful than the 2014 which was 100 points”. There was a reason why I bought this wine, but I couldn’t recall the connection until today. Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle is of course the great-granddaughter of Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, the creator of the famous French liqueur Grand Marnier. Longstanding readers of Sheldon’s Times will know about my passion for Grand Marnier and that I have both the 100th and 150th Anniversary bottling at home. If the winemaking at Case Lapostolle follows anything like the attention to detail applied to Grand Marnier, Clos Apalta cannot be anything other than an amazing wine. 12 bottles available at the shop (well, 11 really, coz I am having one). Priced at £102.50 a bottle.
Second up is Errazuriz 2016 Las Pizarras Pinot Noir. Don Maximiano Errazuriz founded Vina Errazuriz in 1870. Funny that we refer to Chile as New World, when they have been clearly growing grapes and making wine for rather a long time. Having found the ideal grape growing area after 2 days searching on horseback, Errazuriz was the first to plant French grape varieties in the Aconcagua Valley. Key varieties were Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, but in 2005 Errazuriz pioneered the planting of cooler climate varieties closer to the coast resulting in the establishment of the Aconcagua Costa appellation. It is this coastal appellation that Las Pizarras Pinot Noir comes from. Pizarras is the local name for the metamorphic rock in the vineyards which includes a high proportion of slate. Luis Gutirrez says of the 2016 in his report in October 2018 “This seems fresher and more precise than the 2015….It’s nicely textured with ultra refined tannins that provide some grip and stick to your teeth” and gave the wine 95 points. James Sucking said “The mineral, stone, slate and violet aromas are superb. Full body, dense and silky texture. So much beautiful fruit yet it’s so reserved and refined. Layered and complete. Fantastic acidity at the finish. Iron, iodine and oyster. Long finish. Superb follow up to the 2015. Drink or hold.” with a 99 point rating. Just 6 bottles of this wine are available, perhaps 5 if I grab one. In the shop at £75.

The other New Ins this week

2002 Bollinger Grande Année (£160)
2002 Vilmart et Cie Coeur de Cuvee (£160)
2009 Pol Roger Winston Churchill JEROBOAM
2012 Pol Roger Winston Churchill JEROBOAM (Derwin – for reasons that are obvious to him)
2013 Mountford Liaison Riesling from New Zealand (Christian) at £19.95 – Botrytis gives this wine a complex palate which is a touch sweeter than off-dry on the palate. We bought this over from New Zealand for a customer and added a couple of extra cases for the shop. Tuck in while you can, unlikely to reappear. Perfect chilled summer garden wine.
2018 Dageuneau Buisson Renard (£95) – completing the trio of wines we have from Dagueneau (Loire Sauvignon Blanc)
2020 Cantele Negroamaro Rosato – Amanda and I both tasted this recently and it simply does everything you want a summer rose to do. It completes the wines we have from Cantele. All we need is the sun to appear and the temperature to rise. £12.50.
2018 Lanzerac Pinotage (£13.50) – good quality South African Pinotage at an affordable price.
2017 Lanzerac Cabernet Sauvignon (£13.50) – ditto for Cabernet Sauvignon.
2018 Franco Conterno Langhe Nebbiolo (£23.50) – already a repeat seller for us (Russell) and we’ve only had it for a few days so tuck in. Sits nicely between Marco Porello and Mascarello.
2016 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Bussia (£49) – proper Barolo from one of the great vineyards and a very good producer.

Car’s the Star

Remember sunny days in Shipston-on-Stour? This was taken towards the end of April. One of the first outings for this beauty with its new owners. And what wonderful condition. I think it might be a c. 1983 Mercedes W123 200 T Estate. The white tyre walls work so well with the ‘aged claret’ colour.
On this occasion is was just Charlie who came to the shop, but we know the car really belongs to Emily. She seems to sit that little bit more comfortably behind the wheel.
Enough for tonight. I wasn’t wrong when I said it was due to rain last Saturday and I think we are in for more of the same tomorrow. The good news is that rain or shine, Amanda, Trish and I will be here to meet your every wine need for the weekend ahead and beyond. Come and see us and pick out a lovely bottle or two.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your Badger-loving, Estate-car-adoring, New-World-experimenting wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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