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DotW, Supply Challenges, Guest Beer, New Ins and Car’s the Star

I hope this edition of Sheldon’s Times finds you all well and that you have been able to enjoy the mini-Indian summer we have enjoyed over the last week or so. Trish and I popped into London last week and took this picture of Chelsea Harbour. Looks more like somewhere on the Mediterranean than the UK.

In tonight’s edition of our rag we have a hungry DotW, an article about some fundamental supply issues being experienced in the wine business, a lovely new Guest Beer, some smashing New Ins and a pair of super cars to finish us off. Grab your G&T and press on.

Dog of the Week

This is a proper doggie action shot. Here we have Chukka, in full anticipation of the treat she is about to receive. As you can see, she is readying herself for it. Yep, that’s her tongue, just cleaning her lips and nose before snaffling a doggie biscuit.
Many thanks to Tamsin and Juliana for bringing Chukka to see us – albeit rather a while ago. And thanks to Mum for the reminder that Chukka’s snapshot was somehow skipped earlier on in the year. Tut. Bad Shane.

Not Brexit, but the weather…

A while ago we wrote an article about some of the impacts of Brexit on the wine business, namely increased costs and time to receive wine into the UK. So far (touch wood) we have managed to navigate our way through these challenges with little impact on you, the end customer. At the time of writing, we are not predicting any particular issues for Sheldon’s as a result of Brexit, other than some expected price increases relating to transport and import costs.
Brexit is not however the only issue facing our wine producers. In a number of regions the weather conditions have been so poor over recent times that production levels have dropped significantly relative to ‘normal’ vintages. Two regions have been particularly badly affected:
Burgundy, France
We are all familiar with the standard Burgundian line of “yields are down therefore prices will have to go up”. This appears to be a one-way street, in the time I have been buying Burgundy I have never seen prices drop in an abundant vintage. But a string of severe frosts and other weather-related maladies has resulted in Burgundy facing what appears to be its biggest challenge yet.
Frost candles burning in the vineyards of Burgundy earlier this year in an attempt to reduce frost damage to the budding vines
An inability to produce meaningful quantities of wine, and in some instances an inability to produce any wine at all means that supply of wine is a real issue. This is not simply an issue of quantity and price driven by supply and demand, but is a more fundamental issue of supply at all. We are already seeing severe restrictions on some of what we would consider the bread and butter wines for the next vintage release. The result – consumers will look to other regions for their Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, and if they find acceptable results, often at lower prices, the question will be asked: Do I return to Burgundy or shift my buying behaviour.
At present we have reasonable stocks of Burgundy across all price levels with a decent amount of 2019 inbound. But the 2020 and 2021 vintages are looking tricky. Chablis has been particularly badly hit. We will strive to maintain supply and bring you the wines many of you love.
Marlborough, New Zealand
I never thought I would see the day where I wrote about supply issues from Marlborough, New Zealand. Both quality and supply have been consistent for so long it seemed unthinkable that we would ever face an availability issue with wines from this famous Sauvignon Blanc producing region. But here we are. Wines from the 2020 vintage are beginning to run out and the 2021 vintage due into the UK shortly is significantly down in volume terms. The problem: an unseasonably warm spring which resulted in early bud burst, followed by a series of severe frosts which damaged the new buds. To add insult to injury, a 3-month drought prior to harvest further reduced yields. The result: a 30% reduction in production, with much of the juice destined for the ‘affordable’ wines being instead selected for the more prestigious (= expensive) cuvees. In the trade, the problem we are facing has been known for some time which has resulted in a run on the current 2020 vintage, knowing that shortages are inevitable with the new vintage.
It’s not the sheep that are the problem in New Zealand, but the weather
The wine producers association in New Zealand estimates that they will be 84 million bottles short in the 2021 vintage.
As of yesterday we have run out of our best selling white wine – Nika Tiki – a classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with herbaceous, gooseberry fruit and limey flavours. This wine is no longer available and the new vintage when it arrives in November will be priced at a new, higher level. We have stocks of other Marlborough SBs but at a higher price point.
What are we doing about it?
Firstly we are talking with our producers, wholesalers and other routes from which we receive our wines to remain informed about the challenges of supply. Secondly, and more immediately we are looking at alternatives to New Zealand for affordable Sauvignon Blancs. We think we have found a couple, more about this next week. In the meantime we continue to stock the following Sauvignon Blancs that offer excellent value for money:

Berticot Sauvignon Blanc (France) at £8.99 a bottle
Joseph Mellot Menetou Salon Sauvignon Blanc (France) at £13.95 a bottle

For the ABF’s out there (Anything But French), we have the following:
Lyme Bay Shoreline (England) at £15.95 a bottle – not strictly a SB, but made with a variety called Seyval Blanc, we think it is great.
Forge Mill Chenin Blanc (South Africa) at £8.50 always a winner at tastings, but more like a Chardonnay in style.

We still have stocks of a couple of classics from Marlborough:
Tohu Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (NZ) at £17.95, delicious
Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (NZ) at £17.99, also brilliant

Lots more to choose from and I hope we will have more news on affordable NZ-alternatives next week. Watch this space.

Guest Beer – Allsopp’s Pale Ale – 4.4%, £2.95 per 500ml bottle

I am delighted to announce the arrival of a new guest beer. The last guest beer was the somewhat unusual ‘Yonder Blueberry Pie’, but this week we have returned to a more mainstream style of beer. Here we have the introduction of Allsopp’s Pale Ale, a delicious, balanced pale ale with a history dating back to the 1740’s (100 years before the founding of Sheldon’s).
As I write this, Amanda and I are sitting here enjoying a glass. It is deep gold in colour, has a good hoppy nose with notes of citrus fruits. On the palate it is lighter than the alcohol level suggests, with an unexpected malty tone and is refreshing and easy to drink.
The red hand on the label comes from the 1800’s where pubs used to display it as a symbol to signify that fresh beer was available inside. Now you can buy this lovely fresh beer in Sheldon’s, take it away and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.
Looking at our guest beer line up so far, most have sold out but we still have a few cans/bottles of the following beers available:

Moor Beer Co – Distortion IPA (5 available)
Yonder – Blueberry Pie Pastry Sour (7 available)

Grab them while they are still available (= before I take them home)

New Ins

Bollinger B13 – £100
First up tonight we have a new limited release from Bollinger. This new Cuvee, entitled B13 is a single vintage wine from 2013, is made from 100% Pinot Noir which comes from just 5 sites. The make up in the bottle is 92% Grand Cru wine, 8% Premier Cru.
Let’s not kid ourselves, 2013 was a tricky year across the majority of France, with a long, cold, wet winter followed by a cool spring which led to one of the latest harvests on record. Some hail over the summer period didn’t help either. Thankfully the Champagne area was less impacted than other parts of France and the late harvest favoured Pinot Noir, resulting in high quality fruit at a number of locations. The B13 is not badged as a full Bollinger Grande Annee (which is a Pinot-dominant blend), it is instead a single varietal wine showcasing the best Pinot fruit from the Montagne de Reims. Following on from the success of the PNVZ releases (also 100% Pinot wines made from three vintages, we still have a little of the 15 left and some stocks of 16) it doesn’t surprise me that Bollinger have released a special edition for 2013. How could they resist the opportunity of playing with the number 13 on the front of the bottle, styled to look just like the B of Bollinger?
What does it taste like? Well we have yet to try it but that will likely be rectified this weekend. It is rare for us to bring a wine into the shop before tasting, but such is the reliability of Bollinger that I felt I had to take up our small allocation of bottles (sorry, no mags). Here are some of the critics comments:

“On this vintage with a prolonged growing season Bollinger played the cool card, choosing to go with a high proportion of Verzenay fruit (51%). The combination of cool vintage and cool terroir is truly attractive for a blanc de noirs. Already the nose has lovely zingy fruitiness to it, lemon custard, perfectly ripe peaches and elegant spicy and chalky tones. The ensemble comes across as elegant, super juicy and purely fruity. My favourite of Bollinger limited editions so far!” 93-95/100 Essi Avellan MW 

“A Blanc de Noirs from 5 villages where half consists of equal shares of Aÿ and Verzenay. As you know, Verzenay and Aÿ are the dominant villages in Bollinger’s vintage champagnes. Verzenay is often the chalky and mineral-packed backbone of Bollinger’s vintage construction and Aÿ yield the embraced generous rich Pinot Noir that gives Bollinger’s wines such muscle strength. Here, the balance of the two is accompanied by red fruits and spices from the three other villages that is playing the second violin in this symphony. Because it is precisely the symphonic harmony that impresses most when the wine in large parts is youthfully fruity and anything but finished. Notes of strawberries, pineapple, banana and pear will over time be blown off for more nutty and powdery smoke dominated notes with great depth and wonderful seriousness. Personally, I will wait as long as I can before I open my own bottles to get the increasing depth of grilled hazelnut aroma that only storage can provide.” 93/100 Richard Juhlin, Champagne Club

The lovely box it comes in is super, and also 100% recyclable (and mostly made from recycled materials), a nod to the ecological aspects around wine generally but in particular prestige cuvees from Champagne. Limited stocks.

New Vintage Ridge Wines, California, USA
We have taken delivery of our latest batch of wines from Ridge. For lovers of Californian wine made in a more retrained style than the big boys of Napa, these wines provide pleasure when drunk young, but have great ability to age. In todays line-up we have:

2019 Ridge Estate Chardonnay (£65)

2018 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (£69)
2018 Ridge Lytton Estate Petite Syrah (£43.50)
2019 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel (£47)
2019 Ridge East Bench Zinfandel (£36.50)
2019 Ridge Geyserville (£47)

Across the rest of the portfolio we have the following new additions:
2008 Delamotte (£120) – as we have sold all of the previous stocks

2010 Bodegas Contador by Benjamin Romeo (£195) – top notch Rioja from low yielding vines made under the skilful hands of one of the regions stars. 99% Tempranillo, 1% Garnacha, this wine is just at the start of its drinking window. Particularly excited about this one.

2013 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino (£55) – the next great vintage after 2010 for Brunello (and much of Italy), this producer has been a firm favourite so don’t miss the opportunity to pick up a bottle of this vintage. Only 6 available.

2000 Grand Puy Lacoste – one of the greats of the 2000 vintage, both bottles (£150) and magnums (£310)

Stickies and Port:
2009 Doisy Vedrines half bottles Sauternes (£20)
1977 Graham’s Vintage Port (£130)

Car’s the Star

Saturday morning. I am just opening the shop and what should rock up? Not one, but two racing spec Astons. Both V12 Vantages. The chaps were swinging by to go for breakfast having just been out to give the cars a run before the traffic built up. Smashing.
Many thanks to William and Martin for dropping by. Always a good start to the day when a nice car or two pops in to say hello.
That concludes another edition of Sheldon’s Times. With the weather looking “OK” for the weekend ahead (cloudy but little rain), here’s hoping we can get a little more time in the garden before the wet weather arrives next week. Trish and Shane will be here tomorrow to look after you, Amanda is taking a well-earned day off after holding the reins last week.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your Chukka-loving, B13-drinking, Aston-coveting wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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