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New In (team member), DotW, Guest Beer, Dinner, New Ins (wines) and Car’s the Star

I am delighted to announce the arrival of a new member of our team tonight. Welcome Jude! We also have a gorgeous DotW, a super new Guest Beer, a report on a rather special dinner out (with some rather special wines), some smashing New Ins and a fabulous car to finish off with. No time like the present…gin and tonic in hand…press on.

Welcome Jude – our new team member

I was tempted to put this article in the “New Ins” section of tonight’s Sheldon’s Times, but I think it merits top billing. I am delighted to announce the arrival of Jude Gibbins to the team. Jude will be helping us in the shop (and warehouse, and cellars, and with tours and tastings and anything else I can think of). Jude has plenty of retail experience – some of you may recognise her from Long Compton – and we will be building her wine knowledge over the coming weeks and months. Ordinarily Jude will be in the shop on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with Amanda in on Thursdays and Fridays and they will each do alternate Saturdays. Tomorrow both Amanda and Jude are in. I am really looking forward to welcoming a Jude into the team, please come and say hello when you (and she) are next in.

Dog of the Week

This is Guinness. What a lovely black lab. All full of beans but well enough behaved to have his picture taken. Sorry the photo is a little dark, an unfortunate error by the photographer (me).
My accuracy on who, when and where is failing me but I’ll take a punt: many thanks to David for bringing Guinness in to see us (please reply to this email if I have got that wrong and we’ll issue yet another editorial correction).

This week’s Guest Beer:
Going Off Half-Cocked by the Bespoke Brewing Co. (£2.95)

Originally formed in 2012 but purchased by the current owners in 2018, the Bespoke Brewing Company hasn’t had it easy. But Matt, Milly, family and team haven’t rested on their laurels throughout the pandemic. Based in the Royal Forest of Dean, the team have installed a brand new brewery and have been practising a number of different recipes.
For this week’s guest beer we have selected Matt & Milly’s IPA, called Going Off Half-Cocked. Described by the brewery as an explosive forest IPA, they say it has a tasty flavour throughout, but sparks a hop taste to finish.
Amanda and I have just tried it and we thought…it is almost like a cross-over beer, an IPA drifting towards a bitter. There is definitely a drying feature from the hoppiness on the finish. Especially yummy with some Bibanesi Handmade Mini Pizza Sourdough Breadsticks (from Ocado) that we have just been tucking into. Eleven bottles left in the shop.

A Decent (or should that be Decadent?) Wine Dinner

Regular readers of Sheldon’s Times may recall a wine dinner I reported on in February 2020. I have two very dear, generous friends and under normal circumstances we get together once a year for a dinner with some fabulous wines. The location is always the same – the London-based Michelin 1-star restaurant known as Pollen Street Social, run by (celebrity?) Chef Jason Atherton. No prizes for guessing where it is – yep, on Pollen Street, a stones throw from Regent Street.
Last week we met, a full 18 months after the last supper. We arrived at Pollen Street at the early hour of 6.30pm and headed straight to our table. After a swift scan of the menu we decided to go a la carte, knowing that we had just(!) three incredible bottles to go with our meal. As is obligatory in a posh restaurant these days, “snacks” arrived and the first bottle was opened and poured.
The House of Bollinger makes lovely Champagne, often with a bias towards Pinot Noir. This bottle came from the superb 1988 vintage and is the late disgorged version of their top vintage wine, La Grande Annee, named Bollinger RD. The RD stands for Récemment Dégorgé (we ignorant English-speakers usually say “Recently Disgorged”). Having spent 11 years maturing on the lees in (disgorged 1999), the wine subsequently has had a further 22 years of bottle age. The wine was gold in colour, with small and persistent bubbles, amazing for a Champagne with so many years behind it. The nose was reminiscent of autumn, with bruised apples dominant. It also showed that characteristic sherry note which is a result of oxidation – in my view this added to the enjoyment of the wine but this flavour known as “gout Anglais” is not to everyone’s taste. The Champagne was an excellent accompaniment to the snacks and other tasty things we had before the serious food arrived.
The fish course appeared and we popped the cork on a bottle of 2014 Montrachet Grand Cru from Jacques Prieur. Montrachet is widely accepted as the best of the Burgundy grand cru vineyards and 2014 is a special year for white Burgundy. This showed in the intensity of flavour in the wine. Needing a little time to reveal itself in the glass, my assessment was that this wine still needs more time in the bottle to develop complexity and further interest. At this point in its life the wine was all fresh fruit, lemons, limes and touch of stone fruit. By no means a bad wine, but I suspect with much more to give. Worth revisiting in 5 years. It was however an enjoyable partner with the fish.
Two of the group ordered the lamb dish for main, another the suckling pig (it was the inclusion of crackling that clinched it). The wine: Chateau Latour 1982. The wine was decanted soon after arrival at the restaurant so it had had a good hour in the decanter before serving.
Suckling Pig at Pollen Street Social
The Latour was extraordinary. A beguiling nose that drew you in time and time again, the aromas contained the expected cedar, leather and tobacco from the age of the wine, but there was still a core of fruit, predominantly blackcurrant and dark plums. On the palate it delivered more of the same with the addition of a touch of black olive. And it went on and on. Everything was in it’s place, the wine was simply perfect. One of the best bottles of wine I have ever tasted. And it went well with both the lamb and the pork, a non-traditional pairing for both. The taste of the wine lingering in the mouth meant we drank it slower than usual, meaning there was sufficient remaining to go with the additional cheese course.
Not just a dessert…
Pollen Street Social is famous for the desserts and those that were served after the cheese met all expectations. We often enjoy a glass of sweet wine at the end of the meal, but there was no desire to detract from the experience of the Latour. We tucked into plates that looked more like art than food. We finished on a selection of sweet “snacks” to complete the circle.
Petits Fours
A huge thank you to the wonderful team at Pollen Street Social, and to Mr Atherton himself who spent a fair amount of time with us over the course of the evening. The food was delicious, as it always is. The biggest thanks are due of course to Tom and Adam for the company and for the selection and sharing of their wines. A faultless evening, reminding me of why we do these things. In the shop I often get asked “Who drinks these amazing wines?”. The answer: we do. Once a year I hasten to add. It remains an absolute privilege to be able to eat at places like Pollen Street Social and drink the very best wines the world has to offer. That feeling will never change.

New Ins

I’ve been shopping. I love wine shopping. I love wine shopping more than any other type of shopping. But then I don’t really like other types of shopping so there isn’t much competition. Amanda overheard a question in her wine course that went something like “why doesn’t the shop have more wines from the Right Bank?”, hence the three sensibly priced Right Bankers below…
Here we go:

2020 Kir Yianni “The North” High Altitude Assyrtiko (£14.50, Mainland Greece, restock, new vintage, same price)

2005 Domaine Jean Grivot Nuits Saint Georges Les Pruniers 1er Cru(£130, Cotes de Nuits)

2000 Clos de L’Eglise (£48, Lalande de Pomerol)
2001 Leoville Barton (£149, St Julien)
2005 L’Hospitalet de Gazin (£45, Pomerol, restock for Christian…)
2009 Chateau d’Angludet (£55, Margaux)
2010 Chateau de Fonbel (£35, St Emilion GC)
2016 Clos du Marquis MAGS (£130 per mag, St Julien, for tucking away)

1985 Warre Vintage Port (£75)

Car’s the Star

A rather tasty looking Bentley Corniche. The car has been subjected to a fairly major exterior refurbishment and is in near-perfect condition. Don’t be fooled by the numberplate – the A-reg suggests a registration date of 1983, but by all accounts the car is three years older. A twist of fate as a result of a previous (non-UK resident) owner.
Many thanks to Stephen for bringing the car round, a real treat on another sunny day in Shipston.
That’s it for tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times. The weather tomorrow looks remarkably similar to that of today i.e cloudy but dry, with a little rain to arrive on Sunday late-morning. Amanda, Jude and I will be here in the shop tomorrow to meet your weekend (and weekday) wine needs. Come on in, say hello and let us help you pick out some lovely bottles.

Shane, Amanda, Jude, Esther, Nigel, Shane and Carol

Your Latour-loving, Guinness-adoring, suckling-pig-munching wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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