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Daffs, DotW, TT, Prices, Pauillac, New Ins & Car’s the Star

We are trying to be a bit more cheery this week. The daffodils in front of the shop are in full bloom which always makes us feel a little better. In tonight’s Sheldon’s Times we have a reminder about the sparkling wines tasting next week, a piece about the pressure on pricing, an article on my favourite wine village, some smashing New Ins and a car that brings back fond memories. And tonight’s DotW is simply adorable. Press on.

Spring is here – the daffs are out

Wednesday morning at the shop was bright and sunny and the daffodils were in full fettle. Their south facing position pretty much guarantees a full bloom. Great to have a splash of colour as the light improves.
Carol has ordered 300 plug plants to grow on, ready to fill the tubs and baskets as the spring bulbs die back. Watch this space for more colourful displays.

Dog of the Week

This is Jededaih, known to his friends as Jed. He is a wire haired Dachshund, not much more than a young pup and great fun to be with. He can visit the shop any time.
Many thanks to Loyd and Melissa for bringing in Jed to see us. When is Solomon coming back?

Sheldon’s TT – Sparkling Wines Thursday 17th March 2-4pm

As previously trailed we are planning to run a sparkling wines tasting/workshop on Thursday 17th March, 2-4pm here at the shop. We’ll try a variety of wines from around the world, understanding different production methods and quality levels. Price is £25 per person to include all wines and snacks. To book please drop Amanda a line on or give us a call on 01608 661409. It will certainly be a fun and informative afternoon session.

It was inevitable – price increases

We are being battered at the moment with emails from suppliers, shippers, producers, cardboard manufacturers and many more. All are claiming the same things: increased costs of raw materials, issues with product supply, transportation cost increases, etc, etc. Due to the way we buy, the increase in costs is passed directly on to us through the individual bottle price we pay for the wine we all drink. In some cases this has been negligible, in others we have seen prices increase by as much as 25%.
Our promise remains – that we will only increase prices when our buy prices increase. On the whole, this usually means when new stock arrives. Prices often change when a new vintage is introduced, but in some cases the price of a current vintage may go up because of all of the other costs associated with the wine. We will continue to price as fairly as we can and ultimately you will be the judge – through your buying behaviour. And come and buy the current stock before the price increases hit. There are definitely some bargains to be had in the shop at the moment.


To cheer me up I thought I would write a piece on what is arguably my favourite wine commune in the whole world. And with the arrival of a case of 1994 Pichon Baron today, it is a useful way to put this wonderful wine into the broader context of the village and the overall Bordeaux classification.

Pauillac (pronounced “poor-yak”) is a small port town in France on the west bank of the Gironde estuary, located approximately 50 kilometres north west of Bordeaux. Pauillac is one of the four key wine producing villages on what is known as the ‘left bank’ of Bordeaux, the others being St Estephe (immediately to the north), St Julien (immediately to the south) and Margaux (20km south of Pauillac). Pauillac is considered rather special among wine lovers because it is the home to three of the five Bordeaux Premier Crus, known as First Growths here in the U.K., as defined in the Classification of Bordeaux Wines in 1855. Château Lafite Rothschild is the northern-most First Growth, bordering Cos d’Estournel in St Estephe. Chateau Mouton Rothschild sits in the middle of the commune and Chateau Latour is on the southern boundary bordering St Julien and the vineyards of Leoville Las Cases.

We cannot go much further without a small explanation of the 1855 Classification. The original classification was based on reputation and trading price at the time and it defined 59 Chateaux in the Medoc and one in Graves as being worthy of a place in the ranking. The classification is now largely considered out of date, with some Chateaux now punching well above their classification weight and others not quite making the grade for their position. But the original positioning allowed producers to charge for their wines accordingly and invest in vineyards and wineries, further boosting quality. Certainly at the top level of the classification the positioning became self-fulfilling.

The 1855 Classification defined Pauillac as having two First Growths (Mouton was promoted much later in 1973, the only meaningful change in the history of the classification), three Second Growths (including Mouton), no Third Growths, one Fourth Growth and twelve Fifth Growths.

Château Lafite Rothschild is the northern-most First Growth, bordering Cos d’Estournel in St Estephe. Chateau Mouton Rothschild sits in the middle of the commune and Chateau Latour is on the southern boundary bordering St Julien and the vineyards of Leoville Las Cases. Towards the southern boundary and south of Pauillac town lie the two second growths. Directly opposite each other, Pichon Longueville Baron is on the west side of the road, and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is on the east side. Both are within spitting distance of Chateau Latour and also fifth growth and the highly regarded Lynch Bages, considered as a second growth by todays standards. The fourth growth is another favourite of mine – Chateau Duhart Milon, made by the Lafite side of the Rothschild family. Notable fifth growths include Clerc Milon and d’Armailhac, Batailley, Grand Puy Lacoste to name a few. Having looked down the list I think we have every fifth growth wine from Pauillac in the shop in one vintage form or another.

Pauillac is special because the vineyards largely lie on gravel beds deposited over millennia by the estuary. These pebble-rich soils allow for free drainage. The estuary itself helps moderate extreme temperature fluctuations and the sand dunes to the west on the Atlantic side protect the vines from excessive sea winds. Weather conditions are largely controlled by the easterly systems coming from the Atlantic but in the best years the commune can experience ideal growing conditions for its two principle grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In warmer years Cabernet Sauvignon is favoured as it has a longer ripening cycle, in cooler years Merlot tends to play a larger role.

It is the structure, complexity and ageing potential of Cabernet Sauvignon that draws me to the wines from this commune. Cabernet Sauvignon displays classic black fruit flavours, in particular blackcurrant when young. The grape produces high tannins which can be overbearing in the early years but these soften with time, adding a freshness to an aged wine as the primary fruit flavours recede.

Young wines from Pauillac – and when I say ‘young’ I generally mean around 10 years of age – have masses of black fruit flavours, are full bodied, tend to be rather tannic and are best paired with food. They go particularly well with red meats, think roast beef. Older wines have less fruit, replaced by tertiary flavours of leather, tobacco, cedar wood, often with earthy notes and violets. It is these flavours that lovers of old Bordeaux seek out.
The 1994 Pichon Baron (second growth) that arrived in the shop today is one such wine. 1994 was a good vintage but it has been eclipsed by the legendary vintages of 1995 and 1996. Because of this the price of this wine is lower than it’s vintage neighbours. With 28 years on the clock it is perfectly mature, showing all of the hallmarks of well made Bordeaux wine with age. If you have ever wondered why people whittle on about old Bordeaux, buy a bottle, pull the cork and drink. Whether you like it or not you will certainly get the feel for wine of this style. We have plenty of bottles of Pauillac in the shop across many different vintages and price points, come and explore.

New Ins

Rolly Gassman Sylvaner Reserve (£18.95)
Jesus Madrazo 2017 Rioja Crianza (£25), 2018 2018 Ribera del Duero (£45) and Selección Rioja (£45)
Garzon Reserve Tannat, Uruguay (£19.95)
Ferreirinha Vinha Tinto, Portugal (£14.95)
2015 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino (£49)
2016 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cerretta (£65)
2010 Chateau Croizet Bages (Pauillac) (£59)
2010 L’Hospitalet de Gazin (Pomerol) (£45)
1994 Pichon Longueville Baron (Pauillac) (£140)East India Cream Sherry in 75cl bottles (£22.95) – your favourite Sherry is finally back
Ferreira Antonia 10YO Tawny Port (£22.95)
Arran 18YO (£99.95)
Glenrothes 18YO (£119.95)
Aberlour 18YO (£139.95)

Car’s the Star

Say hello to Billy Blue. Many of you know I have a soft spot for Minis. As it happens I owned one in the 1990’s that was exactly the same colour but without the Union Jack roof. This model has the additional ‘sports pack’, meaning 13 inch alloys, oversized wheel arches and a fancy exhaust.
Many thanks to Gemma for whizzing by for the obligatory photo. What a smasher.
That will do for tonight. The weather is looking pretty grim until tomorrow afternoon but then it appears to brighten and warm up for a few days. Jude, Trish and I will be here to pick you some lovely bottles if you pop in, whether you are doing the rugby or not. Perhaps see you tomorrow.

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

Your Pauillac-loving, daffodil-admiring, Jed-adoring wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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