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DotW, Hot Weather Bottles, Bordeaux City Report, Cognac Cocktails, New In and Car’s the Star

Tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times is unashamedly French focused. Trish and I have recently returned from our first pleasure-trip to France since 2019. Cognac and Bordeaux were the two main destinations. I had not visited Bordeaux city before, what a fabulous place. Cognac is well known to us but it was great to return and explore a little more of the area.

But before we dive into all of that, a quick shout out to John, our regular reader from down under. It seems John got such a kick out of the Poms beating the Wallabies last weekend that he fell over on the way home. He’s now sporting a new hip. That’s some way to celebrate an English victory over our antipodean adversaries but we’ll take it. Thank you John for doing us proud and we wish you all the best for a speedy recovery.

Let’s press on with tonight’s instalment.

Dog of the Week

This is Snow. He’s the campsite dog in Cognac. He runs the cafe/bar on site. At least that’s what his owner says he thinks he does. A Staffy of course, with a lovely friendly temperament. He was certainly a pleasure to have around as we demolished a portion of moules-frites and another of steak, cooked ‘saignant’ of course.
Unfortunately I didn’t catch the owners name so this one will just have to go out with a big thank you to all the team running the campsite in Cognac.

Hot Hot Hot! Wines for the sunny weather.

With the temperature set to rise to the mid thirties early next week and some good sunshine over the weekend, here are the team’s top picks for the hot weather.

Jude: obviously it is Puech Haut Argali rose 2021 (£16.95), the Provence-styled wine from the Languedoc. Jude got in first with this one, I think all of us would have picked it!

Esther: being a cider fan, Esther’s summer garden tipple is Pearson’s Medium Cider (£2.95/500ml bottle). Cold, fizzy and refreshing, the perfect drink with the barbecue.

Amanda: for me it has to be Rezabal (£13), the Basque-region white that has a slight spritz. Fresh, a touch saline and delicious in the sunshine. A bargain too.

TrishAntinori Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Vermentino 2021 (£21.75), because has a light, fresh, fruity style, lighter in body than the Solosole Vermentino so easier to drink on it’s own or with food.

ShaneDonnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Spatlese 2016 (easy for you to say, £45), a superbly made off-dry Riesling which weighs in at just 8% alcohol making it the perfect mid-afternoon garden sipper without the risk of getting tipsy in the sun.

Difficult to choose, isn’t it. My advice: buy one of each then do your own experiment over the weekend. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?!
…and just in, a Sheldon’s On Tour photo. This bottle of Rezabal has ‘made it home’, albeit in the French part of the Basque region. Driven all that way by a Sheldon’s customer to enjoy looking over the Atlantic. And according to the enthusiastic consumers it tastes even better there than it does here. Why is it wines taste so good while on holiday?!
A big thank you to Adam and Marina for sending the shot through. Enjoy your amazing trip.
If any of you have photos of Sheldon’s wines at large feel free to drop them over and we’ll do our best to include them in future editions of Sheldon’s Times.

Bordeaux City Report

Trish and I were lucky enough to spend a few days in Bordeaux city last week. So impressed was I with the city that I thought I’d write a short article about it. Back in the early nineties Bordeaux was generally viewed as a stop off point if you were travelling through, but now it is very much a destination town. Back in 1995 Alain Juppé was elected Mayor of Bordeaux. By all accounts this man had a vision for the city and commenced a progressive investment programmme, introducing the  excellent tram network, upgrading the quayside and generally tidying the town up. He left his mayoral role in 2019 and the results of his efforts are clear to see. The city has a great feeling to it. The majority of the buildings have been cleaned, the monuments and museums are welcoming and interesting and more recently the city has built La Cité du Vin, a comprehensive, fun yet educational centre dedicated to the topic of wine.
La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux
La Cité du Vin is described as “a unique cultural centre dedicated to the universal, living heritage of wine. It offers a spectacular journey around the world, throughout the ages, across countless cultures and civilisations”. I spent a couple of hours there and thought is was thoroughly enjoyable. The visit ends with a trip to the top floor, a ‘degustation’ of a wine of your choice and time to take in the views down the river to the historic centre of old Bordeaux.
The city itself is a mixture of broad tree-lined boulevards with narrow city streets between. The town is small enough to walk around, although the trams and buses are always on hand for those with tired feet. There are plenty of great cafes and restaurants and for wine lovers there are also a number of excellent wine shops. Aesthetically my favourite was L’Intendant, located on Place de la Comedie opposite the Grand Theatre. Over five floors it is set out like a giant spiral cellar. Very impressive.
L’Intendant in Bordeaux – an exceedingly good wine shop.
Generally speaking I found wine prices a little higher than we sell for here in the UK, but that didn’t stop me taking time to browse. The collections in the shops are a dream for wine-lovers, from entry level bottles to the very finest wines available from the best vintages.
With just two days to explore, the most cost effective way to get about was with a 48 hour ‘Citipass’. For 41 euros this pass gave me access to public transport (trams, buses and river boat) plus most of the museums and monuments. It also included a guided tour of the city (you choose boat, walking or town train). Great value. I visited negotiant cellars in Chatrons, walked the 230 steps to the top of the Tour Puy Berland for a great view of the city, a fabulous digital art exhibition and more. On my second day I found Bus Route No 4 and took it to the city outskirts, getting off at the stop named Parc Haut Brion – located directly outside Chateau Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion. A pilgrimage I have wanted to make for some time.
The new reception centre at Chateau Haut Brion
(the iconic Chateau is tucked away behind a wall)
I would certainly recommend Bordeaux for a two to three day city break. Plenty to do, but if watching the world go by is more your thing then taking time sitting in a cafe with a coffee, beer or glass of wine is also a great way to spend your time. Trish and I agreed, we would certainly go back, we just need to find the opportunity.
As far as wines are concerned, we enjoyed some delicious bottles. We are a little spoilt for choice here in the shop as far as Bordeaux is concerned, but that didn’t stop us discovering new gems. Watch this space – some will be making an appearance in the shop in the near future.

Cognac Cocktails

On route to Bordeaux we stopped in Cognac for a couple of days. Cognac is also a lovely town, albeit much smaller than Bordeaux. The central square, Place Francois 1er, has a number of lovely cafe restaurants with a nice fountain in the middle. While there we visited one of the Cognac houses and at the end of a comprehensive tour we were invited to drink a Cognac cocktail. Generally speaking I am not a big fan of mixing Cognac with anything other than perhaps a large ice cube when served as an aperitif. On this occasion we were offered a drink made with the house VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) with apple juice and a squeeze of lime, served on the rocks. It was delicious, refreshing but still with complexity coming from the aged eau de vie. This made me think we need more Cognac cocktails in our life. In fact we need more cocktails in our life full stop.
For Cognac cocktails it is not necessary to buy expensive spirits. VS (Very Special) and VSOP are perfectly placed as a base when mixers and other spirits are going to be added. I would recommend the following:
Filloux COQ Grande Champagne at £43.50
Godet No.1 at £40
It is also worth considering Armagnac for cocktails, we would recommend the Sigognac VS at £37.50. For those feeling patriotic, we also have Somerset Cider Brandy, the 3 year old at £34.95 will do just the job.
We also have a wide selection of fruit cremes (alcoholic), syrups (non-alcoholic), bitters and other goodies. I am thinking of booking a cocktail workshop soon. If interested let me know by replying to this email. In the meantime, empty out your spirits cupboard, see what you’ve got and start mixing.

New Ins

We are delighted to have received our allocation of the new release from Bollinger. Following on from the two previous Pinot Noir releases (PNVZ15 & PNVZ16) we now have PNTX17. This is again a Pinot Noir based wine, the dominant vintage is 2017 (although it has reserve wines aged for up to 15 years in the blend) with the fruit coming from Tauxières (hence TX). Tauxières sits on chalk which lends the wine a level of mineralogy and precision.

For those of you who want all the detail, here’s a rather good (and comprehensive) tasting note from Richard Juhlin:

“The wine is almost completely dominated by the extremely exciting and rare Tauxières Premier Cru, which is one of two villages classified 99% on the Grand Cru scale. Despite an impressive vineyard area of 237 hectares, it is extremely rare to come across champagnes dominated by this fantastic Cru. A cooler microclimate and a thinner soil layer with even more compact chalk than sunny Bouzy make the wines from here lighter and more elegant than Bouzy but stronger than Verzenay which is also part of this exciting Blanc de Noirs with predominantly base from 2017. Here is also a small splash of Avenay to give a little buttery roundness to the cuvée with its low dosage of 4 grams. The reserve wines that always come from magnum bottles under low pressure make up 48% from three vintages in 2016, 2009 and 2006. In total, half of the wine is made in oak barrels and the other half in steel tanks. The result is very beautiful and personal. The scent has features of lead pencil, juniper and freshly lacquered boat together with more classic coffee notes, rose petals, apricot and peach. The taste is vivid and multifaceted with a lively precision, lighter fruit aromas than you normally find in Bollinger’s wines. Even cassis is one of the more unexpected aromas in this finely tuned complex symphony. Very impressive and exciting champagne that really makes me want to taste more and that I will look out for to add to my private cellar.”
92-94 pts Richard Juhlin

I’m pleased to say that we are holding the price of PNTX17 at the same level as the previous PN releases:
Bollinger PNTX17 75cl bottles: £80
Bollinger PNTX17 150cl magnums: £200

I’ve also pulled out a few treats and placed them in the cellar:

2008 Philipponnat ‘1522’ (£78) – a wine that was a little sultry on release, a recent bottle has told me this has come round well.
NV Egly Ouriet Blanc de Noirs ‘Les Crayeres’ (£180) – needs little introduction to those in the know, a great, fully ripe fruit 100% Pinot Noir Champagne made in limited quantity.

2004 Chateau d’Armailhac (£80) – produced by the English side of the Rothschild family, ready to drink.
2009 Reserve de Leoville Barton magnums (£90 a mag) – second wine of Leoville Barton in a very good vintage, a steal.
2010 Batailley (£83) – dependable Claret just entering it’s drinking window.

Car’s the Star

Continuing with the French theme, today’s Car’s the Star hasn’t been to the shop at all. As I pulled up in the car park at Chateau d’Yquem last Friday (the best sweet wine in the world?) it was clear that the French Porsche Club had arrived and were enjoying lunch. There were many cars present but I think my favourite is this rather smart GT2RS. A brute. I am no Porsche 911 expert but I reckon this is a GT2RS 991 model with a 0-62mph time of just 2.7 seconds. I think it must have been a GT-meeting as also present were a couple of GT3 (992 models) and some other vehicles which were beyond my level of knowledge. Photos available if you want to have a look.
A big thank you to Jean-Pierre for being at d’Yquem at just the right time for the photo. What a day for a comprehensive sweet wine tasting.
One last shout out for the Shipston Home Nursing Party in the Park happening on Sunday, 1-5pm at Alscot Park. Should be a great afternoon out. Plenty of shade in the park to keep cool. Click the link below for details.
Party in the Park details
That will do for tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times. Stay cool in the heat. Amanda, Trish and I will be here to look after you tomorrow. We’ll keep the ‘fridge well stocked throughout the day. Do drop by and pick up a bottle or two to quench your thirst through the coming days.


Shane, Amanda, Jude, Esther, Nigel and Trish

Your Bordeaux-city-loving, cold-booze-drinking, PNTX-admiring wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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