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DotW, Bluebells, Walton Dash, T4, Italian Tasting, Fondillon, New Ins and Car’s the Star

Plenty to get your teeth into tonight. We have a couple of tastings coming up, a gorgeous DotW, some super New Ins, a belter of a Car’s the Star and the latest scores for the Walton 10k dash. Oh, and it is probably the last weekend to go and see the bluebells. No point in messing about. Press on.

Dog of the Week

This is Spark. It doesn’t seem long since we had a fox-red Labrador and here is another one. But isn’t she gorgeous? She had a good rummage around the shop while she was here, exploring all of the nooks and crannies. Who can blame her? If you look hard enough there is always a bargain to be had here. Or a dog treat.
A big thanks to Sarah for bringing Spark in to see us. Always a pleasure and welcome any time.

Bluebells – last chance?

I suspect this weekend will be the last weekend before the bluebells start to go over. For the last few weekends Trish and I have taken the walk into Whichford Wood to see carpets of lovely flowers. This year the stalks seem particularly prolific.
In support of St Michael’s Church, Whichford there will be hot drinks and cake for sale this Sunday in the afternoon so why not go for a decent walk, settle for a cuppa when you get back, have a browse around the book sale and make a day of it? For those looking for something a little stronger, the Norman Knight will be serving and the Straw Kitchen at the pottery is famed for its brunches. And as far as the bluebells are concerned, once they are gone, they’re gone (until next year of course).

Walton Hall 10k – is upon us….

On Sunday at 10am the team will set off on the Walton 10km walk/run in support of Shipston Home Nursing, the palliative care support charity. Training has been intense, we will be like a small herd of antelope racing across the African savanna. We will be sprinting through the woods, racing down the valleys and bolting for the finishing line. That is assuming we can keep moving and the body doesn’t seize up, immobilising us and requiring emergency stretcher support.
Thank you so much to all of you have generously donated so far. YOU have raised over £1600 for the charity which is fabulous. If you remember my goal was £2000, one last push will get us there. Our Donors Wall of Fame looks pretty spectacular, we cannot thank you enough for your contributions.

Sheldon’s Wine Runners Donors Wall of Fame

There is still time to make a donation to Sheldon’s Wine Runners. To do so just click the button below and you’ll go to the donors page. You can gift any amount and every penny will be welcomed by the charity. We have also had some cash donations in the shop, rest assured if you wish to donate this way then the money will find its way safely into the hands of the Shipston Home Nursing team (and yes, you’ll still take pride of place on the Wall of Fame).
Visit Sheldon’s Wine Runners Walton 10k page and donate
There will be a full report on our achievements in next week’s Sheldon’s Times (international records broken, prizes won, etc, etc), perhaps a sweaty photo or two. Boy am I looking forward to the drink afterwards. Many thanks for your support – it really is appreciated.

Thirsty Third Thursday Tasting (T4) – Thursday 19th May

Our next Third Thursday Tasting is rapidly approaching – on the 19th May (a couple of weeks time). The theme this time is ‘Summer Wines’. Amanda will be picking out some of best warm-weather pleasers for the group to try. Perfect for those thinking about what to serve guests in the garden as the sun shines.
To book just reply to this email, call the shop on 01608 661409 or email Amanda at and we’ll put you down for a place. The fun starts at 1.30pm and lasts for a couple of hours. Price is £25 per head.

Sheldon’s Italian Tasting – Saturday 21st May 2022

Another date for the diary….in conjunction and with the support of our good friends at Berkmann Wine Cellars (wholesaler) we will be running an Italian Tasting here at the shop on the afternoon of Saturday 21st May.
The tasting will take a trot around Italy, with wines from producers located in each of the main wine-producing districts of the country. There are some old favourites (Antinori, San Leonardo, Prunotto) and some producers that are new to us (Masi, Umani Ronchi, Tasca). One thing that is common is that each and every one of them is in the upper echelons of wine producers from Italy and some of them rank in the top producers in the world. The room will be hosted by representatives of some of these producers. There will be a minimum of 24 wines to try. I might slip in a bottle or two of something special too.

Details are:

Date: Saturday 21st May
Time: 1400-1700hrs
Location: Cellar Tasting Room, Sheldon’s Wine Cellars, 6 New Street, Shipston on Stour
Entry: £20, redeemable against purchases of £100 or over on the day

If you would like to attend you can let me know by dropping me a line ( or replying to this email. Space is a little limited in the tasting room in the cellar so if possible please provide a rough time of arrival. You can also turn up on the day but we may need to hold you for a few minutes if it is busy down there.

Luis XIV Fondillón

Those of you with relatively long memories will remember me announcing the arrival of a new Vermut from Spain. The juice was made from a blend of old, barrel aged Monastrell and Macabeo with the addition of a selection of botanicals. The Monastrell came from a rare, rediscovered barrel cellar in the Alto Vinalopó region of Alicante, Spain. Uncovered in 2015, the 25 barrels lay dormant for at least 60 years. The Vermut was the first release from the cellar. Today we are announcing the arrival of tiny quantities of the full Fondillon wines. This ultra rare and unusual wine has some parallels with Sherry, each barrel is treated like a mini-solera system with wine being drawn off and the barrel being topped up with younger wines. These old barrels were matured in this way until the 1960s then remained untouched for decades. We have two bottlings:
Luis XVI 25 Fondillón 50cl DOP Alicante ‘Edad superior a 25 años’
(£50/50cl bottle)

Made from a blend of wines from the barrel cellar which are at least 25 years old, only 800 bottles have been produced. The tasting note for this wine is as follows:

“Light brown colour and orange tile rim, with medium intensity. On the nose, the warm aromas of dried fruits (hazelnuts, toasted marcona almonds) and very old noble wood stand out.

In the mouth, it is almost dry, friendly and very enveloping. Its aromas of hazelnuts, cinnamon and dried figs are combined with the creamy toasts of centennial oak. Long and clean finish.”

Luis XVI 50 Fondillón 50cl DOP Alicante ‘Edad superior a 50 años’
(£240/50cl bottle)

The wine in each bottle comes from a blend of barrels, the details of which are included with the bottle. The wine is a minimum of 50 years old and only 323 bottles have been produced. Tasting this wine is like tasting a piece of history. The note is as follows

“Very deep mahogany colour and orange tile rim with greenish flashes, with a high layer and high density. It smells like noble furniture, enveloped by a delicious aroma of coffee, nuts, dates, black tea…”

In the mouth, it has a sweet entrance balanced by a very high acidity. Its aromas are long, almost eternal and very intense. It tastes like old mahogany, a very old barrel and past time.”

I don’t suppose we will see bottles like these in the shop again, so if you are seriously into sweet wines, owning a bottle of Fondillon is a must and going for one of these will be a real treat.

New Ins

In addition to the Fondillon, we have just a few specials in tonight’s New Ins list:

1999 Leoville Poyferre (£85)
2003 Kirwan (£65)
2003 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux (£180)

…and finally…

2003 Chateau Margaux

…and finally, finally…

1993 Chateau Mouton Rothschild – 1993 is generally considered an appalling vintage. For those who know Mouton and the artists labels, this is the controversial one that was banned in the U.S. In anticipation of it being a wine representative of the vintage conditions we opened one over Easter (tasted next to a Leoville Barton 1990, one of my all time favourites) and we were pleasantly surprised. The 1993 is a wine of exceptional standing and certainly merits it’s First Growth position despite the vintage.

Car’s the Star

It is rare occasion when I take a picture that doesn’t need any cropping or adjustment of some kind. This photo needs no alterations at all. It is simply perfect. A DB11 Volante. Enough said.
Many thanks to Andy for sharing his new jewel with us. What a car.
That’s all for tonight’s Sheldon’s Times. Next time we ‘speak’ we will have completed the Walton run and will have nursed our aches and pains. The weather for the weekend ahead looks ok, hopefully not too warm on Sunday morning. Certainly good weather for catching up in the garden. Or for a bluebell walk. Tomorrow Amanda, Trish and I will be here to meet all of your weekend wine needs and more besides. Drop in, say hello and buy a bottle or two for the days ahead.


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

Your Fondillon-favouring, Spark-loving, exhaustion-anticipating wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Puech Haut, Walton 10k, New Ins and Car’s the Star

With the Bank Holiday weekend ahead of us we have been desperately trying to source the new vintage Puech Haut and I am delighted to say it arrived today. Fill your boots while the sun shines. Tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times includes an update on the heritage car meet last week, some great New Ins, and update on progress on the Walton 10k and of course a wonderfully fluffy dog of the week. Press on.

Dog of the Week

Say hello to Winnie. She was just 11 weeks when the photo was taken but now will be 12 (weeks). She is a lovely, fluffy, cuddly, excited Golden Retriever puppy. We all wanted to take her home with us.
Many thanks to Stephen and Catherine for popping in. A long way to come from Warrington so it is appreciated. That’s an ‘in joke’, as the Warringtons actually live in Swalcliffe. Long-standing readers of Sheldon’s Times will understand.

New Vintage Puech Haut Rose

Our new vintage Puech Haut rose has finally arrived. Despite badgering both the importer and the producer to ship earlier, here we are at the end of April having just received the shipment. We are delighted to have the wine here in 2021 vintage in bottles (£16.95), magnums (£39.95) and double magnums (£95).
The juice in the bottle is excellent, my favourite rose in the shop and yours too – we sold more Puech Haut last year than any other rose. And some of you love the frosty bottle too.

We still have just a few bottles of the 2020 vintage priced at the 2020 price of £15.95 – in bottle format only. We’ll put it by the door so those looking to save a pound a bottle can swoop in and pick some up. Only 36 to go and counting…

Walton 10k update

We have just over a week to go until the Walton 10k walk/run. The “Sheldon’s Wine Runners” a.k.a. Amanda, Jude, Esther, Trish and I are doing the circuit as a team. We are raising money for Shipston Home Nursing, the palliative care organisation that undertakes such important end-of-life care. The gruelling Walton course takes us UP into the woods, DOWN towards Jubilee Lane, UP a hill to meet the Ettington Road the back DOWN to the Hall for the finish. Seeing as the course was advertised as being ‘flat’, it doesn’t sound like it…
Sheldon’s Wine Runners Donors Wall of Fame
A huge thank you to all of our donors so far. Current contributions have got us to £735 raised so far. We want to go further. Your support is REALLY appreciated and it makes all of the early morning training runs worthwhile.
If any of you would like to donate, click the button below and it will take you to the donation page. Any amount will be appreciated and very well received by this very worthy cause. We will do an updated Wall of Fame next week. Be on it.
Many thanks.
Donate to Sheldon’s Wine Runners Walton 10k

New Ins

We are not doing an official Guest Beer article at present, but that doesn’t stop me highlighting some of our new beers in the New Ins section.
Regular readers will recognise the can in the middle. We had Stroud Brewery Hop Drop some time ago and it was declared one of the better pale ales that we tried as part of the Guest Beer series. We have refreshed the Hop Drop stock and augmented it with an IPA and an amber bitter from the same producer. The Hop Drop and IPA are at £3.95 per can, the Tom Long is £3.50. Yum.
In the spirits cabinet we have added:

6 O’clock gin London Dry at £35.50
6 O’clock gin Brunel at £43.50

6 O’clock hails from Bristol and it’s origins come from the production of spirit to make sloe gin. Being rather good at making gin the team decided to refine the botanicals and release 6 O’clock gin as a London Dry gin. The Brunel edition, a full navy strength comes in at 50% abv and as such it is no slouch. The name – it comes from the family’s penchant for having a gin at 6 o’clock. Why not? Why wait?
And just a few New Ins in the Claret category (downstairs):

2010 L’Aurage, a Mitjavie wine from Castillon in bottle (we have it in mag too) (£48)
2010 Chateau Phelan Segur, St Estephe (£75)
2018 Chateau Poujeaux, Moulis en Medoc, MAGNUM (£80) – like the d’Armailhac last week, this one is for lying down

2003 Cos d’Estournel, St Estephe (£190)
1998 Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien (£150) – to go with the 2000 announced a couple of weeks ago

Car’s the Star

As trailed in Sheldon’s Times last Sunday our local friend Richard held a small intimate car-lovers gathering at Blackberry Farm near Halford. Many thanks to those of you who turned up to enjoy the display of amazing motor vehicles. While the below car hasn’t been to the shop, it seems only appropriate that we include it in tonight’s Sheldon’s Times. It is an American Packard Eight I believe but don’t quote me on that. If I am right it dates from the late 1920’s or early 30’s. Built in Detroit, it was a true luxury car of it’s time.
Many thanks to Huey for bringing it along, and to all of the other folk who turned up with such wonderful vehicles. Included in the line up were a Morris 8, a Marcos (not seen one of those for a while), some gorgeous old Jags, a rebuilt ‘James Bond’ Bentley (created as the car that would have been driven by Bond in the Fleming books) and a 130hp Morris Minor. Marvellous.
While at Blackberry Farm I managed to drive the Massey Ferguson, taking Trish and Emily for a little ride around the field. After a fast start a sharp request was shouted towards the driver “SLOW DOWN”, so we adopted a more appropriate pace for the terrain. Very good fun indeed – for me at least. Nice to see the girls on the beers.
That’s it for tonight. Weatherwise it looks pretty decent tomorrow but rain on Sunday then returning to better on Monday. Make the most of Saturday by visiting your local independent shops, buying some lovely food and wine ready to enjoy the long weekend ahead. Amanda, Trish and I will be here to meet your every wine need tomorrow, pop in and say hello, we’d love to see you.


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

Your Puech-Haut-guzzling, Packard-adoring, pavement-plodding wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Auction cancellation, “Fun” run, New Ins and Car’s the Star (with Drive-It Day)

This week we ran the second of our Third Thursday Tastings. Focused on Chardonnays from around the world, Amanda ran the tasting as a semi-blind session. Six wines were presented, six different descriptions offered and the participants were encouraged to use their wine skills to match each wine to a description. Success was patchy (Ed: Blind tasting is the most difficult thing to do, I am not sure I would have done much better) but we did have a class swot who came out with six out of six. Well done Val, top marks.

Tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times announces the unfortunate cancellation of the recently trailed art auction (sorry about the false start), the announcement of and opportunity for you to sponsor Sheldon’s Wine Runners (plenty of hiccups at this event), a small but smashing list of New Ins and a belter of a Car’s the Star with an invitation for car lovers out there. But first we have the Teddy of the Week. Less wine, more fun this time around. On you go…

Dog of the Week

This is Twix. You have been introduced to Twix in the past – he has appeared as a guest in a Sheldon’s On Tour article. He is of course a cockapoo and last Saturday he made his first visit to the shop. He has a slightly anticipatory look on his face. I don’t know why, I don’t think I was about to give him a biscuit. No, really, I wasn’t.
A big thank you to Kate for (finally) bringing Twix in to see us. Long overdue and may you become regular frequenters of our wine (& dog treats) emporium.

Shipston Home Nursing Art Auction – unfortunately cancelled

A couple of weeks ago we promoted a fundraising event for Shipston Home Nursing and the Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group. A number of pieces of original art by Thelma Madge Green were due to be auctioned from 20th to 30th April. I have been notified that the auction has been cancelled. Let’s hope this is a temporary blip and that the auction will be rescheduled at some point in the near future. Sorry for getting you all excited. We’ll keep you posted.
Walton Hall 10km walk/run – Sunday 8th May
In just over two weeks there is a 10k run/walk taking place at Walton Hall, just north of Shipston. In a moment of weakness the team here at the shop agreed to participate. We have signed up as “Sheldons Wine Runners”. As Trish is the only one among us who has even contemplated doing any training (turns out the couch-to-5k app delivers real results!) it is going to be interesting to see how we get on. We are a team of two halves. We have a group committed to walking and a couple who are going to attempt to run some of it. Being wine merchants we are not known for our extraordinary levels of fitness. The goal is to raise some money for Shipston Home Nursing, the palliative care support organisation in our area. And of course we also want to achieve the task of completing the 10k course. No mean feat when you sit around chatting about wine all day and drink like a fish in the evenings.
Each member of the team will be conducting fundraising campaigns with friends and family. We already have our first rogue member of the Sheldon’s Wine Runners – we have co-opted Charlie Mellor (Halford) and he has raced out of the blocks having secured a number of donations already.
Trish pointed out to me the other day that if half of our Sheldon’s Times readership donated just £5 we would raise just shy of £2000 for the cause. No pressure then. If you can spare a little money to support our efforts we will be most grateful. Every contribution will make a big difference to the work of Shipston Home Nursing.
Should any of you feel compelled to support us, you can do so by visiting our donation page by clicking the link below.
Sheldon’s Wine Runners donation page
Thank you in advance. And if any of you want to join us on the expedition do let me know. We might find time for a little something to rehydrate at the end of the ‘race’.

New Ins

With Esther being away this week we have a little bit of a backlog of wines and spirits to be booked in which should appear next week. In the meantime, here’s a handful of delights in the Sheldon’s New Ins basket for you tonight:
2013 Y de Chateau d’Yquem (the dry white of Chateau d’Yquem), Sauternes (£200)
2010 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia, Italy (£75)
2009 Chateau du Domaine de l’Eglise, Pomerol (£69)
2009 Chateau Batailley, Pauillac (£70)
2010 Chateau Batailley, Pauillac (£83)
…and in the Magnum department:
2018 Chateau d’Armailhac magnum, Pauillac (£100) – this one is for putting away and forgetting about for a few years, we have 2 x 3-packs of mags in wooden cases.
2010 Chateau Rouget magnum, Pomerol (£129)
2014 Chateau Gazin magnum, Pomerol (£135)
2009 Dominus Estate, Napa Valley, California (£295) – the famed Napa Bordeaux-blend made by Christian Moueix of Chateau Petrus fame.

Sheldon’s Times Back-Catalogue

Recently a few of you have asked about back editions of Sheldon’s Times. It is mostly the dogs you want to see, but occasionally you might want to go back and look at some of the wine-related information. Each Saturday morning, hangover permitting, I publish the latest copy of Sheldon’s Times on the News section of the Sheldon’s website. You can go back and look at previous editions by clicking the link below or visiting the website at and selecting News from the menu.
Sheldon’s Times back editions
Suffering from insomnia? You now have the perfect cure.

Car’s the Star

This little beauty turned up one recent Saturday morning. The owner was attending the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 1 one-day course in the shop. Consequently the car was parked up all day and boy, did it turn a few heads. A Ferrari 348 no less. And while doing some research on this car I found out an interesting and on reflection rather obvious fact that I had missed in my youth. The number given to Ferraris from this era was derived from the characteristics of the car’s engine. This Ferrari 348 has a 3.4 litre engine and 8 cylinders, hence 348. Easy, isn’t it?
Many thanks to Rowan for parking up for the day and completing the Level 1 course. We look forward to finding out how you got on when the results come through.
As a little extra for you, local car enthusiast (Amanda says ‘heart-throb’) Richard Gray has just popped in to tell me about the Drive-It Day taking place this Sunday, 24th April. Anyone with an interesting, classic, vintage or veteran (or in my case old and knackered) motor car can pop by to Blackberry Farm, between Honington and Halford (on the little back road), postcode CV36 5DL between 10.30am and 6pm. There will be a little get together with like-minded people. A BBQ will be on site (bring your own grub and coals and of course wine), there will be tractor rides for big kids on an old Fergie and a 2 mile nature walk for those wanting a stroll. It’s free but donations to Shipston Home Nursing at the venue will be welcome. I might see you there, sounds like fun.
That’s it for tonight’s post-Easter edition of Sheldon’s Times. I’ve checked the oh-so-reliable weather forecasting application and it says that the weekend is going to be dry with sunny spells, albeit a little cooler than last weekend. Jude, Trish and I will be here tomorrow to find you some lovely wines to enjoy with whatever you are up to over the coming days. At some point I shall be out pounding the tarmac in the vague hope I can complete our event on the 8th May. Maybe I’ll run the 2 mile circuit around Blackberry Farm on Sunday.


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

Your 10k-terrified, 348-loving, Twix-adoring wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, T4, Sauternes, New Ins and Car’s the Star

Happy Easter everyone! Did you have hot cross buns this morning? We certainly did. I hope you all have fun weekends planned. The sun has certainly been shining today and it has been lovely to see many of you in a holiday mood.

In tonight’s Sheldon’s Times we have a lovely DotW (just a pup), a reminder about the T4 which is happening next week (call to book a place), a final, final piece on Left Bank Bordeaux (except this appellation is south east of Bordeaux), some New Ins and a belter of a Car (revisited). For those so inclined I hope your Good Friday fish supper is nearly ready? With a nice crisp bottle of white…. Press on.

Dog of the Week

Here’s Tilly, a fox-red Labrador puppy. At only 5 months old she is utterly gorgeous. All paws, licks and sniffs and simply adorable.
A big thank you to Francis for bringing in Tilly to see us. It goes without saying, you are both welcome anytime, but if Tilly wants to pop in on her own we’ll make sure she is well looked after.

Thirsty Third Thursday Tasting (T4)

Our next Third Thursday tasting is taking place on Thursday 21st April (next week). The theme for the tasting is Chardonnays from around the world. Amanda will be showing some of our best examples of well made Chardonnay at a reasonable price.

Details are:

Date: Thursday 21st April
Time: 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Location: Sheldon’s Wine Cellars, downstairs in the cellar
Cost: £25 per attendee

The cost of the event covers the wines, tuition and possibly some snacks to go with the wines to keep you sober. To book on please call the shop on 01608 661409 or email Amanda on Last time well behaved dogs were welcome, but please check with Amanda if you intend to bring a furry friend.

Bordeaux – Sauternes & Barsac

Just when you thought I’d finished my series on Left Bank Bordeaux, here we are with another episode. It dawned on me that we have left out one last area that was included in the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux Wines. Sauternes and Barsac are two villages that lie south east of Bordeaux and are renowned for making some of the best sweet white wines in the world.
A map of the Sauternes and Barsac area
The reason the area has become so famous for sweet white wines is because the conditions in the surrounding vineyards are perfect for the development of botrytis cinerea, a type of necrotrophic fungus more commonly known as noble rot. Damp, misty mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons allow the fungus to develop on the grapes without spoiling them completely. The fungus pierces the skin of the grape and sucks the water out, leaving a shrivelled, super-concentrated grape. This process increases the aromatic compounds in the grape which ultimately will result in the wine produced being more fruity, floral with toasty notes.
The grapes grown in the area are Semillon which are prone to the development of botrytis. Sauvignon Blanc is also grown and added to the wine to add freshness and acidity. When young, Sauternes is very tropical in aroma and fully sweet, with flavours of pineapple, mango and lychee. With age the fruit flavours recede and flavours of toffee and caramel develop.
Grapes affected by botrytis cinerea
If the general rule in wine making is that a vine produces enough grapes to make a bottle of wine, in Sauternes a vine produces only a glass. The levels of concentration are extraordinary. Wines from this area represent one of the best value products in the wine world in terms of price and quality.
Perhaps the most well-known of the wine Chateaux in this area is Chateau d’Yquem. Known as the King of Sweet Wines, bottles of Yquem are pricey when released and their value tends to drift upwards with age. Yquem is surrounded by other great names of Sauternes – Chateaux Rieussec, Suduiraut, Guiraud and Lafaurie Peyraguey to name a few.
Chateau d’Yquem on a misty morning

The 1855 Classification of Bordeaux Wines placed the best wines from Sauternes and Barsac into three tiers:

Grand Premier Cru (Great First Growth):
Chateau d’Yquem

Premiers Crus (First Growths):
Eleven Chateaux were classified as Premier Cru, including Rieussec, Suduiraut, La Tour Blanche and more

Deuxiemes Crus (Second Growths):
Thirteen Chateaux were classified in this category. As with red wines, some of the sweet wines in this category would be classed as Premier Crus is the classification was redone today. In my opinion, Chateaux such as de Malle, Doisy Daene and possibly Doisy Vedrines all merit promotion were a reclassification to take place.

I first visited Sauternes in 2003, staying in a local campsite and driving around the area and the vineyards. It has a different feel about it to the other wine making regions of Bordeaux. It is a touch more agricultural, more of a farming feel to it than a polished wine making area. And very welcoming. The Maison du Vin in the village of Sauternes itself is excellent, offering a wide selection of locally produced bottles from lesser-known producers at sensible prices. I still have a couple of bottles of 2001 in the cellar from that visit. By chance 2001 was one of the best vintages in the last 3 decades.
As with the other regions of Bordeaux, we have an extensive selection of Sauternes here in the shop, starting with our delicious half bottles of Chateau Violet (2016 vintage for £13.95 per half), through some delicious mid and top range bottles, peaking at Chateau d’Yquem 1990 – one of the legends of the sweet wine world. Swing by, have a browse and pick out one of these amazing wines.

New Ins

We’ve been digging deep to bring you some New Ins for Easter. This week we have the arrival/revealing of the following:

Red Burgundy:
2018 Domaine Cacheux Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Suchots (£91)
2018 Domaine D’Ardhuy Corton Grand Cru Les Renards (£85)

2000 Larrivet Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan (£60)
2000 Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien (£230)
2001 Chateau Palmer, Margaux (£300)

…and in the spirits room we have added:

Linie Aquavit (£29.95) – following a recommendation from one of our lovely customers, this potato-based spirit is aged in Sherry casks then put on a boat which sails to Australia and back. Must be good after that journey, right?
Liberty Limoncello (£16.95) – a restock of what has become a very popular drop with you.
Luxardo Kirsch
Sky Wave Gin (£36.95) – a new gin for us that comes from Bicester, Oxfordshire. An interesting back story from Rachel and Andy who make this flavoursome gin can be read on their website at

And finally, we have picked up just a few bottles of the Reverend Hubert Summer Cup. Based off of a recipe made by the eponymous Reverend Hubert back in 1904 and recreated by his great-grandson, this Garden Gin Liqueur features a quartet of vibrant summer garden fruits – namely rhubarb, plum, pomegranate, and cranberry! Alongside herbaceous hints of gin, the result is like a summer fête of flavour, perfect for enjoying with tonic or soda water with a few fresh berries thrown in as garnish.
This is the perfect summer lift. £34.95. Go crazy.

Car’s the Star

Those eagle-eyed readers among you will recognise this car – it has been Car’s the Star before, but a long while back. It fills me with such joy every time it arrives (which is pretty rare) that I felt the need to include it in this weeks edition of Sheldon’s Times. Another sunny day in Shipston and here it is, a lovely old Porsche 356A Speedster. Not too many of these about.
Many thanks to William for dropping by and sharing the pleasure with us. Next time leave your keys.
Amanda, Trish and I will be here tomorrow, usual opening hours (0900-1700hrs) to help you find something perfect to go with your beef/lamb/nut roast on Sunday. Drop in and say hello. Let’s hope the sun continues to shine for the remainder of the weekend. Whatever you are up to, may we take this opportunity to wish you al la very Happy Easter.


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

Your 356-loving, occasional-Yquem-drinking, Tilly-adoring wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Easter Treats, Opening Hours, Art Auction, Graves, New Ins and Car’s the Star

We have a mini wedding edition today in that our good friends Will and Gilly got married this afternoon in Tredington. And what a ceremony it was. Trumpets in the Church and Champagne at the house. Smashing. With any luck a few of us will still be going as you read this. Congratulations to the lovely couple.

Tonight’s edition somewhat predictably includes an article on the last of the five Left Bank villages of Bordeaux – this week it is the turn of Graves and specifically Pessac Leognon within the Graves region. We have some smashing New Ins, a reminder that Easter is nearly upon us, the announcement of a splendid charity auction in support of two worthy causes and a bit of fun with Car’s the Star. But first it is of course our DotW. Press on.

Dog of the Week

Say hello to Sullivan, or Sulley for short. There is no mistaking a springer spaniel when you see one. But look how well behaved he is! Feet together and a stare that would melt one’s heart. And I don’t think I was tempting him with a sausage at the time. Much.
Quite why this lovely, cuddly woofit is named after a blue, scary beastie from the Disney franchise Monsters, Inc. is beyond me, although Sulley of film-fame is a gentle giant underneath the stern exterior. A big thank you to Jake (aka Mike W) and super-Dad Rob (aka Randall B) for bringing this Sulley in to see us, I am not sure the other Sulley would have made it through our front door.

Esther’s Easter Treats

With only a week to go until Easter is upon us, Jude has been busy again creating a nice Easter shelf in the shop including some rather tasteful eggs to make it feel all the more festive. Mellow Yellow is the theme, the colour of a new born Easter Chick (with a touch of rose thrown in for good measure, just in case the sun comes out). We’ve decided to call it Esther’s Easter Treats because it sounds better than Jude’s Egg Shelf.

Now is the time to think about what you plan to eat over Easter and therefore what you plan to drink too. We have settled on our Easter opening hours and they are as follows:

Sheldon’s Easter Opening Hours

Thursday 14th April – open as usual 0900-1800hrs
Good Friday 15th April – open as usual 0900-1800hrs
Easter Saturday 16th April – open as usual 0900-1700hrs
Easter Sunday 17th April – closed
Easter Monday 18th April – closed
Tuesday 19th April – closed

Wednesday 20th April – back to usual hours

Come in and find yourself a nice bottle or two for the season. Lamb or beef? Burgundy or Claret? Or perhaps a Malbec, apparently it is World Malbec Day on 17th April.

SHN Charity Art Auction – April 24th – 26th

Shipston Home Nursing together with the Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group are hosting a charity auction of artwork produced by the late experimental artist Thelma Madge Green (1933-2014). The artist’s family have kindly donated the pictures in the hope that individuals can purchase a piece of work affordably while raising funds for two worthwhile local causes. The auction will take place online from 20th to 30th April. The auction contains 70 items and it represents a rare opportunity to acquire one of these distinctly original, vibrant pieces of art.
You can find out more about the auction and view the pieces available by clicking the button below:
Charity Auction of the work of Thelma Madge Green
The auction doesn’t go live until 20th April and closes on the 30th. Time to take a look at the pictures and see what takes your fancy. Then get bidding as soon as the auction opens!

Graves including Pessac Leognan

In the last of our 5-episode series of articles on Left Bank Bordeaux we turn to Graves and specifically the sub region AOC of Pessac Leognan. The area of Graves (pronounced graav as in starve and meaning gravelly land) lies south and south east of Bordeaux and stretches right down to Langon. It includes the sweet producing regions of Barsac and Sauternes. Graves is an area of France once ruled as part of England through the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II and it is the original Claret-producing area when the other Left Bank villages north of Bordeaux were mostly still swamp-land. The oldest wine Chateau in Bordeaux comes from Graves – Chateau Pape Clement – which was founded at the turn of the 14th century by the man destined to become Pope Clement V. Another well-known chateau, Chateau Haut Brion is thought to be the first French Claret referred to in English literature, mentioned by Samuel Pepys in 1663.
Graves includes the areas 33-37 on the above map. Pessac-Leognan is number 33
Just one Chateau from Graves was included in the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux Wines. Chateau Haut Brion was classed as a First Growth (Premier Cru Classe) alongside Lafite, Latour and Margaux). No other red producing chateaux were included. At the time of the classification, the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac were also classified. Chateau d’Yquem came top as Grand Premier Cru Classe, with the likes of Rieussec, Suduiraut and Lafaurie Peyraguey classed as Premier Crus (eleven 1er Crus in total). A third tier of Deuxieme Cru Classe wines were also classified which included Broustet, de Malle, Doisy Daene and Doisy Vedrines to name a few. There are thirteen wines in the Deuxiemes Cru category.
It wasn’t until 1953 that the red wines of Graves were classified under their own Graves system. This list was updated with the addition of Graves white wines in 1959.
Chateau Haut Brion in Pessac Leognan – a Bordeaux First Growth
The sub-region of Pessac Leognan lies in the very north of the Graves region, with part of it within the city limits of Bordeaux town. Pessac Leognan AOC was created in 1987, which included the Graves wines that were the most expensive and sought-after. The sad consequence of the creation of the Pessac-Leognan AOC was that many wines simply labelled as Graves AOC were devalued, despite their inherent quality. Graves makes for good hunting ground for well made wines at an affordable price.
Like the other regions of the Left Bank, Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant grape variety, although Merlot generally plays a more significant role than in the other villages and the Haut Medoc and Medoc. Wines from Graves and particularly Pessac show the main characteristics of other wines from the Left Bank of Bordeaux, often with the addition of an earthy and sometimes mineral quality that comes from the free draining, gravelly soils.

As with the other regions of the Left Bank, we have a fair selection of wines from Graves and Pessac Leognan. Top picks include:

2015 Villa Bel Air halves (£15) and bottles (£25) – I particularly like this sensibly priced wine made by J M Cazes, the man behind top Pauillac Lynch Bages
2009 Domaine de Chevalier (£85) and the same from 2010 (£87)
2009 Carmes Haut Brion (£95), a separate chateau to Haut Brion, unrelated but great all the same
2009 Haut Bergey Imperial 6 litres (£330) – bargain for the format size

….and of course we have a couple of bottles of 1990 Chateau Haut Brion mentioned in last week’s New Ins. Spoil yourself. A lot.

New Ins

A few goodies for the Sheldon’s Easter basket this week:

2017 Jacques Prieur Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes 1er Cru, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy (£130)

2016 Domaine des Varoilles Gevrey Chambertin Clos des Varoilles 1er Cru, Cote de Nuits, Burgundy (£105)
2009 Chateau Latour a Pomerol, Pomerol, Bordeaux (£105)
2009 Chateau Bechevelle magnums, St Julien, Bordeaux (£285/mg)

And for those who want a little taste of what the best Chablis producer is capable of making:
2017 Domaine Raveneau Petit Chablis in magnum format, Chablis, Burgundy (£275/mg)

Car’s the Star

Seeing as tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times is dedicated to Will and Gilly, it seems only appropriate that we should finish with their wedding car. What better way to take transport from one location to another in the Cotswolds other than in a London Black Cab. And look at the numberplate. It is the order of the day, even if it is only going from Tredington church to, errr, Tredington.
Huge congratulations to the lovely couple. By the time you read this the deed will be done, the ceremony complete, much Champagne will have been drunk and the back kitchen party will be well underway. To Mr & Mrs Douglas, we wish you a long and happy future together. Keep drinking!
That concludes tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times. It seems we might be in for a chilly night again tonight, so cover over any tender plants you may be nursing along. Saturday and Sunday don’t look too bad, time to hit the garden in earnest. Jude, Trish and I will be here to look after you tomorrow, so pop in, pick up something special and roll on into an enjoyable weekend.


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

Your newly-wed-admiring, Graves-drinking, auction-excited wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Final Reminder, TTTT, Deirdre, St Julien, New Ins and Car’s the Star

We have the usual goodies in tonight’s Sheldon’s Times plus an update on last week’s tasting session, a reminder on Mother’s Day, some smashing New Ins and an offer on our Provence house rose fondly known as Deirdre. Oh, and in case you didn’t notice the sun is out so before I forget, we have a few bottles of Puech Haut Argali Rose in. You know, the one in the frosty bottle. On you go.

Dog of the Week

Hello Eva! She’s a 6-month old Jack Russell full of beans. But not very interested in my core selection of behind-the-counter treats. We finally won her over with half a sausage from Pete’s pet shop round the corner. I haven’t had a dog that has managed to refuse one of Pete’s sausages yet.
Many thanks to Mima for bringing Eva in to see us. Simply gorgeous.

Mother’s Day – Final Reminder

Right then Wine Lovers, tonight’s Sheldon’s Times is your final reminder for Mothering Sunday. Just one shopping day to go before the big day. Jude has added further delights to the gift shelf to make your life that little bit easier. Pop in and pick something nice. As you will see in the New Ins, the 2021 Whispering Angel rose has arrived this week – one or two of those might be perfect over Sunday lunch. We also have just a few cases of the wonderful Puech Haut Argali Rose back in – you know the one, it comes in a frosty bottle. Available in bottles and magnums.
Thirsty Third Thursday Tasting – the results…
Amanda ran our first Sheldon’s TT session last week, here’s her report.
On Thursday last week we had our first Thirsty Third Thursday Tasting session (it’s a bit of a tongue twister, but easy after the third sample!) Eight of our lovely customers and two of their four-footed friends enjoyed a tasting of 6 sparkling wines from around the world. The overall favourite was the Bois-Brincon Crémant de Loire as being a great wine and good value for money (£22), closely followed by the excellent Francesc Ricart Cava (£11.50). The least favourite was the MollyDooker sparkling red Shiraz, which really needed to be drunk on a hot afternoon with a steak….it is a fizzy red wine after all.
Comments from the session were that is was “informative, fun, interesting and unpretentious”. (Ed: I wish people would say the same about me.)
The group have decided that next month we will be tasting Chardonnays from around the World – so if you would like to come and join in the fun on Thursday 21st April at 1.30pm – 3.30 pm we have a few spare places. Booking in advance is essential – £25 per head.
Amanda x

The sun is out – Discounted Deirdre (did I really say that?)

With the arrival of the sunshine, and a pallet of new vintage Chateau de la Deidiere (fondly referred to as Deirdre), Esther has given me permission to offer you our last bottles of 2020 vintage at a discounted price. Usually priced at £12.95, we are dropping the price of the 2020 to just £10 a bottle. Only 124 available at the last count. We have just done the pricing on the new 2021 vintage, it will appear in the shop at £13.95, making the remnants from 2020 look even more attractive. Sold on a first come first served basis. WIGIG.

Saint Julien

Having covered two of the four main villages on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, it seems only right that we should carry on. Today’s article is focusing on Saint Julien.
The commune of Saint Julien (it’s full name is Saint Julien-Beychevelle) is located directly south of Pauillac. The commune includes around 920 hectares of vineyards predominantly planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in common with the other communes of the Left Bank. Like Saint Estephe, Saint Julien has no First Growths, but it does have eleven classified Chateau from the 1855 Classification. Of these eleven, five are second growths, two third growths, four fourths and no fifth growths.

Chateau Beychevelle – a fourth growth Chateau in Saint Julien

Perhaps one of the most memorable sites in the Medoc is the entrance to Saint Julien on the southern side. As you drive up the D2 from Bordeaux heading north, the first thing you hit as you enter Saint Julien is the winery complex and Chateau of Beychevelle, one of the fourth growths. Lots of bedding plants adorn the grounds of Beychevelle and after having travelled the distance from Margaux to Saint Julien, you can’t help feeling that you have finally arrived in proper wine country. A case of Chateau Beychevelle was one of the two cases of wine I bought in my first en primeur vintage (buying wine before it is bottled), and it happened to be from the rather delightful 2000 vintage. I still have bottles of that wine in my cellar. We also had some in the shop until recently. I shall look to get some more.
Generally considered top of the classed growths is Leoville Las Cases. This estate comprises the larger part of the old Leoville estate that was broken up under Napoleonic inheritance laws in the early 1800s. Las Cases is on the northern tip of the commune and borders Chateau Latour in Pauillac. The wines of Las Cases are often positioned alongside the First Growths in quality terms. Leoville Barton and Leoville Poyferre make up the remainder of the Leoville estate, all three Leovilles are classified as second growths. Regular readers of Sheldon’s Times will know the I am a huge fan of Leoville Barton but previous articles have covered this Chateau so I won’t wax lyrical about it here. The other two second growths are Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou and Chateau Gruaud Larose. The third growths are Chateaux Langoa Barton and Lagrange, and in the fourth category are Branaire Ducru, Saint Pierre and Talbot, alongside Beychevelle.
What about the characteristics of wines from Saint Julien? Well if Pauillac is all about power and Saint Estephe is about tannic structure, I like to think of Saint Julien being about finesse and perfume. It is true that the wines from the north of the commune have a lot in common with the wines from Pauillac, but I remember having a bottle of Ducru Beaucaillou 2000 some time ago and thinking I haven’t had anything like this before. Violets were dominant, but other flower aromas were present. Unfortunately we don’t have any Ducru in the shop at present. We do however have plenty of Leoville Barton, Langoa Barton, Talbot, Gruaud Larose, Lagrange and others, so don’t be shy – continue with the journey and try a bottle of Saint Julien.

New Ins

I’ve been shopping again and we have a couple of new fizzes that I thought we would experiment with. Both I have a certain attachment to, both are from the same Moet Hennessy stable.
Champagne Mercier is generally regarded as the ‘fun, affordable’ Champagne in the M&H catalogue. The house of Mercier sits at the top of the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay and it is one of the most enjoyable Champagne visits you can do. A giant wooden barrel adorns the entrance hall of the visitor centre – reputedly the largest barrel ever produced, capable of holding 200,000 bottles of wine and pulled to the Paris Exhibition in 1889 by 24 head of oxen. It was upstaged only by the revealing of the Eiffel Tower at the same exhibition. The tour itself involves a lift down into the cavernous cellars followed by a tour on a laser-guided train. We have brought in a couple of cases of the non-vintage Mercier brut, which is fresh, frothy and delicious with apple and stone fruit flavours. £35 a bottle.
Domaine Chandon Argentina is one of the six Domaine Chandon wines (the others are from California, Australia, Brazil, India, and China. The wine is made using all of the know-how from Moet et Chandon from core Champagne grape varieties (in particular Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). Like a Champagne, the wine is made ‘method traditionalle’ with the wine left on the lees in the bottle before disgorgement. £20 a bottle.

Also in this week we have a nice selection of bits and bobs:

2009 Dom Perignon (£180)
2012 Dom Perignon (£180)
2004 Krug (£300)

2017 Francois Carillon Chassagne Montrachet Clos St Jean 1er Cru (£95)
2018 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Saint Aubin En Remilly 1er Cru (£185)
2018 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Saint Aubin Cuvee Marguerite 1er Cru (£140)
2018 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Puligny Montrachet (£155)

2021 (new vintage) Whispering Angel Provence Rose (£21.95 for bottles and £45 for mags)

2010 Capbern Gasqueton (£46, a couple of cases restock)
2010 Dame de Montrose (£70, second wine of St Estephe Chateau Montrose)
2018 Phelan Segur (St Estephe) magnums (£125)

And in the fancy wine cabinet the following might have appeared for those who like the finer things in life:

2012 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet
2018 Domaine Ramonet Batard Montrachet
1990 Haut Brion

Oh, and did I mention, we have a few bottles of Puech Haut Argali Rose in. You know, the one in the frosty bottle.

Car’s the Star

Ok, so not a picture that adheres to the strict rules of Car’s the Star. For a start the vehicle in question is not parked outside the shop. It is in fact parked in a fabulous facility just up the road called Henry’s Car Barn which is all about storing your prized possessions in a perfect environment. Very much what we try to do with bottles of wine. I was lucky enough to pop up there yesterday to run a tasting.
The car in question is a 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C Monza. Powered by an 8 cylinder supercharged engine, on release the vehicles were offered as a ‘rolling chassis’ where the customer was then allowed to pick a road body or one for racing. The car was successful at both the Grand Prix World Championship and the Le Mans 24 hour race.
A big thank you to Henry for hosting us last night and allowing us to use this picture of the Alfa. What a lovely car.
That’s it for tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times. Lots more sunshine tomorrow so pop in and buy a bottle of wine. Did I mention that we have a few bottles of the Puech Haut Argali rose back in – you know, the one in the frosty bottle. Jude, Trish and I will be here tomorrow to meet your every wine need, we look forward to seeing you.


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

Your St Julien-adoring, Third-Thursday-taste-enjoying, one-in-the-frosty-bottle-loving wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Mother’s Day, Book Store, Free Corkage, St Estephe and Scar’s the Star

What an interesting week it has been. We have had glorious days of full sunshine with a day in the middle being downright rotten. I spent yesterday in London at a trade tasting. As usual only a handful of wines made the stringent quality cut we apply, more about the new wines as we source them and put them on the shelves.
Some of you have been sunning yourselves at Cheltenham this week, I suspect you have had a great time and perhaps a few of you came away with more money in your pockets than when you arrived? Congratulations to those that beat the bookies.
We missed the shout out for St Patrick’s Day last week, sorry about that. I don’t drink Guinness.
Tonight’s Sheldon’s Times is a bit of a mixed bag. Two cookbooks feature, we have a second article on Bordeaux, a reminder of the free corkage deal at your favourite local restaurant and a nudge about Mother’s Day, although you still have a week to go with that. There’s also a bruised car. But first some sad news about a former DotY. Press on…

Dog of the Week

We recently had some distressing reports about our former DotY, Hector the Glorious Victorious. Close to Death’s Door we heard. So keen were we to find out how he was doing we contacted ‘Dad’ who sent us this picture.
Turns out young Hector had a sore pad on his front left paw. He had to wear a special sock and everything. Poor chap, we understand he is doing much better now. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he pays us another visit as soon as he back on all paws.

Mother’s Day – Sunday 27th March

First warning from us here at Sheldon’s. It is that time of year and for those who like to celebrate our commercially-invented festive days, Mothering Sunday is just around the corner. Personally I’m all for it, especially if it gives us an excuse to open a decent bottle or two.
Jude has yet again been busy creating our Mother’s Day shelf with all sorts of goodies on. Carol has even provided a nice plant in flower – Louise take note, I think this might be a hint regarding what your Mum wants on the day.
Pop in and pick something lovely (pink if you think is appropriate, but personally I think anything goes, Gin is always a hit) and share it with your beloved mothers, or raise a glass to them if you no longer have one.

Sheldon’s Book Store – new additions

We have recently added a couple of titles to the bookstore, in both instances we know someone who has had a hand in the production:

Swedish Kitchen Stories (£15) is book about eating seasonal food all year round the Swedish way. Written by Louise Bondebjar and translated by our very own Shipston resident, Anita Shenoi, this book will throw you into the Scandinavian way of thinking with authentic classics and recipes with a new, modern twist. Very trendy.

British Cheese on Toast is written by Steve Parker (£16.99). Steve is rather well known to us because he sidelines as one of the wholesaler representatives. When you drink a bottle of Saint Peyre Picpoul or many of the other wines in the shop they will have come from Steve, often delivered personally. Steve, having a passion for cheese as well as wine has written this rather useful and entertaining book containing 100 recipes for cheese on toast. Who would have thought the topic could be quite that interesting, or in fact tasty. Tuck in.

Free Corkage Sunday Evenings – The Royal Oak

t: 01608 688100
Personally I think we are blessed to have The Royal Oak in Whatcote on our doorstep. An establishment of two halves. On the right hand side it is a pub, with a pool table, a dartboard and a roaring fire where you can relax, enjoy a pint with a pork pie and the best fries in south Warwickshire. On the left hand side there is a fine dining Michelin starred restaurant where Richard and the team knock out some of the tastiest food in the area.
As if that wasn’t enough, being wine loving friends, Solanche and Richard continue to offer “Free Corkage Sunday Nights”, meaning those of you who book Sunday supper can take your own wine (1 bottle per couple) to enjoy with a delicious dinner. Trish and I dined with friends just a couple of Sundays ago and we smuggled in a trio of decent bottles (Krug 1995, Drouhin Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Morgeot’ 2017 and Chateau Margaux 1996) which made what was already a special evening all the more indulgent.
To my knowledge The Royal Oak is the only fine dining outfit in our area that offers a free corkage deal. Whether your tipple is the finest from Tesco, taste the difference from J Sainsbury or something from upstairs or even perhaps downstairs from Sheldon’s, book a Sunday evening table and make a night of it. I might even see you there, and if you spot me feel free to share a glass, you’ll definitely get one back, whatever I happen to be drinking on the night.

Saint Estephe

Thanks to those who sent in positive comments about the piece last week on the Bordeaux village of Pauillac. We drank a bottle of 1994 Pichon Baron on Saturday night and a 2001 Chateau d’Armailhac on Sunday, both from the commune. The Baron was interesting. Reticent when first poured, we declared it a poor man’s 1995 or 96, but after 20 minutes in the glass it unfurled to reveal the underlying class of this estate. At less than half the price of the 1996 this is a bargain. The d’Armailhac was all you would want and expect from another underrated year. Delicious with Galloway fillet steak from our friends at Paddock Farm butchery, beef dripping chips and green beans. Sadly a customer bought all of our remaining 2001 Chateau d’Armailhac last week but we do have other vintages available.

This week we are going to look at the village just north of Pauillac – Saint Estephe.

The northernmost village on the left bank of Bordeaux is Saint Estephe. The southern border of the commune lies next to Pauillac, the Gironde estuary forms the eastern border and to the north and west are vineyards under the more generic Haut Medoc classification. Unlike Pauillac which has a plethora of classified estates, Saint Estephe has only 5, none of which are Premier Crus (First Growths). Probably the most famous of the Saint Estephe estates is Cos d’Estournel, located on the southern edge of the commune abutting the vineyards of Chateau Lafite in Pauillac. The Chateau at Cos is interesting, the architecture having an Indian influence. This comes from the founder of the estate, Louis Gaspard d’Estournel who in the early 19th century travelled extensively around Asia promoting his wines. Louis Gaspard passed away in 1853, just two years before the official classification of Cos as a second growth, something I am sure he would have liked to see. The current owner, Michel Reybier acquired the estate in 2000 and soon after embarked on a significant project of improvement at the Chateau.

Chateau Cos d”Estournel in St Estephe

The other second growth in Saint Estephe is Chateau Montrose. A bottle of 1970 Chateau Montrose was included in the line up of the Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976, the famous blind tasting that pitched wines from California against the best from France. In both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon categories a Californian wine came top, much to the surprise of the organisers, the judges and of course the French. Chateau Montrose came a respectable 4th in the Cabernet line up of 10 wines. Like Cos, Montrose came under new ownership in the mid noughties and has undergone a major renovation and improvement project, including the building of an amazing barrel hall for ageing the grand vin under optimum conditions.

The Grand Vin barrel hall at Chateau Montrose

The other classified growths of Saint Estephe are:

Calon Segur (Third Growth)

Lafon Rochet (Fourth Growth)

Cos Labory (Fifth Growth)

Other notable non-classified wines from the commune are:


Phelan Segur

Ormes de Pez

…but this is far from a comprehensive list.

The word I see most often when describing wines from Saint Estephe is “austere”. For me this simply means overly tannic and perhaps lacking in fruit. The commune is certainly known for making big, tannic, structured wine. In great vintages the best wines of Saint Estephe regularly compete with the First Growths for the top spot, with the tannins providing a backbone to the wines that gives extraordinary ageability. The wines go fabulously well with red meat, where the proteins alter the mouthfeel of the tannins making them very pleasant and enjoyable. Think roast beef on a Sunday afternoon and a magnum of Saint Estephe.

We have many different examples of wines from Saint Estephe, including Cos d’Estournel and Montrose. If this article has tweaked your interest come in and we’ll help you select a bottle. But go to the butchers first.

Scar’s the Star!

In the absence of us having a bonafide car for this week’s article, Amanda has kindly ‘fessed up and provided a super picture of her daily workhorse
“Amanda’s trusty Honda CRV had an argument with a stationary bollard in the Bourton Co-Op this week. No prizes for guessing who came off worse”
Weatherwise I think we are in for a treat tomorrow with some decent sunshine. Sunday looks a little more dreary but not so bad that you won’t be able to get out and about. Amanda, Trish and I will be looking after you tomorrow, so whether it be that Mother’s Day gift, a bottle of fine St Estephe or something else you are looking for, pop in and see us, we will be only too happy to help. We always look forward to seeing you.


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

Your positive-thoughts-to-Hector-sending, Cos-loving, free-corkage-advantage-taking wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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

Guest Beer, English Pinot Noir, New Ins

Hello lovely people. I confess that we are all a bit down in the shop at present, as I am sure many of you are because of the situation in Ukraine. While we want to be ‘normal’ somehow it doesn’t seem quite right at present. As a result I am keeping tonight’s email pretty factual about some of the new items we have received in the shop this week. No DotW, no Car’s the Star, none of the usual humour I’m afraid. Normal service will likely resume next week, albeit I don’t think the situation will be any better, perhaps worse. It is awful. But I guess we have to be strong.

Guest Beer – Salopian Brewery Lemon Dream (4.5%, £2.95/500ml bottle)

The Salopian Brewery was founded in 1995 by Martin Barry. The story of the brewery is one of steady growth and investment, with the brewing activity moving to it’s current site on the outskirts of Shrewsbury in 2014. The purpose-built facility includes a shop and a brewery tap – something I plan to visit when I am next up that way.
For this week’s guest beer we have selected a bottle from the Salopian core range called Lemon Dream. The brewery team describe it as “a shimmering golden ale that is brewed using organic lemons which adds beautifully subtle zesty aromas and a citrus filled fruity finish.”
We have just tried it and say “smells like a good pale ale, lovely hoppy nose, nice and fresh on the palate, smooth and the lemon flavour shines through on the finish. Good, enjoyable beer.”

Lyme Bay Pinot Noir (£28)

At last! A red wine produced in the UK that we have tried and thought it was good. We have been stocking the sparkling wines and still whites from Lyme Bay Winery for some time and they are popular. If you remember, Lyme Bay Winery make wine from grapes they buy in, working with the best growers on some of the best sites across the UK. This approach allows them to select the best fruit in good years for wine production. The 2020 season was one such year (remember, that first spring and summer of lockdown) enabling the grapes to reach full phenolic ripeness. Just before Christmas we had a visit from the winery and looked at some new wines. Of particular note was the still red wine. Made form 100% Pinot Noir, the wine sees 30% new French oak barrels, plus some experimental American and Eastern European oak for ageing, in which the wine goes through full malolactic fermentation.
As you would expect for such a young wine made in the U.K., this is all primary red fruits. But it is a well made wine and competes with some of the equivalent level Pinot Noirs from New Zealand and Oregon, but is styled very differently from same-varietal wines from France. For those who like a full fruit wine this ticks the boxes and it is great to finally find a decent red made in this country from fruit grown here. My view: give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Nika Tiki – it’s back (£12.95/bt)

You all know the story about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A couple of years of terrible frosts have devastated harvests, resulting in low yields and very little wine available. This issue forced us to switch our hand from Nika Tiki to a South-African lookalike, Moloko Bay (£9.95). You have bought and enjoyed significant quantities of Moloko Bay since it’s introduction but some of you have asked when Nika Tiki might be back. We have managed to secure a small parcel of new vintage Nika Tiki and have put it in the shop. The price £12.95 a bottle. For lovers of this wine, come and get it while it is available.

New Ins

Godet Cognac No.1 ‘Gentleman Cocktail’ – £40
Tosolini Grappa Cividna Tipica – £35
Tosolini Grappa Most Miste – £60
Sigognac Armagnac VS (£37.50), VSOP (£42), 10YO (£50), 20YO (£80.50)
Clos Martin Armagnac XO 15 YO – £55 (delighted to have this best seller back in)
2015 Pol Roger (£85)
2015 Pol Roger magnums (£200) – only 6 available
2002 Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millesime Brut (£255) – as above, only 1 available

2020 Joseph Drouhin Macon Bussieres magnums (£39.95) – one of your favourite white Burgundies now in magnum format
2011 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Vieilles Vignes 100% Roussanne (£180) – Hilary

2013 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino (restock and glad to have it back) – £55
2018 Sociando Mallet Magnums (£100)
2018 Sociando Mallet Double Magnums (£240)

And for those that like to go large, we have just taken delivery of an Imperial (6 litres) of 1996 Chateau Talbot (Bordeaux, Saint Julien). Great wine, great vintage, great format. What’s not to like about that?
That will do for tonight. Weatherwise it looks like sunny spells over the next few days which will be a welcome change. Amanda, Trish and I will be here tomorrow to look after all of your wine needs and we are looking forward to seeing those of you attending the cellar tour tomorrow to share a glass or two.

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

Your trying-to-be-cheery wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

Irises, DotW, Cellar Tour, Sheldon’s TT, Aulis, Car’s the Star

Finally the sun is shining. We are sitting in the shop enjoying the extra light streaming through the windows. The bulbs are shooting up and the temperature is rising. What a joy.
Tonight’s Sheldon’s Times is mostly about dates for the diary – a reminder of the Cellar Tour coming up on Saturday 5th March (places still available) and a new regular tasting event that we are setting up on the third Thursday of each month, details below. Call the shop or reply to this email to book yourself on either. We have a report on a rather fun restaurant visit, a ridiculous Car’s the Star and a wonderful DotW. But we start with some flowers….why not?

Irises and Daffs

Is it too early to talk about spring? The flowers in the garden and at the shop don’t seem to think so. The irises at home are in full bloom, with the mini daffs planted in between beginning to show as well.
The tubs at the shop are in full south-facing sun so they always push up early. Subject to us not having a bout of unpleasant weather, the daffodil show at the shop should be grand in a week or so’s time – more to follow. And Carol is busy getting her seeds and seedlings in ready for planting out later in the year.

Dog of the Week

Say hello to Maple. A labradoodle that came to see us at the end of January. I can find 7 photos of Maple on my phone, some dogs just won’t sit still irrespective of how many treats are on offer. Maybe that’s the problem – too many distractions.
Many thanks to Andrew and Kath for bringing Maple in to see us. A special treat for us, that’s for sure.

Cellar Tour – Saturday 5th March 2022

We’ve just checked the diary and we still have spaces on the Cellar Tour on Saturday 5th March. The tour starts at 2pm with a glass of fizz in the shop. We have a quick chat about the history of the place and take a wander through the premises including the cellars. Finally we settle for an informal tutored tasting of 4 wines, finishing at around 4pm, occasionally a little later :-). The cost is £20 per attendee. The afternoon is fun and it will give you a warm glow inside. To book just call the shop on 01608 661409 during shop hours or reply to this email with your details and we’ll get in touch to confirm.

Sheldon’s TT – monthly ‘Third Thursday’ wine tasting events at the shop

To steal an unlicenced title (those who live in Whichford and/or are into cars will understand) we have decided to have a go at running themed tastings on the third Thursday of each month in the afternoon. The details of the inaugural event are as follows:
Theme: Sparkling wines of the World
Date: Thursday March 17th
Time: 2.00-3.30pm
Where: Sheldon’s Wine Cellars, Shipston on Stour
Host: Amanda Rowley (DipWSET)
Price: £25 per person to include wines, appropriate snacks and tutelage

We will need 8 confirmed attendees to make the event viable and will take a maximum of 12 for this first event. If successful we will offer further themed events on each third Thursday throughout the spring and summer months. To book please reply to this email with your details and number of places required, email Amanda directly at or call the shop on 01608 661409. We will write back to confirm your place and arrange payment. Places are offered on a first-come first-served basis.

One for the foodies: Aulis, London

Just over a week ago a small group of like-minded souls headed into London to convene for a foodies night. After a swift magnum of Dom Perignon 2008 at a convenient hotel we nipped round the corner to 16a St Anne’s Court in Soho to spend the evening at Aulis. The brainchild of Simon Rogan (of L’Enclume fame in Cumbria – congrats to Simon and the team for being awarded their third Michelin star last week), this small space in Soho started life as Simon’s ‘development kitchen’ but has since transformed into a perfectly apportioned 8-seater restaurant. Guests sit on one side of a long table and the two talented chefs, Charlie and Nico, work on the other side. The concept is simple. You arrive, you sit and the team produce 16 ‘dishes’ for you to graze your way through. Each dish may only be a mouthful or two, but every one is meticulously prepared and presented, to the point of being art as much as food. And what flavours! Absolutely fabulous.
I had a conversation when booking about wine. As a small restaurant the wine list at Aulis is not extensive, so Simona the restaurant manager was graciously accommodating when I asked if we could bring some bottles for an appropriate corkage fee. To match our wonderful supper we swept through the following, sharing the burden of cost and carrying as we made it a ‘bring a bottle (or two)’ night:
Bollinger RD 1996
Domaine Moingeon Corton Charlemagne 2018
Rene Rostang Cote Rotie 2005
Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1982
Chateau Leoville Las Cases 1982
Chateau Rieussec 1996 (half)
Fontodi Vin Santo 2009 (half)
A super night was had by all and we have vowed to return at a future date, assuming we can get a booking. If ever you find yourself at a loose end in London one evening, give Aulis a call and see if you can sneak in – they accept single diners through to whole restaurant bookings and the fare and experience is worth every single penny. A huge thank you to Charlie, Nico and Simona for looking after us in such an engaging and entertaining way. Definitely one for the foodies among us.

Car’s the Star

I don’t think we’ve had this bonkers machine as Car’s the Star before. I caught Henry in town at Taste of the Country and he agreed to pop round for the obligatory photo. A Bowler EXR-S, produced through a partnership between Land Rover and Bowler, the off road conversion company. It’s a beast, based on the Range Rover Sport, the vehicle has a 5.0 litre supercharged V8 engine producing a ridiculous amount of horsepower. It will go just about anywhere at just about any speed.
Many thanks to Henry for being such a good sport and whizzing round to see us. Nice number plate too.
That’s it for tonight’s Sheldon’s Times. The weather for the weekend ahead looks pretty great, with Sunday having a possibility of clear skies and lots of sunshine. Perfect for some much needed time in the garden, repairing the damage caused by the recent winds. Not that you’ll be doing that, you’ll be in front of the telly watching the Six Nations. Jude, Trish and I will be in the shop tomorrow, ready to select you some sunshine/rugby bottles to enjoy in the days ahead.

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

Your EXR-S-admiring, Aulis-loving, TT-introducing wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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