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DotW, Balance, Moingeon, New Ins & Car’s the Star

Whilst we are nicely into October it seems we are having a late rally with the weather. Temperatures of 20 degrees and more are forecast for the days ahead, a warm blast from the south should keep us going for a little while longer.
Rather a lot in tonight’s Sheldon’s Times. We have a lovely DotW, Amanda has written an excellent article about ‘balance’ in wine, we are bringing some delicious white Burgundies up from the cellar, we have some decent New Ins and of course we finish with Car’s the Star – not one but two. What’s not to like? Crack on.

Dog of the Week

Firstly I have an editorial correction to make regarding last week’s DotW. If you cast your mind back we had Romy, the lovely Golden Retriever. He was visiting us having travelled all the way from Warrington. Here’s the correction:
Romy is in fact a lady, not a gentleman doggy.
Romy, Stephen and Catherine do not come from Warrington, they come from Swalcliffe.
Stephen and Catherine’s surname is Warrington.
So there we have it – wrong on three counts. My sincere apologies to Stephen and Catherine, and perhaps more so to Romy. She could probably live with the home location being incorrect, but the gender mix-up is unforgivable.
Let’s see if I can get things right this week. Here’s Tiggy, he’s a boy-dog. He belongs to Wendy and Mark (remember Wendy with the stripey tiger car in Car’s the Star). They are not from Warrington, nor are they from Swalcliffe. Mark and Wendy live round the corner in Shipston.
Tiggy reminds me of my friend Twix, only Tiggy has a lighter coat. Of course we also had Rusty as DotW not long ago who was a darker version. I wonder if we could get them all here one day for a team photo? Thanks Wendy and Mark for bringing Tiggy to see us.

Elegance or Boldness – a question of Balance?

Amanda has written this excellent article about balance in a wine, what it means and how it is displayed (or not) in different wines.
On this week’s WSET Level 2 study group we were comparing wines from hot climates and their cooler, European counterparts. The group is fairly cosmopolitan, with students from Hungary, Australia and South Africa, as well as a sprinkling from Shipston and the Cotswolds. One particular pairing provoked quite a lot of debate. We paired an Aussie Shiraz, Mollydooker’s The Boxer (£26.50) which weighs in at 16% alcohol content with a Northern Rhone Syrah, Chapoutier’s Les Meysonniers from Crozes-Hermitage (£21.50) at 13.5% abv. European wines are often described as ‘elegant’ compared to the ‘bolder, more fruit-forward’ wines from warmer climes. These descriptions soon lapsed into ‘weaker’ v ‘Wham-Bam’ – such is the effect of 16% wines on the tutor’s grasp of the English language….
When asked which of the two styles each group member preferred, there was a split, but what was agreed was that each style was acceptable as long as the wine is balanced.
Balance in a wine comes from the skill of the grower and the winemaker. The flavour components of the wine, such as acidity, flavour intensity, sweetness, alcohol and tannin need to be harmonious otherwise something about the wine feels out of kilter in the mouth and the brain finds it less acceptable. Very sweet dessert wines such as Sauternes or Tokaji are great examples of wines with balance. The extreme sweetness is only acceptable because the wines have high acidity levels which make the mouth water. This counteracts the sugar.
Our Mollydooker Australian Shiraz was extremely high in alcohol, but also very full bodied with very intense black fruit flavours. The acidity and tannins supported the flavours with the overall effect being Wham Bam. Totally delicious.
The Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage by contrast was lower in alcohol, lighter in body, more subtle in flavour, higher in acidity but with more complex flavours. Whilst more subdued (elegant) than the Aussie counterpart, the balance was great and the wine shone.
The challenge that European growers are currently facing is unusually hot summers. The strict regulations of the European regions don’t always allow much scope to modify how the grapes are grown. Achieving balance with very ripe grapes can be difficult. My advice would be to brace yourself for the Wham Bam, and eat cheese with the wine!
Amanda x

PS – The next WSET Level 2 evening class starts in November. For those of you that are interested, contact Amanda for details at

Introducing Domaine Moingeon

I have finally succumbed to pressure from Amanda to bring some new white Burgundies into the shop and I have been keen to share these wonderful wines with you for some time. Strictly speaking Domaine Moingeon does not count as a ‘New In’ because we have been sitting on the wines in the cellar for over a year now. But first a little about the Domaine…
Domaine Moingeon was founded by André Moingeon in the 1950’s, although certain parcels of vines have been in the family for over 150 years. André was joined by his son Michel in 1978 and Michel has since been joined by his grandson Florent. Together they have grown the domaine to encompass 10 hectares of vines around St. Aubin. On our last visit to Burgundy in January 2020 I thought the wines from the Domaine stood out as exceptional examples of well made, intense examples of Cote de Beaune white Burgundies without the price tags of the better known Domaines.
Michel and Florent at Domaine Moingeon, 0920hrs on 8th January 2020
(I know, a bit early for a tasting but hey, that’s how it goes)
The Domaine is based in Saint Aubin and as well as having holdings in the village the Domaine has decent holdings in both the villages of Chassagne and Puligny and a few vines in Meursault too.

From the tasting back in 2020 we selected five wines for the shop:

2018 St Aubin 1er Cru “Chateniere” (£34.50)
2018 Chassagne Montrachet (£41 – limited stocks)
2018 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Vergers” (£49.50)
2018 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru “La Garenne” (£49.50)
2018 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru (£120 – very limited stocks)

Knowing I keep a few things hidden out the back, a few of you have convinced me to dip into our stocks already, hence the limited quantities of the village Chassagne in particular. And we took all of the Corton Charlemagne we were allowed to have – just 12 bottles. I can recommend these wines highly, they really are very good – a pure expression of Chardonnay fruit, well judged use of oak and a very appealing long finish. Try one for yourself and let me know what you think,

New Ins

The first of the New Ins tonight is a wine I have been keen (desperate) to bring in. We mentioned a couple of months back that a few lucky souls were invited to try the new vintage release of Dom Perignon. We have been waiting ever since for the trade release. Sadly quantities released were so small that we have struggled to get meaningful amounts at this stage but I am please to say we have secured just 12 bottles in their presentation cases. Welcome the new release of Dom Perignon 2012 (£175/bt).
I suspect it will be a while before we are able to acquire more bottles so if you are a keen DP fan, jump in and give this a try now. WIGIG.
On white we have the return of 2016 Chateau Capion Blanc. After Howard (the Ambassador for Chateau Capion in the UK) came to the shop and ran a tasting we have been selling rather a lot of bottles of Capion across the range. We ran out of Chateau Capion Blanc and are pleased to have it back in. Stocks of the other wines, namely Coup de Coeur (£14), Garennes Blanc and Rouge (both £18) and Chateau Capion Rouge (£38) have also been replenished.
A few reds worthy of consideration:
2017 Karl Johner Pinot Noir “Bischoffinger Steinbuck” (£45) – a wine we have had before in it’s 2016 guise, this top quality Pinot from Baden Baden, Germany always comes top in blind tastings. Delighted to have it back and pleased that we have been able to hold the price.

2018 Johner Estate Gladstone Pinot Noir (£25) – Karl Johner bought holdings in New Zealand back in 2001, recognising the potential quality of fruit that could be produced from this cool climate area. The vineyards are in Gladstone, just north of Martinborough. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered so expect a natural suspension and a little sediment, all in the aim of keeping as much flavour in the bottle as possible.

2009 Rauzan Segla (£175) – 2009 was the 350th birthday for Rauzan Segla and the label for this vintage was designed by the late Karl Lagerfield, the connection being that Rauzan Segla is owned by the same group that owns Chanel and Karl was the Creative Director at Chanel at the time the wine was bottled and released. But don’t let the label affect your perception of this wine.
The 2009 Rauzan Segla is a top drawer Margaux, Neal Martin gives it 94 points out of 100 and says of the wine:
“The 2009 Rauzan-Ségla has a very fine bouquet with tightly packed blackberry and wild strawberry fruit, melted tar and pencil shavings, leaning a little towards Saint-Julien in style (like the Giscours.) The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, gorgeous red berry fruit laced with all spice and cumin, gently fanning out towards the grippy but precise finish that is pure class. This is the best bottle that I have encountered, though the less said about the late Karl Lagerfeld’s designed label the better! 2021 – 2040”
2005 d’Armailhac Double Magnums (£395 per DM) – just three of these beauties from the Rothschild-owned Pauillac estate, if you are already thinking ahead to the C season, one of these will look great on any dinner table.
And just a handful of bottles of 1995 Leoville Barton (Saint Julien) which won’t hang around.

Car’s the Star

Not one, but two treats in this week’s Car’s the Star. An Aston and a Ferrari, both up here for the Salon Prive event at Blenheim Palace at the beginning of September. A couple of beauties, too difficult to choose between them. We are lucky having the opportunity to have such smashing cars here at the shop. And I love the numberplate on the Aston, very timely with the release of the new Bond film. And no, we don’t have any novelty 007 Bollinger bottles in the shop. Definitely not.
Many thanks to Chris and pals for dropping in and playing the “see how much wine you can fit in the back of an xxx” game – always a fun pastime.
That finishes another edition of Sheldon’s Times. Before we close I want to give a big shout out to Gary the tiler for popping in today and fixing our dodgy floor tiles on the way into the spirits room. Who knew a vet could possess multiple talents?
Seems the weather is improving again, cloudy but with decent temperatures. It means we can have the front door open so you can drop in without having to deal with the heavy oak. Amanda, Trish and I will be here tomorrow to look after you. Pop in and pick a couple of lovely bottles for the weekend.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your editorial-correcting, Moingeon-loving, in-balance wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Moloko Bay, Autumn Bundle, Wax Seals and Car’s the Star

Esther has me on a short leash at the moment so we don’t have a raft of New Ins tonight – probably a good thing, we have quite a lot of wine in the shop. We do however have the exciting news regarding the Nika Tiki replacement. Called Moloko Bay, this wine is a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc lookalike. Trish and I drank the best part of a bottle with fish and chips last Saturday and we can confirm: it is delicious. We will have a little in the shop tomorrow on taste, so if you are in the mood for a wee glass then pop in.
We also have a new bundle. The Autumn Bundle is red-biased as we roll into the next season. There is a short but informative article on how to deal with wax seals on bottles of wine and of course a Car’s the Star – and what a piece of kit it is. Crack on.

Dog of the Week

Say hello to Romy. He dropped into the shop at the very end of August to choose some bottles. I am pleased to say he had true Retriever characteristics – the treats he was offered didn’t touch the sides. Well behaved, photogenic and quite relaxed about sitting still and having his picture taken.
Many thanks to Stephen and Catherine for bringing him in to see us. A long way from Warrington, but such is the need of owners to see their furry friend appear as ‘Dog of the Week’. Smashing.

Moloko Bay Sauvignon Blanc – Nika Tiki in all but name (and location of origin)

Last week we reported on the plight of our New Zealand wine making colleagues following a string of difficult harvests. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is already running dry in the UK, we have sold out of our Nika Tiki which was the best selling white wine in the shop in 2020. New vintage stocks will be arriving in the UK next month, but we have already been informed of the price rise which will push the bottle price well above the £10 mark.
Thankfully our friends at the Nika Tiki importer, Lanchester Wines, have been actively working to solve the issue. Recognising that we were rushing towards the edge of a cliff, Lanchester dispatched bottles of Nika Tiki to South Africa and started working with wine producers in the country to create a wine similar in style to the Marlborough favourite. Several samples later the right blend was assembled and plans for production put in place. We received a bottle of the new wine a week ago, tried it last weekend and all agreed that it was very good indeed and an excellent replacement (albeit temporary) for Nika Tiki. The wine is called Moloko Bay, and is all juicy lemon, lime and gooseberry in the glass, just as you would want from a good Sauvignon Blanc.
Moloko Bay Sauvignon Blanc – £9.95 a bottle
Recognising that some of you may be a little nervous regarding the switch to a wine made in another region, I have decided to open a bottle or two of Moloko Bay for you to try in the shop on Saturday. So if you are a regular Marlborough Sauvignon buyer, come in and give Moloko Bay a try. I am confident you will be pleasantly surprised by the result. If you choose to buy this wine you will also have the added warm glow knowing that you are supporting wine producers in South Africa. They too have had a tough time, not due to weather but to the local ban on alcohol sales while the nation navigated its way through Covid lockdowns. The ban has hit every aspect of the wine industry in the country and we are keen to support in whatever way we can – the easiest being to buy wine from South Africa at this time.
New Autumn Bundle – 10 lovely wines for £100 and save 10%
Recently we have had a number of customers appear in the shop and ask for a mixed case for an average price of £10-12 a bottle. Invariably we end up picking the shop favourites with the odd wildcard in the box just to spice things up. Seeing as the Summer Bundle has long since passed I thought it would be fun to put an Autumn Bundle together. The bundle is a little biased towards the reds, taking into account the change in the weather and the need for a glass or two of something warming. And I’ve included a bottle of fizz and a bottle of Moloko Bay in the bundle too, what’s not to like?
In the Autumn Bundle you will find the following treats:

Francesc Ricard Cava Brut (fizz, Spain)
Quinta Vide Albarino (white, Spain)
Saint Peye Picpoul (white, France)
Moloko Bay (white, South Africa)
Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon (red, Chile)
Scotto Zinfandel (red, California)
Kaiken Clasico Malbec (red, Argentina)
16 Stops Shiraz (red, Australia)
Trastullo Primitivo (red, Italy)
The Wolftrap Syrah/Mourvedre/Viognier (red, South Africa)

The cost of the wines in the bundle when bought individually comes to just shy of £110 so the saving is 10%. We have some packed up ready to go, all you have to do is rock up with a hundred beer tokens and we’ll pop a box straight in the back of the car/van/landrover/motorbike pannier. A perfect way to try some new wines or reacquaint yourself with some old favourites. Tuck in.

How to open a bottle of wine that is sealed with wax

We are often asked some peculiar questions in the shop. Everything from how to store wines, when to buy wines for ageing, what does a corked bottle taste like and much more besides. One question that has cropped up twice in the recent past is what to do with a bottle that is sealed with wax. Dipping the neck of a bottle in liquid wax is a traditional way of creating a seal around the cork and bottle, but latterly this has been replaced by the use of foil or plastic capsules. Some producers are choosing to return to wax seals as an indication of care and quality. And the question is this – how do you remove the wax to get at the cork to extract it?
Three delicious South African whites all finished with a wax seal
A standard foil cutter will not fit over the wax seal and even if it does, it rarely has the desired effect, instead it tends to make a right hash of the wax and clog the cutter. The next option might be to hack away at the wax with a knife. Again this is rarely effective and has the added danger of a possible slip and a trip to A&E. So what to do?
The easiest way to get to the wine in a wax sealed bottle is to leave the wax seal untouched, twist your corkscrew through the wax seal, into the cork as if the wax seal wasn’t there at all. Pull the cork out as you normally would. The pressure from the top of the cork on the wax will remove a disc of wax from the top of the bottle. If there are any left over bits of wax around the top of the bottle, these can usually be easily removed with your fingers. In some instances the cork has a small disc on the top to ensure the wax comes off cleanly.
So there you have it, no need to put yourself in harms way when opening a bottle of wine with a wax seal.

Car’s the Star

Now this beastie looks a little bit like a kit car but that would be far from the truth. It is an Aerial Nomad. I remember when the Aerial Atom came out and everyone went a little mad for it. It was badged as a no-compromise sports car and has lived up to the expectation ever since. Not to rest on their laurels, the team at Atom have gone a step sideways, creating a road/offroad car that has the same no compromise principles as the Atom road car. The Nomad was born from this endeavour.
Powered by a 2.4 VTEC Honda engine, this gentle off-roader is capable of 0-60mph in a mere 3.4 seconds. The version you see here is spec’d for the road (it has the luxury of a windscreen AND wiper!) Had the shop not been quite so busy on the day it popped in I would have begged the owner to take me for a spin. Thanks to Henry for dropping by in what must be one of the most fun cars available today.
The weather tomorrow is looking like a bit of a shocker. Drizzle interspersed with occasional downpours. The perfect weather to pop into our lovely emporium, try a little Sauvignon Blanc and pick out some super bottles for the weekend ahead. Trish and I will be here to see to all of your wine-related needs, we look forward to seeing you.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your Marlborough-alternative-loving, bundle-building, Atom-admiring wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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

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

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

Dog of the Week

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

Not Brexit, but the weather…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Ins

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Ridge Estate Chardonnay (£65)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Car’s the Star

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

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

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

DotW, Cooking with Heros, Zin/Prim, Goodbyes and Car’s the Star

This week Shane & Trish have been taking a short break (mostly spent drinking and eating), so this week’s Sheldon’s Times comes to you from Amanda and Esther who have been ably managing the shop. We have our usuals of DotW and Car’s the Star, but the meat in the sandwich this week is a little different. We have an article about a new book written by one of our local authors, the money for which goes to the Royal British Legion. Amanda has written a fun article on Zinfandel and we have the announcement of some retirees from the shop. Bottles that is, not staff members. Enough. Crack on.

Dog of the Week

What discipline! And what a great photo. This is Parker, patiently waiting for the OK to tuck into his treat. The added drool makes the picture. What a good dog.
A big thank you to Jonathan for bringing Parker to see us. So many visits in the past and we didn’t even know you had him.

Cooking with Heros – support for the RBL

It won’t be long before we are buying poppies. Before we get there we are delighted to support local author and Military Veteran Squadron Leader Jon Pullen (retired) in raising funds for the Royal British Legion Centenary (RBL) by stocking his new book in the shop. Jon, who lives in Newbold-on-Stour, has been working with more than 150 personnel from across the Military Family to produce the RBL Centenary Cookbook ‘Cooking with Heroes’. The book divides the UK and Commonwealth in to 100 different regions and for each region members of the RBL identify a ‘Local Hero’, someone who has made a great contribution to UK Defence; these military personnel then present their stories. Alongside these tales of courage, determination and often sacrifice, military chefs from across the Services, alongside a number of illustrious guest chefs including Jamie Oliver, the Hairy Bikers, Rick Stein, Ainsley Harriott, James Martin and many more provide a recipe that reflects the food culture of that region. These recipes are predominantly regional and often represent forgotten foods brought back into the 21st century.
The Warwickshire contribution tells the story of Corporal Arthur Hutt VC, the first person from Coventry to win the Victoria Cross on 4 Oct 1917 at the 2nd Battle of Ypres where he showed conspicuous courage not only taking command when his Officer and NCOS had been wounded but also saved the lives of several of his Platoon. The recipe in his honour is the wonderful Warwickshire Faggots, Onion Gravy and Braised Peas written by Private Sophie Phillips, Army.
Jon has signed all of the books we have and is very happy to provide personalised message if requested. The books are on sale for £20 with every penny of the cost being donated to the charity. So far the book has raised around £100k with the team aiming to reach £150k by the end of the year. The books are beautifully produced and would make a wonderful Christmas gift with the added benefit that all of the money goes to support our Armed Force Personnel and Veterans.
Jon Pullen (author) at one of the many War Graves sites across the UK and Overseas
Support the RBL and Jon by popping in and buying one (or two) of these wonderful books. You know it makes sense.

Why I love…..Zinfandel

The wines classes have started up again and I am enjoying both teaching and having a reason to try a wide range of wines again – good, bad and ugly! The past 18 months of drinking nothing but Sheldon’s wines has made me “a bit soft“ (as my Northern Dad would say)…

One of the grape varieties we cover in the class is Zinfandel and it is one of my favourites. Many people know Zinfandel because of the sweet Californian rose wine, bizarrely called ‘White Zinfandel’. This one always divides opinion on courses – the fact that Shane won’t stock it says a lot about where he stands on this one! Zinfandel grapes are used to make a deep coloured red wine. The rose was created almost by accident from juice that was bled off to make the red wines more intense. The rose is now the best selling wine in the USA!

For making red wine, Zinfandel is a really interesting grape. It needs a hot climate to ripen, California is perfect as is Southern Italy, where the same grape is called Primitivo. The grapes in a single bunch don’t ripen evenly which results in some underripe berries and some very over ripe berries at harvest time – this naturally adds instant complexity to the flavours of the finished red wines.

Young Zinfandels and Primitivos are full of red and black fruit flavours, with chocolate and spicy hints. They are full bodied and very gluggable due to ripe tannins. They are also great value for the quality of wine. Our Organic Trastullo Primitivo (£11.50) is a firm favourite, as is the Californian Old Vine Scotto Zinfandel (£10.75).

For those of you who like something a little more structured and serious, the famous Ridge Vineyards in California produce fabulous Zinfandel-dominated blends. Geyserville and Lytton Springs wines are complex, age-worthy and fabulous (we have the 2018 in now at just under £50). As the nights draw in and the armchair in front of the fire beckons, I’ll be reacquainting myself with the joys of red Zinfandel.

Time to say Goodbye….

This week with Shane being out of the shop we don’t have any New Ins to share. Instead, Esther and I thought we would take the opportunity to let you know of a few of the wines that it’s time to say farewell to, or perhaps adieu is more appropriate (aka ‘last chance to get them now before they are gone’). Some wines are seasonal and once they run out we wait until the next vintage – our lovely rosés fall into this category. Other wines have to go to make way for the constant stream of great new wines that we get in. The shop is now bursting at the seams and we are either going to have to build a bigger shop or start operating on a one in one out policy – wines that is, not customers this time!

First up for the chop are some wines from Italy and Spain
We are continuing to update the Italian and Spanish sections as well as looking to source wines from other up and coming European regions. This means that the following wines will be gracefully bowing out for now.
2019 Schola Sarmenti Fiano (white) £13.95
Cincinnato Castore Bellone (white) £12.25
Cincinnato Polluce Nero Buono (red) £12.25
2020 Bardos Verdejo (white) £10.00
2018 La Garnacha Olvidada (red) £12.00
2018 Sottano Seleccion Torrentes (white) £16.00
We still have some stock left of most of this season’s rosé, but we are down to the last few cases of some and will not restock until next spring. If you have an event coming up, or want to keep a couple bottles handy for the lovely sunny afternoons we are currently having come and bag them sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Car’s the Star

From memory this visit was a relatively late Friday afternoon fly-by. It is of course an AC Cobra replica. It looks amazing and don’t be fooled – by “replica” don’t think this isn’t a serious piece of kit. A 5.7 litre Chevrolet engine sits under that bonnet, capable of producing all of the power you might want and more.
Many thanks to Tom for dropping by. For what it is worth, we heard you coming long before you pulled in.
The weather for the weekend ahead looks a little mixed. Some sunshine, some showers as we roll forward into Autumn. The leaves on the Chestnuts and Hazels are already turning. Amanda and Lauren will be in the shop tomorrow to fill your bags with the last bottles of rose and anything else that might take your fancy.

Amanda, Esther, Nigel & Carol, (plus Shane and Trish in a(nother) restaurant drinking fine wine I suspect)

Your RBL-supporting, Primitivo-loving, Cobra-admiring wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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

Well that was the summer of 2021! We hope you are all well and in good spirits now that the kids are back at school, the work schedule is kicking in again and it is getting darker that little bit earlier in the evening. The usual articles in tonight’s Sheldon’s Times, including an opportunity to name a dog. Replies to me please and I’ll pass them on to the owners. The guest beer fits into the ‘unusual’ category, worth a try if you have never had a pastry sour. And some smashing New Ins tonight but a couple of them are in limited quantity so jump in quick. Finally this week’s car is a classic in the making. Press on.

Shop Flowers

A big shout out to Carol for yet again providing us with a super display of flowers in front of the shop. After the failure of the cosmos plants last year we decided to go with geraniums and dahlias this year. Despite the lack of direct sunshine this summer the plants have thrived and have given a decent display.
Thanks also to our army of waterers and deadheaders – Amanda and Trish – who keep things going so the display lasts for as long as possible.
And a final thank you to Shipston in Bloom for filling the tubs along the front with begonias, they have also done well. All in all we’ve enjoyed a nice colourful shop front this year.

Dog of the Week

Hello Digby! He’s a delightful black lab puppy full of energy. As you can imagine, we tried desperately to catch Digby with a bottle of Digby Fine English but would he sit still? Would he hell. So here he is without the bottle and looking majestic and ready to play.
Many thanks to Harry (and by proxy Charlotte) for bringing Digby in to see us. There is no competition with Chester here, is there? Good luck to Chester’s Mum and Dad with the house move.

Interestingly we have another young woofit looking for a name and Digby has been mentioned but dismissed. If you have any suggestions for what this little chap should be called let me know – and I’ll pass on your thoughts to the owner. Isn’t he cute? The dog that is, not David the owner (who I should say is NOT in the picture).

P.S. the ducklings still don’t have names yet and I think they have feathers now. I’ll see if C&E can send us another picture.

This week’s Guest Beer (sort of) – Yonder’s Blueberry Pie Pastry Sour (£6/440ml, 6%)

The point of the Guest Beer slot is to allow us to try something new, and occasionally something a bit different. After a string of delicious, perhaps some might say “predictable” IPAs, this week we have something a little ‘out there’.
Sour beer is not like normal beer. Unlike the sterile environment which is used to produce normal beer, sour beer is produced by encouraging naturally occurring wild yeasts and bacteria into the brew. The two most common microbes are Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, while the yeast Brettanomyces can also add acidity. Historically this natural method of production often resulted in fermentation taking months or even years, but modern methods have helped to speed up the process. The tart, sour taste of this type of beer is intentional.
We have had an IPA from Yonder Brewing before as a guest beer, so it seemed logical to go back to Yonder to try one of their sours. We have selected Blueberry Pie, which when we tried it showed a distinct sour cherry flavour. This certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but perhaps try one to share with friends. Everyone should experience a flavoured sour once in their life. This could be the week to do it. Very limited availability in the shop.

New Ins

I did promise a bounty of New Ins this week, mainly because Esther has returned from her well-earned break and all of the new bottles are loaded onto the till. Here goes:

Staglin Family Vineyard

I hinted at the fact that we were going to make some serious investments in wines from the Napa Valley, California a little while back. Following on from the introduction of Chateau Montelena a few weeks ago (famed for it’s performance at the 1976 Judgement of Paris), I am delighted to announce the arrival of three wines from Staglin Family Vineyard. While the estate may have been acquired by the Staglin family as recently as 1985, the viticultural history of the vineyards stretches back to 1864. Located on the Rutherford Bench and benefiting from alluvial soils washed down from the Mayacamas mountains, the estate has just 51 acres under vine and is fully certified organic. Be under no doubt, these are serious Napa Valley wines, showing all of the characteristics of the environment in which the grapes are grown. We have chosen three wines, a Chardonnay and two Cabernet Sauvignons. To a degree the reds represent the two extremes of Napa which is why we have selected them.
2019 Staglin Family Vineyard Estate Chardonnay (£120) – the climatic conditions in 2019 were a little up and down. A wet winter was followed by a dry, sunny April and a rainy May. These conditions slowed down the ripening process, allowing the grapes to reach a good balance of fruit flavours, sugar content and retained acidity. The resulting wine is described as “autumnal”, with baked apple and poached pear, autumn spices, some saline notes and a clean finish.

2015 Staglin Family Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (£250) – the 2015 Estate is a full expression of Cabernet from this producer. A near-perfect growing season resulted in fully ripe grapes, with the 2015 harvest taking place earlier than in any of the previous 12 vintages. This is Napa Valley decadence, with rich, intense dark fruits, tannins that show themselves but still have a silky quality that integrate perfectly with the concentrated fruit profile. I rather like Staglin’s description for this wine: “the perfect hug from a distant relative” – I couldn’t resist including it here.

2011 Staglin Family Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (£195) – 2011 was in contrast a trickier climatic year. A long, wet winter and difficult spring resulted in poor fruit set, reducing yields. A sunnier period followed, allowing grapes to ripen with lower-than-usual sugar levels and high acidity. Much more akin to a European growing season, the outcome in the bottle is a more restrained expression of Napa Cabernet, similar in many ways to a well crafted top end Bordeaux. In many circles it has been more popular in the UK because of our preference for Bordeaux-style wines. The 2011 may represent an easier introduction to California for those with more traditional tastes.

Ruinart NV Rose (£70) – to add to our stocks of Ruinart NV Brut and Ruinart NV Blanc de Blancs.

Pieropan Soave Classico “La Rocca” (£33) – one of our lovely customers asked if we could source this wine, the issue is I have forgotten which one of you it was. If you are reading this and it rings a bell, pop in and grab some bottles before the hoards scoop them up.

2020 Minimalist Wines Stars In The Dark (£30, Cape Agulhas, South Africa) – a Sam Lambson wine made from 100% Syrah, we had just 6 bottles of this wine from the 2019 vintage and it sold out immediately on arrival. This is a superb red wine for lovers Syrah. Sam is making wines in a style similar to those from the Northern Rhone. Produced from vines on the very tip of South Africa where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean. This wine has already achieved ‘cult’ status and we are only in the third vintage.

Aged Claret:
2000 Rauzan Segla (Margaux)
1996 Duhart Milon (Pauillac)

….and finally….
1996 Chateau Margaux – for those who like the finer, or should I say exquisite things in life.

Car’s the Star

Tonight’s car has been a regular visitor to the shop over the years but it was only the other day that I realised it hadn’t been the car of the week. So here we have it – a delightful Mazda MX5 Mark 1 Monza. All Monzas were finished in British Racing Green, with the spec being less-is-more, focusing on the pure roadster driving experience. This car still has its original Monza decals on the bonnet and side panels, rare to see.
Many thanks to David for bringing the car over to see us (on a frequent basis). You keep it in such excellent condition. Oh, and the sherry is in the fridge, in case we forget when you next pop in.
That concludes another edition of the Sheldon’s Drivel. It seems the summer came and went this week. Nice to have two days of sunshine I suppose. Shame it didn’t last. On the upside I think this weekend is supposed to be dry. You may find a few of us at the Moreton Beer Festival tomorrow evening, seems like too good an opportunity to miss. Until then Trish and I will be on duty in the shop so perhaps see some of you tomorrow.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your Digby-loving, Staglin-admiring, Stars-in-the-Dark-drinking wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Whichford Show, Back to School, New Ins and Car’s the Star

As I sit here and finish off this week’s edition of Sheldon’s Times the sun is shining, it is warm and the forecast ahead is good. Perhaps summer has finally arrived? Get your flip flops out quick, pull the cork on a bottle of rose with wild abandon and get the barbecue lit.
If you fancy a fun mid-afternoon outing we have places left on tomorrow’s Cellar Tour due to a late cancellation (2-4pm, £20/head) then call the shop in the morning (01608 661409) and we’ll book you in.
Tonight we have the usual articles plus a piece Amanda has written on returning to school. I have provided an update on the antics of the Whichford Show and we finish off with a smashing Car’s the Star.
On you go.

Dog of the Week

Here’s Finn the Fenlander. Sorry for the slightly blurred picture but he simply wouldn’t sit still. Fenlanders are generally bred as working dogs but I am not sure how much active work Finn does. He certainly knows how to woof a biscuit or two down.
Thank you to Steven for bringing Finn over. Always a pleasure.

Whichford Show

On Bank Holiday Monday the Whichford Fete and Flower Show took place on the village green. I’m delighted to say it was very well attended. For my sins I was asked to judge the Homemade Wines and Spirits category in the show. Following a boozy night before, Trish and I made our way to the marquee for 11am on Show Day to begin the tasting. To my surprise and delight (!) there were rather more entries than we had expected.
It was certainly the case that the flavoured spirits (gin and vodka) were the most palatable items on the table. One particular Sloe Gin stood out and was awarded first prize with little hesitation. The homemade wines were a little more challenging. Being used to wines made from grapes, having to dive into these concoctions produced from parsnip, elderberry, damson and rhubarb was both exciting and daunting at the same time. Following the palate cleanser which was the homemade lemonade category we finished up with cordials which were a little easier on the constitution. A big thank you to all who put entries into the show, not just in wines and spirits but across the board. It is your efforts that makes the show so interesting and fun. And well done to all of the category winners, a great job.
During the afternoon I was able to borrow a dog and enter the Most Handsome Dog/Prettiest Bitch competition in the fun dog show. Jackson is already known to many of you, he certainly is to me and we entered the ring to stand among fierce competition. After a little barking and some excellent posturing I am pleased to say Jackson was awarded 3rd prize. I think it was his bow tie that clinched it.
Thanks to Debs and Tim for the doggie loan, it was excellent fun. I am only sorry that Dougie didn’t get a prize in the Puppy category and he will be too old to enter next year. Maybe he will be able to surpass Jackson’s success in the Handsome Dog class in 2022.
It was so good to be able to attend the show, meet friends including many readers of Sheldon’s Times, enjoy a pint (or three) in the pub and generally relax and be ‘normal’. A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who put their personal time and effort into making these events such fun. We are all immensely grateful. And a final thank you to all of the Sheldon’s Times readers who attended and everyone else who came along. It is your attendance that makes the show a success. Next year I will be baking bread again, be warned.

Back to School

Amanda has put this next article together for you to gently ease you back into a routine, although some of the bottles might not help you get up in the morning.

This year continues to be a little nuts – September is here and whilst we are still waiting for Summer to start, it’s time for the children to go back to school!

We know from talking to our lovely customers that the new school year brings mixed emotions. Gin sales to frazzled parents have been on the rise over the past 2 weeks. Many of you are having celebrations to say goodbye to children off to University and some of you are getting ready to go back to the classroom yourselves (a shameless plug for my WSET Classes which start next week).

I have started gently reminding (aka nagging) Shane to start thinking about Christmas stock and to distract me, he’s tasked me with putting together a list of wines with a ‘back to school’ theme. So, for those of you who are missing that ‘new school year’ feeling – this is for you!
Maths – Figuero 4, 12 and 15 from Duero del Duero, Spain. The numbers represent how many months the wine has been aged for in oak.

History – Taylors 1963 Port – I like this one because it’s one of the few things in the shop older than me….

Art – Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Champagne – with an art motif dating from 1902.  The magnums make great lamp bases for added arts and crafts!

Sport – Mollydooker The Boxer. An Aussie Shiraz that always packs a punch. At 16% abv don’t drink it on a school night.

Music – Le Carillon de Vendome rosé from the Coteaux de Vendôme. Our favourite rosé for all-year round drinking as it has enough flavour to pair well with food.

Languages – Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöle Riesling Spätlese – don’t let the name put you off this fabulous, medium sweet, full-flavoured wine.

Biology –  Cuisse de Nymphe from The Oxford Artisan Distillery – translates as ‘blush on a maiden’s thigh’.  Say no more ….

I am sure that our eagle-eyed customers will find many more. Good luck to everyone starting a new year, course or adventure this September. You are never too old to learn.

Amanda x

New Ins

The New Ins list looks a little scant this week, not because we haven’t had many in, but because Esther is on holiday and she books all of our stock onto the till system here in the shop. When she is back next week, expect a bumper crop of goodies to choose from. For this week we have the following interesting items.
Baur Cremant d’Alsace NV (£19.95) – due to a shift in the supply route we had ‘lost’ this wine for a while but I am pleased to say it is back in. A tasty Cremant, the wine is a blend of 6 different varieties: Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is made using the ‘traditional method’ i.e. the same way that Champagne is made. And it’s organic to boot.

2008 Paul Bara Comtesse Maire de France (£75) – We tried this last weekend and it is a full expression of fruit from what is a great vintage year in Champagne. The wine comes from 100% Pinot Noir fruit from the village of Bouzy (what is not to like with a name like that?) Lots of ripe fruits on the nose and a full palate make this a little more than a simple aperitif style. Serve with starters, it will also go with white meats.

2017 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett (£24.95) – another ‘easy for you to say’ wine from the Nahe region of Germany. This is elegant, fruity (grapey) wine with a slatey minerality from this steep vineyard. Off dry in style and only 9% alcohol makes this bottle the perfect sunny afternoon drinker.

2018 Joseph Drouhin Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 1er Cru (£95) – a customer favourite returns in some volume but I don’t suspect it will hang around for long. One of, if not the best 1er Cru white from Drouhin.

2018 Joseph Drouhin Corton Charlemagne GC (£169) – one of my absolute favourites, this is very well made Grand Cru white Burgundy. Keep if you can, although it will be difficult to resist young.

2005 Chateau Sociando Mallet (£80) – we sold all of the 1996 that we could find, we have ploughed through a load of 2010s (and have a few left, a bargain at £45/bt) so it is nice to have some bottles from another great vintage somewhere in the middle.

2016 Dujac Morey Saint Denis village (£95) – Dujac. Say no more.

Watch this space next week for some pretty awesome Napa wines and a few nice aged Clarets.
Car’s the Star
You don’t see many of these around – mainly because Porsche only made 1270 of them and less than 50 came to the UK. It is of course a Carrera GT, the production run for which started in 2003 and finished in 2007. It is a mid-engine car, immediately behind the cockpit is a 5.7 litre V10 producing over 600 bhp. This is a serious piece of kit, be in no doubt.
Thanks to Adam for bringing it over on yet another sunny day in Shipston. I think this monster will provide many long years of happy motoring.
That’s it for tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times. Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Maybe we will get a blocking high and have the whole of September in glorious bright skies. Tomorrow Amanda, Trish and I will be here to help with all of your wine-related needs, pop in and say hello. And don’t forget the Cellar Tour tomorrow if you want a laugh.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your Fenlander-loving, Dachshund-prize-bagging, Dujac-drinking wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Food and Wine, Guest Ale, New Ins and Car’s the Star

Hip-hip-hooray! It is a Bank Holiday weekend! That means for most an extra day off, meaning you can drink with impunity on Sunday night knowing it is not really a ‘school night’. For my sins I shall have the pleasure of judging the homemade wines and spirits section of the Whichford Flower Show on Bank Holiday Monday (open to the public at 2.30pm, a fun afternoon out if you are at a loose end) so will obviously have to be on best behaviour. A few regulars have said they are planning entries – their worst concoctions ever – because they know I will have to taste it. Rotters. You know who you are.
Tonight we have a super in-training DOTW, a mouth-watering guest article on Food and Wine Pairing, a new Guest Beer, some smashing New Ins and a red rocket as our Car’s the Star. Press on.

Dog of the Week

I am constantly amazed at the loyalty dogs have, it seems under all circumstances. Their ability to learn and assist is I think second to none in the animal world. Here we have a gorgeous Labrador, not much more than a pup and under an intense training regime to become a Guide Dog. At the time of the visit he still had a little way to go, but the training treats seemed to be doing the trick. We are consciously leaving out the name at the request of the trainer.
A big thank you to Yvonne for bringing him to see us. Always welcome. I understand the correct title for Yvonne is a ‘Puppy Raiser’, such a lovely role name, right up there with Dolphin Trainer. All credit to you, we salute you both.

Guest Article – food and wine pairing

Our occasional contributor (and regular wine drinker) Roger has offered us this excellent article about food and wine pairing, or perhaps I should call it “What Roger and Catherine had for dinner last night”. Sounds delicious and I commend the wines with the tasty food courses. Looking forward to popping round and sampling some of these delectable dishes. And lovely to see such support for local independent shops for sourcing the fresh produce.
“With the Sheldons Times diversifying into blogs about sunflowers, The Olympics as well as the usual dogs and cars I thought it must be time to write something more relevant about food and the highly contentious and somewhat subjective topic of food and wine pairing, as let’s face it, unless your name’s Amanda, most of the wine we drink is consumed with food. I confess the only reason I learnt to cook was because it was the best excuse to open a bottle or two of wine and I never looked back.

As wine flights with our friends are usually a different bottle with each course, the cooking needs to be as simple as possible so being very thirsty won’t hinder the delivery of the food. I therefore thought I would share a menu we did recently where I think we got it right and the food and wine were as good a combination as it gets. Unsurprisingly, all of the wines came from Sheldon’s or you wouldn’t be reading this, and the food from local suppliers.

Soutiran Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs with coustardes (tiny pastry cases) from The Cotswold Cheese Co. in Moreton, filled with white crab meat and samphire, mozzarella and pesto and red pepper humous with green olives.

For once I took Shane’s advice (many times offered but rarely taken) and took the champagne out of the fridge half an hour before opening it. The combination of the yeasty, biscuity, depth of the Soutiran suited the tiny tartlets perfectly. This wine is a big step up from Bollinger and not too much more money.

Solosole Vermentino 2019 from Poggio al Tesoro in Bolgheri with watercress, pear, rocket and fennel salad and a honey and mustard dressing (courtesy of Gordon Ramsey’s Sunday Lunch cook book). This a beautifully refreshing salad that is both sweet and peppery, combining perfectly with the citrusy and full flavoured Vermentino, and so easy to throw together at the last minute, thanks Gordon!

Chateau Fuisse 2017,  Pouilly Fuisse with my own concoction of poached halibut and yellow pepper sauce (my wife Catherine’s favourite) with asparagus and Canarian potatoes. The sauce shines like the sun and the taste and texture go perfectly with the deep rich Chardonnay fruit. The fish and ingredients for both dishes came from Turner’s in Shipston.

Chateau Rieussec 2009 half bottle Sauternes (next door to Chateau d’Yquem) with rhubarb compote, made beforehand, with both the fruit and the recipe courtesy of our best friends. The compote however played second fiddle to this outstanding and complex wine that, preceded with something sharp and savoury, expresses massive flavours and a powerful nose of honey and apricots. It took as long to drink this half bottle as a full bottle of the others, such is the intensity.

Chateau Leoville Barton 2002, predictable I know but with names like Old Winchester, Barnham Blue and South Cerney’s ashed goats cheese from The Cotswold Cheese Company in Moreton (there were others but for some reason I couldn’t remember them) this was a match made in heaven.

I hope this article will offer a little inspiration to some of you to find yet more excuses for opening bottles of wine from Sheldon’s and to perhaps share your own experiences through Sheldon’s Times.”

Ed: what about the Cognac?
Many thanks to Roger for taking the time to write in. Always great to hear about fun evenings where Sheldon’s wines have played their part. Five bottles for 2 people? Sounds like my sort of night in.

This Week’s Guest Beer
MOOR Beer Company “Distortion” Session IPA (4.7%) – £3.25/440ml can

A few weeks ago we had the very flavoursome Calvell & Hind “Recantations of an ill led life”, last week we had the lighter, some might say more approachable White Horse Classic IPA. This week we have pitched things in between. The MOOR Beer Company originates from 2007 when a Californian known as Justin Hawke purchased a ‘defunct business’ based in Somerset. The name comes from the Levels and Moors of the area. In 2014 the brewery moved to central Bristol, located just behind Temple Meads train station.
The special thing here is the fact that the beer is live. Brewed using a natural carbonation process without fining or filtering, this beer has great flavour with a full mouthfeel. It is also vegan friendly, giving it more appeal to a broader customer base. As well as the great taste, what I particularly like about it is the name. When asked if I want another drink, I can simply reply “MOOR beer”! Give it a try, as usual with our guest beers we only have a few cans available.

New Ins

A handful of New Ins this week, at all levels and all wine styles.
First up we have a new Sauvignon Blanc. We are gradually revamping our French Sauvignon selection, bringing in new wines as we find those that meet our stringent quality criteria. For this week’s new edition we have chosen a wine from the eastern Loire. The most famous village for Sauvignon Blanc in this area is Sancerre, but other villages are also gaining a name for themselves, mainly Pouilly Fume and Quincy. We have a wine from another neighbouring village – Menetou Salon – based southwest of Sancerre. The wine offers all of the key characteristics of Sauvignon from this region with a significantly lower price tag. At just £13.95 it represents good value for money for the quality.
Next we have an old favourite in new vintage form. Gaja’s Brunello di Montalcino Pieve Santa Restituta is a wine we have sold a lot of from the 2010 vintage (£73), with just a couple of bottles left. We have just received a small allocation of the 2015 vintage priced at £65 a bottle. This is a drink now or keep bottle, it will go on and on.
For those of you who like to ‘go large’ we have taken delivery of three double magnums (3 litres) of good Rioja. CVNE is one of the better known producers in Rioja and their Vina Real Gran Reserva 2012 is a great wine, ready to drink, and these large bottles are a ‘Real’ centrepiece on any party table (see what I did there?). £175 per DM.
Before we hit the short but unbelievably good list of Clarets this week there is one more wine to introduce. This wine will already be well known to many of you. Klein Constantia dates back to 1685 and is located on the Cape Peninsula, just south of Cape Town, South Africa. The region benefits from the cooling influences of the South Atlantic to the west and the Cape Doctor, a persistent south-easterly summer wind. Klein Constantia’s most famous wine, Vin de Constance is a late harvest Muscat. We have just taken delivery of some 500ml bottles of the 2013 wine, which the house describes as follows:

2013 Vintage conditions
Due to a prolonged winter and cool spring, the growing season was late in 2013 and delayed budburst by up to 2 weeks. Ideal conditions prevailed with moderate daytime and cool night time temperatures. This together with a dry season ensured for perfect ripening and raisining of the Muscat de Frontignan.
Wine description
Bright and gold in appearance with aromas of citrus marmalade and frangipan abundant on the nose. The palate is full bodied and complex. A good sugar to fruit ratio combined with a great acidity ensures the wine is in balance. The wine concludes with a long, spicy and grippy finish.

With the distinctive bottle shape, Vin de Constance is visually unmistakable and the wine is regularly ranked up there with the best sweet wines in the world. £79 per 500ml bottle, and it comes in a nice box with some literature in it to boot.
And finally a couple of lovely Clarets:

1996 Chateau Pichon Baron (£235/bt) – for those who scooped up the 1995, this might just be even better.
1990 Leoville Barton (£195/bt) – the undisputed king of the older Leoville Barton vintages, recent tastings have proved that it remains at the top of the super seconds from this timeless vintage.

Car’s the Star

There are Fiats and then there are Arbarth Fiats. This is an Arbarth 595, such a neat car with performance to match the styling. This is not your average Saturday morning run around. The founder of Arbarth, Carlo Arbarth, raced motorcycles and cars in the 1920’s and 30’s, famously beating the Orient Express on a 1300km run from Vienna to Ostend in a motorcycle sidecar. He then went on to develop a successful business in exhaust systems, modifying performance cars to make them go even faster.
Despite Carlo passing away in 1979, the name has lived on in the conversion of Fiat cars, transforming the otherwise unassuming vehicles into something rather more special.
Many thanks to Sara for bringing her pocket rocket to see us on another fine sunny day in Shipston. You’ll have years of fun in this little monster.
That’s it for tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times. Seems the forecast is suggesting dry weather with some sunny spells in the days ahead. At least we are not predicted a wash-out. The late summer is booked for September. Perhaps see some of you in the Whichford Marquee on Monday. Wishing you all a super Bank Holiday weekend.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your guide-dog-loving, MOOR-beer-demanding, Arbarth-respecting wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

DotW, Guest Ale, Wine Qualifications, New Ins and Car’s the Star

The usual Sheldon’s Times articles in this week’s edition. Those eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the rings in the logo above. That’s because we have a sort-of-Wedding-edition. Today (assuming all went to plan) Alice and James got married, and tomorrow sees the wedding of Tim and Debs. Here’s wishing both couples the very best for their married lives ahead of them.
We have a couple of super miniatures in tonight’s DotW, a delicious new guest beer, a reminder about the brilliant eduction programme Amanda runs and some lovely New Ins. To finish we have a rather wild Car’s the Star.

Dog of the Week

Here’s Dougie (left) and Jackson (right) with a rather nice jeroboam of Sheldon’s Champagne. The bottle is just a touch bigger than the pups. These two are regular visitors to the shop, quite capable of eating their own bodyweight in doggie snacks each time they come.
As always, thanks to Debs and Tim for coming to see us on a frequent basis. I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms at present because the little ones are on ‘holiday’. Shame they can’t make the ceremony itself, I would have liked to see them both dressed up in their dickie-bows. Come home soon.

This week’s Guest Beer – White Horse Brewery Classic IPA

This week’s guest beer is an IPA from the White Horse Brewery. The brewery is based in Stanford in the Vale, near Faringdon. Established in 2004 by Andy Wilson, the brewery is now run by Anneli Baxter. It is a small team, making small batches of great beer. We have selected their classic IPA as our new guest beer. The White Horse team describe the beer as a golden IPA brewed with Cascade, Summit and Chinook hops. Fruity and easy-drinking with classic grapefruit and citrus notes.
Purely in the spirit of research Amanda and I had a glass the other day. We would echo the description from the brewery. This is tasty drinking. Lighter than the Clavell & Hyde IPA from the other week making it perhaps a touch too easy to sip. £2.95 a bottle.

Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) – become qualified in wine

In addition to the cellar tours that we run (see last week’s email for details), Amanda has also restarted the formal education programme. The Wine and Spirit Education Trust is the globally-recognised industry body for wine education, with 5 levels of qualification. Amanda is our qualified educator and runs Levels 1 to 3 here at the shop and at other local locations. Level 1 is a single day course aimed at equipping you with the core basics including the industry-accepted methodology for tasting wine. Level 2 builds on Level 1 and examines grape varieties and regions in more detail. Level 3 goes a step further, with the exam being the first to include a blind tasting.
Amanda is running her next Level 1 course on Saturday 11th September here at the shop. The price is £155 to include the tutor pack, all wines, a light lunch and the examination costs. The course runs from 0930-1700hrs. Don’t be scared – the exam is a 30 question multiple choice paper, so far she has an untarnished record of getting Sheldon’s customers through.
To book on just call the shop or email

New Ins

Well you were certainly quick off the mark last week. The Remoriquet NSG 1er Cru Damodes 2005 sold 11 minutes after the email went out, the Duhart Milon 2000 and half of the Cos du Marquis 1996 not long after that. I will keep my eye out for more.
Let’s see how you fair with the below.

First up we have a new English fizz. Following a fairly comprehensive tasting we have decided to stock two wines from Digby Fine English based in Arundel. Digby is interesting because the wine-making philosophy is entirely based on quality. Digby have no vineyards of their own, instead choosing to work with growers at the best sites across the South East who meet their stringent quality standards and match their sustainability ethos. We have selected their two non-vintage wines from the range, both of which are award winners.

Digby NV Brut (£32) – a Pinot Noir dominant blend, this wine impressed us with it’s intensity and richness.
Digby NV Leander Pink (£32) – initially made exclusively for the Leander Club in Henley and drunk in extraordinary volumes in Regatta week, this is the perfect pink summer fizz. Again a Pinot Noir-dominant blend, think strawberries and cream.
I will be opening a bottle of each tomorrow for readers of Sheldon’s Times to taste – just pop in, tap me up and I’ll pour you a sample. It is the summer, after all (although you wouldn’t know it with the weather we are having). WIGIG.
Next up we have a wine from a less well known appellation in Spain. The Montsant wine growing area is located in northeast Spain in Tarragona, just southwest of Barcelona. The Monsanto DO almost surrounds the more famous Priorat DOQ and cultivates similar grape varieties. The dominant variety is old vine Grenache, known locally as Garnatxa Negra. The wines are rich, ripe with juicy fruits. Alcohol levels are sensible due to the altitude of the vineyards (200-700m).
We have selected a wine called Negre de Montsant by Terroir Sense Fronteres (£25). Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate gives the wine 92 points and describes it as follows:
“The 2018 Negre is a blend of organic Garnacha and 25% Cariñena from different vineyards around the village of Capçanes where they have the winery. (…) There are cherries, spices and herbs and a touch of licorice, and the palate is medium-bodied, with very fine tannins. Delicious.”
We think it is great, try it for yourselves.
Perhaps needing less of an explanation, we also have the following New Ins:

2017 Domaine Leflaive Macon Verze (£38)
2017 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet (£115)
2018 Domaine Ramonet Chassagne Montrachet (£125)

2005 Chateau Batailley DOUBLE MAGS (£359) – things of great beauty.

Arran 10 year old single malt whisky (£39.50) – for Alastair

and finally….

2018 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche

Car’s the Star

Wowsers! Look at this beastie! Underneath the rather full-on exterior is a new Nissan Juke I think? But who would know? I think it has been attacked by Wolverine. Even the wheels have had the treatment.
What is also great is the fact that Wendy, the owner of the beast, has a special, matching dress to go with the car. Rock on! And as Tim’s Mum, here’s wishing you a great day tomorrow. Isn’t it the case that the Groom’s mother is the lucky one with the least responsibility on the day? Enjoy yourself!
That’s it for tonight’s Wedding Special. It looks like we are in for a wash-out tomorrow, before the weather starts to improve for next week. The best use of time tomorrow in the wet? A trip to your local independent wine shop to stock up ready for the good weather ahead. Amanda, Trish and I will be here tomorrow to pour a glass of Digby and meet your every wine-related need. Drop by and say hello.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your wedding-loving, pup-adoring, double-mag-drinking wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

Sunflowers, DotW, Quiz, Tours, New Ins and Car’s the Star

There was me, thinking Trish and I would win the tallest sunflower competition, but no. See below for more details. Having had no New Ins last week we have an embarrassment of riches tonight including some lovely old Claret, a handful of rare Burgundy favourites and some super Rioja. And the new Spanish white is definitely worth a try. We top and tail tonights edition with DotW and Car’s the Star, completing this weeks line up. Gin and tonic in hand? Press on.

Sunflower Update

Last week we asked for updates on your sunflowers. Here’s Trish standing next to our hopeful-wannabe-winner measuring in at 210cm but with no flowerhead yet.
I was sure we would be in the lead. But it turns out at this moment in time we have a taller plant. This beauty hails from Broughton and is currently weighing in at 226cm! What a beast!
A big well done to Alfie and Ronnie for their care and attention to their plant. I know they have been giving it a regular feed, talking to it, occasionally stroking it and generally giving it all the support it needs to succeed. Top marks.
Dog of the Week
What a difference a year makes! Or in this case seven months. This is Chester revisited. The picture on the left was taken on 24th December 2020, the one on the right on the 30th July 2021. At the beginning of the year he was just the right size to pick up and cuddle. He’s still very cuddleable, but you’d struggle to scoop him up now. Next time we see him he’ll probably be taller than the counter in the shop.
Many thanks to Ed and Lucy for their regular visits with Chester. Great to see him developing into a mature, sensible, well behaved companion. He’s still a puppy at heart.

Last week’s fun quiz – the answers

I am sure some of you had fun attempting to answer Amanda’s Olympic-themed quiz questions. Here are the answers:

Question 1: Which country / principality competing in the Tokyo Olympics has the highest wine consumption per head, and fewest members of athletes competing?

Question 2: Which country from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics overtook the USA in 2014 as the world’s largest consumers of red wine – by volume?

Question 3: In Australia there are 65 separate wine regions with more than 100 different grape varieties grown. 2 varieties are grown in every region. Which 2 are they?
a. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay?
b. Merlot and Chardonnay?
c. Shiraz and Chardonnay?

Question 4: Which wine is the top seller in the USA?
a. Chardonnay
b. White Zinfandel
c. Merlot

Question 5: Which Country from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics claims to have the world’s oldest wine growing region?
Russia claims their Black Sea area as the oldest.

Question 6: The Tokyo wine bars are famed for their love of Orange wine. What is Orange wine?
a. wine made from oranges
b. white wine fermented with the skins of white grapes
c. A pale rosé wine

Question 7: Japan does produce some grape wines but the damp climate and fertile soil make it more suitable to produce Saké wine. What is Saké made from?
Polished rice.

Question 8: Great Britain has been producing wines since the Roman times. How many vineyards are there thought to be currently in Britain?
a. 47
b. 303
c. 703 

Question 9: Which wine producing country’s citizens from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics drinks almost 5 times as much beer per head than it does wine?

Question 10: Which Hollywood star this week picked up two Gold Medals at the prestigious New York International Wine Competition for their latest wines?
Sarah Jessica Parker of course! For her Invivo X SJP wines.

Cellar Tour with Tasting – Dates

Last Saturday we ran our first cellar tour with informal tutored tasting since the pandemic began. We had a full house (max is 15 people), we started with a glass of Sheldon’s Champagne, had a quick walk and talk through the cellars then finished up with a tasting of 4 different wines, including some of the shop favourites. Everyone seemed to have fun and most rolled out with a bottle or two under their arms. Many thanks to all who participated.
If you fancy a couple of hours out of the home office on a Saturday afternoon then book yourself on a tour. The session runs from 2-4pm, cost is £20 per head. Future dates are:

Saturday 4th September (still some places)
Saturday 9th October
Saturday 6th November
Saturday 4th December

Book yourself on and come along. It is always good fun. Phone the shop (01608 661409) or drop us a line by replying to this email.

New Ins

In last week’s Sheldon’s Times we said goodbye to a number of stock lines, unlikely to see them again. This week we have a decent handful of New Ins, all of which are interesting in their own way. See if anything takes your fancy.
2020 Rezabal (£13) – made from the local grape Hondarrabi-Zuri in the D.O. Getariako-Txakolina region (easy for you to say), this Spanish white comes from the Basque region near the Pyrenees. Amanda and I recently tasted this wine and we were both delighted to find this zesty, saline wine had a deliberate spritz making it the perfect match with summer salads and seafood. A winner at the price. Even if you can’t pronounce the name, grape or area in which it is produced.
Following the successful tasting a couple of Saturdays ago with Howard from Chateau Capion, we have added a couple of new wines to the Capion range we hold at the shop:

2016 Coup de Coeur (£14) – the entry level red from Capion, we were impressed by the quality at this price point. It will go on the shelves in the under £15 section.

2016 Chateau Capion Blanc (£38) – the ‘first’ wine from the Chateau, this white adds to the red we have had for a while. As some of you bought it direct from Howard on the day of the tasting, we thought we’d better get a little stock in for the shop (Peter, Roger…)

2016 Le Songe d’Eocene rouge (£80) – the top small batch wine from Capion, from low yielding vines. 70% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre. Oak aged for 18 months. Capion say it is the perfect match for sirloin steak and sautéed mushrooms, marinated venison stew or duck with a pea puree. Sounds good to me.

The range from Chateau Capion we now have available at the shop
2005 Remoriquet Nuits Saint Georges 1er “Les Damodes” (£79) – many of you will recognise the name of this wine, it has been a best seller for us for some years. While looking around the market I stumbled across a perfect case of 2005. The quality and characteristics of this wine when young has resulted in me putting a number of bottles away in the cellar for future drinking. Having found this case of 2005 I saw it as the perfect opportunity to see how the wine turns out with a few years of age on it from a great vintage. For those who have bought Damodes 2015 and 2016, I suggest you do the same – just 6 bottles are going in the shop. The rest are going home.
2000 Duhart Milon (£120) – from the Lafite side of the Rothschild family, Duhart Milon is such a reliable, well made Pauillac which outperforms in the best years when compared to the prices of Lafite itself and the official second wine of Lafite, “Carruades”. Duhart Milon 1996 is one of the wines that got me into wine 20 years ago. Just one 6-pack of the 2000 vintage has arrived in the cellar.
2004 La Rioja Alta ‘890’ (£120) – the undisputed king of traditionally crafted Riojas, the 890 is the flagship wine from this quality producer. We have a few bottles of the 2001 ‘890’ left so it is nice to add a few bottles of 2004 to the collection.
I’ve also popped the lids off the following cases which are now in the cellar available to buy by the bottle:

1996 Clos du Marquis (£85) – from the team that makes Leoville Las Cases, it is often wrongly considered the second wine of Las Cases, but the grapes come from a separate plot to the Grand Vin. Great (and rare) to see a case of 1996 available. For those who bought all of the Sociando Mallet and Cantemerle from the same vintage, tuck in (Jim, Tim, Tom).

2009 Potensac (£42) – again from the Las Cases team, exceptionally well-made Medoc wine at a sensible price. The 2009 is drinking now and will keep.

2018 Remoriquet Nuits Saint Georges “Les Damodes” (£59.50) and “Les Saint Georges” (£95) – see my notes about 2005 Damodes above. Damodes and Les Saint Georges are the two top vineyards of NSG and we are lucky to have a few bottles from each in the excellent 2018 vintage from Remoriquet.

2018 Moingeon Corton Charlemagne (£120) – we will soon introduce you to the wines of Remoriquet, one of the few undiscovered high-quality white Burgundy producers. Based in St Aubin (just west of Chassagne), Moingeon has holdings across the Cote de Beaune. I have pulled this Corton Charlemagne out of the store to fill the hole left by the disappearance of Malandes Chablis Les Clos. This is Grand Cru through and through.

And finally…
We have restocked on a little Ruinart Blanc de Blancs (£67). We were delighted to find the new shipment has come in the ‘second skin’ – an eco-friendly alternative to traditional cardboard box packaging. It looks really neat and is entirely recyclable after use. But I would keep it and reuse it if ever you buy a bottle without the ‘skin’.

Car’s the Star

Serious supercar territory this week. A Ferrari 812 Superfast. This is grand touring taken to the next level. With an extraordinary engine shoe-horned under the bonnet, this car has a reasonably sized boot making it perfect for long weekends away, on the Cote d’Azure I assume.
Thanks Henry for sharing another one of your beauties with us. Our pleasure entirely. Happy motoring.
I think that just about does it for tonight’s edition of Sheldon’s Times. I think the concept of a heatwave has now passed, probably a good thing, so I think we are in for more of the same – sunshine and clouds with the occasional shower. A proper British summer then.
Amanda, Trish and I will be in the shop tomorrow to assist you with your wine-related needs. No distractions this week so you will have our full and undivided attention. As always, we look forward to seeing you.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your Chester-loving, 812-Superfast-appreciative, Damodes-drinking wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

Sunflowers, DotW, Courgettes, Summer Quiz, Goodbyes and Car’s the Star

The day of reckoning is almost upon us. Get your tape measures out and send in your scores for the tallest sunflower competition. Amanda has done her worst and put together a booze-with-Olympics-theme fun quiz together for you, just for fun of course. We have DotW, Car’s the Star, some retirees, courgettes and a new guest beer. What better way could you start the weekend?!

Sunflower Check-In

It is some time since we issued sunflower seeds for this years Tallest Sunflower Competition. It hasn’t exactly been a normal growing season but I think it is time we had a proper check in. If you have been nurturing your plant from its lovely little seeding through childhood, adolesence into full adulthood, now is the time to reveal your offspring.

Our ‘rogue’ sunflower growing in the tubs outside the shop

Please send in your pictures, with (honest) measurements, we’ll take a look and see if we have a winner. As it happens Trish has one last plant that has yet to form a flowerhead, it may be a late entry. Naturally, the best performers will be published and there may be a small prize for the winner.

Dog of the Week

This weeks DotW is a little cheat really, because he hasn’t been to the shop (yet). On a recent whistle-stop trip to Cornwall, Trish and I encountered Drake, a rather handsome Rhodesian Ridgeback. Drake lives in a castle, lucky for him. Despite being resident with a number of chickens, he is cool and calm, mostly spending his time snoozing on the lawn or on the drive.
A huge thank you to Frieda, Javvy and all of the team at Trematon Castle ( for looking after us on what turned out to be a bonkers 24 hour visit. And of course to my amazing friends at Moet Hennessy for a(nother) trip of a lifetime. Everything about it was magical, especially the Krug Collection 1982 en magnum. Yum.

Courgette Calls

I am sure many readers will be enjoying (suffering?) a glut of courgettes at this time of year. We made the tactical error of planting 5 seedlings, all of which have grown into monsters. And the big question is what to do with them all? I like them grilled with a slight char. Carol’s daughter made us a courgette cake, most of which we have demolished today. It was super – thank you Louise! One thing I didn’t know about was Courgette Calls. It turns out that if you hold an oversized courgette to your ear, think of a person you would like to speak to and that person happens to be in the garden holding a similarly oversized courgette next to their ear while thinking of calling you, a connection is made! Here’s Charlie and I having a conversation not more than a week ago.
Give it a try. Of course you might need to make a normal phone call to set it all up, which sort of defeats the object of the Courgette Call, but hey, that’s not the point, right?!

Summer Quiz (with an Olympic theme)

We thought it was time to give you another quiz, just for fun. This one has an Olympic theme – much more wholesome than football drinking games! Answers will be available next week, although based on previous experience some of you won’t be able to wait that long.

Question 1: Which country / principality competing in the Tokyo Olympics has the highest wine consumption per head, and fewest members of athletes competing?

Question 2: Which Country from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics overtook the USA in 2014 as the world’s largest consumers of red wine – by volume?

Question 3: In Australia there are 65 separate wine regions with more than 100 different grape varieties grown. 2 varieties are grown in every region. Which 2 are they?
a. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay?
b. Merlot and Chardonnay?
c. Shiraz and Chardonnay ?

Question 4: Which wine is the top seller in the USA?
a. Chardonnay
b. White Zinfandel
c. Merlot

Question 5: Which Country from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics claims to have the World’s oldest wine growing region?

Question 6: The Tokyo wine bars are famed for their love of Orange wine. What is Orange wine?
a. wine made from oranges
b. white wine fermented with the skins of white grapes
c. A pale rosé wine

Question 7: Japan does produce some grape wines but the damp climate and fertile soil make it more suitable to produce Saké wine. What is Saké made from?

Question 8: Great Britain has been producing wines since the Roman times. How many vineyards are there thought to be currently in Britain?
a. 47
b. 303
c. 703

Question 9: Which wine producing Country’s citizens from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics drinks almost 5 times as much beer per head than it does wine?

Question 10: Which Hollywood star this week picked up 2 Gold Medals at the prestigious New York International Wine Competition for their latest wines? (Ed: the medals mention in this question is apparently the tentative Olympic connection here)

No New Ins, so it’s time to say Goodbye…

We usually have a New Ins section at this point in Sheldon’s Times. If you didn’t know better you’d think I continually added wines to the collection without retiring anything. Tonight we are going to put the record straight, meaning it is time to say goodbye to the following wines from the collection. All bar one have become difficult to get or have had price rises that make them unattractive to buy and present to you.

1989 & 2000 Cantemerle double mags (sad…)
1996 Chateau Batailley
1996 Cantemerle (I keep looking!)
2005 Gruaud Larose magnums
2009 Chateau de Fonbel
2009 Capbern Gasqueton
2009 Chateau Phelan Segur
2012 Chateau Musar (too expensive compared to older vintages)
2013 Chateau Musar (ditto)
2015 Reserve de la Comtesse (I may get some more if I can find it)
2018 Malandes Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru (yep, all gone, only magnums of 2019 and probably no 2020 and 2021 because of the awful frosts so it might be a while before we see this wine back in bottle, what a shame)

There are more, but that will do for now. Dear wines, you have served us well, we thank you.

This week’s Guest Beer: Clavell & Hind’s Recantation of an Ill Led Life

This week’s guest beer comes from a microbrewery based in Birdlip, just outside Gloucester. The brewery has taken it’s name from two famous highwaymen who used to travel the coaching routes of the Cotswolds, stopping at inns and taverns to quench their thirst and plot their next escapade. John Clavell is known for a poem published in 1628, the name of which adorns this new IPA. The poem recalls the misadventures of his early years, then acknowledges the errors of his ways in later life. Here’s the key snippet:
“Now you corrupt rebels, who call yourselves knights of the road, that take pride & make your profession by this wicked course.
My desire was drawn at first to this ill course, I hugged it in my dreams, and in my waking fits. I admired none but these knights of the road.
But now I know how far I was amiss …
as I recant my ill led life”
This particular brew is an unfined & unfiltered hazy IPA. The C&H team describe it as bursting with flavour from Ella & Olicana hops for a powerful mango, passionfruit and peach aroma. £3.50 per 440ml tin. As usual, Amanda and I will be drinking the first can as tonight’s email hits your virtual doormats…..

Car’s the Star

Last week we had a delightful Mk2 Jag from the late 50’s or 60’s. Following hot on it’s heels is this smashing Mk1. The Mark 1 was built between 1955 and 1959, immediately prior to the Mark 2. This particular Mk1 example has a rare factory fitted sunroof – a serious luxury item in the 50’s.
Many thanks to Andrew for dropping by (and being a regular visitor). Always a pleasure to see such super cars here at the shop.
That’s it for tonight’s Sheldon’s Times. I’ve just looked at the weather forecast for tomorrow – good news, there is a zero percent chance of snow. As for all of the other types of weather, who knows? Amanda, Trish and I will be here to look after you tomorrow so pop in and buy something to lift your August spirits.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish & Carol

Your sunflower-growing, Drake-loving, quiz-challenging wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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