Life is definitely too short to miss trying this wine

Hello and welcome to the first of me wine blogs, tasting notes or drivel, whichever title you prefer.
The question I keep asking myself as I approach the 20th year of our Fine Wine business is how did a chap who thought peach Concorde was the height of middle class desire end up selling wine at up to £400 a bottle in a small town in West Cumbria? Tis a long story and over the next few blogs, Ill gradually introduce the history of our business in between offering you some personal suggestions to try at home.

Although I can remember having wine in the house as a youngster, it was mainly Sanatagen Tonic wine or Cyprus Sherry, both of which are quite disgusting so my first experience of a decent red wine was always going to be make or break. I remember it being a merlot from Chile and I remember thinking it was quite fantastic that you could get so many complex flavours out of a singe grape variety. Later that year, Dianne bought me Oz Clarkes wine guide for Christmas and the following year, we were listed in the next edition as specialist fine wine merchants! Over the nearly 20 years since, we've take the business and ourselves on a journey most people couldnt even dream of involving celebrities, submarines and Iceland! Yes, I did get that last sentence right and the strange thing is it all feels normal now.

Anyway, this is called Tasting Note No 1 so I guess we need something wet, alcoholic and preferably sealed with a cork. The latter is neither here nor there in terms of the quality of the wine anymore but I do like the whole ceremony around removing the cork, far more romantic than unscrewing a stelvin but then I am a tad old fashioned.

Im going to start the tasting notes with a long time personal favourite red wine called Method Ancienne Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from the Springfield Estate in South Africa. Ive tasted numerous wines from Springfield, none of which have ever let me down but up until this lovely creature came along they were all commercial mid week specials ie wines that were okay with fish and chips or a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

The Method Ancienne is in a different league. Planted on a rocky outcrop of land that was previously thought unusable for vines, the plants have had to work hard to present the fruit and what they create are tiny rich almost over ripe grapes that are densely packed with flavour. The Cabernet is aged for 2 years in French Oak  barrels and a further 3 in bottle before it leaves the vineyard and the patience shows on first taste. Bottled unfiltered, so it may throw a small sediment after standing for some time (the extra flavour benefits of unfiltered wines far outweigh the issues with sediment), the fruit is litterally bursting to get out when you free the cork. Warm almost sweet aromas of violets and pencil shavings lead into a sumptuous palate of almost syrupy blackcurrant fruits held together by lush soft tannins. The finish is long and I found the Method Ancienne at its best with a rich hard cheese or the full Sunday Roast although I have been quite decadent in the recent past and just enjoyed it for what it is, a superb and rightly described Fine Wine.

£29.99 per bottle in Richardsons, 26 Lowther Street, Whitehaven

For those of you new to our strange business, we're based in a tiny Georgian Shop on Lowther Street Whitehaven from where we hold stocks of all manner of old Port and Madeira as well as a wide range of fine wine including the classics from Bordeaux and Burgundy. We also roast our own coffee and as of late, we stock ranges of products from several Lakes suppliers such as Brysons Plum Bread, Bedrock Gin and Farrers Lakeland Blend Tea. We also major in hampers so if you need a special gift at any time of the year just give us a few hours notice and we will prepare a bespoke Hamper gift. In Dewcember please give at least a days notice.

Anyway ladies and Gents, more to follow next week and I'll put formal tasting sheets on our web for download from this coming weekend.

Bottoms up

Gerard Richardson MBE

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