Wine

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It’s not complicated.  Wine is one of life’s great pleasures!

You can choose to delve deeply into the world of wine if you want to – and it’s fascinating.  But the good news is you don’t have to, you can just grab a bottle from our shelves and go.

Is it really that simple?  Yes!  For two reasons. 

Firstly, we have a great selection of high-quality wines from all the world’s main wine-producing areas (and quite a few of its small, obscure areas.)  These wines come in every style, and at prices to suit every budget – from a modest mid-week bottle to a high-end treat for a gift or a special occasion. 

Secondly, we have a long-standing passion for wine, and have spent years learning about the people who make it, the places it comes from, the flavours and aromas that make it so inviting.  We’re a long way from any vineyards, but take every opportunity we can to visit wine producing countries.  Recent years have seen trips to New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Portugal, north and central Italy, and most of the main French areas.  It’s a tough job!  But it means we can select wines, and talk about them, with real first-hand knowledge.

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We also organise the UK’s only week-long wine festival, where international wine makers come to Orkney to talk about their vines, their wines and their own stories.  It’s very educational…and great fun.  You can read all about it on the Orkney Wine Festival page.

We usually have about 400 wines on our shelves at any one time.  These a mixture of old favourites that we’ve been selling for ten years or more, and exciting new bottles we’re trying out for the first time: if you like them, they’ll stay, if you don’t. we’ll try something else!  In addition, in our stores we have another 200 or so wines that we supply to leading local restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels.  (We’re previous winners of the Restaurant magazine’s ‘UK Restaurant Wine Supplier of the Year’ award.)

With such large numbers of wines, and especially with the ever-changing selection, you’ll understand if we don’t list all our lines here.  Instead, here’s a snapshot of some of our current favourites:

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Australia

Oz is famous for its big reds like d’Arenberg’s Dead Arm Shiraz and Charles Melton’s Nine Popes.  Its Chardonnays – like those from Cullen and Plantagenet – were for years its most renowned whites.  But these days Australia really excels at everything, from pink, frothy, irresistible Moscato by Innocent Bystander in Yarra Valley, to limey bone-dry Riesling from Grosset, to amazing value Malbec from Soldier’s Block.


Chile & Argentina

Geography links these two vast countries, but so does their shared ability to provide top quality wines at very decent prices.  Argentina is best known for its Malbecs, and we always have two or three on our shelves – there’s nothing better with a good piece of Orkney beef.  But its whites are good too: We particularly recommend Bodega Colomé’s Torrontes, a beautiful aromatic wine that Sauvignon Blanc fans will love.  Chile seems to excel in every style, from white to rosé to red, and even sweet and sparkling.  Amongst our favourite producers are Emiliana, a large and varied organic winery, and Montes.


France

It’s hard to know where to start with France, so varied and delicious are its wines.  Alsace, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, the Languedoc, the Rhone both North and South…all these great areas are represented on our shelves.  And every grape from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Gris to Riesling to Chardonnay, and from Syrah to Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon to Grenache to a whole host of obscure varieties.  Prices range from £6.99 to £99.99.  Styles go from exuberant and fruity to zingy and refreshing to oaky and impressive.  Personal favourites include our Bourgeuil from Fleury Pere et Fils, a lovely Cabernet Franc imported exclusively by us into the UK.  And we have to mention Vallet Frères, based in Gevrey-Chambertin since 1864, but producing wines from small parcels of vines throughout Burgundy.  In 2015 and again in 2016 we imported barrels of their fine Pinot Noir and bottled them ourselves, under the careful oversight of Bernard and Pierre Vallet, here in the shop!


Italy

Of course we stock Barolo, Amarone and leading estates from Chianti such as Fontodi and Selvapiana.  But Italy also provides exciting wines from grapes of great obscurity and areas unknown to all but the real wine fanatic (that’s us…)  How about Grillo from Donnafugata in Sicily?  Or Negroamaro from A Mano in Puglia?  Or Aglianico from Basilicata, or Arvino from Calabria, or Garganega from Veneto.  And of course there is Prosecco at various price points… but also luxurious Franciacorta from Ferghettina and other fizzes both pink and red.

 


New Zealand

In 2017 we won an award for being the best retailer of New Zealand Pinot Noir in the UK.  The prize was a three-week trip around all the country’s premium wine-producing areas, which gives us real, first-hand insight into the leading producers and styles of this wonderful country. 

Like everyone else we love Sauvignon Blanc, and we have some great examples from relatively cheap (Crowded House) to premium (Cloudy Bay.)  We also stock interesting, complex, oaked Sauv Blancs from the likes of Greywacke and Seresin.  But it’s not all Sauvignon Blanc!  Chardonnay is a great Kiwi grape too, and we have fine examples from Sileni in Hawkes Bay, Ata Rangi in Martinborough, and Greywacke (again) in Marlborough. 

Pinot Gris is a real star too: try a lovely example by Jealous Sisters, run by Scottish winemaker Christine Kernohan.  Andrew Hedley of Framingham makes some of the best Rieslings in the world.  As for reds, Central Otago is the place to go for fantastic Pinot Noirs from the likes of Akarua and Super Nanny.  Marlborough is good for generally lighter styles of Pinot – for example Stop Banks’ well-priced bottle.  And Hawkes Bay is generally best for bigger reds made with Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon: check out Trinity Hills and Sileni for starters.

 


Portugal and Spain 

A recent trip to Portugal (our third in 20 years) convinced us that the country is producing better wine in a wider range of styles than ever before. 

Reds from the Douro Valley are big and spicy, and any lover of Australian Shiraz should give Casa Ferreirinha’s Vinha Grande a go.  A little south, the Dão region offers great variety – earning itself the nickname ‘Portugal’s Burgundy.’  Quinta dos Carvalhais is our favourite producer here.  We also have fascinating wines from Vinho Verde, Lisboa, and way down south in Alentejo: their grapes, and so their flavours, are like nothing else in the world of wine. 

We visited Spain in both 2016 and 2017, looking for great new wines… and we found them. So many!  If you like Rioja (and who doesn’t) then you’ll love our ranges from Ontañon and El Coto (don’t forget their white and rosé wines too.)  But if you like Rioja, you really should try the fantastic wines from nearby regions that – because they’re less well known – offer fantastic quality at reasonable prices.  Try, for instance, Finca la Museum from Cigales, or Venta la Ossa from Tierra de Castilla. 

As for whites, our top tip is the fantastic seafood wines of Galicia in the cool, north-western corner, not just the rightly famous Albariño, but the equally zesty and fish-friendly Godello, both from Martin Codax.  Did we mention sherry?  No, but we should: we stock a dozen or so in every style from bone-dry Fino to treacle-sweet PX.  Our favourite producer is made by at Fernando di Castilla by Jan Pettersen, our first ever wine festival guest, way back in 2007.

There’s more…

 

Riesling from Germany, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Viognier from California, Pinot Blanc (and excellent sparkling wine) from England, Retsina from Greece.  Hungary!  Lebanon!  Croatia!  And South Africa!  Congratulations if you’ve read this far, because we’re going to reward your dedication by letting you into a trade secret: South Africa is now producing the most fantastic wines at the most amazingly low prices…look out for Silver Myn, Excelsior, Cape Heights, and False Bay.  That’s our top tip for 2018. 

Check out our blog for even more up to date tastings and enthusiasms.

Cheers!