English Wine Times… The Catch-up Issue

May 28th. A date that has seen a host of historical milestones: 1588: The Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon. 1968: Kylie Minogue is born. 1999: da Vinci’s The Last Supper is put back on display.

2011. It was a Saturday. The sun was shining (mostly). Manchester & Barcelona were kicking a football about some grass in Wembley. It was the dawn of English Wine Week – & something more. Little did London know (apart from those in the know of course), but its very first exclusively English Wine shop was opening its doors*.

Enter, The Wine Pantry.

The heavens shining/smiling down on Borough at the news of London's first - & only! - exclusively English wine shop

Fast-forward 133 calendar crosses & we realise that we have been so caught up in the whirlwind of being London’s only exclusively English Wine shop (it is starting to sink in!) our blog has not just been neglected, rather stranded high and dry. So sorry. Corners have been sat in, lines have been written & bottom lips have wobbled in contrition. What follows is a catch-up on the Wine Pantry’s life up ‘til now. Exciting stuff hey? Ready kids? Here we go…

Since we last wrote (Bastille Day), we have had some French culinary royalty cross the entrance/exit sign into the realms of our little shop. Yes. You guessed it: at the conclusion of our second month, M. Raymond Blanc just happened to swing buy & enjoy some English vinis vinifera. Both heart-stopping & thrilling – especially when he said ‘bonne!’

From there we have seen a broken shutter (rather crucial when it is all that separates you & your wines from Borough High St), lots & lots of rain, a rather perverse attachment to DIY (it never ends), two small business awards followed by a ceremony, vineyard research, vineyard harvesting, Riedel presentations on the perfect glass for English Sparkling (followed by trips back up to London in the swishest of Audis). Our first charity tasting held at Roast. Consulting some big names in London (Quo Vadis, Vinoteca, Tate Modern) on their English wine lists for British Food fortnight. Sending off our first case to Paris for a wine club! Changing the calendar so that every last Friday becomes Magnum day (favourite initiative by far – especially when it involves the Ridgeview Blanc de Blanc 2000. Also known as the 2011 UKVA Gore Brown Trophy winner for Best Wine. I would tell you how it is, but the wee thimbleful I had was so transcendental that when I reflect on it I get lost in the moment & kind of trail… See you on the last Friday then, hey?)

Finally, one of the loveliest things we have found so far is the support we have received, from all quarters in these early days. It has s been incredibly the way such a small amount of square-footage, a wine glass chandelier, and very pretty Dutch enomatic machine filled with English wine can generate such a buzz. So thank-you all so much, to those new, firm friends; the fleeting faces that make us laugh and leave with a smile; and those yet to come.

NEXT UP IN THE WP CHRONICLES: Our First Charity Do; Award Success; Vineyard Adventures; Reidel Goes English; WP Goes a’Harvestin’; & – of course – an introduction to each of our new wines! …Your next two weeks of wholesome, edifying reading sorted then, wot?

*Metaphor. There weren’t any. There still aren’t. Which wasn’t ideal as June was sadly more autumnal than glorious summer. Both of us spent a good portion of it in jumpers and with colds and seriously debating whether it was defeatist or not to start serving mulled wine. We decided against. ‘When the weather gets tough, the tough – drink English Wine’ became little dictum, because if the England will refuse to give us a summer, you have to take it. & what better medium to go through than English wine.

Sad Summer

Sad Summer no more - Captain Magnum saves the day. Just look at those smiles!

Words: Dominique Hopgood