The high street isn’t what it once was, with the internet and out-of-town shopping centres changing the way we shop. Wine is a victim of this as much as any other product, with many traditional high street wine merchants going the same way as independent butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
I’ve read reports that anything from a third to 90 per cent of of all wine bottles are bought from UK supermarkets.
However, just as there would appear to be a resurgence of interest in locally-sourced food and artisan producers, there is also a growing band of independent wine merchants who are looking to offer something a little different.
I went to a tasting last week of one such independent wine merchant, and it would be fair to say it was packed with sommeliers and the wine press all looking for wine from smaller producers, wine with a story to tell.
SWIG (swig.co.uk) describes itself as artisan wines from around the world and there was certainly no shortage of funky labels and hipster winemakers on show. Here are a few that are well worth checking out.
English fizz is certainly making all the headlines right now and one of the most talked about producers currently is Wiston Estate, on the South Downs, in West Sussex.
I tasted their entire range and would happily recommend all of them but if I had to pick just one it would be Wiston Estate Blanc de Blancs NV (SWIG £26.95).
It has a fabulous bouquet with green apple and a touch of brioche, followed by a crisp citrus palate with some minerality in the background before a gorgeous, lively finish.
Just needs a plate of oysters to accompany it.
Adi Badenhorst is one of the Cape’s larger than life personalities.His Swartland Cellar would feature in my top 10 wine estate visits of all time. It involved tasting his range of wines while Bob Dylan was playing on the winery’s turntable. Unforgettable.
AA Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2017, Swartland (SWIG £13.50) has become a go-to wine in my house. It’s a great introduction to this iconic producer, and Cape chenin blanc.
The nose offers baked apple, citrus, pineapple and a touch of vanilla, followed by a fruit-laden palate with enough juicy acidity to frame it all. Serve this with a simple roast chicken or mango and smoked chicken salad.
Savage Follow the Line 2017, Western Cape (SWIG price tba) is not available just yet but when it arrives shortly grab some, it’s becoming something of a cult wine.
Made by Duncan Savage, this is a blend of cinsault and syrah and has one of my favourite labels of all time. It’s very aromatic with crushed cranberries, raspberries and more than a hint of Turkish Delight followed by more crunchy red fruit and fresh acidity on the palate.
What I love about all of Duncan’s wine is their freshness and purity of fruit, and this is simply delicious.