What, no Six Nations this weekend?

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Tidied up all the rose petals?  Paid off the a cappella group and the mariachi band and the Whitney Houston impersonator?  Washed up the champagne flutes and lobster picks and wondered to yourself –well, how did we get here already?  I know we have…

Two sessions into the 6 Nations, Valentine’s Day behind us, half term starting today, the mercury hitting 15 Celsius yesterday afternoon, daffodils in the shops, sunset after 5pm – all these factors can only, surely, mean one thing – that spring is well and truly on its way!  I’ve even tasted a variety of rosés this week and last, with a view to what to have on our shelves this summer, whilst Wayne has been ironing his shorts and talking about cycling.

It really does seem that not a huge amount has happened in the world this week.  Brexit rumbles on but still flatters to deceive; as discussed, Valentine’s day passed in a flash of consumerism and for us, cheese; rugby continues to surprise and delight us; our Poundland George Best, Wayne Rooney, gets drunk and embarrasses his wife and family, quality bloke; in St Lucia, we win the last (irrelevant) Test match before an Ashes Summer, having lost, comprehensively, the previous two and yet somehow this is being lauded as a huge boost – did none of the journalists watch in Barbados or Antigua?

So, with little to light our candle on the news front, let’s talk about Gin shall we?  We have all watched in awe as the juniper infused potion, which was once firmly confined to the drinks globe of retired Rear-Admiral’s in Plymouth, has become the darling of the cocktail classes.  According to figures released by HMRC this week, the value of gin exports has more than doubled in value since 2010 and overall sales of gin, here and abroad, have now topped £2.5 billion.  Clearly it’s not just Hepple making all this money, or even Beefeater, it’s the whole shooting match from the big boys at Diageo down to the wee fella on Garratt Lane.

For those of you familiar with Garratt Lane, particularly the stretch near the station, the name Ben’s Canteen will no doubt be familiar.  For years this corner site was home to Willie Gunn’s Wine Bar, a popular haunt for long lunches and lost weekends.  We used to sell an indecent amount of Plymouth Gin to this bar but it closed its doors in 2014 and was soon taken over by Ben’s Canteen, a business already established up in Clapham Junction looking to spread its wings. 

Anyway, that’s enough history, what is important for now is that these forward looking chaps have started to make their own gin, on the bar, in the bar.  It’s a proper micro-distillery, by all accounts they produce about 40 bottles per batch, which we imagine just about covers their own requirements but when they have some spare they sell it to local people like us.

Thus Bloody Ben’s Signature Gin – £38 – or Earlsfield Gin as we keep finding ourselves calling it, is the newest kid on our block and is proving to be a bit of a hit.  I’m going to shamelessly lift the marketing blurb they gave me now:

The micro copper Gin Still in Earlsfield makes 30-40 bottles per batch. It’s a London Dry Gin with Wandsworth Honey and orange notes.

This gives it a Spanish theme. The local honey represents London living and the Sweet Orange Peel represents escapism, in our case time in Mallorca where the firm was inspired.

As well as G&Ts, the Orange peel makes it ideal for Negronis.


1.          Cloves

2.         Angelica Root

3.         Cardamom Seeds

4.         Liquorice

5.         Cassia

6.         Lemongrass

7.         Sweet Orange Peel

8.         Coriander Seeds

9.         Juniper Berry

10.       Honeysuckle

Ok, agreed, it’s a puff piece.  Our tasting note described it as a deliciously juniper forward drop with fabulous orange citrus and honeyed notes.  Significantly, it doesn’t taste like any of the other Gins on the shelf so it can carve its own niche.

We have a little open to sample and we have some stock so, if you’re of a mind, come and have a taste.

Wine open this weekend

As ever we realise that you don’t all want to taste gin so we’ll get some wine open too.

For the white lovers we’ll open Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier 2018 – £9.99.  This Languedoc estate belonging to the Fayet family based in the village of Moussan close to Narbonne.  The property has a small brook running around the outskirts which provides natural irrigation to give much needed water.  This gives the wines their freshness and appeal; keeping the vines cool in a very hot climate.  A flirty Viognier: shimmering hay and peaches with a lush viscous texture give way to a sensual palate of roses, pineapples and mangoes.  Delicious with Thai or fusion food, or some big, juicy langoustines.

And for the red heads we will taste Chateau Thieuley 2014 – £16.99.  Predominantly Merlot but with a healthy dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon, this Bordeaux estate has been family run since the 1950’s, now under the guidance of two sisters, Marie and Sylvie.  Marie is in charge of winemaking and Sylvie concentrates on the commercial side sensibly keeping out of each other’s way!  The wine has a lovely red plum character, a touch of chocolate and spice, medium to full-bodied with a long juicy finish.  Spot on with a Sunday roast or a steak even.

So, swing by and have a taste tonight or tomorrow and perhaps even see how the Cambria is getting along in the eto?

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