Saturday, 22 May 2010


We recently announced our new 2hr delivery service. Our latest greener alternative may take a little longer! REDUCING

It's Started!

Well I guess I new this moment would come?

The trend for selling wine by varietals ie, putting the name of the grape on the label, soon killed off in the lower to middle price brackets regional identity in countries like Australia and Chile.

The reason for this is of course that the main flavour of the grape is more important than where the wine actually comes from. So the buying criteria seems to be. "I like Aussie Shiraz I like 3 for £10. Don't really care where in Australia it comes from. My geography of Australia is rubbish anyway" OK all well and good. At least there are three defining choices here. Country of origin, grape variety and price. What is happening now is that those three are being chopped down to just two.

The marketing of wines by varietal has become so popular and it seems effective that wine is now being marketed by the name of the grape alone. For instance in the very bottom categories of Rioja some producers are relegating the name of Rioja to almost the small print and emblazoning the label with the name of the grape variety which is 'Tempranillo' The name of Rioja used to be enough in itself but not anymore it seems?

A lot of these wines are also starting to taste very much the same from one country to the next.

We sell a lovely mid priced Viognier from Sicily. It is delightful but tasted blind one would be hard pushed to tell whether it was from Sicily, Italy,France or wherever?

Does this matter? Many would say not. But I believe it to be the slippery slope to the total homogenisation of wine and I say again. Drinking wine cannot be just a simple matter of how do you want to take your alcohol?

Saturday, 1 May 2010


*Customers spending over £30 in one transaction at Maison du Vin in Hawkhurst will receive a voucher for a free full-price cinema ticket at Kino Hawkhurst (worth £9.25) that may be redeemed when purchasing another full-price or concession cinema ticket for the same film screening. Promotion runs from 1st May - 30th June 2010 inclusive for purchases and voucher redemption. Voucher must be presented at time of payment or ticket collection if payment made by phone. May not be combined with any other Kino promotion. Subject to availability at time of booking.
No cash alternative. Non transferable.
Promotion may be withdrawn at any time.


When I joined the wine business way back in 1988 the French AOC or Appellation Controlee quality control system was the watch word for quality and integrity. In short it was the industry standard. Sadly now in 2010 in the lower to middle price brackets it is almost irrelevant.

For instance. As little as ten years ago it was very difficult to sell a Vin d'pays wine along side a AOC wine for the same or higher price. Now I can mix these two classifications on the racks side by side at the same price and nobody bats an eyelid. Unthinkable in 1988.

The AOC system once the envy of the world was set up in the 30's at a time when making wine was a bit of a free for all. It was common place to add ruff heavy wine from north Africa to say Chateauneuf du Pape to give it more body and it was not uncommon to add Chateauneuf to Claret to give that a bit of umph! Things were getting badly out of control and the French government decided they must act to safe guard the reputation of their most treasured 'liquid asset. So in short this a basic description

An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well. Restrictions other than geographical boundaries, such as what grapes may be grown, maximum grape yields, alcohol level, and other quality factors, may also apply before an appellation name may legally appear on a wine bottle label. The rules that govern appellations are dependent on the area of France in which the wine was produced.

In 1935, the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO), a branch of the French Ministry of Agriculture, was created to manage wine-processing in France. In the Rhone wine region Baron Pierre Le Roy Boiseaumarié, a lawyer and winegrower from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, obtained legal recognition of the Côtes du Rhône appellation of origin in 1937. The AOC seal, or Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, was created and mandated by French laws in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

The trouble is that AOC was really only set up for the French and nobody else! It is quite difficult to understand without doing you home work first. Of course if your buying from a good knowledgeable wine merchant this isn't really a problem. But in the supermarket or the local convenience store it is a huge problem!

The thing that has really done for AOC is the thing that has done for French wine in general and that is the huge rise in sales of 'new world wine' By putting the name of the grape variety on the front of the label they have completely cut through all the mystery that once surrounded French wine. the attitude now is "I like Merlot and I like £5 per bottle. I'll buy it"

But of course it has also done away with a lot of the romance, history and little quirks that make wine fun and interesting over and above getting pissed!

Look. If I buy a bottle of Sauvingnon blanc from Chile I know that it is going to taste like a Sav Blanc from Chile. However if I buy a bottle of Sancerre, made from Sav blanc I know that it is going to taste different from a bottle of Pouilly Fume also made from Sav blanc and I might prefer my Sav blanc slightly more rounded in flavour with a little less acidity and Pouilly Fume gives me that! Get the idea?

If you know enough you can even differentiate between two differant vineyards in the same area growing the same grapes! That means in the middle to upper price brackets in the world of fine wine the AOC system still plays a crucial role.

But towards the bottom end I guess the only thing that matters is. Is is under £4? and is it at least 14% Alc!