Thursday, 10 December 2009

A hard day on the road, collecting my new wines - and a wonderful way to wind down, with a bottle of stunning Provençal wine

It has been a tough week - in fact, it's been a tough few weeks, with many nights spent working until 2, 3, even 4 o'clock in the morning. And the lack of sleep is really beginning to wear me down - I am desperately tired and really can't wait for the weekend. The work that goes into the selecting, purchasing and shipping of wines is not to be underestimated. But the work involved in preparing tasting notes, adding website entries, writing lists, taking photos and so on is much, much harder and much more time-consuming. If I didn't have a day job to contend with, it might all seem just a little bit easier. But I do - the mortgage needs to be paid and hungry mouths need to be fed. So until the wine business can begin to pay me a half-decent salary and support a family, the day job is a necessary evil.

Days like today, though, are hardest of all. I had 2 pallets of wine delivered yesterday, to the bonded warehouse I use in Rotherham. One pallet from Languedoc, one from Roussillon - over 1200 bottles of wine, from no less than 7 different growers. Rotherham is 40 miles away from Nottingham, and the trip up the M1 is no fun, especially since roadworks mean a 50mph speed limit for about half of the way. So I try and avoid going too often - only as and when my "local" stocks of certain wines need replenishing - or when I have had lots of new wines delivered. The lack of a van means that my trusty Ford Mondeo has to do a lot of work carrying wines - and with a bit of imagination, it is possible to carry 300 or even 400 bottles of wine in a single journey. But today, I was removing no less than 650 bottles from bond - some of them new, some existing stock - so it meant I had to endure the return journey twice. To cut a long story short, I started at around 12.30 pm and finished my second return journey at around 5.15 pm. Then I had the not inconsiderable task of lugging all of those 650 bottles from the loading bay into my store room. By closing time (7 pm) I still hadn't finished - so its back to it tomorrow afternoon.

I did, howver, have the great pleasure (which never fails to excite me) of taking home some wines to taste. One of the "golden rules" of being a wine merchant is not to buy a wine you haven't yet tasted. But if I were to adhere to that, I'd never get much new stuff listed, since I don't get to France anywhere near as often as I would like, and I can't always ask for my growers to keep sending me samples - it is just too expensive. But another thing I have learned in my 6 years in the wine business is to trust my growers' ability to keep making lovely wines, year-in, year-out - and they rarely let me down.

So tonight, I have had the great pleasure of tasting and writing a note on a bottle (a 50cl sample bottle, actually) of Chateau d'Estoublon 2006 Les Baux de Provence. And it is quite simply stunning - and just what I needed after a long, hard day on the road. If you want to read my tasting note, then you'll have to have a look at my website (using the above link). And if you want to buy some, then you'd better snap it up soon, because - as with many of my wines-  I import it only in relatively small quantities. It's not that I won't be able to get any more (this is the current release) but it certainly won't be for a few months yet.

So now it is back to the grind - a quick meal and then back to preparing a mail shot to go out to my customers and subscribers tomorrow, with details of all those lovely new wines!

More tasting notes to follow on the blog (and my website) over the next few days.

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