It seems like I only occasionally write about wine shops these days but there is one, well actually four branches to be accurate, which up until now has always been under the radar of a lot of Londoners, their branches being way out west, so to speak, in Kew, Chiswick, Richmond Hill and Teddington. This is, of course, The Good Wine Shop.
I discovered about a week ago that The Good Wine Shop had won Runner-Up for “Best London Multi-Store” in the Decanter Retailer Awards 2022. But more importantly for readers of this blog, they also won the award for Best Organic and Biodynamic Retailer.
TGWS has had a focus on biodynamic wines ever since Mark Wrigglesworth opened their first store in 2004, and over the years they began to import an increasing number of wines themselves. They are strong in a number of areas – friends who are passionate about Italian wines have pointed me in the right direction on numerous occasions. However, it is my particular interest in Grower Champagne that has led me to shop here most often. It would be hard to find a better range of these wines in many other independent London wine shops.
I remember that they were in early with Ruppert-Leroy, whose wines are just beginning to be recognised for their dynamic quality in the UK. Varnier-Fannière, Marie-Courtin, Savart, Delouvin (they have their Meunier from a perpetual reserve, for example), Les Frères Mignon, Benoit Lahaye, Jacques (Emmanuel) Lassaigne, Bérêche, Dhondt Grellet, Laherte, Collard-Picard, Agrapart…and this is far from all of them. If you are feeling like a change and something English, they have Black Chalk, Jacob Leadley’s wonderful wine from Hampshire, about which I’ve written extensively.
From England you’ll also find more Tillingham than most places, along with bottles from Will Davenport and Westwell, to mention my favourites. Whilst we are in England, do not forget to take a look at the range of sake they have from Peckham’s own Kanpai Sake Brewery, making award winning sake of various kinds in London (see Anthony Rose’s excellent Sake and the Wines of Japan, Infinite Ideas 2018, pp 242-3 for more info). I understand that since I was last in some of the Kanpai range may be in short supply but I think most stores have some “Tsuki”. Well worth a look.
To reel off a few other recommendations, DVA Duby’s Impera (Moravia), Maison Blanche Mont-sur-Rolle (Vaud, Switzerland, an affordable, decent Chasselas), Blank Bottle (S. Africa), Ch Mercian Koshu Gris de Gris (Japan – I bought a bottle of this on my last but one visit) would all be a good start. Or you could try some Wiener Gemischter Satz from Vienna’s Nussberg from Zahel, and some unusual grape varieties – Sämling and Lemburger for the wine geeks out there, or a wine based largely on the Callet variety from Mallorca.
I mentioned Italy. There’s a very interesting range from Piemonte, Including Olim Bauda Nizza Riserva (posh Barbera) and Davide Carlone’s interesting Boca DOC, a Nebbiolo/Vespolina blend from 2013. If you want something more classic, perhaps an Ettore Germano Barolo Serralunga in magnum (£81). On the natural side there’s COS from Sicily, and also Terre Nere (Etna Rosso).
TGWS’s strap line is Good Wine, Real People, Great Stories. It’s the mantra followed by most wine loving consumers I associate with. They don’t want florid tasting notes and Parker Points. They want to know about who makes the wine, where, and how. The last part is important because if you are reading this you are very likely at the very least aware of the synthetic chemical inputs added to the majority of grapes and wine, and you will be equally aware of how modern agri-chemicals and heavy vineyard machines are helping to destroy the soils and eco-systems vines need. Any wine shops focusing on wines which minimise this damage are worth knowing about, and worth patronising.
Of course, I shall miss my visits in person to the Kew store, which I would always visit when I was dining at the now sadly closed Glasshouse Restaurant in Kew, where by this summer the cooking far exceeded its single Michelin Star. Now I’m living in a different country many hundreds of miles away I’m not sure how easily I will get there to browse, even when I get to London. They deliver for free on orders over £125, but in shops like these, with such an eclectic range on the shelves, you can’t beat a good browse. TGWS branches are a great place to do just that.