Good wine is like Bruce Springsteen, there is plenty of stuff out there documenting what a great performer he is, how poetic he is, and how he tugs at your emotional harp, but you still need a reason to investigate and find out if it works for you. This happened to me with Blank Bottle Wines. They have great reviews, they look interesting, but so do many other wines we already have, so why would we pursue them? Well we did and now they have made two wines just for us, quite a journey.
Our good friend Mr Q introduced us to the range of wines, you wouldn't know him, he mainly disguises himself with a thick Scottish accent and an even thicker beard. But he has a trusted pallet, well we trust him anyway, I say we, I do. Quite awhile ago, he said we must check out these South African wines. I managed to avoid about 5 tastings, but then he caught me, he arrived with winemaker Pieter H. Walser and announced he was going to the Ginger Dog with about 20 open bottles, would I join them, he had hold of my achilles heel.
Pieter seems like a charming chap on all fronts, he might not be, but I found him so, he looked like he drifted into the tasting on a long board. And he looked like he could actually ride it, unlike the dads around town hanging onto skateboarding memories, with perhaps not the technique to put it off. We sat in my favoured tasting corner of the Dog and tasted a bunch of crazy wines, I say crazy, because they are. If I say our first favourite, the wine we led with on our shelves was a Fernao Pires (Portuguese grape) in a heavy weight burgundy style bottle, with AC/DC gothic text on it, from South Africa, you see what we are dealing with.
When you're a weathered wine unit like myself it's nice to have taste surprises, really nice actually. On Pieter's web site he states "Clothes maketh not the man; judge my wines on what's in the bottle, not the varietal on the label.
Many of the wines are in the wrong/different bottles, for example a Syrah might be in a German Riesling style bottle, something else might be in a tubby port bottle. Highlighting, it's all about tasting the wine, and buy what you enjoy. Being honest, this is part ball ache but part exciting, and I think the exciting part is the greater.
We are used to hand selling many of our wines, so this is not a new challenge. Each of the team have different favourite Blank Bottle wines, which is great. Many of the wines have already found fans in the shops, mainly through the hard work of Cassie, who has latched onto them. I love the diversity, the quality, and I like the fact that we get one go at some of them then once they are gone, they are no more, and we move onto another delight.
So this brings us to our current project. We recently tasted a table full of Blank Bottle Wines, looking for some new retail options, and we were looking to have bottled unique wines just for us. We found two on this occasion, and we are extremely excited.
It's also quite nerve wracking, once we commit, we commit, and the process begins, which will result in a chunk of wine arriving from South Africa. We might have made a mistake, we might have got the presentation wrong - but also we might not get out of bed and attack the day because it appears too challenging, we think it's worth having a stab.
Our wines available for pre-order
Pieter's previous collaborations in the UK have previously included the Tate and the Ledbury, and now us! It was up to the winemaker how he decided to label the wines, which is fine by us.