BLANK bottle – Good Wine, Real People, Great Stories

10 December 2018 by Richard

Pieter Walser is the brains behind the BLANK bottle concept. He reminds me of the most popular boy at school who effortlessly excels at everything he does. He shines as a cult winemaker, an artist, a marketer, a surfer, an actor, a negociant, a designer, an entrepreneur, a family man, a visionary, a raconteur, a party animal, a leader, a rebel, a genius, a magician… you get my drift. Whilst Pieter comfortably wears all these hats with great aplomb, he says he prefers not to wear a hat at all, not knowing how to label himself. Speaking of labels, it is really hard not judge his wines by their inimitable, ingenious labels, especially as Pieter draws every one himself and they all have an engaging and absorbing story.

New Wines

Some of the newly landed, limited edition wines – from left-to-right Epileptic Inspiration, Jaa-Bru & PhD.

Pieter’s very first, virtually self-taught effort at making wine was in his last year at Uni using a friend’s garage. Clearly he had a golden touch as he quickly sold on all he made, using his tenacity and radiating charm. His impecunious student status must have informed his decision to plough back every rand into buying more barrels and finding more extraordinary vineyards to source grapes.

In 2004, when Pieter was just beginning to bottle his own wines, one of his first customers proclaimed “I don’t do Shiraz”. So, Pieter poured her a glass of straight Shiraz, without telling her what is was. “I love it” she immediately bellowed! It was at that time that Pieter decided not to varietally label his wines, with the idea of breaking down all preconceived ideas about what you find yourself drinking.

Still to this day, Pieter has no land to his name and buys in grapes and rents vineyards, often on short-term contracts. Usually the wine’s provenance is shown as Western Cape, as the grapes that go in to the blends come from different districts. Some wines are repeated year after year, while others are one-off releases. The limitations are what excite him and there are always new parcels and opportunities arising.

In a nutshell, BLANK bottle is a series of limited edition wines, each with its own individual story, made from specially selected parcels of grapes from around the Cape. In terms of winemaking, this is about as boutique as it gets. Pieter’s scale-small winemaking is hands-off with old barrels being used so that the wine expresses a sense of place. They fit perfectly into our GOOD WINE, REAL PEOPLE, GREAT STORIES philosophy.

Pieter and Friends

Pieter, 3rd right, with his ‘party animal’ hat on, at one of our annual tasting events at The Good Wine Shop.

Having built up such a good rapport with Pieter over the last couple of years, we recently asked if he would make a wine exclusively for us. He duly barrel-fermented and blended one barrel of Macabeo with a barrel of Fernão Pires, making just 670 bottles and drew a fetching label featuring members of The Good Wine Shop team. I get a hipster makeover with some dark glasses! It has an alluring stone fruit and tropical fruit nose – peach, guava and pineapple – delicate floral tones and a richly textured palate with bright acidity and a saline mineral finish. It is a perfect match with pan-fried scallops with parsnip purée & pancetta crumbs.

The Good Wine Shop blend by BLANK bottle (yes, Pieter drew us upside down!)

The Good Wine Shop blend by BLANK bottle (yes, Pieter drew us upside down!)

Is This an ‘I Was There’ Moment? The Wines of Alheit

25 November 2018 by Richard


Is this an ‘I was there’ wine moment? I think so. I was there. I bought the first ever vintage of Alheit Cartology, the 2011. It was revolutionary to me at the time – it had such clarity; a wine with a truly authentic Cape identity. Back then, just 22 barrels were produced of this profound blend of mostly Chenin Blanc with a touch of Semillon. Thankfully, due to a diligent search for special, old vineyards around the Cape, there is a bit more of the Cartology bottling to go around these days! Today, Chris and Suzaan Alheit make a range of single vineyard white wines in addition to Cartology, wines which are already sought-after but threaten with each successive vintage to cross the line into unobtainable… It will no doubt comfort me – a little – to know ‘I was there’ at the beginning when I can no longer find any bottles for my own cellar!

Suzaan Chris

Chris and Suzaan Alheit

Alheit’s focus remains strongly on dry-farmed heritage vineyards, mostly white grapes, but they are getting very excited about new sites they have found, planting vines in wonderful, often remote, places. Consequently, they have released additional single vineyard wines this year, which are from extreme locations or just produce exceptional fruit. We have secured a minuscule allocation (6 bottles per wine) of some of these, including your last chance ever to get your hands on a bottle of Radio Lazarus:

radio_lazarus_2017 horizThis remarkable Chenin Blanc was originally a single vineyard wine, but since the 2015 vintage comes from two plots planted in 1971 and 1978. Sadly, due to an extremely dry vintage in 2018 these already low-yielding vineyards are no longer viable for wine production (these vineyards only produced 50 litres of wine between them in 2018!) making 2017 the last vintage of Radio Lazarus to be released.

huilkrans_2017 horizThe new Huilkrans bottling (named after a cliff near the vineyard that ‘weeps’ when it rains) is from a vineyard that the Alheits have worked with for some time but has finally matured enough to stand on its own. A richer, deeper style than some in the portfolio due in part to deep red sand soil over a base of red clay, this nonetheless shows great saline minerality and appetising spice notes.

la_colline_vineyard_2017 horizThe La Colline Semillon is from a vineyard planted in 1936 containing a mixture of three Semillon clones: Semillon Blanc, Gris, and Rose. The result is a ripe, citrussy style that retains great freshness and meshes beautifully with some well-judged oak. More delicately textured than the Chenins but no less intense.

So, if you love truly great wines with a sense of place and authenticity, and you’d also like a chance to say ‘I was there’ – I suggest you pick a bottle or two before I do!

Click here to browse our full range of Alheit wines.

All pictures credit Alheit Vineyards

Mixology May: Cocktail Trends

23 May 2016 by Alex

Mixology Slider


The cocktail trend is so fully entrenched in the contemporary bar scene that it is hard to believe that these mixed drinks were not so long ago considered the preserve of the stuffy and old fashioned.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the cocktail revival is that the very concoctions that were the least fashionable a couple of decades ago – short drinks with only a few ingredients, incorporating a bitter element – are the source of the most exciting experimentation. Cocktails such as the Negroni, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan allow bartenders to search for and showcase high quality ingredients and interesting twists on the staples they contain.


The theatrical nature of great cocktail makers and the establishments in which they work is often reflected in the ingredients themselves: characterful, beautifully packaged items with interesting provenance that offer a slight twist to a familiar flavour profile.

Categories of ingredients such as Amaro (often translated as ‘bitter’, these often taste more like a digestif with a balancing sweetness) and Vermouth are more open to interpretation than many, coming in a wide range of different variations while adding an appetising element of complexity to the cocktail in question.


Although the term cocktail implies a strong, short drink, there is just as much imagination and experimentation surrounding longer drinks that weigh in at a more friendly alcohol level.

To highlight some of the exciting new ingredients that have hit our shelves, our Chiswick store will be hosting a free cocktail evening from 5pm to 7pm on the 28th of May giving everyone the chance to try the Belsazar Vermouth range, Mondino Amaro, and Gin Sul from Hamburg. Recipes for the cocktails we will be pouring on the night can be found below, so even if you can’t make it you can try them for yourself at home!


Belsazar Rosé & Tonic

60ml Belsazar Rosé
Top with Tonic water. Build in a wine glass filled with ice & garnish with a pink grapefruit slice.

(From the 23rd of May to the 31st of August we are offering 2 free bottles of 1724 tonic with every bottle of Belsazar rosé purchased).

The Ultimate Negroni

20ml Gin Sul
20ml Belsazar Red
20ml Mondino Amaro

Stir down and serve in a tumbler with orange zest.

Summer Negroni

20ml Gin Sul
20ml Belsazar Rosé
20ml Mondino Amaro

Serve with grapefruit zest.

Riviera Spritz

25ml Belsazar White
25ml Mondino Amaro

Top with tonic water. Build in a wine glass filled with ice and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Three Reasons to Try Portuguese Wine

9 May 2016 by Alex

Portugal Flag

Here at the Good Wine Shop we’ve always loved Portuguese wine, but it never hurts to remind everyone what’s so great about this underrated wine producing country.

Douro by Rosino 3 Flickr

  1. Value

Portuguese wines represent brilliant value for money. At all price points, the price-quality ratio is hard to beat. In the past, the table wines of Portugal were an afterthought made from grapes that didn’t make it into Port and could at times be rustic. Today, this is no longer the case but as always reputation lags behind reality, which is good news for those of us who like under-priced, interesting wines!

Estremoz Magnus Reuterdahl Flickr

  1. Interesting Grape Varieties

Portugal has resisted the influx of so-called ‘international’ grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay much more effectively than many other countries. Every region has its own unique set of grapes that are rarely found outside the region, let alone outside Portugal! This gives rise to a diverse set of flavours and aromas that aren’t quite like anything made elsewhere. Whether it’s the fragrant notes of violet in the brooding Touriga Nacional, the smoky tobacco character of Baga, or the nutty, lemony Encruzado, there’s always something new to discover.

Douro by Rosino Flickr

  1. The Wines Are Better Than Ever

Having suffered through the tough years of the 1970s, when it was both difficult and unrewarding to make table wine, Portugal has entered a new era where standards of wine making are extremely high and modern equipment is common in the winery. Wine makers are more likely than ever to preserve the unique character of their grape varieties and create wines of balance and personality. In a market where fortified wine such as Port is no longer as popular as it once was, table wines are playing an increasingly important role in producers’ portfolios and grapes are being specifically cultivated for their suitability for these wines.


Of course, we could list various other reasons to buy Portuguese wine, but an important fourth reason is our exclusive online mixed case! This selection of twelve different wines will help you taste your way across many regions and grape varieties while saving yourself over £23.

Click here to view our special Portuguese mixed case.

Images courtesy of Rosino, Magnus Reuterdahl via Flickr and Creative Commons.

Billecart-Salmon rosé Champagne offer

6 February 2016 by Sarah

The Perfect Valentine’s Champagne!

…one sip will enchant you like no other wine. This is seduction at its most alluring and mouth-watering,” says Matthew Jukes wine critic in The Daily Mail…and we agree!

A photo of Billecart Salmon rose half and bagBillecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne NV is just about the perfect pink fizz to treat a loved one and up until Valentine’s Day we’ll be giving away a FREE half bottle (worth £32.00) with every full bottle of the same Champagne.

“This is the most consistently delicious and effortless distinguished rosé in the world. Billecart has always been my ‘no-upper-limit’ rosé of choice…” Matthew Jukes.

“A subtle nose with plenty of fine autolysis aromas of fresh bread and sweetly fragrant yeasty notes, plus some gentle spice and chalky notes. The palate unleashes beautiful wild strawberry fruit flavours, super fresh, fleshy and pure. Great balance and depth.” James Suckling.

Very limited numbers of half bottles are available in each of our shops, so visit the stores in Chiswick, Esher or Kew very soon…because when they’re gone, they’re gone!

January Sale – Out with the old in with the new!

20 January 2016 by Ben

Kick start 2016 by trying something new as part of #Tryanuary!  And there’s no better place to begin than our sale where you can find 25% off over 40 wines across our three shops. There are some fantastic bargains covering all tastes and budgets.  These wines will be snapped up quickly, so drop into your nearest The Good Wine Shop soon to avoid disappointment!

Here are just a few of the wines that will be available in the sale to inspire you…

Champagne Gratiot-Pilliere Brut Tradition NV
“Brut Tradition is based on the exceptional 2008 vintage and is aged for two years. A pretty pale gold with delicious stone fruit flavours, its both elegant and refreshing”
Was: £34.00 Sale: £25.50

A photo of a bottle of Staete Landt ViognierStaete Landt Viognier, Marlborough, New Zealand
“A lovely aromatic nose of sweet mandarins, lychees and a touch of spice. This wine’s palate is luscious and broad with attractive flavours of orange peel, marmalade, candied violets and floral notes”
Was: £20.50 Sale: £15.37

Henri Boillot, Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2011
“An elegant, pure and refined white fruit, apple and straw suffused nose leads to energetic and lightly mineral-driven flavours that possess the saline character to which Boillot referred. A lovely Bourgogne” BURGHOUND
Was: £28.00 Sale: £21.00

Etorno Retorno Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina, 2013
“Only 3000 bottles are produced each year from 30 year old pergola-trained vines at the foot of the Andes. Flavours of cassis and fennel give way to dried figs. An intriguing wine for those looking for something new and unusual”
Was: 39.00 Sale: £29.25

The sale will ends on Sunday 31st January at 8pm.

Shop Rioja Winners

15 December 2015 by Sarah

The Rioja logo

Hurrah! We’re delighted to announce that The Good Wine Shop has been chosen as Rioja Retailer of the Year by Wines from Rioja.

We were selected as the small merchant winner out of 130 entrants for the #ShopRioja campaign we ran throughout October 2015. The Wines from Rioja judges said (and we’re blushing):

A photo of a customer trying Rioja wines in our Esher shopA photo of a sign board saying Rioja around the clock“We were highly impressed with The Good Wine Shop’s range of Rioja covering the quality, value and variety of styles the region produces including top class red, white and rosé wines. The Good Wine Shop displayed their in-depth knowledge of Rioja and their enthusiasm for sharing their passion with their customers through fantastic displays and vibrant tastings. The team act as great ambassadors for Wines from Rioja.”

We know we wouldn’t have been able to win without the enthusiastic participation in #ShopRioja of our customers. To celebrate we’re offering 25% OFF any six bottles of Bodegas Bohedal wines bought before Sunday 20 December in any of our shops.

Remember, Rioja can be an excellent match for festive food – a Crianza, Reserva or oaked white goes great with turkey and all the trimmings. For Boxing Day cold cuts try a fruity joven. Or with roast beef consider the fuller bodied Remelluri Reserva 2009.

Wonderful Christmas Wines

1 December 2015 by Sarah

As we enter the festive season, we appreciate that there are so many parties, gatherings and dinners that keeping your fridge and wine racks full can be a hassle.Thankfully, we have some great deals on these customer favourites so you can stock up – saving time and money.

Grab a six pack of any of these wines and you will save 20%…

bianchiBianchi Extra Brut NV, Mendoza, Argentina
‘A classy, Champagne-like sparkling wine from the cooler area of San Rafael, just south of Mendoza. Refreshingly dry’
Now £74.40 for six bottles; usually £93.00

Gallimard 2009Champagne Gallimard Brut Prestige Vintage 2009
‘A superb vintage Champagne from a small grower. Aged for 5 years creating a fabulous, rich, mouth-filling fizz.’
Now £153.60 for six bottles; usually £192.00

sarotto gaviGavi di Gavi, Roberto Sarotto, Italy 2014
‘Rich in texture compared to most Gavi but still soft and gentle. Plenty of juicy peach fruit alongside stony minerality’
Now £64.80 for six bottles; usually £81.00

george montmainsNOW SOLD OUT (sorry…) Domaine George, Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2012
‘This Premier Cru Chablis comes from low yielding vines in the famed Montmains vineyard. This is a top quality Chablis!’
Now £93.60 for six bottles; usually £117.00

fourcas-hosten09Chateau Fourcas Hosten, Listrac-Médoc 2007
‘Fourcas-Hosten is one of the best Châteaux in the Listrac commune. A great value, pleasurable Bordeaux’
Now £96.00 for six bottles; usually £120.00

These offers are only available in our shops in Chiswick, Esher & Kew.

Buy 12 bottles and get free local delivery too.

All these offers end at 7pm on Thursday 31 December.

Rioja rocks

1 September 2015 by Pippa

Rioja is Spain’s vinous calling card, a powerhouse of a region with a long history of traditional and innovative wine-making dating back to the mid-nineteenth century and very much alive today. Throughout October at The Good Wine Shop we’re going to be celebrating all things Rioja.

First a bit of geography…the region is divided into three distinct zones; Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja.

Map of the Rioja regionRioja Alavesa forms part of the Basque province of Alava. Although the most northerly (closest to the Bay of Biscay’s capricious weather) the vineyards here sit along the foothills of the Sierra Cantabrica shielded from the buffeting that the Atlantic would otherwise inflict upon them by the mountains. Facing south into the warmth of the sun and on chalky, limestone soils this is prime vineyard country. Alavesa wines are frequently based solely on Tempranillo and have a freshness and elegance about them.

Rioja Alta lies south of the Ebro River with a small enclave north sandwiched between two parts of the Alavesa. It’s a large area where the climate changes from west to east. Western Rioja Alta is the coolest part of Rioja as it is most exposed to the Atlantic influence. Here picking can be as much as six weeks later than further east in the Rioja Baja. Many of Rioja’s finest names can be found around the town of Haro – and just outside Haro, in the town of Cuzcurrita, are two of our favourite bodegas  – Urbina and Bohedal. Again Tempranillo dominates the plantings here. Further east the vineyards benefit more from the Sierra Cantabrica’s shelter and the warmer climate favours more plantings of Garnacha.

Rioja Baja is the warmest province, closest to the influence of the Mediterranean to the east. Although only 11% of plantings in Rioja are Garnacha, most is planted here – the grape needs the warmth to ripen. Rioja Baja wines reflect this in the blend, often including a much higher proportion of Garnacha than anywhere else in the region.

A photo of Tempranillo grapes from Bodegas BohedalThe grapes:

Tempranillo is king here, named after the Spanish word for early (temprano) it is an early ripening grape. It forms the backbone of much Rioja – typically as much as 85% in the Alavesa and Alta. Small amounts of Garnacha, Mazuelo (which we know as Carignan) and Graciano (native to Rioja) make up the balance of the blend. For the whites, Viura is the main variety used. Best supporting white grape mentions can also go to Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanca, Malvasia de Rioja, Maturana Blanca and Turruntés de Rioja (no relation to Torrontés)


Traditional Rioja is aged in both barrel (typically American oak) and bottle for mandatory minimum periods of time before sale. Many classic bodegas exceed these minimums.

  • Crianza : a minimum of a year in barrel and a year in bottle
  • Reserva : a minimum of a year in barrel and two years in bottle
  • Gran Reserva : a minimum of two years in barrel and three years in bottle .

Modern Riojas may or may not follow those ageing requirements, and will often use French rather than American oak – or a mix of both. They will almost always be released much younger. The resulting styles are radically different making Rioja’s offering very versatile. We have several examples of this such as Bodegas Remelluri Reserva, Rioja, 2009 and Baigorri de Garage, Bodegas Baigorri, Rioja, 2005. White Rioja has also re-invented itself with better fruit and less obvious oak – Bohedal’s ‘baby’ white Rioja is great example of this ‘fresher’ trend.

At The Good Wine Shop we’ll be celebrating all that is good about Rioja throughout October. We’re planning to expand our Rioja listings with some special additions. We’ll be offering a 25% discount on any 6 bottles of Rioja purchased throughout the month. And, if that were not enough to tempt you, we’ll be opening a great selection of wines both white and red over the weekend of October 2, 3 & 4 and then again over October 16, 17 & 18.

Rosé revolution

17 August 2015 by Paul

Cast your mind back a few years and you’ll remember that the rosé wine world was a very different place, awash with sickly-sweet pale blush wines where what little taste was best anaesthetised with a few ice cubes. And not forgetting the deeply-coloured cough-syrupy confected concoctions best reserved for pairing with a strong curry.

A photo of the front of Chateau d'Esclans

The amazingly picturesque Château d’Esclans

Though, of course, I must admit to having enjoyed the odd few glasses of the stuff during my youth, it’s little wonder that the rosé wines of those days weren’t taken seriously. However, in the years since we’ve witnessed the astonishing growth in popularity of delicately pink, dry and achingly fashionable rosés, most notably those originating from Provence. As Jancis Robinson says, “Pink wine production is now seen as a serious business around the world – not least thanks to the efforts of Sacha Lichine … and his team at Château d’Esclans …which has really raised the bar of ambition among producers …”

Lichine certainly knows a thing or two about quality wine production. Up until 1999 he was proprietor of Château Prieuré-Lichine in Margaux. He acquired Esclans in 2006, convinced that the terroir and climate were conducive to producing serious wine. Quality is paramount: The same care and attention is lavished upon the grapes as in any of the top Bordeaux properties. Patrick Leon, former MD of Château Mouton-Rothschild is consultant winemaker. Their top-of-the-range rosé Garrus, can now sell for an eye-watering £100 a bottle. Fortunately it has a more affordable sibling, Whispering Angel, which has been taking the world by storm, and for many of our customers has been the defining rosé of this summertime.

Just in time for the Bank Holiday weekend, we’re offering you the chance to buy Whispering Angel at the reduced price of £16 (down from £20), either in our shops by the bottle, or online by the case.


“Château d’Esclans is undoubtedly the hottest property of Provençal …rosé. This
offers very good value … for a wine with no less than seven varieties in the blend
(Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Tibouren, Vermentino) and
endless delicacy and perfume. pale and peachy in both colour and flavour, it has
pin-point acidity into a long, dry finish, though nuanced and holding interest to the
last drop. 91/100.” – Tom Cannavan,

“The 2014 Château d’Esclans ‘Whispering Angel’ is a fascinating blend of seven
varieties (six red and one white) with enormous character. There’s complex ripe red
fruit, plenty of acidity and a tongue-tinglingly herbal, spicy finish. No surprise to
learn that it’s … Lichine’s … bestselling rosé by miles.” – Jonathan Ray, The

“Nutty, waxy and weighty, this is vital and fresh, but with an appealingly earthy
undertow. There’s an attack of wild strawberry on a succulent palate which holds
layers of flavour, a nutty core, with the finish really stretching out to a great length.
Urbane and mightily impressive.” Awarded a Gold Medal at the Decanter World
Wine Awards 2015