On my visits to the seaside town of Southwold, I often heard complaints that the town was being taken over by Londoners (much of the time it was Londoners doing the complaining). Now the people of Southwold have decided to fight back. Adnams, the brewery that dominates the little Suffolk town, is taking over London. They started stealthily with a shop in Stamford, Lincolnshire, then one opened in Spitalfields market and now another has appeared near where I work in Bloomsbury.
Adnams’ advertising may be a little hit-and-miss but their beer is lovely and they are a first-rate wine merchant. Their shops also do a nice line in up-market kitchenware: I have my eye on some spatulas that will be ideal for my mother’s birthday present. Whilst nosing around the Bloomsbury shop, I was grabbed by a member of staff and marched down the basement where they were conducting a wine tasting.
One wine in particular grabbed my attention Juniper Estate Shiraz from Margaret River in Australia. Adnams describe it like this:
‘You’ll want to save this whopper Western Australian Shiraz, with its chocolate-rich, blackberry fruit, vanilla oak and spice for folks you want to impress.’
Sounds pretty grim doesn’t it? Happily it tasted nothing like this description. In fact it was miles away from the clichéd image of good old boy Australian Shiraz, a wine described by Roger Scruton in I Drink, Therefore I am as ‘a wine for hooligans.’ The first impression was lively and fresh: this wine has a lot of acidity. Not that you would mistake it for Beaujolais, however, it’s full of sweet, bright optimistically New World fruit with some vanilla. I detected a floral flavour that I normally describe as violets but having never eaten a violet, I don’t know why I call it that. Must try to eliminate wine jargon! It smells spicy. A 2005, it carries its age gracefully. The fruit is still very much to the fore though there’s also some woodiness and meat. I’d describe it as an Australian take on the Northern Rhone. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had chosen to label it Syrah rather than Shiraz. I wrote in a previous post that one of my wine prejudices was Australian Shiraz. The Juniper Estate made me realise that they don’t all have to be 15% monsters.
On leaving the Store Street shop I noticed that the pub opposite, the College Arms, is now an Adnams pub. Quietly, inexorably, the Southwold invasion has begun; London is theirs for the taking. If it means good wine, beer and quality fish & chips, then I shan’t be putting up a fight.
Juniper Estate Shiraz 2005, Margaret River, Australia – available from Adnams £15.99