At the Whalley Wine Shop

On Friday I drove up to Whalley, in Lancashire, to take part in a tasting hosted by the Whalley Wine Shop, titled ‘The Night of 100 Wines’. It was my first time in Whalley, which is a charming village (or small town?) in the Ribble Valley.

Whalley Wine Sop used to be a Thresher’s property, but the locals are extremely lucky that when it was closed down, one of the managers, 27 year old Tom Jones, decided take it over. It’s now a proper wine shop and the range and staff are really good. It’s a great achievement, especially considering that one of the country’s most well known wine shops is only 3 miles up the road in Clitheroe.

At the tasting there were 10 tables, one for each of 10 suppliers, each showing 10 wines. I went round tasting the wines and chatting to the lively crowd of punters, and was told to select one wine from each table. Then, at 9 pm, I was on stage for a quick bit of chat and to talk about my favourite wines.

It was like doing stand-up. The crowd were already warmed up, and I was even heckled. But it was in good humour. ‘Hello Whalley,’ I began. ‘It’s not ‘Wally’, they shouted back, correcting my pronunciation. ‘It’s Woor-lee’. But they are a forgiving bunch.

Here are some of the wines I chose.

Scala Dei Priorat 2011 Spain
Lovely fresh, expression of Priorat. Varietal Garnacha with fresh cherry fruit and lovely minerality. I really like this: ripe yet expressive. A great bargain. 92/100 (£14.95 Whalley Wine Shop)

La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanc 2010 Somontano, Spain
Such a lovely expressive white with fresh, zippy citrus and herb fruit. Mineral, nutty, spicy and precise. 91/100 (£11.45)

Two Rivers Black Cottage Pinot Rosé 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
Such a lovely Rosé, almost Provencale in style. Salmon pink in colour with lovely textured strawberry and herb fruit. Smooth and moreish. 90/100 (£9.95)

Two Rivers Awatere Selection Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Juicy, bright and focused with lovely pure raspberry and cherry fruit. Spicy, bright and sappy with richness and freshness. 92/10 (£19.95)

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Collines de Laure Syrah 2010 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodanniennes, Rhône, France
I know this wine well, having bought a case (which I am well on my way to finishing). It is declassified Cornas: fresh, peppery, with nice bright black cherry fruit. Typical, and very drinkable. 90/100 (£10.45)

J Lohr Wildflower Valdigue 2010 Monterey, California
A really unusual but delicious wine, with amazingly fresh, floral, perfumed cherry and berry fruit. Like a supercharged Beaujolais. Great fun. Apparently this was a cool vintage, and it showsinthe freshness of the wine. A warmer vintage might be a bit jammy. 90/100 (£11.45)

Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé 2010 Provence, France
A really super, stylish pink from Provence. Expensive but lovely, with broad, textured, supple cranberry, cherry and strawberry notes, but it’s more about the texture than the flavour. 90/100 (£15)

Rex Goliath 47 Pound Rooster Zinfnadel NV California
Rich, bold, sweet and alluring this is a sweetly fruited Zinfandel that’s a lot of fun. Pure, sweet fruit, but avoids being jammy. 89/100 (£11.45)

Vistamar Carmenere 2011 Central Valley, Chile
A great value for money red with much more class than you’d expect for the price. Supple, sweet, ripe blackcurrant fruit with some nice chalky, spicy notes under the fruit. 87/100 (£5.45)

Paxton Jones Block Shiraz 2008 McLaren Vale, Australia
Rich, dense, spicy nose leads to a bold, grippy palate showing dense, concentrated fruit. Lovely intensity and definition. 92/100 (£25)

Matthieu Barret Carignache 2010 Cotes du Rhone, France
A lovely spicy blend of Grenache and Carignan wth lovely purity and grippy berry fruits. From a biodynamic producer based in Cornas. 91/100 (£14.95)

Turkey Flat Sparkling Shiraz NV Barossa, Australia
This is the best sparkling Shiraz I have tasted with lovely fresh cherry and plum fruit. Really stylish. 92/100 (£31.95)

Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2007 Franschhoek, South Africa
Beautifully textured with complex lemony fruit and subtle notes of nuts and white peach. Rich yet fresh. 93/100 (£19.95)

6 comments to At the Whalley Wine Shop

  • Andrew Halliwell

    I definitely agree with you about the Turkey Flat, they are an A-list producer and that wine was brilliant the last time I had it.

    Wish we had a wine shop like that around here…

  • Thank you for the introduction to some new wines. Really like what the Spanish are doing in the wine world.

  • Steve Connolly

    I nearly went there on a weekend in Ribchester recently but was seduced by the other shop in Clitehroe – only time for one shop. It’s nice to know that the wine world exists outside London. Unfortunately I live in Liverpool and we’re pretty poorly served here for wine retail apart from a good Oddbins and the occasional bargain from Costco. There is a decent local chain in Cheshire, but mostly it’s online, which kind of makes you dependent on reviews (like your’s)as the internet hasn’t advanced to offering tastings on line yet!

  • Andrew, if you are ever in our neck of the woods do call in and say hello, and Steve, Ribchester is where I live and its my son Tom’s shop in Whalley. Byrnes in Clitheroe is an amazing wine shop and well worth a visit, but we’re doing some really nice things at The Whalley Wine Shop and there’s a real buzz about the place, next time you’re in Rib, do come over to Whalley! You can find us on facebook and twitter too.

    Mark.

  • Claire

    Steve – next time you go that way, definitely go to Whalley Wine Shop – it’s 100 times better than Byrne’s in Clitheroe!

  • Laurence

    It’s an interesting point as to whether quality competition (not lowest common denominator) improves the market, rather than reduces it. In the Ribble Valley we have the Whalley Wine Shop and Byrnes. It’s also the home of Booths, the regional supermarket, and Barrica Wines both of which have a great range (but both more expensive than Whalley and Byrnes). This grouping has educated the admittedly reasonably well off customer base to expect better. It’s the Ludlowisation of the area (or Hungerford for antiques, Hay/Wigtown for books).

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