The Saxon Walled Town of Wareham™ is just a hop skip and a jump from my relatively-fresh, idyllic seaside location in Poole, and unlike Poole its town centre boasts its own wine shop, of sorts.
It’s called Wareham Wine, or Wareham Wines, depending on wether you believe the sign above the window or the one that hangs perpendicularly on a couple of hooks to entice passers by. This indecision puzzled me, initially, but after stepping inside the shop, two things became instantly clear:
- There was definitely more than a single bottle of wine for sale in the shop.
- This was more of an off-license than a “wine shop” and, judging by the homely disarray abounding therein, was exactly the sort of establishment that would consider such a thing as the name it goes by to be negligible: what’s in a name anyway?
There were about 160,000 bottles crammed into the shelves, racks and overhanging wire contraptions that intimidatingly surrounded the few square feet of floorspace, and the delicate looking lady behind the counter looked as frightened of everything suddenly coming crashing down around us as I felt.
It certainly wasn’t one of those fancy modern shops where the WSET-advanced-toting former-jet-setting sommelier greets you with a knowing smile and a “How d’you do?” as the bell above the door tinkles to announce your entry. No, indeed; and it wasn’t just overstocked with wine, either: there was an excellent and rather tempting arsenal of ciders and beers (many of which were local Dorset bottles, with hilarious titles making full [ab]use of the name of the nearby river Piddle).
I somehow doubt that the majority of the clientele either wants or expects advice on which French appelation might make the perfect accompaniment to their culinary experiments, and indeed the one other customer who came in while we were perusing the (very dusty) bottles stacked in the baskets at our feet (the least precarious of the numerous arrangements) ws a lady came demanding some orange WKD – alas, they only had blue, so she left in a huff.
This was the first of three bottles I picked up that afternoon, and I did so because it was thick with dust and had the number ‘2004’ on its label, so I thought I’d try my luck and see if I’d managed to hunt out a rare vintage among the miscellaneous myriad bottles that might well have sat here for the best part of a decade.
Not so: it was a perfectly fine, but ultimately unremarkable Cabernet Sauvignon, as it turned out.
It was fruity and slightly softer than a newer Cab Sav might have been – and even boasted a touch of a brick-red hue about its edges – but to be honest I’d rather have tried it when it was a bit younger and still had a bit more of a kick to it.
As far as miscellaneous tidbits of knowledge go, this was from the Languedoc region in the South of France, and “Récolte” means something akin to “Yield”, which could be interpreted as a very basic and unromantic name for any kind of saleable product one might wrest from nature, but which I’d rather prefer to imagine is to be understood as an order: “buy me, or else”.
I bought it for about a fiver, feeling compelled somehow – hoping, undeniably, that I’d stumbled across a bargain as one might with, say, a nifty looking antique cigarette case in a brand-non-specific local charity shop, but alas I ought to have paid more attention to the many other corner-shop-staples that bedecked the rest of the shelves. The majority of the exotic and funny looking labels, like this, may well just be the same style of cheap and cheerful from half a decade ago: I’d not recognise those so well, after all, and I’ve no reason to believe fine wine is something that ends up underselling itself in funny little high-street shops in rural England.
Here’s hoping one of the other two provides more to write home about.
Image by Victoria Keeble.