In those halcyon days of yesteryear, whilst working as a professional football scout for Liverpool FC (did I mention that before?!), I remember receiving a tip-off: “There’s a young lad doing rather well in North Wales. Half the season gone, and he’s already beaten Ian Rush’s goal scoring record for the same team of a few years before. You might like to have a look at him?”.


The ‘young lad’ was Michael Owen. We signed him – you know the rest of the story!


So, when I received a tip-off, this time wine related, just prior to our recent UK sojourn, taking in, amongst several other counties, a week in Dorset, I somehow knew it portended well. Nicky ‘done good’ to put it in football parlance, when she recommended that whilst staying in Blandford Forum, ‘we might like to’ visit the No.8 Wine Shop (www.no8wine.com), just down the road.


It’s an impressive edifice, converted farm buildings, I think, with grounds also playing host to at least one other business. I wouldn’t have thought that the two or three tiny villages dotted here and there in the beautiful rolling hills and richly wooded Dorset landscape would have provided sufficient clients to ensure viability. However, when one scans the stock, and that’s just that which is available in the shop, it’s clear that this must be a successful business – the investment in wines alone is considerable.


Add to this, owner (I think?), Dan’s trips to attend various buyers’ tastings in several different countries as well as continents, including visits to the ‘en primeur’ jamboree (the annual Bordeaux tastings, where last year’s wines are just starting their long ageing before release in, well, 10 yrs, 20, 30+; and when buyers such as Dan rub shoulders with MWs whose job it is to declare when these wines will be at their best, long before they are actually approachable.), and it’s clear that Museum Wines No.8 Wine Shop is getting along very nicely, thanks very much!


And as if to confirm it, when visiting a local pub which is building a fine reputation for its restaurant, I noticed that several of their wines were ones which we had tasted with Dan a few days before. No.8 Wine Shop also has an enviable corporate list, supplying to discerning restaurants. Plus, on Friday nights only (thus far) the shop remains open into the evening when the car park quickly becomes full and many rather well-shod wine types spend their evening tasting a large variety of fine wines whilst chatting and eating pizza!


On such nights clients can order from an impressive blackboard list of wines by the glass, sensibly priced – it’s an ideal opportunity to try several different wines without having to buy a whole bottle. However, those who know what they want, bottle-wise, or those who, see a bottle of something they’d love to taste, that isn’t on the list, are also catered for – full bottles of any of the wines in the shop can be bought to drink in, with just an extra corkage fee to pay. It’s busy!


Dan kindly let us taste four different wines, without obligation – three from South Africa, a rosé, an oaked Chardonnay and a Sancerre-esque Sauvignon Blanc, plus a Puligny Montrachet. All impressive.


After some time deciding we actually bought four wines.


The white Languedoc 2015 we tried is made with Piquepoul Blanc and Rousanne, both of which are varieties rarely found in Spain. There is a white peach aroma to this wine, complemented on the palate by citrus notes and just a touch of honeydew melon. Fruit filled yes, but with dept and character too.


Castle Street is the name of the No.8 Wine Shop wines made specifically for them. The Australian Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blend is more subtle than many of the Aus blockbusters, yet has spicy black and red berry fruit flavour enough. It lingers after swallowing and really makes you reach again for the glass. Easy drinking, and some!


Il Folle has a drawing of a Court Jester on the label, an Italian jester as this wine is from Sicily (I’m gonna make you a wine you can’t refuse!). It’s an IGP wine, not a Denominazione di Origine Controllata, and as such is another indication that there are fine wines being made outside of the DOs of both Italy and Spain. Quite rich on the first hit and yet some elegance too.


Finally one of the famous names of Italy, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, for sure a DO wine and happy to represent the whole DO concept. Frentano has a pleasing blend of soft red and black fruits with a whiff of mountain herb. We didn’t, but, try this wine with pasta, lasagna particularly!


Contact Colin: colin@colinharknessonwine.com  Twitter @colinonwine  Facebook Colin Harkness


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