Independent wine shops are having something of a renaissance, with more and more Londoners wanting to support their local businesses. As a result, they’re rewarded with the discovery of exciting blends and friendly wine experts. Here are some of The Resident’s favourite independent wine merchants in London who will have you stocked up for Christmas in no time
1 Askew Wines, Askew Road
When it comes to choosing your Christmas wines you couldn’t be in better hands than those of Mallek, owner of independent wine shop Askew Wines.
Having run the shop since it was Wine Rack in 1993, then buying it out of administration in 2009 (with the support of local residents), Mallek is firmly rooted in the area’s history and is a vital member of the community.
He knows most of his customers by name, and when he heads off on buying missions to the artisan and independent wineries that he finds his stock in, he does so with his customers taste in mind. It’s this, and his nose for excellent wine, that has made Askew Wines such a success story.
Mallek works with Liberty Wines and Les Caves de Pyrene, two of London’s best wine distributors who supply restaurants like the River Café and The Ledbury, to discover new and exciting producers whose wines often aren’t stocked anywhere else in the UK.
But he doesn’t stop at wine. Askew Wines also stocks cheese from French producers and Mallek has plans to open a tasting room next year, where locals can sample wine, cheese and charcuterie.
‘People were tasting wine at the counter,’ he says. ‘So I thought why not open up a proper tasting room? It’s just to keep the atmosphere going. It’s what people want.’ And he’s not wrong!
2 The New Zealand Cellar
The New Zealand Cellar is hosting a wine-sale, for experts and novices alike, to discover and purchase an impressive range of premium New Zealand wines on the 14th December at Brixton East. For one day only, this ‘garage’ sale will showcase exceptional bottles difficult to find in retailers, and sold here without the retail mark ups. There will be 40 New Zealand wine producers present, from Seresin, Neudorf, Pegasus Bay and Gladstone Vineyard and all the experts are very approachable – happy to chat about what you like and don’t like, and help with food matches. Keeping with the antipodean theme there will be complimentary coffee from Caravan and a pop-up breakfast bbq featuring sausages from Provenance Butchers in Notting Hill (both NZ owned).
Sunday 14th December, Brixton East, 100 Barrington Road, Brixton, SW9 7JF; 8.45am – 2.00pm; thenewzealandcellar.co.uk
3 Theatre of Wine, Greenwich & Tuffnell Park
Theatre of Wine in Greenwich and Tuffnell Park is a traditional wine merchant, selling classic French wines and more exotic tipples from the likes of Morocco, Georgia and Hungary. It is passionate about small wine producers, supporting them heavily, and also stocks over 20 types of sherry. Theatre of Wine offers glass loan and free local delivery, and does bespoke wine tasting events. theatreofwine.com
4 The Sampler, South Kensington & Islington
The Sampler, with branches in South Kensington and Islington, has over 1,500 varieties of wine, specialising particularly in Grower Champagnes and Mature Vintages. That said, it still stocks bottles priced from £6 – going all the way up to £1,000. Many of the wines stocked in The Sampler come from artisan producers and are often not stocked at other wine merchants. thesampler.co.uk
5 Market Row Wines, Brixton
Brixton Village’s wine merchant Market Row Wines stocks a delicious selection of artisan wine and particularly focuses on winemakers with small yields. Along with cases and mixed cases, Market Row Wines also sells wine by the glass, so you can try before you buy. Wine is delivered free locally and there are wine tastings every so often. marketrowwines.co.uk
6 Vagabond, Fulham
Vagabond has become a favourite hangout of many local Fulham Residents. Offering more than just the staff’s expertise in wine, the shop’s enomatic machines mean you can try all of it’s 100 wines using a charge card system, top up the card and taste the world-class wines for 50p a glass. Vagabond also stocks cheese and charcuterie boards and is decorated with comfy sofas, which make it near impossible to leave. The wine merchant also runs regular themed wine tasting events throughout the year. vagabondwines.co.uk
7 Toast, Dulwich
As well as being a buzzy bar and restaurant, Toast, on Lordship Lane, sells a frequently changing selection of natural and organic wines, and local beers, which have been brewed in South East London. Delivery is free if you buy six bottles or more, for those in nearby postcodes. toastdulwich.co.uk
8 Bottle Apostle, Clapham
Bottle Apostle’s third shop, on Abbeville Road, opened in spring 2014, following the success of its outposts in Victoria Park and Crouch End. Like Vagabond, it is lined with enomatic machines for tasting the wine. Bottle Apostle prides itself on having wines at a great price point and varieties that aren’t stocked at big supermarkets. The staff really know their stuff here and are more than happy to advise, plus, if you want to learn more, Bottle Apostle runs wine courses and tasting events, as well as supper clubs. bottleapostle.com/clapham
9 Wimbledon Wine Cellars
Wimbledon Wine Cellars has built up a reputation for having one of the largest collections of fine wine in the UK. It represents the Old World particularly well, with traditional Burgundys and Bordeauxs in abundance. Along with selling wine, Wimbledon Wine offers professional storage services, hosts tastings and has a Wine Club, which gives members the chance to taste mixed cases. wimbledonwinecellar.com
10 Lea and Sandeman, Chelsea, Kensington, Barnes & Chiswick
Lea and Sandeman prides itself on selling wine to drink, rather than to impress or store. It has branches all over south west London including Barnes and Chiswick. While supporting small producers, it doesn’t limit itself and has a large list of wines from all over the world, as well as some fantastic grower Champagnes. Although it’s nice to pay a visit to the experts in the store, the website is pretty advanced too and makes it easy to select mixed cases for delivery. leaandsandeman.co.uk
11 Negozio Classica, Westbourne Grove
This lovely wine bar in Westbourne Grove will instantly transport you to Italy’s picturesque villages. Rustic wine barrels, exposed bricks and a welcoming atmosphere have made it a popular watering hole with locals who linger over fine wines, cheese and charcuterie. But for those who want the experience at home, there’s also a great stock of wines to buy by the bottle.
12 Mr Lawrence Wine Merchant, Herne Hill
Independent wine shop Mr Lawrence Wine Merchant, on Brockley Road, stocks wine from family-run vineyards in France, inspired by the wine makers’ history. Along with French wines, there’s a vast selection of New World varieties from the likes of Argentina, California and New Zealand. mrlawrencewinemerchant.co.uk