I love it when you have a good retail experience. Especially when it catches you by surprise.

In these days of a highly competitive marketplace, supermarket shopping and generic availability of product, it will always be a combination of product, price and service which will compel us to part with our money. For me, it is the service which is the most important chunk of this equation.

Caviste in Overton

Caviste in Overton

Last week, I ventured into the tiny village of Overton near where I am temporarily living to purchase some wine. My colleagues told me there was a little shop on the high street and so I discovered independent wine merchant, Caviste. Through their little door lies an authentic, open space full of the most wonderful selection of wines. But it was the lovely Peter who made all the difference. He had just the right balance of knowledge, affability and charm to persuade me to part with much more of my money than I had planned. I went away with a couple of bottles to accompany our cheese & wine evening along with a subscription to their newsletter. Good for Peter. He really converted me to their brand and I will definitely be attending one of their tastings and a tapas evening. It’s no wonder they won the International Wine Challenge award for Regional Merchant of the Year in the South East – twice!

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I have to admit that I am not really a great expert on wines, but by talking to friends who are, I have a few favourites that I learnt about. I know about Priorat from H who has long been a fan even though it is only latterly becoming renowned. And Lou told me about Amarone. On my travels to the new world regions of South Africa and New Zealand, I became much more informed about the lesser known grape varieties they work with, along with some wonderful wine makers and vineyards.

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On my last trip to South Africa I was lucky enough to be just at the right time to attend the annual Blessing of the Harvest at Moreson Wine Estate. We were able to participate in the wine making and then be rewarded for our efforts with a wonderful lunch made by chef Neil Jewell. This is the most wonderful way to connect with the vineyard and the making of its wines, so if you happen to be there, then book your place and get squishing.

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Another must do for wine fans out there is to visit MonVinic in Barcelona. This bar/restaurant from wine maker Sergi Ferrer-Salat is a lesson in design, style and of course wine. Senor Ferrer-Salat had a vision to create a central hub of expertise for the city and he is a man who normally achieves what he sets out to do. His eye for detail and obsession for perfection has created a space that is a must if you are in the vicinity. Their tables have been made to accommodate wine coolers along the centre all temperature controlled and they have a fabulous touch screen wine list. I urge you to go, see, talk to them and understand just what they are achieving over there.

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