Why I Started The Bordeaux Cellar...



The quick answer to this is that I seriously love the wines of the region and simply thought it would be fun to further my hobby by creating a virtual, online 'Bordeaux Cellar'. The honest answer is that regrettably, though I have sometimes been fortunate enough to live in properties with reasonable wine storing facilities, I've generally had to store the bulk of my wines professionally and not somewhere like the TBC homepage! Perhaps therefore, TBC partly indulges my fantasy of owning a facility like it…a cool, damp, underground cavern full of maturing barrels and dusty bottles of 47 Cheval & 61 Latour. When if I feel the calling, or someone has bought a bottle, I whimsically imagine descending to such a space for a venerable Claret. Of course the wines are real, they are looked after, and I can reach for a decent Pomerol when one is called for. However in reality I don't keep wines for too long at TBC and, like most collectors and merchants, I have the bulk listed and housed in a chilly souless warehouse near Tilbury or Burton On Trent.

I also realised that interest in fine wine, and Bordeaux in particular, is growing and there are many more who would like what it has to offer. A lot of these guys are in my position a few years ago…they may know something of the prestige of the region, and a perhaps a few names like St Emilion or Margaux. They may seek these out in supermarkets or wine shops and sometimes be wowed by them. However, if at this point they wish to dip their toe in a bit further, I think it's important to have the gaps in the knowledge gently filled! If not, profound experiences can be muted by costly mistakes! So with that in mind, TBC aims to provide a stepping stone of awareness and offer up some savvy wine choices based on the best discoveries of my journey so far. It also just exists purely as a wine collection that can be dipped into by anyone, anytime. I should say at this point that, having witnessed the extent of nerdiness that exists about Bordeaux, I don't claim to be a leading authority! I just decided to make the jump to fandom and liked it here! There's a pleathora of outstanding wine writers and literature available that provide consumers with worthwhile, in depth knowledge. TBC really just cuts to the chase with essential info on wine styles & prices, then makes them accessible.

My working life has been mostly spent in the Music Business so I've no history in the wine trade. Both these worlds have their light and murky parts, but I did find more similarities than I was expecting. One bright correlation concerns the collecting aspect amongst eager devotees. When I started collecting wine, it undoubtedly struck a familiar chord (sorry) with the music fan in me.  I actually think I'm drawn to wine labels and packaging a smite morso than with record, cassette and CD artwork. My age is probably at work there but receiving an OWC (original wooden case) of wine, prizing it open (coffin style!) to shed first light on 12 beautifully presented bottles has a wood splintering physicality that I just can't get enough of! It's not dissimilar to thrill of darting home from the record shop with my limited edition coloured vinyl. Both end up lovingly stowed. I also find warehouse stashes of both to be strangely compelling! I could wander down those rows all day. The contents are significant though…it's not like I should have been a warehouseman! It doesn't work at IKEA. COSTCO, yes, but only the wine section.

I've found both wine & music can give me extreme profundity of pleasure. They're both able to take me somewhere I'll never forget. This may come via two different senses but I was somewhat surprised when wine rocked up in the way that it did! The context of the experience undoubtedly plays a part too. Of course, music was served up to me on a bed of press, radio, gigs, festivals, history, hedonism, lifestyle etc. An age of this, mixed in with my own musicality has given me a great platform to enjoy it. I've identified the melodics and posture I'm a sucker for, and I can be totally transformed when exposed to them. I'm constantly still surprised too. I'm not quite so influenced by, or into 'wine lifestyle' (though I do get a bit tingly around vineyards!) but I still can't believe that a good Bordeaux outfit can literally make me jump for joy, start shouting and then internalise it. Not that dissimilar to my reaction watching The Clash in 1980! I'm not seriously comparing them but I love how wine can also induce an involuntary physical reaction. It took a while, but when the penny dropped wine became a lifelong companion.

In my youth, it's doubtless that the occasional purchase of wine by adults for a special event involving food, led me to affix it with the tag of 'treat'! I remember it always seemed to be white wine, regardless of the food they were having with it. The odd sips that came my way certainly didn't instill a life long passion for 70's style Sauvignon Blanc! However, the positive association probably did embed. It wasn't till I was 17 that I was first exposed to Bordeaux - At this age, anything that wasn't girls, punk rock or beer related was very unlikely to get a look in with me. Still, I was weirdly fated to become pals with an elderly gent from the public school, Classics (Latin & Greek not Lafite & Latour) academic, Claret swilling brigade. I knew very little about anything but  disagreed with him about a lot. However, when it came to him sharing a Claret from his cellar, against the grain I really couldn't have agreed more! It was way more than being chuffed to get some free booze…this stuff cut through all barriers. I'm sad now that I don't remember the exact wines that we drunk (the Leoville Barton & Poyferre labels did seem familiar when I embarked on this venture!).

This experience certainly didn't make me forget the beer & pogoing, and opt for wine club girls. It wasn't cool enough to discuss with my mates either. Nevertheless, a smoky, silky, soft, red, sedimented time capsule, had been cemented in. To release the bats, it was only a matter of remembering it. This happened rather spookily a few years after I (thought I'd) got into Claret. I can't work out if that's the senses mixing themselves up again, or because I had way too much fun in the 90's! No matter…we're all friends now.

Fast forward a few years and there's a business aspect of TBC that's organically developed from my excitement as a fan & collector. I'm not the first to turn my hobby into a small business. It's been highly cathartic process and also weirdly rekindled the passion I had for music as a youngster. There's a considerbable way to go before TBC outstocks Berrys Brothers & Rudd but it is growing at a nice gentle pace! I enjoy mooching around the wine industry too. TBC basically supplies odd cases to other merchants, and a regular Claret gang, but I've also enjoyed putting a few Bordeaux into London gastropubs. I like turning new people onto it, minus the pretension. Bordeaux lovers are also usually chuffed to find some TBC Clarets on the chalkboard. I don't mark them up crazily as that unnecessarily puts them out of reach of the many - I hate wines with a class structure attached to them. Sure, good Bordeaux is pricey to produce, the Bordelaise can be pretty greedy and it has a long supply chain, but it still doesn't have to break the bank! It can though & frequently does. However, I've been able to put prestigious names from Bordeaux onto restaurant tables @ £20-£50 a bottle. I fully admit I now want to ignite a desire in you to fill your Bordeaux cellar, with my Bordeaux cellar. This will continue to fund my habit, but we can also discuss vintage reports and phoneolic compounds if you like? The latter will require you to enlighten me though! I'm not quite there. I do actually grow vines in the garden so perhaps I'll look at the chemistry when they fruit for the first time. I get a real kick watching the buds break in April knowing that a few hundred miles away in the St Emilion & Pomerol, the same is occuring and I'll be tasting the barrel samples in 11 months time…wahey!